Trevor O'Hoy will never forget the long walk to the centre of Moorabbin Oval to tell St Kilda coach Allan Jeans that his career was over, having just heard from the club doctor that his two medial ligament tears could not be fixed.
The timing of the latest injury could not have come at a worse time for his football aspirations.
"I had just been promoted to the seniors list after three years of playing reserves and had just come runner up in the Gardiner Medal for the best player in reserve grade – and then the new tear happened,' Trevor recalls.
As an Asian footballer, Trevor was an unusual sight on VFL fields in the early 1970s. He would be constantly reminded of his Asian ancestry by fans and players who would have had little idea of the complexity of his identity.
"My father was conceived in Bendigo and born in Hong Kong so his side of the family is Hong Kong Chinese," Trevor says.
His mother's background was mixed Asian, a rarity back then.
"My mother Marie is half-Japanese, a quarter Chinese and a quarter Australian," he says.
"So, I was a majority Chinese, quarter-Japanese kid in the '60s and '70s, which was a tough time."
Trevor O'Hoy would often visit his extended family in Bendigo and is proud of his family history, especially his great grandfather Hoy Louey who migrated from Hong Kong. Upon arrival his name was changed to O'Hoy by immigration. Hoy Louey was a success in Bendigo, owning a famous general store, a herbalist, piggeries and market gardens.
Trevor played three years in the St Kilda reserves at a time when the VFL reserve grade competition was highly respected. His position was on the wing and his teammates included future senior footballers of the likes of Mick Malthouse and Grant Thomas.
He played from 1972-1974 and had a golden year in 1973, coming second to Carlton's Vin Catoggio in the prestigious Gardiner Medal for the best and fairest in the VFL reserves.
On the night the Gardiner Medal was announced, Trevor wasn't even at the event and had not expected to figure in the voting.
He received a call from coach Eric Guy who broke the news.
"I think looking Chinese made me stand out in a strange way because I seemed to collect a lot of umpires votes," he says with a laugh.
After leaving St Kilda, Trevor joined Carlton and United Breweries and he would go on to become their CEO, under the new brand of Fosters.
He would later return to football, spending four and a half years on the board of the North Melbourne Football Club, becoming the first AFL board member of Asian descent. Additionally, he would also serve on the board of Cricket Australia and Cricket Victoria.
His success in the commercial world is all attributable to his football success according to Trevor: "All the dots connect back to footy."
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