When researching football in NSW I came across a player who we would term today, as a “real gun”.
He is Garth Burkett who represented New South Wales against Victoria on the SCG in 1949 where he was named one of the best. He was chosen as vice-captain of the state side in the 1950 Carnival in Brisbane where again he was one of the best in the three games he played.
Garth Burkett was the coach of West Broken Hill between 1949 to 1951. As a 22 year old he came from the West Adelaide Club where he had won their best and fairest as a youngster in 1945 & 46. At the age of 17 was a regular member of the West Adelaide team.
What prompted him to apply for the coach’s job in Broken Hill is a mystery, although, it may well have been money. He was one of 15 applicants from South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania for the position and was joined at WBH with fellow West Adelaide player, Bob Lee.
He began work as a fitter and turner at the Zinc Corporation in Broken Hill in March 1949.
Burkett had already represented South Australia against Victoria and Western Australia as well as in the South Australian team that contested the ANFC Carnival in Hobart in 1947. At the time of his appointment at WBH he was regarded as the best player in the state of South Australia.
In his first season with West Broken Hill he took them to their first premiership in ten years and during his time at Broken Hill represented the league on a number of occasions. He won the league B&F Medal in 1949 and his club’s best and fairest award in 1949-50 & 51.
In 1952 at 24 and still in his prime, Burkett then accepted playing position at the Stansbury Club on the York Peninsular and together with former West Adelaide team mate and coach, Jack Broadstock, was instrumental in making the club one of the most powerful in the area.
Then in 1954 Burkett returned to West Adelaide and represented South Australia against Victoria in July of that year yet again being named as one of the team’s best in a losing match. He was again identified as one of West’s best in their grand final defeat against Port Adelaide.
In 1956 Burkett, still only 29 was signed as captain coach of the Myponga Club (south of Adelaide) in the then Southern Football Association (now Great Southern) at a reputed fee of two hundred and twenty five pounds (in excess of $7,300 today) , taking them to a flag in 1957. Ironically Burkett is not in the club’s best team 1946-66.
Unfortunately we can find no further information on Garth following the 1957 season.
He was a true champion who perhaps should have played in the VFL.