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Peter Fardell played for the mighty Balmain Tigers in the Glory years of 1966 to 1971 and was part of the side in the lead up up to the infamous 1969 Grand Final win over glamour side South Sydney, only injury prevented him playing in the big one.

Heroes of Yesterday, Interview 25 - 08 March 2017 -Peter Fardell

Where did you grow up?

I was born in Dubbo in 1947 and moved to Kandos.  I served my apprenticeship at the Cement Works as a plumber.  I have five brothers and two sisters.

What was your first football experience?

I played Rugby League for the Knados Under 14s side.  I played Rugby Union as an Under 16s player for Rylstone. 

As a child what was your most memorable experience of Rugby League ?

I went to Canberra and had Alan Mason as coach who was an ex Balmain player.  My uncle, Maurie Anderson was a Third Grade player for Balmain.  My next coach in Canberra was Mel Cooke who was a Kiwi International.

Who were your footballing heroes as a kid ?

Peter Dimond and Noel Kelly, old Magpies boys. 

First trial match

My first trial was with Easts at Redfern in 1966 and I was marking Mark Harris, I brought off a screamer of a tackle on him and my shoulder was numb for two days after that. 

I then had five years with Balmain.  Alan Mason was the coach who I was familiar with. 

In 1967 I trialled with Canterbury and I changed my mind at the last minute and went back to Balmain.  I wasn't really happy with the vibes in the dressing sheds, something to do with the atmosphere.  I couldn't gel with some of the players and everyone just seemed to be more friendly at Balmain.

What was the main difference between Canberra comp and Balmain

It was totally different.  I was over the moon to play Third Grade for Balmain.  The general skills were a lot higher, you were playing with 13 players who were very talented and you had to shine.

Third grade prermieship in 1967

In 1967 Third Grade I had Johnny McCarthy playing at half back and I was five eighth, he was one of my mentors.  Paul Cross was also coming through in those days along with a few other players. 

Reserve Grade final in 1968

We came up against Souths who had some great players in their side including the Branighan brothers, Paul Sait and Kevin Longbottom.  We knocked them off in the Final.  These players were internationals within the next four to five years.

First Grade Grand Final 1969

I was supposed to play in the Grand Final as I had been playing in the Semi Finals. 

On the Thursday night before the Grand Final we had a training session and it had been raining all week.  The coach told all of us to take our spikes out of our boots, Vic Querin left his in and it spiked me and it became infected.  On Grand Final day I was on crutches.

1969 Grand Final Celebrations

There was no parking anywhere that night, from the city to Drummoyne, the only place they could put us was at the Balmain Leagues Club Squash Courts, there was an auditorium there.  All of the boys were confident of a victory over Souths.

Personally it was pretty hazy for me being on crutches, not much dancing to be done.

Reunions

They got a scrapbook made for us, it is 100 plus pages of the 1969 season.  Each year the Balmain club hold a reunion for the 1969 Tigers squad and I attend

First Grade 1969?

I played in 11 First Grade Games that year, there was very little difference between First Grade and Reserve Grade. 

I remember thinking in Reserve Grade with some of the great names playing besides me, I was wondering how much better it could be.

What was your highlight of playing First Grade football?

Has to be my debut in First Grade.  Dave Bolton had to pull out of the side giving me a promotion to the 5/8 position in First Grade.  I came up against Tommy Bishop and John Monie in the halves of the Cronulla side.  They smashed my nose across my face, I retaliated and got square with them.

We had Arthur Beetson in our side, he was young then.  He did mature a bit and grew with experience.  We used to play squash every Tuesday.  Arthur was an unbelievably good bloke.

Who was your most respected rival?

I played against St George in First Grade and came up against Billy Smith and Brian Poppa Clay.  That was the biggest build up to a game that I had ever experienced, knowing I was coming up against those two champion players.

We played at the old Showground and we beat them, I was very happy.

I would have to say Billy Smith and Tommy Raudonikis are my most respected rivals.

What was the best team you played against?

South Sydney First Grade side was full of superstars, they would be the best team I had to come up against.  That made the victory in 1969 even better.

When did you know it was time to give the game away?

I always wanted to go back to Canberra and after the 1970 season I just went back to Canberra.

What followed after football?

I lived in Canberra and set up my own Roofing and Plumming business and also coached the local football side there.

How has the game changed since your playing days?

The game has changed heaps, I played under the Three Yard rule, you would be bashed as soon as you got the ball.  It is an expansive game now.  In the days that I played it was all up and barge type football and then set up the play.  I can't believe some of the freakish tries the wingers score these days. 

When I played for Balmain we would go for a run up the hill or lap around the paddock, now it is all clever science stuff.  I would love to be able to play in todays game, it would make me appreciate how tough it was in my day.

Once I was knocked out and woke up in the dressing sheds.  In those days if you saw a head high tackle you would all plan to get square, it was hard football.  We are all mates for life.

What are your hobbies?

Playing bowls 5 days a week

Have you kept a scrap book ?

The 1969 one is 110 pages full of old programs and photos and I bring it to the reunions we have, I also have another one.

What’s your favourite restaurant?

Chinese Inn, Timmy Kitchen, Marneka