Australian Football

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Key Facts

Full name
Phillip Michael Narkle

Known as
Phil Narkle

Nickname
Magic

Born
29 January 1961 (age 62)

Place of birth
Boddington, WA (6390)

Ethnicity
Indigenous Australian

Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 23y 62d
Last game: 29y 209d

Height and weight
Height: 178 cm
Weight: 72 kg

Senior clubs
Swan Districts; St. Kilda; West Coast

Jumper numbers
St. Kilda: 8
West Coast: 41, 7

Recruited from
Swan Districts (1984); St. Kilda (1987)

State of origin
WA

Hall of fame
Western Australian Football Hall Of Fame (2006)

Family links
Keith Narkle (Brother)

Phil Narkle

ClubLeagueCareer spanGamesGoalsAvgWin %AKIAHBAMKBV
Swan DistrictsWASFL1978-1983, 1987-19931781781.00
St. KildaV/AFL1984-198648370.7715%12.943.922.1910
West CoastV/AFL1987, 199018181.0044%8.615.282.283
WASFL1978-1983, 1987-19931781781.00
V/AFL1984-1987, 199066550.8323%11.764.292.2113
Total1978-19932442330.95

AFL: 9,488th player to appear, 3,493rd most games played, 1,893rd most goals kickedSt. Kilda: 1,290th player to appear, 324th most games played, 178th most goals kickedWest Coast: 17th player to appear, 176th most games played, 115th most goals kicked

Abundantly skilled, and with pace to burn, there have been few more exhilarating sights in football than that of Swan Districts' wingman Phil Narkle surging into the forward lines at full throttle. Sadly, he was prevented by injury from displaying the full scope of his virtuosity as frequently as he - and legions of football supporters, both in West Australia, and throughout the country - would have liked.

After winning the Medallists Medal for fairest and best in the WANFL colts competition in 1977, Narkle made his league debut with Swans the following year. His fleetness of foot, sure ball handling, and superb evasive ability immediately marked him out as a player with a big future, and over the next few years, he became one of the bulwarks on which coach John Todd gradually constructed a champion side.

Always conspicuous owing to the helmet he wore after sustaining concussion no fewer than five times in his debut season, Narkle caught the umpires' eyes repeatedly in 1982 to land the Sandover Medal. He was also among the best players afield in that year's Grand Final as Swans trounced Claremont. A year later, he again helped Swans to victory over the Tigers on the final Saturday of the season.

During the VFL phase of his career, with St Kilda (1984-1986) and West Coast (1987-1989), Narkle was all too frequently undermined by injury, to the frustration of the former in particular, who had paid a king's ransom to secure his services in what proved to be a dismal period for the club. Sporadic brilliance was just not enough, the latter half of 1986 especially, when he produced several best afield performances, proving to the long-suffering Saints fans what a missed opportunity his presence had been. 

He did manage a memorable performance for West Australia, however, earning All Australian selection in 1987 after being close to best afield in a narrow home loss against the Victorians.

The 1990 season saw Phil Narkle back at Swan Districts where he played out the final four seasons of his career, captaining the club in 1992 and 1993. All told, between 1978 and 1983 and from 1990 to 1993 he played a total of 178 WA(N)FL games, winning Swan Medals a decade apart, in 1981 and 1991. He represented Western Australia five times.

At his best, Phil Narkle was as scintillating to watch as any footballer of the past 30 years. Had recurrent injury problems not undermined his effectiveness just as he was approaching his peak, he might well be remembered today as one of the greatest wingmen of all time.

Author - John Devaney, with additional material from Adam Cardosi

Sources

Full Points Footy's WA Football Companion

Footnotes

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