Society Members Return To Office Work

With the lifting of the lockdown in Greater Sydney, Society officials were permitted back into their rooms at Magpie Sports, Croydon Park.

The group only attends the location once per week and there is always detail and material to deal with.

Here treasurer, John Addison is working on the books to present to a committee meeting next Tuesday while data entry committeeperson, Heather White was caught revising some of the many photographs on the Society’s website.

As time moves forward and people are permitted greater freedom in their activities there will be more joining the group at Magpie Sports of a Tuesday.

As an addendum to the Society’s auction purchase of the two 80 year old Phelan Medals last week, a number of the committee have signified their intention to subscribe towards the costs incurred in the acquisition.

History Society Chasing Murray Football League Records

The NSW Australian Football History Society is looking to add to its collection of material on the game within the state by seeking access to Murray Football League match day programmes

Amongst the Society’s collection are almost 4000 Sydney and Riverina match programmes including the ‘Crier’, ‘Sou Wester’ and ‘Aussie Ruler’.  All have been digitally scanned and are viewable on the Society’s website by clicking here.

More recently over 70 Hume Football League Records have been added to the collection and these are also viewable on the website along with similar items from the Central Coast and Newcastle.

There are also a significant number of Broken Hill Football League Budgets from 1966-69 which have been scanned and included in the Society’s online collection however attempts to acquire more such publications from the ‘Hill has fallen on deaf ears.

What the Society is now seeking are copies of the Murray Football League’s weekly football record.  If you have copies or know where some are and are keen to see their preservation, please contact the Society’s president, Ian Granland on 0412798521.  Once scanned, they will be returned to the owner and a link to their online location will be provided to the local library.  “Don’t let the kids chuck them out.

There has been much movement of clubs over the years in leagues like the Murray FL,  Currently NSW clubs in the league number five which include: Mulawa, Deninilquin Rams, Moama, Barooga and Finley.

“We are also chasing football club history books” Mr Granland said.  “We have a few but want to add more to our digital repository and make them available online.  Again, we are happy to pay and we feel this is a very important exercise in maintaining the history of football in NSW.”

Also don’t forget the Society awards for recent publications on Australian Football in NSW, whether printed, digital or podcast and also the annual award for the best club/league annual report or yearbook.

Neil Cordy At The SCG In the Media

As footy celebrates 140 years at the SCG former Footscray and Sydney Swans defender, and media commentator, Neil Cordy reflects on his 40 years active involvement at the ground. In this second instalment he looks back at his days working in the media.

         Neil Cordy at the SCG Reporting for Channel 7

Being able to play footy for the Sydney Swans and NSW was a pleasure and honour in itself.

But I’ve enjoyed the rare gift of being able to continue my connection with the great sporting arenas as a TV, radio and newspaper reporter.

The year (1994) following my retirement I was back at the SCG in a new role as a boundary rider for Channel Seven and their coverage of the AFL.

Two years later I changed employers and was working for Network Ten. In my first year there I had the thrill of reporting on the Swans first grand final appearance since 1945.

It was a busy week in the build up with Andrew Dunkley initially suspended from the grand final before the Swans took out a court injunction to allowing the Sydney full back to play in the season decider.

Over the following decades I ended up spending more time at SCG press conferences than I did as a player.

It was a golden era for the Swans and newsworthy events just kept on coming. In 1996 Tony Lockett set the SCG rocking like never before when he kicked a point after the siren to send them into their first grand final since 1945.

He made more history three years later when he broke Gordon Coventry’s record of 1,299 career goals.

They lost the 1996 grand final to North Melbourne but played in another five over the next 25 years, finally breaking their 72 year premiership drought beating West Coast in 2005.

Working as a boundary rider for Ten on the coverage of the 2005 grand final I had the honour of interviewing Leo Barry just moments after his match saving mark. As a defender I had to ask him if it had crossed his mind to punch the ball instead of going for the grab. Thank god he didn’t.

