Career : 1970 – 1973
Debut : Round 10, 1970 vs Footscray, aged 18 years, 288 days
Carlton Player No. 822
Games : 19
Goals : 1
Last Game : Round 5, 1973 vs Fitzroy, aged 21 years, 256 days
Guernsey Nos. 44 (1970-71) and 24 (1972-73)
Height : 183 cm (6 ft. 0 in.)
Weight : 76 kg (12 stone, 6 lbs)
DOB : August 22, 1951
A slimly-framed utility from Newstead, near Castlemaine in central Victoria, Peter Fyffe was somewhat unlucky in that he spent four seasons at Carlton at a time when the club’s list was particularly strong. Premierships in 1968, 1970 and ’72 stamped the Navy Blues of that era as one of the game’s great teams, and although Fyffe twice won Carlton’s Reserves Best and Fairest, he was selected only 19 times at senior level.
In 1968 – at the age of 16 - Fyffe was playing senior football in the Maryborough District Football League for Newstead when he was recruited by the Castlemaine Magpies. The Bendigo League was part of Carlton’s recruiting zone at that time, and it wasn’t long before the promising youngster was on his way to Princes Park. After a handful of games with the Reserves, 18 year-old Fyffe became just the third Blue to wear guernsey number 44 in a senior match (after Maurie Sankey and Ron Stone) when he was selected for his debut against Footscray at the Western Oval in round 10, 1970.
The Blues fell into a slump on that Saturday afternoon, as the Bulldogs inflicted a fourth straight defeat. Fyffe spent the entire game on a wing alongside Dennis Munari and Garry Crane, impressing coach Ron Barassi enough to hold his place in the team through to round 14, when Carlton beat Richmond at Princes Park, and Peter was sent back to the seconds for a breather. Although his form throughout the latter part of the season was consistent, and he was voted Reserves Best First Year Player, he couldn’t earn a recall before Carlton’s senior side won the most famous Grand Final victory of them all - storming home from 44 points down at half-time to vanquish Collingwood.
In 1971, the Blues suffered a perfectly understandable Premiership hangover and finished fifth. Fyffe racked up another five senior games, while the Blues’ coaching staff experimented to find his best position. With the Reserves he was generally employed in the centre or at half-back, but when he stepped up, he was used as a wingman or half-forward. Even so, Peter had an outstanding year on the club’s second tier and was voted Reserves Best and Fairest.
In 1972, Fyffe switched to guernsey number 24 – previously worn by one of the era’s stormy petrels in ex-Richmond star Billy Barrot. He sat on the reserves bench in six of his eight matches for the year, and kicked his one and only career goal in Carlton’s big win over North Melbourne at Princes Park in round 9. In September, as the Blues surged toward another flag with a record-breaking Grand Final triumph over Richmond, Fyffe collected his second Reserves Best and Fairest. After that, he was to play just two more senior games – finishing up with a 37-point win over Fitzroy in round 5, 1973 at Waverley Park.
Later that year, Peter was told by Carlton that he would be playing for Northern Tasmanian club Cooee in 1974, as part of an arrangement to get promising recruit Greg Towns to Princes Park. Throughout the following season, Fyffe and fellow Blue John Warden flew across Bass Strait each Saturday morning to represent the Bulldogs, then flew back after the game. It was an unsuitable arrangement for all concerned, and Fyffe was relieved when it was over. He took a year off in 1975 to complete his business studies, before returning to the field with Castlemaine.
In his second stanza with the BFL Magpies, Fyffe assumed the responsibility of playing at full-back, using his pace and athleticism with telling effect. He captained Castlemaine from 1978 to 1982 and won the club’s Best and Fairest twice – in his first and last years as skipper. He was a fixture in BFL representative sides throughout that time, and generally considered to be still playing his best football when he retired at the age of 31 in 1982.
However, Fyffe’s retirement did not last long. Within 12 months he was talked into a comeback by another former Blue, Tony Southcombe, who was assembling a new team as captain-coach of the fledgling Northern United. Under Southcombe’s leadership, the Swallows gelled into a super combination, winning four consecutive BFL flags between 1984 and 1987. Fyffe was at full-back in the first two of those triumphs, but missed out on the hat-trick when he tore a hamstring in the last training session before the 1986 Grand Final, and retired at the age of 35.
In 2009, after being included in the Bendigo Football-Netball League Team of the 1980s, Fyffe was further honoured when he was named as one of Castlemaine’s 25 greatest players. A year later, he was inducted into the BFNL Hall of Fame.
