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.”

 

 

Two N.S.W Indigenous All-Stars

Sydney boasts two of the greatest indigenous players in history with Adam Goodes and Michael O’Loughlin. But long before they moved to the Swans there were another pair who were dazzling NSW footy fans with their skill, courage and athleticism.

Rod Gillett profiles the nominations of Sid Robins and “Ossie” Grose to the inaugural NSW Hall of Fame to celebrate 140 years of football in NSW.

Sid Robins   Ossie Grose

Sid Robins is regarded as the Griffith Football Club’s best-ever local player and is the club’s record games holder with 317 appearances in a stellar career from 1963 to 1980.

He won the competition’s best and fairest award, the Gammage medal in 1972, and was a pivotal member of the Swans’ 1968 premiership triumph under goal-kicking machine “Gelignite” Ron O’Neill.

Sid won the club’s best and fairest award four times in succession, 1969-1972, during the most successful period for the Griffith club in the South West league.

Standing six feet (1.8m) tall he started as a winger but became the main-stay of the Griffith defence at centre half-back taking on the super stars of the competition such as ex St Kilda star Frank Hodgkin (Ganmain), Brownlow medalist Peter Box (Narrandera), locally-produced star  Des Lyons (Leeton) and ex Fitzroy forward Vern Drake (Ariah Park-Mirrool coach).

He started his football with the Griffith schoolboys but went to play with Beelbangera-Yenda in 1962 under Bobby Spears in the Barellan League.

He returned to Griffith the next season and was to remain with the club until his retirement in 1980. Sid also represented the South West league on ten occasions in representative fixtures.

Part of folklore at Griffith are the club notes in the match program in 1973 after a big win over fierce local rival Whitton, “But the one goal that captured the imagination of the crowd was that of Sid Robins. Running 50 yards against a 30 knot breeze and with seven players hanging off him, he kicked the ball 100 yards for a goal – well done Sid.”

Sid Robins only ever kicked three goals for Griffith in his 317 club games.

At the club’s centenary function in 2014 he was named in the Griffith Swans ‘Team of the Century’ at centre half-back.

Source: https://www.swansonscreen.com/

 

John Mervyn “Ossie” Grose came to Sydney from Kempsey with his family and settled in Erskineville just around the corner from Erskineville Oval. He gained first grade selection with Newtown after a season in the Under 18s. He had not previously played Australian football.

A diminutive 5’2” (1.57m) rover, “Ossie” became a key player in the Blood-Stained Angels premiership team of 1942 continuing on to play in another three premierships for Newtown between 1945-47 during a “golden era” for the club.

He was described in the Sydney Football Record for the 1947 grand final as “Newtown’s classy rover. Intelligence and unselfishness are the key notes of his play”.

“Ossie” played over 300 games for the Newtown club in his career and represented NSW on twelve occasions including the 1947 ANFC Carnival in Hobart and the 1950 carnival in Brisbane. He often featured in the best players and was a renowned goal-sneak

At the 1947 carnival he was in the best players against Queensland (3 goals), Tasmania (3 goals) and South Australia (2 goals)

In 1948 he was recruited by the Leeton Redlegs in the Riverina where he was a contract player. The following year he was captain and coach of Leeton.

“Ossie” returned to Newtown in 1950 to play in the team that won the premiership for the sixth successive season. He played until 1968, in his later years, mostly in the reserves.

Former Newtown player and long-time official John Armstrong rated him “the best rover in Sydney in the 1940s and early 1950s”.

“Ossie” Grose was admitted into the Sydney AFL Hall of Fame in 2008.

Source: https://www.nswfootballhistory.com.au/person/19965/

                            John “Ossie” Grose kicks a goal against Tasmania at the 1947 Carnival in Hobart

 

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HAYDN BUNTON – “Probably the greatest football celebrity of all time” (1938)       

Australian Football celebrates its 140th anniversary in New South Wales this year after the founding of the NSW Football Association in Sydney on 30 June 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.
by Dr Rod Gillett.

          Haydn Bunton was football’s first poster boy

This iconic photo was taken at a publicity shoot to promote the game in 1933. He was also the ‘main lead’ in an instructional training film arranged by the ANFC in 1936.

