The Rise of Football in Northern NSW

1963 University of New England Aust Football Team
(names in article)

When the students at the University of New England in Armidale formed an Australian Football Club in 1962 they had no-one to play against. The nearest football competitions were in Newcastle or Brisbane so they decided to form their own competition. The result of their endeavours are the current competitions in North West NSW and on the North Coast. Clubs such as Tamworth, Gunnedah, Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie all began their life in the UNE ANFC-run competition in the late 70s/early 80s. For most of its existence the competition didn’t have permits, clearances or tribunals. All disputes were settled at the pub after the game.

In this excerpt by Bob Cason (inaugural president of the UNE footy club) from The Celebrated History of Australian Football in New England: Where’s the Piss & what’s the Score? (Greenmount Press: 2002) he tells the story of the beginning of the game in northern New South Wales.

 

In The Beginning….
Bob Cason

It all began in 1962 when word spread around amongst the footy starved Mexicans and Crow Eaters that there was a footy team in Moree looking for a game. Bob Hudson, a PMG employee (Post Master General Department, now Telstra and Australia Post) had been transferred north from Aussie Rules territory in southern NSW, had organized a team and was looking for a game. We obtained some goal posts from somewhere and arranged for the grounds staff to set up an oval at the far end of Consett Davis at UNE.

This produced the first hic-up of introducing Aussie Rules into rugby heartland. Many of the grounds staff were migrants of which many were poms who had never seen an Aussie Rules ground in their life. We arrived for our first practice to find the boundary lines running almost directly from point post to point post, (barely clearing the 50-metre square if it had existed at that time).

The game against Moree proved an eye opener. The word had got around and the ground was almost encircled with cars or spectators, which was a surprising indication of the extent of interest in Australian footy in the area since many of these spectators were from outside the University. Some enterprising supporter went around with the hat and we collected almost 30 pounds ($60.00), which kept the club in the black for the next couple of years.

As for the game, we soon discovered that Bob’s Moree recruits did not have a lot of footy skills, therefore we could afford to move Jack Obst from full back to full forward and the game ended up a little one sided.

We paid a return match in Moree at the Moree Showgrounds, which we again won easily. Apart from the footy an added attraction of going to Moree was a swim in the hot mineral spring baths.

Setting up the Administration

Flushed with success we decided it would be prudent to form a club and get things official. There were three main reasons for setting up a club:

  1. To get some money from the University Sports Union to buy footballs and any other assistance that was available,
  2. To get Aussie Rules mentioned in the following year’s University Handbook which might attract or not distract enrolments from the footy heartland, and
  3. To get in an application to attend the next year’s intervarsity at Sydney.

The overriding philosophy (or mission statement as it would be called today) was to foster the development of Australian Football throughout the whole area. We did not want to confine footy to the University. Hence names like Northern District Australian National Football League, and an endeavor to play games in Armidale. We were fortunate to get the use of the show grounds through some Aussie Rules sympathizers in the district.

Another strategy was to try and introduce footy to young players in Armidale. We approached the schools offering to facilitate games between the schools, but this received a rather cool reception. We even approached TAS, because they had recently appointed a headmaster from Geelong Grammar. He was polite and diplomatic, inviting us into his office, where he confided that he appreciated what we were doing but if he let Aussie rules into The Armidale School (TAS), he would be out on the street, courtesy the Old Boys, Board etc. We were however received favourably at the Catholic school where some of the brothers were from down south, and we ran training sessions on Wednesday afternoons at the show grounds for some of their classes. I heard that in later years, a game or games were played between Armidale High school and the Catholic school.

There was also support from Armidale as well as within the University. Keith Smith had moved north from South Australia to a farm close to Robb College, had contacts with the show grounds and was instrumental in getting use of the ground, especially as he knew that soccer was trying to get on there as well. Mr. Wilkins had a bakery in Armidale and donated money that went to buy the Wilkins’s Shield that became the trophy for the local competition. Neville Crewe, a member of staff at Adult Education Centre of the Uni was a mad keen South Melbourne supporter, gave guidance with administration.

