Before the Tomahawk there was Jumping Jack

Australian Football celebrates its 140th anniversary in NSW this year after the founding of the NSW Football Association in Sydney in 1880.

Rod Gillett profiles the nomination of Jack Hawkins for the Hall of Fame:

Tom and Jack Hawkins on the family farm in Finley in southern NSW Photo: Herald-Sun

‘Jumping Jack’ Hawkins went about his footy in a different way to his famous son Tom but his high flying marks in the 1970s and 1980s gave Cats fans a nice warm up for what was to come 26 years later.

While Tom’s career is still going strong at 32 Jack’s was sadly cut short by a knee injury at only 27. He returned home to Finley to run the family farm and play footy but the injury restricted him to just 2 games.

His contribution to footy however was far from over and Jack has helped run the Finley Football Club and the Murray Football League for more than four decades.

Not surprisingly his extended time in NSW footy has been supplemented by plenty of time watching his son carve out a stellar career at his old stomping ground, Kardinia Park. Looking back at his time there Jack says he couldn’t have ended up at a better club.

“It (Geelong) was a great place for a country lad to be. I was very comfortable. And as a farmer, I found a wife!” he told me for this story.

Jack studied agriculture at the Marcus Oldham College and then worked on a farm just outside Geelong. But at the end of each football season he would head back to the family farm for the harvest and not return until the end of January. It was the age of the part-time footballer.

On the field he was renowned for his vertical leaps to take marks on the last line of defence. A team-mate, Phil Stevens bestowed on him the nickname, “Jumping Jack”. Then colourful VFL commentator Lou Richards got hold of it, and it stuck.

He played 182 games and kicked twenty goals for the Cats from 1973 to 1981. He also represented Victoria.

Upon returning home, Jack joined the committee, and later became president of the Finley Football Club from 1987-89. He also served on the Murray Football League executive from 1990 before having a spell for five years then he returned as president in 2009 until he stepped down at the end of the 2017 season.

During his period in office there was a transformation in the Murray league with new clubs such as Tongala, Moama, Echuca United and Rumbularra coming in, and the exit of foundation clubs: Tocumwal, Berrigan and Strathmerton to the nearby Picola & District League.

Also towards the end of his term, Tungamah and Katandra came into the competition after a dispute between the Picola league and AFL Victoria to bring the number of clubs up to 14.

Jack also became a selector for NSW State teams at the behest of old mate and rival Terry Daniher, who was coach of the NSW State team while coaching Wagga Tigers at the time. This included the match against the VFA as a curtain-raiser to the Victoria v South Australia match at the MCG in 1995 when Teddy Whitten was emotionally farewelled.

It was to be the VFA’s last-ever representative match. NSW had first played the VFA in 1881.

    Jumping Jack            Hawkins

Jack would drive up to Wagga for training accompanied by prospective State players from the Murray League, a round trip of almost five hours.

“It was a lot of fun with TD. There was nothing complicated about training. He kept it simple. But he would tell a player if he wasn’t up to the required level. There was always a convivial drink afterwards”.

The connection between the Geelong and Finley footy clubs runs deep in the Hawkins family. Jack’s brothers, Michael and Robb, also both played in the VFL for Geelong. Michael and Jack played together for Finley in the 1971 premiership win over Deniliquin.

Jack’s eldest son Tom has already played in two premiership teams and kicked 594 goals in the AFL. Tom is the current leader in the Coleman Medal at the end of round 17. He also leads the Football History Society’s Carey-Bunton Medal for the Best NSW player in the AFL. Younger son, Charlie is playing for Old Geelong in the Victorian Amateurs footy after beginning at Finley.

“Our coach Frank Dixon convinced us we could beat Victoria (in 1949)” – Jack Dean

A remarkable man lost in the history of football times. Rod Gillett profiles the nomination of Frank Dixon to the inaugural AFL – NSW Hall of Fame:

                 The former Frank Dixon Grandstand                                                   at Trumper Park in Sydney

South Sydney Rabbitoh, South Sydney premiership captain-coach, NSW player, captain and coach, Rat of Tobruk, Senior-Vice President NSW ANFL, Deputy Lord Mayor of Sydney

Frank Dixon did it all in a remarkable career in sporting and civic life stretching from the late 1920s until he stepped down as Deputy Lord Mayor in 1961, declining the opportunity to succeed Harry Jensen as Lord Mayor of Sydney.

“He was a charismatic leader. A great motivator. We respected him enormously” Jack Dean told me in an interview in 2008. “We trained for weeks in advance of the game with the aim of beating Victoria”.

NSW lost that game after a tight first half with the Vics only seventeen points up at half-time. However, with VFL stars Bob Davis, Bobby Rose, Les Foote and Brownlow medalist Don Cordner firing, the Vics ran away to record a resounding win.

At the reunion of the 1949 team at the 1990 NSW v Victoria game Frank Dixon walked into the SCG Trust Suite to meet his charges after being feted by the AFL at the pre-match official dinner and declared, “I’m like Mark Antony walking into Cleopatra’s tent, I haven’t come here to talk!”

