A New Photo Feature

1953 NSW Team v QLD in Brisbane
1953 NSW Team v QLD in Brisbane

Following a recent upgrade to the Society’s website officials have introduced a new format to display images.

One of the first areas to be changed if the NSW State Representative Teams Gallery; these range from 1886 to the present day and are viewable through this site’s gallery or by clicking here.

Almost 80 have now been uploaded to that gallery, most of these display the team name and venue with quite a number including the players’ names.

Interesting, another programme will soon allow the indexing of these players’ names so that you can view a particular image by searching using the player’s name.

One problem though organisers have found is the lack of state photos from the late 1950s to the early 1990s, in particular.

If you have access to a NSW State Team photo which is not listed on our site please contact us so we can arrange the scanning and uploading of the image.

These photos are out there and the History Society is keen to fill the gaps.

Another coming feature is the listing of as many inter-league and association teams from throughout NSW as possible, no matter where they are from.  We must retain all the history of the game in the state.

Again, if you have access to any of these, contact us so we car arrange their transmission to the Society’s website.

A Licensed Club in Sydney For Football

During the 1960s the NSW Australian Football League, operating under a separate title and office bearers, attempted to obtain a liquor licence and operate a licensed club.

This was in the days when licensed clubs in NSW proliferated and were making money hand over fist – all tax free.  Basically, because they were non-profit organisations (the profits ostensibly being reinvested into benefits for their members) they were not subject to paying tax!!  In this case however, although they tried had and did have some smart people in charge their actions were eventually unsuccessful.

Here, we reproduce part of the organisation’s ninth annual report from 1966 which outlines the progress thus far and written by the secretary, Jack Hammond who was also on the Western Suburbs FC Board of Management and for some years, treasurer of the NSWAFL.  It provides a rather in-depth look of what action the group had taken over the previous 12 months and although a long read, is very interesting. (we do not have any other annual reports from the applicant)

Jack Hammond NSW AFL Treasurer & Board Member 1967-74

“…. Legal advice is that the Board wind up the club as it now stands, as it would not be possible to approach the Licensing Court successfully under the present Articles of Association because they have been breached on too many occasions, therefore a new club be formed in the very near future to take its place. The Board was hoping for the winding up of the club to be carried out in conjunction with or immediately following this Annual Meeting so as to avoid putting you to the trouble of coming out again on another night, but evidently the time is not yet opportune for this step to be taken. Future reports will be in the name of the new club, New South Wales Australian Football Club Ltd., which name was selected by the present Board and who will be the signatories of the new Memorandum and Articles of Association. Prior to the 1965 Annual Meeting the retiring Board of Directors were given the legal opinion they had little opportunity of obtaining a liquor licence unless the club became closely identified with the New South Wales Australian National Football League and to their credit, with two exceptions, they did not stand for office so as to allow the members of the League to take over from them to concur with the said legal opinion. Just how fully this move was taken advantage of by the League can be gauged from the fact that eight out of eleven of the Board of Management of the League became Directors as well as being permitted the use of their premises, 64 Regent Street, as the club’s registered office and meeting rooms. I personally sympathise with those gentlemen whose efforts over the years were so frustrated, as I myself was connected with an unsuccessful application for a licence, so I have some idea what their feeling of disappointment was like. Later on I was connected with the successful application of the Western Suburbs club, so when the above information was brought down to the League I took the opportunity of accepting the position of Secretary to see if the experience gained in the two prior applications mentioned can be applied again successfully on behalf of the League.

I am fortunate in this present venture of having the services of the foundation President and Secretary of Wests in the persons of Charlie Stephens and Bill Hart, respectively. Both these gentlemen’s knowledge and experience of licensing laws and court procedure is proving of immeasurable value. This report should cover the period of January to December, 1965, but unfortunately I have little knowledge of what took place before May. A lack of interest due to the aforementioned legal opinion found the club (the writer refers to ‘the club’ as the group he is writing about) in a run-down condition. This prevented a quorum being obtained at the Annual Meeting. It was thus found necessary to hold a further two adjourned meetings, which took us well into May before being able to finalise the original Annual Meeting. Therefore it was on the last day of May before the present Directors were able to hold their first Board meeting. The first assignment confronting the new Board was to bring the Board up to its full complement of Dire:tors and Office Bearers. Under the Articles the President of the League is an automatic appointment, plus a further two members to be appointed by the League. A letter to the League soon put this matter in order and bringing back the information that

