Saturday, June 13, 2020

Vale John Wilson Kirkpatrick (7-6-1940 - 11-6-2020)

Photo:  John Kirkpatrick with his 1971 Rothmans Gold Medal, valued at $800.

One of Tasmania’s best-ever footballers, John Kirkpatrick, has passed away in Hobart after a long illness aged 80.

John was from Dumfries in Scotland and came to Tasmania with his wife Elizabeth and children Billy and Shirley in the 1960s.

He played with Scottish First Division club Queen of the South, a club nicknamed The Doonhamers.

He was player-coach and captain of South Hobart from 1969 until 1971.

In his first season at South Hobart, he was named as radio station 7HO’s player-of-the-year.

Photo:  The inaugural Rothmans Gold Medal won by John Kirkpatrick in 1971. [Courtesy of Billy Kirkpatrick]

John won the inaugural Rothmans Gold Medal as Tasmania’s best-and-fairest footballer in 1971.

He won with 26 votes, two more than runner-up Joe Hanna of Juventus.  The other vote-getters were Harry Robinson (White Eagles) and Brian McKay (Olympia) 19 votes, Paul Jones (Caledonians) 18 votes, Jack Dilba (Rapid) 17 points, George Sarfalvy (Croatia Glenorchy) and Robin Mills (Metro) 15 votes. 

The previous season, he was named as one of the top 10 footballers in Tasmania.

Photo:  John Kirkpatrick (second from right) at the 1983 presentation at which Liam Monagle (third from right) won the Rothmans Gold Medal.  Some previous winners are also in the photo (L-R):  Danny Spendiff (1977), Brian Davidson (1979 and 1980), Larry Nunn (1978) and, far right, Brian McKay (1973). [PlessPix]

John left South Hobart at the end of the 1971 season after he and South Hobart could not agree terms and he joined Croatia Glenorchy as their player coach.

The transfer was a cause of controversy as he was a paid coach for South Hobart but an amateur player and he wanted the same arrangement at Croatia.

South Hobart wanted a transfer fee as they claimed he was a professional player.

Kirkpatrick denied this and a subsequent investigation by the Tasmanian Soccer Association found in his favour.  Upon examination of relevant documents, it was found that the term ‘professional’ had been inserted in the South Hobart paperwork without his knowledge.  The word ‘amateur’ had been changed to ‘professional on a relevant document but the handwriting could not be traced to any individual.

Photo:  John Kirkpatrick at KGV Park [Courtesy of Billy Kirkpatrick]

John was player-coach and captain of Croatia Glenorchy in 1972 and 1973 and the club won the Lloyd Triestino Cup in 1972 after beating Caledonians 6-3 in the final.

He demanded discipline and commitment from his players and did not hesitate to drop even big-name players if he felt the player was not giving it his all.

John was an excellent player and read the game to perfection from the heart of the defence.

In both 1971 and 1972, charity matches were played in Hobart between a Great Britain selection and a Rest of the World XI.  John was selected for the Great Britain team in 1972 which lost 2-1 to the Rest of the World side.

He was hard as nails and was often seen as the ‘enforcer’ of the teams he played for.  He told me he would get very annoyed if opponents ‘butchered’ any of his team-mates.  He would have a word with them and warn them not to do it again or retribution would ensue.  If it happened again, John would ensure that the perpetrator would get his comeuppance, all within the laws of the game, of course.

I shall miss chatting to John at Northgate and at the former Pane Cucina café in North Hobart.

We would talk about the Tasmanian game in the past and also discuss the merits of the modern game and he always called a spade a spade.

John also played for Taroona St Mirren and was on the committee of the PO Saints club.

His son, Billy, was a star of Caledonians and Croatia Glenorchy in the 1980s.

John is survived by his wife, Elizabeth, son Billy and daughter Shirley, and grandchildren Jyden, Shae, Benn, Hamish, Brodie and Sophie.

Photo:  John with his wife Elizabeth [Courtesy of Billy Kirkpatrick]


Danny Donohoe said...

Wonderful man so knowledgeable about the game will be missed

Brendan Lakoseljac said...

Thoughts are with Billy and the Kirkpatrick family
Father and son certainly could play!

Anonymous said...

These are the type of imports that are missing from today's game. South changing the paperwork Wow!

The Phoenix said...

Sympathy to Billy and his family.

Oxford said...

Condolences to the Kirkpatrick family.
John was always kind enough to provide guidance and advice when asked, I often sought him out for a critique of my game.
And, he was always a reassuring sight when you had to front the tribunal, for at least you knew as a player that John knew what was involved when out on the park in the heat of battle.