We had good relationships with the local paper “The Armidale Express” who were always ready for some extra copy, which accepted a weekly column on our activities. Some Mexicans starved of the footy coverage they were used to in southern newspapers once commented to me that they looked forward to our weekly Aussie rules news.

Robert Wesley-Smith later took on this role and just to sex things up a bit wrote under the pseudonym of “Stab Kick”.

Northern Districts footy league

If the seeds were sown in 1962, things started to germinate in 1963. We had to get a team to Sydney Intervarsity and get some more games in Armidale. Sydney University team travelled to Armidale one long weekend. They had obviously had to recruit a few rugby players to make up the team and with the handicap of travel we beat them, much to the surprise of some of the staff who were graduates of the University of Sydney.

Moree still had a team and with the nucleus of a team in both Robb and Wright colleges there was the basis of a competition with two rounds and a final between the two top teams. A great idea St George but inevitably there were setbacks. The distance between Armidale and Moree was arduous, it soon became obvious that Moree would be bottom team and games were forfeited. Inevitably a car broke down when Al Watson’s car rolled on the return from Moree late one night and the occupants feared they would die from exposure to those Northern NSW frosts before help arrived. A game was held halfway at Inverell in an effort to minimize the travel.

By 1964, Earle Page College was opened so a 3-team inter-collegiate competition was preferred to travel and uncertainty of playing Moree. Alistair Watson offered to umpire and received one pound a game for his troubles. Rent for use of the showground was paid in kind, with volunteer labour painting the fence around the oval.

Another issue was when to play the games. Rugby Union was played on Saturdays while outside the Uni rugby league was played on Sundays. Initially games were played on Saturdays, because this was the way it had always been done down south, although by this time Sunday football was being played in Melbourne. It soon became obvious that playing Saturdays had more difficulties than advantages and it became a Sunday competition, which produced less hassles and more spectators.

There were seldom enough Aussie rules players so rugby or soccer players were enticed to make up the numbers. It was not hard to pick out the rugby players or the soccer players; rugby players held onto the ball waiting for a maul to form while soccer players went in for the ball feet first.

Conclusion

The question of whether the high ideals of those early years of fostering the development of Australian football in the New England have been achieved is a matter for debate, but a view of the honour roll showing teams from Coffs Harbor and a Tamworth AFL suggests there has been some progress to this end.

Image:
1963 University of New England AFL Team at Erskineville Oval participating in an Intervarsity Carnival:

Back row (l-r): Peter Ashby, Will Dennis, ringin from Sydney pub, Steve Hill, Paul Rive, Paul Stephens, Jack Obst, Ted Nixon, Bob Cason, Paul Dale, Sandy Cuthbertson,
Front row: Rob Wesley-Smith, David XYZ, Doug McLean, Dave Hennessy, Doug Murray, David Coates, Bob Myer

Quade Quadrella From Ariah Park-Mirrool

      Pat Quade

Pat Quade was rated the best player from NSW country never to go to the big time according a feature article in the AFL Record (18 May 2018).

“I can remember five VFL clubs – North Melbourne, Carlton, Richmond, St Kilda and Melbourne – were after Pat,” his brother Rick Quade, who was born 14 years after Pat, told the AFL Record.

“When someone from a VFL club came to the house, he’d disappear down the paddock and do some tractor driving. He bought his first farm out at Tallimba when he was pretty young, only 23 or 24, and that was his great love, apart from his family.

Pat was the sixth-born of the 15 Quade siblings (there were nine boys and six girls) born to Leo and Mary Quade who had moved to the area to take up land selection from down on the border.

Pat and his older brother Tom and younger brothers Mick and Rick are on the NSW Greatest Team list. They were all from the Ariah Park-Mirrool (APM) Football Club in the South West District Football League.