1984 Bendigo FL: Semi Finals
NORTHERN United and Eaglehawk scored massive wins in the second week of the BFL finals in September, 1984. In fact, so comfortable was the Swallows' second semi-final victory over Sandhurst they firmed to red-hot flag favoritism. And Eaglehawk crushed a placid South Bendigo in the Saturday first semi-final to book a berth in the preliminary final 30 years back. In my back page lead story of September 10th '84 I wrote United had swept aside a lacklustre Sandhurst outfit to grab a grand final spot. "The Swallows turned in an even performance with a number of players top contributors to the team effort. They completely swamped the haphazard Dragons. "The Hurst had no one up forward apart from David Collins who could kick goals --- and at three-quarter time the Dragons had posted only five, anyway." At the opposite end of the QEO United had Ron Best as their focal point and he booted 6.7 for the day. Northern United proved without doubt it had the players, the motivation, the will-to-win and that vital commodity on the QEO: the pace to win. Gate takings were a very handy $3267 (not counting 258 family tickets). There were surprises before the ball was bounced. United captain-coach Tony Southcombe did not play, while John McGrath was one of the two United interchange players.The Dragons were without Phil Pickering (groin) and Paul Johnston (ill). Noel Belsar, generally considered a doubtful starter, took his place in the Hurst 20 once it was known Pickering was a late 'out'. UNITED did all the early attacking but took until the 10-minute mark of the first term to score a major. Scott Niemann found Best for the Swallows' first but Tim Ledwidge replied with a left-foot snap for the Hurst. Two goals each to United's Garry Mountjoy and Best and also to Collins left the Swallows three goals clear at the first break. David Muir blanketed Frank Coghlan although Dragon follower Bernie Sloan took full toll of Southcombe's absence with great around-the-ground marking. Two more goals to Collins narrowed the margin to three points mid-second stanza. Southcombe switched David Ludeman to centre half-back and Trevor Ludeman to centre half-forward. Swallows' majors to Mick Hogan and Leon Holt blew out United's lead and when Dragon midfielder Mark McErvale was pinged for holding the ball Best drove home an after-the-siren major to hand Northern United a 21-point half-time lead. Peter Fyffe had been the sticking point for the Dragons. His anticipation across the United defence broke up many Hurst attacks and he mopped up across the full-back line repeatedly. United really claimed their grand final spot with a withering third term burst of 7.6. Fyffe, Muir and Demeo restricted Sandhurst to a miserable three points in the third quarter as the Swallows took an unassailable 68-point lead into the final change. Of the Swallows' seven majors Muir's was the pick. He hammered home a glorious long shot but Brett Sheldon, Trevor Ludeman, Scott Niemann and Mountjoy all joined in the goal-kicking spree. The Dragons did add some respectability to their scoreline in the last term, posting 7.5 to United's 3.5. Although the Swallows had many fine players, full-back Fyffe was the standout. He came out to meet the ball when that move was needed, continually punched the ball clear in marking contests and swept the ball away from the goalmouth with sureness and aplomb.
Northern United 6.4 9.6 16.14 19.19 (133)
Sandhurst 3.4 5.9 5.12 12.17 (89)
Goals – Northern United: R. Best 6, G. Mountjoy 3, B. Sheldon 2, L. Holt, M. Hogan, D. Trickey, D. Muir, J. McGrath, T. Ludeman, S. Niemann, R. Lea. Sandhurst: D. Collins 6, T. Ledwidge 3, R. Blackmore, L. Moore, I. Garland.
Best – Northern United: P. Fyffe, L. Demeo, B. Sheldon, G. Mountjoy, D. Wharton, R. Best, S. Niemann, G. Evans. Sandhurst: B. Sloan (best on ground), D. Collins, M. O'Farrell, N. Belsar, D. O'Connor.
Umpires: M. Anderson, M. Furness. The Football Almanac; Richard Jones.
EAGLEHAWK bounced back from a five-goal loss to the Hurst in the first week of the 1984 finals with an 11-goal thumping of South. Just as importantly the Two Blues had important players in key defender Robert "Ninga" O'Connell and versatile Peter "Roggo" Rogerson play important roles in the win. Both had recovered from injuries to take their places in the Hawks line-up. Early on the Bloods led by three points at half-time in a low-scoring and tight first semi-final and then by a point 10 minutes into the third term. The Bloods had pegged back a three-goal deficit to snatch that one-point lead. Malcolm Balnaves (2) and Terry Noden nailed South majors with Balnaves left unmarked in a pocket to mark and goal for the first of a pair. But then the flood gates opened. Eaglehawk nailed seven majors as the third term wound down to give them 10 for the quarter. Interchange player Ron Pangrazio had come on for his first run as the third term started and bagged three goals for the game, including one after the three-quarter time siren. Skipper Rogerson put on a virtuoso performance mid-term as Eaglehawk stormed to the lead. He left-footed a fine 40m snapped goal and soon after took a pass from Dan Slater to boot a right foot set shot. With two goals each from spearhead Daryl Gilmore and Slater and another from on-baller Steve McDougall (who changed with Rogerson on the ball) Eaglehawk was out to a big lead. O'Connell was too big and too experienced for Shane Ryan. The Eaglehawk defence featuring Bert McIvor, Andrew McDougall and Tony Pierce shut down South's attack, although Brett Moore was busy, as three-quarter time approached. At the last change the Two Blues led by more than six goals, and added another seven in a devastating last quarter.Amazingly, the two clubs had drawn in the final home-and-away round of 1984. That amazing draw had cost South the finals' double chance. By Richard Jones.
Details: First semi-final
Eaglehawk 3.3 5.7 15.13 22.15 (147)
South Bendigo 3.5 5.10 9.11 11.13 (79)
Goals – Eaglehawk: D. Gilmore 4, P. Rogerson 4, R. Pangrazio 3, D. Slater 2, G. Christie 2, A. Evely 2, S. McDougall 2, R. Cartledge 2, N. Monro. South Bendigo: M. Balnaves 3, P. Boyd 2, D. Charles 2, T. Noden 2, P. McCaw, W. Hoiles.
Best – Eaglehawk: R. O'Connell (best on ground), A. Evely, P. Rogerson, S. McDougall, B. Keane, S. Dole, J. Fehring, D. Gilmore, D. Slater. South Bendigo: M. Balnaves, B. Moore, G. Wright, M. Graham, W. Hoiles, T. Noden.
Umpires: J. Fletcher, Ron Threlfall. The Football Almanac; Richard Jones.
FootnotesAfter his retirement from the football field, Peter and his wife Cherryl established a diverse business portfolio, including an opal mine at White Cliffs, NSW, and a flourishing vineyard - Glenwillow Wines - on the family farm at Newstead.
Career Highlights1970 - Reserves Best First Year Player
1971 - Reserves Best & Fairest
1971 - Most Consistent Reserves Player Award
1972 - Reserves Best & Fairest
1972 - Most Consistent Reserves Player Award