Over my decades of reporting at the SCG the stories were by far the good news type. But the saddest by far was the death of Swans head trainer Wally Jackson who died of a heart attack during the round 19 match against the Kangaroos. I was working as a boundary rider for Network Ten on the match and could see everything unfolding within a few metres of where I was sitting.

Wally suffered the attack right alongside the interchange area during the third quarter.

Swans Doctor Nathan Gibbs worked desperately to save Wally’s life before an ambulance arrived but he couldn’t be revived at the ground or at the hospital.

As the horrible scene unfolded I was in communication with my producer David Barham. I knew Wally had a wife and children but didn’t know if they were at the ground. Because of the grave nature of what was happening David and I agreed not to report on the incident unless it stopped the game.

Looking back on the tragic circumstances it was a decision I’m glad we made. Wally’s passing was a rare low point in my time at the SCG.

One of the greatest thrills was watching the career of the great Adam Goodes unfold. After playing a season in the reserves in 1998 he blossomed into a true legend of the game highlighted by two Brownlow Medals (2003, 2006) and playing in two premierships (2005 and 2012).

By the time he hung up his boots in 2015 he’d played 372 games, 143 of them at the SCG more than any other player in the history of the game.

His career would intersect the arrival of Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin to Sydney’s most famous sporting venue. They played two years together as Swans fans witnessed a passing of the baton from one champ to another.

Neil Cordy At The SCG Playing Days

As footy celebrates 140 years at the SCG, former Footscray and Sydney Swans defender, and media commentator, Neil Cordy, our footy correspondent, reflects on his 40 years active involvement at the ground. Here he looks back on his playing days. The next instalment will be about his media work.

                                                Neil Cordy

Like many sportsmen and women the SCG is a special place to me.

My long association with the famous venue started more than 40 years ago and the first encounter was slightly bizarre.

In the three seasons leading up to the Swans arrival in Sydney, 1979, 80’ and 81’, the VFL decided to play eight games in Sydney to promote Aussie Rules with a view to eventually moving the Red and White Swans there in 1982.

I played in one of these matches, it was a round five contest in 1980 between Footscray v North Melbourne.

It was a strange choice of match up to promote the game in Sydney because neither club had a great profile.

The crowd was recorded as 13,476, but it felt like less.

Not many Bulldogs or North fans had travelled up the Hume highway or jumped on a plane. Back then the idea of playing a club game interstate was foreign to the average footy fan.

So the majority of those in attendance were from the harbour city and had only a moderate connection with what we were getting up to on the field.

Adding to the lack of atmosphere was the likelihood most had free tickets and therefore very little flesh in the game.

Local footy was still strong in Sydney but we were in Rugby League heartland.

In fairness to those who made the effort to turn up we, the Bulldogs, didn’t do much to help the spectacle. We were terrible. As Tommy Hafey used to say, “We couldn’t have played worse if we were dead.”

We were so bad in fact I won the Bulldogs Best Player award despite having five goals kicked on me playing at full back.

It was almost as bad as the night Carlton defender Robert Klomp won a TV set for his nine possession game in night match against Fitzroy the following year.

My award wasn’t a TV but a watch.

On balance I actually did a little better than Robert Klomp picking up 19 possessions and taking six intercept marks for the afternoon. The real reason I won the award was because I was playing on the great Malcolm Blight.

Blighty was a dual premiership player and bound for the Hall of Fame, he was also at the peak of his powers. I was in my second season of senior footy playing in just my 19th game.

It was a mismatch and Malcolm could easily have kicked 10 that day. He had plenty of opportunities, the ball was parked inside the Kangaroos front half for the duration of the match and they won by 122 points.

The reason Blighty didn’t reach double figures was he was suffering a bout of food poisoning. He told me he’d been up all night vomiting and shouldn’t have been out there. During the match he must have thrown up half a dozen times.

I didn’t pass any of this information onto the Bulldogs match committee who saw me take a few marks over Malcolm and win a couple of one on ones. Nor did I mention any of this in my short acceptance speech when Charlie Sutton presented me the watch after the game.

