Goolagong Parties Like its 1999 for Terrigal-Avoca Panthers

A special report by Doctor Rod Gillett:

Maurice Goolagong demonstrates his perfect
kicking technique that yielded over 1500 goals!

The sudden appearance of gun forward Maurice Goolagong for Terrigal-Avoca half-way through the 2nd quarter of the 1999 grand final of the Central Coast AFL stunned both the crowd and the Killarney Vale Bombers at Wyong’s Don Small Oval.

The competition leading goal-kicker, ostensibly out for the season with a fractured wrist, had driven through the night from Swan Hill on the Victorian border where he had attended his father’s 50th birthday party, leaving the party at 2am.

“I started getting changed into my football gear when we came over the Mooney Mooney Bridge” Maurice told me in an interview with this piece.

“I had taken the plaster off my wrist on the Thursday night and it felt good so I called the coach, Dean Wall, to tell him I could play, if he wanted me. He said yep, you’re in!”.

The goalkicking machine had booted 70 goals to top the 2GO league goalkicking that season for Terrigal after transferring from the Peninsula Swans, better known as Woy Woy.

Killarney Vale led at half-time of the 1999 grand final by two points, but the arrival of their spearhead propelled them into action and the Panthers went onto win by 64 points with Maurice booting five goals in the second half.

Maurice Goolagong carved out a sensational career in football on the Central Coast after having started out at Barellan in the South West juniors as a youngster, then moving to North Wagga in the Farrer league under the legendary Dick Carey, where he played centre half back.

After moving to Sydney to take up an apprenticeship as a butcher he heeded the call from an uncle to play on the central coast initially with Woy Woy, and then at Terrigal Avoca where he has left an indelible legacy.

He topped the league goalkicking in the Central Coast AFL twice, in 1999 with 70 and 115 goals for Woy Woy in 1997.

Upon the merging of the Newcastle and Central Coast competitions in 2000 to become the Black Diamond League, Maurice just kept kicking more and more goals!

He was the competition leading goalkicker from 2000-2005 topping the century four times, and then again in 2011 after stints with St George in the Sydney AFL and Tullibigeal in the Northern Riverina.

His highest tally was 135 in 2001 when he kicked an amazing 25 goals in the last home-and-away game of the season to edge out Killarney Vale’s Simon Cosser who led by 12 goals and kicked ten in the final game only to fail by 3 goals to snare the award from Maurice.

These remain the record number of goals for a season and for a game in the merged competition.

The league goalkicking award is named in his honour.

All together Maurice played over 300 games on the central coast and kicked more than 1500 goals, giving him a “Plugger-like” average of over 5 goals per game!

There have many highlights to the bustling forward’s career including premierships for Terrigal-Avoca in 1999 and 2000 but special reference is made to the historic country championship win in Wagga in 2006 when the Black Diamond representative team beat the best leagues from southern NSW.

The visitors met the powerful Riverina Football League in the decider. At half-time the visitors had not kicked a goal to the RFL’s five goals. They finally scored a major in the third quarter but still trailed by 30 points. In a barn-storming finish the BDL got up to win by a point. Maurice kicked four goals in the thrilling final quarter.

“Our coach Dean Wall believed in us, he knew our styles of play and we just gelled, we clicked at the right time”, Maurice recalled.

When asked about accuracy in front of goal given that he kicked 25.3 in that record haul in a single match and 122.12 in season 2003, Maurice attributed credit to his junior coaches at Barellan, Col Male and Max Jamieson.

“They taught me how to kick, and then I used to practice goal-kicking from different angles after school every day. We lived just across the road from the Sportsground”.

Maurice’s beloved Terrigal-Avoca will meet Newcastle City in this Saturday’s grand final of the Hunter Central Coast AFL at Killarney Vale. He will be there cheering them on and hoping to again party like its 1999.

The sudden appearance of gun forward Maurice Goolagong for Terrigal-Avoca half-way through the 2nd quarter of the 1999 grand final of the Central Coast AFL stunned both the crowd and the Killarney Vale Bombers at Wyong’s Don Small Oval.

The competition leading goal-kicker, ostensibly out for the season with a fractured wrist, had driven through the night from Swan Hill on the Victorian border where he had attended his father’s 50th birthday party, leaving the party at 2am.

“I started getting changed into my football gear when we came over the Mooney Mooney Bridge” Maurice told me in an interview with this piece.

