A PASSIONATE PLAYER
Its hard to believe that it is over 40 years since Mick Alchin came down from West's Newcastle to play for Western Suburbs Sydney. Before Mick came over to the Magpies he had a couple of trial games with Balmain that year (1968). He played in the famous preseason game at Brookvale where Laurie Bruyeres sent off 7 players. And guess what? Mick was not one of the 7.
Just for the record, the players sent off were Tony Antunac, Manly. Big Tony played with Mick at West’s in 1970 and 1971. Artie Beetson was next. Gary Leo and Bill Hamilton followed. Manly fullback Bob Batty kept the numbers rising. Frank Stanton the halfback for Manly also went for an early and crowded shower.
The last player to exit stage left was Manly captain Bobby Fulton.
I have spoken to Laurie Bruyeres the referee about that night at Brookvale Oval and he told me that Bob asked him why he had sent Frank Stanton off and Laurie said "Go and ask him, your off too….
Before I get ahead of myself lets go back to the beginning of Micks story. Born in Cootamundra in 1943 Mick played schoolboy football for De La Salla Brothers Cootamundra. He loved playing for his school and played in the centres or on the wing. Mick remembers the large schoolboy tournaments that were held at Junee each year. He also at this time represented his school in running but due to a bad accident whilst one of the Brothers was teaching him to run the hurdles Mick never quite ran to his full natural speed.
Moving to the Newcastle area Mick played for his new school Marist Brothers Hamilton but because of a difference of option with the Sports master Mick relocated to Cooks High School were Mick also played rep football. He then played A grade with Cardiff in the Newcastle Compertion at the ripe old age of 16. Mick went from A grade football to play for West's Newcastle. In today's football speak Cardiff was a feeder club for West's Newcastle.
Newcastle football in those days was very tough and to quote Mick
" It's where I learnt to duck……"
The 1965 Newcastle Rosella's Reserve grade Premiers.
Mick is second from the right back row.
Mick also scored 2 tries in the winning First Grade Grand Final in 1966
During his time playing in the Newcastle competion over 30 players came to Sydney. Here are only a few. John Sattler, Les Johns, Big Bill Hamilton, Bob Moses, Jim Morgan.
The reason Mick came down to Sydney was because an ex Sydney player Bobby Hensby (Balmain 1960-1962 and East's 1965-1966) came to play at West's Newcastle in 1967. Bobby's dad was an official with the Tigers so Mick went down and played 2 trial games but the Balmain deal did not suit Mick so he went back to West's Newcastle.
A few weeks later Billy Beaver rang and offered Mick a contract to play with West's. Mick agreed and on Sunday April 21st at Lidcombe Oval at the age of 24 he played his first game for West's. Although Mick was to play Reserve Grade on this day Dick Pickett withdrew because of injury and the speedy winger from Newcastle stole the show.
Mick belted the French winger and was asked to leave the field this is one more reason Mick Alchin became my favorite winger.
During his days at West's Mick worked for the Public Works as a carpenter. He was asked to play in the Business House comp (which was played at the Domain in Sydney during lunch time on a work day) but to quote Mick " I said no because I was a little to competitive…."
The years rolled by and Noel Kelly left at the end of 1969 a year that Mick believes if Ned had been able to play more often they would of made the semis. Ron Watson replaced Ned as coach of West's for the next 2 seasons.
Ron (Red Dog) Watson & Roy "Ringo" Ferguson
During a trial game in 1970 against Wentworthville Mick scored a length of the field try under the posts but unfortunately he was kneed behind the right knee and never played again that year.
Mick left West's at the end of the 1971 season to play at East's. Many players left West's during this time. Some old, some young….
Roy Ferguson (Saints) Jim Cody (Nambucca Heads) John Maxwell (Penrith) Tim Murphy (Balmain) Don Rogers (Berries) Rod Smith, Steve Winter (North's) John Baker (Parra) Ken Stonestreet (Retired) Bill Hanson (Retired)….]
