Recalling Artie’s start in Rugby League
DURING the early 1960s, John Fyfe, a Chatsworth horse breeder, played with league legend Arthur Beetson at the beginning of his career.
With the celebration of what would have been Arthur Beetson's 70th birthday this month, many memories surfaced for his Roma football comrades. Arthur (Artie) Beetson was the first indigenous Australian to captain his country in any sport, and the man regarded as the finest front-rower to play the game.
Although Beetson's career was initially launched when he played for Redcliffe in Brisbane, Fyfe said Beetson initially began playing in Roma as a centre in the city's A-grade team when he was 18 years old.
Fyfe first met him in 1962 when Fyfe was swinging a pick and shovel installing the sewerage system in McDowall St, Roma. Fyfe said his work made him fit and strong, perfect for his position as a second or first-row forward as he preferred a rough game.
He said his fondest memory of Beetson was when he worked at the post office as a telegram boy when he was a lot leaner before travelling south, transitioning into a forward.
Fyfe said Beetson used to break the chain of his bike deciding he'd had enough of delivering for one day and would walk it back to the post.
Fyfe also knew Beetson's cousin, Bobby, and said he was probably a better player at the time but you "could never get him off the grog".
Fyfe said you could pass the ball to Artie flat-footed but "he was so quick off the mark" no one could catch him.
Most of the players began to leave after Beetson in 1965, but Fyfe remembers Lenny Summers, a real estate agent now living in Imbil, who also played A-grade with Beetson.
Summers said all records of Roma City Football players from the last 100 years was recorded and published in the book The Story of Gladiators, by Brian Gilroy, including a great story about Arthur Beetson.
Fyfe now, at the age of 76, did not continue football but settled in Chatsworth near Gympie where he lives with his wife breeding horses.
Fyfe said he had hoped to get in touch with Beetson when he visited on one of his indigenous football clinics in the area but unfortunately he never got the chance.