Darrel Baldock: Champion VFL Footballer: AFL Legend
Darrel John Baldock, also nicknamed as “The Doc” and “Mr Magic”, was a retired Australian football player, coach and a state politician. Baldock was known for his sheer intelligence on the field and extraordinary skills with ball handling.
Darrel Baldock was born in Devonport, Tasmania and was the captain for the St. Kilda Football Club. He was the youngest player to captain the Tasmanian team, at a mere age of 20. 1966, the St. Kilda Football club was led to its first ever premiership under the captaincy of “Mr Magic”. Till date, this is the only premiership for the club.
Baldock is an Australian Football Hall of Famer and nothing less than an absolute “Legend”. Not only was he an exceptional Aussie rules player, he also played two first class cricket matches as well. He was a clever cricket player and played for Tasmania and the Tasmanian Combined XI.
He retired from the Victorian football league at the early age of 29 and got into politics after he was appointed as the Minister for Housing and Social Welfare. However, he made a comeback to Tasmania where he worked with Latrobe as a captain and a coach.
After The Doc retired from football, he served for fifteen years at the Tasmanian Parliament.
Life and Death
Darrel Baldock was born in 1938 on the 29th of September. He was 179 centimetres in height and his weight was 87 kilograms. He started playing at the very young age of 12 and was quite the sensation. While playing in a practice game for the East Devonport Seniors, the 12 year old hit six goals.
Baldock became known for his skills with handling the ball. There were stories that Darrel used to practice bouncing a football in each hand while he was jogging in laps during training.
At various points throughout his career, he was often criticized and was said to be unfit and overweight.
However, that did not stop him from winning hearts on the football field. In fact, he proved critics wrong, which is why he was not only loved by Tasmanians, but by all football fans who turned him from a mere player to an Australian rules football royalty.
In 1987, he returned to football as a coach for the St. Kilda Football Club, but this time he found things to be more difficult than usual because of his health conditions.
He suffered a stroke at the end of the first season but continued to coach the Saints in spite of his weakened memory and speech. Due to his illness, he finally decided to retire from coaching as well. Racing horses became a favourite pastime for the legend after he retired in 1989.
After suffering from severe pneumonia and kidney failure during the final years of his life, the great Darrel John Baldock had a fourth stroke and passed away in 2011 on the 2nd of February.
To honour the legend’s memory, a public funeral ceremony was organized at the Latrobe football ground, Tasmania. Baldock’s funeral was held on the 11th of February, 2011. More than three thousand people had gathered at his funeral to bid farewell to a man known as “the champion of champions”.
In 1955, Darrel Baldock started off his career playing senior football for Tasmania’s North-West Football Union. He was sixteen when he started to play for the East Devonport club.
Baldock was known for his ball handling skills because of which he was selected to play intrastate matches for the North-West Football Union after a very short period of time. The very same year he won the club’s award for the Best and Fairest. He later switched from North-West Football Union and began playing for Latrobe.
Baldock played 71 games for East Devonport in total. Then in 1959, he started playing for the Tasmanian Latrobe Team and was made captain at the age of twenty. He still holds the record for being the youngest player ever to captain the team. Later, he was recruited by the Saints to play for them in 1962.
At that time, the league was known as the Victorian Football League (VFL). Darrel played as a centre half-forward for the Saints.
Maintaining his high standards, Darrel Baldock won St Kilda’s Best and Fairest award three times in the year 1962, 1963 and in 1965. In addition, he represented the Victorian Football League on various occasions and led them to victory as the team’s captain in 1966.
Baldock came back to Tasmania in 1969 to captain the Latrobe team. He led four North West Football Union premierships consecutively from the year 1969 to 1972. Baldock finished playing for Latrobe in 1974, playing a total of 158 games for them.
In 1974, he took over as a captain of the Tasmanian Football League club in New Norfolk. However, he had to resign from the position after only four games because he had been elected in the Tasmanian parliament as the Labour member for Wilmot.
