Goodbye to a legendary footballer

Dewhirst was a key member of the Booborowie’s golden era where they dominated the North Eastern competition

Vale – John Dewhirst

John Dewhirst, (standing - third from left) 1957 PAFC grand final team

John Dewhirst, (standing - third from left) 1957 PAFC grand final team

A member of the Port Adelaide 1957 SANFL league premiership team, John Dewhirst was among the rich history of country football, hailing from the township of Booborowie.

John Dewhirst is pictured at training for the Port Adelaide side.

John Dewhirst is pictured at training for the Port Adelaide side.

Sadly, last Friday, aged 82 he passed after an extended illness.

John Dewhirst signs autographs with a couple of his Port Adelaide team-mates.

John Dewhirst signs autographs with a couple of his Port Adelaide team-mates.

A forward in his younger days who developed into a powerful defender, Dewhirst was a key member of the Booborowie’s golden era where they dominated the North Eastern (NEFL) competition, winning seven premierships in a row from 1961.

He played in nine North NEFL flags across an 11-year period from 1959.

John Dewhirst, back row second from left, poses with his team-mates.

John Dewhirst, back row second from left, poses with his team-mates.

A noted and accomplished footballer Dewhirst was runner-up to both of ‘59 and ‘61 NEFL Mail Medals and was third in ‘67 and fourth again in the 1968 count.

He was a perennial NEFL representative player during that epoch and his son, Craig, after representing his state at Teal Cup (state under 17) level would go on to play 177 SANFL League games with South Adelaide.

An accountant by trade, and in business with his father Ron in Booborowie, Dewhurst was scouted by Port Adelaide talent spotters during a season where kicking 114 goals for his home club.

He would travel the 177 kilometre one-way trip from his country home to Alberton Oval to train and play.

He played the single SANFL reserves game in ’55 to be qualified with the Magpies.

Dewhirst had a season at seconds’ level in ’56, before a broken fibula in the finals series prevented him from making an initial league appearance during the major round.

He made his league debut across half-back in ’57, breaking into the potent Port Adelaide outfit during this stellar period.

The Magpies ‘57 flag was the fourth of a record six in a row at State League level in front of a then record crowd of 58,924 patrons at Adelaide Oval.

Port Adelaide came from six points down at three quarter time in this match and kicked five goals in the last quarter to defeat Norwood by 11 points, 15.15 (105) to 13.16 (94).

This was Dewhirst’s ninth game of league football and he played a handful of matches in ‘59 before business commitments forced him to return to rural football.

Earlier this year, with fellow Port Adelaide premiership players of the 1950s, Dewhirst was honoured with Port Adelaide Hall of Fame as a premiership player from the era that is seen as the cornerstone to the beliefs and philosophies which made the Magpies one of the most feared opponents in the game over the next half a century, an accolade he was proud to achieve.

Dewhurst was a consistent North Eastern representative player and played alongside some of fellow iconic players at representative level including Barry Eberhard, left-footed indigenous talent Keith Warrior, John Villis and the Cousins boys, including triple Mail medal-winning brothers, Frank and Kevin Cousins, along with South Adelaide SANFL league footballer, Peter Sullivan.

During the halcyon days of the club, local folklore has that in one game at the large Booborowie Oval, John Dewhirst drop kicked the ball from the square at full back in to the centre of the ground, and his team-mate then proceeded to slot in through for a goal. Dewhirst moved to the city with his young family in the late 1970s.

His funeral is tomorrow, Thursday May 24, at 11am at the Unley Park Baptist Church.

As a mark of respect for his grandfather, Luke Dewhirst and his year nine A grade team-mates at Sacred Heart wore black armbands on Saturday in the clash with St Peters.