Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Newtown, I live in the house that I was born in, three doors down from former referee Col Pearce, his wife is still alive these days. Her grandchild married Bryan Fletcher. I still go up there and help that lady out.
What was your childhood like?
I used to go up to Henson Park with my mates watching our local heroes play. Back then it was the Raper’s, the Carneigies. Most of those blokes who played for Newtown were local juniors and you could run into them. Not like it is these days, quite different obviously.
I am the last of six, there are only three of us left unfortunately. I have just turned 60, that is what happens as you start to get old. Two of my other brothers played for Newtown. One of my brothers was behind Johnny Raper and the other one went on to play for South Sydney with Junior Reps with quite a few big name players.
There was a bit of a gap between my brothers, I was polishing my brothers boots while he was in the A Grade and I was only a kid.
Did you collect footy cards as a kid?
I did, there wasn’t that many going around back then. A lot of guys who I grew up with collected certain things and they gave them to me, I have a lot of memorabilia.
What was your first football experience?
I grew up in the inner city here and played footy in the park, played for Erskineville and different junior clubs such as the Junior Jets. Everyone wanted to play Rugby League then.
We used to go to Henson Park, we didn’t watch much of the football, we used to slide down the hill in a cardboard box and on the dry days you would just be out there trying to get hold of one of the corner posts. The holy grail was the football, if you got hold of that you would run off with it.
Who were your football heroes as a kid?
Mostly Newtown players, the players we used to bump into in the streets. Obviously the Rapers, I knew all of the Rapers. The Carneigies, my family grew up with them. Dougie Canister, the Bradstocks, all local juniors.
Tell us about your Schoolboy football days?
I was Captain of the Schoolboy Rugby League side, fortunately I would always be in the Junior Rep sides for Newtown. We didn’t have any really big players of size back then and I was fortunate enough to in that sort of arena.
How was it coming to Grade with Newtown In 1976?
I was quite small and ended up on the wing and gradually went on to be lock-forward or second row. It was Warren Ryan who put me there
I played about two Third Grades and then a couple of Second Grades alongside guys like Doug Lucas. If you didn’t do what they wanted you to do on the field, you would soon hear about it after the game.
My first top grade match was against Souths and I came up against Terry Fahey, I still have the stud marks on my jersey from when he ran over the top of me. The Redfern Express. I was only 17, so maybe I came into First Grade a little too early, I was privileged to get there early. Coming up against guys like Bob Fulton and Terry Fahey puts you backwards a bit.
What was it like playing for Newtown back in the late 1970’s?
I thought it was great. We were having a lot more fun than they would be having now. People didn’t have camera phones back then. I looked up to the blokes who were there at the time.
It was just great being around blokes who were my heroes, Bob Carneigie, Brian Chicka Moore.
What happened with the 1981 Grand Final?
I ended up doing my Crucia ligament during a trial up in Newcastle, it snapped all of my tendons and ligaments, I was out for 12 months.
I did play a lot of games in 1981 and I was happy to be on the bench, but unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to have a run. Warren Ryan always says to me that he regrets not putting me on.
How were the next couple of years at Newtown?
Well we got kicked out two years after that. Warren Ryan left the year after and Chicka Moore (Brian Moore) took us on for the last year.
It was a bit of a struggle year, we lost a lot of players, especially players who wanted long term contracts. We still had Peter Kelly and some others, but we struggled. When the noose is around your neck, not many people want to hang around.
Did you get paid for 1983?
Yes we did. I spent the money I earnt that year at the pub that night. I am quite sure everyone got paid
What got you to Norths in 1984?
I was overseas on an end of season trip which was actually a end of career trip for Newtown and my manager called up and said Ron Wiley wants you to go over to North Sydney. My father died when I was on that trip.
I came back and met the Bear.
I have heard about you tackling the Bear?
Well it happened a few times, they were probably the best tackles that I had in me. In the foyer.
How was the culture different from Newtown to North Sydney?
It was a different club, but it was a good club. We had some blokes like Lindsay Johnson
What got you to Souths?
Ron Wiley went to Souths and I went with him again.
How was your time at Souths?
It was good, Newtown and South Sydney had a lot of the same juniors, I knew a lot of people there. A mate of mine, Craig Coleman was over there as well, so it was good.
The first couple of weeks at training I was doing some laps around the oval. Ron Wiley called me over and I thought this is great, I am in First Grade already. He said, “Can you get off the oval, the players are training”.
I only played about five First Grade games at Souths, if that. I started to have a lot of injuries
What are your Greatest Memories of playing Rugby League?
Obviously, it has to be the mate ship. I don’t believe they have that these days. I have made lifelong friends.
I still meet up with lots of people these days. 30-40 blokes from Newtown meet up at my place each year for a reunion and we move on to Henson Pub.
On the field I came up against some terrific players. To mark a bloke like Bob Fulton, I was in awe of him and other, but once the whistle went I didn’t worry about that shit, just went out there and did my best.
I played with Newtown until they were kicked out and then I was fortunate enough to come back and coach them.
Who was your most respected rival?
I never really thought about it like that, I think of it as a team.
Which was the best team you played against?
It was always going to be Souths.
Canterbury was also a very tough side. They had quite a few of the Newtown boys go there. Peter Kelly, Mick Pitman, Phil Gould, Mark Bugden,
When did you know it was time to give the game away?
My knees told me before my head told me.
And you came back to Newtown as a coach?
We tried to get back into whatever level we could and managed to get to Metropolitan Cup. I trained the team in the first year, 1994. We won the comp three years in a row, well the players did in 1995, 1996 and 1997.
They were good times, the Jet blue colour was still going around.
I coached for ten years. After we won the three comps in a row Singleton got involved with Wests and I helped coach Wests under Tommy (Tom Raudonikis). Wests Reserve Grade, it was a good experience.
Tommy got the sack and I said I am not going to do out here at Campbelltown anymore. So I came back to Newtown. We were the first feeder club for the Warriors then. Then we were feeder cub for Cronulla and then the Roosters.
We had some colourful people play with Newtown during those days such as Johnny Elias, Tricky Trindall and Craig Field, John Singleton was the guy to go to if you wanted to buy a player.
What followed football?
I got married, haven’t got any kids. I started a job at QANTAS around the time I was coaching Newtown in the Metropolitan Cup. I went there for six weeks and have been there for 17 years.
How has the game changed since your playing days?
I do like the strength, the speed and the size of the blokes these days.
I just think the structure and rules are ruining the game now. It is upsetting the players, they get pissed off, they don’t know what is going on with interpretations.
Did you keep a scrapbook?
Yes I did mate, I have about four of them at home. I collected when I was younger and had a lot of people send me stuff.
I have a footy shed, everything I have is virtually in there. Photos and different things, times when we were out on the drink.
What is your favourite restaurant?
Thai food around Newtown. I remember as a five-year old walking up these streets with a carafe to get milk from the milk bar.
My Dad used to deliver ice and coal on horse and cart around here, before I was born.