Kick it to Kickett

Orange, New South Wales. My place of birth. My home town and ‘Australia’s Colour City’. Stunningly dappled in autumnal colour it was, when distinguished guests of the state’s only Australian Football League team graced the town with their presence in 1994. Now, this was not a particularly successful period for the Swans, nor was this town particularly familiar with our native football code. When discussing footy in the Central Tablelands, you discussed the fortunes of the Dragons, the Eels or the Rabbitohs. Kids were brought up on stories of Johnny Sattler’s broken jaw and the vicious battles between the Fibros and the Silvertails. Kicking a Steeden was much more in vogue than kicking a Sherrin. That’s the way it was.

Being fifteen years old and clinging to a promise that an Aussie Rules clinic would indeed run during class time, we all signed up. Learning how to drop-punt had to be better than pretending to listen to ol’ Mr. Rowney and his views on Pythagoras’ theorem, indices and trigo-bloody-nometry. My mate Browny’s brother went and had a kick with the Swans, even playing a few games in the Ressies, so that obviously qualified us all in the nuances and intricacies of Australian Football. We knew what to do. Yeah, we’ll go along, but we won’t need any blokes from the city telling us what to do, that’s for sure.

Well, the day arrived and with an incredible lack of fanfare, so did a footy cult-hero. A man of impressive size, Derek Kickett entered the school gates with all the casual abandon of one of the Grade Ten’s returning from a successful cigarette-securing mission. Alongside Derek, strolled a lesser known Swan by the name of Jamie Lawson. A man of limited size, a look of uncertainty and undoubted shyness appeared [After Neale Daniher, surely Jamie Lawson rates highly in the ‘this-kid-could-have-been-anything-but for-injury‘ pantheon? – Ed]. The Orange Tigers are the local footy team, and thus provided their own star player to assist. Having no idea who he was, we immediately decided that he would perhaps sit more comfortably in some form of ‘Michael Tuck Doppelgänger’ competition. Anyhow, from the outset, projecting a sense of purpose and certainty, it was clear that Derek would be running this show.

A minority existed within our school year group. These boys were well versed in the complexities of the game. Each and every lunchtime, Flip and Bog would partake in their own game of kick-to-kick. With a Sherrin. Occasionally joined by Wenny and Freddo, drop-punts, torps, screwies and bananas were the flavours of choice. For them, this visit would mean the world. For the rest of us, the experience was taken a little too lightly for Derek’s liking. After being informed in no uncertain terms that the kids ‘out at Broken Hill’ were more talented, and most definitely more attentive, Derek sent us running. And running. Jamie and the mystery man from the Orange Tigers both looked disappointed. Derek looked genuinely pissed off! We’d better pull our heads in here.

As we all know, teenage boys carry with them an inflated opinion of their own comedic talents. Big Boof was performing his famous ‘Harry high pants’ routine in reference to the smug fitting footy shorts which AFL footballers were accustomed to wearing. Schooners was inventing his own hip n’ shoulder routine, and putting that to the test on all the little fellas. All the while, despite being instructed otherwise, an endless stream of torpedo punts flew through the clear Autumn sky. While little Jamie Lawson didn’t seem to mind, a perplexed and clearly agitated Derek Kickett pulled the pin. After all, enough is enough. Flip and Bog consoled each other as they lay desperately heartbroken on the school oval’s matted turf.

Derek Kickett never returned to Orange High School. Neither did Jamie Lawson. Neither did the Michael Tuck doppelgänger. But, what Derek Kickett doesn’t know is that day was the beginning of something so indescribably special. My love for footy was born. A love that will last a lifetime. I guess there aren’t many footy lovers around who can say that Derek Kickett taught them to kick a drop-punt. Or a torp. Being a truly magnificent exponent of both, we had no inkling of how lucky we indeed were. I owe it all to the big man. As we sit on the cusp of a new and exciting footy season ahead, take a moment to reminisce and bask in the glory (and the art form) that is ‘kicking the footy’. A quintessentially Aussie simple pleasure.

 

 

About Joe Moore

Learned the art of the drop-punt from Derek Kickett as Jamie Lawson watched on. And thus, a Swan for life. @joedmoore1979

Comments

  1. Great story, Joe. Despite being a maths obsessive, I loved your line: “Learning how to drop-punt had to be better than pretending to listen to ol’ Mr. Rowney and his views on Pythagoras’ theorem, indices and trigo-bloody-nometry.”
    I grew up in the small WA Wheatbelt town of Tammin, where Derek Kickett, Dale Kickett, Larry Kickett and Buddy Franklin’s mother (Larry’s sister, I think) grew up. Derek was a few years younger than me, but I remember him demonstrating his considerable skill wearing his West Perth (the arch-enemy of my beloved East Perth) jumper during school recess. And Derek’s seven senior clubs – West Perth, Claremont, Central District, North Melbourne, Essendon, Sydney and Subiaco – would be hard to beat. A great fella is Derek, as are Larry and Dale.

