Woodlocks’ kept footy going on the North Coast of NSW

Dr Rod Gillett profiles the nomination of Jim and Jill Woodlock to the inaugural AFL NSW Hall of Fame.

                                           Jill & Jim Woodlock

When Jim and Jill Woodlock moved to Emerald Beach just north of Coffs Harbour in 1986 from Mornington in Victoria to run a service station they’d both already spent most of their lives together in football, and they were expecting to devote much of their time and energy to their new business.

However, their involvement went up another notch with both of them playing key leadership roles in the consolidation of the game in the area after the North Coast AFL had kicked off in 1982.

After thirty years the Woodlock legacy is a sustainable senior competition, a thriving junior competition, a strong and vibrant umpires’ association, and grand finals at the Coffs Harbour International Sports Stadium every year since it opened in 1994, even in 2020.

When Jim answered the call to take on the presidency of the North Coast league for the 1987 season, he begun a period of leadership that continued in different roles until 2013 when responsibility of the management of the game was turned over to the AFL NSW/ACT.

And for most of the period he had his greatest supporter, wife Jill, also performing executive roles as secretary, treasurer and registrar as well as secretary of the tribunal from 1995 to 2012.

This freed up club delegates to focus on running their clubs and not taking on league executive positions. It provided for independence and integrity of the league.

However, over this period the couple had to deal with some difficult issues particularly the bitter internal feud at South Coffs in 1992 that led to the dissolution of the club and its subsequent reformation as the Coffs Swans. As a result, the Swans did not miss a season of football.

They provided a stable administration for the game in the mid-90s especially with the departure of Grafton to the Lismore-based Summerland league in 1996 that left only four clubs: North Coffs, Coffs Swans, Sawtell-Toormina, and Port Macquarie following the earlier demise of Nambucca Valley.

The re-build had started in 1988 when Jill was highly involved in the start-up of junior football with umpire Brett Upfield and South Coffs stalwarts Steve and Denise Lavis with 27 boys and girls ranging in age from 4 to 15 on Sunday mornings at Fitzroy Oval.

The junior competition has been the platform for the sustainability of the game in the area instead of over reliance on players from the southern States coming into the area.

There is now a strong junior competition consisting of ten clubs in five age groups for boys and girls stretching from the South West Rock Dockers to the Northern Beaches Blues at Woolgoolga.

One of Jim’s greatest achievements was to ensure that the International Sports Stadium built by the Coffs City Council had an oval with the dimensions to host AFL football. This year’s grand final, won by Grafton, ensured that every grand final since 1994 has been played on the region’s showpiece sports ground.

Jim was a key member of the Council’s steering committee that established the ground. In addition to local footy finals, AFL pre-season games and NSW representative trials have been played at the venue. He is currently the vice-president of the Stadium’s members’ association.

However, it’s the establishment of the Umpires Association in 2009 that gives Jim and Jill the most joy and source of continuing involvement in the game.

“When I was first president of the league  I had bought the umpires together as a group, but it went to another level when I instigated the incorporation of the AFLNC Umpires’ Association in 2009 with the strong support of ‘Rocket’ (Rod McPherson), who was the leading umpire in the senior competition”, Jim told me in an interview for this piece.

There are 43 members of the Association that provides all the field, goal and boundary umpires for the AFL North Coast senior and junior competitions as well as training programs for new umpires and mentoring support.

Jill was awarded life membership of the AFL North Coast Umpires’ Association at the recent grand final function for over 20 years of active involvement in the association. She joins Jim, who was awarded life membership in 2009. Jim is still the public officer for the association. Both are also life members of the North Coast AFL.

The Woodlock Medal is awarded each year to the best player in the senior grand final.

According to former NSW AFL CEO Craig Davis, “Jim and Jill have been the A Team in North Coast football for such a long time. They have both made an enormous contribution to the growth of the game on so many levels. They worked hard together to keep the game going up there when things got tough. They both care so much about football and its people”.



30 Years Ago NSW Downs the Big V in Monumental Upset

“In the mud and slush of a rainy Sydney night thirty years ago (22 May 1990), a motley crew of New South Welshmen upset the Victorians at their own game.

When the star-studded Victorian Sate of Origin side arrived in Sydney to take on the footy minnows of New South Wales in 1990, they brought their arrogance and swagger.

