Rocky’s Ratpack 1982: The King Is Dead (Cancel That)

RockysRatpack82

In the absence of a reunion for the 1982 Adelaide University A9 premiership team, I’ve put together a virtual one for the mighty Rocky’s Ratpack lineup from that day.

Brian ‘Rocky’ Austin (Coach)

Adelaide’s answer to Rake’s Cleaver Greene, Rocky was a playing coach who wasn’t in the best 20 players. His inspirational words during the GF, “get up Swisha you weak dog” would have spurred me on to even greater heights had I heard them. Rock’s phenomenal networking skills (and ability to fiddle the mid-season team sheets) resulted in an unbeatable assemblage of Adelaide’s elite offspring leavened with salt-of-the-earth country and state school lads, some of whom had even played for the club during the minor round.

Forwards

Mark Wood (#31)

Mop haired ruckman-forward who had a huge game in ruck and up forward. Tall, blonde, good looking, with one of those floppy fringes that you see at the Head of The River under a straw boater.

Mike Higgs (#36)

Didn’t get a sniff. Must have had pictures of Rocky and Dame Roma Mitchell in a compromising position. Subbed off early, the Bert Thornley of the Ratpack. To be fair, he’d kicked a few bags on the way to the finals.

Mark ‘Swish’ Schwerdt (#69)

Got lucky. Three times.

Half Forwards

Peter ‘Young’ Maddern (#33)

Lined up on the trotting track surrounding Weigall Oval at the start of the game and just got wider. Still managed to slot four majors. The first Richmond supporter I ever met, he taught KB his signature double arm-raise. Amazingly selfless devotion to the Blacks as both Chairman and President for countless years. The only person in town who is still against the Adelaide Oval upgrade. Serial biotech CEO. (I had some Bionomics shares once)

‘Bustling’ Billy Griggs (#5)

First appeared in the second semi-final. Spent the earlier winter months stitching up drunks and slow footballers at the RAH Casualty. Booming exponent of the screwy as it was called in our parts. Kicked a 70 metre goal in the second quarter. Almost as famous for his work during the Bali bombings and the only member of this team (so far) to have his own Wikipedia page.

Peter ‘Biggles’ Watherston (#15)

Played like Russell Ebert. A most courageous player, Wathers went on to be a 747 pilot (I can’t ride a bike). Burst out of the centre, hitting the leading forwards on the white V, lace out a dozen times each week. Took more running bounces than Eddie Palubinskas (look him up).

Centres

Craig Siviour (#21)

Hard as nuts, inside player who lined up on the outside. Beautiful kick. Big last quarter. Wore the lace up with distinction.

Danny ‘Buster’ Hyams (#89)

Second quietest bloke on the team. Best nickname ever.

Steve ‘River’ Murray (#71)

Quietest bloke on the team. Worst nickname ever.

Half Backs

Michael ‘Mad Max’ Hughes (#8)

Banksia Park High School alumnus with whom I had a natural affinity. Uncanny ability to weave out of defence while holding the top of ball in his right hand only, at shin height, before placing it to advantage. Never lost his feet or a one-on-one (remember those). Now Brisbane Airport’s answer to Lloyd Bridges.

Richard ‘King’ Karutz (#4 – elastoplast)

Only able to take the field due to the horse syringe full of novacaine donated by one of the Club sponsors, the SA Health Commission. Impassable at CHB early, but some say that he only got BOG because he was coach’s pet (or was that just me?). Two huge last quarter marks, starting the fabled last play of the game

Karutz-Wood-Pedler-Schwerdt-flag

Robert ‘Fat Sound’ Hoile (#2)

All elbows and knees, you messed with Dr Bob at your peril. Largest nose this side of Pete Townshend, sired a future Miss Universe Australia finalist – go figure. Played his guts out.

Full Backs

Greg ‘Don’t Get’ Moody (#68)

Army Reservist and played like one, in a good way. You’d want him on your side in the trenches.

‘Dialing’ Darryl Watson (#201)

Hardest of hard men, back when hard men were hard. Volatile, moody, erratic, just the type of person you’d expect to go on to be a Clinical Senior Lecturer in Psychology. Best game I’ve ever seen a full back play.

Ian ‘Dope’ Pedler (#28)

Wiry geologist who could run all day and was there when the whips were crackin’ deep into the fourth quarter. Dished off the flag winning handball.