“I had taken the plaster off my wrist on the Thursday night and it felt good so I called the coach, Dean Wall, to tell him I could play, if he wanted me. He said yep, you’re in!”.

The goalkicking machine had booted 70 goals to top the 2GO league goalkicking that season for Terrigal after transferring from the Peninsula Swans, better known as Woy Woy.

Killarney Vale led at half-time of the 1999 grand final by two points, but the arrival of their spearhead propelled them into action and the Panthers went onto win by 64 points with Maurice booting five goals in the second half.

Maurice Goolagong carved out a sensational career in football on the Central Coast after having started out at Barellan in the South West juniors as a youngster, then moving to North Wagga in the Farrer league under the legendary Dick Carey, where he played centre half back.

After moving to Sydney to take up an apprenticeship as a butcher he heeded the call from an uncle to play on the central coast initially with Woy Woy, and then at Terrigal Avoca where he has left an indelible legacy.

He topped the league goalkicking in the Central Coast AFL twice, in 1999 with 70 and 115 goals for Woy Woy in 1997.

Upon the merging of the Newcastle and Central Coast competitions in 2000 to become the strong Black Diamond League, Maurice just kept kicking more and more goals!

He was the competition’s leading goalkicker from 2000-2005 topping the century four times, and then again in 2011 after stints with St George in the Sydney AFL and Tullibigeal in the Northern Riverina.

His highest tally was 135 in 2001 when he kicked an amazing 25 goals in the last home-and-away game of the season to edge out Killarney Vale’s Simon Cosser who led by 12 goals and kicked ten in the final game only to fail by 3 goals to snare the award from Maurice.

These remain the record number of goals for a season and for a game in the merged competition.

The league goalkicking award is named in his honour.

All together Maurice played over 300 games on the central coast and kicked more than 1500 goals, giving him a “Plugger-like” average of over 5 goals per game!

There have many highlights to the bustling forward’s career including premierships for Terrigal-Avoca in 1999 and 2000 but special reference is made to the historic country championship win in Wagga in 2006 when the east coast Black Diamond representative team beat the best leagues from southern NSW.

The visitors met the powerful Riverina Football League in the decider. At half-time the visitors had not kicked a goal to the RFL’s five goals. They finally scored a major in the third quarter but still trailed by 30 points. In a barn-storming finish the BDAFL got up to win by a point. Maurice kicked four goals in the thrilling final quarter.

“Our coach Dean Wall believed in us, he knew our styles of play and we just gelled, we clicked at the right time”, Maurice recalled.

When asked about accuracy in front of goal given that he kicked 25.3 in that record haul in a single match and 122.12 in season 2003, Maurice attributed credit to his junior coaches at Barellan, Col Male and Max Jamieson.

“They taught me how to kick, and then I used to practice goal-kicking from different angles after school every day. We lived just across the road from the Sportsground”.

Maurice’s beloved Terrigal-Avoca will again meet Newcastle City in this Saturday’s grand final of the Hunter Central Coast AFL at Adelaide Street Oval, Tumbi Umbi. He will be there cheering them on and hoping to again party like its 1999.

Enormous contribution from Rod Carter

This week’s nomination for the inaugural AFL NSW Hall of Fame.
Neil Cordy profiles the nomination of ex-team-mate and former neighbour Rod Carter.

Swans champion full back Rod Carter took on some of the greatest full forwards in the game’s history but tangling with Tony Lockett, Jason Dunstall and Malcolm Blight was nothing compared to engaging with the student body at Cleveland Street High School in Sydney’s inner west.

In between his stoushes with footy’s best Carter was living his version of the ‘Blackboard Jungle’ through the 1980s when the school had the reputation as Sydney’s toughest.

“They had all these PE teachers who came in and couldn’t get out quick enough, it finished them,” Carter said.”

“You could imagine their surprise when I said I wanted to work there. When I went to ‘Clevo’ I told the lady at reception I wanted to work there, she stared at me like I was on drugs. She asked me what I taught and when I said Phys Ed she said don’t move. She ran down the corridor shouting Bob, Bob, Bob. Bob was the deputy and he gave me a job on the spot. I ended up teaching geography, history and PE.”

Getting the job was the easy part, keeping it was the challenge for most of Carter’s colleagues. ‘Clevo’ had the highest turnover of staff in New South Wales and many staff were left in tears trying to control the rowdy teenagers. As his opponents know Carter is made of stern stuff and his reputation among the boys received a massive boost when one of his students saw the less friendly side of his personality on the footy field.

