Greg Duncan calls time on 40-year touch career

Greg Duncan stands proudly at Greg Duncan Fields.
Greg Duncan stands proudly at Greg Duncan Fields.

Bundaberg sports icon Greg Duncan has hung up his boots after 40 continuous years playing, refereeing, developing and administering touch football.

“My touch boots are about to become my mowing boots,” he quipped.

“Dunc”, as he is widely known throughout the touch football fraternity, played his last game in a Masters grand final a week or so ago.

Unfortunately, it was not a fairytale ending with his team, Gummies, being defeated 5-1 by rivals Nads.

Gummies contained “Dunc”, his son Daniel and daughter Brittany as well as a couple of long-time mates.

“As always, we had a load of fun. We had beaten Nads in the semis to make the final, but they were simply too good on the night,” he said.

At 60 years of age “Dunc” feels it’s the right time to give the game away.

“The referees are now refusing to allow me to take my walking frame onto the field”, he joked.

It’s unlikely there will be another player to achieve the longevity or impact Greg Duncan has had on the sport of touch football locally.

He has witnessed and been involved in the evolution of the game.

“I started playing at age 20 at Natives grounds. In those days the game was played barefoot with eight a side and played on a full rugby league field and we kicked off to start and also to restart after a touchdown had been scored.

Greg Duncan
Greg Duncan with his children Brittany and Daniel after the trio played in Greg’s final game of touch football recently. “Dunc” has retired after a 40 year career in the game.

“Touch was growing rapidly in popularity and with no permanent home we played at several venues including Brothers, Wanderers grounds over North Bundaberg and for an extended period at Diggers Soccer Club grounds.

“Moving to our current site in 1987 was great for our sport and allowed us to develop our own fields and grow our competition,” said Greg.

Although he has played with many teams during his career, Greg fondly recalls the formation of Royals, a team of individuals who bonded into an almost unbeatable combination.

About 1981 two teams, Meatballs and Panthers combined to become Royals. And what a team it proved to be.

“After losing just one local game in a 10-year period the local touch association suggested that in the interests of the sport, Royals should split up,” said Greg.

“It was getting that way that no one wanted to play us. The team really developed into an awesome side in that decade. But it was helped by the fact that we were prepared to travel and play in carnivals all over Queensland.

“It was an amazing period in the sport which was reaching a peak in its popularity. They were great days travelling with a group of blokes to enjoy the social aspects of sport as well as being able to put in great performances on the field.”

“Dunc” was selected in the first ever Queensland Open Men’s team in 1980 and played consecutively at that standard for five years before making his way as a district and State representative player through the various age groups.

His skill and dedication to the game resulted in his selection in several Australian teams with a trip to Hawaii with the national team a memorable experience.

His teammates will tell you he was the perfect team man. Not the most robust player, “Dunc” was intimidating on his feet with a devastating turn of speed over 10 metres. He constantly made lazy opposition players pay for their defensive tardiness.

What made him so good? He was the right mix of size and speed and had a dedication to training. He read play better than most and it didn’t hurt that he had been around for so long that he almost owned the game.

“Dunc” will continue a little sideline coaching but his involvement as a player, coach, referee and committeeman will now take a back seat.

“I will continue an involvement with a team I’ve played with for a number of years at the Pan Pacific Masters games held every two years. We plan to get together again next year at the Gold Coast in November.

“I love touch. I love the camaraderie and the great players and people the sport allowed me to engage with.

“The introduction of mixed teams and a junior competition has been good for the game as it offers options for the whole family,” he said.

There is little doubt Greg Duncan has created a legacy in the sport.

Having the Bundaberg Touch Association playing fields – the Greg Duncan Fields – named after him was “an incredible honour” he says.

It is fitting recognition for a player who has maintained the finest standards of sportsmanship and who has given sterling service over the decades to the sport.

Bundaberg Touch Association president and prominent referee Dave Field said Greg Duncan, who has been conferred with Life Membership of the Association, has been a loyal servant to the sport.

“His work with developing junior players ensured that the crop coming through were well-versed in all aspects of the sport. Greg didn’t just play the game. He gave back plenty by the way of time and talent in a multitude of roles with touch football.

“He revels in the social side of the game and enjoyed the fact that his whole family was involved.”