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 A decade is a long time in football.North Melbourne were at the forefront of the high flying football enterpreneurs of the Seventies, with Ron Joseph’s calling card in the wallet of most of the top interstate talent, especially Western Australia, where many of the State’s biggest names were showered with monetary offers to join the Kangaroos. It was a marked improvement on the bunch of flowers and ball point pen the North players who won the 1965 and 66 night premierships received.One of those was defender Barry McAuliffe.“ There wasn’t much money around at North Melbourne in my day,” he said. “We all had fulltime jobs.”It was his employment at British Petroleum that eventually sent McAuliffe West. “I was transferred to Western Australia, and fortunately the branch was in Perth,” he recalled. “But it was only half the reason for the move. My future wife, Lesley, was a Perth girl and wanted to go home, so it was a double edged sword.”   At the age of twenty three, Barry McAuliffe had already been playing senior football for seven seasons. Captain of his school team, he was part of a B Grade Amateurs premiership with  University High Old Boys as a sixteen year old and debuted for North Melbourne while aged eighteen and still attending High School. “I was on the bench against Richmond,” Barry said. “When I made it onto the ground, Roger Dean sidled up to me with the advice that as soon as I put my head down he would knock it off.” A professional runner, McAuliffe found that it wasn’t as conducive to preparing him for league football as one may have imagined. “I kept on doing hammies,” he recalled. As a result it was a frustrating time for the defender. After the 1966 season,, Barry went West for a holiday and to meet Lesley’s parents. On returning to Victoria,in 1967 he lined up with Bendigo League club, Kyneton, before marrying mid season and making what was to be a permanent move to Perth.  “I knew East Perth coach Kevin Murray, so did some training at Perth Oval, Allan Killigrew was at Subiaco and was in touch, I had contact with South Fremantle, a workmate at BP was involved with East Fremantle, but finally it was West Perth who convinced me to play with them. The fact that Leslie’s folks lived in the area was a factor.”At Leederville in 1968, Barry found the grounds here firmer,  resulting in the game becoming quicker, and as a half back flanker he had plenty of fast moving half forwards to match up on.  Adapting quickly, he soon became a leading player with West Perth. After heading the table going into the 68 finals, the Cardinals went out in straight sets, suffering a twenty seven point loss to eventual premiers, Perth, in the second semi final, before being narrowly beaten by East Perth in the preliminary final.McAuliffe was part of a dominant West Perth combination in 1969, gaining revenge on East Perth with a seventy three point grand final win. When the club repeated the effort two years later he had another ex North Melbourne player, Peter Steward, alongside him at centre half back. “It was terrific to renew acquaintances with an old mate,” Barry said. The pair are still best of friends.His form saw him included in a subsequent State training squad, and it came as a surprise when McAuliffe retired from league football after the 1971 season.“I was trying to work my way up the corporate ladder, and it was becoming more difficult to put in the training to play.”  Playing coach of Tammin in 1972, Barry later played at Osborne Park under former West Perth player John Hill and coached the club’s reserves side, before an SOS from a mate who was at Dalwallinu saw the boots come out of the cupboard once more. It was also a final fling for a couple of old partners in crime. “I rang Peter asking him if he’d like to join me, and he said “if you do so will I.”Barry is “sort of” retired these days, and he and Leslie like to get away to far away places once a year, as well as catching up with rellies and friends in Victoria. They have a daughter, Dana, and a son, Travis, who played Amateurs with North Beach. A keen golfer at Yokine, where there is no shortage of ex footballers to reminisce with, McAuliffe is also a West Coast supporter. “Best I ever saw was Bobby Skilton,” he told us. “I did play on Darryl Baldock, and there’s no doubting his class, while Jeff Tunbridge(Melbourne) and Peter Metropolis(Subiaco) were tough opponents. Of those I was fortunate enough to play with, Laurie Dwyer(North), Allen Aylett(North), Mel Whinnen, and Billy Dempsey were standouts.”A solid defender, Barry McAuliffe played over a hundred and fifty games in two States, and played a significant part in two West Perth premierships.  

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