Jun 07, 2017
When Johnny Peard was a Cadet Lifesaver down at Bondi, he was the smallest kid in the Club. (That is, until Greg (Beagle) Brodsky turned up.) Along the way, John acquired the nickname of “Dissa”, as it suited his surname.
“Dissa” was always a fine swimmer and was a team member in the 1962/63 Junior R & R team that won an Australian Title. John’s first love, though, was Rugby League, and he played Junior League with Bondi United Easts alongside his mates from the Surf Club. In order to build himself up, he began a weight training regime at Bondi’s cheapest gymnasium, which was in Ralph Speed’s garage. He lifted weights with Ralph’s two boys, Keiran and Denys.
1966 was a bleak year for Easts; they did not win a game. With an eye to the future, East’s selectors called John up from the juniors and gave him a run on the wing, just to get some experience. When Jack Gibson turned up as the new coach, Easts began to improve. Jack took a squad of young blokes, with Peardy as the playmaker, and took them to a Grand Final win in 1974 and ’75. When Terry Fearnley became coach of Parramatta, he coaxed some of his squad at Easts, including John, to make the switch. This became the start of a golden era for Parramatta, with John as the 5/8 playmaker.
Rugby League had introduced a rule change to make the game more attractive, the “six-tackle rule”. This meant that the attacking team had to hand over possession on the sixth tackle. Peardy as playmaker developed a technique, where on the sixth tackle, he kicked the ball in a high punt. The ball would hover high over the try line . Parramatta had athletic players like Ray Price who could leap up, catch the ball and score. This combination won lots of games for Parramatta. The sporting press, always looking for a headline, christened the technique “the bomb” and Peardy, the “Bomber”. Parramatta won Grand Finals from 1976 to 1979.
After retiring, Peardy coached Parramatta and later Penrith. He had played in an era before footy players were paid like rock stars. Always a hard worker, John worked in construction with his own concrete truck. He was always a closet entertainer, making regular appearances at the “Xmas Cheer” with his “World Championship Wrestling” Troupe and his solo performances at “Stand Up”. John’s Parra mates talked him into going on TV on a Rugby League talent show, which he won.
In later years, John got involved in charity work raising money for “Men of League”, a group started by Ron Coote, that supported footy players who had fallen on hard times. John toured New South Wales and Queensland with his great mate, Arthur Beetson, raising money for Men of League. They perfected a double act, “Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis” style, with Big Artie as the straight man and JP doing the jokes.
John’s life got a bit complicated in 2002, when he had a severe stroke, requiring years of rehab. The support he’d given others was returned. His extended family backed him all the way. John’s own family includes an old team mate from Easts, Peter Moscatt, who is married to Margaret Peard. His younger sister Diane, married champion surfer Rob Conneely and John’s brother, Geoff, also played with Easts.
Peardy lives in the Shire with lots of Bondi Ex-Pats. He still does charity gigs for Men of League. He bobs up at Bondi from time to time. His dad John (Snr.) was still fishing Bondi Beach into his 90s. John’s bombs don’t go as high as they once did, but his jokes are better.
1962 – An Unreliable History – John Peard, The Bondi Bomber