Both Tom and Mick played at North Melbourne while Rick went to South Melbourne.

Tom played just three games over 1957-58 due to a persistent knee injury. He returned to be captain-coach of APM for the 1959 season but was unable to play due to the persistent injury. After a few games the following season Tom was forced to retire.

Prior to going to North Melbourne, Tom played in APM’s 1954 and 1955 premiership teams. A tall athletic man, Tom had an epic battle in the ruck against Ganmain captain-coach Mick Grambeau (ex-North Melbourne) in the “rough and tough grand final of 1956” won by Ganmain (Ariah Park Mirrool Football Club 30th Year, 1983).

Pat played alongside his brother Tom in the 1954-55 premiership teams and then went onto carve out an illustrious career with the Brown Bombers. He won six club best and fairest awards in succession from 1956-61. He also played in the 1962 premiership team along with another

      Pat Quade     
        marking

brother John, under Johnny Hawke, the father of former Swans and Collingwood star Paul Hawke.

“Pat certainly wasn’t tall compared to the other ruckmen, but he had a terrific leap, was a very good mark for his size, and he was very strong,” Rick Quade told the AFL Record. “He was a strong bugger, I know that. Some of the things I used to see him doing on the farm. Bloody hell, he was terribly strong”.

During a career of more than 200 senior games from 1954 until 1965, Pat also represented the South West League against the Ovens and Murray, the Farrer league, the Sydney league, North Melbourne, Collingwood, Geelong, South Melbourne, and Carlton.

Mick went to North Melbourne in 1966 and played 16 games and kicked nine goals until 1968. His VFL career was plagued by a nagging thigh injury. He returned to Ariah Park but he too was forced to retire prematurely in 1971.

He was described as “a beautifully built big man who possessed all the skills” (Ariah Park Mirrool Football Club 30th Year, 1983).  

He played his first senior match for APM in 1962 while home from school on holidays. All the boys except Pat went to boarding school at St Pat’s College Goulburn. According to Rick, Pat never wanted to leave the farm.

His first full season was in 1965 when he won the club’s best and fairest award. Playing at full-forward in the preliminary final he booted 9-3 but on that occasion APM was overpowered by Griffith.

Rick Quade has done almost everything at the Swans – player, captain, coach, selector, and board member. He went to South Melbourne under country zoning rules in 1970 to play under legendary coach Norm Smith.

Norm Smith made numerous visits to the family farm to entice Rick to go to South. He developed a strong rapport with Rick’s father Leo and undertook to look after young Rick.

The coach and the recruit developed such a strong relationship that Rick became a regular guest at the family home in Northcote, as well as at the coach’s beach house at Rosebud.

Highly regarded by the Smith family, Rick along with Norm and Marj’s son Peter, plus “adopted son” Ron Barassi, and another country boy, Ross Dillon from Kyabram, who went to play for Melbourne in 1966, were pall-bearers at Norm’s funeral in 1973.

Rick played his first senior game for APM aged 16 in 1967 after returning home to the farm from boarding school in Goulburn. He had an immediate impact by finishing runner-up best and fairest and was the club leading goalkicker with 49 goals.

The following season Rick established himself as a star in the competition booting his 100th goal for the season in the grand final against Griffith who were led by Ron O’Neill the league’s leading goalkicking with 114 goals and led the Swans to a 24-point victory over the Brown Bombers. Rick also won the club’s best and fairest award that season.

In 1969 aged 18, Rick kicked a competition record 131 goals but APM slipped to 7th. He again won the club best and fairest award.

He was finally enticed to South Melbourne the next season, but badly injured his knee on debut and missed the rest of the season including the Swans’ first final appearance since the Bloodbath Grand Final of 1945.

After four more seasons in the VFL, Rick returned to APM as playing coach in 1975 along with team-mate and friend Jim Prentice as assistant coach; Jimmy had played 60 games for South from 1971-75. In an exciting run the Brown Bombers surged into the finals and beat Griffith by 2 points in the first semi-final but went down to runner-up Turvey Park in the preliminary final.

