John “Chicka” Ferguson was born in Sydney in 1954.
Playing for the South Grafton Rebels as a junior, he made his way up through the grades to become a first grader between 1972 and 1975.
He then joined the Newtown Jets in the top grade via a stint up in the Northern Tablelands at Glen Innes.
Phil Gould retells the story of being there the day John walked into Henson Park to train with Newtown. Later that year the club secretary Frank Farmington said that John was the biggest thing to happen to Newtown since Brian “Chicka” Moore – a Newtown legend. And that’s where the nickname stuck.
Newtown folded at the end of 1983 and John went across town to play for the Roosters in 1984 and 1985. He played 31 games for them and the story goes that the Roosters thought he was getting too old so let him go.
He made his first representative teams whilst at Easts playing three Tests for Australia. But his career was just kicking off.
He played the first of his eight games for New South Wales in 1985 whilst he was at Easts. He played on the wing in the winning 1985 series. He then had a three year gap until he returned to the Blues as a Raider in 1988 and 1989 for a total of eight Origin caps.
Prior to joining the Raiders he had a hugely successful season in England playing for the Wigan Warriors. It was during the 1985 season and he starred at Wembley to help Wigan defeat a Peter Sterling led Hull side in the Challenge Cup Final. During his one season he scored 24 tries in 25 games and is still adored by the fans in the north of England.
He moved to the Raiders in 1986 during the lead up to our most successful period ever. He topped the try scoring list in 1988 and dazzled not only Raiders fans, but all rugby league fans with his feats.
Unfortunately a broken leg meant he missed the grand final in 1987 but he more than made up for it in 1989. His try sent the game into extra game where they would later beat the Tigers for the first Canberra Premiership ever.
He would go on to win a second premiership in 1990 at 36 years of age. He ended up play 94 games for the Raiders and scored 50 tries in total.
While he was still playing in Canberra he was working as an electrician and was constantly spotted by school students when he was changing and testing the fire alarms.
He then moved to North Queensland where he has worked in juvenile justice for many years. He is widely respected by all and has mentored many young men.
Now 67, Chicka is happy living a quiet life in Townsville, attending church, working in the community and spending time with his family.
You’ll find him in the early hours of the morning doing work for the church or the local drug and alcohol counseling service. We loved him for his try scoring feats but his love is helping other people.
He prefers to avoid the limelight and shuns photos and press. Some of his teammates have only seen him once or twice since the 1990’s.