Bunton was front-and-centre in the media in the 1930s by writing newspaper columns and appearing on radio shows. With his matinee-idol looks, he was booked for appearances at department stores and received endorsements
for all sorts of products.

Eighty years later, he was at the front of the poster of the event to select the Greatest-Ever NSW team. Flanking him was Wayne Carey and Paul Kelly. See image at foot of page.

Haydn Bunton is also the most decorated player to ever play the game.

The awards include 3 Brownlow Medals, 3 Sandover Medals (WAFL B & F), AFL Hall of Fame Legend, AFL Team of the Century, Fitzroy Team of the Century, Albury Team of the Century, and the NSW Greatest Team.

Bunton won the Brownlow Medal in his first season in the VFL with Fitzroy in 1931 at the age of 20. He subsequently won the Brownlow again the next year, and his third in 1935. He lost by one vote to another triple Brownlow medalist, Essendon’s Dick Reynolds, in 1934.

And he quite easily could have been a Test cricketer!

In a Country v City match at the SCG in 1926 Don Bradman scored 90, Archie Jackson scored 50 for City, and Haydn Bunton made a century. Former Test captain M.A. (Monty) Noble reporting on the game on radio in Sydney after the game stated:

”The match featured three potential Australian Test batsmen in Donald Bradman from Bowral, Archie Jackson, and Haydn Bunton of Albury”.

The following year Bunton made another century against City, this time compiling 144 for Country, but of course, went onto play football in the three major competitions, the VFL, WAFL, and SANFL. He also coached clubs in each of these States.

Haydn Bunton was born and bred in Albury. Bunton and his brothers Cleaver (later a Senator, long-serving Mayor of Albury and O & M football official from 1930 to 1992), and George played for Albury in the Ovens and Murray Football League.

The Bunton brothers played together in Albury’s first O & M title win in 1928 when they defeated arch-rivals St Patricks, that had won six out of seven premierships between 1921-27.

Haydn won a silver cup for fairest and best awarded on the votes of the umpires (the first of many!) and a gold watch for the most popular player donated by the Ladies Auxiliary (also the first of many!). Cleaver as vice-captain received a silver cup while brother George was presented with a pair of gold sleeve links for being the most improved.

The bitter sectarianism between the two Albury clubs led to the dissolution of Albury and St Pats , and the formation of two new clubs, West Albury and East Albury for the 1929 season with players divided into the new teams based on residential demarcation rather than their religion.

The Bunton brothers were drafted into the West Albury team that beat East Albury in the grand final. According to the Rutherglen Sun (5 June 1929) “… the Bunton combination (Cleaver, Haydn and George) had a system of their own. It was common to see Cleaver pass to Haydn who sent it on to George who either had a shot or forwarded it to Anderson”.

According to older brother Cleaver in his memoirs, A Memorable Life (1991), “Haydn was approached by every VFL club except North Melbourne and every club representative went away insulted by our mother; ordered out of the house”. Eventually she agreed if her son could be guaranteed employment, given that it was the height of the Depression.

Bunton initially received an offer of employment from Carlton which proved to be bogus, and then a substantial offer of £100 sign-on fee and £10 per game including employment from Fitzroy. However, he was refused a permit to play in the VFL in 1930 under the Coulter Law passed in March that set match payments at £3 per match.

He was banned from playing in the VFL for 12 months. He returned to coach West Albury but were beaten in the grand final by Hume Weir, made up mainly of workers constructing the new weir and waterways on the Murray.

Bunton then had a stunning debut season by winning the Brownlow Medal in 1931. He also made his interstate debut for Victoria in his first season against South Australia at the MCG. This was to be the first of fifteen games for Victoria; the highlight being skipper at the 1937 ANFC Carnival in Perth.

He was named captain for the 1932 season but relinquished the position early in the season. Polling 23 votes, Bunton won his second successive Brownlow by a margin of seven votes.

He became the first triple Brownlow medalist when his consistently brilliant play saw him win again in 1935 by polling 25 votes from his nearest rival on 17 votes.

Appointed captain-coach of Fitzroy in 1936, Bunton was finally able to exceed match payments under the Coulter Law, and in addition to his employment at a department store, he wrote a column for the  Herald and earnt 6d for every “Hadyn Bunton Football Boot” sold to make him the highest-paid footballer in the country.