Frank Dixon was born in Waterloo and grew up in the South Sydney district which was to remain central to his life in football and politics. He initially played footy for the Daceyville Junior Waratahs club and won the competition best and fairest in 1926.

However, like so many young men in the South’s district, Frank Dixon wanted to play rugby league for the Rabbitohs, and he did in 1928 and 1929.

In 1930 he returned to football and thus began his long and fruitful association with the South Sydney Australian National Football Club as a player, captain, and coach in the club’s most successful era.

Frank took on the role of captain-coach in 1934 and led Souths to its first premiership since 1914. The pen pic of Frank Dixon in the Football Record for the 1935 grand final read:

“Frank Dixon is an inspiring captain and has the whole-hearted confidence of his team-mates. He has outstanding knowledge of the game and should be able to keep command of the game in the position of follower and half forward”.

He was to lead Souths to another premiership in 1935 and to runner-up in 1936 and 1937.

Frank Dixon
               Frank Dixon

Frank Dixon captained NSW for the first time in 1935 when he led the Sky Blues against the Victorian Amateur representative team at the SCG. As skipper led NSW to home-and-away victories over fierce rivals Queensland.

He became captain-coach of the State team the following season and led NSW at the national amateur carnival in Adelaide where the Sky Blues beat South Australia and Tasmania.

The profile in the match day program for the carnival said of the NSW captain-coach:

“….possesses football personality on and off the field, and has the ability to bring the best from his men.”

Frank enlisted in the AIF in May 1940. He served in the 9th Division of the AIF in the western desert and New Guinea until 1945. After surviving the Siege at Tobruk, he was badly wounded at El Alamein and was evacuated to Australia but recovered to serve in the Pacific theatre.

After the war Frank settled back into civilian life and resumed work for the Sydney City Council. But the call to re-join football was strong and he was invited to join the state ruling body, the NSW ANFL, as senior vice president in 1947 as well as coach and selector of the NSW State team.

He took charge of the State team for the 1947 ANFC Carnival in Hobart. Under his tutelage, NSW beat Canberra and Queensland, lost by ten points to hosts Tasmania and were well beaten by the SANFL.

The 1947 Carnival team included players from Broken Hill and the Riverina as well as players from Sydney such as cricket star Keith Miller (Sydney Naval), Roy Hayes (Eastern Suburbs, Ossie Grose (Newtown) and former Henty player Neil Stevens (Eastern Suburbs).

Frank was again coach of the State team at the 1950 ANFC Carnival in Brisbane. NSW were placed in Division II beat Tasmania and Queensland but lost to Tasmania and the Australian Amateurs.

He finished his tenure as coach at the end of the 1952 season. Altogether as a player and coach he was involved in twenty-seven representative fixtures for NSW.

As a senior vice president of the NSW ANFL, Frank Dixon went to Melbourne by train to attend a meeting of the ANFC in 1947 to secure a grant to fund a licenced club in Sydney to promote the game. However, upon his return with a cheque of £5000, the league delegates resolved not to proceed. Frank always regarded this as “golden opportunity missed”.

                 1949 NSW Team v Victoria at the SCG

After finishing with football politics, Frank Dixon turned his attention to local government. A long time ALP member and party official he was elected to the Sydney City Council as an alderman in 1956 and served as Deputy Lord Mayor in 1960-61.

The Sydney City Council named the grandstand at Trumper Park in his honour.

Frank said, outside of football, his crowning glory to the community was the construction of the El Alamein Fountain in Fitzroy Gardens, Kings Cross in Sydney.  “That project was mine, I did that”  Frank told us.

 

Source:: Frank Dixon six-part podcast
interview with Ian Granland (a good listen)

 

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Neil Cordy – Sydney footy’s Media Man

“The Swans, and the code of AFL football, are very grateful to have had someone with a strong media presence who had a deep understanding of the game” – John Longmire
Rod Gillett profiles the nomination of Neil Cordy to the AFL NSW Hall of Fame.

Neil Cordy has established an impressive record as a “breaking news” sports journalist across the media landscape in Sydney over the past twenty-seven years.

He has become the pre-eminent AFL media expert in Sydney after a 15-season 235 game career at Footscray (139) and the Sydney Swans (96) in the VFL/AFL ended in 1993.

After his football career, Neil stayed on in Sydney and became a sports journalist. While working for News Ltd he broke the story of the Buddy Franklin transfer to Sydney from Hawthorn in 2013, one of the biggest news stories of the decade.

But what can now be revealed is the story that “Cords” (or “Slacks” as he was known by his Swans team-mates) chose not to break.

That was the tragic death of Swans trainer Wally Jackson on the sidelines in the last quarter of the Sydney v North Melbourne game at the SCG in 2004.

Doing the “boundary-riding” for the Channel Ten live coverage of the match, Neil elected not to report on the story unfolding right before his eyes on the Swans bench as Dr Nathan Gibbs tried valiantly but ultimately unsuccessfully to revive the much-loved Swans trainer.

Channel Ten’s executive producer of sport, David Barham, just happened to be working that night fully supported Neil’s decision not to break the story.