Micks last full game for Wests
An uncle of Micks was a cellarman at East’s Leagues Club who was mates with Ron Jones the CEO of then one of the riches clubs in Australia.. The money was very, good. Hows this for 1972 when a average wage was about $4,000 Mick received $800 bucks a win plus a sign on fee. Mick said he made $10,500 that year. Plenty of players came to East’s that year including some old Magpies John Armstrong and Peter Flanders.
Just have a look at the players in the East's line up.
East's made the grand final in 1972 but were beaten by Manly 19-14. Mick missed the match due to a injured back.
Micks 1973 season was one to forget. Many injuries so at the end of 1973 Mick heads to greener pastures.
For the next 3 years 1974,1975 and 1976 Mick is captain coach of another Magpie team Wentworthville. By this time the second division had gone so Wenty played in the Illawarra competition. The Illawarra comp of the 1970's was as hard as the Newcastle comp of the 1960's. Dapto had Steve Morris and Alan Fitzgibbon's, Corrimal had Craig Young. Ex English frontrower Cliff Watson was playing hard for Wollongong South.
To help Mick out at Wenty Barry Bryant and then Tony Ford joined the Wenty Magpies after long and loyal service with West's.
Barry played 132 first grade games and Fred played 104 first grade games and 667 points.
At the end of the 1976 season Mick aged 33 hangs up his boots.
You would think Mick would give footy away…No way
1977 Coaches East's Presidents Cup team unlucky to lose in final.
1978 Coaches Wentys A grade. Undefeated Premiers.
1979 Coaches Parramatta's Reserve Grade to G'Final win.
Beat Canterbury 22-2
1980 Coaches Parramatta's Reserve Grade to G'Final loss
Lose to Canterbury 16-18
At the age of 35 this game was Artie Beetsons last game.
Some of the players that played for Parramatta Reserve Grade during those 2 years are the who's who of that era. Here are a few players that Mick coached…. Mark Leavy, Garry Dowling, Eric Grothe, Steve Ella, Peter Sterling, Peter Wynn, Neville Glover, Glen West, Lew Platz, and Graham Olling etc.
Mick helped out at East's for a few more years but finished with football in 1986.
The interview was almost over so it was time to ask the usual questions.
Best winger you played against "Johnny King, like hitting a door, very underrated, very tough". John played for St George between 1960-1971. 195 first grade games and 143 tries.
How about best West's player from Kelly's Kids era, very hard to pick but "Doug Walkaden, tough player, sleeves rolled up, no short cuts, always looking to offload … special mentions to Bruce Beer and Dave Barsley.
Mick's views on today's football are that there is no player endurance needed with the game. A dislike of gang tackling " Someone will get hurt badly soon.." "The contest factor of Rugby League has gone, no contest at the play the ball, no contest at the scrum.."
Best player today? Johnathan Thurston
Now days Mick lives up Gosford way and competes in Australian Stock Horse Mares competition. Mick rides these horses at country shows and was on his way to the Royal Easter Show when I called in to do this interview. Mick's main injuries after playing football for all those years are very sore back and legs but to keep fit at the age of 64 Mick loves riding his horses.
As I drove home my thoughts went back 40 years….to a night at Lidcombe Oval with my mate Greg by my side, we were cheering for West's and Mick (you see Mick was Greg's favourite winger to). West's beat St George that night and Greg and I were two happy lads as we walked back to Lidcombe railway station and the long train trip home.
Thanks Mick for your time and for helping me remember that night at Lidcombe.
Noel Kellys Kids, a website by Tony Lewis, Greg Willis and Steve Lothian honouring Rugby League Legend Noel Kelly and the Western Suburbs Magpies from 1966 to 1969. Noel Kelly,Captain Coach of the Western Suburbs Rugby League Club. The site involves statistics, photos, with interviews from West greats.