1st Ruck

Tim Suter (#57)

Slumming it in 1982. Played A1 in future years. Big leap.

Justin Bessell (#50)

Skilful ruck-rover in the G Cornes mould. Went on to be a specialist in the field of obesity. I’ve got his number.

‘Slammin’ Sam Paltridge (#11)

Couldn’t get him to change off the ball, so I just had to spend most of my time in a forward pocket, while he ran and ran all day, racking up clearance after clearance. I think that was called specialisation of labour when I did my Economics degree. It worked.

Went on to become:
Senior Policy Analyst, Division for Digital Economy Policy, Directorate of Science Technology and Innovation, OECD

(I’ve got an iPad)

Interchange

‘Big’ Jim Richardson (#42)

Team man personified, cruelly injured early in the piece. Runs Security for Adelaide Casino. Handy to know.

Bill Natt (#64)

Utility. Mechanical Engineer. Every side had one. Very handy in last quarter.

 

Adelaide Uni                      3.0         8.2         10.5       14.5(89)

Riverside                             5.3         7.6         9.9         12.11(83)

Best Players: Karutz, Wood, Hoile, Pedler, Schwerdt, Watherston

Goals:    Maddern 4, Griggs 3, Wood 3, Schwerdt 3, Hyams

============================================================================
30+ years later, this lobbed in my inbox

December 2014 – email from Rocky via Rulebook

Rulebook, Please feel free to disseminate this email to the appropriate people through your Greys database

Dear Rulebook,

I refer to our recent chat regarding The King, (Richard Karutz) amongst other things the 1982 Tony Brown Trophy winner for his effort in the Ratpack’s Grand Final win over Riverside.

He was a wild man and a personality at the club. Entertaining and unpredictable. The stories about him are legion.

A few things people may not know: he was a naturally gifted athlete: a professional runner – the 400m was his speciality: Pro running events were usually on Sunday mornings; The King usually drank himself into oblivion on Saturday nights after a day on the park with the Blacks: he still ran well bruised and hangover. If he trained his times would have seen him qualify for Commonwealth Games but because he had run professionally he was ineligible. That’s how it work backed then. So what the Fck, no whitewash for me, he says, just run around the park for a couple of hundred bucks on a Sunday.

In the mid 70’s when the SANFL was still a powerhouse Sturt talent scouts spotted him at Flinders Uni (where he studied for his first year before moving to Adelaide Uni); he was invited to train with Sturt and attend their pre season training camp. The legendary Jack Oatey tried to give the King some advice on how to improve his kicking; King didn’t take criticism well , not even constructive criticism from the great Jack, so he told him to F… off, walks out of the camp and went to play semi professional at Mitcham before I got him to come to Uni.

A number of years ago The King moved to Hong Kong to pursue a career as a construction lawyer. He was successful and held senior government appointments.

Tragically King was struck down with illness two and a half years ago. He has been very ill ever since.

At the risk of breaching the King’s privacy ( although given the amount of medical treatment he has had in the last two years he probably has no privacy remaining) I will set out his email to me just over a week ago:

< private email from King outlining his medical circumstances>

This is very grim news. As you can see King is bedridden and his days are numbered. He is communicating the the outside world via voice recognition on iPad. It may give him a lift to hear from some Blacks/Greys from the old days. It might piss him off too: just don’t know with The King: but better to piss him off and let him know that the Blacks family remember him and love him while we still can.

============================================================================

Rocky had kept me up to date with King’s travails and I knew that he was still living overseas, as he had been since the 1990’s

I wrote King a brief email, thanking him for his part in making me a Blacks premiership player.

I received a brief reply, where he was far too generous in his assessment of my prowess.

I was glad to have made contact after more than 25 years, but I had figured that I was saying goodbye, not hello.

============================================================================
March 2015 – email from King Karutz to myself

Made the decision to return to Australia. My brother lives in Melbourne and I have returned! I am at the Alfred Hospital. Not sure where you are but if you are in the vicinity please drop in.

============================================================================
Not long after this, King was transferred to a rehab hospital close to where I live.

I dropped in on him a few days later. The first thing he said was that he didn’t ever remember speaking more than a couple of sentences with me in our playing days. He was right, we hardly knew each other apart from our brief time in the parklands of Adelaide. And yes, from Rocky’s email, I was not sure whether King still had the power of speech, but of course, he did.