“David and I talked the situation through. It was obvious Wally was in serious trouble. We agreed not to report on the situation unless the game was stopped and we would be forced to. It was out of respect for Wally’s family” Neil told me in the interview for this profile.

This goes to the heart of Neil Cordy’s integrity and ethics as a journalist that enabled him to earn the trust of the AFL coaches in Sydney to get access to news-breaking stories.

Sydney Swans coach John Longmire told me, “The Swans, and the code of AFL football, are very grateful to have had someone with a strong media presence who had a deep understanding of the game”.

Following his retirement from the AFL half-way through 1993 Neil started in print journalism by writing columns for The Sydney Morning Herald. He also started working on match-days for the ABC’s live broadcasts of footy in Sydney as an experts commentator.

The next season he was a boundary-rider for the Seven Network’s telecasts of AFL games in Sydney. He took up an on-air role for Galaxy Sport (the fore-runner to Fox Sports) in 1995 during the infancy of sport on pay TV in Australia.

“Cords” was lured to Channel Ten in 1996 to present sport on Ten News and reports on Sports Tonight based in Melbourne for five years then returning to Sydney where he performed the role for ten years as well as a football commentator when Ten had the rights.

He was a key member of the Ten telecast team for the AFL Grand Finals in 2005-06 that featured the Swans including the 72-year drought-breaking victory in 2005.

After ten years with Ten, Neil went to News Ltd as the Head Reporter of the AFL for the biggest selling daily newspaper in NSW, the Daily Telegraph.

Neil carved out a strong reputation as an insightful and knowledgeable reporter of football that increased following for the game in this medium. During this period he frequently appeared on Fox Sports programs such as the Back Page and Bill and Boz which did much to lift the profile of the game.

Neil finished up with the Tele at the end of the 2018 season and has since been doing match-day work for ABC Sport, which of course, has been severely disrupted this season by Covoid 19. He has, however, relished taking up the opportunity to write profiles for the inaugural AFL NSW Hall of Fame including former team-mates and opponents.

In terms of playing football, Neil had a highly distinguished career and is a member of the AFL 200 Club. He was runner-up best and fairest at the Swans in 1987 and third in 1991.

He represented Victoria twice and was a key member of NSW’s successful Origin teams in 1988 & in 1990 when the Sky Blues beat Victoria.

After finishing in the AFL, Neil joined East Sydney in 1994 as co-coach with former team-mate and great friend Rob Kerr, thus finishing off an auspicious playing career in the red, white, and blue.

The boy from East Gippsland has enjoyed the pizzazz of “bright lights, big city” life in Sydney and carved out a very fulfilling career in both football and the media. Now he has announced his retirement, and he and his wife Jeanette, will move to the Gold Coast.

 

  Mark Rendell – The Umpire with 360° Vision

1976 Grand Final - East Sydney v Nth Shore
Umpire Mark Rendell is quickly on the scene to break up a fight between
East Sydney and North Shore players in the 1976 Sydney grand final at Trumper Park

Mark Rendell, widely regarded by his peers as the best umpire of his generation, had 360° vision which he needed in the days of only one field umpire.

Rendell and his fellow Sydney field umpires over time, John Leber, Jim McSweeney, and Frank Kalayzich umpired over 2000 games and twenty Sydney grand finals between them. All of them have been nominated to the inaugural AFL NSW Hall of Fame.

Dr Rodney Gillett profiles their nominations:

 

“With ruckmen like Newtown’s David Sykes (ex-Fitzroy), East Sydney’s Greg Harris, and also Kevin Pearson, I needed eyes in the back of my head, particularly with “Sykesy”, recalled Rendell.

“There was no line across the centre of the circle in those days so the rucks used to really jostle for position and use their hefty frames to advantage. Also their arms and elbows”.

“I used to manage the players, not control them” said Rendell.

“I remember many ‘lively spirited interactions’ with players”.

“I umpired some real characters, blokes like Sam Kekovich, former Collingwood player Phil Manassa, firstly coaching Wests then Balmain, and Allan Dudley from Wests”, he recalled.

Greg Harris, who coached East Sydney to three successive premierships, 1981-1983, is full of praise for Mark Rendell’s umpiring, “Mark was very pragmatic. He always made common-sense decisions, instead of being over-technical. He was well respected by the players.”

Mark Rendell was also a mentor to many young emerging umpires in Sydney including Frank Kalayzich who went onto a stellar umpiring career and the highly-regarded Nick Angelos, both came out of the North Shore junior competition where Rendell was a coaching advisor for many years.

He also served in various capacities for the NSW Australian Football Umpires’ Association including president (seven years), treasurer (eight years), and board member (twenty years).

Mark umpired 416 umpires including seven grand finals in a sterling umpiring career spanning from 1975 until his final retirement in 2003.

He is a life member of the Sydney Football league and the NSWAFUA. He is also in the NSWAFUA Hall of Fame.

 

John Leber was an outstanding senior umpire in the Sydney competition from after WWII until 1955; he then umpired in the St George & District Junior Association until 1973.

