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‘Kookaburra’ still getting the last laugh

Written by Adam Ricco
on June 24, 2024

Alec ‘Kookaburra’ Epis was 19 when he moved from Boulder WA to play for Essendon Football Club in 1958.

Now 86, and a resident at Ryman Healthcare’s Raelene Boyle Retirement Village in Melbourne, he’s just around the corner from the Bombers’ home ground of Windy Hill and reminisces about those early days at the club.

As a half-back flanker, Alec was known for his aggressive style of play and his ability to talk to his opponent throughout the whole game – whether they liked it or not.

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"If you're pissing them off, you know you've done a good job," Alec jokes.

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An old newspaper clipping featuring Alec Epis just before his retirement from footy.

His nickname ‘Kookaburra’ was coined by South Melbourne legend Bob Skilton, who likened his laugh to the iconic Aussie bird.

“People would say ‘Shut up, Kookaburra! Go home!” he says.

His talkative nature has never faded, and at Raelene Boyle he continues to share lively stories and memories from an illustrious career.

One of his crowning achievements was the 1962 Grand Final, where Essendon defeated crosstown rival Carlton by 32 points to take home the flag.

"The crowd was overwhelming," says Alec as he remembers the atmosphere at the MCG during one of the great Grand Finals.

Among the many relationships Epis forged during his time at Essendon, his bond with Tim Watson stands out among the rest.

Watson, who would go on to become an Essendon legend in his own right, was just a teenager when Epis first met him.

“I’d pick him up from the clubhouse when he was 15, and he's been one of my best friends ever since," Alec says.

Mentorship and friendship would blossom into a lifelong connection for the pair.

"He’s the most down-to-earth person you’ll ever meet. He’s just a great bloke.” He says.

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A high flying Alec Epis on the footy field with Essendon Football Club.

Later in life, Alec pursued a passion for winemaking and started his own winery, which he and his family run to this day.

Having always made wine at home with his Italian family, becoming a winemaker felt like a natural progression.

Today, Alec enjoys life at the Raelene Boyle Retirement Village.

He gets regular visits from his dear friend, fellow Essendon great Tim Watson, and still watches his beloved Bombers every week.

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