The Greatest Night of All

NSW beat Victoria 1990 SCG 22 May 1990
From the inner-sanctum of the pre-match preparations and on-the-field Neil Cordy recalls playing for NSW in a glorious victory over Victoria at the Sydney Cricket Ground in 1990

                  Daniher brothers warm-up at the SCG play together for the first time – for NSW v Victoria
                                                         l-r:  Neale, Chris, Anthony and Terry

The bus ride from the team hotel to the SCG was only a few k’s but it was taking forever as we crawled through Sydney’s peak hour traffic in pouring rain.

The delay provided the opportunity for one of my team-mates, who will remain nameless, to call his bookmaker.

“Can you believe we are 7-1 to win this thing?” he said. “And the line is at 55 points.”

Plenty got on. Why wouldn’t you? It had been raining all day in Sydney and didn’t look like stopping. Teams would be flat out scoring 55 points let alone winning by 55 points and the odds of 7-1 in a two horse race were almost unheard of. It was a matter of principle to not let this opportunity pass by. The line bet of nine goals plus looked a certainty and we also fancied our chances for the win.

The wet and heavy conditions in Sydney would not be to the Vic’s liking and this was a midweek match in May. Travelling interstate wasn’t as common as it is now and many of their players would be focused on club responsibilities a few days later.

Plus we were on our home deck, the SCG, and had it all to play for.

What a scalp this would be!

The Big V was full of superstars but we had our fair share of talent as well. All Australian and Bob Skilton medallist Barry Mitchell was one of a number of Victorian-born Sydney Swans players lining up in the sky blue. As were Steve Wright, David Bolton, Tony Morwood and myself.

But the vast majority were NSW born and we had some big names ourselves including John Longmire, Wayne Carey and Billy Brownless who led the attack.

There was also a little bit of magic in the air for the NSW boys. This would be the first time all four Daniher brothers, Terry, Neale, Anthony and Chris lined up together. They all played for Essendon but injuries had conspired to prevent them appearing together for the Bombers. It would happen later that year when Kevin Sheedy put all four in for Neale’s last game (Round 22, St Kilda) but this was the first.

Terry was our skipper and one of the game’s greatest leaders. He was a dual premiership (Essendon 1984-1985) and All Australian captain. I’d played under Terry for NSW at the Bi-Centennial Australian Carnival in Adelaide a couple years earlier. We went down narrowly to hosts South Australia and beat Western Australia. It was an honour to play under him.

John Longmire was also inspired by the opportunity to play alongside Terry and his brothers.

“It really had an impact on me, playing with Terry, Neale, Anthony and Chris,” Longmire said.

‘Horse’ was up for it as were the rest of us when we ran out onto a sodden SCG but mid-way through the second quarter the Big V pushed out to a five goal lead.

Cue the kid from Corowa.

By half time he had six goals on the board in a stunning burst against some of the best defenders the game has seen in Steve Silvagni, Chris Langford and Danny Frawley. His performance shouldn’t have surprised us, going into the match ‘Horse’ had booted 33 goals in the first eight games of the season including 12 against Richmond in round two.

While the Kangaroos star was on a rampage it wasn’t completely a one man show. NSW coach Col Kinnear had handed out a number of defensive assignments including one for me on the wing against Collingwood captain Gavin Brown.

While I had my hands full with Brownie the biggest job for the Sky Blues was given to another Magpie Mick Gayfer. Like Longmire Gayfer came from Corowa-Rutherglen but he was schooled in the dark arts of defence. This night the human blanket nullified Dermott Brereton. It was a vital role in such a closely contested match.

Mick was at his best as the Vics surged late in the third term. There was nothing in it at the last change, Longmire’s eighth early in the last was vital and enough to see NSW hang on for an historic 10 point victory.

“I roomed with Neale and we didn’t miss a chance to enjoy the win,” Longmire said recently.

“The whole Daniher family were there including their five sisters and parents Jim and Edna. Neale got back to the room at about 4 am and woke me up to have a cup of tea and tell me about the 80 metre goal he kicked. It’s a great memory because the Danihers are one of the great NSW footy families.”

His North Melbourne team mate Wayne Carey was also proud to be wearing the sky blue. The 19 year old Carey had just played just 12 senior games for North Melbourne at that stage but expectations were high for the teenage sensation.

That night he wore the number 26 in honour of Sydney Swans stalwart and NSW team mate Steve Wright. A few years earlier Wright had taken Carey aside at a footy clinic in Wagga Wagga for chat and a kick. Wright had forgotten the moment but Carey hadn’t.