I still have the watch and value it highly because of who presented it to me, even if I won it in slightly unfair circumstances playing on a very sick Malcom Blight..

Seven years later (1987) I was back at the SCG in Swans gear and singing Cheer, cheer the red and the white. The vocal chords had a good work out in those days with Sydney winning a lot more than they lost.

I got my antidote to the 122 point thrashing at the hands of North Melbourne three times that year. In successive matches at the SCG the Swans beat West Coast by 130 points in round 16, Essendon by 163 in round 17 and Richmond by 91 in round 18.

The Swans kicked 30 goals or more three games in a row which has never been repeated.

It also improved the Swanette’s fitness levels as they celebrated each of the 97 goals with their dance routine.

The game against Essendon was the one I remember the most clearly. In 1987 the Bombers were still a very strong team, they’d gone back to back in 1984-85 and still had a host of their stars from that era. Terry Daniher, Simon Madden, Paul Salmon and Roger Merrett were all still in very good nick. Roger and his partner in crime Bill Duckworth were still as hard as they ever were.

I can honestly say our round 17 clash was the hardest 163 point win I’ve played in.

We finished third on the ladder and should have hosted a final at the SCG but we were still playing in the VFL and despite finishing above Melbourne on the ladder we played our qualifying final against them on their home ground the MCG. We lost the match by 76 points.

When I arrived at the SCG in 1987 I was 28 and expected to play another two or three seasons before retiring. I ended up playing seven seasons and 96 games for Sydney finishing up in 1993. My last game was coached by the legendary Ron Barassi which was a thrill for a kid who grew up barracking for Carlton.

Ron dropped me after one game in the seniors and told me he would be playing the young kids. That was fair enough, I was 34 years old and told him I was honoured to have my career finished up by him.

Great Turnout at AGM

                   A portion of those who attended the AGM
                               with covid precaution seating
                                            being applied

The Football History Society celebrated its 2021 annual general meeting with a great turnout at the Magpie Sports Club, Croydon Park today.

The annual report provided an depth look at the Society’s activities during 2020 and the reports therein were very well received.

Treasurer, John Addison declared a balance in excess of $10,000 in the bank despite an expenditure of $7,335, this amount mostly attributed towards website upgrades and new programmes and systems.

Those on the committee who stood for re-election were rewarded for their efforts whilst two new members, Terry Radecki and Michael Livingstone gained seats as committee persons.

The executive and committee for 2021 will consist of:

President Ian Granland
Vice President Dr Rod Gillett
Secretary Paul Macpherson
Treasurer John Addison
Committee Persons Mandy Keevil, Ian Wright, Heather White, Terry Radecki, Michael Livingstone

Click here to read the annual report.

Picnic For The Queenslanders

We found an interesting par. at the bottom of a report of a NSW v Queensland game played in June 1886.

What took our fancy was the reference to a rock carving at Middle Head and wonder if it still remains?

A very enjoy able day was spent by the Queensland football team on Sunday. The New South Wales Association ten dered them a picnic and a sail round the harbor. After visiting Lane Cove and viewing its beauties, they proceeded to Middle Harbor, where luncheon was prepared in a recherche manner, the principal chef, Mr. Booth and his assistant, Mr. Neilson, coming in for great praise. After the inner man had been satisfied, McClerkin, of West Sydney, showed his ability as an artist by carving the name of Queensland on a rock, over which the two rival captains, Messrs. Gibson and Goer, broke a bottle of champagne, christening the rock in honor of the visitors. The Queenslanders were then taken to Watson’s Bay to see the Gap, and returned to Circular Quay shortly before 6 o’clock thoroughly well satisfied with their day’s outing.”