A youthful
John Leber

He umpired senior grand finals in 1951 and 1955. He umpired 147 senior games as well as six interstate matches.

The citation on his entry into the NSW Australian Football Umpires’ Association Hall of Fame states:

“John’s approach to umpiring was as the ultimate professional. His conduct both on and off the field was of the highest standard, and he was a positive role model for younger umpires”

John was renowned as a very caring person and he contributed enormously to the Boys Town Junior Football Club based at Engadine from the early 1950s up until the late 70s.

He coached a number of Sydney and State junior representative teams in the early 1960s.  He also played a big part in the formation of what is now the Southern Power Club.

Through his work connections at TAA airlines he was instrumental in arranging travel for State representative teams as well as the end-of-season trip for the umpires.

John is a life member of the NSWAFUA .

 

    Jim McSweeney

Jim McSweeney is one of the most popular and respected umpires ever in Sydney football.

Jim began umpiring in the Sydney senior competition in 1960 after beginning in the St George juniors and umpired until 1990. During this time Jim umpired 674 games including 152 first-grade games.

He took up umpiring in Super Rules (now the Masters competition) during 1990 where he renewed acquaintances with many of the players he had umpired in senior football in Sydney.

Jim umpired in the Masters until 2017 – when he entered his eighties. He so endeared himself to the Masters players and officials that he was admitted to their Hall of Fame in 2000.

He also rendered outstanding service to the NSWAFUA as president for six years in the 1970s and was a member of the Board of Directors for sixteen years.

He is a life member of the NSWAFUA and a member of their Hall of Fame.

 

left Frank Kalayzich
with Mark Rendell

Frank Kalayzich holds the record for the most games umpired in Sydney (514) and the most grand finals (11).

Frank began his umpiring in the North Shore junior competition in 1978 and commenced umpiring in the Sydney competition in 1983 with his first senior appointment in 1986.

He rates his first grand final in 1987, the notorious clash between St George and Campbelltown which he co-umpired with his mentor Mark Rendell, as his most challenging. There were 29 reports arising from the game! Frank made six reports in the first quarter.

He subsequently umpired until 2015 when he retired after his eleventh grand final. In addition to 156 lower grade games, Frank also umpired quite a number of VFL/AFL Under 19s and Reserve grade games.

Frank was renowned for his endurance running, immaculate preparation, and astute decision making. He was also a willing mentor for up-and coming umpires of any age.

The NSWAFUA awards the Frank Kalayzich Trophy for the most improved field umpire each year.

He is a life member of the Sydney Football league and the NSWAFUA. He is also in the NSWAFUA Hall of Fame.

 

 Source: part NSW Australian Football Umpires’ Association website

 

 

Cummeragunja, the Aboriginal football team that was too good

Sir Doug Nicholls learnt to play football on the oval at the Cummeragunja aboriginal mission. The Cummeragunja footy team was so successful in the local competition in the 1920s they were handicapped.

Dr Rod Gillett recounts the story of the Cummeragunja footy team that was too good.

 

The Cummeragunja footy team, where Sir Doug Nicholls first played football before he commenced an illustrious career in the VFL, was so successful in the 1920s that it was handicapped by the local league.

After winning the Western and Moira Riding district league premierships five times out of six between 1926 and 1931, the club was not allowed to field players over the age of 25.

Sir Doug, was born and raised on the Cummeragunja aboriginal mission on the NSW bank of the Murray River in the Barmah Forest near Echuca. This mission was established in 1888 by the NSW Government for the Yorta Yorta people.

Sir Doug played football for Cummeragunja before embarking on a football odyssey that would take him to play at the highest level in Melbourne and to various roles in aboriginal advancement, culminating in the Governorship of South Australia.

It is not known if he played in the Cummeragunja team that won the 1921 pennant. We do know though that Sir Doug went to play for Tongala in the Goulburn Valley League in 1925.

He moved to Melbourne in 1927 to try out with Carlton but was rejected because of his colour, went to VFA club Northcote where he played in the 1929 premiership and winning best and fairest awards, and then to Fitzroy from 1932-36, and then back to Northcote. He represented both the VFA and the VFL.

After their premiership win in 1921 Cummeragunja were excluded from the league, but were subsequently reinstated, and then went onto even more success.

Some the players in those Cummeragunja premiership teams were Aaron, Selwyn Les and Eddie Briggs; Lindsay Whyman; Maurie Charles; Sid Williams; Gringo Morgan; Bob Nelson; Eddie and Frank Atkinson; Andy Cooper; Ossie Jackson, Tommy Dunnolly Jnr; Wally Nicholls and Herbie, Joe, Fred and Eddie Walker.

Many of these family names are still prominent in football in southern NSW and northern Victoria. Former Carlton star Andrew Walker has recently returned home to coach Echuca.

Roy Hay, in his acclaimed work:- Aboriginal People and Australian Football in the Nineteenth Century: They Did Not Come from Nowhere, has unearthed recollections from the children of teachers at the Cummeragunja school in 1922 who recalled barracking for “Cummera”:

“The dark men were very good players. They were marvellous. They could run like hares. They used to play marking the ball – that sort of thing – and used to rise up you know. And they used to pass the ball right down the ground and they would shoot goals from any angles. They were marvellous and they were nearly always premiers” (p.91).