  2. Joe Moore says

    Thanks Pete.
    Would love to have the opportunity to meet the great man these days. Would certainly pay him the attention that he deserves!

  3. Rick Kane says

    Hi Joe

    That’s a wonderful recollection with a terrific punchline. Having Kickett teach you how to kick a footy. It’s a small patch of the greater quilt that is the Marngrook story.

    Cheers & best of luck for your club until you come up against mine

  4. Joe Moore says

    Thank you Rick. Vivid memories indeed. A truly engaging character.

    Best of luck to you too. I must admit the wounds are still fresh, but looking forward to a re-match against your boys. They’ll be hard to top once again.

  5. Phil Dimitriadis says

    Great stuff Joe,
    Derek was on of the unluckiest footballers. An electrifying talent that I won’t easily forget.

  6. Thanks Joe

    Derek Kickett was a beautiful footballer. His 1987 season with Claremont was glorious. I have highlights of it on a video tape somewhere… must convert it. He won the Sandover by a wheatbelt mile but was suspended during the season for slapping East Freo’s Tim Gepp who was holding on to Derek behind the play. Unlucky but never forgotten.

    Pete, Larry’s sister is Buddy’s mum.

  7. sean gorman says

    Salient point Les and good sleuthing on the Kickett Franklin connection. Tim Gepp is another reason I hate WCE. Caught up with Derek and Dale at the All stars game a few months ago great night.

  8. Joe Moore says

    Thanks Phil, Les, Sean.

    I’ve heard around the traps that he’s a great guy to be around. A wonderful footballer to watch, that’s for sure.

  9. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Great sory Joe , my earliest recollection of Kickett is playing for Central Districts , what incredible skill . The genuine footy fan had empathy with him re getting dropped from the bombers , 93 flag team and then loved him when he wasn’t anorexic playing for the Swans , fantastic that your love of footy has been born from such a incredible story . Thanks Joe

  10. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    As Rulebook said, Kickett’s one season at Centrals under Neil Kerley was stellar. He moved me to tears of incredulity with some of his freakish skills (I remember one goal that he kicked over his head).

    I think he played a few games for the Dogs in the twos some years earlier (before his WAFL days).

    He would’ve won the Sandover by 16 votes the year before, but was pinged for ‘slapping’, so he came over with a big reputation.

    Good choice Joe.

  11. Joe Moore says

    Thanks Rulebook. What an intriduction to footy! How could I not develop a love for the game?

    Swish, would have loved to have seen more of him playing in his prime. A true footballer.

  12. Luke Reynolds says

    Great stuff Joe, very impressed with your passion for the Swans given your relatively late conversion to the game. Your example shows why the GWS experiment is crucial if the game is to expand in NSW.
    What a watchable player Derek Kickett was. Brilliant at Essendon, his hanger over Tony Shaw in the 1990 Grand Final always sticks in my mind. But it was his time at Sydney that I followed him closest. His torpedo goals from outside 50 (think he did one in the 1996 GF??) were almost Daicos like. Almost.
    Do you still follow NRL, or abandoned it in favour of the superior code?

  13. Joe Moore says

    Cheers Luke. I must say, the Academy concept is just as crucial to true expansion. Controversial view, I know!

    No, I’ve been a tried and true footy man for many years now. I’ll take a look at State of Origin time (usually ends badly for us Blues), but that’s about it. We have what is without doubt the superior code! Best game in the world.

  14. It’s the little things you remember about guys like Derek Kickett: The quarter time barney in the ’90 Grand Final. Kicked shapes up to both Christian and Kelly (if memory serves) and despite having the numerical, reach and weight division advantage BOTH hang back from taking him on. As we know now, one can only imagine the kind of abuse they were throwing at DK ad Longy. Gutsy. And ridiculously skilled.

  15. Joe Moore says

    Classic DK moment! Those blokes must’ve copped a horrendous time back then. Gutsy and ridiculously skilled is a nice way of describing him I reckon.

  16. Earl O'Neill says

    Great tale, Joe. Derek Kickett is probably my alltime fave player. Certainly the only one I ever wrote a song about. ‘His guernsey’s out, his socks are down, he’s the coolest player running round.’
    Great attitude, giving lip to ruckmen twice his size and causing them to forget their role for a minute or two, truly marvellous skills and a pot belly. His last kick in AFL was a torp in the ’96 Grand Final. We’ll never see his like again and the game is all the poorer for it.

  17. Joe Moore says

    Thanks Earl.

    Hear, hear.

  18. matt watson says

    I remember when North picked up DK.
    Played 12 games with us in 1989.
    Was talented enough to play more. Maybe injury kept him out.
    North offered him a poor contract at the end of the year and he took off to Essendon.
    Such a shame what happened to him in 1993.
    At least he got to play in a grand final…
    Thanks Joe, I love reading about what inspired the fans…

  19. great player,could turn a game with one kick,

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