Tom McGrath

President Tom McGrath was prepared to conform with the Articles and accept a position of Director, and the other two appointees were League Secretary Jack Regan and Reg Symes. This brought the Board up to full strength; as a matter of fact, when counted up it was found there was one Director too many. I feel this was a small sign of the interest that was to be aroused in the next six months. Mr. Jack Maher, who had other commitments on sub-committees of the League, decided to resign, which resignation the Board accepted and thanked Jack for his co-operation. The offices that were vacant were two Vice-Presidents. These were filled by Messrs. John Stewart and Ken Stephens, and an Assistant Secretary, Mr. Graham Pile accepting this position. With the Board and Office Bearers at full strength the next move was to bring the Club into line with the Registrar of Companies, which necessitated a notification of change of address from Sussex Street to Regent Street, and the change in Directors. Whilst on this subject I would like to thank Treasurer Sid Smith, whose help was invaluable to me in the filing of these documents with the Registrar General’s Department, as I had no knowledge of the workings of this Government Department. Sid’s nicely typed copies of the above documents for my own files will be an asset when forming the new club. The next step to be taken was the all important approach to our legal firm of Smithers, Warren and Lyons, to see if they were still prepared to carry on with our brief, as contact with them had been lost by the previous Board. This contact took longer than expected and it was mainly through the efforts of Director John Stewart that contact was finally made. We were unfortunate that the Empire Law Conference was being held in Sydney at the time we wanted to see our solicitor. He held a very high position at this conference, which made him a very busy man. A deputation from the Board was very cordially received and given the good news that they were still prepared to act on our behalf. We were also given the information of the winding up of the club, as mentioned in the first paragraph. This is the stage we have reached at present. This may not appear as though we have progressed very far, but I fed we have laid a solid foundation which you will agree is necessary if a firm structure is to be built.

PREMISES  (most interesting)
These are a must for a club and second only to the all-important licence. I did not realise when we assumed office that almost immediately we would start inspecting premises or that so many offers would come to hand. Our first offer came through Mr. Rod Dixon, of the Sydney-Naval Club, and it was for the first floor of Mick Simmons Sports Store in George Street. Upon inspection, the size of this floor was quite surprising, extending from Hay to Goulburn Streets. These premises sparked off a debate on the Board as to the suitability of city as opposed to suburban premises. Pre-war there would have been no doubts but today the city is being slowly superseded by the suburbs in commercial life, as instanced by the demise of big stores at that end of town in Marcus Clarks and Sydney Snow. Anthony Horderns, perhaps the best known store in Sydney, who have been operating for over a century, have traded at a loss over the last few years. This no doubt is due to the fact that motor car people will just not come into the city, with its parking problems. The trend today is the building of projects like Roselands, with its multiple storey parking area. A club can be taken on the same lines as the above if you take into consideration the 10 district Rugby League Clubs, who are all prospering immensely and are in the main outer suburbs, so at the present it looks as though the suburbs will win out if and when we get started.

Our second offer was the Concord R.S.L. Club. President Charlie Stephens put a lot of hard work into obtaining these premises and at one stage, through his efforts we had an option on this building. Concord Council refused to keep the area as licensed premises, thus causing us a bitter disappointment. These premises were just what we wanted to commence operations, being quite within our scope financially, no opposition from hotels or other clubs, and situated in the midst of a thickly populated area, which would have provided us with ready made patronage. On our visit to our legal firm we mentioned this club and the danger area that could be seen in it was its situation for a headquarters club. After discussion it was found Concord was near the centre of Sydney, so quite within easy travelling distance for the 10 local affiliated clubs. In passing, I would like to mention the part played by Director Tom McGrath, who on our second visit to Concord to meet the committee formed to dispose of these premises stood in for President C. Stephens, who was interstate on business, and presented our case very ably and swayed them over to our side from other bidders, thus finalising the deal started off so well by Charlie. A third offer was received from one of our members in the person of Mr. W. C. Allen. These premises were under review some few years ago by the previous Board, but I believe their financial arran~ements were not acceptable to either their legal representative or the licensing authorities. A deputation from the new Board carried out an inspection of these premises at the invitation of Mr. Allen. We stated our views and financial standing to Mr. Allen, who agreed to draw up a -proposition for consideration by us. We are at present awaitin~ his reply.

A fourth offer came from another member, Mr. C. H. King, whose premises are in Rockdale. The Board is reviewing this last offer so they will be reported on in the next year’s renort. These two gentlemen followed my reports in the Bulletin of the Concord R.S.L. and when they fell through they came to hand with the premises I have mentioned and owned by them. If nothing comes of any of the above propositions we have a gentleman prepared to back us financially and if necessary build new premises on a leasing basis, so I feel we are well covered in the area of premises.

