In the Sheds: Peckett skates through busy life as father and footballer

WHEN this column yesterday rang former St Kilda defender Justin “Frankie” Peckett, he was skateboarding through the streets of Brighton. Peckett, 36, often gets about on his skateboard, especially if he has to commute from the North Melbourne office of Leading Teams, where he works, for an appointment with a corporate big shot in the city. “It’s quite exhilarating,” he said. As a St Kilda player Peckett drove a Chevy Bel Air while keeping a Volkswagen as his runabout vehicle. He had a certain cool, a sense of playfulness. Now, with his wife Teresa expecting their seventh child, that playfulness comes in handy. Peckett raises his brood as well as maintaining a working life and doing a fine job as the playing-coach of Mornington Peninsula league club Karingal, to which he returned when his St Kilda career ended in 2006. On the eve of Father’s Day 2009, Peckett has been named the inaugural winner of the In the Sheds Father’s Day Award.

FRANKIE and Teresa raise their family on a large block in Chelsea. Their daughter Tiarn is 17 while the next five are boys (Sam, 13, Sonny, 7, Jet, 6, Elwood, 3, and Ace, 17 months). The seventh is due late this month. With such a preponderance of boys, the backyard is a riot of wrestling, karate, dirt bikes and ball games. On most nights in winter, Peckett arrives home to find the three middle boys having a kick in the backyard while dressed in head-to-toe St Kilda gear. On Saturdays the boys go to Karingal games with him. “They love it,” Peckett said. “And they still think I’m a good footy player.” The Karingal No.51 (he wanted to try his hand at a high number after wearing No.1 at St Kilda for 10 years) this year tore his calf in the third game, missed 11 weeks, and returned for the final four games. His usual practice was to start up forward before going into the midfield and finishing in defence. “I sort of plod along and try to make a nuisance of myself,” he said. Peckett this year gave debuts to eight under-18 players. The Bulls finished seventh and should be ready for a charge at the top five next season.

FORMER Fitzroy rover Leon Harris has seven kids but it’s fair to say he’s not into skateboarding. On weekends it’s his habit to stand on the outer wing and talk to no one, especially when he’s at TAC Cup games in his role as a high-performance manager at AFL Victoria, but even when he’s watching his sons. “My wife Trish thinks I’m rude,” he said. “But if I’m at a game I like watching rather than talking.” Harris two daughters (Jacqui, 25, and Laura, 12) and five sons, who are all footballers. Matthew, 23, and Nathan, 21, play for St Kilda City; the Saints had a rest at the weekend after finishing on top of the Southern league ladder. Joshua, 19, and Ryan, 17, play for the De La Salle under-19s; they lost a semi-final to Old Xaverians with the last kick of the day at Sandringham. Harris was there to see Josh and Ryan. “They contributed,” he said. The youngest, Lachlan, 10, plays for the St Kilda Juniors under-10s. This weekend Harris is unable to see St Kilda City’s second semi-final against St Paul’s-East Bentleigh at Springvale because he’s got to watch TAC Cup games.

COLLINGWOOD’S 1990 premiership ruckman Damian Monkhorst not only has four sons; as the playing-coach of Woori Yallock in the Yarra Valley Mountain District league, he plays with one of them. Ben, 17, is the second son. (The others are Brent, Zach and Ryley.) On Saturday, in the qualifying final against Monbulk at Yarra Glen, Monkhorst, 40, lined up at full-forward while Ben lined up beside him. “He was roaming around while I was waiting for the long ones to come in,” the coach said. Ben kicked three goals while Damian kicked two as Woori Yallock won by four points. Zach and Ryley are showing promise at under-age level.

EASTERN league club Balwyn is like an AFL father-and-son retirement village. The list includes Paul Salmon (son Lachlan), Terry Daniher (son Todd), Rodney Eade (son Jordan), Gary Buckenara (son Andrew), Ken Hunter (son Cameron), Michael Bowden (son Patrick), and Dipper (son Dylan). Paul Cranage, a Collingwood player in the mid-1970s, is the father of star midfielders Ben and Sam. Before the final game of the season, at home against Vermont, all the Balwyn fathers except Bowden, who lives in Darwin, turned up for a special father’s lunch. Keith Greig, whose son Matt is a star full-forward for Vermont, was also there. Balwyn president Richard Wilson said the lunch was the best since he arrived at the club in 2002. Balwyn won the match by eight points. A week later, on Saturday, Wilson experienced what he described as the worst loss in his time at the club. The wayward Tigers lost the qualifying final to Vermont by two points, 11.11 (77) to 9.21 (75), after missing 10 set shots from inside 30 metres. “It was bizarre,” Wilson said. Of the sons of AFL players, only Andrew Buckenara played in the seniors. He did a reasonable tagging job on Vermont star Kris Bardon.

ESSENDON ruckman Paddy Ryder’s father Revis is still playing footy — at 47. Revis is a former champion around the Geraldton area who played with East Fremantle for four years in the late 1980s. Now a policeman in Perth, he drives 300 kilometres north to play with Three Rivers in the Northern Midlands league. Revis spent most of this season at full-back but was unavailable for last weekend’s preliminary final against Mingenew because of injury. Three Rivers lost by 10 points. Another Essendon player, Leroy Jetta, also has a father who still plays. Athol Jetta is a 39-year-old small forward who turns out with Albanvale in Melbourne’s Western Region league.

A FATHER-AND-SON combination had a hand in the result at the final footy match to be played at the Junction Oval (Cricket Victoria is taking it over), the C-section first semi-final between Ammos rivals Oakleigh and Beaumaris on Sunday. Oakleigh’s head trainer, John Bromley, is so renowned that several clubs in the southern-eastern suburbs have made big-money offers to lure him. His son Trevor is a four-times Oakleigh best-and-fairest winner who went into Sunday’s match with hamstring problems. After a massage from his father, Trevor was able to make a strong contribution to the five-goal win. The Bromleys were among the many people who felt eerie leaving the ground after the match, knowing that footy would no longer be played there.

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