Peter, playing in four premierships with Warrnambool is a great achievement. We’ll discuss that shortly, but where did your footy career begin?
I was 12 years old when I started playing in the under 17s at Hawkesdale and made my senior debut with the club when I was 15.
We used to live in the old railway house at Hawkesdale. Mum was the station master, while my dad worked on the train lines from Koroit to Penshurst.
The goods train used to go through to Hawkesdale every second day. It would go as far as Penshurst and come back.
I can still remember I played an under 17 premiership side. I kicked 92 goals as a 17-year-old with Hawkesdale and ended up playing one game on permit with Heywood and one with Koroit.
Which path did your footy career go down after Hawkesdale?
Wilf Amarant and John Beard from the Koroit Football Club came and encouraged me to join the club for the 1974 season.
I think I came fourth in the best and fairest for the club. I was working as a clerk for Australian Estates in Hawkesdale when they transferred me up to Shepparton in 1975.
I wanted to come back home for the 1976 season and asked Koroit if they could find me a job, but they had no luck.
I then got a call from Ian “Lefty” Wright at Warrnambool and he said if I played with them, they would get me a job. The funny thing is the job was as a labourer down at the Warrnambool Railway Station.
Koroit never wanted to clear me to Warrnambool, so I stood out of footy for the first game of the 1976 season until I got a clearance to Warrnambool.
I never wanted to leave Koroit but I had to find work. I ended up playing in Warrnambool’s premiership side in 1976. We beat Terang up at Mortlake.
We won the flag again in 1977, defeating Terang, and ended up beating them again to win the premiership in 1978. It was a remarkable achievement to win the three consecutive flags.
We had some wonderful players in that era and there was none better than Daryl Salmon. We played against Terang to win those three consecutive premierships and, believe me, they were tough games. Terang had some wonderful players blokes like John Turner, Chris O’Connor, Bernie and Mark Moloney.
Peter, who did you play for in 1979?
I stayed at Warrnambool. Daryl Salmon was still the coach, but he got a job transfer halfway through the 1979 season to Melbourne and the club asked if I would take over as captain-coach until the end of the year.
I took up the offer. We made the finals but I never coached in 1980.
I was appointed captain-coach out at Grassmere in 1982.
I ended up doing my right knee halfway through the season and I never played in 1983 before going back to Warrnambool in 1984.
How did you perform in 1984?
We defeated Cobden to win the flag. We were premiers and champions under Ray Hawthorn.
I played the season in the back pocket.
I started my career in the back pocket but played in the centre during the middle stages, before going to the back pocket again.
I had a couple of years away from footy after the 1984 premiership before going back to help out at Warrnambool as a selector.
I was asked to go and play with Hawkesdale in 1988.
Shane Quinlan was the coach and we won the flag.
It was wonderful to go out and play for the old town in the premiership side.
I played with Hawkesdale in 1989 and took over as playing coach in 1990, but my career was well and truly over.
Let’s forget the footy for a moment. You mentioned that you worked as a labourer down at the Warrnambool Railway Station many years ago. Where have you worked since then?
For the last 30 years I’ve worked at Midfield Meats, organising livestock and paying accounts. It’s been an incredible journey.
I’ve seen lots of changes and seen the company grow in a very tough industry.
I’ve really got to take my hat off to the management.
They are hands-on and work very hard in making sure people in Warrnambool and surrounding areas have job opportunities.
Peter, can you remember how many games of footy you played at Warrnambool?
I ended up playing 104 games.
I won the best and fairest on two occasions and was selected in Warrnambool’s team of the 20th century, which is a great honour because so many top players have played at the club, and of course I played in four premierships with the club.
What about your other sporting highlight, representing country Victoria in 1980?
We played Canberra and they beat us. I was awarded the best player on the ground trophy.
Former Hawthorn champion Graham Arthur was our coach.
Have you any regrets about your footy career?
I have one regret, to be honest with you.
I was asked to go down and do preseason training with Collingwood in 1974.
Hawkesdale was in the Collingwood zone back in the old days.
I played in a practice game and was one of the best on the ground, but I hated being in Melbourne so I just walked out and never went back.
I’ve often wondered what would have happened with my footy career if I had liked living in Melbourne, but I’m just a country boy at heart.