Don Heath’s Ararat wool jumper and ‘Delicate’ Des Dickson

I have kept his old Rats jumper; and Don Heath, my father, has kept the memories of tough game in this jumper against ‘Delicate’ Des Dickson.

wool jumper heath ararat

In the late 1960s, Dad played for the Ararat Football Club in the Wimmera Football League.  He could take a mark and, depending on the circumstances, he lined up mostly at centre half forward or full back.  On the day in question, he was playing at full back on ‘Delicate’ Des.

wool jumper back heath ararat


Dad played for Tooleybuc in the early 1960s.  As a student, he played for the University Blacks.  Fifty years ago, in 1964, he was part of the VAFA B Grade premiership team.  In the following year, the same team went on to win the A Grade premiership.

As a maths and science teacher, Dad made his debut at Maryborough High School.  He played for the Magpies at that time.  His next posting was Ararat High School where he played for the Rats.  Later, having taken up a teaching position at Warracknabeal High School, he played for the Lions.

What about ‘Delicate’ Des?  He arrived at Stawell in 1966 – presumably on the recommendation of John Kennedy.  ‘Kanga’ had taught at Stawell High School in 1964 and 1965; and he coached the Redlegs in those years.  By 1966, ‘Delicate’ Des certainly had form.  Lou Richards had given him the nickname, recognising that form.  Des missed the 1963 Grand Final after receiving a four week suspension for whacking someone in the round 17 clash between Hawthorn and North Melbourne.

The game in question took place at Central Park, Stawell. Dad was wearing the woollen jumper pictured above.  He cannot pinpoint the year; but he remembers their good players – Mike Pickering, Terry Carr, Ian Brilliant and ‘Delicate’ Des.

stawell central park heath


On that day, though, Des was not getting many touches.  After an Ararat goal, Des announced to Dad that he needed “a bit more action”.  He then jogged up to the centre square and flattened the Ararat ruckman with one massive blow.  Dad watched this unfold and, with a small degree of apprehension, he watched Des jog back towards him in the goal square.  On re-joining Dad, Des simply shrugged and said this: “I feel better now”.

In the early 1990s, I rescued Dad’s Ararat jumper from a box stored in his back shed.  At that time, I was a  member of the Melbourne University Boat Club.  For a few years, as a heavy and voluble coxswain, I was responsible for steering the MUBC VIII at intervaristy regattas.  This is one of my old crews getting ready for a race on Lake Barrington (the bloke in the four seat, Ross Featherston, was a very handy footballer for Newman College and the University Blues):

heath rowing eight



The sleeveless jumper was perfect for cold, dark training sessions on the Yarra.  I had an extra layer of clothing on my torso, but my arms remained free to pull the toggles.

The jumper has survived a few moves and ‘culls’.  I reckon it will survive a few more.









About Rob Heath

Rob Heath is a barrister based in Melbourne. He enjoys watching the football at Kardinia Park with his father and son. In 1999, Rob, Adrian Anderson, Peter Cullen and Jim Main complied & edited a book titled “COACH! Inspiration & Perspiration” (Information Australia, Melbourne, 2000).


  1. Jumper looks in great nick Rob. Is the red V under the nose from blood or the design? Thankfully the old days of just whacking blokes because they were getting a kick are gone in the AFL. Some of the videos of VFL finals from the 60’s and 70’s are frightening (Neil Balme, Carl Ditterich etc).

  2. Rob,
    It’s a great touch to have a pic of the jumper hanging from the Hills Hoist.

  3. Terry Carr says

    Rob, Remember playing against your dad. The rivalry between Ararat and Stawell was extreme in those days. What you said about “delicate Des ” would be right as it happened on many other occasions. Unfortunately Des dislocated an ankle in his first practice match at Ararat on the easter sunday and we did not see the best of him in pure football terms He was one player I was glad to play with and not against.

    regards Terry Carr

  4. Rob Heath says

    Terry, thanks for your message. Dad passes on his best regards and congratulations on your recent induction into the Stawell FC Hall of Fame. Regards, Rob.

  5. Julian Carr says

    Nice story Rob. Sadly Terry passed away this week. I have an Ararat jumper the same as this that Dad gave me. I proudly pull it out every now and then for training. I’ve been reading his old scrapbook this week and it’s good to read about all the great players of that era.

  6. I remember Terry Carr playing, he was well known in Wimmera, Brian Moloney would have coached your father and Big Russell Crow at Warracknabeal. It was a great Comp. Roy West came straight from a VFL grand final to play the next year at Stawell. Years later when I grew up I got to know Des well when he the , supervisor at the races, lovely guy

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