Code 3: Part 2- Ray Millington

As the game celebrates 140 years at the SCG, Dr Rodney Gillett looks at the unique record of Ray Millington at the famous old ground.

 

             Ray Millington makes a run
               in a senior
Rugby League
            match against South Sydney

Ray Millington played senior football in three different codes on the SCG in the 1950s.

Born and bred in Paddington, he played Australian football for Eastern Suburbs, Rugby Union for Randwick, and Rugby League for Eastern Suburbs; and, represented NSW in athletics, Australian football and basketball.

He was a natural athlete whose first experience at the SCG was at State junior athletics championships in 1950 when he won four events – the javelin, the hammer throw, the discuss and the pole volt. He also competed in the decathlon in the open age group.

Ray started out playing junior football for Delmuth, an inner city team. He was spotted at a Sydney Naval football trial by an Eastern Suburbs official who told him that as he lived in Paddington he was residentially bound to play for Easts.

Debuting in 1949 he made an immediate impression and played centre half-forward for Easts in their one-point loss in the grand final to Newtown on the Sydney Showground. The next season after starring in a Sydney representative team that beat the South-West League, he was selected at age 18, for the NSW State team in the Second Division carnival in Brisbane, which was played at the Gabba.

Ray was recruited by VFL club Fitzroy for the 1952 season and played four senior games for the ‘Roys. A centre-half-forward in Sydney, Fitzroy wanted to make a centreman out of him, but that was the position of captain-coach Allan “The Baron” Ruthven, who had won the Brownlow medal in 1950, so opportunities were limited.

However, he did play for a Victorian 2nd XVIII against a country representative team as a curtain-raiser to an interstate clash between Victoria and Western Australia at the MCG. This meant that Ray played football on the three major grounds on the east coast – SCG, MCG and Gabba – which was quite unique at the time.

He returned to Sydney for the 1953 season and resumed playing for Eastern Suburbs which began its record run of seven consecutive premierships by beating Western Suburbs in the grand final, 21-22.(148) to 15-12 (102).

Easts, which only lost one game for the season, scored 2285 points for and only had 961 points against during the home-and-away matches, and according to the NSW ANFL weekly Record, “This Eastern Suburbs side has been the best in Sydney for a considerable number of years” (6 September, 1953).

Ray Millington
       at Fitzroy

Ray told me that the 1953 Easts team would have beaten most VFL 2nd grade sides, “The goal-to-goal line of full-back Mal Dean, centre half-back Alf Penno, centreman Ray Moore, myself at centre half-forward and Joe Hughes at full forward really worked well together, with Jackie Dean leading the ruck division and rover Jack Boucher.  Former St Kilda big man, Fred Pemberton, was the captain-coach”.

It was during this season that he played his first game of football at the SCG for Eastern Suburbs against Newtown in a curtain-raiser match to a North Adelaide v Norwood game for premiership points in the SANFL; this was the first occasion that such a game had been played outside of South Australia.

“It was a wonderful thrill to play my first game of football on the Cricket Ground”, Ray told me in an interview for this piece. “I just loved it. Mind you, it was better to play Aussie Rules on the ground than Rugby or League; the centre of the ground where the wickets got so hard, were like concrete,” Ray recalled.

                         1953 NSW Team in Queensland

Then in 1954, Ray switched codes to Rugby Union playing with leading Sydney club Randwick. He went straight into first grade under Wallabies Skipper Nick Shehadie, and alongside the Outterside brothers, Bob and Bill. By this time, he had joined the police force   and was based at Randwick.

Ray was chosen for a Rugby City Colts team to play RMC Duntroon in a curtain-raiser at the SCG to the Australia v Fiji test match.

He returned to play footy for Eastern Suburbs under Alf Penno in 1956 and was a member of the premiership team that beat Western Suburbs, 10-12.(72) to 9-19 (71).

His next foray was into Rugby League and he signed with the Eastern Suburbs Club in 1957 where he played under legendary Kangaroos centre Dave Brown and alongside Jack Gibson and Terry Fearnley until 1959. Easts were based at the Sydney Sportsground (a ground taken over for the Sydney Football Stadium members car park). Ray played for Easts in two match-of-the-days against St George on the SCG.