In 1976 Rick returned to South Melbourne to play under new coach triple Brownlow medalist Ian Stewart. He had an outstanding season playing as a ruck-rover and won the club best and fairest award.

     Rick Quade

The following season Rick was appointed captain and led the Swans into the finals only to be beaten by Richmond in the elimination final at VFL Park, Waverly. Rick also represented Victoria that season against Tasmania and scored eleven votes in the Brownlow Medal.

Rick retired in 1980 after having played 164 games and kicked 111 goals. He won the Cazaly award in his final season for the Most Courageous Player in the VFL.

The following season he assisted Ian Stewart as a specialist coach.

He was appointed coach of the club for the 1982 season and spearheaded the Swans entry into Sydney when they played their home games at the SCG. A major highlight was the Swans victory in the nation-wide Escort Cup played at night under lights during the week.

Rick stood down as coach in mid-1984 for health reasons.

He was chairman of selectors from 1989-1993. He then became a board member from 1995-2009 and oversaw the club’s rise leading to the first premiership win for seventy-two years in 2005.

Rick is now the chairman of the club’s Hall of Fame committee.

“He was a fearless leader and mixed pure talent with raw aggression to gain the respect of his team-mates as well as the opposition” according to a profile by David “The Sandman” Oehm in the Riverina AFL Record (2003).

Rick was selected in the final squad for the NSW Greatest Team named at the Carbine Club function in May this year.

Tom, Pat, Mick and Rick were all named in APM’s Best Ever Team (Ariah Park Mirrool Football Club 30th Year, 1983).

(Written by Society Vice President, Dr Rodney Gillett)

 

First Game At Goulburn

Recently we found details of a game of football played at Collector in 1936 between a Collector/Goulburn combined team and Metropolitan Aust Football Assn Team, Rosebery (a suburb near Mascot).  You can view that report here.

However further research finds a further game played much earlier at Goulburn between the then newly formed Goulburn Imperials and the Sydney Football Club.

“First Football Match in Goulburn
On Saturday last the members of the Sydney Football Club and numbers of their supporters journeyed to Goulburn to try conclusions with the newly-formed club at Goulburn named the Imperials.

This was the first match ever played in Goulburn under the Australian rules, the district hitherto being a very big stronghold of Rugby, but after the match played on Saturday a very large number have decided to play the Australian game in the future, and which speaks well for the career of the local club.

The match was played on the Olympic Ground, which was located between the Goulburn Paceway and Garoorigang, in the presence of about 1000 spectators. There was a very big gathering of the fair sex at the match.

Joe Arnold captained the Sydney team, and W. Sandford led the Goulburn. The Sydneys scored 4 goals to 1 in the first quarter. The Goulburn team for the rest of the game played splendidly, especially in the third quarter, when the Sydney players seemed disorganised. However, in the last quarter Sydney played more together, and scored a couple of goals. Goulburn, as a team, played splendidly, considering it was their first game, and they have the makings of a good team. *Crisp (3), Clausen (2), Murrell, Hodgkinson and Poole for the Goulburn and Noonan (3), Potter, Jessop, Shipton, Giles, the Brothers Arnold, Sullivan (2), for Sydney, all played well. The College boys, Sandford, Jessop, Noonan, and Potter tried hard to evert defeat. The final result was: Sydney 8 goals 20 behinds Goulburn, 6 goals 8 behinds. Mr. Murray umpired the match in his usual impartial way. In the evening the Sydney boys were entertained at a splendid banquet at the Oddfellows Hall in Auburn Street,

Mr. Siegel in the chair. After justice had been done to the excellent spread various toasts were gone through with musical honours. Messrs. Alexander, M. Sullivan, Ashton, Dick, Jessop, Sandford and others gave assistance with songs and recitations. The Sydneys returned to town on Monday morning, everyone being thoroughly pleased with his outing in the country.”