Bunton stepped down as coach for the 1937 season but stayed on as captain. He led Victoria to victory at the ANFC Carnival in Perth when they beat the home team to clinch the title. It was while in Perth for the championships that Bunton agreed to be captain-coach of Subiaco for season 1938.

He won back-to-back Sandover Medals in 1938-39 and a third in 1941 for Subiaco. He surrendered the coaching position the first season to concentrate on playing.

After joining the army after the 1941 season he was discharged on the eve of the 1945 season and moved to Adelaide where he joined Port Adelaide. In a major upset West Torrens beat Port in the grand final by 13 points.

He took up umpiring in 1946 in the SANFL and was appointed the reserve umpire for the grand final.

Bunton was appointed non-playing coach of North Adelaide for seasons 1948-49.

Haydn Bunton was tragically killed in a road accident in country South Australia in 1955.

In a tribute to Bunton by cricketing great and former St Kilda and Sydney Naval footballer, Keith Miller wrote in the Sydney Sun:

“Bunton was the Bradman of football. Winner of three Brownlow and three Sandover Medals, Bunton created a record unprecedented in the history of the game”.

The best NSW origin player in the AFL each year is now awarded the Bunton-Carey Medal based on the votes of the AFL coaches.

 

Source: Chris Donald, Haydn Bunton: Best and Fairest, Melbourne. 2003

 

 

Ralph Robertson – Sydney’s first footy and war hero

Australian Football celebrates its 140th anniversary in NSW this year after the founding of the NSW Football Association in Sydney in 1880. One hundred and forty coaches, players, umpires, administrators and media personalities from both the Elite (VFL/AFL) and Community level will be inducted into the inaugural AFL NSW Hall of Fame.

Rod Gillett profiles the nomination of Ralph Robertson for the Hall of Fame:

 

Ralph Robertson
the English Officer

Ralph Robertson was Sydney’s first footy hero. He was also a war hero.

Tragically he was accidentally killed in the First World War.

Robertson is NSW’s most capped footballer having played for the state and/or Sydney on no less than 40 occasions in the period 1903-1914. He was much lauded by the press at the time for his playing skills and leadership ability.

He led NSW at the first national carnival played in Melbourne in 1908 which included all the states and a team from New Zealand. He subsequently led the State at the 1911 AND 1914 carnivals. He also captained NSW against Victoria in 1905 at the MCG, which the VFL won, 12-18 (90) to 10-10 (70).

“’Robby” as he was popularly known was in the best players for NSW at all three carnivals, even against the dominant state teams Victoria, South Australia, and Western Australia. He was awarded the gold medal by independent judges as NSW’s best player at the 1914 carnival in Sydney despite missing the last game against WA through his enlistment.

After the 1911 carnival, the Referee, the pre-eminent sporting newspaper in Sydney at the time, reported:

“Ralph Robertson captained the New South Wales team at the first carnival in 1908 and showed good form. But he improves with age, as his previous efforts were put into the shade by his magnificent game against Victoria this time…” (Victoria beat NSW by 24 points).

Alas, no All-Australian teams were selected at national carnivals until after WWII. If so, conceivably, this would have resulted in three All-Australian jumpers for Ralph Robertson.

Robertson was born in Leicestershire, England in 1882 and came to Australia with his family in 1885 to settle in Melbourne.

“Robby” started his football career with South Beach, a junior club in the St Kilda district. He made his VFL debut in 1899 with the Saints at age 17 in round seven against Geelong. The following season he played twelve senior games including St Kilda’s first-ever win in the VFL over Melbourne, albeit due to a successful protest.

In early 1901 the family moved to Sydney and took up residence in Woollahra. As there was no football competition in Sydney at this time, he played rugby for the Fitzroy club alongside legendary sporting all-rounder R.L. “Snowy” Baker.

Upon the re-formation of an Australian football competition in Sydney in 1903, Robertson turned out for East Sydney and was vice-captain of their premiership team in that year. Standing 171 cms, “Robby” was a rover-half-forward; he booted eighteen goals for that season.

