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INDUCTEE 2013 - ATHLETE - Don Duncalfe


Acceptance Speech by Bill Gust on behalf of Don Duncalfe

It is my pleasure to accept the athlete award on my good friend don’s behalf and to read his acceptance speech. I know that he is very proud to be inducted into the Wetaskiwin and County Sports Hall of Fame and wanted to be here in person to accept the award. However, his physical health just wouldn’t allow the long trip from England to  Wetaskiwin.

Here’s what Don has to say.


Unfortunately, I am not able to attend this award ceremony.  It is ironic that i am haunted by old football injuries that prevent me from travelling to accept this award in person. Fortunately, in 2009, I was able to attend the ceremony inducting the 1956 Sabre Team into the Hall of Fame.

I would like to thank my cousin and friend, Ron Layzell, for nominating me for this award, and also thank the committee for selecting me into the Wetaskiwin and County Sports Hall of Fame. It is also an honour to join the former inductees here in my home town and Wetaskiwin.

I  would like to congratulate the other nominees that join me here tonight to receive their respective awards.

Two of the nominees are well known to me. Both Al and Ross were part of the  ‘56 team inducted in 2009. Both Al and i played junior football with the Edmonton Huskies in 1957, having a successful year winning the Alberta, B.C. Championship.

I was born in  Wetaskiwin in an area called “Dutch Flats” and at the time the conditions were very meagre to say the least. I was raised by my grandmother in this tough part of town. She had a constant struggle to support my sister and myself. I loved playing other sports, but my grandmother never could afford to buy a ball glove or a decent pair of skates. Later in high school, having access to a pair of used football cleats was a delight, even if they didn’t fit properly!

The three years of playing under coaches Norm Brown and Pete Durnavo, and playing alongside so many outstanding players, had an impact on preparing  me for the professional game. All of the players were part of the team and treated as equals; no stars, no heroes, even if some had more natural ability. We had a number of exceptional athletes during my school years; some went on to play at higher levels and there were a few that didn’t that certainly had the ability to do so. Coach Brown moulded individuals into positions, even if they did not have natural ability. If they had the desire to play, they were part of the team.

Playing under Coaches Brown and Durnavo during my high school years  changed me in many ways. Having a lack of self- confidence in early years, Brown’s coaching philosophy and manner in dealing with individuals had a profound effect on my self-confidence and self-esteem; not only in football, but throughout my working life and in years to come.  High school football in its basic and simplest form will always stand out as the best time I ever had as a player. Just a hell of a lot of fun, both on and off the field, having the ‘odd beer’ or two.

During my high school years, I would tune into Eskimo games on radio and listen to Kwong, Bright and the magic of Parker’s running. I recall the run Parker made against Montreal to win the 1954 Grey Cup.  A dream came true in 1959 when I joined all of these heroes of mine on the playing field. It was a pleasure to knock heads with guys like Roger Nelson, Bill Smith, Art Walker and too many more to mention.

During my tenure with the Esks, I have many great memories of the times on the field, in the dressing room and off the field, which will remain confidential!

Normie Kong was my roommate on a number of occasions during road trips. He had a reputation of playing pranks on players, so i had to be on guard at all times. Thankfully, most of his pranks were directed toward the import players. His sense of humour was contagious in the dressing room and helped keep the team relaxed. I understand that Normie went on to better and bigger things!

Jackie Parker was not only one of the best ever in the CFL as a player, but as a person he was equally as good; unselfish and very helpful with young players, like myself. I recall at one point, coach Eagle Keys thought I should play offensive centre.  Never having played this position before, Parker took his time after regular practices to help me with ball exchanges and other aspects of this position, always so helpful. On another occasion during a very cool 1962 October practice, before he was traded to Toronto in 1963, i misplaced my woollen jersey. Parker let me have his to use. I kept it for the rest of the season. I think it is still around Wetaskiwin. Cousin Ron might know!

I consider myself fortunate to have played with the Eskimos in an era that had so many legends and hall of famers. The good times and the memories I had in my five years will always be treasured, along with the pain, that is inevitable with the bad times.

In closing, all that remains for me to say is that it is a privilege to be joining my 1956 high school Sabres football team and my high school coach, Norm Brown, into the Wetaskiwin and County Sports Hall of Fame.

Thank you.

Read the opening comments made by Colleen Grinde when introducing Don Duncalfe.

Return to Don Duncalfe Inductee Page





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