Starting the 1975 season in reserve grade, he made his first grade debut for Penrith in the Round 10 match versus Balmain, scoring a try in their 23-8 loss to the Tigers. He retained his position the following week, and appeared in every remaining match to the end of the premiership season, crossing for a total of six tries in 13 appearances.
He returned to first grade in the Round 4 win over Newtown, crossing for a try. He would make nine appearances up until Round 18, where he was switched to fullback. This would ultimately be his final appearance in first grade.
A Greg Alexander penalty conversion after 15 minutes opened the scoring for the contest and was soon followed by an individual effort from Alexander to lead 8-0.
Cronulla soon reduced it to 8-6 but Penrith increased their lead to 12-6 through a try to Brad Izzard.
However, the Sharks struck back minutes from half time to lock it up at 12-all.
A second try to Alexander which he converted restored the Panthers six point lead early in the second half, and then after a scoreless half hour period, Gary Howell stormed through the defensive line to increase the lead to 12.
A Sharks consolation try in the dying minutes only reduced the hosts’ winning margin.
Blacktown junior who was part of Penrith’s SG Ball (Under 18s) team in 1969, and moved up grades.
He made his first grade debut in Round 17 of the 1975 season, starting in the front row versus Manly at Brookvale Oval, and would retain his position the following week.
He returned to first grade in 1977, he returned to first grade when he was selected in the front row in the opening premiership round versus St. George, which would ultimately be his final appearance in first grade.
Windsor junior who made his first grade debut in Round 9 of the 1976 season, starting on the wing in their 17-0 win over Canterbury at Penrith Park. In total, he would make a total of 9 appearances, crossing for one try and his final appearance being in the last premiership round.
He would not add to his first grade tally in future seasons.
In 2008, he was named in the Windsor Wolves Team of the Century.
John Cartwright, in his final match for the Panthers, was involved in the lead up to the Panthers first try, running to the line and providing a well timed inside pass to Jody Gall for his to charge over, with Penrith leading 4-0.
Parramatta would score the next two tries to lead 10-4, and whilst Ryan Girdler’s penalty conversion made it 10-6, the visitors would cross for another try to hold a 16-6 lead at half time.
The Panthers were first to score in the second half when Craig Gower offloaded the ball to Gall only metres out, and he barged his way over under the black dot.
Penrith locked it up at 16-all when Cartwright was able to offload the pass before being bundled into touch only metres out, and with the ball just sitting inside the field of play, Ned Catic picked it up and dived over in the corner. Girdler’s sideline conversion gave Penrith the lead just after the 50 minute mark.
The Panthers inched further ahead in horrendous conditions with another penalty conversion to make it 20-16.
With less than three minutes remaining, a long range kick was not taken cleanly by the Eels, with the ball dribbling towards the in goal and a sprinting Girdler grounding it in the in goal to make it 24-16. Cartwright was not able to nail the customary final conversion to the departing player, but meant little as the Panthers finished off a difficult season with an eight point victory.
A 2-0 lead after 5 minutes was extended further with two tries in the final 10 minutes of the half – the first was to Paul Whatuira when he took an inside pass from Craig Gower to power his way over, and was extended on the verge of the break when Shane Rodney one pass off the ruck ran 65 metres down the left edge to touch down, with Preston Campbell’s conversion making it 14-0.
However, the Raiders would post the first three tries of the second half to lead 18-14 after 62 minutes.
With 11 minutes remaining, the Panthers levelled it up when Tony Puletua offloaded a pass to Luke Rooney inside their own defensive half and ran down the sideline to touch down in the corner, with Campbell’s conversion making it 20-18.
With two minutes remaining, Penrith closed out the contest when Rhys Wesser placed a well weighted grubber into the in goal, with Paul Whatuira diving on it to claim the try.
A penalty conversion from Ryan Girdler in the eighth minute opened the scoring with Penrith leading 2-0.
But Canberra would score the first two tries to lead 10-2 after 30 minutes.
A movement on the halfway line started by Greg Alexander was finished by Ryan Girdler, when he took an overhead pass from Peter Jorgensen 20 metres out, and ran an angled line through the scattered Raiders defence to cross to the right of the uprights. His conversion reduced it 10-8.
However, the Raiders would have the final say only seconds from half time with a try and the visitors leading 16-8.
The Panthers were first to score in the second half when Girdler crossed for his second, running off a Matt Adamson offload to touch down under the uprights. Girdler added the extras to trail by just two.
Penrith regained the lead when the video referee awarded a green light for the next try when Darren Brown was headed for the line and was tackled just metres short but threw a pass backwards and was then picked up by Robbie Beckett who then managed to power his way over the Raiders defenders to plant the ball down. Although the conversion was unsuccessful the Panthers led 18-16.
Just before the 60 minute mark, the Panthers further extended their lead when Sid Domic lunged over near the right corner. Girdler’s sideline conversion made it 24-16.
Canberra though would strike back with two unconverted tries to make it 24-all with just over 10 minutes remaining. A penalty conversion from Girdler with five minutes remaining broke the deadlock and another penalty soon after made it a four point lead, and would remain so until full time.
Penrith Panthers – from chocolate soldiers to black magic