Ralph Robertson marching in College Street
Sydney en route for embarkation

According to a quote in A Game to be Played (2015),

“The East Sydney champion usually acts as rover for two quarters, the remainder of the time being spent half-forward. A splendid high-mark and an accurate and long place-kick, Ralph rarely plays in a match without causing the goal umpire to hoist the two flags”.

The following season he became captain of East Sydney, as well as State captain leading NSW against Queensland and was named best player.

Robertson led NSW to a famous victory over leading SANFL club Port Adelaide in 1907 at the Agricultural Ground (the old Sydney Showgrounds) before a crowd of 5000 spectators. NSW 8-8 (56) beat Port 5-14 (44). Robertson kicked two goals and was named in the best players.

The Referee’s report of the match commented on Robertson’s outstanding leadership,

“His sterling performance against Port Adelaide proves this. When the ‘Wheatfielders’ speak of the match they played here, it is certain that the name of Ralph Robertson will be frequently mentioned as one who was greatly instrumental in bringing about their downfall”.

A move across to live on the north side in 1909 saw Robertson transfer to the North Shore club. He was captain and a key member of Norths winning grand final team in that year and also played in the Combined Sydney team that beat VFL club South Melbourne.

Robertson continued to play for North Shore and was captain until his enlistment in the armed forces to serve in WW I on 17 August 1914 just three days after the conclusion of the national carnival in Sydney.

He initially served in the Australian Naval and Military Expedition Force to attack the German colonies in the Pacific. He was discharged from ANMEF on health grounds in March 1915. Despite a subsequent enlistment in the 1st AIF, from which he resigned, in May of that year he went to England to enlist in the British Army where he undertook officer training and graduated as a second lieutenant in October.

He then joined the Royal Flying Corp and was attached to the Middle East brigade in Egypt. He was killed in a training flying accident on 11 May 1917.

Ralph Robertson was inducted into the inaugural AFL Sydney hall of Fame in 2003 but was rejected when nominated to the AFL Hall of Fame.

Career summary:

St Kilda FC 1899-1900: 13 games
East Sydney FC 1903-1908: Captain 1904-09 & Premiership 1903
North Shore FC 1909-1914: Captain 1909-1914 & Premiership 1909
NSW/Sydney 1903-1914: 40 games

 

Source: P. McPherson & I. Granland (2015), A Game to be Played: The Great War and Australian Football in Sydney, NSW AFL History Society Inc., Sydney.

Longmire Legacy

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 Sydney Swans coach John Longmire a true blue New South Welshman:

John Longmire (centre) after NSW
beat Victoria 1990

John Longmire’s eight goal haul in NSW’s epic 1990 win over Victoria was a Hall of Fame effort in itself but it’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to his family’s contribution to footy in New South Wales.

Four generations of Longmire’s have played, coached and administered football in NSW with three of those representing the state.

John’s grandfather Walter Longmire was the first to wear the sky blue when he played for NSW at the National Carnival in Melbourne in 1927.

Sixty-one years later John made his senior debut for the state as a 17-year-old in the 1988 Bicentennial Carnival in Adelaide. John’s son Thomas continued the tradition when he represented the NSW Primary Schools team in 2015.

Donning the state guernsey isn’t a custom that only travels down the Longmire line it’s also spreading through the branches of the family tree.

John’s younger brother Beau captained the NSW Combined Secondary Schools team as did Beau’s son Jedd who played at Primary and Secondary school level. Jedd’s very talented younger brother Tex was set to play for the Primary School team this year before Covid-19 intervened.

Wilbur Chandler (son of John and Beau’s sister Shellie) has also played for the NSW Primary and Secondary School teams.

It’s a production line which continues to grow as does John’s legacy at the Sydney Swans.

John is now in his 10th season as senior coach and his 20th at the club after working as an assistant for the previous decade. He has a 64% win-loss record, a premiership (2012), two runners up (2014 and 2016) and a total of 20 finals appearances. Last year was the first time the Swans have missed finals in his reign as coach.

This came after an outstanding 200 game career at North Melbourne where he booted 511 goals, won a Coleman Medal (1990) and played in the 1999 premiership team.

These exploits have the Longmire family’s service to the code pushing close to 100 years. They now sit very comfortably in the Pantheon of NSW footy families alongside the Quades, the Carrolls, the Danihers and the Strangs.