The earliest records of Cummeragunja playing football in the district are in 1888 when a mission team played Echuca. In 1890 a competition known as the Northern District Football Association based on Echuca was formed made up of teams from Echuca, Echuca East, Rochester, and Cummeragunja.

By 1898 Cummeragunja were competing in the Nathalia and District Association and they went through that season and the following year without losing a game.

However, though they regularly played matches against teams in the local area, the Cummeragunja team had problems getting off the mission as permission was required by the station manager.

Cummeragunja continued to field a team up until World War II when they were in the Echuca district league. In 1939 they lost narrowly to Deniliquin in the first semi-final.

Sir Doug returned to home to Cummeragunja for his last game in 1940 for a fund-raising game against Echuca at the Victoria Park Oval in Echuca.

And why do we highlight this team’s feats?  Because they were in New South Wales.

References:
Athas Zafiris (2016), “Cummeragunja aboriginal football team that opened the eyes of white Australia”, shootfarken.com.au

Roy Hay (2019), Aboriginal People and Australian Football in the Nineteenth Century: They Did Not Come from Nowhere, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle upon Tyne UK. Paperback version is available from the author roy@sesasport.com.au

Hawkins Propels into Contention for Carey-Bunton Medal

Geelong spearhead Tom Hawkins has propelled into contention for the Carey-Bunton Medal for the Best NSW Player in the AFL in 2020 by scoring 15 votes in the past two games.

The Big Cat scored the perfect 10 for his six- goal haul against Port Adelaide at Metricon Stadium and 5 votes when he booted five goals in Geelong’s win over St Kilda at the Gabba.

Hawkins now has a career total of 584 goals since joining Geelong from Murray Football League club Finley in 2007 via Melbourne Grammar.

Gold Coast skipper Jarrod Witts still retains the lead by four votes but he is being challenged by Hawkins and also Sydney Swans star defender Dean Rampe who received four votes for his outstanding game in defence against the GWS Giants.

Votes scored by Melbourne’s small forward Charlie Spargo (Albury) and Nick Blakey (UNSW-Eastern Suburbs) of the Sydney Swans brings the number of NSW players to receive votes in the award this season to twenty.

VOTES ROUNDS 11/12

1 Jarrod Witts (GCC) 31

2 Tom Hawkins (GEEL) 27 (R11 5 VOTES v ST K; R12 10 VOTES v PA)

3 Dane Rampe (SYD) 20 (R12 4 VOTES v GWS)

4 Isaac Heeney (SYD) 19

5 Harry Perryman (GWS) 18

6 Jacob Hopper (GWS) 11)

7 Callum Mills (SYD) 10

8 Isaac Smith (HAW) 9

9 Derek Eggmolesse-Smith (RICH) 8

9 Dougal Howard (ST K) 8 

11 Zac Williams (GWS) 5

12 Jacob Townsend (ESS) 4

12 Matthew Kennedy (CARL) 4

14 Luke Breust (HAW) 3

14 Jeremy Finlayson (GWS) 3

16 Todd Marshall (PA) 2

16 Michael Gibbons (CARL) 2

16 Harry Himmelberg (GWS) 2

16 Nick Blakey (SYD) 2 (R12 2 VOTES v GWS)

16 Charlie Spargo (MEL) 2 (R12 2 VOTES v COLL)

Jindera Wins Double in 1960

The Jindera Bulldogs, a foundation member of the Hume Football League in 1933, won a unique double in 1960, winning premierships in both the senior and junior competitions.

Jindera finished on top of the table just two points ahead of Rand, whom they beat by just 3 points in the 2nd semi final at the Howlong Recreation Reserve.

Rand earnt another crack at the Bulldogs by comfortably beating the previous year’s premiers Walla at Walbundrie in the preliminary final.

In the grand final at the Burrumbuttock Recreation Reserve, after kicking 5 goals 5 to Rand’s 1-2, the Bulldogs went on to record a convincing 70 point victory over the Pigeons, 15-7 (97) to 5-10 (40).

Jindera were led by former South Melbourne and Wodonga player Don Star, who bought his brothers, Tom and Jim along with him.

Four-time Baz Medalist with Farrer league club, Culcairn, Harry Gardiner was in charge of Rand; he had previously led Jindera to premierships in 1956 and 1957.

In the Junior Football league, which was run as a separately administered competition in this period, Jindera defeated St Paul’s College Walla, 5-10 (40) to 1-5 (11).

Other clubs in the junior competition in 1960 were Rand, Walla, Howlong, Walbundrie and Corowa who, incidentally, included seven players from Balldale.

The Junior league commenced in 1950. It had its own registration system, permit rules and separate draw. The formation of the competition was driven by St Paul’s College principal Mr Werner Hebart.

St Paul’s is a Lutheran day and boarding school initially catering for the many families of German descent that settled in the region in the late nineteenth century. The College played most of its home games on the school’s oval.

