HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE

Keith Paul NARKLE

Year Inducted 2017
Date of Birth 20th November 1952

Player 1971-1985

Games: 257 (Swan Districts 254, Western Australia 3)

Goals: 163 (Swan Districts 162, Western Australia 1)

Honours: Swan Districts Premiership Player 1982, 1983 1984 (Captain); Swan Districts Fairest and Best 1977, 1978, 1984; Swan Districts Captain 1983-1984; Swan Districts Team of the Century; Swan Districts FC Hall of Fame; SDFC Life Member (1983)

 

A slightly built wingman with great pace and exquisite skills, Keith Narkle rose from humble country origins to become a multiple premiership player and captain with Swan Districts. He retired with the third highest game tally in club history (254), and his three club best and fairest awards have been surpassed by only two players. Besides being one of the most decorated players in Swans history, he is also one of the most respected for his quiet humility and demeanour.

Keith Narkle was born in Narrogin but the family spent time in Brookton, Boddington and Midland where Keith began playing football in junior ranks and progressed through to Under 16s. Despite his diminutive stature, Keith’s football ability was well noted and he won several fairest and best awards with Midland. With the family moving to Bunbury, Keith joined Bunbury Football Club and won a league premiership in the particularly high standard South West Football League.

Keith became known for his outstanding skill and courage in Bunbury and, in the days before country zoning, was soon approached by several WAFL clubs. Ultimately Swans won his signature and Keith joined Swans in 1971 at the age of 18. Playing with the Thirds (now Colts), Keith had an outstanding season winning the fairest and best award and playing in the Thirds premiership team. He also made his league debut in the final round of fixtures on 4th September 1971 at Subiaco Oval, kicking a goal and showing exciting promise.

From his fourth season Keith Narkle became a league regular, generally on the left wing. His speed was supplemented by his ability to win the ball against larger opponents through great agility and advanced reading of the play.

In 1977, with brother Phil also joining Swans, Keith produced some of his most brilliant football and displaying excellent consistency under new coach John Todd, he won the club fairest and best award in both 1977 and 1978, and represented the state for the first time.  Starting the May 1977 game against South Australia at Football Park as a reserve, he replaced the injured Tony Morley in the second quarter, and was influential in a tight but famous drought breaking WA win – the first in Adelaide since 1938.

Sometimes used on a half forward flank for Swans from 1980, Keith was one of the stalwart members of a rebuilt team that captured Swans first premiership for 19 years in 1982.  In 1983, the retirement of Graham Melrose mid-season saw Keith Narkle assume the captaincy of Swan Districts, and he responded to the challenge superbly. A modest leader who led by example, Keith led the club to a second consecutive premiership victory over Claremont.

He continued as captain in 1984 and his last full season was one of his finest as he played every game, won a third premiership, and also his third fairest and best award in a premiership season. Relinquishing the captaincy for 1985, Narkle commenced the season but decided to retire after three games and return to Bunbury. At the age of 32 he was slowing down and disagreed with John Todd’s contention that he could be converted into an effective back pocket player. He continued to play for a number of years in Bunbury, eventually, ironically, as a back-pocket player.

In keeping with his modest nature, Keith Narkle has kept a relatively low profile since retirement from league football but he still enjoys returning to Bassendean for premiership reunions and other celebratory functions. He has been recognised at the club with Life membership (1983), selection in Swan Districts Team of the Century (2000), Club Legend status (2014) and selected as an inaugural Swan Districts Hall of Fame inductee (2016). Keith Narkle made a wonderful contribution to the success of the Swan Districts Football Club in his 15-season career and he is one of the rare players to poll Sandover Medal votes in 13 consecutive seasons. His great pace and skill across the centre or half forward lines now sees him join his brother Phil as a worthy inductee into the WA Football Hall of Fame.