The Cowards Punch

When I was about 16 or 17 in the 70’s, two mates and I were heading from my home in Lidcombe along Kerrs Parade to Berala where some of the girls we used to hang out with were sitting around listening to music and doing stuff teenage girls did in those days.

I was a tallish skinny kid with thick glasses, long hair and quite happy-go-lucky sort of kid. I never had fights at school or anything like that as I was, and still am, a peaceful sort of person. Although Stephen Cash, a bit of a bully in about 4th class wanted to fight for some reason and I somehow managed to get him in a head lock and made him cry. Thank goodness for World Championship Wrestling on the TV on Saturday mornings lol. But in the main there wasn’t any sort of physical activity from me. I was quite skinny and not much meat on my bones so I didn’t have the physique to be some sort of stand over kid.

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Steven and I playing at a concert or school dance

There was quite a group of us kids who all went to school together and once at High School, the boys went to Homebush Boys High and the girls went to Homebush West Girls High School or Auburn Girls High School, depending on which side of the railway line they lived. During this time we met a lot of kids from all around the area who didn’t go to Lidcombe Public School. Kids from Berala and as far away as Burwood.

Most weekends we ended up at someones house to play music, dance and generally goof around as teenagers did and we always walked to each others houses, sometimes with a couple of mates or in a bit of a larger group of boys and girls, quite often carrying guitars.

One day, as I started to say, a few of us were heading to Keryns place at Berala, just walking along, probably joking around and talking the rubbish that teenagers do, having a good time on a warm sunny day. We were about half way to Berala when this motorbike went past, did a U-turn and came back and stopped in front of us. One of my mates said something like this looks like trouble but I just said it’ll be OK as I knew most of the people in Lidcombe and I had seen this bloke on his motorbike around.

As we got closer he got off his bike and, as we walked past, said “What did you say when I rode past?” to me, probably as I was the tallest. He was blocking the footpath which made us stop. I said I didn’t know what he was talking about as none of us had said anything, we weren’t even talking amongst our selves. Then I noticed a light blue Holden sedan stop and four blokes got out. One I recognised as the brother of one of the girls, Janet Church, from my class in Primary School but didn’t know the other three. I didn’t really look at them as I was too busy with this dickhead in a leather jacket.

I said I didn’t know what he was talking about and he just kept saying “What did you say” and I kept saying nothing until I finally said “Well what did I say.”

His reply was “I’ll tell you what you fuckin’ said” and with that swung a punch that hit me just above my left eye, sending my glasses flying but I didn’t hit the ground and managed not to get hit again. One of my mates picked up my glasses and we just walked off. I don’t really remember if there was any further “conversation” with him and we just kept going towards Berala, me with blood streaming down my face and not really seeing much as once I didn’t have glasses on, everything was rather fuzzy.

We were almost to Berala shopping centre when the thump thump of a motorbike once again pulled up along side of us. I think I must have had enough of this shit and said “What the fuck do you want now! Haven’t you had enough fun” or something similar. This didn’t go down too well with the other blokes as they had escaped unscathed. He came over and asked if I was going to the cops in Berala which was in the general direction we were headed. I said no and probably gave more lip, I wish I could remember!!

Well he came over and stuck out his hand and said that I was OK and he had seen me around the place blah blah blah. He then said that if anyone gave me any grief to tell them that I knew Terry Wilkins and I’d be OK. And with that, he rode away accompanied by the car full of blokes.

When we got to Keryn’s place, of course the girls made a fuss of me, washing my face and making sure I was OK much to the other blokes dismay.

After we were there for a while listening to records, first time I had heard Big Brother and The Holding Company Cheap Thrills which was Keryns older brother or sisters LP, and straightening my glasses as best we could, we left to head back to Martins place.

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That night I was staying at Martin’s place, so we jumped the train and went to Burwood. Once we got there his Mum took one look at the gash above my eye and took me to the hospital where I had three stitches to close the wound.

I’ll never know why he decided to pick on a skinny teenager. When the girls asked why he punched me, all we could think of I was the tallest and the only local as Steven and Martin came from elsewhere.

So, the cowards punch has been around for quite a number of years. I don’t know if Mr Wilkins had been drinking but I can’t remember smelling booze on his breath and it was in the middle of the day and in those days only the hardened alcoholics were in pubs at that time, not the young folk.

That was the last time I have been involved in a physical fight although I didn’t throw a punch so it wasn’t much of a fight, it was just one punch that could have had a worse outcome than it did.

8 thoughts on “The Cowards Punch

  1. Thanks for sharing this Brian, I think too often we get swept up in news reports etc that we sometimes forget that there have always been bullies & cowards in society. I just may be that now in the current age that we are seeing more of it. That does not mean we should excuse it, just take a rational approach to combat it

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    1. Quite true Sam. Perhaps there is more reporting of these incidents now-a-days as well. Plus there is the mix of drugs and booze which wasn’t around much even 10 years ago.

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  2. My siblings and I with friends did the long walk from up near Park Road down to Berala shops on our way to Lidcombe pool. We all went to local catholic schools. We were lucky as then in the 50s-60s, we all knew each other even the public school kids. Then, there was only a little pushing and shoving especially if the annoying younger kids tagged along.

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    1. WE knew so many people too. Never expected to be thumped though. There were a number of bullies who picked on some kids, me included but it was as you say just a bit of pushing and shoving.

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