We caught up as well as two virtual strangers could.

It was clear to me that, while he may have been in a dark place, it wasn’t as dark as where he had come from. We connected over a mutual love of 70s/80s Punk/New Wave, so I decided to send him a track a day. Graham Parker and Radio Birdman proved to be particular favourites.

I also pointed him to the Footy Almanac, he’s now a big fan.

Next time I dropped by, we absconded a kilometere or so away to the local pub, which was not designed for wheelchair access. Once we comically found our way in, King treated himself to his first steak in years.

I made one more visit before Easter, making sure that I came fully loaded with fruit and nut chocolate.

He had made good enough progress that King was able to move in with his brother, The Prince, the Prince’s Bride and their two sons, at The Palace, near the MCG.

While in Adelaide for Easter, I saw a beanie with the single word “King” prominently emblazoned.

I presented it to him one Saturday morning at his nephews’ Auskick clinic.

It hasn’t left his head since.

Uncle King and nephew

Uncle King and nephew

Rocky and I dropped in on King before the Crows/Carlton game a few weeks back. Rocky went back after the game.

Through regular physio, King hopes to be walking again sometime before Xmas.

Plenty of Blacks folk have been in contact with King since his return. I’m sure he wouldn’t mind hearing from a few more.

The Blacks/Greys fellowship is a wonderful thing.

Carn the Blacks.

About Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt

Saw my first SANFL game in 1967 - Dogs v Peckers. Have only ever seen the Dogs win 1 final in the flesh (1972 1st Semi) Mediocre forward pocket for the AUFC Blacks (1982-89) Life member - Ormond Netball Club -That's me on the right

Comments

  1. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Fantastic Swish poignant and funny as always.The Greys( ad uni fc past players) and footy almanac both fantastic ways of communicating look forward to catching up with the King at the,Greys Melbourne lunch on Sunday August 16( thanks Rocky and Swish)

  2. Great stuff Swish. I played, perhaps, 1 game for Rocky that year. Young Madden kicked 7.1 from one half forward flank. I kicked 1.7 from the other. Funnily enough I wasn’t required again. I recall all these blokes and can’t understand how Riverside got so close to a team where they all could have played 1’s. Stacked their team too? Best wishes to King. A true Blacks legend.

  3. Dialing Darryl says

    King Karutz was every bit as good as described here. Full backs had an obligation to kick out almost all the time (erratic kicking days excluded) and my only instruction was to kick to the King. High slow Punts falling away from him, never missed them and always one grab. Did some socialising with the King; lets just say Legendary!

  4. 'Big Jim' says

    A brilliant effort Swisher. I’ve just returned from overseas and this has really lifted my spirits to se that the King has made some steps towards recovery. I will be in touch to try to catch up with the legend by email.

    P.S.- 1982 was a great year to be 22 years old!

  5. Luke Reynolds says

    Wonderful stuff Swish.
    The player assesment very funny. Love the nicknames. And numbers.
    How fantastic the Blacks and Greys are. Great stories.
    Are the best players in the Grand Final the official ones from the day or just your opinion??! Either way, good to see you in there Swish!

  6. Fantastic, Swish.

    I am not too sure, but feel you have probably downplayed your role in the flag.

    Good luck to the King with his recovery.

  7. Rick Bizz Sarre says

    I always wanted to meet Buster Hyams, the best nickname ever, but never got the chance. Today it was possible, vicariously, thanks to you Swish.

  8. Love this Swish. Beautifully done. Caught up with Rocky at Bob Neil #1 v Tee Hee Gully a couple of weeks ago and he spoke of King’s remarkable transformation. Carn the Blacks indeed. Amazing community this one. Hope to see you, King & other legends in Melbourne 16 August.

  9. Tim Suter says

    Great article Swish, well played in the 1982 GF.
    Really enjoyed playing with King. One Saturday he lost his contact lenses and despite not being able see more than 10metres, was still able to climb above packs and pull in one handed marks from Dialling Darryls high floating punts!

    King, hope your recovery continues to progress.

