Australian Football and the Moon Landing

The moon landing 50 years ago did not go unnoticed by Australian Football Officials (it did not go unnoticed by anyone in the western world).

At a meeting of the Australian National Football Council (National Football League), since absorbed by the AFL, on 21 July, 1969 sent a telegram to the US President, Richard Nixon offering their congratulations.

Here is an article published in the Sydney Football Record on 27 July/3 August 1969







“Andrews” was Bruce Andrews, then secretary of the ANFC.

East Sydney Champ Passes

Ian Allen
in his
playing days

Ian Allen, better known as Champ, has passed away in Sydney.

Allen, who played over 300 plus games for North Shore and East Sydney in an illustrious career spanning three decades from 1966-1980 and 1982-84.

“Champ was the best key defender in Sydney football during my active involvement in the game. I should know, I played one of my earliest games for St George against him. He gave me a football lesson”, recalled legendary East Sydney coach Greg “Huey” Harris, who coached Ian at Easts from 1982 -1984.

“He retired after being a star player in Easts’ much-celebrated centenary premiership in 1980. He came to me at the end of 1981 and asked if he could play again. He told me how much he liked the camaraderie of the new group of players that had played in the 1981 premiership team that I coached.”

A more recent
image of Ian

“He was a champ. One of the best blokes you could possibly meet”, Harris added. Ian started his career with North Shore in 1966 where his father, Kevin, had also played as well as his older brother Kevin, known as “Kevie”. “Champ” won two best and fairest awards and was vice-captain in 1971. He was equal third for the Phelan Medal in 1969 and again, third in 1974.

“Champ” was enticed to cross the harbour by East Sydney for the 1973 season by the “Prince of Promises” as he fondly referred to then-Easts’ president Jack Dean. Ian and his brother Kevie were running the family business of cash register sales and service from a shop on Broadway. Ian came to East Sydney at the start of a golden reign for the club. He played for East Sydney in eight grand finals winning premierships in 1973, 1976, 1980, 1982 and 1983. He won the club best and fairest in 1982. His represented NSW five times and won the best player award twice, against Victoria and South Australia.

Ian was inducted into the Sydney AFL Hall of Fame in 2007 and a long term member of the Football History Society.

Interesting Book Released

A book about Aboriginal people in Australia and our game has recently been released; it provides some interesting details, disproving a most recent held myth about the indigenous and the foundation of the game of Australian Football.

It was written by Roy Hay who was educated at Glasgow University and Balliol College, Oxford. He came to Deakin University, Australia, in 1977, after teaching at the universities of East Anglia, Glasgow and the Open University, UK, and is an Honorary Fellow at Deakin University. His early publications were in economic, social and oral history, and, while contributing to 25 different courses at Deakin University in 25 years, he became a part-time journalist with the Geelong Advertiser, covering “association football”, as the game of soccer was originally known.  The unrivalled access in his reporting at a local and national level led to the publication of a string of academic articles and a series of books, including the standard history of the game, A History of Football (soccer) in Australia, with Bill Murray, two edited collections and several shorter works. Roy has always been interested in the contribution of Australia’s Indigenous people to all the football codes in Australia.

It is said his latest book “will revolutionise the history of indigenous involvement in Australian football in the second half of the nineteenth century”. It collects new evidence to show how Aboriginal people saw the cricket and football played by those who had taken their land and resources and forced their way into them in the missions and stations around the peripheries of Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia. It says they learned the game and brought their own skills to it, eventually winning local leagues and earning the respect of their contemporaries. Evidence shows they were prevented from reaching higher levels by the “gatekeepers of the domestic game” until late in the twentieth century. “Their successors did not come from nowhere.”

Hays’ book defeats the sometimes contemporary supported myth that Aborigines had some type of a hand in the development of the game with the former consistent with the thinking of a number of members of the Football History Society.  The evidence speaks for itself, the first rules of the game were written by a group of six or so at a Richmond Hotel in Melbourne in May 1858.  See here for these rules.

If you wish to purchase the book published by Cambridge Scholars Publications, and want 60% off this “book of the month”, you can do so here by following the directions.