The other original junior clubs were Walbundrie, Walla and Jindera.

St Paul’s won the first premiership in 1950 when they defeated Walbundrie in the grand final. Final scores were SPC 6-11 (47 0 to Walbundrie’s 4-8 (32). St Paul’s also won the very last premiership of the Hume Junior league in 1976 after which it was incorporated in the senior league.

Jindera are still in the HFL while Rand merged with Walbundrie in 2006 to become the Rand/Walbundrie Tigers, and then with Walla in 2016 to become the RWW Giants, mainly to accommodate junior players.

Source: HUME: A History of the Hume Football league 1933-2018 by Leon Wegener (2019).

Behind Post Snaps Hopefield-Buraja to Victory in the 1960 Coreen & District Grand Final

Late in the third quarter of the 1960 Coreen Football league grand final young Jerilderie defender Stan “Brickie” Taylor in a desperate effort in defence to halt the relentless attack on goal by Hopefield-Buraja collided heavily with the behind post snapping it off at ground level.

It was only rural ingenuity that enabled the game to continue at the Daysdale Recreation Reserve. A farmer just happened to have a star picket fencing post in the back of his ute that league officials managed to attach to the point post using fencing wire and drive it back into the ground.

Buraja had gradually pulled back Jerilderie’s lead established through a commanding first quarter score of 28 to 8 to lead 8-11 (59) to 8-8 (56) at three-quarter time.

With the delay in replacing the post and the third quarter break it was expected that Jerilderie would recover but the combine (H-B) swept to victory by kicking 3-1 in the final quarter to Jerilderie’s 1-1.

The Hopefield-Buraja club had been the result of a merger for the 1947 season between two of the foundation clubs when the league was formed in 1894. Usually with mergers, the first name becomes the nomenclature for a club, but in this case, mainly because games were played at Buruja, this became the popular name

Jerilderie had come into the league in 1957 from the Murray League Seconds. The Demons, as they became known in 1961 won the premiership in 1963 by beating unbeaten Daysdale, after having won only one game in the previous season, transferred to the Murray Football League in 1964.

Jeriderie returned for the league’s centenary season in 1994 when the Daysdale, Oaklands, and Hopefield-Buraja clubs also celebrated their centenaries.

This bought the number of clubs in the league up to ten: Coleambly, Jerilderie, Daysdale, Rand, Hopefield-Buraja, Coreen, Oaklands, Rennie, Urana along with the Victorian-based club, Wahgunyah.

However, by the 2007 season the continuing decline in the population in the district particularly of the drift of young people to the regional towns and metropolitan cities for further study and employment, the league was reduced to six clubs.

Ironically, all of the original clubs were involved in the grand final albeit in a merged form – CDHB United – an amalgamation of Coreen, Daysdale, Hopefield and Buraja defeated the Billabong Crows made up of Urana, Cullivel and Oaklands. And the grand final was played at Rennie.

CDHBU and the Billabong Crows are now in the Hume League, as are Rand that merged firstly with Walbundrie, and then with Walla while Jerilderie and Rennie are in the Picola League, and Coleambly is in the Farrer League.

But as Alan Norman documents in his excellent book Coreen & District Football League Finals History, in 1960, it was Hopefield-Buraja that scraped into the 1960 Coreen Football League finals with a draw over Rennie in the final round to edge out Urana-Cullivel, and then went all the way through the finals to win the premiership.

Buraja were led by former Corowa star Dinny Carroll, a tough ruck-rover, who led from the front. Other good players in the grand final win were key forward Bruce “Huck” Ash who booted four goals, another former Corowa player Ken “Stakey” Lavis, and Hopefield farming brothers Henry (3 goals) and Peter Kingston.

Jerilderie were best served by captain-coach Gavin Moran (ex-Geelong), centreman Brendan Carlin, ruckman Keith Ledwidge and forward Tony Brownless (father of Billy), Blair and Anson.

The estimated crowd at the grand final was 1600.

The Dennis Trophy for competition best and fairest was won by Daysdale’s David McFarlane one vote ahead of Urana-Cullivel’s Max Urquhart, who went onto play at Collingwood from 1963-69. The leading goalkicker was Hopefield-Buraja’s Bruce Ash with 51 goals.

References:

Coreen & District Football League Finals History 1894-1994 by Alan Norman

Special thanks to former Jerilderie players Peter Dowdle and Peter Quirk.

Written by Dr Rodney Gillett

Tough as Teak Hard as Cement

“Where is this bloke from?” asks Channel 7 football comentator Lou Richards.

“North Wagga” replies co-comentator Peter Landy.

It is just before half-time of the National Escort Championships between New South Wales and VFL club Fitzroy at the Sydney Showgrounds and the “rotund full-forward” from NSW had just kicked his 5th goal to give the Blues an eleven point lead at half-time.

The player in question was Laurie Pendrick, the NSW skipper, who had kicked his first 3 goals in quick succession early in the first quarter on the Victorian representative full-back Harvey Merrigan.