Throughout his career, Darrel Baldock represented the VFL (Victorian Football League) 10 times in interstate matches. He also represented the NWFU (North-West Football Union) 20 times and the Latrobe team 15 times.
Baldock led the NWFU (North West Football Union) to four consecutive premierships after he started coaching them from 1969 to 1974. After he switched from NWFU (North-West Football Union), he went on to coach the TFL (Tasmanian Football League) club in 1974, but only for four games.
All through his career, Baldock usually was a captain–coach except in 1987 when he made a comeback and started to coach the St. Kilda team. Darrel was not able to increase the ranking for the St. Kilda team by more than the 10th place because of his illness.
The Australian rules footballer was elected into the House of Assembly seat of Wilmot, staring his involvement in politics. Having been a member of the Tasmanian House of Assembly since 1972, his portfolio also included Minister for Transport at the House of Assembly.
In 1974 Darrel Baldock was elected as a parliamentarian at the Tasmanian parliament. He was a member of the Australian Labour party for Wilmot and was appointed the Minister for Housing and Social Welfare.
He was also a state minister from the year 1975 to 1982. Finally, on 30th June 1987, he resigned from his position and went back to coaching the St. Kilda team.
Horse Racing Career and Achievement
Besides all his achievements in football and politics, Baldock also participated professionally in racing horses. He was known not only for selectively breeding race horses, but he also trained them at his Devonport base.
He won many cups throughout his horse racing career.
Andrias, one of Baldock’s top horses, won a Hobart Cup and Launceston Cup in the early 1980s. The same horse also won the Duke of Norfolk Stakes in 1981 at Flemington. At the Melbourne Winter Carnival of 1996, Baldock’s horse Sir Rhythmic won the Australian Hurdle and the Grand National Hurdle at Sandown and Flemington respectively.
Another horse of Baldock’s, Chardere, won him two Devonport Cups in the years 2002 and 2004.
Achievements as a Football player
Darrel Baldock or “Mr Magic” Baldock received many honours over the years. Ever since the Australian Football Hall of Fame came into being in 1996, Baldock became a football hall of famer; and in 2006, he was declared a legend.
Darrel was also named as “captain of the century” for the Tasmanian Team in 2004 and his name was also mentioned on the half-forward flank. The Northern Tasmania Football League also honoured him by naming the “Best and Fairest” medal after him.
The legendary Mr Magic was named as “captain of the century” in 2002 and was also named as an initial “legend” at the St. Kilda Football Club Hall of Fame.
Baldock was declared as a Member of the Order of Australia on the 26th of January 1991 because of his services to the parliament of Tasmania. Lastly, for contribution towards Australian football, the legend, Darrel Baldock was awarded the Australian Sports Medal on the 24th of October 2000.
Darrel Baldock was happily married to Margaret, and they had a son David and two daughters Lisa and Caroline. However, David was involved in a car crash and was killed at the age of eighteen.
In David’s memory, his sisters Lisa Maddox and Caroline Scott named their sons after him.
To honour their legend, the Darrel Baldock Memorial Committee is considering options for a memorial monument. However, Baldock’s wife has welcomed the idea of a having a statue placed where he played 150 senior games, i.e. the Latrobe recreational ground.
A statue along with Darrel’s timeline will be built at the Latrobe ground. In addition, there will be panels placed around the statue, illustrating his contributions to politics, racing and mostly football. Currently, the Darrel Baldock Memorial Committee needs to raise about three thousand dollars to build the memorial monument.
The Chief Executive of Australian Football League (AFL) presented a cheque on behalf of the entire Tasmanian Football family for twelve thousand dollars towards the construction of Baldock’s memorial. The check was presented at the home ground of Darrel Baldock, the Latrobe Football Oval.
With such a long career in football, politics and others, it should come as no surprise that Darrel John Baldock was made an AFL legend in 1997.