  10. Wonderful story Swish. And very funny in parts too! Great work.

  11. King of Passion says

    Great story about the true King. Brings back great memories of my blacks days. The other King

  12. Jeff Milton says

    Great article Swish. What a team of legends that 82 Premiership team was with the King, Rocky, a very wide half forward flanker and many others.
    Brought back memories of my second game for the Blacks (having played in another great team my first game) and being met at the the Park 9 change room doors by the Ox who demanded to know who I was and then being introduced to the coach (who was wearing boxing gloves and gown) and then The King.

  13. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Danny Hyams might have had a great nickname, but he is also the subject of the most world’s most hackneyed headline (so that’s where he is) :

    http://www.thephuketnews.com/from-barrister-to-barista-30400.php

  14. Tom Martin says

    Brilliant Swish. You could change the date from 82 to 92 to 02 to 12 and it wouldn’t seem out of place at the Blacks. Viva Le Roi, Viva Le Ratpaque!

  15. Dave Brown says

    Great read, Swish. As relayed to me upon meeting Rocky, Smokie, Swish won them the game. Whether that was solely in the sense of kicking the winning goal or to the general degree of irony imparted, I cannot say. Others, no doubt, can and will.

  16. Fantastic Swish. Those collective names, nicknames & faces certainly bring back memories. Kudos to you for finding the time and making the effort to catch up with the King. And you can’t go wrong with Radio Birdman!

  17. Extremely enjoyable article.

    Brought back terrific memories.

    Madden, Griggs and Wood were awesome that day.

    Pity we didn’t invite the Riverside boys back to Hold Your Bowlies and buy them beers.

  18. Dick Kimber says

    I dips me lid to the premiership lads, of A9 1982.

    Dick The White Lion Kimber

  19. fat sound says

    well done swish. young maddern has master copies of the st doms prelim (recorded by st doms, rock thought “thats a good idea!”- marred only by their commentary focusing on a “number 2” they believed had swung an elbow..) and the riverside gf , great viewing (if not quite the way “footy is played these days”..), if someone can post young’s email i suggest you harass him for copies and anything else you want to get off your chest.
    all played well, but woody, wathers and the kings last quarter marks , griggs torp, youngs goals for mine. (if swish hadnt made the “nose” comment…)

  20. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Thanks for all of the comments – glad to know I’m not the only one who remembers 1982.

    I’ve got a VHS of the GF, which over the years I burnt to DVD and converted to a digital file. The picture quality has diminished, but not the outcome. Last weekend, I forced myself to watch it again for the first time in ages (at least three or four weeks). The combination of the live action audio (Rocky, Micro, Stranksy, Ox et al) and Chocka’s dubbed commentary is a riot. The BPs were as read out by Chocka.

    King, you are right, those Rivvies blokes were a pretty reasonable bunch of blokes to play against, considering that they would have gone in short priced favourites.

    Sorry about the “nose” comments Fat Sound, but I still haven’t forgiven you for poking fun at my 58kg physique in the showers after one match at Park 9 that year. I refrained from referring to the enormity of other parts of your body (until now).

  21. Well done Swish, great article and great memories. It was no surprise King was BOG having watched him take grab after grab all season. It was easy to be complacent with King at CHB, it seemed a rare occasion that I would have to pick up any crumbs. I remember someone telling me to make a lead for a kick in from full back, I thought “what for”, Dialing Darryl will kick it to King, I will position myself in front of King, King will take the mark and I will run past hoping for a handball. This was the natural order of how things worked in the Ratpack backline.

    King I hope the recovery keeps on going well, Cheers

  22. michael weatherald says

    great to hear all your memories of that great blacks team.will never forget billy griggs goal and the endeavourof all team on that day
    this win was beginning of dominate era of lower grades which still contines today
    and was big factor in future success of club .
    up to this club had been very successfull at the top level but success of the old scholar clubs getting to A1 payment of players was going to make success at top level difficult which history of past 33 years has shown .
    rocky and the king were significant to this with their leadership and team spirtit in bringing this side together.
    i thought the king was the dominant player in grand final with his fearless display
    its good to hear he is getting better after illness and i am sure his football courage and the team sprit support he has got from the team is helping his recovery.
    the photo with his young nephew reminds of the photo day when rocky supported by the king dressed up as superman tod fly off the tennis fence to impress a 4 year old tim and his sister 9 year old sister corrina. they still talk about
    good to hear about you all again and relive the memories
    regards weathers

  23. Pass The Dutschke says

    Well done, Swish. Plenty of legends there

    When I joined the Blacks in 1983 my first team was the Ratpack, first coach – Rocky, first position – rover, first roving partner – Swish and first ruckman – King Karutz. There was no sense of mates basking in a premiership (I don’t think I found out they were ’82 premiers until well into ’83), it felt inclusive.

