HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE
Phillip Michael NARKLE
|Date of Birth||29th January 1961|
GAMES: 249 – Swan Districts 187; St Kilda 48; West Coast Eagles 18; WA 5
PREMIERSHIPS: Swan Districts 1982, 83, 90
HONOURS: Sandover Medalist 1982, Runner-Up 1981; Swan Districts Fairest and Best 1981, Colts Medallists Medal 1977
Phil Narkle finished his career one game short of the 250-milestone, but if sheer magical skill and entertainment value counts for anything, surely that missing game should be discovered somewhere.
After all, the boy from Bunbury didn’t earn the nick-name of ‘Magic’ for nothing – his skills were exquisite as he weaved his way forward from his wing and despite his relatively small size (65kgs and 175cms) he was a will-o-wisp magician among the tall timber.
Narkle first played in Perth with a combined Bunbury Little league team at Bassendean Oval – in front of the big crowd approaching 10,000 at the time – and he marveled at this ‘city football business.’
Several years later, he was brought back from Bunbury, this time to sit on the reserves bench for the fourths team….aged 13, with big baggy shorts and a black-and-white Guernsey at least a dozen sizes too big. Country zoning was about to be implemented and with brother Keith already established at Swan Districts, the Bassendean club was determined not to lose their grip on the second Narkle, so they took a punt and qualified him with that day on the bench.
The gamble proved a real winner. Narkle won the Medallist’s Medal for the Fairest and Best player in the WAFL colts in 1977 when he made the move to the city and he was 16 when he stepped into the league side the next season – and by the time he was 20, a Sandover Medal for the best player in league ranks was hanging around his neck.
Under the coaching of harsh task-master John Todd, the rebuilt Swan Districts were on a roll and three successive premierships were on the menu. Narkle only featured in the first two, as the lure of Victorian football called him to St Kilda, where he suddenly found himself playing with many of his childhood heroes.
His Victorian football was affected by leg muscle injuries, but he still notched 48 games in three seasons…and then came the West Coast Eagles.
WA’s first team in the national competition worked hard to entice a number of established stars back West and Narkle was one early target. Subsequently, he was on a wing when the Eagles beat Richmond in their 1987 debut and he finished the season with All Australian selection.
But he hurt a knee early in 1988 and was delisted by the Eagles, who now had his old Swans Coach in Todd at the helm. However, a year later he was re-drafted, returning to play nine more games in the 1990 season under new coach Mick Malthouse before finally calling it a day. The magical comeback year saw him fluctuate between the Eagles and Swans….and he was at Subiaco Oval again for the second dose of grand final glory….ironically, under Todd.