Ex-Falcon John Duckworth shares war stories

Speaker John Duckworth and his wife Marlene. Top right: Rob Pedulla and Cam Davies. Right: Steve and Janet Barker.
Speaker John Duckworth and his wife Marlene. Top right: Rob Pedulla and Cam Davies. Right: Steve and Janet Barker.

The lunch guest speaker ahead of last week’s Falcons-Swan Districts Anzac Day clash at Arena Joondalup had been invited to try out at former VFL club, Fitzroy, by its legendary mentor Kevin Murray.

Murray had noticed him in an army-North Melbourne game in which the star for WA country town Dudinin had lined up on champion WA and Kangaroos rover Barry Cable.

‘Fitzroy legend Kevin Murray was down there and asked me to come and have a run at Fitzroy,’ Duckworth said. ‘I signed for $200 and a black and white TV for mum and dad.

‘I was picked to play my first game for Fitzroy against Richmond in front of the Queen (Elizabeth) in 1970, but there was a march-out from (Victorian army training base) Puckapunyal so they wouldn’t let me go.

‘I was transferred to Sydney and used to fly down every Friday night and play for Fitzroy.

‘I played 11 games straight then had to go to Vietnam.’

He said the thought of leaving for Vietnam (he did a year there under national service) seemed a relief after struggling against some of the league’s star goalkickers.

Carlton’s Alex Jesaulenko kicked 10 goals on him, Collingwood’s Peter McKenna six and only rain helped him keep Hawthorn full forward Peter Hudson to three majors.

‘I thought I may as well go to Vietnam, it might be easier,’ Duckworth quipped.

Duckworth was joined at the lunch by other West Perth players who had served in the military, including 1949 and 1951 premiership team-mates Len Harman and Doug Lind.

Justin Bianchini

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