Another game or two was played in Goulburn over the next couple of years but interest petered out.  A club however, was formally organised at Goulburn in June 1905.
*George Crisp, recognized as one of the founders of the game in Sydney was still playing with the Sydney Club in 1892.  He probably played with the combined side on that day to help out.

(Referee (Sydney, NSW : 1886 – 1939), Wednesday 17 August 1892, page 8)

NSW Grounds Recorded

The Football History Society has further developed their database on grounds the game has used for either playing or training in NSW.

Some grounds have already been listed on this website, however the Society’s programmer has undertaken more work on the project which has revealed additional grounds and fields that have been utilised for Australian Football over the past 140 years.

It is still early days with this work and many grounds, whilst on the unpublished list, are yet to be added.  To provide involvement for the wider football community within the state, Society officials are keen to offer a facility on this site for local people within your area to add grounds and fields and/or amend the details that have already been listed.  This is another part of the project still under deliberation.

       John Addison

Society treasurer, John Addison said “there could be a story or background to a field or oval that we don’t know about and we are keen to add these details to the comments area on the particular ground.”

“Please, take the opportunity to check out what we do have and if you can add something, let us know.”

The grounds database can be viewed by clicking here.  However a working list of grounds, yet to be added to our online list can be viewed here.  As you can see we do not have full details of these and other grounds, so send us an email with any grounds that you may know of.

Carrolls and Ganmain are Linked like Kellogs and Cornflakes

     Dennis Carroll

Former Sydney Swans captain and Team of the Century member Dennis Carroll was selected on a half-back flank in the NSW Greatest Team.

He was one of four Carrolls on the NSW Greatest List who played VFL/AFL.

His father Laurie, better known as Dooley, played eleven games at St Kilda from 1948-49.

His uncle Tom, who was nicknamed “Turkey Tom” by the late Lou Richards on account of running a rafter of turkeys on the family farm, won a Coleman medal playing for Carlton in 1961.

   Wayne “Christmas’               Carroll

His cousin, Wayne, aka “Christmas”, played at South Melbourne/Sydney Swans from 1980-85 playing 56 games and kicking 57 goals. He won the VFL Mark of the Year award in 1984.

The Carrolls originally hail from Ganmain situated between Wagga and Narrandera in the Riverina where members of the family have farmed since “Grandpa” Larry Carroll and his wife and nine kids took up land selection in the district in the early 1900s.

The Carrolls all came together on the one day when they took on the Rest of Ganmain to raise funds for the swimming pool at the village of Ganmain on 6 October 1968.

The senior team consisted of twenty Carrolls plus an emergency. “Dooley” and Tom were selected together in the first ruck. Their brothers Joe, Bill, Tony, Brian (aka Mickey) and Kevin were also in the team.

The coach was the Catholic Bishop of Wagga Francis Carroll, known as “Father Frank”, who at 38 years of age was then the youngest bishop in Australia. He was named on the half-forward flank but only played a cameo role in the game.

In the schoolboys team were Dennis and his brothers Chris, Stephen, Colin and Scott, along with many cousins which included Wayne and Greg!

“It was my first game of football. I was so excited to play. I was seven years of age at the time”, Dennis recalled. “I couldn’t believe I had so many uncles and cousins”.

Like all the Carrolls, Dennis has had various nicknames bestowed upon him, including “Boofy”, “DC” and “Dan”, and at one stage “Washington” but the one that has stuck is DC.

“DC” went to South Melbourne under zoning in 1981 and went on to play 219 games and kick 117 goals for the Bloods. He started as a winger but later developed into a fine defender. Dennis was the Swans captain from 1986-92 when he retired. He later coached the Reserves to a grand final in 1995 only to be beaten by North Melbourne under Rodney Eade.

