South Bendigo’s Bernie McCarthy passes away

South Bendigo’s 1974 premiership captain-coach and North Melbourne stalwart Bernie McCarthy died at the end of February. He was 75.

McCarthy played 148 games for the Shinboners between 1962 and 1971 and was part of North’s night premiership teams of 1965 and 1966.

The big follower-forward moved to South as captain-coach in 1972 and continued in that role until 1976: five seasons in all.

Highlight of his time at the Bloods, apart from his 1973 Michelsen Medal win, was the 1974 premiership triumph over old rivals Sandhurst.

Just as had been the case two decades earlier under Alan McDonald’s leadership, South Bendigo struggled to hold onto fourth spot and a resulting semi-final berth for much of the 1974 season.

But McCarthy urged them on and the Bloods seemed to gain momentum as the finals series played out.

Doug Carter was in sparkling form at full-back, centre half-forward Ted Aldridge was outstanding while in the grand final McCarthy was voted best afield.

Aldridge booted six goals and Peter Hutcheson five as the Bloods downed the Hurst 17.13 (115) to 14.9 (93).

Each of the three Advertiser football scribes at the QEO named McCarthy as best afield in the ’74 grand final as did 3BO commentator Dick Turner and central umpires Ian Robinson and Paul McCaskill.

Even though he didn’t nail a major in that ’74 decider McCarthy was a noted goalkicker throughout his VFL and BFNL careers.

In round 16, 1969, he had 31 disposals, took 11 marks and nailed four goals playing as North Melbourne’s centre half-forward.

After South Bendigo McCarthy moved to the Heathcote District Football League where he coached Rushworth to the 1977 premiership.

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