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As a young, aspiring Darwin footballer, Ron Chin’s life was upended by the Japanese bombings in 1942 which resulted in the civilian population being evacuated.

The Chin family was split across several cities and 18-year-old Ron enlisted in the RAAF in Adelaide, before being deployed to Sydney in 1944 as a Leading Aircraftman and radio technician in the RAAF HQ Telecom Unit.

After the war he returned to join the Darwin Buffaloes, playing senior football for 10 years, winning 4 premierships in the 1950’s and earning the nickname “The Flying Chinaman” for his speed.

Nightcliff legend Bennie Lew Fatt recalls being enthralled by Ron Chin: ‘it was one of the great sights to see the “Flying Chinaman” scooting down the wing. He was very quick.’

Northern Territory musician and storyteller Ted Egan recalls his friend ‘Hoonga’s playing style: ‘He was fast, a safe mark, great drop kick and great contester for the ball, a dynamic Aussie rules footballer.’

Ron’s battles with Bruce Potts from Wanderers became the stuff of Darwin legend according to Egan: ‘When Buffaloes played Wanderers, that was the matchup the spectators talked about and they had wonderful battles - on those days you would see “Hoonga” at his best,’

‘What a man: tall, handsome, a great athlete, a great singer, very funny and generous and without any malice. “Hoonga” is one of the great Territorians.’ Egan explains.

Ronald Chin was born in 1926 in Emungalan in Katherine, 260 kilometres south of Darwin, the son of Chin Loong Tang whose father Ching Mee Leung had migrated from Toishan in Canton via America before settling in Pine Creek.

His mother Lizzie Chin was the daughter of one of the Northern Territory’s most famous Chinese Australians – Granny Lum Loy, who was such a famous market gardener that she has a street named after her in Gungahlin in Canberra.

The Chin family moved from Emungalan to Darwin in the 1930’s and opened a general store and Ron roamed the streets of multicultural pre-war Darwin where the Chinese community were at the centre of mercantile and social life.

Egan recalls everyone looking forward to Granny Lum Loy’s daily run from her market garden on the outskirts of Darwin into the city area: ‘She would be an amazing sight coming down the street in a white shirt, Chinese black pants, big hat and a big smile, carrying the Chinese ‘Yoke’ balancing two baskets full of vegetables and fruit – she would talk in broken English or Chinese, we didn’t care – we loved her spirit.’

Ron played football in high school and was fully integrated into Darwin life until it was shattered by the Japanese bombing.

Ron’s son Roland feels that his father’s legacy in football helped his family: ‘My father was well respected for his football talents, and it brought respect to our family,’

‘But he would never tell you how good he was – I had to find out from other people.’