Timeless tales

John Duffy.

John Duffy.

A lifelong passion for sport has brought John Duffy many of his most prized moments.

The rugby league enthusiast details a most significant moment in 1946, when, just a boy, he was chosen to play a special role in the Australia v England clash.

“The Pommies came out here and we played against them, and I got the job of ball boy,” John said.

“My word those Poms play rugby league well, they beat us in that game, it was quite a thing to be involved.”

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Moving forward from the once in a lifetime experience, the Sydney Roosters fan played for Randwick and was part of the 1951 championship team.

For a period, he was also president of the Liverpool Second Division Rugby League Club.

A love of sport has been something John has passed on to his children.

“One of my sons still umpires the local cricket games,” he said.

“I had an uncle who won every Australian boxing championship in one year, and in the same year he won three out of five big swimming events.

“It never rubbed off,” he laughed, “I was never international level or anything, but sport was always a good way to meet people.”

And meet people John did, first laying eyes on his wife, Betty, while he was playing a game of rugby in Sydney.

“She was playing basketball at the same sporting complex when I saw her the first time,” he explained.

“In the season of 1951 my team won the premiership, and her team won their premiership too.

“I went home and said to my mother, “I’ve met the girl I’m going to marry.” and I did.

“She was beautiful, I used to call her beautiful Betty Boggs from Bondi”, we were married 62 years.”

John and Betty bought their first house in Liverpool when they were 30, and lived there happily for nine years, before moving to Mittagong, NSW and investing in a Motel. 

John was a dedicated member of the Mittagong Lions Club for 30 years, earning life membership. 

“We lived there and our children grew up there, but we were were always coming up to the Great Lakes,” he said.

“Forster was where my daughter met the guy she married, they owned both the pubs in town, and half of everything else too.”

Now happily set up at BaptistCare Kularoo Centre, John has children and grandchildren spread all across the state, with one daughter still living in Forster, one in Nowra and the two boys in Sydney.

One of John’s most prized possessions is a photo book of memories, gifted to him by his family.

“My youngest son made me this book to remind me of everything and keep all the memories together,” he said.

The glossy, colourful pages depict many smiles and happy moments, family events, sporting triumphs, and, of course, that special day in 1946 when John ran out onto the field with the Australian rugby league team.