Mallee Park Football Club breeds outstanding AFL talent

Port Lincoln may be world-famous for its seafood, but the Eyre Peninsula city is also a major exporter of football talent.

Mallee Park is home to the nation’s most successful indigenous football club, producing 13 AFL players to date. The club’s honour board is a who’s who of incredible talent, with Eddie Betts, Byron Pickett, Graham Johncock, and Shaun and Peter Burgoyne among those to have worn the green and yellow vest.

“I was there every single day of my life growing up – to be able to play with your cousins, your brothers and your best mates was everything,” Shaun Burgoyne tells Brand SA News.

Mallee Park Football Club in Port Lincoln is renowned for exporting AFL talent.

Now a four-time premiership player who has notched up 360 AFL games over 19 seasons at Port Adelaide and Hawthorn, Burgoyne still rates Mallee Park’s first Under 17’s flag among his sporting highlights.

“It was a pretty exciting time for me because I was 11 years old and got to play with Byron Pickett and my older brother Peter, who were both five years older than me, and then in 2004, we all played together in Port’s first AFL premiership,” he says.

Formed in 1981, the Mallee ‘Peckers’ have also claimed 16 senior flags – although club president Jack Johncock tips the tally would be higher if they didn’t keep losing players to the big league.

“We would have won probably another 10 if we had all of our boys home,” he grins.

So is there a secret to the Peckers’ success?

Crows star footballer and former Peckers player Eddie Betts, centre, trains with the team in Port Lincoln.

“If I knew the secret I’d get some more AFL players!” Jack laughs. “The reality is that the indigenous community is football-mad; as soon as the kids can hold a footy they’re kicking it around, and they pick up the skills pretty quickly. Indigenous kids are renown for good hand-eye co-ordination and peripheral vision, and they’re very athletic. Put all of that together with a bit of fitness and they come out alright.”

Leonard Wells, the nephew of Collingwood midfielder Daniel Wells, is widely considered the next Mallee Park draft prospect, with Ronald Carbine junior also showing star potential.

“Every year, some of our kids go across to our SANFL zone club Norwood, and with a bit of luck we’ll get another few playing AFL,” Jack says. “The best thing about it is that they don’t forget where they came from – they always come back to visit.”

Mallee Park Football Club Under 11 2018 Premiers … could it be the next generation of AFL talent?

Jack’s own son, former Adelaide Crows defender and all-Australian, Graham Johncock, returned home after 13 AFL seasons and coached the Peckers to two premierships in 2015 and 2016. Other players remain heavily committed at the top level, and their old Mallee Park teammates are their biggest supporters.

“Shaun Burgoyne has played 360 AFL games, Eddie Betts just clocked up his 300th, and four of the boys have played at the highest level representing Australia,” Jack Johncock says.

“They’re personal achievements, but they’re also the club’s achievements and we’re really proud.”

The Mallee Peckers play their first game for the season against Marble Range on Saturday, April 27.

Got a good story idea? Nominate a story from your region.
Click here to nominate >>

These inspiring regional stories are made possible by:

Major Partner[logooos_saved id=”5491″]

Program Partners[logooos_saved id=”29687″]


Top 10 SA pubs to catch the Grand Final action

By Cat Lever

Front bars across SA will be pouring pints and flying flags this Saturday for what will (hopefully) be the greatest day the Adelaide Football Club has seen since 1998.

We’ve compiled a list of the Top 10 SA pubs to catch the thrills and spills of the AFL Grand Final Day, whether it’s in the city or outback South Australia.

Not only do pubs create a pumping atmosphere on grand final day, but they are also pretty important to the SA economy.

A 15% increase in turnover in the hotel industry could lead to the creation of 2049 more jobs.

So unravel that Crows scarf and head down to one of these watering holes! #ichoosesa

Oh, and GO CROWS!

1. THE ARKABA (Adelaide Metro)
There’ll be no standing on tip toes at this pub to catch a glimpse of the game on the screen. The Ark has big TVs to capture all the action.

A players sweeps will also entertain the masses, and free schooners will be awarded every time your player gets a goal. (Drink responsibly if you pick Eddie Betts).

2. THE FEATHERS HOTEL (Adelaide Metro)
Named best Australian beer garden at the national Australian Hotel Association Awards recently, The Feathers’ celebrations kick off from 12.30pm.

Footy food platters, drink specials and post-game entertainment will be on offer, $35 per person.

3. THE HAVELOCK (Adelaide Metro)
Word is that the ‘Havy’ will be a safe haven for Richmond fans. For $70pp, enjoy four hours of drinks and a gourmet barbecue lunch.

For $30pp, footy food will roll out every quarter, plus bites before the game, while exclusive drink specials will be available.

The Coopers Alehouse on

The Coopers Alehouse in Adelaide’s CBD is putting on a lock-in lunch.

4. THE ORIGINAL COOPERS ALEHOUSE (Pulteney Street, Adelaide)
The alehouse is putting on a lock-in lunch ($65pp) featuring finger food, selected tap beers, wine and soft drink siren to siren.

Cheer on the boys at the Port Noarlunga Hotel, which is having an all day happy hour.

At half-time an U.G.L.Y barbecue will start sizzling, with donations going to the Leukaemia Foundation.

6. THE RENMARK CLUB (Riverland)
Two game-day packages will be on offer. One is pints of house beer and cider, glasses of wine and half-time snacks ($60pp).

The other is pints of house beer and cider, glasses of wine, house spirits and half-time snacks, $120pp.

The Prairie Hotel in outback SA.

The Prairie Hotel in outback SA.

7. PRAIRIE HOTEL (Outback)
The Prairie Hotel, in Parachilna 500km from Adelaide, never has a TV but this weekend calls for change.

The Prairie will bring in a telly screening the game in their new Stratco pavilion.

This pub is also renowned for its native Flinders dishes featuring kangaroo mettwurst, emu paté, and bush tomato chilli jam.

8. PORT LINCOLN HOTEL (Eyre Peninsula)
This seaside pub is part-owned by Crows legend Mark Ricciuto, so they will be playing the game live and loud.

Adelaide band Keep the Change will play live after the game.

9. THE PENNESHAW HOTEL (Kangaroo Island)
Feeling knowledgeable on game day? Try your hand at the AFL 20-question quiz, while a sausage sizzle keeps hunger at bay.

The whole pub will be decorated in Crows colours. Festivities start from 1pm.

The Marion Bay Tavern on the Yorke Peninsula.

The Marion Bay Tavern on the Yorke Peninsula.

10. MARION BAY TAVERN (Yorke Peninsula)
Six plasmas with surround sound and a prize for the best dressed couple are bound to create some noise.

The pub is also hosting The Yorkes Surfing Classic, which is one of the biggest amateur surfing events in SA, so it will be a huge day for the bay.

*Please drink responsibly*

Visit I Choose SA to find out how you can support our State by choosing South Australian businesses, products and services.

[logooos_saved id=”13411″]