He retired from playing senior football after the 1959 season following a stint as captain-coach of the South Western Club Rugby League Club, Mt Pritchard and subsequently built a stellar career in the NSW Police Force and serving in the CIB, rising to the rank of Detective Chief Inspector.

According to one of East Sydney’s star players of the 1960s and later club president, Bob Wilton, “Ray Millington was one of the best, he was highly skilled and very athletic, and had that great ability to play well in the big games. He could match it with the best, in any code he played. I grew up just down the road from Trumper Park and used to go to watch games as a young boy. Ray was one of my heroes”.

For an interview with Ray about his Sporting Journey, click here to listen to a podcast of Ray’s time in football.

The Perfect Opportunity For State Of Origin Footy

How the weekend off can be a boon for footy fans 

                        The Band, From The Suburbs

Guest write, musician, author and Swans fan Dave Warner (From The Suburbs) argues the case for the return of State of Origin football using NSW as a case study

It may have happened only because of Covid but this lay-off week before the AFL Grand Final is something I’ve been arguing for a few years now.  Why? Because it presents the perfect opportunity to have a return to State of Origin Football, which for those of us old enough and lucky enough to have experienced it, is simply the best of the best.

The break before the finals start never made sense and disempowers higher ranked teams but here’s how this pre-grand final break can be a boon to football.

At the end of the qualifying round, squads are selected from the pool of available players (ie: the 10 clubs knocked out already). I suggest 4 squads for Vic, S.A., W.A. and N.S.W.  but as in the old `Carnival’ days, I would not discount Tas and Qld teams, even if those teams had to be bolstered by players from local competitions.

But for now, assume we have four squads. After each final round, two more AFL teams are eliminated, and from these teams more players are added to the initial squads. This means that when we arrive at the point at which we are currently, the two grand finalists in waiting, we have 16 teams contributing to the state squads.  This would give us an opportunity of playing ROUND 1 this weekend: For example Saturday Victoria v W.A. , Sunday  S.A. v NSW

The winners then go onto play in the final next week, either on the FRIDAY NIGHT BEFORE THE GRAND FINAL or on the SATURDAY DAY.  Optional that losers could play off too.

Without Covid such games could be played at venues like the SCG, Adelaide Oval or Optus Stadium. I know the frustration of fans in Perth who cannot get to the MCG for a grand final and I guarantee you’d get a sell out at Optus, and I’m sure in Adelaide for such games.  Instead of a boring long kicking contest across the Yarra, the lead into a twilight or night Grand Final at the MCG could be the interstate game. Or play it on the night before if that’s what broadcasters prefer.

                                    Dave Warner

The end of the season means that players have more freedom and clubs cannot ban them as would happen pre-season or mid-season. It is perfect timing to see wonderful football. Finals football is a pressure cooker but in these state games players can be more free-wheeling and attacking. Some of the clashes I saw in the 70s and 80s are the best quality of footy I have ever seen.

For those who think that NSW would not have a competitive team, have a look at the side selected this year by Richard Colless (Convenor), Gerard Healy, Mike Sheahan, Wayne Carey, Mark Maclure and Rod Gillett for the NSW Australian Football History Society.

Reading from the backline:

Cunnigham,   Howard,   Perryman

Duryea,   Rampe,   Cumming

I.Smith,   Mills,   Gulden

Breust,   Himmelberg,   Wicks

Schultz,   Hawkins,   Marshall

Flynn,   Hopper,   Heeney

Lloyd,   Spargo,   Buckley,   Koschitze.

Only a few of these players would be unavailable right now to play in a game this weekend.

I believe this system would also give us a chance to better evaluate the ALL-AUSTRALIAN SIDE which could then be announced after the Grand Final based on the performances of players in the State games and the Grand Final. Of course, Tasmanian and Queensland and injured players if not given the opportunity in a State game or the Grand Final could still be evaluated on their other performances. The original All Australian sides were determined by players performances in inter-state games. This I believe is a far superior test to determine who deserves to be All Australian than qualifying round club games. The finest players play best against the best opposition.

That’s my suggestion anyway. The Broadcasters would love it, non-Victorian fans who find it prohibitive to get to Melbourne for the Grand Final week would love it because they could still have footy in their state right to the end.