“When the Fitzroy runner came out to change him (Merrigan) over with the bloke wearing the head-gear (Chris Smith), I told him he’s no good either! I’ve played on better in the Riverina!”, Pendrick told me in the interview for this piece.

Such was the supreme confidence that was the trademark of arguably Wagga’s best-ever locally-produced player not to go to the VFL/AFL, although he did receive multiple offers to go to South Melbourne in the mid-1970s.

NSW playing under legendary VFL coach Allan Jeans took the game right up to Fitzroy in that pre-season game at the Sydney Showgrounds but faded in the second half to lose by 56 points. Penrick ended up kicking six goals and being named best for NSW.

Laurie Pendrick was a young Wayne Carey’s hero when “Lozza” ruled the roost at McPherson Oval, North Wagga in the 1970s through what has been the club’s most successful period. Carey told Neil Cordy in a recent interview for the AFL NSW Hall of Fame nominations that,

“Laurie was my first football hero. He was a very good player and a standout in Wagga. He played in the centre but could go forward and kick goals. He was tough and hard and opposition fans hated him and North Wagga fans loved him”.

Pendrick grew up over the back fence from the Careys in the Mt Austin area in Wagga.

Laurie recalls playing kick-to-kick with Wayne’s older brother Dick in the back-yard; later, they would play and coach together at Collingullie in the twilight of their illustrious careers.

The Turvey Park Midget League is where Laurie began his football at the age of five playing for the “Magpies”. He would graduate through the ranks and make his debut at 16 for Turvey Park in the South West League in 1967.

The pivotal moment that turned Laurie into a top-line footballer, and ultimately a successful coach was the arrival of Graham “Curly” Ion to coach Turvey Park in 1969. “Curly” was a star in Footscray’s 1961 grand final team under Ted Whitten but went to coach Deniliquin in 1966 leading them to a premiership and winning the competition best and fairest award.

“I was in awe of ‘Curly’. I wanted to be just like him, both on and off the field!” said Pendrick. “I became assistant coach to him and travelled to games with him in his brand-new Monaro GTS 350. He taught me everything.”

In 1973 “Lozza” went across the river to North Wagga to be assistant coach to Allan Hayes. Together they led the Saints to their first premiership since 1935.

Pendrick took up his first senior coaching appointment at Grong Grong Matong in 1975. He lifted the combine from the bottom rungs of the ladder into finals contention. He recalled his time at “Grongy” with great affection:

“Great people, passionate about their football club. If we won the farmers would give me a fistful of dollars in the change rooms, buy me drinks at the pub, and leave a side of dressed lamb on the back seat of the car”.

He returned to North Wagga as captain-coach in 1976. He led North Wagga to a premiership over Collingullie and topped the Farrer league goal-kicking with 114 goals.

The following season “Lozza” had probably his best season of football: he won the Baz medal, topped the goal-kicking with 132 goals, and led the Saints into another grand final.

It was during this season that South Melbourne tried its hardest to entice Pendrick to the VFL. The Swans offered him $10K to sign and two players on the senior list to North Wagga as replacements similar to a deal that they had done to secure Colin Hounsell from Collingullie. But North Wagga insisted he honour his contract to coach the club.

Pendrick would continue on as captain-coach of North Wagga, but then would embark on a remarkable football odyssey that would see him play and/or coach Newtown in Sydney (1979), QAFL club Coorparoo (1980 & 1984-86 including two premierships), North Wagga in 1981-83 (winning a Clear Medal) and again in 1987-88, Palm Beach-Currumbin on the Gold Coast (1989-90), Latrobe in Tasmania (1993), Collingullie (1996-1998), and Yarraville in the Western FL in Melbourne (2000-2001 including a premiership).

As captain-coach of Cooparoo he promoted Churchie school-boy Jason Dunstall to full-forward, who, of course, went onto forge a legendary career at Hawthorn following “Lozza’s” recommendation to his old NSW coach Allan Jeans, with whom he maintained a close relationship. Mary Jeans called him, at Allan’s request, just before he passed away.

According to long-time Wagga Tigers’ opponent Bevan Rowe, “Laurie was almost an unbeatable opponent. He had wonderful skills, enormous confidence, and was just so hard. He had massive influence on his teams, they followed him, and were absolutely fearless with him at the helm”.

Laurie Pendrick represented NSW on 11 occasions including captain-coach, and Queensland nine times including coaching the Maroons to Division II championship wins in 1985.

Mark and Jarrad McVeigh

Australian Football celebrates its 140th anniversary in New South Wales this year after the founding of the NSW Football Association in Sydney in 1880.
To commemorate, 140 coaches, players, umpires, administrators and media personalities from both the Elite (VFL/AFL) and Community level will be inducted into the inaugural New South Wales Australian Football Hall of Fame.
Neil Cordy profiles the nominees this time with brothers, Mark and Jarrad McVeigh:

                               Jarrad & Mark McVeigh

The Daniher brothers have amassed a total of 752 games between them as well as a host of honours and wards but another pairing are the McVeigh brothers, Mark and Jarrad.