The Make-Up of the NSW’s Greatest Team Ever

When Jack Fleming made his debut for South Melbourne in the newly-formed VFL in 1897 he became the first player from NSW to play at what was to become, the highest-level. Fleming was born in Inverell in northern NSW but went to South Melbourne from the South Broken Hill club.

Nick Blakey

Nick Blakey aged 18 and fresh out of Waverly College in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, became the 453rd player from NSW to play VFL/AFL football when he debuted for the Sydney Swans against the Western Bulldogs in round one of the 2019 season. He continued the rich tradition of players from NSW playing at the highest level that had begun with Jack Fleming 122 years ago.

The list of NSW’s Greatest Players provided the basis for the selection of the NSW Greatest Team Ever at the Carbine Club’s function in May this year.  You can view the entire list here, however to facilitate the list in its entirety, it has been reduced in size.  (You can enlarge the document for easier viewing by holding down your CONTROL button and press the + button at the same time.  To reverse this, hold down the CONTROL button and press the minus [ – ] button.)

Initially, a list of 423 players was provided by the AFL. Former Sydney Swans and inaugural NSW/ACT AFL Commission chairman Richard Colless, the convener of the selection panel for the NSW Greatest Team, was convinced that there were more players than this and asked the NSW Football History Society representatives on the panel, Ian Granland and Rod Gillett, to investigate.

Between them they boosted the number on the list to 453.

Using his geographical and football knowledge of southern NSW particularly along the border region, Gillett was able to add a substantial number to the list that had been overlooked by the AFL’s historians.

This included the likes of former Carlton and Richmond ruckman David Honybun from Coleambly who was recruited by the Blues from Scotch College, ex-St Kilda defender Jon Lilley (Hay) who went to Xavier College, dual Richmond premiership rover Bill Brown also from Hay who went to work for the State Savings Bank in Melbourne;  he also plaPaul Kelly, Bill Mohr, yed for the bank team in the amateurs.  then there was Damian Sexton (St Kilda) from Finley who was recruited from Ovens and Murray league club, Yarrawonga.

A gem of a find was the late Sir Doug Nichols, who grew up and played football at the Cummeragunja aboriginal mission on the NSW side of the Murray River opposite Barmah, near Echuca. Sir Doug played for the mission in the district competition before making his mark with Fitzroy in the VFL. Ironically, he played for Victoria against NSW in the 1933 ANFC Carnival in Sydney.

They also came up with the names of some outstanding SANFL players that had originally been recruited from Broken Hill. Two of these players, West Adelaide’s Bruce McGregor and Neil Davies from Glenelg, were subsequently selected in the Greatest Team. Both captained South Australia in interstate matches and were selected in ANFC All-Australian teams.

Broken Hill has been a rich source of players for both the VFL and the SANFL competitions. Forty-eight players on the list came from Broken Hill’s four clubs: Norths (13), Centrals (9), Souths (11), and Wests (15).

The Albury Football Club provided the most number of players on the list with 49 including five from the Strang family starting with Bill Strang (South Melbourne) in 1904, his three sons Doug (Richmond), Gordon (Richmond) and Alan (South Melbourne) and Doug’s son Geoff, who played in Richmond’s 1967 and 1969 premiership sides.

Rival Ovens & Murray League club Corowa, that merged with Rutherglen for the 1979 season, provided twenty players including current Sydney Swans coach John Longmire (North Melbourne), 1975 North Melbourne premiership star Peter Chisnall and Swans 2005 premiership player Ben Matthews.

The Sydney clubs have supplied 106 players on the list with Eastern Suburbs providing the highest number with twenty-four, the most notable being Carlton champion Mark “Sellers” McClure; Newtown with eleven including Footscray’s 1954 premiership player Roger Duffy, ten from North Shore, nine from Pennant Hills which included the former St Kilda champion Lenny Hayes.

The Riverina was also a fertile area for the list. The highest number of players came from the Wagga Tigers which provided 20 players including 1995 Brownlow medalist Paul Kelly (Swans), the sublimely skilled John Pitura (South Melbourne/Richmond), and the NSW Greatest Team full forward, Bill Mohr (St Kilda) who topped the VFL goal-kicking in 1936 with 101 goals.

Leeton (12), Ganmain (10) and Narranderra (9) also supplied high numbers of players for the list.

