James Pyke was a highly talented footballer and cricketer. He played his early football in Western Australia, before moving to the Australian Capital Territory and joining the Belconnen Football Club. He represented the ACT from under 15 to under 17 levels.
Known as Fish or Pykey, he joined Norwood in 1985, after impressing scouts in the 1984 Teal Cup carnival. He played 16 games for Norwood's Under 19's in 1985, and was runner-up to the best and fairest in its Premiership year.
The following season he began in the Reserves, but made his League debut against Port Adelaide in Round 4. Pyke scored a goal with his first kick in senior football, and the Redlegs easily accounted for the opposition, running out winners 21.13 to 13.12.
Smooth moving and ideally suited to a half back or wing, he immediately became a regular member of the League team.
In 1986 he was selected by Footscray in the VFL/AFL draft. Somewhat surprised by his selection, as he hadn't been contacted by Footscray, and since he had just broken into the South Australian Shield side, he decided against moving to Melbourne. He was again selected in the 1989 pre-season draft, this time by Collingwood, but was delisted after developing stress fractures in his foot during the 1990 pre-season.
He continued to play football at the Parade, and in 1989 reached the 50 game milestone.
Pyke was also an accomplished cricketer, playing club cricket with West Torrens and Sturt. As well as representing South Australia as a right hand batsman and medium pacer, he also toured India and Sri Lanka with the Australian under 19's team, and later toured New Zealand.
His father Frank played in the West Australian Football League and is also remembered for his rehabilitation work, especially getting legendary cricketer Dennis Lillee back into fast bowling after a crippling back injury. James' younger brother Don played in two AFL flags for the West Coast Eagles and in 2016 was appointed coach of the Adelaide Football Club.
R Cialini Feb 2015