“The Sky Blue runs deep,” John Longmire said.

“It’s New South Wales right through our family.

“I wasn’t aware of my Grandfather’s NSW connection when I played in 1990. But when my dad showed me the photo of Walter from 1927 it really resonated.”

Corowa’s geography made Melbourne the bigger influence in his early football universe but as time passed John’s connection to his home state became stronger.

“My passion for NSW was a slow burn,” Longmire said. “I started wearing the sky blue growing up, first at primary school level, then secondary and at 17 I was in the senior team”.

“What really made an impact was playing alongside all four Daniher brothers. It hadn’t happened at Essendon because of different circumstances so this was pretty special”.

“I roomed with Neale and we didn’t waste the chance to celebrate the win over the Vics. All four brothers were there plus their five sisters and Jim and Edna. Neale got back to the room at about 4am and woke me to up to have a cup of tea and tell me about the 80 metre goal he kicked. It’s a great memory because the Danihers are one of the great NSW footy families.”

It was also a memorable night for John’s father Fred who had to drive through the night to get to the SCG. He was running on two hours sleep after working through the early hours sowing a wheat crop. It was worth the trouble as the sight of John wearing the same guernsey his father wore brought back some boyhood memories.

“I remember mum showing me dad’s (Walter Longmire) jumper from 1927 with the Waratah on it,” Fred Longmire said. “Who would have thought John would be wearing the same jumper 63 years later on the SCG and to play the way he did.”

Walter played for Balldale in the Coreen League for more than 20 years winning premierships in 1930 and 1934 before finally retiring at the age of 44..

“The Coreen League was a very strong competition during those years,” Fred Longmire said.

“There were a lot of very good footballers who had played in the VFL working in the area. They would beat a lot of the Ovens and Murray teams of the day.”

Fred was a pretty handy footballer too, he also played for Balldale before moving to Corowa in 1967 and winning their Best and Fairest. The following year he played in their premiership team coached by former Richmond champion and 1967 premiership captain Fred Swift.

He also had a run with South Melbourne in the 1960s playing in a couple of practice matches.

“I’ve still got the Football Record from one of those matches,” Fred said, “I was wearing number 48. I’m glad I kept it after John finished up at the Swans.”

John’s maternal grandfather Keith Williams was another big talent, playing for Fitzroy, captain-coaching Corowa and winning the Morris Medal for the Ovens and Murray Best and Fairest.

The Longmires are still very much a part of the Corowa area with Fred serving on the Council after a stint as Mayor and Beau running the farm which Walter selected 100 years ago called Sunny Hill.

Neil Cordy played 235 VFL/AFL games with Footscray and the Sydney Swans. After his AFL career Neil coached and played for East Sydney. He worked for Network Ten for 15 years as a reporter/presenter and on their AFL coverage. He was the AFL Editor for the Daily Telegraph from 2011 to 2018 and is currently a member part of ABC Grandstand’s AFL broadcast team.

Allan Jeans

Australian Football celebrates its 140th anniversary in NSW this year after the founding of the NSW Football Association in Sydney in 1880. One hundred and forty coaches, players, umpires, administrators and media personalities from both the Elite (VFL/AFL) and Community level will be inducted into the inaugural Hall of Fame at an event to be confirmed later in the year.

Neil Cordy and Rod Gillett profile the nominees for the Hall of Fame:

Allan Jeans coaching St Kilda in the 1960s

Controversy was never something Allan Jeans courted throughout his amazing 31-year career as a VFL/AFL player and coach. But before it all started, he found himself right in the middle of one when he moved from Tocumwal to Finley in 1952.

Jeans accepted an offer to play at Finley and work at the Albion Hotel which was run by Finley coach Bert DeAbbel who was also making the move from Tocumwal.

Tocumwal were furious and refused to grant Jeans a clearance which forced him to sit out the season and miss a premiership.

Three years later he was off to St Kilda with the consolation of playing in Finley’s 1954 premiership.

Neither the Saints nor Jeans had a clue what was in store. His 77 games as a player (1955-1959) gave little indication either.

But two decades later he had transformed the course of St Kilda’s history.