South Melbourne/Sydney Swans have been the main beneficiary of players from NSW. One hundred and seventeen players have turned out for the Swans since 1897.

Under zoning by the VFL of Victorian Country/Southern NSW from 1967-1986 the Riverina was allocated to South Melbourne. In this period Rick Quade (Ariah Park-Mirrool), Doug Priest (Holbrook), Ross Elwin (Leeton), Colin Hounsell (Collingullie), Brett Scott (The Rock-Yerong Creek), Paul Hawke (Wagga Tigers), Dennis Carroll (Lockhart) and Jim Prentice (Ariah Park-Mirrool) were recruited from the Swans’ zone.

When the club moved to Sydney in 1982, the number of players from the local competition increased. This included Terry Thripp (Pennant Hills), Lewis Roberts-Thomson (North Shore), Nick Davis (St George), Kieran Jack (Pennant Hills), Arthur Chilcott (Western Suburbs), and Neil Brunton (Holroyd-Parramatta) and many more.

The Greater Western Sydney Giants have also recruited players from NSW since their entry into the AFL in 2012. Their number of players from NSW currently stands at eighteen following the debut of Penrith local and national decathlon champion, Jake Stein in round 12 against North Melbourne.

Stein became the 454th player to play in the VFL/AFL. The list was boosted to over 500 highly skilled players to recognise those from the city and the bush that didn’t go to the big leagues and the players from Broken Hill that represented the SANFL.

History Society Plays a Big Part in Selection of NSW Aust Football Hall of Fame

        Sam Graham

The Danihers, Quades, Carrolls, Sandralls, Priests, Deans, Walkers, Frees and Hedgers – grandfathers, fathers, sons, brothers, cousins along with hundreds of others that are a part of the football family in NSW since 1880 that will come into consideration for the recently announced AFL NSW Hall of Fame.

The first ever New South Wales Australian Football Hall of Fame event will take place in 2020 to celebrate 140 years of Australian Football being played in the state, with it envisaged that 140 people will be inducted into the Hall of Fame at the first inauguration.

This follows the recent announcement of the NSW Greatest Team at the Carbine Club in Sydney on 9 May.

The AFL’s purpose is to “progress the game, so everyone can share in its heritage and possibilities” according to AFL NSW/ACT CEO, Sam Graham. “Creating this first Hall of Fame opportunity will celebrate the enormous contribution of players, umpires, coaches and administrators from New South Wales to the game of Australian Football” Graham added.

NSW AFL History Society president, Ian Granland, OAM said, “The Hall of Fame will celebrate the rich heritage of Australian Football through NSW. We are delighted to be involved and to be able to contribute to the selection of this magnificent project”.

“Our hard-working committee members continue to build the database of players, umpires, officials and supporting documents that have played such a key role in the game over the last 140 years. It’s an invaluable resource that will provide the evidence for selection”.

Rod Gillett
Dr Rod Gillett

Granland will be joined on the AFL NSW Hall of Fame selection panel by History Society vice-president Dr Rodney Gillett. Both of whom were consultants for the recently announced NSW Greatest Team.

The selection committee has been formed to ensure that the whole spectrum of Australian Football is represented from people across the state of New South Wales.

Selection Committee

1. Sam Graham – Chair (CEO, AFL NSW/ ACT)

2. Sam Chadwick (State Manager, AFL NSW/ ACT)

3. Ian Granland (President, NSW Australian Football History Society and former Black Diamond AFL founder and president)

4. Rodney Gillett (Former President AFL NSW and NSW Country AFL and vice-president of NSW Australian Football History Society)

5. Christine Burrows (Head Umpires Coach – AFL Hunter Central Coast, Umpire representative and Northern New South Wales representative)

6. Yvette Andrews (established Sydney Women’s AFL, Inner West Magpies Vice President and Sydney representative)

7. Greg Verdon (Former chairman of the Murrumbidgee Valley Australia Football Association, former Chairman of the Southern Regional AFL Board, former President of Farrer FL and Southern New South Wales representative)

South West District Football League – 1934 Premiership Not Awarded

In 1934 the Narandera (spelt that way then) Imperials won the South West District Football League (in the Riverina) Grand Final, 11-12 (78) to Matong’s 7-9 (51).