“One of the boys was selling ice creams at the SCG,” Carter said.

“He would walk through the aisles with his tray. He looked over the fence one day and saw me punching on with the full forward. He packed himself and went back and told all the kids at school. He put a bit of mustard on the story and voila all the kids were scared of me. It worked a treat.”

Carter’s ability to deal with challenging situations on and off the football field was a hallmark of his time in footy and has made him one of NSW football’s greatest contributors.

Few have helped footy on as many levels.

He played 217 games for the Swans and was one of the pioneering players who made the move from South Melbourne to Sydney such a success. He was very unlucky to have fallen short of the 300 game milestone finishing up stranded on 293 games.

“Finishing my career in the reserves was really disappointing, Carter said.

“I’d played 76 for Fitzroy and then played in the VFA for Port Melbourne. “I was proud of the fact I was able to come back and play for as long as I did with my second run at it. I don’t have any regrets. Tommy Hafey rang me as did John Northey who asked me if I wanted to play at Melbourne and get my 300. Things don’t always work out how you want it but I’ve met some great people in footy. They (Hafey and Northey) were real footy people and knew the game, it was flattering.”

Carter’s next move was into coaching where he led Sydney University to a premiership in his first year in charge in 1992.

“They used to be easy beats,” Carter said. “The first game against Campbelltown was a taste of what was to come. I copped a whack so I gave it back. Then the next game against Wests was the same only this time my teammates came from everywhere and started throwing cut lunches. They’d been on the receiving end for so long and they were enjoying fighting back. I’d never played or been involved with senior footy outside the AFL. I enjoyed the year immensely, to get the bonding you do at that level was fantastic.”

Rod Carter pictured in his ‘school teacher’ attire

Carter was also making moves in his other career, moving from Cleveland Street to James Cook High School at Kogarah and then to the NSWAFL and a job in development.

It was hard work trying to introduce the code to Sydney’s private schools but there was enormous enjoyment coaching the state under 16 and under 18 teams and coming across some of the state’s best talent including Mark and Jarrad McVeigh, Lenny Hayes and Nick Davis.

The talent of the McVeigh’s, Hayes and Davis was something Carter enjoyed being involved with but it was a couple of surprise packets he took special pride in, Kieren Jack and Lewis Roberts-Thomson.

“People didn’t see what Kieren had as a player,” Carter said. “Kieren was one that I was really happy with from the point view of the game in NSW, he was a kid who worked really hard and developed in our programs.

LRT was a gem. I remember watching him at Kelso Oval when he was playing with Sydney’s best kids. He played in the ruck and at the first centre bounce he put his knee on his opponent’s shoulder. That was enough for me and I thought we’ve got something to work on. Even by the time he made his debut for the Swans he wouldn’t have played 50 games of footy in his life. Had you stopped the game at half time in 2005 he would have won the Norm Smith Medal.”

While talent identification and player development were huge Carter’s biggest achievement was the creation of the Paul Kelly Cup where Kieren Jack first came to prominence.

“When I was working for the AFL the development officers were having trouble getting into schools,” Carter said.

“We have to cater to them and move to the market, I came up with the Paul Kelly Cup. It was a struggle to get 20 players for a match so 12 a side was perfect. It’s now the biggest sporting competition in Australia.”

After a decade at the NSWAFL Carter moved became a recruiter for Collingwood and found some outstanding talent including Penrith’s Mick Hartley and Bowral’s Tom Young. But his biggest find for the Magpies was ruckman Jarrod Witts who is now captain of the Gold Coast Suns.

“I went out to St Ives to watch some kids and Jarrod came out in the warm up and he bent down and picked up the ball clean as a whistle,” Carter said.

“He was 6’6” and 15 years old and playing rugby at school in Barker’s first XV. By the end of the warm up I was on the phone to Derek Hine (Collingwood’s recruiting boss). I said forget the other kids this is the bloke we need to get before someone else does. To Derek’s credit, he rang Jarrod’s dad and got on a plane the next day and signed him.”

Carter turns 66 at the end of October and has witnessed first-hand the enormous gains the code has made north of the Murray. He can safely lay claims to as one of footy’s most important people of the last 40 years.