Let’s bring back the best footy of all State of Origin! 

 

Seeking Help In Publication Design

          Newtown’s Doc O’Connor marking in the 1970
                 Sydney Grand Final at Trumper Park

Each year the Society produces a journal which includes many stories and articles which have been published on this site over the past 12 months or so.

The publication is sent to members as part of their membership package.

This year we thought we would look at redesigning the front cover in more line with the character of the organisation.

If you know anyone in that type of work, please contact us at: admin@nswfootballhistory.com.au

Code 3: Huey’s Rare SCG Treble

 

“Baby Huey” in hot pursuit of the ball for East Sydney in 1981

As the game celebrates 140 years at the SCG, Dr Rodney Gillett looks back at a larger-than-life character with a unique record at the famous old ground.

As Greg Harris, the coach of the newly assembled Sydney Swans Under-19 squad, strode out on to the SCG in late Spring 1988 to conduct training, he turned to me, and said: “You know I’ve played three different codes of football on this ground.”

I said: “Yes, Huey. I remember you taking eighteen marks out here for Easts in a match against North Shore a few years back.”

“Yeah, plus I played rugby and rugby leagues games here too …,” he added, leaving that last comment to hang in the warm air. “Now, put the cones out for the boys to do the handball drill!”

Greg Harris was known throughout his sporting career as “Huey”, shortened as Aussies are want to do from “Baby Huey”, the oversized baby duckling in the Harvey comics in the 1960s. The nickname was bestowed on him by his Sydney Uni rugby team-mates after he wrestled a sumo wrestler on a tour of Japan.

Huey and another former East Sydney champion, Ray Millington (to be featured in Part 2), are believed to be the only two players to have played three codes of football on the SCG.

In Huey ’s case, his father, Col Harris, an original inductee into the AFL Sydney Hall of Fame in 2003, also played on the famous ground when he represented NSW in 1949 against Queensland.  Huey coached NSW state teams in matches against Queensland in 1983 and 1990.

He started playing junior football with the Penshurst Panthers in the St George district competition, and then graduated to the St George seniors at age 15 in 1970.

Following an impressive debut in a Sydney representative team while still at school he received an invitation to train with Richmond but chose to take up a scholarship to study at Sydney University.

Greg Harris playing for St George v South Sydney at Trumper Park [10]
Greg Harris playing for
St George v South
Sydney at Trumper
Park
His first experience of playing any code of football on the SCG came in 1972 when the rugby league team from his school, Kogarah High, played against Farrer Memorial Agricultural High School, from Tamworth, in the final of the state-wide University Shield, which Farrer won.

At Sydney University, Harris quickly adapted to rugby union. “I found it easier to play than footy as it was a 180-degree game,” he told me in an interview for this article.

In his second season for in Sydney’s rugby union competition, in 1975, he was a regular in Sydney University’s first-grade team and he played at No.8 for a combined Sydney team in its defeat of an England XV at the old Sydney Sportsground.

A fortnight later, he played for the NSW Under 23 team against the Queensland Under 23 team in a curtain-raiser to the Wallabies v England Test match at the SCG.

Following graduation, Huey returned to rugby league. He signed with Cronulla-Sutherland, where he mainly played reserve grade, but this included a final on the SCG in 1978.

“It was a great thrill to play at the SCG”, Huey said. “I usually played fairly well in games there. The atmosphere is special, and you were conscious of the crowd noise even in a curtain-raiser”.

Harris returned to Australian Football the next year, in 1979, with East Sydney, which turned out to be the ill-fated “flag’s-in-the-bag” season in which the Bulldogs, under former Fitzroy star Alex Ruscuklic, went through the roster matches undefeated, only to lose both finals – out in straight sets – as the saying goes.

However, in the club’s much-celebrated centenary season in 1980, Huey sustained a knee injury during the opening rounds which ruled him out for the rest of the year including the grand final at the SCG.

Legendary Easts president Jack Dean, a contemporary of Harris’s father, Col, in state teams, recognised Huey’s astute leadership skills. He arranged for Huey to take over from Austin Robertson as the playing-coach in 1981, and took Easts to a premiership with a victory over the Sam Kekovich-led Newtown, in the Grand Final.