This was the club’s third successive premiership after having just made the final four.  The grand final was played at Coolamon in the presence of a large number of spectators, the gate receipts amounting to £53/8/, ($5,271 in today’s money).  Over five hundred people travelled on the special train which ran from Narandera that day.  Alby Treloar was named best on the ground for the Imps.

Then the following Tuesday, Secretary of the Narandera Club, Tom Gordon received a bombshell in the form of an intimation from the Secretary of the S.W.D. Football League.  He said that the Matong Club had lodged a protest against Narandera being awarded the grand final, in that Narandera played two players, namely, Alby Treloar and Doug Weir, who had not complied with the club residential rule of the time.  Matong were keen to have the match replayed.

Weir’s residence was later confirmed at meeting of league officials however Treloar was required to sign a statutory declaration stating that he was not working at Lane’s (a local business) for the 21 days prior to the 12th May 1934; and was residing in Narandera during that period, the declaration was to be produced within one week from the meeting.

The Narandera club lodged an appeal against the Judiciary Committee’s decision which was heard by the Victorian Country Football League in mid-October.  The appeal was dismissed.

As the date for the presentation of the cup and the money alloted the premier team for the blazers bad been decided upon, the Narandera Club resolved to apply for an injunction to restrain the S.W.D.F.L. from handing over the cup or the blazers to Matong and Messrs. Matthews and Dan were instructed to engage counsel. When the preliminary application came before the Equity Court an interim injunction was granted by consent, each side having the right to restore the application to the list.

The Matong Club was mentioned as defendants owing to it having lodged the protest in the first instance.

Many letters were written between the representatives of the parties in the hope of ultimately arriving at a settlement.   At the 1936 annual meeting of the S.W.D.F.L., held in Narandera, during an adjournment both parties agreed upon a basis for negotiation. The terms of the agreement however, were not to be made public.

We however, have been able to find the basics of the agreement.  At that meeting the league President, Mr M. Maloney, said that they would be pleased to see Narandera back in the competition, but if it wanted to join the League it would have to drop the dispute (with Matong FC). Mr. McGee, the Ganmain delegate, thought that the offer of the Matong Club to forgo the right to the blazers and the premiership for 1934 was a worthy one.

The meeting was adjourned to seek discussion with the Narandera President with the following resolution suggested: ”Matong’s terms to’ Narandera Club are that each, club sign a declaration witnessed by a solicitor that the dispute between Matong and Narandera be dropped and neither team be awarded’ the premiership for 1934, and each club pay its own expenses.”

Although it was reported that the Narandera Imperials refused to accept this resolution, on the same day the Narandera Club re-affiliated with the S.W.D.F.L for the 1936 season, and thus brought to a close a dispute the like of which had never previously been experienced by the league and perhaps by any other sporting body.  It is very likely that a ruling similar to the one we revealed, was adopted.  In any case, no club was awarded the premiership for 1934.

Looking back from 1936, (the previous year) did not stop the Narandera Imperials. Early in that year they did not seek affiliation with the S.W.D.F.L. saying “it was very dissatisfied with the South-western District Football League and were looking for new pastures.”  The club then affiliated two senior teams, Imperials East and Imperials West in the Leeton D.F.A. (which at that stage was comprised of five clubs: Fivebough, Stanbridge, Corbie Hill, Whitton and Yanco).

In 1935, their two teams joined Griffith, Leeton, Whitton and Fivebough to make a six team Leeton D.F.A. competition.  The other clubs mentioned did not appear to continue their participation.

Neither of the Imperial teams made the grand final that year which was won by Leeton defeating Fivebough.  It is interesting to note though, that the competition also catered for a reserve grade, in which Narandera field one team.  They defeated Leeton in the grand final 8-6 (54) to 7-6 (48).

At the end of the 1935 season, S.W.D.F.L. premiers, Ganmain, played a match against the combined Narandera Imperials Club with Ganmain winning 10-18 (78) to 8-14 (62).

Ref. – Narrandera Argus – 1934-5-6

Another Footy Legend Passes

     Ralph Turner

Quite often we are alerted to the passing of former NSW footballers but they don’t always receive a particular special mention in our blog.

However, recently we were informed of the death of Ralph Turner at the age of 83.