Long before the Swans and Giants Academies started developing NSW talent there was a prototype set up on the Central Coast by their father, Tony McVeigh which set a standard for others to follow and produced a success rate almost impossible to compete with.

It’s two graduates, his two sons Mark and Jarrad McVeigh played 557 games between them.

Mark played 232 for Essendon between 1999 and 2012 and Jarrad played 325 for Sydney between 2004 and 2019.

Only Justin and Simon Madden (710 games), Peter and Shaun Burgoyne (616 games) and Ian and Bruce Nankervis (578 games) have done better for pairings of brothers in the history of the game.

Tony’s set up was rudimentary with gum trees for goal posts and an overturned trampoline for rebounding ground balls. But his Killarney Vale Academy has a strike rate for producing AFL talent none have been able to match- 100 per cent.

“We played games against each other and trained every single night,” Jarrad McVeigh said.

“We’d play footy in the morning and come home and watch the only televised match on a Saturday. We’d be back outside kicking the footy at half-time. We were always competing, who could take the best mark, who could kick the best goal, it was a daily occurrence. I was lucky to have a brother playing footy because there weren’t many on the Central Coast at that time. I was six when we started doing that.”

The four year age difference between Mark and Jarrad didn’t seem to matter, Jarrad was a fast learner. “I was lucky Jarrad was as good as he was,” Mark said. “We would go at it for hours and hours. Jarrad’s skill level was amazing for such a young kid.”

Their dad Tony was a talented sportsman in his own right, representing Victoria in badminton and squash and playing 45 games for Williamstown in the VFA between 1978 and 1981. In 1982 he, his wife Margaret and Mark moved to the NSW Central Coast where he took up the coaching job at Killarney Vale FC, then in the Central Coast league.

Jarrad was born in 1985 and it didn’t take long to see the boys had sporting ability and needed some space to develop and grow.

“I cleared the scrub so they could run around and we had a pool so we did triathlons together,” Tony said. “We’d run around the house, jump in the pool, do two laps and then rode pushbikes down the driveway. The skills were the main thing because they were naturally fit. I showed them how to handball, kick, baulk and mark.

The trampoline was an innovation; I painted a bullseye on it and laid it on its side. When the ball hit it, it bounced back on the ground and they would run in and pick it up and dispose of it. Mark was more aerial and Jarrad had great ground skills. They would spend hours out there and I would watch them from the house.”

While the Killarney Vale Academy and junior footy club gave Mark and Jarrad a great start the move to Pennant Hills took them to another level with their football.

“We left Killarney Vale to get more exposure to better players and more opportunities,” Mark said. “I was 13 years old and it was a good move. Pennant Hills was a really strong club and that’s where I met Lenny Hayes. It was disappointing for a lot of people on the coast and there was resentment towards us but dad is pretty strong.”

             Tony McVeigh in his                days at Killarney Vale FC

For those who know the McVeigh family well it wasn’t hard to see where Tony got his strength from. Tony’s father, Mark and Jarrad’s grandfather, Jimmy McVeigh was a merchant seaman born and bred in Liverpool, England. He was a gunner in the Merchant Navy during the Second World War.

“The Germans hunted the supply ships down so he saw plenty of action,” Tony said.

“He travelled to Australia a number of times and fell in love with the place. When the war ended he said to mum this is where I want us to live. There were already four boys in the family when we made the trip including me. I was two, my oldest brother Jimmy was 15, Terry was 13 and Peter was one.”

The McVeigh’s ended up in Williamstown in Victoria and had another four children including an only daughter Colleen. She was Jimmy’s favourite and became a champion lacrosse player for Australia participating in four world championships and captaining the team. Colleen married Western Bulldogs player Mark Hunter. Their son Lachie Hunter played against Jarrad McVeigh in the 2016 grand final.

Playing on opposite sides seems to be the family norm, the four year age difference meant Mark and Jarrad never played in the same team throughout their junior days. They were opposed each other throughout their AFL careers with Mark and Jarrad staying one-team players throughout their time at the Bombers and Swans respectively.

The closest they came to joining forces was in 2004 when Paul Roos was keen on bringing Mark to the Swans.

“It was close to happening but Essendon were a big club and I wanted to stay a one team player,” Mark said.

Mark missed the 2000 premiership team but played in the losing grand final the following year against Brisbane. Over the following years he became a key member of the Bombers line up and leadership group. He represented Australia in the International Rules Series in Ireland in 2004. In 2008 he finished in the top 20 in the Brownlow after missing eight games through injury polling 13 votes.

In his 17 seasons at the Swans Jarrad established himself as one of the club’s greats, he was captain from 2011 to 2016 winning two Bob Skilton Medals (2008, 2013) and All Australian honours in 2013. The highlight came in 2012 when he led Sydney to an epic grand final win over Hawthorn.

Over the span of their careers the brothers lined up against each other eight times and have continued their rivalry into the coaches box with Jarrad now and assistant alongside John Longmire at the Swans and Mark an assistant to Leon Cameron.

“They’ve been destined to go in different paths,” Tony said.

“I’d love to see them on the same team one day but they’re two different people and have got their own ideas and ways. If it happens it happens.”