It was a memorable night for everybody involved in the NSW team. To topple a full strength Victorian team on our home ground, the SCG, in front of our fans meant so much. Not just for the players but all the coaches and support staff involved as well as the wider Aussie Rules community throughout the state.

Personally the win over the Vics remains one of my proudest football achievements.

For a team which had very little time together there was a remarkable team spirit.

It was great to be a part of.

More than 30 years on NSW has two very successful teams in the AFL and is producing more elite talent than ever through the Swans and Giants academies, strong community and school competitions.

I’d like to think that win over the Vics helped change the way footy in NSW was viewed around the country and how the state looked at itself.

(For the record NSW beat Victoria 13.8.86 to 10.16.76.- Editor)

History Society Gets Serious

Last evening the Football History Society moved into the ranks of the more notable organisations of a similar ilk.

1940 Medal – reverse 1941 Medal – front

At an online Adelaide auction, the Society paid over $5000 (incl. commissions) for the 1940 and 1941 Sydney Best and Fairest Award, the Phelan Medals.  Both are in 9crt gold.

These were put up for sale by an avid football collector (or his family) along with mostly historical South Australian Football material including the 1902 and 1905 Magarey Medals, (B & F in the South Australian Football League).  These did not reach their reserve and were handed in as was the majority of the 105 items in the auction although a 1886 photo of the Australian Test Cricket Team sold for $5000 and a West Adelaide Football Club gold fob for $3200.

The Phelan Medals were both won by Cliff Barnsley, who played with the Sydney Club (later Sydney Naval).  He had formerly played with the Centrals Club in Broken Hill and attended North Broken Hill Public School.

Cliff moved to Sydney in 1937 and lived at Waterloo with his mother.  He worked locally in the shoe trade as a ‘clicker’.

Cliff represented NSW on six occasions before he signed on in the RAAF in September 1942 only to be discharged a few months later.  Then early the next year he joined the Army at Wayville, South Australia, this time using his correct birth date.

Following his eventual discharge from the Army in 1946 he finished the season with the St George Club in Sydney.  Cliff died in Lithgow in 1982 aged 63.    We do not have a photo of him.

Another item the Society purchased was a 1911 image of the South Sydney Australian Football Club.  The names of the players are almost unidentifiable but we are confident that they can be retrieved, given that we have most of the names of the South Sydney players from the majority of their games that year.

The Society has several photographs of football teams taken in the first decade of the last century and all are in a delicate condition.




John Foord Oval, Corowa

Peter Clark continues our series on famous football grounds in New South Wales.

In this story of Corowa’s John Foord Oval we will look at the riverside sporting venue’s history and take a nostalgic trip back to a typical winter Saturday at the ground in the 1960s.

As football leagues were starting to spring-up in country places throughout Victoria and the Riverina, a popular movement was initiated in the Murray River town of Corowa that helped build the pathway to Federation. The ‘Corowa Conference’, organised by the Corowa Federation League, was held in the winter of 1893, the same year the Ovens and Murray Football Association was formed. This first People’s Convention set in train the practical measures essential for the acceptance of a federal constitution. Hence, Corowa is known as the “Birthplace of Federation.”

European settler, John Foord (1819-83), took up land south of the Murray in the 1850s and established the ‘Wahgunyah Run’. Apart from his agricultural pursuits, Foord became a punt owner and bridge builder. He established Wahgunyah in 1856 and three years later purchased land north of the river for a new settlement to be known as North Wahgunyah (Corowa). The settlement thrived amid the north east Victorian goldfields at a time when river transport was prosperous. In 1892 an iron bridge was built over the Murray at Corowa, later named after pioneer John Foord.

A football ground is also named in his honour. John Foord Oval is situated just above the banks of the Murray River at Corowa, right beside that historic bridge. The ground was officially known for many years as the Corowa Recreation Reserve. In 1884, 20 acres of land along the Murray River near the bridge was set aside by the NSW Department of Lands as a recreational reserve.  The location of the ground presented one serious, recurrent obstacle – inundation by floods. Year after year damage was done to the fencing and the surface of the ground by wash-outs and the unwanted deposition of sand.

Let’s go back 60 football seasons, to July 1961, and visualise the atmosphere at John Foord Oval during a game between the home side and Wodonga.

