David Darcy, who passed away at age 76 on the weekend, was always a sporting natural.
More than a year before he played his first game of football for the Bulldogs, he was making news on the cricket field, with The Age of December 14, 1961 reporting that Darcy had taken 6/36 for sub-district team Sunshine, having earlier made 21 with the bat.
As a star footballer with Sunshine YCW in the Footscray District Football League, Darcy came under the notice of Footscray talent scouts, and he made his senior debut in the opening round of the 1963 season, named at centre half-forward.
The Dogs went down to North Melbourne that day, but the following week they recorded a big win over Fitzroy, with the 19-year-old Darcy kicking a game high three goals. From there he became a permanent team member, giving the Bulldogs good service in the forward line.
As good as he had been in the forward line, David Darcy really blossomed when captain-coach Ted Whitten switched him to full back. He took to the key defensive post like a duck to water.
1960 Brownlow Medallist John Schultz, a teammate in Darcy's first five seasons, described the defender as very relaxed, almost lackadaisical in his approach to the full back role.
Ruckman Schultz, who saw Darcy at close quarters often when resting in the back pocket, marvelled at his ability to read the play.
"He would stand 10 or 15 yards in front of the full forward, whereas most defenders in those days liked to have 'touch' with their opponent,” he said.
Darcy's strengths didn't lie simply in stopping big forwards, says Schultz.
"He was very skilful, and he had a beautiful drop kick. When he kicked out, I would place myself at half back and run towards the boundary line. David's kicks would arrive at the designated spot the very moment I did."
The two played state football for Victoria together, an experience Schultz enjoyed immensely.
Asked about son Luke Darcy's recent revelations of his father getting his hair shampooed at half time, Schultz said, "Well I can't confirm if shampoo was involved but Alan Jackson, one of the club volunteers would spray our hair with water when we came in at half time. It helped to refresh us."
Outside of football, David Darcy was a very good golfer and an astute businessman, said Schultz. It was business that took Darcy to South Australia in 1967, and again in 1972, curtailing his playing days at Footscray. During his time in Adelaide, Darcy played for and captain-coached South Adelaide in the SANFL.
Darcy played 133 games and kicked 47 goals for Footscray from 1963 to 1966 and from 1968 to 1971. He also played 44 games for South Adelaide, hanging up the boots in 1973.
The Darcy legacy at Whitten Oval was further enhanced with son Luke Darcy's fine 226-game career for the Bulldogs, which took in a best and fairest award, a leading goalkicker trophy and the captaincy.
The club extends its condolences and deepest sympathy to the family and friends of David Darcy.