North Hobart/Wynyard/Devonport, Wingman, 1947-57
> 179 games for North Hobart, 1947-51, 1955-57
> Around 30 games for Wynyard, 1952-53
> 14 games for Devonport, 1954
> Wynyard captain-coach, 1952-53
> Devonport captain-coach, 1954
> North Hobart TANFL premierships, 1947, 1957
> Wynyard NWFU premiership, 1952
> Wander Medallist for NWFU Best and Fairest, 1953
> George Watt Medallist for TFL reserves Best and Fairest, 1946
> North Hobart Best and Fairest, 1947
> Tasmanian National Carnival representative, 1947 (Hobart), 1950 (Brisbane), 1953 (Adelaide)
> 14 representative matches for Tasmania, 1947-53
> 15 representative matches for TANFL
> North Hobart coach, 1960-64
> North Hobart TANFL premiership coach, 1961 and 1962
> North Hobart state premiership coach, 1961, 1962
> North Hobart ‘Team of the Century’, 2000 (wing)
One of the finest wingmen Tasmania has produced, Darrel Eaton became a highly decorated performer for a number of clubs across the state. Known universally as ‘Dasher’ because of his blinding pace, Eaton possessed a deceptive leap, was a fierce tackler, and was renowned for his long and accurate kicking. He later developed a reputation as a shrewd and tactically skilled coach, guiding clubs under his tutelage to three league and two state premierships.
Born in 1927, Darrel Eaton’s talent was obvious from an early age. After playing schoolboy football for Campbell Street Primary School in Hobart, Eaton joined North Hobart in 1946. His impact was immediate, winning the George Watt Medal as the Best and Fairest player in the TANFL reserves competition in his first season. His meteoric rise continued the following season as Eaton made his senior debut for the Redlegs, won the club’s senior Best and Fairest award and featured in their TANFL premiership win over Hobart. Even more remarkably, the 20-year-old was then selected to represent his state at the National Carnival in Hobart, the first of three carnivals in which Eaton would compete.
After five seasons with North Hobart, Eaton journeyed to greener pastures, moving to the north west to take up the job of captain-coach at NWFU side Wynyard for the 1952 season. In two seasons with the Cats Eaton’s impact was enormous: he would guide the club to their first NWFU flag in 1952, and the following year would claim the highest individual honour in coastal football, taking out the Wander Medal as the Best and Fairest player in the NWFU. In 1954 Eaton was on the move again, this time just down the coast to Devonport, where he spent one season as coach of the Magpies before returning to Hobart and his original club ahead of the 1955 season. He played three more seasons with North Hobart – bringing his total games for the club to 179 – and retired on the highest possible note, a premiership, when North Hobart overcame Glenorchy by 12 points to take out the 1957 TANFL flag.
After retirement Eaton turned his hand to umpiring, spending two seasons officiating as a field umpire in the TANFL, for which he received widespread praise and respect from players of the day. However the desire to coach soon resurfaced and in 1960 Eaton returned to North Hobart, this time as non playing coach. It soon became obvious that he had lost none of his touch, and under his leadership North Hobart achieved back-to-back TANFL and state premiership triumphs in 1961-62. Part way through 1964 Eaton’s tenure at North Hobart ended in controversy: Eaton and captain Peter Marquis were of the opinion that a certain player did not warrant a place in the senior side. However, the match committee overruled their decision to omit the player, leading both Eaton and Marquis to quit the club as a result; a sad end for both coach and club.
In later life, Eaton became a successful bookmaker. He passed away in 2007 at the age of 79.