The highlight came in 1966 when Kevin ‘Cowboy’ Neale’s five goals and Barry Breen’s wobbly point gave them their first and only premiership.

They also played in grand finals in 1965 and 1971, preliminary finals in 1970 and 1972 and made finals appearances in 1961, 1963, 1968 and 1973.

He finished with a win loss record of 193-138.

In the previous 16 seasons (1945-1960) before Jeans arrival as coach the Saints had won seven wooden spoons, never got near a final and went 75-216.

By 1976 Jeans was in his words was “burned out” and took a five-year break from coaching in the VFL.

He took on the part-time role of coaching NSW in 1979-80 in the national club championships involving State league clubs from Victoria, WA and SA and representative teams from the other states. Under Jeans, the Sky Blues earned new-found respect.

In 1981 he jumped back on the horse and took over from David Parkin at Hawthorn.

It was the start of a beautiful friendship which produced arguably the greatest period of success of any club in the game’s history.

The Hawks had missed the finals in Parkin’s last two years but Jeans had them firing again in 1982 when they finished third. They then played in seven consecutive grand finals (1983-1989) and eight of the next nine winning five. Jeans missed the 1988 premiership after suffering a brain injury leaving Alan Joyce as caretaker.

At his funeral in 2011 John Kennedy Jnr. spoke on behalf of the players he had led to so much success. Kennedy described how Jeans set the tone for what was to come in his very first address, “Yabby said as players we did not have to like him but we must respect the position he holds at this football club,” Kennedy said. “He will need to earn our respect and we his, he demanded we respect the position he held as coach”, he added.

It was also the first of many memorable motivational speeches to the players. Kennedy recalled some of his favourites in his eulogy.

“He would stress continually that in football and life you cannot have freedom without responsibility,” Kennedy said. “That freedom to say and do things must be accompanied by a responsibility in what you say and do. You cannot have one without the other, he would roar.”

His half time address at the epic 1989 grand final is famous:

“It was about a mother who needed to pay the price for her son’s new shoes if she wanted them to last”. “She had to pay the price,” Jeans boomed. “If you want to win the game you have to be prepared to pay the price.”

Dermot Brereton and Robert DiPierdomenico paid the price with serious injuries including broken ribs, internal bleeding and in Dipper’s case a punctured lung. They played on and claimed Jeans fourth and final premiership.

Then there was his renowned sense of humour.

He was explaining the appointment of his great friend George Stone as runner:
“Well it’s like this,” Jeans said, “Napoleon during his times of war needed a messenger to get information to the troops. He decided to select the dumbest individual in his army because he believed if he could get the message through to him then it was more likely the message would get to the troops correctly! George is our runner.”

Kennedy said there was often banter between coach and players:
“We all knew he came from Finley,” Kennedy said.
“We would get into him about how small it was and how little he knew about the world. It was obviously completely wrong because he was a career policeman and saw a side of life we never did.”

There were also things he learned before he moved to the big smoke like his sense of right and wrong and compassion.

When he was a teenager working at the Albion Hotel in Finley he would look out for World War 2 veterans who had fallen on hard times. He would let them use the hotel’s shower to clean themselves up and often share his evening meal with them.

Allan Jeans was named Coach of the NSW Greatest Team at the Carbine Club AFL function in Sydney last year. This induction earnt him nomination to the AFL NSW Hall of Fame.

Jack Dean – NSW Hall Of Fame Nomination

Australian Football celebrates its 140th anniversary in NSW this year after the founding of the NSW Australia Football Association in Sydney in 1880. One hundred and forty coaches, players, umpires, administrators and media personalities from both the Elite (VFL/AFL) and Community level will be inducted into the inaugural Hall of Fame at an event to be confirmed later in the year.

Neil Cordy and Rod Gillett profile some of the nominees for the Hall of Fame:

Jack Dean in 1958

In the 1949 interstate match between NSW and Victoria at the SCG twenty-year-old East Suburbs FC ruckman Jack Dean went up against veteran Victorian captain and legendary Richmond icon Jack Dyer at the opening bounce.

“He sat me on my arse!”

“The Vics. cleaned us up that day, but it was a great thrill to play against them” recalled Jack in an interview at the Alexandria Hotel in 2009.

