FOOTBALL fans would often spend ages trying to tell which was Danny Roche’s natural foot.
Roche was renowned for his beautiful drop-kick that he could execute accurately, smack on the chest of his target, off both his left and right.
East Ballarat footballer John Cotter, coached by Roche in his junior days, paid tribute to the club legend and dual premiership captain (1949-50) as a remarkable player and long-serving coach who died last week, just shy of age 93.
Cotter said that Geelong legend Bob Davis, who hailed from Golden Point, once declared at a Ballarat Sportsman’s Club dinner that Roche was one of the best footballers he had ever seen.
Roche never played a Victorian Football League (now AFL) game but signed with Essendon as an 18-year-old and trained with the Bombers for two weeks before the outbreak of WWII.
Joining the armed services, Roche was in active military service for six years.
Cotter said Roche was heavily chased by VFL clubs upon his return from war in 1946. Then-powerhouse Melbourne was among those keenly courting Roche.
But after a long time away, Roche wanted to settle in back home in Ballarat and continue his East Ballarat journey as a centreman.
Roche moved to Creswick for a brief period in the Clunes Football League as coach and returned to coach the Bulldogs’ reserves and the same year played in the club’s 1957 senior Ballarat Football League premiership against Geelong West – he was 37 years old.
Most Bulldogs now best remember Roche from their junior days as under-18s coach.
“It was remarkable that such a great player put so much back into football,” Cotter said.
“He was coaching the East Ballarat thirds well into his 50s.
“His kick was so good that we were just amazed watching him. He could kick so accurately from 30 to 40 metres away, even then.”
Former East Ballarat committeeman Kevin Cummins said Roche was a quiet, well-respected man about the club, who always maintained a close eye and ear on what was happening on the field.
Roche is highly likely to be be inducted into the BFL hall of fame later this year.
Away from football, Roche was also well-known about Ballarat as a postie along his regular Lydiard Street service route out of town.
His funeral will be on Tuesday.