Ralph won two Phelan Medals, the first with South Sydney in 1959 when he polled an amazing 37 votes and the second in 1961 when he was captain and coach of the Sydney Naval side.

Born in 1936, Ralph joined the Navy from his West Preston home in Victoria in 1954; at the time he potentially had a promising career with Coburg in the VFA.

After his initial training with the Navy at HMAS Cerebus he was posted to HMAS Albatross at Nowra where he served most of his six years in that force.

Along with a number of other Albatross based players he joined the South Sydney club in 1955 and travelled to and from Sydney with his mates to play during those years until 1960 when he transferred over to Sydney Naval.  This was the same year he left the Navy and although he had made an application to re-enter the service, it did not come to fruition.

Ralph Turner
Phelan Medal Winner

Sydney Naval won the Sydney premiership that year and the following season Ralph took over as coach.  He coached them to the grand final in 1961 and in the next season took ‘Naval to another flag, winning over Newtown.  He remained with the club until the end of 1964.

Ralph represented NSW on several occasions, in several he was named in the best.

After labouring for a few years Ralph had joined the Air Force and in 1968, at 32, was captain coach of the Werribee Club in the VFA.  Following this and with a subsequent posting to Richmond in NSW, he re-entered the Sydney’s football arena coaching Sydney Naval’s third grade.  The following year was elected president of the new Combined Services club which played in the Sydney Second Division.  That year he was also captain-coach and in 1973, just coach, although he did play a few games at the age of 37 and in one game, booted nine goals!

He was made a member of the Sydney AFL Hall of Fame in 2008.

Ralph retired to the Newcastle area and in his later years suffered from Parkinsons disease.  He died peacefully in his sleep on Monday, 13 May.


Best NSW Team Ever Announced

       Wayne Carey

The player regarded by many as the best player to ever play the game, Wayne Carey, has been named as captain of the Greatest NSW Team at the Carbine Club of NSW annual AFL Lunch today (9th May, 2019).

“The King” captained North Melbourne to two premierships in the 1990s and was selected in seven All Australian teams and was named captain four times. He won four best and fairest awards at North Melbourne and was leading goal-kicker five times. He captained the club from 1993-2001.

Carey played in the NSW team that beat Victoria at the SCG in 1990 and led a NSW/ACT team against Victoria at the MCG in 1993.

He began his football journey at North Wagga and strongly identifies with that club where his brother and nephews played. His boy-hood hero was the illustrious North Wagga captain-coach Laurie Pendrick.

The selection of the NSW Greatest Team was jointly sponsored by the NSW Australian Football History Society and the AFL NSW/ACT.

A panel of experts was assembled to undertake this extraordinarily challenging exercise. Senior selectors were Mike Sheahan and Gerard Healy supported by NSW Australian Football Society executive members Ian Granland and Rod Gillett and society member and author Miles Wilks. AFL NSW/ACT CEO Sam Graham and AFL Commissioner Gabrielle Trainor represented the AFL.

The panel was chaired by former Sydney Swans chairman and inaugural NSW/ACT AFL chairman, Richard Colless, who is the AFL convenor for the Carbine Club of NSW.

Nearly 500 NSW players have since 1897 played senior football in the VFL/AFL and a smaller number in the SANFL.

NSW players have won seven Brownlow Medals, five Magarey Medals, and three Sandover Medals.

There have been various attempts to select teams that represent part of NSW, e.g. Southern NSW/ACT, Riverina and Sydney teams. And there have also been a number of teams selected by historians and supporters that have been posted on the internet.

There has however, never been an official NSW team that embraces the game’s 140-year history and includes every part of the State in which the game indigenous has been played.

One of the issues is that there has never been a natural senior competition in NSW. Broken Hill, Sydney, and various Southern NSW and Riverina Leagues have at one stage or another been ascendant.

Nonetheless the game has a very rich history in NSW and the selection of the Greatest Team represents a major celebration for Australian Football in this state.

The team is:





Click here for criteria and bio of each player


Playing Football in 1925

We thought you might like to read a comment about football in Sydney in 1925 from a sporting newspaper of the time:

The N.S.W. player is a hero. He plays the game for honour, and in some cases pays a weekly fee to his club for the honour of playing. If he is injured in the course of the game, what does he receive? The same as if his club won the premiership. Even less than that— absolutely nothing. There is no insurance, because the controllers of the game have been too busy looking after the ‘gates’ to give the matter consideration.