Harris added further premierships to his record when he coached Easts to victory over Pennant Hills and Balmain respectively in the 1982 and 1983 grand finals, cementing his place among the best all-time coaches in Sydney football.

“Huey could mix with and understand many diverse types: aspiring young sportsmen, musicians, plumbers, stock-brokers and garbos.

While he is university educated, Greg could slide easily from one group to another and was able to unify diverse people into one team with a common goal”, Easts’ premiership and State back pocket player Ted Pleming reiterated when we discussed this story.

During the 1984 and 1985 seasons, the local Sydney clubs played against each other in curtain-raisers to the Sydney Swans matches on the SCG.

East Sydney often featured in these curtain-raisers, and the smaller ground suited the hulk-like physique of Harris, whose ability to read the play enabled him to win a pile of possessions.

The Swans Reserves hosted their matches in Melbourne until the end of 1985. The following year, in 1986, they too were finally brought to Sydney.

When the Swans decided to base an Under 19s team in Sydney for the 1988 season, Harris was a logical choice to coach the squad, given his teaching background at Sydney Boys’ High School and his success with NSW development squads. The Under 19s played home games at the SCG and away matches in Melbourne.

Huey’s connection with the SCG was deepened when he took on the role of senior chairman of selectors for Swans coaches Ron Barassi and Rodney Eade from 1994 to 1996.

It was in 1996, that the Swans made their first grand final appearance since 1945 after famously beating Essendon by one point kicked by Tony” Plugger” Lockett after the siren in the preliminary final also at the SCG.

2021 NSW State Of Origin Team Announced

It’s important to acknowledge that notwithstanding, an outstanding on field season by Taylor Walker the selectors have concluded due to recent events it would be inappropriate to consider Taylor for selection in the team. 

Selectors: Richard Colless (Convenor), Gerard Healy, Mike Sheahan, Wayne Carey, Mark Maclure and Rod Gillett  

Coach: 
John Longmire Sydney (Corowa Rutherglen)
Assistant Coaches:
Jarrad McVeigh Sydney (Pennant Hills)
Ben Matthews Sydney (Corowa-Rutherglen)
Mark McVeigh GWS (Pennant Hills)
Adam Schneider GWS (Osborne)
Greg Stafford Melbourne (Western Suburbs) 

BACK LINE Harry Cunningham
Sydney
Turvey Park
Dougal Howard
St Kilda
Wagga Tigers
Harry Perryman
GWS
Collingullie Glenfield Park
HALF BACKS Taylor Duryea
Western Bulldogs
Corowa-Rutherglen
Dane Rampe
Sydney
UNSW-Eastern Suburbs
Isaac Cumming
GWS
North Broken Hill
CENTRE Isaac Smith
Geelong
Cootamundra
Callum Mills
Sydney
North Shore
Errol Gulden
Sydney
UNSW-Eastern Suburbs
HALF FORWARD Luke Breust (Vice-Capt)
Hawthorn

Temora
Harry Himmelberg
GWS
Mangoplah-Cookardinia United
Sam Wicks
Sydney
Manly-Warringah
FORWARD Lachie Schultz
Fremantle
Moama
Tom Hawkins (Capt.)
Geelong
Finley
Todd Marshall
Port Adelaide
Deniliquin
RUCK Matthew Flynn
GWS
Narrandera
Jacob Hopper
GWS
Leeton-Whitton
Isaac Heeney
Sydney
Cardiff
INTERCHANGE
Daniel Lloyd – GWS (Killarney Vale)
Charlie Spargo – Melbourne (Albury Tigers)
Jack Buckley – GWS (UNSW-Eastern Suburbs)
Jacob Koschitzke – Hawthorn (Albury Tigers)

 

 CAREY BUNTON MEDAL  

51 Jacob Hopper
42 Callum Mills
41 Isaac Heeney
38 Taylor Walker
34 Tom Hawkins
11 Errol Gulden   

 

Bill MOHR MEDAL FOR GOALKICKING  

Tom Hawkins 54 goals
Taylor Walker 48
Luke Breust 33
Isaac Heeney 32
Harry Himmelberg 32
Jacob Koschitzke 27 

 

JIMMY STIFF MEDAL FOR EMERGING TALENT 

Errol Gulden Sydney