The sign at the entrance to the reserve boasts the name ‘John Foord Oval’, home of the Corowa ‘Spiders’. Cars carrying families of home team and visiting supporters roll through the gates and head for the prized boundary-side spaces on the river side of the ground.

The savoury-smell of steaming saveloys wafts through the air as spectators settle into their seats around the fence in readiness for the game. Many in the crowd read their ‘Critic’ football programs to learn snippets of club news and check on the names and numbers of opposition players.

A roar suddenly explodes from the Spider’s change room as the door springs open and twenty players emerge. In single-file they run and skip towards the ground entrance gate, before spilling out onto the oval greeted by toots of car horns, cheers and claps from the home crowd. The visitors soon follow with a slightly more subdued reception.

The crowd has built up nicely and Corowa supporters are shoulder-to-shoulder near the clubrooms on the north western side. Clothed in felt hats and grey coats, men puff on their smokes as the anticipation of the contest grows. Women chat, some dextrously knitting, as they wait and watch. By their sides sit cane baskets filled with afternoon tea and a thermos or two. Fully sun-lit, the ground is ready for the afternoon’s action as a hush falls over the crowd. As players take their designated positions the shrill sound of the umpire’s whistle signals the imminent start of the game. Cheers and supporter’s calls break out, “Carn the Spiders!” and “Come on Bulldogs!” The orange-red leather is bounced and play gets under way.

Today, visitors to the ground are welcomed by a tree sculpture featuring footballers rising to mark the ‘Sherrin’. The sculpture symbolises the unique character of the ground and the game – the football being contested amid the backdrop of river red gum trees. Another iconic feature of John Foord Oval is the Fred Swift Stand, named in honour of Corowa’s 1968 rags-to-riches premiership captain coach. The original wooden grandstand, named after 1932 premiership captain coach Ray ‘Nana’ Baker, was destroyed by fire. The wire netting fence, with its concrete posts, together with the scoreboard on the south eastern flank are other reminders that we are at the home of football in Corowa.

John Foord Oval has been the home ground of: the Border United FC (1877- 1905; 1914-19; 1944-47); the Corowa FC (1906-1913; 1920-43; 1948-78); the forerunner to the Corowa Reserves, the Corowa Stars (1922-1952); and in the last four decades, the Corowa-Rutherglen FC (1979- present). Corowa won two O&MFL premierships (1932 and 1968) prior to amalgamating with neighbours Rutherglen in 1979, with another two flags following (2000 and 2003).

The club and the oval are linked with local football names such as: Baker, Sandral, Longmire, Chisnall, Lane, Lambert, Tait, Tobias, Way, O’Donoghue, Houlihan, Spencer and Bartlett. But they are also associated with footballers who came to Corowa from further afield and had a big impact. Fred Swift, Frank Tuck, Bill King, John Hoiles, Tommy Lahiff, Jack Clancy and Peter Tossol fit that category.

The Corowa ground was one of the regular venues for Ovens and Murray League grand finals and other finals in the era between the wars. Let’s look at one of those matches.

The 1919 Ovens and Murray Football Association premiership-decider between Lake Rovers and Howlong, played at Corowa, featured “a count” and a thrilling finish. In the third quarter the captain of the Rovers called on umpire Chrisfield to line up the Howlong players for a count. The check revealed that Howlong had 19 men on the ground. Under the rules, Lake Rovers were entitled to have their opponent’s scored ‘wiped off’, but they decided against it. Play resumed and Howlong put up a strong challenge in the last quarter, coming to within two points of the lead, but responding with two goals, the premiership went to Lake Rovers. Final scores: Lake Rovers 6.7 (43) d. Howlong 4.4 (28).

The winners of Ovens and Murray League grand finals played at Corowa were: 1923 (St. Patricks); 1926 (St. Patricks); 1929 (West Albury); 1933 (Wangaratta by one point over Border United); 1935 (Rutherglen); and 1936 (Wangaratta).

A new structure, the Federation Bridge, spans the Murray River at Corowa, while the John Foord Bridge remains as a local traffic crossing. A new chapter in the story of the union of the ‘colonies’ was written in 1979 with the merger of cross-border rivals Corowa (NSW) and Rutherglen (Victoria). The picturesque oval beside the John Foord Bridge lives on proudly as the local home of Ovens and Murray League football.


