South to the sea
Friday, 15th April, 2011
By Peter Argent
Strong and fierce at the contest, Chris Duthy had a long and successful tenure with the Glenelg Football Club, playing in back-to-back premierships in 1985-86, before joining VFL side Fitzroy.
Duthy started his football at under-six level as a member of the "Mosquito Fleet" with the South Broken Hill Football Club where he was coached by the legendary Neil Terrel and progressed to A grade football as a 16-year-old.
"I was doing my trade apprenticeship on the mine as a carpenter, and played three or four years of senior football in Broken Hill before coming down to Adelaide," Duthy explained.
"Playing some representative football in Broken Hill's blue and gold jumper was also pretty good.
"My mentors included Vince Gauci and Johnny Lynch - Johnny actually took me down to the grand final to watch Richmond play North Melbourne at the MCG in 1974.
"Lynch is CEO of the Royal Flying Doctor Service (SA) these days."
After initially training with West Adelaide a couple of seasons earlier under Neil Kerley, Duthy, who described himself as laid back and lazy in the early days, arrived at Glenelg in 1982.
He suggested he had some luck on his side.
"John Halbert was the coach in '82 and he proved to be a tremendous influence on me," Duthy said.
"I actually wasn't in the initial 50 players the coaching staff selected for the pre-season weekend training camp at Mount Bracken at Victor Harbour.
"But a couple of players dropped out and I got a reprieve on the Thursday, receiving a phone call to say I was going," he continued.
"I played on (Stephen) Kernahan in a trial down there and they must have thought I did alright, as I played in all the trials and debuted in round one.
"The first game of the year was against Norwood at the Bay in front of 12,000 predominately Glenelg supporters and we had a win," he added.
Duthy played every game in his first season including the thrilling preliminary final where Glenelg beat Port Adelaide by the smallest of margins to make the first of five grand finals for the Bays, where they were - in Duthy's words - "thumped by Norwood".
When asked how he found himself at full back, Duthy explained that then coach Graham Campbell sent him to the key defensive post after team-mate Michael Farquhar suffered a knee injury in a match at Elizabeth.
"Then, when (Graham) Cornes arrived in 1985 he left me at full back forever," Duthy confirmed.
The dual premierships of 1985 and '86 with Glenelg were memorable highlights of a decade at the Bay.
"The first one, in 1985, was more of a relief and we were under a fair bit of pressure to win it after Glenelg had lost so many since 1973," Duthy said.
"At half-time we knew we were in with a big chance as we'd had a good second term.
"That was a pretty handy team, and 'Kerners' (star forward Stephen Kernahan) kicked six or seven from centre half forward," he added.
"Going into the 1986 grand final as underdogs, that win was much enjoyable. It was party time after that win.
"Actually, the club played in six grand finals during my time there," Duthy recalled.
After the 1986 triumph, David Parkin from Fitzroy travelled from Melbourne and spoke to Duthy, asking if he'd be interested in going to Victoria.
He was drafted by the 'Roys, and lived a dream he had from 1974 of running out to play of the MCG.
"I was 27 at that stage, and my first opponent was Peter Moore," Duthy recalled.
"But after three games I ripped the groin from the bone and played just four or five reserves matches at the end of the year.
"Once I had an operation, I knew it was time to come back to SA," he continued.
Duthy would play a total of 201 league games for the Bays, with his final match coming in the 1992 grand final loss to Port Adelaide.
During his career Duthy faced off against some of the best forwards in this decade of SANFL footy (when many people thought the game in South Australia was at its zenith) including Rick Davies, Roger Luders, Tim Evans, Rudy Mandemaker, the larger than life Grenville Deitrich and Alan Jakovich.
His premiership team-mate and now media identity Chris McDermott described Duthy as a tough and very athletic defender.
"Chris was a little unheralded in our team, and he was so much more that a dour defender - although his nick name was 'Spoiler'," McDermott said.
"He had strong hands, used reflex handball and was a creative full back that would dash down the field.
"He was magnificent to have alongside you on the field and even better off it," McDermott added.