I have in my possession a letter dated 1956 which was in reply to my original application to join the club. In the intervening years I have been a member on and off, simply because there was no contact from those in authority and one did not know if the club was still operating until a new committee had taken office and fresh approaches made to once again become financial, so when I accepted the position of Secretary, I had the idea of avoiding what had happened in the past and somehow keep in touch with the members, thus keeping them informed of the club’s progress and the work being carried out by the Board on their behalf, hence our news sheet, the Bulletin. Through it I have gained much valuable information about the membership. Many notifications have been received about changes of address, some retiring to holiday resorts, others leaving the forces to return to civil life. Some have left addresses without leaving a forwarding address, and most unfortunately I have received notification that some half-dozen members have passed away. The last two offers of premises were received through the medium of the Bulletin by the two gentlemen mentioned earlier, they following our efforts to obtain a club site through the Bulletin. When I started the Bulletin I had no idea it would become a much travelled news sheet. Quite a few of our members belong to the fighting forces, becoming members when based in Sydney. Over the years some have been transferred to fields apart, but this has not let their enthusiasm wane towards the club. These members notified me of their transfer and that they still wished to receive the Bulletin. It goes into the airfields of Richmond, Williamtown and Darwin, the Victoria Barracks, army camps lngleburn and Holsworthy, to an army camp at Canberra; it goes onto many of Her Majesty’s Naval ships including the aircraft carrier Melbourne, also the Naval Base at Nowra. It also goes to civilians who have shifted out to country centres like Leura on the Blue Mountains and Condobolin. My gratitude goes to Jack Magner for giving me the introduction to the people who produce the Bulletin gratis for us, and to them, Mr. Dave Willoughby and his competent typiste Mrs. Abbott, many thanks from all club members. To Director Bill Hart we owe a debt of gratitude for the conveyance of the Bulletin to the members. It is surprising the amount of people who have approached me through the Bulletin. Most have expressed their appreciation of it and look forward each month to its arrival. This in itself gives me the incentive to keep on with it as well as compensating a little for the efforts that go into it.

I would like to touch lightly on this subject in passing. I do not intend to intrude into the Treasurer’s area, as this department is in very capable hands, but there are two things I would like to say, firstly we have operated in the past year on a minimum of finance, on a shoestring as the saying goes. This fact is due in the main to help from two sources which consist of Boards and for obvious reasons I cannot mention names. Secondly, we are all unfinancial members and it was the decision of the Board at one of its earliest meetings that subscriptions would not be called for until we can see our way clear for an approach to the Court and the obtaining of suitable premises. As you can see by this report these two subjects are being pursued fully. I hope the time is not too distant when that all important approach can be made to once again become financial. When that time does come you will receive notification through the Bulletin.

The need of a club was never more vital to the League than at the present time. The game itself is moving forward, as instanced by the backing of some big business houses, and the visits of Melbourne League clubs – seven out of the twelve in the past two years. The League has nowhere to entertain these teams, who number amongst their supporters some of the most prominent men in Australia. When North Melbourne came up the season before last, Mr. Arthur Calwell, the Leader of the Opposition in Federal Parliament, accompanied them. He is the No. 1 ticket holder of this club, and he had to be entertained under the grandstand at Trumper Park – not a very satisfactory place for the entertainment of such a prominent person. The League could have found itself in the same position with our recently retired Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, had the Carlton Club visited Sydney, as he is a member of that club and watches as many of their matches as possible. Last year two teams from Melbourne played a match on the Sydney Cricket Ground, with the League having no place to entertain them. They had to depend on an affiliated district club, thus forcing their own officials into the background, which is far from a satisfactory position to be in, being the hosts of these teams whilst in Sydney. Football teams from  every State in Australia are now visiting us, both in and out of season, like the Western Australian club side who will be here next January.

The Melbourne and Geelong teams passed through Sydney, both coming and going on a trip to America, with the Melbourne side being entertained by the N.S.W. Rugby League Club, a fine gesture to a rival code of football, but a ridiculous position for our League to be in as the governing body of a major sport in this State. I thought I would mention these facts in passing, as I feel this proves the need for a club as required by the Licensing Court and a major reason why we were advised legally for the two to be joined together. The Court does not look too favourably on those forming a club for purely financial reasons, whilst admittedly money is all important as a propagation medium for our code. A very fine liaison exists at present between the Board of Management of the League and the Directors of the Club, and I hope these cordial relations continue in the future. On behalf of the Directors I would like to thank the League Board for its co-operation and help in the last year.

