|Vale Alec Duncan|
|Monday, 04 June 2012 15:44|
Alec Duncan had a gift for sport.
Alec Duncan played for neither recognition nor reward. He was a footballer of total discipline in an era before professionalism demanded it of him and he instilled that value in the young charges he coached until late in his life. Duncan captained Queensland and went on several tours with the Socceroos. For every one he earned a new breastpocket, which his wife sewed onto the same blazer.
Alec Duncan was born in Kangaroo Point on January 31, 1920. Six months later his parents moved into the home where he would spend the rest of his life. Unable to win a place in the school team, he first trained at a park where an Englishman, Ted Tovell, brought together and coached a makeshift team of children.
Duncan dropped out before reaching high school and began working as a delivery boy. When he was 19 his father, a hardworking Scottish migrant, was electrocuted at work; six months later his mother died of cancer.
Duncan had a gift for sport. Besides football he played first-grade tennis and cricket and continued with both even after losing three fingers of his left hand in an industrial accident.
Alec and Lois (nee Broadhurst) grew up together as sporting champions in the same neighbourhood.
Lois played netball for Queensland and when they married in 1948 they set the date for Friday so as not to disrupt the weekend's matches. Sport even loomed over their honeymoon. Alec had an inkling that he might be selected for the Australian team and did not stop his fitness training. His instincts were well founded; shortly after they returned, he flew to New Zealand to make his debut for the national team.
He would go on to play another game for the Socceroos against South Africa in 1955 and was also included in squads against England and played against China and other international sides for Queensland.
His speed training and tactical understanding of play were the secrets to his longevity as an elite sportsman and he continued to be selected for Australian squads until he was 37. His last recorded game for Queensland was against New Zealand at the age of 44 and he continued to take the field for the Eastern Suburbs club until he turned 55.
After football he continued working until he was 70, later as a groundsman at the Albion Park Raceway. He continued to be involved in football as a devoted and thoughtful coach of young players at Eastern Suburbs and Grange Thistle. He took a special interest in young people with life problems and coached a team of young people with disabilities. He learnt sign language to run training sessions.
In his 90th year, he was finally presented with his Socceroos cap.
At the 2010 Asian Cup qualifier between the Socceroos and Indonesia, he walked to the centre of the field despite his frailty and collected a cap for being the 109th Socceroo. At a training session before the match the then Australian coach, Pim Verbeek, asked him what he thought of the side. uncan replied: "Nobody goes to meet the ball; the passing's quite average and you should do more training on speed.''
He is survived by his daughter, Ann and sons Lex and Neil.