Dennis played in the original NSW State of Origin team at the Bicentennial carnival in Adelaide in 1988 when he was vice-captain to Terry Daniher. He also played three games for Victoria between 1984-86.

He is now employed as Head of People Development at the Sydney Swans Football Club.

  Dooley Carroll

His father, Laurie, an absolute champion, played in seven premierships for Ganmain (1946, 1947, 1950, 1951, 1953, 1956 and 1957). He was captain-coach of the victorious 1951 team that had an epic win over Whitton by five points with Keith “Swampy” Gumbleton (father of North Melbourne premiership defender Frank Gumbleton) kicking the winning goal in the dying moments of the game.

“Dooley” was regarded as one of, if not the best, high mark in the South West League” (Wagga Daily Advertiser, 8 November, 1958).

In his last season at Ganmain in 1957 “Dooley” was equal best and fairest with captain-coach Mick Grambeau, the hardman ruckman who had come from North Melbourne in 1956. Eight of the players in that premiership team were Carrolls.

Grambeau was the highest paid player in Australia at the time on a package of £65 per week that included a job, match payments, a house, and a milking cow. All of Ganmain turned out for a street parade on a half-day holiday on his arrival in the town followed by a dance in the local hall. (Sun-News Pictorial, 26 March 1956).    

In 1958 “Dooley” went to coach Collingullie in the Central Riverina league for three seasons. Later, he was chairman of selectors at the Lockhart footy club for many years.

He was voted best player for NSW at the 1950 ANFC Carnival in Brisbane.

    ‘Turkey’           Tom          Carroll

“Turkey Tom” Carroll first made a strong impression as a forward in Ganmain’s 1956 and 1957 premiership teams. He then booted 103 goals in 1960 to head the league goal-kicking list and won the club best and fairest for the second successive season.

He was eagerly sought by VFL clubs Essendon and Footscray before electing to go to Carlton in 1961. He kicked 5 goals on debut against champion St Kilda and then-Victorian full-back Verdun Howell who was retrospectively awarded a Brownlow medal for the 1959 season.

Tom kicked 54 goals for the season to top the VFL goalkicking list. He also played in Carlton’s grand   final team in 1962. He was Carlton’s leading goal-kicker in each of his three seasons at the Blues. But th lure of home was too strong and he returned to Ganmain as captain-coach in 1964.

Upon his return, he led the Maroons to a premiership win over Griffith by two points. His late goal, his 102nd goal for the season, proved to be the winning goal. He was voted best-on-the-ground.

Tom also played in the famous South West league representative team that won the Victorian country championship in the televised final against the Hampden league at Narrandera. The first-ever win by a NSW-based league.

Ganmain repeated the feat the next season with a convincing 38 point victory over Griffith. Tom again topped the league goal-kicking with 90 goals. He coached the club again in 1966 but they were eliminated in the preliminary final by eventual premier Narrandera.

After two more seasons as a player with Ganmain, Tom finished his playing career as captain-coach of neighbouring club, Grong Grong Matong in 1968-69.

Dennis recalls spending most of his school-holidays on the farm with uncle Tom during this period. “He was a big influence on me. He taught me to kick properly, and to kick on my left foot. I remember going to games at Matong in his new royal blue Ford Falcon GTHO”.

Wayne “Christmas” Carroll started playing seniors with Ganmain in 1976 under legendary Riverina coach the late Greg Leech and played a key role in winning the club’s last-ever premiership as a stand-alone club in the South West DFL.

He transferred to Queanbeyan in the ACT in 1977 and played in their premiership. He re-joined brother, “Jock” (Greg), at Mangoplah-Cookardinia United in 1978 then playing in the Farrer league, then went to South in 1980 after playing senior games on permit in 1979.

Upon returning to the Riverina in 1986, “Christmas” took over as captain-coach of Turvey Park in Wagga and led the Bulldogs to four premierships in a row, 1987-1990.

“Christmas” represented NSW in 1979 under Alan Jeans and then again from 1986 to 1990.