FORTY-SEVEN years ago, Ararat legend Jim Pearce made his one and only interleague appearance for the Wimmera Football League.
Pearce donned the Big W guernsey against a Melbourne side boasting the likes of Ron Barassi, Brian Dixon and Terry Gleeson at Horsham City Oval in 1957.
“I wasn’t even picked in the actual squad,” he said.
“On the Wednesday night before the game, Hank Neil – the Wimmera secretary at the time – said to bring my boots to the game because all the Rupanyup players pulled out.”
Ararat and Wimmera interleague coach Percy Bushby named Pearce on the half-back line alongside ex-Melbourne player and then Stawell captain-coach Lance Arnold and Nhill’s Sid Donald.
“Percy said we’re going to play you on the half-back flank, and Ron Barassi said to me ‘I’ll be playing on the half-forward flank, so I’ll be playing on you’,” Pearce said.
He can remember Barassi roaming the ground, leaving him unattended to mop up out of the backline.
“Sid and I had a field day, but they still beat us by a fair amount,” Pearce said.
With the Big W taking on North Central on Saturday, Pearce has dug up his old jumper.
“Those things are all stacked away now and practically forgotten,” he said.
“It was a bit rough and ready, but that probably sums up the way I played.”
Pearce – one of six players to play in the Rats’ four consectuive premierships between 1955 and 1958 – was proud to wear the Wimmera jumper, if only once.
“I didn’t really have time to think about it – I had a couple of days and then I was playing,” he said.
“The following year I think I was out injured.
“To represent your league is a bit of an honour.”