260. Derek Peardon

260. Derek PeardonPlayer Inductee

Richmond/City-South/North Hobart, Ruck-rover,1968-1977

20 games, 1 goal for Richmond, 1968-71
92 games, 105 goals for City-South, 1972-76; 1978
6 games, 2 goals for North Hobart, 1977
City-South state premiership, 1972
City-South NTFA premierships 1972, 1974
Richmond VFL Fourths (U17s) premiership, 1966
Richmond VFL U19s premiership, 1967
Richmond VFL Reserves premiership, 1971
St. Mary’s Fingal District FA premiership, 1983
Hec Smith Medal (NTFA Best & Fairest), 1973
City-South Best & Fairest 1972, 1973
9 games for NTFA, 1972-76
2 games for Tasmania 1975, 1976
National Schoolboys Carnival representative, 1964 (Equal B&F)
City-South ‘Team of the Century’, 2002 (Ruck-Rover)

An indigenous Tasmanian, Derek Peardon was born on Flinders Island in 1950 before being taken – along with his sister Annette – from his mother at the age of 5, in the process becoming a member of the ‘Stolen Generation’. Placed in a Launceston orphanage, Peardon went on to attend Kings Meadows High School, and it was here that his talent for football first manifested itself. In 1964, Peardon represented Tasmania at the National Schoolboys Carnival in Perth, where his outstanding performances saw him share the J. L. Williams Medal for Best & Fairest. He was subsequently visited in Tasmania by representatives from numerous VFL clubs, and in 1965 he was invited to Melbourne as a guest of St. Kilda, where he met fellow Tasmanians Darrel Baldock and Ian Stewart. However it was a phone call and training run with Richmond on this trip that saw Peardon join the Tigers ahead of the 1966 season; he was not even 16 years old at the time.

Peardon initially played with Richmond in the VFL Fourths competition in 1966 before graduating to the U19s the following season. He tasted premiership success at both levels, while also placing 3rd in the Morrish Medal (VFL U19s) and 4th in the Gardiner Medal (VFL Reserves) in consecutive years in an impressive junior apprenticeship with the Tigers. By late-1968 Peardon had made enough progress to make his senior debut, in the process becoming the first indigenous Australian ever to play for Richmond, and was amongst the first indigenous Tasmanians to play in the VFL. He went on to make 20 senior appearances over four seasons, mainly on a half back flank; although a natural wingman, the Tigers’ famous centre line of ‘Bourke, Barrott and Clay’ meant that senior midfield opportunities were limited. Nevertheless, Peardon proved himself well up to VFL level, a player renowned for his fitness and blinding pace. Unfortunately, a combination of injuries and an inability to settle in Melbourne prevented Peardon from reaching the heights many felt he could have reached, and at the end of 1971 Peardon returned to Tasmania; his career at Punt Road ended on a high, however, playing in Richmond’s 1971 reserves premiership. Though brief, Peardon’s time at Richmond left a lasting impression on many at the club, in particular teammate Kevin Sheedy, who has subsequently been a passionate advocate for indigenous Australians on and off the field for more than 40 years.

Peardon joined City-South in the NTFA for 1972, quickly forging a reputation as one of the finest players in the competition. In his first season, he was a member of the Redlegs’ NTFA and State premiership triumphs, claimed the club Best & Fairest award (a feat he would repeat the following year) and earned the first of his nine NTFA representative honours. The following season Peardon achieved the NTFA/City-South Best & Fairest double, and in 1975 he was awarded his first of two Tasmanian state guernseys. After a year with North Hobart in 1977, Peardon returned to City-South for one last season in 1978, finishing his career at the club with 92 senior games; such was his impact that in 2002 he was selected as ruck-rover in the club’s Team of the Century. After several years in retirement, Peardon was talked into pulling on the boots one last time with St. Mary’s in the Fingal District Association in 1983. He described that season as the best footy of his life, which culminated in an 11-point premiership victory over Fingal.

An intensely private man, Peardon withdrew from public life post-football. He has only returned to Melbourne once since his VFL days, to attend the 2015 edition of the AFL’s ‘Dreamtime at the ‘G’ game between Richmond and Essendon, at which his contributions to Richmond and the game at large were deservedly honoured.