Tough and talented, the remarkable Paddy Roachock packed into his short life of 32 years no fewer than seven senior premierships – five with Norwood and two with Fremantle.
A Clare Valley boy of Polish-Irish heritage, Paddy was a top centreman and also useful around the goals with deft snapshots or 70-yard place-kicks. He played a vigorous game and had a short fuse which sometimes got him into trouble.
Matters came to a head at Adelaide Oval on 30 August 1884 in a match to decide whether Norwood would win its seventh successive premiership or Port Adelaide its first. It was a rough contest. Port won 3.13 to 0.11 but finished the day two players short. At one point Paddy sent Port’s Bill Buchan packing with a dislocated shoulder. On 9 September the SA Football Association disqualified Paddy until the end of the season for rough play. Norwood defied the ban and was censured for playing him in the last match of the season, against North Adelaide. On 11 September, Roachock was in more trouble, charged in the Adelaide Police Court with the assault of Port player Tom Norsworthy, who, as a spectator at a Norwood-South match, had called Paddy “a dog” and other terms of opprobrium. After the match, played at Adelaide Oval on 1 September, Paddy struck his tormentor and probably thought it was worth the one shilling fine he incurred later.
Paddy contracted typhoid fever in April 1887 and there were fears for his life but, an 86-kilogram ball of muscle, he bounced back and contributed to the Norwood premiership three-peat of 1887, 1888 and 1889. He was an extraordinary athlete, renowned Australia-wide in wrestling, weightlifting, hammer throwing, tossing the caber, Indian club exercises and juggling, manipulations of sharpened axes, dumb-bell movements, tug-of-war events and other feats of strength. He operated an athletics hall in Adelaide and later a gymnasium in Perth.
In his two years with Fremantle, 1890 and 1893, he was vice-captain to former Norwood mate ‘Paddy’ Knox but between premierships played with the rival team Rovers in 1892.
Born at Sevenhill on 6 August 1861, Paddy was the oldest of the six children of Tomasz Rucioch/Roachock and his wife Mary, née Laughlin. One of his four brothers, John, played at Norwood with him in 1886 – the year Paddy married Eliza (Lalla) Ryan at St Aloysius’ Catholic Church, Adelaide.
Weakened by a fever, an almost unrecognizable Patrick Roachock was assaulted and robbed a week before he succumbed to pneumonia at his Coolgardie residence on 17 August 1896. His widow died in Adelaide in 1936.
Reference: Ashton, Norman Fremantle Football: The Origins 1885 to 1904. (Perth, A J Diamond Inc, 2016)
P Robins, D Cox Feb 2020