Sports media legend Scot Palmer, whose columns kept generations of readers informed and entertained for more than five decades, has passed away aged 84.
Legendary Australian sports journalist and sports editor Scot Palmer has died, aged 84, after a lifetime’s dedication to his craft.
The man whose catchcry Keep Punching and whose columns kept generations of readers informed and entertained for more than five decades was one of the most loved and respected footy scribes in the country.
He was also one of the first multimedia performers, using his exceptionally popular Palmer’s Punchlines column in the Sunday Press, the Sunday Sun and Sunday Herald Sun to build his profile with a side career on television with Channel 7 as well as on breakfast radio with 3UZ (now RSN).
Importantly, he became a household name to people around the state, largely because he always maintained the common touch.
His pathway to success – as unlikely as it might have seemed when a principal from Trinity College once told the eager young schoolboy he wouldn’t make a career out of journalism – followed the example set by one of his heroes and later one of his great friends, Collingwood’s Lou Richards.
Palmer resolved to “prove the bastard wrong”, referencing the principal, and landed a cadetship with the Sun News-Pictorial in 1954.
He would serve the Herald & Weekly Times tirelessly, writing for The Sun, Sunday Press, Sunday Sun and Sunday Herald Sun for more than 50 years, before retiring in 2008.
Even in retirement, he maintained one of the best contact books in sport, continued to chase and file stories, and even found new mediums to have his say, notably on Twitter.
Footy luminaries and former work colleagues were quick to pay tribute to the iconic sports journalist and personality on Saturday, saying Melbourne had lost one of its greatest characters.
“No one can underestimate the indelible mark and legacy that Scot Palmer made to the game of Australian football through his personality and profession,” footy broadcaster and long-time journalist Eddie McGuire said.
“He was a part of as many sporting stories in Melbourne, particularly in football, as he actually reported.
“To me, he was also the mascot of journalism and football and inner-city, gritty Melbourne. In a way, a chapter of that period closes in our game, in our city’s fabric and in our profession with Scotty’s passing.”
Media and footy great Sam Newman remembered Palmer as a longtime friend who loved sport and became a legend of the Australian media.
“Great Scot, the end of an era and legend. Affable and self-deprecating, he ran the whole gambit of sports media, backed stoically by his beloved Lori (Lorraine),” Newman said.
Fellow footy great Don Scott said Palmer was larger than life.
“Scot was one of the first sports writers to become a multimedia performer. He was larger than life and created that memorable catchphrase ‘Keep Punching’,” Scott said.
“As a teenager growing up you would read his stuff and he just got bigger and bigger and he had a personality to match the image.
“He was full of stories and he was a fantastic storyteller.”
National Executive Editor of News Corp Australia Peter Blunden said Palmer had an uncanny knack of not only finding a story, but delivering it with maximum impact for his readers and audience.
“Scot was not only a huge character and the biggest personality in the office, he was also deeply respected, knowledgeable and a master of his craft,” Peter Blunden said.
“He always had a story, and knew how to tell it. People just loved him”.
Long-time colleague and friend Rod Nicholson marvelled at how enthusiastic Palmer was about his work each and every day.
“He was as enthusiastic about his work when he retired as he was when he started,” Nicholson said. “He just loved the caper and the readers loved him. He loved telling stories and loved meeting people.”
Palmer broke some of Australian football’s biggest stories – St Kilda’s move to Moorabbin the first time in 1965, Tom Hafey’s shock departure as Richmond coach in late 1976 and a myriad of sackings, signings and shocks – taking out countless news awards in the process.
But he also excelled in the short, snappy column items that formed such a key part of his column alongside his array of Punchline girls, all the while boosting newspaper circulation figures to record levels.
AFL chief executive Gillion McLachlan paid tribute to Palmer as an icon of the game for generations of fans.
“On behalf of the AFL, I want to extend the condolences of Australian football to Scot Palmer’s family and many friends after his passing at the age of 84,” McLachlan said.
“Scot was a legendary reporter who had a huge impact over more than five decades in elevating the game of Australian football. Scot championed the heroes and the stories of the game, taking coverage to another level as both sport and as entertainment.
“He was vibrant and excitable and often bigger than many of the footballing names he talked and wrote about.
“His ‘Palmer’s Punchlines’ segment was compulsory viewing across the years for generations of footy supporters on television, while his first love remained newspapers.
“Above all, Scot was also a great supporter of local grassroots football and understood the importance of sporting clubs in connecting local communities. Vale Scot Palmer.”
Channel 10 sport presenter Stephen Quartermain tweeted: “Vale Scot Palmer. His contribution to journalism in this town was enormous. Keep punching.”
Former Essendon player and ex-politician Justin Madden wrote: “’Keep punching’… vale Scot Palmer.”
Sports public relations expert Ian Cohen added his tribute on Twitter.
“Thoughts with his family, RIP Scot Palmer – one of the original sports reporter showmen who inspired plenty but very few could match him. Compulsory viewing and Sunday reading for me growing up #keeppunching.”
Radio team The Coodabeen Champions acknowledged Palmer’s passing.
“Vale Scot Palmer. A great friend and a legend of the history of our great city,” the team wrote on its Twitter page.
Radio presenter and longtime sports reporter Jim Wilson added to the Twitter tributes.
“Remember when he came into 7 Melbourne studios and had everyone in stitches, could chase a yarn and had a genuine connection with readers/ audience. Vale Scot Palmer #keeppunching,” Wilson posted.
Originally published as Legendary journalist Scot Palmer dies aged 84