}When twenty one year old Gary Fathers booted eighty four goals in the 1977 season, Subiaco thought they had found a successor to Austin Robertson.Playing full forward in a side that won just seven games, Fathers efforts were outstanding, and he shone like a beacon for the struggling club. It was one of the tragedies of the game that he never graced Subiaco Oval again.A trip to Margaret River the following summer resulted in a horrific car smash which almost cost him his life. It not only snuffed out a promising football career, but left legacies that have stayed with him throughout his life. Still having surgery thirty three years later, he is due for a knee replacement in the near future.Gary Fathers was a late bloomer as a footballer. Unable to get a game at Scarborough High School, he played with Karrinyup juniors from under tens, and went to Subiaco as a seventeen year old, playing with the under nineteens. Always a forward, and a Swan Districts supporter, he modeled himself on Eric Gorman’s fast leading style of play. “But I couldn’t kick like him,” Gary laughed.Kicking was the only blemish in Fathers’ game. On several occasions he would forego training nights to get coaching from Austin Robertson and Bernie Naylor, but without significant improvement. Debuting against South Fremantle in early 1975, Gary kicked one goal four on Tom Grljusich. “Tom was a hard bugger, but told me to keep it up, I was going alright,” he recalled. Injuries interrupted his 1976 season, and he had a stint at centre half back, but resumed in attack in 1977, when he enjoyed a great year.Five years later Fathers was talked into a comeback with Morley Amateurs.“I was completely out of shape in that first year, but the following season things started to fall into place when I kicked a hundred goals,” he recalled. A knee injury against University put paid to his comeback. Gary Fathers’s life changed in 1989.“I went on a holiday to America, where I did a lot of travel, and wound up in Louisianna,” he said. “I met a lovely girl there, and when I got back to my job in Perth quit on the second day back.” He returned to the United States and now lives in California with wife Marti. He recalls some of his time playing football in Western Australia. “Suby were really struggling at that time and I would niggle the blokes I played on, often copping a backhander from a tough defender,” he said. “John Duckworth from West Perth was one who suffered from the tribunal as a result, and I recall a cartoon in the Daily News with myself hanging on Ducky’s back with the caption: “How do I get rid of this bloke?”Gary reckoned that East Perth defenders Ross Glendinning and Kevin Bryant were hardest to beat, with John Quartermaine from Perth and East Fremantle’s Doug Green also tough opponents, while Peter Featherby and Peter Burton were very good team mates.Gary Fathers played only thirty eight games with Subiaco before a car accident tragically ended a most promising career. His efforts in the 1977 season suggest that the game in general and Subiaco in particular was the poorer for his loss.
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