This is the story of one of the Club's Junior teams of 1968, who we believe to be the 5 stone, 7 pound representatives at the time (weight instead of age in those days!)
What innocent young faces they were in those days.......... yet we have it on good authority that they were anything but!
For the record, this team were runners up in the competition and potentially were one of the best teams ever to pull on the mighty Five Dock jersey. Coached and mentored by the legendary Billy Byatt, and with the no nonsense and strict Bernie Franny drawing up the weekly game plan as team manager, this team played outstanding football week in, week out.
With the forwards bunched together with the backs, and the backs intertwined with the forwards, every week spectators saw one small bunch of kiddies running all over Barnwell Park much to the encouragement of their vocal parents on the sideline.
This team oozed class. Even at such an early age, the Owens boys set the standard with their determined running and were an inspiration to all of their team mates. Johnny Elliot regularly starred for the team, often grazing his knees on the Barnwell turf. On one particular occasion when it looked like his bottom lip was about to quiver after a particularly heavy bump, Peter Sullivan ran past and teased the befallen Elliot about his predicament. This automatically saw young Elliot spring to his feet and and chase Sullivan all over the paddock to somehow try and get even, forgetting the state of play of the game; much to coach Byatts displeasure.
Paul Beger was another player to be reckoned with in this team. The secret move of giving it to The Tank from a penalty tap in the hope he would steam roll the opposition, would more often than not work for the mighty Dockers. Many an Enfield Federal or Concord United opposition player was left lying strewn on the ground after Beger had finished with them.
The team had speed to burn with Jimmy Hamil and Peter Byatt always at the vanguard when scoring movements were on. After all, ‘player of the match’ prize in those days was awarded a Cadburys Freddo and it was highly contested. After one game when Stephen Gillespie was awarded the prize, Keith Gorton looked jealously on as the wrapper was slowly taken off the Freddo and suddenly lunged forward to snatch the chocolate. On that day, 13 excited youngsters were last seen heading towards the fringes of Gadsen & Hughes in hot pursuit of the Freddo, much to the concern of the gathered parents.
In any case whether winners or losers, at games end coach Byatt would always shout the kids a mixed bag of cobbers, snakes, freckles and musticks, always served with love and kindness from those two darlings at the canteen Dot and Mary; while Billy and Bernie would discuss who the teams best player was over a quiet Resches Pilsner behind the Frannys 65 HD Holden.
Yes they were the days all right. No i-Pads, computer games, Twitter or Facebook to keep the kids inside on a nice winters day. It was Saturday morning at Barnwell and a clip over the ear from Mr Franny if you misbehaved.