My report would not be complete if I did not pay tribute to my fellow Directors. The unity and co-operation shown to me in my first year of office was really wonderful and in the long run can only spell success, and I look forward to the future with pleasure and enthtisiasm and not the little misgivings I had when accepting the position’ of Secretary last year. At the grand final of the football last year Director Tom McGrath was badly affected by the heat of that day and had a sojourn in hospital, thus causing us to lose his most valuable services for a few months at the end of last year. We were all pleased to learn that Tom is back to good health again. Another blow suffered by the Board is the announced resignation of League Secretary Jack Regan, who is also a Director. I will miss Jack immensely as he often went out of his way to perform many acts of courtesy for me, and no matter what I asked of him it was always done with a smile and without ever the slightest hint of trouble. A great help to me through the year has been my assistant,

Grahame Pile, who at all times is prepared to help with the running around so necessary in a venture as large as ours. Grahame is also prepared to carry out many jobs on my behalf. One that readily comes to mind is our dub shingle at the entrance to Regent Street, which was made and erected by him. I can’t imagine how I would have got this erected without Grahame’s help. So to each and every Director, thanks for your help and co-operation in the past year.

In conclusion, as in all reports such as this at the last moment they have a tendency to become rushed, and mine is no exception, so if I have missed some item or some person I offer my sincere apologies. For and on behalf of the Board of Directors,

Hon. Secretary”

Jack indeed was a hard working and dedicated disciple of Australian Football in Sydney.  He held several positions in a number of football organisations and was a very hard worker for the code and his parent club, Western Suburbs.  An interview with Jack can be heard on our podcast section here.  If you want to listen, it is in two parts and you will have to go back to the podcast section to download the second edition.

Although there were 200 odd members of the club, as you can read was a certain amount of apathy,  Their efforts to establish a licensed club was unsuccessful not only because of this but two of the main ‘promoters’ of the scheme, died, plus the group had next to no money.

Umpire and Administrator Pass

This article concerns a former Sydney umpire, Ian Sonnemann and was written as a piece in the 1982 VFL Umpires’ Association Newsletter and sent into us by Society member, Chris Huon.  Ian died last year.

“Commitment and Dedication would best describe Ian “The Gent” Sonnemann. In addition to his twenty years of umpiring, Ian has been banking on the Wales for some twenty-six years and has now reached the Position of Assistant Manager of the Personnel Department.

Four interstate transfers in his employment have led lan’s umpiring career into three States and five umpiring associations. Ian’s umpiring career began in 1953 with the Amateurs after having played the game for seven years. His Playing days included the Ovens & King, Wangaratta Junior League, Tallangatta League, Sunday Unregistered League, a run with the Richmond Football Club, Sandringham and finally Power House in the Amateurs.

A transfer in employment in 1965 to Canberra saw Ian join the Canberra Australian Football League Umpires. In 1967 he became President of the Association.

Ian at umpire training 1973

Another transfer in 1967 saw Ian back in Melbourne where he joined the V.F.L. Senior list in 1968. He confronted the Board at Harrison House and in 1969 was promoted to the Seniors Intermediate Squad at Royal Park. However Ian’s top priority was his work and so in 1969 another transfer with the Wales found Ian in Sydney where he joined the N.S.W. Australian Football League Umpires from 1970 to 1973. These were the most successful years. Seven finals including the Grand Final in 1972 between Western Suburbs and East Sydney and the interstate game between Qld and N.S.W. are the highlights of Ian’s career.

Yet another transfer in 1973 found Ian back in Melbourne. A brief season with the V.F.A. and Ian was back with the V.F.L.U.A. in 1975. Ian claims the major difference he noted in his six year absence was the large number of new faces. Ian has trained at Caulfield since 1975 and has continued the track’s reputation by umpiring four V.C.F.L. Finals.

However, after twenty years of umpiring, 147 V.C.F.L. games, the oldest running veteran at the age of 41 years has had his moments.

In 1973 Ian was appointed to the Trumper Oval for the Grand Final replay, an honour for the previous year’s Grand Final Umpire. However confronting Ian as he approached the changing rooms was the largest banner of all – EAST vs SONNEMANN. Even the local bookies refused bets. The result?…..Sonnemann won again.

The mild-mannered, unflappable, conservative gentleman has also not been beyond:

– Fisticuffs with local goal umpires at Gunbower, “Chicken” vs Sonnemann, saved by George Lamont.

– Inebriation in 1976 on the Tatars trip with George Lamont and Merv Hindson.

– Missing trains at Keith.

– Hitchhiking home from Benalla.

– Raiding quince trees in the Wimmera.

– Assisting drunks at Korumburra.

– Gate-crashing the home of the Kootamundra (sic?) Secretary at 2.30 Sunday morning.