“We thought we were a chance, our coach Frank Dixon (later Deputy Lord Mayor of Sydney) was a great motivator and we trained for weeks in advance with a view to beating them” he added.

Born and bred in Paddington, Jack went down to Trumper Park with his brother Mal in 1944. His father Joe had also played for East Sydney, as did Jack’s son, Marshall. Thus Jack Dean began a distinguished football career that took in over 400 games in NSW until he retired in 1966.

He played 310 games for Easts, 45 for Sydney Naval, and 40 games for Ardelthan in the Riverina.

Jack also represented NSW on 25 occasions including the Australian National Football Council (ANFC) Centenary Carnival in Melbourne in 1958 where he was voted the State’s best player.

He was a star performer in five of Easts’ flags in this period when the club won a staggering seven premierships in a row under legendary coaches Fred Pemberton,  Alf Penno and Roy Hayes from 1953-59.

Following his stand-out performance at the 1958 carnival. where he won the Div II Best Player medal, Jack took up an offer to coach Ardlethan in the South-West League in southern NSW.

“We struggled to match it with the clubs from the bigger places, but we always took it up to them. We had lots of good times afterwards particularly at the London (Ardlethan’s only pub). After 6 o’clock the publican would pull down the blinds and we’d have a great sing-along around the piano. The other clubs used to love to stay back after a game at Ardelthan!”

Following his return from the bush Jack spent a season coaching Easts; he crossed to Sydney Naval, where he played until he retired in 1966 including the 1962 premiership.

He won East Sydney’s best and fairest four times and was runner-up on four occasions.

Allan Jeans

After his retirement, Jack returned to Easts on the committee and assumed the presidency in 1970 and held the position until 1982 during which time the Bulldogs won six premierships including the much-vaunted club centenary flag in 1980.

Jack was a long-serving State team selector and served as chairman of selectors for former St Kilda and Hawthorn premiership coach, Alan Jeans, in 1979-1980, when NSW competed in the national pre-season competition against VFL clubs.

The best and fairest medal at UNSW-Eastern Suburbs is named in his honour. He is a life member of the club and was awarded an Aust National Football Council Merit Award in 1977.

Jack was one of the first players inducted into the AFL Sydney Hall of Fame in 2003.

This induction earnt him a nomination under the category of Community Player for the AFL NSW Hall of Fame as part of the celebrations for the 140th year of Australian Football in NSW in 2020.

 

You can listen to (football) Jack’s life story in two parts on our website;  Here is part I here and part II here  You might have to turn your sound up a bit.

Have a Red Hot Go – Terry Daniher

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 and Rod Gillett profile the nominees:

Terry Daniher

When Terry Daniher was traded to Essendon for Neville Fields in 1978, the Bombers had little idea what a bargain they had.

At the time Terry had played just 19 games in two years for South Melbourne. The Swans even threw in his brother Neale, who hadn’t played a game, as a sweetener.

Fast forward to 1992 and the Bombers could reflect on one of the deals and steals of the century.

In his 15 seasons at Windy Hill the easy going bloke from Ungarie added another 294 games to his tally, booted 469 goals, won the best and fairest (82’), the goalkicking (79’ and 83’) and All Australian honours (83’, 85’ and 88’ (captain).

But the stellar statistics only tell part of Terry’s story, arguably his biggest contribution was an intangible – leadership.

The pinnacle came in 1984 and 1985 when he captained Essendon to back to back premierships. When the Bombers named their 25 greatest players in 2002 Terry was listed at 11. No mean feat in a line-up that included names like John Coleman, Dick Reynolds, James Hird, Bill Hutchison and Tim Watson.

National selectors also recognised his talents as a leader when they appointed him as All Australian captain at the Bicentennial Carnival in Adelaide (1988) after leading NSW to victory over WA and pushing hosts SA close. He also captained the Sky Blues in their upset win over Victoria in 1990.

Terry was a skipper players loved to play alongside. His relaxed and knock about demeanour hid a fierce competitive spirit. He was strong, versatile and aggressive. When the pressure was on he was a man who could rally his team and lead from the front.

It wasn’t hard to where these traits came from. Terry is the eldest brother in football’s favourite family, the Danihers. He set the standard and Neale, Anthony and Chris followed in fine style. But football people from the Riverina know these attributes weren’t confined to the brothers, with the Danihers it was generational.