Source: Evening News (Sydney, NSW : 1869 – 1931), Monday 21 June 1886, page 3

West Sydney was a club participating in the then NSW Football Association
T. Booth was a Waratah FC player
R. Neilson was the East Sydney FC secretary

Tom Goss’s Football Stories – Part II, Narrandera Sportsground Field of Dreams

In late 1964, Dad received the exciting news that he had been appointed the Shire Clerk of Narrandera, another central Riverina town, but one considerably closer to ‘civilization’  For someone by now caught irrevocably in football’s irresistible enchantments, this was a giant step closer to heaven. Narrandera was the geographical centre of Riverina football and its home ground was like a country MCG.

When we arrived the South West was one the most powerful country leagues in the nation. The year before it had won the prestigious VCFL Caltex Country Championship. That a league, situated in NSW territory fought bitterly over by three codes, Aussie Rules, Rugby League and Rugby Union, was still able to overcome such footballing powerhouses as the Ovens and Murray, Hampden and Goulburn Valley leagues was remarkable, akin to Papua New Guinea winning Soccer’s World Cup.

In the late fifties and early sixties every team had great local footballers in its ranks and these were bolstered immeasurably by former VFL champions still in their prime such as ex South Melbourne captain, Ian Gillett (Coolamon), one time leading VFL goal-kicker Tom Carroll (Ganmain) and ex Brownlow medalist, Peter Box (Grong Grong and Narrandera). Amazingly, these great players could earn more money playing for obscure little towns than they could in the fabled VFL in the late fifties and early sixties.

By 1962, Peter Box was playing for the Narrandera Imperials. Box was an enigmatic loner, reluctant, brooding and often non communicative, but the finest country footballer I’ve ever laid eyes on. His barrel chested physique, a combination of genetics and hard physical labor wouldn’t be out of place alongside today’s gym sculptured Behemoths and his strength and toughness, allied with sublime skill made him the complete footballer.

I have one enduring memory of Peter Box. After he retired from football he took up golf. One afternoon, my brother Mike and I had finished our round and were waiting on the edge of the first fairway, for a lone player to hit down. We were about seventy meters away. I was around 14

Peter Box, 1956 Brownlow Medalist
and Narrandera FC capt coach 1962-64

and Mike 11. The player swung heftily, topped the ball and sent it hurtling along the ground in our direction. It took a couple of bounces and before we could move crashed into Mike’s thigh. The player raced in our direction terribly concerned and upset. I immediately recognised my footballing hero. Mike was fine apart from a large welt which later blossomed into a huge purple bruise, and the incident was quickly forgotten. Three days later Dad arrived home with a small, blue jewellery case in which lay a tiny, somewhat nondescript medal. Peter had dropped into Dad’s office, told him how upset he was and offered to lend us his 1956 Brownlow as a method of contrition. If Dad had handed us the crown jewels I couldn’t have been more thrilled. I have never forgotten Peter’s kindness.

The timing of our arrival in Narrandera was as sweet as an Adam Gilchrist cover drive. The Imperials were about to enter a golden period of success, winning premierships in 1966, 67, 72 and 74. The town was producing a seemingly endless supply of outstanding local players, Steve Margosis, Terry O’Neill, Gubba Powell, Murray Nielsen and the beautifully named Victor Hugo among countless others. When these were augmented by astute recruiting; Geoff Sharp, Warren Roper and the magnificent Jeff Hempell success seemed as natural as night following day.

The 1974 Grand Final was perhaps the most dramatic in South West league history. Narrandera was pitted against a powerful Coolamon team shooting for back to back flags. At the thirty-one-minute mark at the final quarter Coolamon kicked a goal which put it eighteen points in front and seemingly home and hosed. The Imperials then staged an incredible barnstorming finish. Two goals in succession narrowed the margin to one straight kick. With less than a minute remaining, Coolamon’s full back Dick Pieper rushed a behind. The resultant kick out landed in the arms of a supremely talented seventeen-year-old named Tony Turner, who calmly dodged an opponent to thread through the winning goal with the last kick of the season. Snatching an improbable victory when defeat appears certain is one of the most thrilling aspects of any sport, and the more important the game the greater the thrill.

