Radio Announcer: Welcome to the Sports Factor. Our guest today is the son of former prime minister and war time leader John Curtin. Thank you for joining us today, John. I believe your father had a great interest in football. Did he actually play football himself?
John Curtin (junior): Well, yes he did. He absolutely loved to play the game. He played junior football and eventually was good enough to play first grade for the Brunswick Club, which of course was part of the Victorian Football Club. A couple of members of his team actually went on to play in the VFL so you can see he was in pretty august company.
Radio Announcer: What position did he play?
John Curtin (junior): He played half forward flank.
Radio Announcer: What sort of player do you think he was?
John Curtin (junior): George Chisholm, who was secretary of the Brunswick Football Club told me that dad, as a young man, was one of the cleanest and fairest players in the game. He was also a good clubman. In fact, he kept in contact with the Brunswick Club throughout his life, even sending them telegrams at finals when he was Prime Minister
Radio announcer: What about when he moved to the West? Did he get involved in football in WA?
John Curtin (junior): He was a member of three clubs in WA : Fremantle FC, South Fremantle FC and East Fremantle FC. He went to the games regularly and once he became a member of parliament he would attend local games whenever he was at home. When mum was younger she used to attend games as well. She liked to watch football but she wasn’t interested in the finer detail like dad.
Radio announcer: Tell us about your father’s sports writing.
John Curtin (junior): In the 30’s, during the depression when dad lost his seat in parliament, he became a sports writer for the Westralian Worker newspaper. He’d been editor of that newspaper in the 1920s before he entered parliament. Anyway, it was an exciting time for me because I used to go to the matches with him and he let me edit his writing. I have to say, I was very critical, as you are in youth but he was generous to share the opportunity with me.
Radio Announcer: As Prime Minister, your father was known to use sport’s terminology in his speeches and writing. Just in closing can you give us an example?
John Curtin (junior): Dad gave a radio broadcast to the Americans on Independence Day in 1943. He knew they would understand football imagery and this is what he said: '… If I liken the Pacific War to a football match, I can say to you that the first half is over, we have kicked off after the interval, and we are going to carry the ball into enemy territory for a smashing victory.' He had this way of using football imagery to get down to the level of ordinary people. He was Prime Minister of Australia but he was also your team mate.
Radio Announcer: Well John, it has been a pleasure to reminisce with you today about our wartime Prime Minister John Curtin and role that football played in his life. Thanks for being our guest today.
John Curtin (junior): It’s been a pleasure.
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