John Sinclair has been awarded life membership of the Bendigo Bank Mortlock Shield for his contribution as a
player and an official delegate to the committee of this iconic event.
John began playing for the Lincoln City team in 1999 and continued until 2015. When kangaroo Island had extreme
difficulty in filling a squad John’s dedication to the game showed when he volunteered his services to play for Kangaroo Island in 2016. Coincidentally, John was recorded as their best player that year.
While still playing for Lincoln City John became their delegate to the Mortlock community a role he still performs to
this day, a total of 11 years. An outstanding representative of Eyre Peninsula football thoroughly deserving of this
My association with the Mortlock Shield Carnival as a player started back in 1999
when I was selected to represent Lincoln City, and my first taste was rucking against
Eastern Eyre’s Frankie Wildman. To be honest I came away from that Carnival
wondering if I was actually up to competing at this level. So at that point, there would
be no way I would’ve expected to go on and play as many Mortlocks as I did.
Further to this, I wouldn’t have believed anyone if they had told me I was going to represent
Eyre Peninsula on 4 occasions and also pick up a State Country jumper along the
way. From my first Mortlock until I finished in 2016, which funnily enough happen
to be helping out Kangaroo Island field a team, I missed half a dozen years due to
working and playing football in Country Victoria. During that stint away I remember
feeling as though I was definitely missing out each June long weekend and always
felt envious of all of the EP lads back home battling it out through the days and
enjoying each other’s company over a few beers through the nights.
It’s risky to name some of the better players that you played against, as you’ll surely
overlook some that deserve to be mentioned as well. However, the ones that come to
mind are Scott Feltus, George Pedler, Brian Coad, Wade O’Brien, Dion Woolford and
Ryan DuBois. I really respected how they went about their footy and enjoyed playing
against these blokes at association level and alongside them at EP level.
As for some of the better players that I played with whilst representing Lincoln City, blokes like Andrew Jericho, Matthew Goodwin, Matt Keatley, Carl Semmler, Reece Francis and of course Paul White always seemed to put their hands up and rarely let you down. In the early days with Lincoln City there wasn’t much joy out on the oval and we would regularly have to kick the dew off for the better sides that would play after us, but as the years went on we were lucky enough to create a better culture and had a good core group that would make themselves available each year and with that some successful campaigns followed.
Once I finished playing football at representative level, I stumbled upon a position on the Mortlock Shield Committee as Lincoln City delegate. It happened one Saturday arvo at the Northern Hotel, when Tokas (Peter Tokarski) asked me what I was up to the next day. He said to me, ‘You won’t need to do much, basically all you need to do is put your hand up when I look at you and nod.’
Over the past 10 years or so, the Mortlock Shield has had its challenges, as has country sport everywhere and it is rather inspiring to see the passion and commitment of all the like-minded football lovers that continue to organise and produce such a great football spectacle at Centenary Oval this time each year.
Recently with Covid and the introduction of online meetings, we haven’t needed to commute to Wudinna twice a year for meetings and I can’t say I miss the 2 hour drive up there early on those Sunday mornings. However, I do miss catching with all the other football tragics from the other regions of EP in person, I could spend hours and hours on end talking with these salt of the earth people that genuinely have the best interest of the game at heart. Also, the 4-5 hour return trip back to Port Lincoln with Patch (Ray Watherston), Tokas (Peter Tokarski), Horgs (Richard Horgan), Brock Jantke, Quinn Dutschke and, of course the often designated driver, Robyn Rowsell was always quite entertaining.
The other phase of my Mortlock Shield journey is as a selector/assistant coach for Lincoln City with David Stoeckel. Along with Lou Rawson and Scott Mullins, up until a couple of years ago, our main job is to create enthusiasm and promote the lads from our respective clubs. As you can imagine though, it’s not always easy to organise a combined side from 3 teams that don’t particularly get along the other 51 weeks of the year. I really respect Sticks, Lou and Grub and have many fond memories with them to look back on over the years, particularly in the weeks leading up to Mortlock and of course the weekend itself.
Being acknowledged by Mortlock Shield is a huge honour and I can’t downplay how proud I am to be recognised, but to be honest it doesn’t quite sit comfortably with me on a couple of levels. Firstly, I don’t know how I feel about having my name alongside Eyre Peninsula’s football legends and contributors of the past that have given so much of their lives to make the Carnival what it is today. Finally, with all the great times I’ve had and friendships I’ve made through our great game, I feel as though I’m well in front and hence Mortlock and football in general doesn’t owe me a thing!
I’m just really hoping that the Mortlock Shield remains viable for a long time to come, so others going forward can also have the opportunity to play a higher standard of football and also make life long friends at the same time.