Bob Becu was an outstanding ruckman for East Fremantle in the seventies, playing 165 games and figuring prominently in a premiership. Yet he was a reluctant participant in the game in his junior years, and playing league football was the furthest thing from his mind as an early teenager. After a short spell with Melville under fourteens, Becu gave the game away until talked into having a run with Melville Amateurs, who were coached by former East Fremantle backman Laurie Hunt. It wasn't long before Hunt told the gangly seventeen year old:”You're wasting your time here, son, get yourself down to East Fremantle.” In 1968, Becu lined up with the East Fremantle fourths under the mentoring of Ron Cicerello, graduating later that year to the thirds, where another ex star in Ray “Oscar” Howard was coach. “I was a beanpole at that age, but fortunately I filled out a bit later,” Bob remarked when we spoke with him recently. Becu got his league opportunity midseason in 1969, when several leading players, including ruckman Brian ”Whale” Roberts, were away with the State side. He made his debut against Claremont, and ran into Graham Moss first up. “I must have done alright because when the stars came back I held my place,” Bob said. As a result, he became East Fremantle's second ruckman, backing Roberts up. At six foot six, Becu was a ruckman who used his body well in contests rather than relying on leaping ability. He had good stamina, and his kicking skills developed as his career blossomed. “I was a shocking kick early on,” he laughed, “but I improved.” A permanent member of the side for the next two years, Becu's career had a hiccup in 1971. “Alan Joyce's arrival as coach heralded a shake up of the club,” he said, “and the whole structure of the side changed. He was a pioneer of a more regimented pre season training programme, and he set a lot of his own ideas into place.” The appointment of John Todd in 1973 was the catalyst that sparked the big man's career. “Toddy told me from day one that I would be his number one ruckman" ,Becu said. And he thrived on the new responsibility, only to be devastated when a knee injury ended his season before it was halfway through. The following season, a fit Becu was a revelation for a rejuvenated East Fremantle. Brian Peake, Graeme Melrose, David Hollins, Noel Avery and Doug Green all represented Western Australia, but others such as Becu, Buhagiar and Donnes were outstanding, as the blue and whites romped towards a flag. Becu was one of East Fremantle's best in the grand final, and an outstanding effort from David Pretty was rewarded with the Simpson Medal. 1977 was a great year for Bob Becu, but it ended in disappointment when he dislocated a shoulder and missed the last four games of the season. When the Lynn medal votes were counted, he was an unlucky equal runner up to perennial winner of the award, Brian Peake, after leading the count up until his injury. Becu's form was spasmodic in 1979, only playing in fifteen games, and he was left out of the premiership side. He subsequently retired from league football and joined former East Fremantle player and coach, Ron Wilcox, at South Suburban side, Canning, for two years. He then assisted Rex Townsend as runner for the colts at East Fremantle, and later became team manager with Tony Micale's Swan Districts colts team. Bob has many great memories, including a premiership, but when it came to anecdotes, it was a couple of light hearted ones that he shared with us. “I got a holding the ball against Billy Walker one day,” he joked. “Billy looked pretty embarrassed about it, and I don't blame him.” He also told us of an overnight training camp at Bickley under the iron rule of John Todd. “Toddy was adamant: no money to be brought along, this is going to be a tough weekend, no fun and games,” he said. “ On the Saturday night, he must have been pleased with our efforts, so he relented, obviously of the opinion that the “no money” edict would have ensured that no one would have any anyway. “Okay,” he announced. “You can have a couple of beers if you can rustle up a quid." From nowhere out came five hundred dollars, which was quickly used appropriately. Training was cancelled next day. Asked for his hardest opponent, Bob said, “There were too many good ones around to pick from. Graham Moss (I always set myself to beat him), Fred Seinor, Peter Burton (how many elbows did he have?), Ron Alexander, Stephen Michael, Ron Boucher , Peter Ellis, Mike Fitzpatrick ..they were all good players.” Peake, Melrose, Hollins, Fred Lewis and Green were his choices as best he played with. He also gave bouquets to John Todd and Alan Joyce: “Two great coaches.” Bob is a long term employee of the Water Corporation, and likes to keep fit with a game of golf (“when the dicky ankle behaves,”) some work in the gym, and enjoys some travel with his wife, Yvonne, and three children. A Fremantle Dockers member, he gets to the games when he can. East Fremantle have been blessed with many top ruckmen over the years, and Bob Becu was one who served them well in the Seventies.
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