But who could blame the gentleman who trained in the company of Hafey, Brown, Bennet, Leggett, Gale and Co. in the late Caulfield group.

lan realizes his innings is coming to an end. His final ambitions are to complete his 150th V.C.F.L. game and his 10 years’ service with the V.P.L.U.A. When the day of reckoning finally comes, Ian is looking forward to spending more time with his lovely wife Ann and three year o1d son Mark. Perhaps a touch of gardening, lawn bowls and a hit of tennis. An evening at the Burwood residence is all that is required to experience the genuine warmth and hospitality of the Sonnemann family – a touch of the country air.”

Another who was particularly involved in the administration of the NSW Australian Football League in the late 1970s was Dorelle Isaac nee Hyman who passed away on November 15, 2019, age 76 years.

Dorelle was the Secretary of the league in 1977-78. She worked in a volunteer capacity when the then league Secretary was no longer required then eventually put on the payroll. She held that position she held until her Marriage in November 1977.  Her previous employment was the Private Secretary to Robert Clyde Packer, the Joint Managing Director of the Australian Consolidated Press and the Channel Nine Network, this proved invaluable as she had connections with the journalists and Producers.

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.


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.

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     

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.


Four Thousand Attend a Sydney Club Game in 1892

Here is an excerpt from the Sydney Mail of 9 July 1892 which describes a game of Australian Football in Sydney in 1892 (it might be noted that games were played in two halves, goals had the value of one point and behinds, whilst shown, were not included in the score in those days:

The Sydney and West Sydney Clubs met for the first time this season at Moore Park for the Flanagan Cup, in the presence of over 4000 spectators, and one of the finest exhibitions of the Australian rules ever seen in Sydney was given.

The spectators were roused to the highest enthusiasm, especially in the last quarter. J. Arnold captained the Sydney, and J. Byrne the Wests. During the first half the game was very evenly contested, the West having slightly the best of the game, and scoring a goal through the agency of Thorburn. The scores at half-time were — West Sydney, 1 goal 3 behinds ; Sydney, 2 behinds.

In the last half the Sydney men rallied up and played a splendid game, and the game was made very fast. The Sydney scored 3 goals (one disputed) through the agency of Crisp, Young, and Shipton, and the West 1 goal by M. Ryan. Some good play was shown by both sides, each striving to obtain the winning goal. The final scores were — Sydney, 3 goals (one disputed) 6 behinds; West Sydney, 2 goals 7 behinds. Shipton, Giles, Arnold (2), Sullivan, Tobin, McKellar, and Loughnan played splendidly for Sydney, and Gavin, Gill, Thorburn, Newell, Byrne, and Port for the West.

A few more such games as this would give the game a strong hold over the Sydney public. The game was not marred by any rough play. The duties of umpire were satisfactorily filled by Mr. Murray. The result of this match places Sydney at the top of the list for the Flanagan Cup.
(Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1871 – 1912), Saturday 9 July 1892, page 101)

Trouble at Coolamon in 1957

<center>Jim Conway“Keenly contested matches and a brawl were the order of the day for the followers of the Australian Game of Football played in the South West District FL (NSW), on Sunday 9 June 1957.

The Coolamon v Whitton game was played at Kindra Park, Coolamon was hard and fast but not as tough as made out. The only trouble sited was an incident in the third quarter  when Coolamon’s rover, Jacko Reid and Whitton highly excitable ruckman, Rusty Kelly had a bit of a tiff in the middle of the ground.  Both players ended up on the wing throwing punches at each other.  After that Reid backed up onto the concrete bicycle track which surrounds the ground and became level with the much larger man, Kelly and gave him a fair pounding.  The umpire stopped the fight and the game carried on.

The match came to a conclusion with Jim Conway’s (pictured) Coolamon men 39 points ahead.  12-26 (98) to 10-9 (69). At this point Rusty Kelly took off in pursuit of Jack Reid who ran very fast towards the dressing shed.  “Get him Boxy”. Kelly shouted.  Bill Gill Box duly obliged and tripped the Coolamon rover over, enabling Kelly to nearly catch him.  The Coolamon crowd then came off the boundary line, many in an angry mood and from there the ruckus started.  Players, trainers and spectators from both clubs then proceeded to pound each other in the middle of the ground.

The local sergeant of police came onto the ground and he took a pounding as well!

After about 15 minutes the umpire pulled up the fight.  Whitton bus driver, Mr Boxer Lloyd then drove his bus up to the gate and the footballers left the ground, not showering or changing and got straight onto the bus then onwards to Whitton.  The VFL umpire said later that it was all very exciting while it lasted.”

Ref. History of the South West District Football League 1913-1981 p.283, author Ged Guthrie.