Throughout his distinguished 17-year coaching reign at North Beach, Bill Duckworth was renowned as a coach who refused to bottle up his emotions. If there was something on his mind, it didn’t stay there for long.
So imagine what might have been racing through his grey matter when, in the middle of the 2004 season, a young bloke, who had graduated from the 2003 colts team, was sitting on the bench as it started to rain.
Beside him was his older brother. Next thing, down from the bleaches, came the mother of those two young men, awaiting their opportunity to venture into the cut and thrust of the A-Grade action. She had with her an umbrella…and a jacket, which she offered to her sons.
Diplomacy is not Duckworth’s strong suit, but on this occasion he refrained from making a remark.
“I remember it pretty well,” Duckworth recounted this week. “They were sitting on the bench when their mother came over with the coat and umbrella. I couldn’t believe it, but I couldn’t say what I thought.
“I did ask if she was going to give them a cup of tea and biscuit as well, but that’s as far as it went.”
On scores of probability you might imagine those young blokes would not have enjoyed prolonged careers in the highly competitive world of A-Grade amateurs. But the youngest of those siblings, Josh McGinnity, will this week add to a remarkable career when he plays his 200th game for North Beach.
The highly skilled half-forward, who has played in seven A-Grade premierships and a colts premiership, will join the club’s elite in racking up the double ton – quite appropriately on the same day as long-serving teammate, Reece Cunningham.
“I remember that first A-Grade game,” McGinnity recalled. “I was on the bench with my brother, Ryan, when mum offered the umbrella. I took it, but Ryan didn’t.”
McGinnity started his career at North Beach as a result of going down as a 16-year-old and watching his elder brother strut his stuff in that distinctive red and yellow strip.
Josh played in the A-Colts premiership of 2003 and then played in seven successive A-Grade premierships, meaning he won a premiership medal in each of his first eight years at the club.
“I’m really looking forward to my 200th game,” McGinnity said. “It will be interesting to see how we go. We have to get back on track.
“Over the years we have tended to have a bit of a lull mid-season, so hopefully that game last week against University was it for this year.
“I’m quite proud to play 200 games for North Beach, especially seeing some of the other players who have done it. I’m chuffed to have played at North Beach and to have played that many games, I’m very honoured.”
While McGinnity will take great satisfaction in achieving his milestone, his focus is clearly on winning this match.
“It’s pretty important,” he said. “We are basically playing for a spot in the top three and we need to do it. It’s not so important this year to finish top two because we won’t have a home final regardless, so our main goal should be to get outside the realm of the elimination final.
“Hopefully the boys will respond. We need to turn it around and try to make something out of the season.”
Of the grand final triumphs, McGinnity rates the 2007 match against Wembley as the most memorable.
“In the dying minutes everyone thought we had lost it,” he offered. “Willo (Ben Wilson) kicked the winning goal, but no one remembers the goal I kicked to level the scores.
“I remember in the last quarter a Wembley player grabbed the ball in the last few minutes and was going to kick it on to Vincent Street (the game was at Leederville Oval), but he hit the point post and the ball rebounded back into the ground, so we got the free for out on the full.
“That was also the day that they took Remo (Kyle Riemann) out in the first few minutes, so for all those reasons it was a memorable win.”
McGinnity is one of many players in the last decade or so who could have played WAFL football, but opted to play with his mates at Charles Riley. Hopefully two dedicated servants will celebrate a recognition of their contributions through victories against Whitford.