    Then there was the Aussie Star. It looked like a real footy, felt a bit like one but kicked like no other. The ball was schemed by Rocky, King and Co, most likely designed and tested in wind tunnels by Bob Neil and his colleagues at WRE (now known as DSTO) using the simultaneous equations that typically save the nation.

    The Aussie Star’s purpose was to spiral a minimum of 50 metres with the breeze with a screw punt but only wobble a maximum of 20 against the wind because it was impossible to drop punt. So, with this advanced technology Rocky would offer the ball to the ump at quarter time, when it was our turn with the wind, allowing us to kick well ahead by half time without bothering to enter inside 40. King could boot it 70. Rocky would then offer to take the ball back at half time and return it to the none-the-wiser ump at 3/4 time, giving the opposition no chance of pegging back our lead. The traditional Faulkner used in the 1st and 3rd quarters could travel 40 metres into the wind, well 30 if if kicked by Swish or myself.

    Umps and opposition teams caught on a few games later and the Ratpack had to learn how to kick a Faulkner with the wind again. It was too late – no premiership in ’83 but good memories, many due to King.

    Maybe King or Rocky know if it’s true the Aussie Star ended up in the Science museum, along side the winged keel.

  24. The Silver Bullet says

    Great fun Swish, thanks for all those memories – oh to be able to do it all again.

  25. Dope Pedler says

    Thanks for the memories Swish and the other contributors, those were the days when the value of a wide half forward flanker were truly appreciated and of legendary team dinners at the Siagon restaurant.

    You have been a bit generous in your comments though, I think was more of an underground handball that thankfully bounced in your general direction.

  26. HI,

    just read the article. Great effort. I was shocked to hear about the King. I last saw him at the 125th, at least I think I did (plenty to drink that night). I’ve great memories playing around him (back flank, centre, wing). What a mark! Crap kick. I recall a game at Ethelton. The King took a mark at CHF well within range and the siren went. We were 1 point down. We finished 1 point down – out on the full!

    Can I have his email address?

  27. The great king karutz – keep on the improve – my first game for the blacks a9s in the centre, a little nervous, when out of the corner of my eye I saw a Blacks teammate crouched down with his unit hanging out watering the centre square. – my introduction to the King – he played a great game by the way.

    The Omen

  28. Greg Moody says

    Great article Swish. Didn’t expect the “Army reservist” comparison to surface! I thought I was quieter than “Buster” and “River” – maybe I spoke a few more words to the source(s) of Swisha’s article back in ’82! My biggest recollection from the Grand Final was at the very end of the game – when being “bear hugged” by a big, tearful Daryl Watson. Never seen Daryl cry (with so much joy) after the final siren had sounded! Privileged to play with such a talented list of players and fantastic team-mates who never knew the meaning of giving up in a game of football!

  29. Rabid Dog says

    Fantastic article (as always) Swish.
    Just love the stories of others and their first meeting with the King, so here’s mine:
    New to Club. Wandered over to the old Park 9 where the ratpack were playing, and out the door of the changerooms comes the King, completely naked with his wedding tackle tucked deep behind his thighs, and him exclaiming: “I always wanted to be a girl.” Pissing myself now just thinking about it!
    I won’t mention how funny History tutes were either comprising Decie (sp?) Denholm, the King, Patto, and the current Adelaide Mayor’s sister, as well as someone else I’ve completely forgotten.
    Get well soon King – I’ll keep an eye out for you when I next see the Rock at a blacks game.

  30. Rabid Dog says

    PS Swish – I ventured out to Doggie Park on Saturday for Dogs v the Chooks. The Ladies Auxiliary were selling toffe dolls on a stick. Blue. Only a buck. Didn’t go for one though. Had a beer instead…..

  31. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Rabs, should’ve gone for a bag of donuts from the caravan out the back

  32. chocka bloch says

    Let’s face it folks, the game was won by Young Maddern. Not bad for a St. Peters’ poof!

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