Terry’s grandfather Jim Snr was a champion footballer and helped establish the Ungarie football club in the 1920’s.

Terry’s father Jim Jnr was also an outstanding talent. He played Aussie Rules and Rugby League for

Chris & Terry Daniher in their Ungarie jumpers

Ungarie for more than a decade. His league skills were so good he attracted attention and offers from Sydney clubs including Manly-Warringah. The highlight came when he scored two tries representing Riverina against reigning world champions Great Britain in Wagga Wagga in 1954.

Three years after his heroics with the Steeden, Jim and Edna celebrated Terry’s birth and it didn’t take long to realise the apple hadn’t fallen too far from the tree. Terry took to footy like the proverbial duck to water winning several League best and fairest awards playing for Ungarie.

In 1975, the year before he was picked up by South Melbourne, he played for Ariah Park-Mirrool in the South West District Football League under former Swans captain and coach Rick Quade.

After 17 years in the VFL Terry returned to the Riverina as captain-coach of the Wagga Tigers, he led them to five premierships and six grand finals. He also coached NSW against Victoria at the MCG in 1993.

He then returned to Essendon as an assistant coach taking the reserves to a premiership in 1999 and was an assistant coach in the Bombers 2000 premiership. He then worked at an assistant at Collingwood (03’), St Kilda (04’ & 05’) and Carlton (06’ & 07’).

In 1998 he was inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame and was named on the half-forward flank in Essendon’s Team of the Century.

Terry was selected on the half-forward flank NSW Greatest Team named last year at the Carbine Club function in Sydney.

This induction earnt him a nomination under the category of Elite Player for the AFL NSW Hall of Fame as part of the celebrations for the 140th year of Australian Football in NSW in 2020.

1974 Umpires’ Boycott – by Jim McSweeney

     A younger
Jim McSweeney

Here is an article by Society member, Jim McSweeney, a former umpire in the Sydney competition and later in Masters Rules.  He was an official with the St George Junior Association and also umpired in that competition.  The article provides details of a ‘boycott’, not a strike, by Sydney umpires in 1974.  This was a period when Sydney Newspapers frequently published articles of happenings in the code in the city (sadly no more), so we are able to bring you associated newspapers articles.

“I am sure that over the years’ clubs have expressed concern over certain umpires and expressed a wish that these umpires no be appointed to their matches. No doubt on some occasions these wishes may well have been granted.

However, in early July 1974, the fourth year of my Presidency, the Umpires Association was informed by the League that the Western Suburbs Club had informed them that they would not play if Umpire Earl Beeck was appointed to any of their matches. No reasons were given for this ultimatum.

This led to a very long and heavily debated Umpires’ Association meeting and brought back to me memories of the 1961 Strike. There were many actions proposed and debated. A large number were very determined to withdraw all umpiring services until this ultimatum was withdrawn.

After much debate and different proposals considered it was agreed that all clubs should not be penalised because of the action of one. It was then unanimously resolved that Association Members would not umpire any Western Suburbs matches whist this ultimatum was in place. This decision was passed to the League as soon as possible after the meeting.

Western Suburbs were due to play Southern Districts the following weekend at Rosedale Oval, Warwick Farm and no Association umpires were appointed. It was an interesting lead up, because a number of people associated with the home club were involved with junior football in the area. One of their first grade players also umpired local junior football. The Umpires’ executive were required to talk with these people and request that they support the Umpires in this matter. They all agreed to fall in line. The match went ahead with Bill Hart, the 48 year old League President, along with vice president Doug Bouch initially set down as umpires. (I’d love to see those two running around the paddock, Bill may have represented the state in 1948 and Doug Bouch won the Sanders Medal in 1959, but please … it can be, no it is, hard work out there in the centre and Doug was one who loved a drink on a hot day).   However the two with the whistles was later altered to Wests president and former VFA player, John Donovan and Southern Districts official, Arthur Clark taking on the officiating duties.

Following this, the ultimatum was withdrawn and everything went back to as normal as it can be in the Football world.”

Top of the table Western Suburbs had no trouble defeating ‘Districts in the game by over fourteen goals to continue their unbeaten run.