“It’s great seeing the change in the landscape,” Carter said. “I remember a meeting at St Ignatius of all Sydney’s private school sports masters in 1998 and one of them got up and said they rated Volleyball higher than Aussie Rules. I was drummed out of the meeting unceremoniously. To change things so quickly the AFL has to be pretty happy with itself.”

 “Poddy” Slade – ‘Wonder’ Footballer Who Beat the Mail Train

Football History Society Vice President, Doctor Rod Gillett, takes us back to one of the champions of the game in the Riverina Area of New South Wales:

Coolamon’s greatest-ever player Alonza “Poddy” Slade, was rated a “wonder” player because of his “skills and sheer brilliance” according to contemporary media reports.

The most astounding story in relation to Poddy Slade is when he beat the South West Mail train from Coolamon to Matong, almost thirty kilometres, riding a bicycle!

Football teams in the South West league in the 1920s would travel by train to games along the south-west rail line from Junee to Griffith, alternating venues based on the fixtures. All the clubs except Leeton in this period were based on the rail-line that gave the league its name.

One particular Saturday, Coolamon were playing at Whitton, and Poddy missed catching the train by a few minutes due to being delayed at work; undeterred he went after the train on his bike, a cumbersome old Malvern Star, and furiously pedalled over the unpaved road to Ganmain, only to see the train depart the station just as he rounded the corner. He redoubled his efforts and caught the train in Matong. That afternoon he was Coolamon’s best player!

Poddy Slade played his first game for Coolamon in 1908 at the age of 14. He subsequently played until 1934.

The photograph(above) of Poddy Slade in his football prime shows a superbly muscled, powerful frame with a face set in steely determination. He worked for the local granary on tasks that required physical strength such as lumping bags of wheat.

In an interview I did with him in 1981 he told me that he also worked at his fitness by jogging at night along the then bumpy Coolamon-Marrar road.

Poddy was the star player in Coolamon’s 1920 and 1922 premiership teams. The premiership in 1920 was Coolamon’s first premiership; the club was formed in 1894.

Coolamon defeated Naranderra at Coolamon by thirteen points. A crowd estimated at over 3000 attended the match and the gate takings were a record £78. A half-day holiday was declared in the town for the game.

Narrandera had challenged for the premiership after being declared the winner of the semi-final against Marrar at Grong Grong. This followed the controversial “football stabbing” incident by an unknown Marrar player.

Best player for Coolamon was Poddy Slade – “ … with his high marks and general play was always in the limelight” (Coolamon-Farmers’ Review, 24 September, 1920).

The following season Coolamon lost to Junee in the grand final at Naranderra by 16 points. A special train conveyed over 1200 people to Naranderra from Junee for the grand final halting at all stops along the line.

Coolamon secured their second premiership in three years when they took out the 1922 pennant by beating Narrandera at Coolamon. Poddy Slade was again named the best player.

The highlight of his extensive football career was leading a combined South West team against VFL powerhouse Collingwood at Narrandera in 1924.

The Magpies were led by Charlie Tyson and included Charlie Dibbs, Len Murphy, Joe Poulter and the Coventry brothers, Syd and Gordon. Known as “The Machine” Collinwood would win four premierships in a row, 1927-1930.

The Narrandera Argus (18 July 1924) reported that “the SWDFL made a grand showing against such formidable opponents”. Collingwood won 13-8 (86) to South West 10-15 (75).

According to the match report, “Slade was one of the few to match these leaping wonders” and “used his height and weight judiciously”. He was named in the best players and kicked two goals.

Poddy played for Coolamon until 1934 when his last game was the final game for the season against fierce local rivals Ganmain. Ganmain won 7-21 (63) to 5-9 (39). Poddy kicked three goals.

“The Coolamon team is fortunate in having such a talented player as A. (Poddy) Slade…. He always plays the game as it should be played … he has set an example that footballers should strive to follow. The football and goals have always been his object, and whenever he beats an opponent, he beats him fairly”.    (Narrandera Argus 2 August 1929)

As to how Alonza Slade got his nickname the answer was given to me  by Mrs Slade at my interview with Poddy in 1981, his wife told me, “When his mother bought him home a relative exclaimed “My isn’t he a little poddy” and the name stuck.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wayne “Wacky” Walker – The Mark Ricciuto of Broken Hill Football

To commemorate the 140th anniversary of Australian Football in New South Wales in 2020, 140 coaches, players, umpires, administrators and media personalities will be inducted into the inaugural New South Wales Australian Football Hall of Fame.
Rod Gillett profiles the nomination of Wayne Walker.