It was a glorious finish to Narrandera’s finest ever season, winning both the reserves and under nineteens, as well as every junior grade contested in that unforgettable year.

In the delirium of victory, I was not to know that, many years later, I would be writing about the same match from a completely different perspective whilst I was compiling the History of the Coolamon Hoppers. There were many in Coolamon who muttered whispers of conspiracies and time keeping skullduggery around the extraordinary length of that fateful last quarter.

The Totem Poles of Ouyen United: Travels in Country Footy

Review by Dr Rodney GillettVice President NSW Aust Football History Society

As Paul Daffey demonstrates in his latest book on country football, The Totem Poles of Ouyen United: Travels in Country Footy, that sadly, the number of football clubs in country areas are declining, but this is not a recent phenomenon but an on-going process that started with the Great Depression of the 1930s.

The recurring theme in Daffey’s book is that the demographics determine the continuity and sustainability of football in a small town or district, and a diminishing population, particularly of the youth, leads to the decline of active football clubs and either their amalgamation with neighbouring clubs or extinction.

As Daffey show most clubs choose to “bury the hatchet” with a fierce local rival and agree on a new name, new colours, and where the new entity will play its games. This is perfectly illustrated in his case study of footy in the Mallee. In a stunning example Daffey’s research shows that thirty-two football clubs have folded into the Ouyen United Football Club.

The same scene is being played out in the southern region of New South Wales in the farming districts where the Australian game has been pre-eminent for more than a century.

The most merged club is Coreen Daysdale Hopefield Buraja United (CDHBU) that was formed on the eve of the demise of the Coreen and District Football League after ninety-nine years of existence in 2007. CDHBU and the remaining Coreen league clubs then went to play the next season in the neighbouring Hume Football League.

All had started as individual clubs but Hopefield and Burraja had merged as early as 1950 while fierce rivals Coreen and Daysdale came together in 1995, but the continuing difficulties to field teams led to the amalgamation of both these clubs in 2006.

CDHBU won the last ever premiership in the Coreen league when they beat the Billabong Crows (a merger of Urana and Oaklands in 2004). Ironically, this meant that six of the foundation clubs of the competition, albeit in merged entities, played in the last-ever game in 2007.

Daffey cites many similar cases in the Mallee, that is now down to just three clubs – Ouyen United (Sunraysia league), Sea Lake-Nandaly Tigers (North Central league), and the Southern Mallee Giants (Wimmera league).

The Mallee is much more than a name of a region, like the Riverina it’s locality and characteristics are captured in the Australian psychic. It conjures up images of red soil, blue sky, blazing sunsets, and a dry, arid landscape. “It is a tough place, demanding sweat and toil” (p.35). And so are its people and this is encapsulated in their footballers and their football grounds.

The boundaries for the Mallee set by the Victorian colonial government in 1883 was “all unalienated crown land in the north-western district wholly or partly covered with the Mallee plant” (Pickard, 2019). And just as Henry Lawson proclaimed that everyone knew where the Riverina was, so do country folk know where the Mallee is, and where its roots are.

In order to pay homage to the antecedent football clubs of the Ouyen United Football Club the Year 9 students at the Ouyen P-12 College in 2009 decided to paint totem poles that had been erected at the entrance to the club’s home ground, Blackburn Park. The students painted nine poles in the colours of the clubs that had folded into one another over the years to form Ouyen United.

The totem poles provided the inspiration for the title to Daffey’s book and also the stunning cover designed by Megan Ellis based on a painting by Swan Hill dentist John Harrison.

Paul Daffey stated at the outset that the main purpose of the book was to focus on football in the Mallee in order to provide a snapshoot of footy in the country. What is occurring in the Mallee is being replicated in country areas all around Australia but his story reveals that has been on-going for decades in line with the rural-urban drift.

