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Former Australian Rules Footballer, Russell Middlemiss (1929), grew up in the Ballarat Orphanage in the state of Victoria. 

“These were my formative years at the orphanage where I was taught, fed and educated and clothed,”Mr Middlemiss recalled this week. “I couldn’t ask for much more” (The Courier).

At age fourteen, Russell made the decision to go out to work on a farm rather than continue his education so he could get out of the orphanage. He had been labouring for a while when he was advised by an old shearer to play football rather than continue with the farm work. 

“His name was Cec Bunting. He heard that Geelong and Melbourne were interested in me and he said: `I’m a gun shearer, l’ve been working so long and I still live in a commission home. If you’ve got a chance to play football, take it'” (The Courier).

Russell, or Buster as he was called by orphanage mates, debuted for Geelong in 1949 and then played in the 1951 and 1953 premiership teams. He was forced to retire in 1954 because of a knee operation. 

After his retirement, Middlemiss contributed significantly to the Geelong Past Players Association.


“Ballarat Orphanage (1909 – 1968).” Find and Connect, 2021.

“Geelong star reunites with old friends.” The Courier, 2 November 2012. 

“Vale Russell Middlemiss.” Geelong Cats, 7 August 2019. 

Image available here.