1987 NSW AFL Team
Wayne Walker seated second from right.
NSW 10-12 (72) d VFA 8-5 (53)

At the opening bounce in the NSW v VFA match at Lavington in 1987, Wayne Walker bored in to get the tap from ruckman Barry Denton bundling his opponent out of the way to boot the Sky Blues into attack.

Defender Dennis Sandral immediately ran to “Wacky”, as he universally known, to say “You’ll do us!”. Sandral, the tough-as-teak Ovens & Murray Hall of Famer, had challenged Walker at training about his key role in the mid-field.

“Wacky” responded the best way known by playing a pivotal role in the historic victory over the Victorian Football Association and being named second best player. Sandral from the Corowa club was also in the best players along with his O & M colleagues Dick Hamilton and Ralph Aalbers.

Walker had driven his car from Broken Hill to represent his State. There were only two flights out of Broken Hill to Sydney during this period. Like everything else in Broken Hill such as the newspapers, the time, and the beer, the flights came from Adelaide.

This commitment really endeared “Wacky” to his teammates as did his cheery nature.

It proved to be NSW’s only ever win over the VFA. The first match between these two sides had been played in Sydney in 1881 which was the first-ever interstate (colony) football match of any code involving NSW, a year before rugby. The VFA morphed into the VFL in 1995.

“Wacky” told me that “the spirit and competitiveness of the (NSW) players was unbelievable. They were all so committed (to win). “Leechie” (coach Greg Leach) and “Huey” (Greg Harris) knew how to bring the boys together for rep games. It was a very satisfying win”.

Walker carved out a highly distinguished career in local football in Broken Hill from his debut in 1975 until his retirement in 1996 marked by competition best and fairest medals, premierships and representative honours.

He started his senior career at Centrals in 1975. He played 149 games including premierships in 1979, 1981, 1982, 1983, and 1984.

“Wacky” was a core member of the Centrals mid-field contingent led by skipper Dean “Stixie” Files, ex Port Adelaide centreman John Eade, and the dynamic Visko Sulicich.

Premiership team-mate and former AFL Broken Hill chairman Peter Nash recalls “Wacky” as a player, “Wacky mostly played as a ruck-rover. Got the ball out of packs. He was as tough-as-nails, hard but fair. Very skillful on both sides of the body. He was the Mark Ricciuto of Broken Hill football”.

He stunned the local football world when he moved to Norths in 1985 as playing coach.

Geographically, Broken Hill is divided by the line-of-load into two discernible districts, Town and the South. But as Keith Newton shows in his chapter on footy in Broken Hill in Footy Town (2013) football is tribal. The existence of the football clubs since the turn of the 20th century divides the city into four communities.

Keith Miller

“Wacky” took Norths to a premiership in 1986; he would play 202 games and participate in further premierships in 1988, 1992 and 1994.  He retired in 1996.

He won the Middleton Medal as the best player in the Broken Hill FL competition in 1978 and 1983 at Centrals then again in 1991 and 1995 at Norths which gave him four awards over three different decades. He also won two club best and fairest awards at both Centrals and at Norths.

Wayne played six games for NSW. He was a regular representative in Broken Hill teams in the South Australian country championships. He also represented SA Country team on four occasions.

From 1996 – 2002 he was the AFL Development Officer in the Far West region and for 5 years coached the Primary State Schools Association team at the intra-state carnival.

He is best-known these days as the father of “Tex”, Adelaide key forward Taylor Walker.

NSWAFL: President Keith Miller, AM MBE and legendary Australian Cricketer, who also represented NSW in Australian Football was present at the match.

Before the Tomahawk there was Jumping Jack

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Jumping Jack            Hawkins

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

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

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

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

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

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

                 The former Frank Dixon Grandstand                                                   at Trumper Park in Sydney

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Frank Dixon
               Frank Dixon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                 1949 NSW Team v Victoria at the SCG

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

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

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

 

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

 

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Neil Cordy – Sydney footy’s Media Man

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

  Mark Rendell – The Umpire with 360° Vision

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

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

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

Dr Rodney Gillett profiles their nominations:

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

A youthful
John Leber

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

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

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

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

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

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

John is a life member of the NSWAFUA .

 

    Jim McSweeney

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

left Frank Kalayzich
with Mark Rendell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 Source: part NSW Australian Football Umpires’ Association website

 

 

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.”