Tumba-bloody-rumba kanga-bloody-roos

“I was down the Riverina, knockin’ ’round the towns a bit,
And occasionally resting with a schooner in me mitt,
Up at Tumba-bloody-rumba shootin’ kanga-bloody-roos.”
(John O’Grady)

Podcast Review: Tumbarumba FNC “50 Not Out” Mackinlay, R. (Host) (2021, 31 July) [Audio podcast episode]. In Glory Days. Your Sport and Media – Link available at end of this story

By Dr Rodney Gillett

When the Tumbarumba footy club was formed for the 1971 season the local bakery would not sell pies to the club to sell in the canteen at the club’s home-ground such was the antipathy from rugby league supporters to the town’s new club.

There was open hostility to the arrival of the Australian game in Tumbarumba that in addition to boycotts, included letters to the editor in the local paper stating that the code would corrupt the youth of Tumbarumba.

Fifty years on, Tumbarumba Kangaroos has four football teams and six netball teams competing in the Upper Murray League which straddle the north-east of Victoria and the southern alps of NSW.

The fears of the rugby league zealots have been well-founded. The Tumaburumba Greens, once a powerhouse in Riverina rugby league, has now merged with near-by Batlow and play in a minor league competition in Albury-Wodonga however it still has strong junior teams that compete in the Wagga competition.

But the journey of the Tumba footy club has been far from smooth as the podcast, produced by Albury broadcaster Robbie Mackinlay, for the club’s 50th anniversary reveals.

This is the first occasion in which Mackinlay has produced a podcast for a club over a period of more than one season; the ones to date featuring Daysdale, Corowa, and Hay have been chock full of emotion and elation over one season resulting in memorable drought-breaking premierships.

However, the result of his endeavours in this podcast is up there with the emotional roller-caster of the small-town underdogs finally breaking through for ultimate success, in this case, a footy club up against the odds to survive, having to take on a rival code and a league (association), not fully enamoured with its NSW club.

As club stalwart Alan Waters tells Mackinlay, “…for the club to come through after all the hard years when footy wasn’t important to the town means so much to all of us that helped start the club”.

Tumba finally broke through for the elusive premiership in 2012 when it beat Cudgewa in the grand final under local Matt Molkentin, at home under the league’s finals ground allocation, based on final standings.

The town was a sea of blue and white streamers and the decider attracted a crowd of 2000 spectators that witnessed Tumba come from thirty-three points down at half-time to win by 15 points with the skipper booting five goals.

The Tumba Kangaroos produced their greatest season in 2013 when it went through the season undefeated and comfortably beat Bullioh in the grand final also at Tumbarumba. Shane McIntosh, who was assistant coach in 2012, was in charge while Matt Molkentin stayed on as a player. To top it off, the Reserves and Under 16s also won flags.

Mackinlay’s body of work on Tumbarumba amplifies the importance of good coaches and hard-working off-field leaders that have enabled the club to grow and thrive in a hostile environment.

Inaugural co-coaches, locals Jim Wiggins and Simon Guest (who played in Holbrook’s 1970 Farrer league premiership), got the Kangaroos off to a good start but the appointment of Holbrook premiership coach John Cornish in 1974 was the catalyst for the club to develop its football credentials and become more competitive.

Cornish was followed by a succession of notable leaders but the arrival in town of Bruce Forbes as head of social science at the high school in 1980 brought immediate success including a grand final berth.

Forbes, who learnt his football in his hometown of Narrandera was a star with Griffith, and later, a dual premiership player at Wagga Tigers, played a major role in establishing the junior teams, and his wife, Lesley, got the netball going.

According to current president Monty Waters, a key turning point was the club making the Sportground its home in 1982 “The Showgrounds was a rodeo ground, plus it was the home of the Greens, it never felt like home for us”, he told Mackinlay.

Club stalwart and tireless ruckman Mal Vogan, whose induction into the game was at the Bushpigs uni footy club in Wagga after moving from Sydney to study agriculture, moved to Tumburumba in 1983 as a stock and station agent.

After retiring from playing, he coached the Under 16 teams that at various times included his sons Lachlan, Jack and Tom, to four premierships as well as a deep pool of other talented youngsters.

“Having a high school in Tumba gave us access to young players from the town and surrounding district and while many played both codes, we benefited the most when they became adults, that’s if they didn’t leave to study or work”, Vogan told me for this review.

Sydney Swans club great Dennis Carroll recalls his season at Tumba with great fondness, “I went there as a young fella to work in the bank, I was just so glad they had a footy club, we used to all get back to the ‘middle pub’ after games, and training. Great area, great people, wonderful memories”. 