The book also includes chapters about Daffey’s travels in country footy taking in Wedderburn in the North Central League, the old gold-mining town of Inglewood, Boolara in the Strzelecki Ranges in Gippsland, Horsham in the Wimmera and the Mornington Penisula. The chapter on the Pines v Sorrento grand final is highly captivating and the match report exhibits Daffey’s exquisite writing skills and social insights into the game.

The Appendices are most comprehensive and in addition to detailing all the statistical history of football in the Mallee there is a review of the season for country leagues in Victoria and southern NSW.

An added feature is a list of all the players that have played in six or more premierships since WW II. Brad Hartigan, who has played an “unfeasible” number of premierships – twelve for the Horsham Demons in the Wimmera Football League – is the subject of the final chapter.

There are three players from the Riverina on the list who have played in ten premierships: Stephen Clarke (Osborne 1991-92, 1998-2001, 2005; Albury 1995-97), Darren Howard (Osborne 1991-92, 1994,1998-2001, 2005-06; Albury 1995),and Gerald Pieper (Wagga Tigers 1977-78, 1980-81, 1985, 1993-95, 1997-98)

Other multiple premiership winners are Anthony Armstrong (Mangoplah-Cookardinia United & Osborne) 9, Hayden Gleeson (Osborne) 9, Brad Aitken (Collingullie) 8, Len Brill (Ganmain) 8, Bill Carroll (Ganmain) 8, John “Digger” Carroll (Ganmain) 8, Matt Fowler (Albury & Thurgoona) 8, Joel Mackie (Jindera & Albury) 8, Christen McPherson (Ganmain-Grong Grong-Matong) 8, Steven Priest (Wagga Tigers) 8, Steven Schultz (Culcairn & Wagga Tigers 8, and Tim Robb (North Albury, Wagga Tigers & Collingullie) 8.

As Daffey says in the opening chapter he has a penchant for writing about local footy – amateur football, suburban football, but the best stories are in the country.

Paul Daffey, The Totem Poles of Ouyen United: Travels in Country Footy (2019), Melbourne,
Daffey Publications, 2019, pp XIV +416 Paperback ISBN: 9780646804163.

To buy a copy of the book email with your address and he’ll email the bank details.  Books are $30 per book plus $10 postage.


FOOTY TOWN – the book

Footy Town image smallMelbourne media identities, Paul Daffey and John Harms of Footy Almanac fame, published a book about local football stories from throughout Australia.

These tales are robust, funny, poignant, witty and (occasionally) wise.  Some are memoirs that float through the years.  Others are deft pieces of football history: what was Roy Cazaly doing in Minyip in 1925?  Who were the champions of Gunbower:  Who was the Bush Barassi”  The stories offer a peep inito the vast mythology of Australia’s game.  They shine a light on the place of footy in the national culture.

Already the first issue of the book has sold out and the publisher is working on the second which should be available shortly.

By reading this site you must be a keen football enthusiast so this 382 page publication is a must for your collection.

Contributors include some recognized authors like Martin Flanagan and Patrick Keane, former players (well most are).  in Barry Richardson and Matt Zurbo (who?), even umpires right down to an article on some Sydney football experiences by the Society president, Ian Granland.

To find out where you can get your copy, contact Paul Daffey (0417 160 911) or John Harms (0417 635 030). You can look them up at

Sometimes footy gets a bit precious, which is why we recommend this book.


2013 David Green smallFormer St George player of the 1960s, David Green, has made another journey from his Brisbane home to Sydney to gather more information on a book he is writing on the first fifty years of the St George Club, 1929-1978.

Green has made remarkable progress since we last reported on his efforts and recently has spoken to numerous people in his quest to document an account of the happenings, people and environment of the St George Club in that 50 year period.

His work has amassed an amazing collection of photographs, oral interviews and statistics but as he said, it’s a labour of love.

“I thought I would get this done sooner than later but it still looks like being 12 months or so until it’s finished” Green said, “theres so much to do.”

“Then of course I’ll have to get it edited and printed, so it’s all ahead of me.  I just hope those who read it will enjoy the experience.”