One club insured its players last year, why not do the same again this year. That appears to be in order, but it was only through the personal exertion of an energetic club secretary, that a policy was obtained. This season the story was different. Insurance companies said ‘Yes, providing all the teams insure their members.’ Here again the League should give a helping hand – the club secretaries being responsible for the collection of the insurance money each week, fortnight or month, as the case may be.

‘The conduct of the affairs of the N.S.W. Australian Football League has been left to three or four officers, and the time is now ripe to remove the drones and place in their stead, a bunch of live-wire workers, all striving for the one object, first and foremost, the furtherance of the Australian Rules Code in N.S.W.’ [Arrow (Sydney, NSW : 1916 – 1933), Friday 17 July 1925, page 12]

Shape Up or Ship Out Constable Moon

       Jack Moon

Jack Moon was a railway porter come shunter at Narrandera who successfully joined the NSW Police Force in 1949. He was 20 and married.

John Brian Moon was born and raised in Culcairn, New South Wales and went on to play in the firsts with the Narrandera Imperials in the 1940s. He was a big 1.82cm ruckman 90kg and full of strength. But probably like a lot of young footballers, he played rugby league on Saturdays. Certainly we have recorded him playing for Culcairn with his brother, Clive in the mid 1940s.

Jack moved to Sydney without his wife, Betty and resided in Newtown whilst he underwent the then limited training at the police training centre in Bourke Street Redfern. Following his time there he was stationed at Randwick Police Station in Coogee Bay Road.

The Eastern Suburbs Club were altered to the presence of this big fella and quickly signed him up; he went straight into their first grade and fitted in well. Easts were becoming a strong hard to beat combination peppered with many stars.

In 1951 Jack took an interest in Rugby League and tried out with the Balmain club. In early April he was playing in their reserve grade. It is likely he was encouraged to move to Rugby League by fellow policeman, Roy Dykes, who was living at Marrickville and had switched from Newtown to Balmain also in 1951. At the time Dykes was stationed at Redfern.

Jack continued to play both codes, Rugby League of a Saturday and Australian Football on Sundays. The Balmain club seemed happy with the arrangement but it wasn’t long before there was some reaction.

On 19 May, Eastern Suburbs secretary, Norm Ferguson handed Moon a letter asking him to choose codes and if he chose to keep playing Rugby League he could have a clearance to any Australian Football Club of his choice.

Easts then were dripping with good footballers and could afford to lay down the law even to players like Moon who only in the previous year had represented the state in an All-States carnival in Brisbane.

Moon said he intended to play for Balmain when Easts were not playing however took the option of a clearance telling club officials that he intended to transfer to the Newtown Club (Moon at the time was living in Newtown).

On 23 May, Moon announced that he would give Australian Football away in favour of Rugby League and confirmed his commitment to Balmain Rugby League Club. He had, however, to wait until 12 July 1952 before he played in his initial first grade game for the Tigers, against South Sydney at the Sports Ground; Jack was sent off early in the match for kneeing an opponent.

By the middle of July 1952 Jack was transferred in the police force to the NSW Country town of Coonabarabran but by May 1954 he was back in Sydney and again playing for Balmain.

Jack was a tough customer, always getting into strife and he loved confrontation on the field however his biggest notoriety came in August 1954 when he illegally played a game for the Bargo club in Group 6 (competition name) against Picton at the Bargo Showground.

He was identified by many people as the current Balmain player, Jack Moon but played under the name of J Clissold. The controversy went on for over two months with the NSW Rugby League, Country Rugby League and Group 6 all holding inquiries as to what took place. Moon denied playing on that day even though he was identified by many, including the referee who sent him off for rough play and subsequent abusive language. The issue made headlines in newspapers for weeks and he was eventually suspended for four competition matches.

Jack continued to play into 1955 but in 1958 found himself transferred to the NSW Coastal town of Urunga. He died in Sydney in 2010.  Jack only played 56 games with Balmain and was a member of the 1956 Balmain team who were defeated by St George in the grand final, 18-12.