George Duncan had a fling at football with Norwood and Adelaide before embarking on a long career as an eminent exhibitor and judge of dogs and poultry at shows across the nation. George and his twin brother, Andrew, were born on 13 April 1864 at Hermitage, near Houghton. Their mother Margaret, who died in childbirth, was a daughter of the pioneer orchardist and vine grower George McEwin. Both boys were educated at Prince Alfred College.
George was playing with the North Adelaide Juniors in 1882. He broke into the Norwood team in 1884, which was a season of experimentation after the club's initial flurry of six successive premierships. Norwood tried several newcomers, including Duncan, Henry Monteith and Albert Flight, against the visiting Melbourne team on 23 August. It was a spirited encounter before Melbourne broke through for a win, 5.7 to 3.6, after two draws and a loss on tour.
A week later Port Adelaide showed the form which would deliver its first premiership with a 3.13 to 0.11 defeat of Norwood, prompting 'Follower' to comment in The Evening Journal that Duncan was "streaky", Monteith "a duffer" and Harry Hamilton "not much better". Duncan had an excuse. His head was cut in a heavy collision with an opponent. Both left the field. A bandaged Duncan returned but the Port man, 'Tick' Smith, did not.
Duncan, Monteith, Hamilton and Flight switched from Norwood to Adelaide in 1885. After South Adelaide escaped with a lucky win over the up-and-coming Adelaide, The South Australian Register said: "Duncan, back, rivalled his captain [James Stephens], and Flight did exceptionally well." Stephens and Duncan also shone when Prince Alfred defeated St Peter's 8.7 to 3.4 in an old scholars' match. Flight and Monteith were gone from Adelaide when it won its only premiership in 1886 but Duncan played the odd game that year.
George Duncan dabbled with a mining lease at Broken Hill in 1893 and was a confectioner in Adelaide in 1911 before moving to Victoria, where his brother lived. George was a station manager at Echuca in 1914, a nurseryman at Ivanhoe in 1924 and a landscape architect at North Kew in 1949.
His great love over more than 60 years, however, was showing and judging dogs and fowls. His early interest was in greyhounds and he was only 23 when he and his uncle won the SA Waterloo Cup and Oaks with Violet. In 1887 they won the Derby with Vulcanite. George began showing at the age of 27 and over time exhibited 10 different breeds of dog, about a dozen breeds of fowl and 15 breeds of bantam. He began judging dogs in Adelaide before the 20th century dawned. By 1924 he had the distinction of judging in the Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney Royal Shows.
A stickler for physical fitness, he was still judging at shows in 1950 and was 87 when he died on 1 May 1952. His wife, the former Annie Allard, died in 1936. They had two children, Colin and Frere.
P Robins Feb 2018