Robbie Mackinlay has done it again. He has produced a highly audible podcast which although it doesn’t capture the raw emotion of Daysdale’s 1994 premiership or the sheer joy of Corowa’s triumph in 1968 it does expertly tell the story of Tumbarumba’s grit and persistence as a community sporting club over the past fifty years.

You can check out the podcast here.

When you get to that link, use this button to listen:

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.

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
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.

Central Riverina Football League – 1960

The Central Riverina Football League was a minor football competition which operated between about 1949 – 1981.

It catered for minor clubs, many of which have gone out of existence, ie Boree Creek, RAAF, South Wagga-Tolland Dons and Army (Kapooka) but generally was a well functioning and supported football organisation.

They did not publish a Football Record, well none that we can find, but what we have located is a card issued to attendees at finals matches when they paid their entry fee at the gate.

We have a couple of these and thought you might be interested in the 1960 grand final ‘card’ which features the Temora and Marrar Clubs with  the quarter x quarters scores written in by the owner.

On the reverse was provision for the Reserve Grade Grand final scores and in this case the game was between East Wagga and Junee.  Seeing no score was recorded, we have taken the opportunity to find the result and insert the score for your benefit.

Even now there are some very familiar names in those teams lists which should spark a degree of interest to today’s football supporters.  Click the cards to enlarge.

The match was played at Bolton Park in Wagga.

40 Years of Footy at the SCG – The Big Games Part 2

As the game celebrates 140 years and the Swans celebrate four decades of Aussie Rules at the SCG, Neil Cordy looks back at some of the games which have made the code a key ingredient in Sydney’s sporting history.

Plugger’s Record.

Tony Lockett kicks goal 1300 to pass Gordon Coventry as game’s greatest goal kicker.

Round 10 v Collingwood 1999

When Tony Lockett went past the 1,000 goal mark in his first season at the Swans (1995) it was just a matter of time before he was threatening Gordon Coventry’s long standing record of 1,299 career goals.

He overtook Doug Wade (1,057) mid-way through 1996 and then there was only Coventry in front of him.

Appropriately the opportunity to claim the record would come against Coventry’s old team Collingwood in round 10, 1999 at the SCG.

Needing four goals to make the record his Plugger had a day out kicking nine.

He would retire at the end of the year on 1,353 before making a three game comeback in 2002 and adding another seven majors to finish on 1,360.


Nick Davis comes to save us.

Semi Final v Geelong 2005.

Four last quarter goals sink Cats and keep the dream alive.

After losing a four point heart breaker to West Coast the week before in Perth Sydney looked set for a straight sets exit when they trailed Geelong by 22 points with just over 13 minutes left in the match.

The Swans star studded forward line of Barry Hall, Michael O’Loughlin, Ryan O’Keefe and Nick Davis had managed just three goals in the first three and half quarters. Four in just over 10 minutes seemed impossible to everybody except Davis.

His first came from a snap from a stoppage close to the boundary. The second from a contested mark close to goal and the third from another snap 40 metres out.

Each goal sent the Sydney fans further into delirium. His third had them at fever pitch.

With only seconds left a perfect Jason Ball hit out helped Davis to his fourth, a left foot snap. Anthony Hudson’s call “I see it but I don’t believe it,” instantly etched into Sydney’s memory banks.

Davis’s heroics created an indisputable feeling of destiny. The Swans beat St Kilda in the Preliminary Final the following week and then West Coast by four points to break a 72 year premiership drought.


The ‘RESPECT’ match.

Round 18 v Adelaide 2015.

In the midst of the ugliest episode in the AFL’s modern history Sydney Swans fans rallied around their hero Adam Goodes.

After two years of continual booing from opposition fans and abuse and bigotry from sections of the media, Goodes walked away from the game. In his absence Swans fans, players and staff produced an outpouring of support at the round 18 match against Adelaide at the SCG.

Before the game thousands of red and white T shirts bearing Goodes number 37, produced by sympathetic fans, were handed out for free.

The Sydney banner had one word on it, ‘RESPECT.’

Lewis Jetta celebrated his opening goal to the match with his own Indigenous ‘Bird’ dance in honour of Goodes. At the seven minute mark of the third quarter, acknowledging Goodes number 37, the entire stadium rose to applaud Goodes.

The champ returned to the team the following week as Sydney took on Geelong at Kardinia Park but announced his retirement six games later after the elimination final loss to North Melbourne.


Buddy Brilliant.

Lance Franklin’s lands fourth Coleman Medal

Round 23 v Carlton 2017.

