Australian Football

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Key Facts

Full name
Arthur John Duckworth

Known as
John Duckworth

Nickname
Whatsa

Born
19 January 1949 (age 73)

Place of birth
Lake Grace, WA (6353)

Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 21y 103d
Last game: 27y 215d

Height and weight
Height: 193 cm
Weight: 96 kg

Senior clubs
Fitzroy; West Perth; Central District

Jumper numbers
Fitzroy: 17

Recruited from
Fitzroy (1977); West Perth (1979); Central District (1981)

State of origin
WA

Family links
Bill Duckworth (Brother)

John Duckworth

ClubLeagueCareer spanGamesGoalsAvgWin %AKIAHBAMKBV
FitzroyV/AFL1970, 1974-197658240.4141%7.322.632.704
West PerthWAFL1977-1978, 1981-1983, 1985117390.33
Central DistrictSANFL1979-198042561.33
Total1970, 1974-1983, 19852171190.55

AFL: 8,256th player to appear, 3,857th most games played, 3,317th most goals kickedFitzroy: 884th player to appear, 219th most games played, 194th most goals kicked

While engaged in National Service training in Melbourne, West Australian John Duckworth turned up at Fitzroy Football Club asking for a game. He had already had a couple of trials with East Perth and failed to impress, but the Lions 'brains trust' liked what they saw, and signed him up. Volatile, dynamic and robust, he also possessed plenty of flair, and would probably have enjoyed a highly successful VFL career had his National Service commitments not repeatedly interfered. As it was, Duckworth performed serviceably in 58 VFL games in 1970 and between 1974 and 1976, kicking 24 goals. Some of the intervening time was spent serving his country in Vietnam.

In 1977 Duckworth - who gloried in the nickname 'Whatsa'- returned home to Western Australia and joined West Perth, the team he had supported as a boy. He enjoyed a fine year, representing the state, and running fifth in the Sandover Medal voting. After just two years and 44 WANFL games, however, he decided he wanted to leave, and Central District won the race to procure his signature. John Duckworth spent just two seasons at Elizabeth but created a significant impression. His coach at Centrals, Darryl Hicks, said of him, "I doubt if a bigger, truer or more real personality has ever played the game in South Australia"¹. In 1979, Duckworth represented South Australia, headed his club's goal kicking list with 41 goals, and topped things off by becoming a surprise, but highly popular, winner of the Magarey Medal. 

The following year, however, he suffered a ruptured kidney during the opening round clash with Port Adelaide, and although he returned to the fray later in the year, he was never able to produce his best form. At season's end, now aged thirty-one he decided it was time to return home and finish his career with West Perth. He continued playing league football for the Cardinals for three more years, took a year off, and then made a one-season comeback at the behest of club coach John Wynne, who needed an experienced hand to help steady his predominantly young team. All told, John Duckworth played a total of 117 senior games for West Perth to add to the 42 he had played with Central District and the 58 with the Lions. He also represented both Western Australia and South Australia three times.

Although his time in South Australia was brief, he probably made the biggest impact there, and few people would have been surprised with his inclusion, at centre half back, in Centrals's official 'Best Ever Team 1964 to 2003'.

Author - John Devaney

Footnotes

1. 'Football Times', 28/6/79, page 3.

Sources

Full Points Footy's SA Football Companion

Footnotes

* Behinds calculated from the 1965 season on.
+ Score at the end of extra time.