Ron Lockens, the man behind the mark

In June 1965, nearly 50 years ago to the day, Ray Hughson became a part of Australian football folklore when he took a spectacular mark for Queensland against the Australian Amateurs at the Gabba.

The mark has gone down in history and Ray has been immortalized with the Ray Hughson medal for the leading goal kicker.

The man behind the lens for this famous grab was Ron Lockens, then an amateur photographer who was only taking photos because he was injured and couldn’t play footy.

In 1965 Rugby League dominated Queensland media and there was little to no coverage of AFL in the sunshine state, but the photo helped change the media landscape covering football.

Ron’s love for football started when his father would bring home copies of the Melbourne Sun.  He was blown away by the pictures of the game and by the time he was a teenager, was a football fanatic – both playing and taking photos.

He had heard about Roy Hughson producing sensational marks in the competition and often followed him to his games.

Shooting the game in 1965 was vastly different to what it is now. There were no high-speed camera lenses, taking hundreds of photos and no way to check them instantly.

In 1965 you needed patience, luck and a steady hand.

The photographers would wait for “a big drop kick” take one shot of the contest and then wait weeks to find out whether it was a good photo.

With the Hughson mark, Ron knew he had a great one.

“I’ve turned around and realised that I’ve probably taken the best photo that I’ll ever take in my life,” he said.

“I’ve gone home, got into a broom cupboard developed the film and held the photo to a light and realised it was as sharp as it could be.”

After this photo he went from player to photographer. With various clubs needing him to get shots of their players, Ron had to forgo his football career.

You wouldn’t often think that a photo like this would help your love life, but in Ron’s case it did.

Ron was paid 50 pounds for his photo, which equates to roughly $1000 today, and with the money he bought “a sheila a watch”. Ron ended up marrying this Sheila … who said only the footy players get the girls?

Ron then focused his attention on photography as he almost single handedly contributed to AFL Queensland’s photo library for forty years, capturing moments like the 1991 Brisbane Bears Reserves premiership and the Lions triple premierships.

He has been rewarded for his contribution to football with life memberships at his boyhood club, Wilston Grange, and his local team The Brisbane Lions.

For most people who have a career that spans 50 years it would be hard to put your finger on a highlight, but to this day Ron still says the Hughson grab was the best photo he’s ever taken.

By Mitchell Van Homrigh

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