Lance Franklin started the round 23 match against Carlton five goals behind Coleman Medal leader Josh Kennedy.

But very quickly it became clear he was in for a day out at the SCG.

In one of his very best games in red and white Buddy kicked 10 goals, picked up 25 disposals and took 10 marks. He beat Kennedy, who had won the last two Coleman Medals, by four after the Eagles star kicked just one goal four behinds against Adelaide at Subiaco.

It continued Franklin’s run of winning the Coleman Medal every three years.




Sydney Derby Final

The first All Sydney final at the SCG.

Elimination Final Swans v GWS, 2018.

Derby finals between non-Victorian teams are extremely rare. Adelaide’s 89 point semi-final win over Port Adelaide in 2005 is was the first and only one in the AFL era before the GWS Giants arrived in 2012.

Remarkably the 10 years of the GWS Giants time in Sydney has already seen two.

The first, a qualifying final in 2016 at Stadium Australia, saw the Giants beat the Swans by 36 points.

The first at the SCG came in the 2018 Elimination Final.

40,350 packed into the SCG to watch the Giants inflict even more pain on their cross town rivals with an easy 49 point win. Lance Franklin was held goal less and the Swans managed just four goals on their home deck. Toby Greene led the way for the Giants with three goals.


Swansong for Sydney greats as Buddy celebrates 300-

Round 23, v St Kilda 2019. 

There have been a lot of pressure packed moments at the SCG over the last four decades but the round 23 clash against St Kilda in 2019 wasn’t one of them.

This was a party.

With finals out of reach for the first time since 2009 there was nothing to do but celebrate the careers of premiership heroes Jarrad McVeigh, Kieren Jack, Heath Grundy and Nick Smith.

In a perfect confluence of milestone’s and farewells Lance Franklin also played his

Grundy and Smith had finished up earlier in the year but McVeigh and Jack got to go out with their boots on. Both put icing on the celebration cake with goals which lifted the roof off the SCG grandstands. They also got to sing the Swans song one more time when they ran out comfortable 45 point winners.

Society’s New Publication Awards

In order to promote and highlight the publication in print and electronically of work related to the history of Australian football in NSW, the NSW Australian Football History Society has announced two new annual awards to be presented in 2021.

The Harry Hedger History Publication Award will be awarded for the best historical work in NSW. This may take the form of a league or club history or a biography of a prominent personality in the history of the game in NSW. It can be a book, website, blog or extended essay. The length of the work needs to be at least 5,000 words.

Harry Hedger OBE, was one of the most influential figures in the game in Sydney in the late nineteenth century and early part of the twentieth century both on and off the field. A player for the original Sydney club in 1880 who represented NSW in the first ever intercolonial game against Victoria in 1881. Hedger was pivotal to the resurrection of the game in Sydney in 1903 by convincing the VFL to play a premiership match for points at the SCG (

The second will be for the publication of an annual report or yearbook by a club or league or an associated body such as a junior competition or an umpires’ association etc.  The Society has titled this, the Gus McKernan Award.

Gus was a long-serving committee member of the Society until his passing in 2018. He played for St George and also served on the club’s committee but is best remembered for his sterling work over four decades for the Pennant Hills Football Club where he remains a much-loved figure.

In announcing the new awards NSW AFHS president Ian Granland said, “These publication awards are open to and will recognise the work of individuals and football bodies from around NSW, who endeavour to preserve their history and at the same time publish an annual record of their work, which will assist in future research of the game. We want to support and highlight their contribution to promote the rich history of Australian football within this state”.

The winner of each respective award will receive a plaque and a cash prize of $250 PLUS the prestige of attaining an exceptional status amongst the football organisations in NSW..

Nominations (below) close on 31 October 2021

The awards will be announced and presented at the Society’s annual luncheon in December.

Further information about the awards and nomination forms are available on these links:

Harry Hedger History Publication Award Nomination Form
Gus McKernan Annual Report/Yearbook Award Nomination Form

1975 Green Valley Under 15s

Terry Radecki, a newly elected member of the Society’s committee, sent in the attached photo of the 1975 Green Valley Under 15 team, of which he was a member.

Green Valley, is a suburb in the western area of Sydney and the junior club was formed by John Swan, a former member of the Sydney Naval Club.

It developed into a very strong junior organisation but unfortunately received little support and regional development and like many clubs in that situation fell away,.

This team played Croydon Park in the 1975 grand final.

Sorry about the size of the image, its the best we could do.