June Bradbury never minded a stoush. And it was that fighting spirit that led her to become a pioneer in a Collingwood revolution that made front page news back in the 1970s.

June grew up in Tallangatta, near Wodonga, and moved to the city soon after she married her husband, Colin. Wanting to be close to family, they moved in directly opposite Colin’s aunt, May, who lived in Abbotsford Street Abbotsford with her parents and sisters. The house was just over the other side of Johnston Street from Victoria Park. And that’s where June’s attachment to Collingwood was sealed.

May was black-and-white, through and through. In 1930, when the Magpies won their historic fourth flag in a row, May didn’t just attend the celebrations at the Collingwood Town Hall, she also made the magnificent three-tiered cake that was a focus of the night. It featured a wooden magpie on top and 18 kewpie dolls in Collingwood jumpers as decorations.

The two households became very close. And in time, June and Colin would inherit May’s cake decorations – unique mementoes of a momentous night.

June embraced not just the football club but the whole suburb. And after her kids had grown, she decided to turn her attention to helping the local community.

She’d always been civic-minded: she joined the Collingwood Residents Association and quickly became one of its driving forces. In 1975 she was elected to the Collingwood City Council. And this is where she found herself front and centre in the footy club’s history.

It was customary in those days for the club to send complimentary memberships to the local councillors. When June was elected, for some reason her details as passed to Collingwood said only ‘Cr J Bradbury’. The Magpies assumed she was a man – female councillors were still something of a rarity – and sent her a men’s medallion.

In those days only male members could vote. But that wasn’t going to stop June, who thought it was simply wrong. So she took her men's medallion along to the club elections and insisted on her right to vote. Club officials tried to stop her, but in the end reluctantly had to concede that they couldn't.

June's defiant stand not only produced banner headlines in The Sun – a huge poster and story declaring ‘June Beats Pies!’ – but also paved the way for all women members to be given full voting rights a few years later. It was a landmark moment for the football club.

But June was far from finished. As well as being a pioneer for women who were greatly underrepresented in that level of government, she won admiration everywhere for her hard work and common-sense approach to local issues. She was practical and down to earth. People loved and trusted her. She was a community activist, devoted to the principle of a more open, democratic, diverse, caring society, including the creation and preservation of public assets.

She had a lifelong commitment to social justice. She’d been part of the underground for conscientious objectors to the Vietnam war, offering a bed and food for draft dodgers (her phone was apparently tapped by ASIO!) Later, she would be hauled away by police while protesting against the F19 freeway. She fought hard for the removal of lead from petrol, to improve welfare services in local government and was heavily involved in the creation of the Collingwood Children’s Farm.

She was heading to be the Mayor of Collingwood, but instead decided to leave the big smoke and move back to the country, to a place called Wando Vale, not far from Casterton. And that’s pretty much where she stayed, though she maintained her love of the footy club and passed it on to her own children too.

June Bradbury died at a nursing home in Casterton last September, aged 97. On the chair next to her bed was a Collingwood scarf, which she would wear any time she left the room, and on the wall hung a framed copy of The Sun ‘June Beats Pies!’ banner from 1975. Her connection to Collingwood, and her own unique fighting spirit, stayed with her until the very end.

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