Monday, 4 July 2011
Don Roach in action as an Australian Rules footballer. Supplied image.
by Frank Quealey
The 18 Footer world is today mourning the sudden death of International Convenor Don Roach who passed away suddenly yesterday (3 July) from a suspected Heart Attack.
Don died as he lived – selflessly helping others. He was alone on his boat acting as a starter for a yacht race on Sydney Harbour.
As International Convenor, Don had returned only recently from Denmark where he attended the Mark Foy Trophy international regatta.
On hearing the news, Norbert Peter, the Secretary of the European Association, summed up a lot of what is generally believed within the class.
“We have suffered a big loss. He integrated and represented the class’ members from all continents like no other and was a leading person in the integration of all different countries and their interests into one class”, Norbert said.
“He was integrative, with time for everybody’s concern and moreover visionary”.
“I personally feel really sad and shocked by his sudden death and hope we can find a person like him to keep the class on its way together”, he added.
Don’s loss to the Australian 18 Footers League will be hard to replace.
As Club President John Winning said: “Don was a tireless worker who made things happen. He did everything with enthusiasm and energy and you never needed to worry whether the job would be done properly”.
The League’s Secretary Rosemary Barrett added: “As President of the neighbouring Double Bay Sailing Club and organizer of our rescue boats, Don was a wonderful friend and asset to our club each week and particularly during our annual Giltinan Championship. He will be sadly missed”.
In addition to his work in Sailing, what many people may not know was his achievements as an Australian Rules footballer in Melbourne and Adelaide before he moved to Sydney.
A left footed flanker, Don played his early football at West Adelaide, where he debuted in 1958. He was selected into the All-Australian team in 1961. In 1964 he moved to the Hawthorn club in Victoria, for whom he played 33 games, but returned to West Adelaide two years later where he became captain-coach and represented South Australia in the interstate carnival.
When he retired in 1972, Don’s tally of games in South Australia was 204 and he had also represented SA on nine occasions.
Following his retirement as a player, Don’s association in South Australia went from one success to another.
He was Chairman of Selectors, Promotions Manager of the SANFL then became General Manager of the SANFL. Finally he was inducted into the SANFL Hall of Fame in 2002.
On moving to Sydney, he became CEO of the Sydney Swans, Chairman of NSWAFL Tribunal and Chairman of NSWAFL Appeals Board.
As we all agree, “Don will be greatly missed”.
Aussie 18 Footers League