Following the sad passing on May 4 of Peter Kitschke at the age of 90, SANFL acknowledges one of SA community football’s all-time greats.
By Peter Argent
As the first player inducted into the South Australian Football Hall of Fame who spent his entire career in country football, Peter Kitschke is a true icon of our game.
A player, coach and official, his senior career carried across almost six decades, starting with the Jamestown Football Club as a teenager back in 1948.
He played his for the Jamestown Magpies and for his last couple years as a player then the amalgamated Jamestown-Appila Football Club, passing the 500 game milestone, including seven years as captain and 13 campaigns as coach.
“Peter was an exceptional kick, had strong ground skills and was a very good mark, playing predominately as a ruck rover,” said John “Snag” McCarthy, a long time servant of Jamestown-Peterborough and the Northern Areas competition.
“I was lucky enough to play alongside Peter a little at the back end of his career and to be coached by him.
“It has been a long-held legend around here that older brother John would kick the ball to Peter in the middle who would hit up the youngest sibling Jim at full forward in the day.
“There was big rivalry between Crystal Brook and Jamestown in that era.
“This included a rivalry between the Kitschke and the Combe clans on the field and a great friendship off it.”
Kitschke’s football resume as a player is simply stunning. Along with the seven Mail Medals in the North Areas Football Association, he was also runner-up a further four times.
From John Gascoyne highly regarded book, The Mail Medal:
Peter won seven Mail Medals, in 1957, 1962, 1963, 1966, 196, 1971 and 1974, was runner up in 1952, 1958, 1961 and 1964, and third in 1960, 1965 and 1970. From 1952 to his retirement in 1974 he was placed in the count on no less than 14 occasions. He won Jamestown’s best and fairest 13 times.
Peter Kitschke, along with his brothers, John (also a multiple Mail medallist himself, winning five) and Jim (a goal-kicking forward) all were long-term servants of the Magpies.
He enjoyed four Jamestown premierships, including the back-to-back flags in 1958 and 1959, a third title in 1961 and again in 1968, playing in no less than a dozen season deciders.
Peter actually endured five grand final losses, including four in a row in the years preceding the ’58 triumph.
He also played many years of representative matches for Northern Areas, leading his association to “Northern Carnival” Shield victories in 1964 and 1965.
Mick Redden, a fellow SA Football Hall of Famer, was only in his first year as a young A-grade ruckman for Orroroo at 16 when he played against Kitschke in his final season.
“I was a young teenager still learning the game as an A grader,” explained Redden, a Pekina farmer.
“Peter was in his final season and I reckon he won a Mail Medal that year too.
“He was a ruck-rover, changing in the back pocket, and I was a second ruck, changing out of the forward pocket.
“While we were opponents, he was teaching me during the game about where to run and how to have an impact on the contest.
“We developed a wonderful friendship from that point and it was always great to talk footy with Peter.
“I only realised later how he was educating me about the nuances of the game.
“He is one of three blokes I met in the game that have set themselves apart from the rest, along with Barrie (Robran) and Russell (Ebert).
“That’s because they were more interested in you and what you were doing, than themselves.”
After his playing days were completed, Kitschke entered the umpiring fraternity in the North Areas in 1975 and officiated at a senior level across the next two decades until 1994.
He moved across to the neighbouring North Eastern League umpires panel in 1995 where he continued to umpire until 2001, tallying over 300 senior games. He was still officiating in junior matches as late as 2009.
Former SANFL Country Umpires Officer Paul Cavanagh, a Jamestown lad himself, called Peter such a selfless person.
“Australia wide, Peter’s record both as a player and an official would stack up against anyone,” Cavanagh said.
“He was always an absolute gentleman and his dimeanour never changed.
“He’d never talk himself up, it was all about the help he got.”
To celebrate Peter Kitschke’s remarkable life and commitment to local footy, a minute’s silence was observed on May 7 before the A grade North Area Football League game at Jamestown Oval, in the clash between the Jamestown-Peterborough Magpies and Orroroo.
Fittingly, three of Peter’s grandsons played senior football on the day, with Tom Kitschke and Zac Noonan high among the best players in Jamestown-Peterborough’s thrilling two-point A grade win, while Jack Kitschke was among the top performers in a big victory for the Magpies Reserves.
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