A team containing some of the game’s all-time greats such as Stephen Silvagni, Dermott Brereton, Dale Weightman and Paul Salmon expected an easy Tuesday night at the SCG.

What they copped was a reality check.

Torrential rain greeted the Vics that afternoon and by the time the ball was bounced the conditions weren’t much better.

All the media talk pre-match had been about the Big V and how much they’d embarrass the local boys coached by then Sydney Swans coach Col Kinnear.

But the visitors didn’t count on the state pride of NSW players such as the Daniher brothers- Terry, team captain, Neale, Anthony and Chris – who were playing together for the first time in senior company, hardman Bernard “Huck” Toohey or North Melbourne teenage prodigies Wayne Carey and John Longmire”.

This excerpt from the NSW AFL Annual Report 1990 captures the pride, joy and excitement of the NSW State of Origin team beating Victoria in an interstate match for the first time since 1925 (https://nswfootballhistory.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/1990-NSWAFL-Annual-Report.pdf).

        Craig Davis

“I stuck it up Teddy Whitten” recalls NSWAFL General Manager Craig Davis (pictured left) with a laugh in his voice. Davis had put the game together in less than a month and did a magnificent job to pull all the parts and people together. Even better the outcome of his efforts was a momentous victory for NSW.

“I still can picture Ted Whitten sitting in the Ladies Stand looking absolutely bewildered” he added.

“It remains the biggest off-field initiative of mine in the game, only surpassed by (son) Nick’s 2005 AFL Premiership with the Swans” Davis recalls with immense satisfaction.

On the night of the match Nick Davis was staying in the family home of Bernard Toohey in Barooga with Bernard’s parents the late Vince and Jill; Nick was playing in the NSW PSSA Carnival.

After the after-match Davis drove through the night to Barooga arriving at the licensed Sports Club for breakfast, and in time to watch Nick play that morning on the club’s ground.


N.S.W. 2-4 8-5 11-6 13-8 (86)

Victoria 4-5 7-8 9-12 10-16 (76)

Attendance: 14,000

Best Players: John Longmire, Brett Allison, Mark Eustice, Tim Powell, Syevie Wright, John lronmonger

Goals: N.S.W.: John Longmire 8, Terry Daniher, Wayne Carey, Bernard Toohey, Neale Daniher, Mark Roberts John Ironmonger

Player of the Match: John Longmire


PLAYERS: Terry Daniher (Captain), Steve Wright (Vice-Captain), Anthony Daniher, Michael Gayfer, Brett Allison, Tim Powell, Bill Brownless, Mark Eustice, David Bolton, Wayne Carey, Craig Potter, Neil Cordy, John Longmire, Bernard Toohey, Steve Wright, Chris Daniher, Michael Werner, Michael Phyland, Barry Mitchell, John Ironmonger, Neale Daniher, Mark Roberts, and Russell Morris

COACH & SELECTORS: Colin Kinnear (Coach), Rick Quade (Chairman of Selectors), Tony Franklin, Craig Davis, and John Reid

MEDICAL/TRAINERS: Phil Loxley (Doctor), Doug Coleman (Physiotherapist), Bruce Hunter (Head Trainer), Alex Kair, Matt Sheedy, Colin Moore, Gary Zealand, and Barry Snowden (Trainers)

OFFICIALS: Tim Johnson (Team Manager), Laurie Axford (Fitness Advisor), Peter Krisihos (Statistics), Mike Mealand (Property Manager), Bob McConnell (Timekeeper) Rod Gillett (Property Steward), Bernie Dowling (Doo

– Craig Lends a Hand

Former CEO of the NSWAFL and player with four VFL Clubs, Craig Davis, is seen her in our photograph with Kevin Taylor, who is suffering from lung cancer.

Kevin was a leading light in football after he moved to Sydney in the late 1970s from Melbourne.  He undertook positions on the league executive and produced the best and most informative Sydney Football Record in two stints, one in the 1980s and again in the 1990s.  His work was superb.

He was also secretary of the History Society for a considerable period and like his effort with the Football Record, his minutes and attention to detail were second to none.

Craig has been visiting Kevin’s home at Eastlakes in Sydney each Thursday giving his partner, Rob a break while he looks out for the octogenarian.

I know all his fans and readers of his former website: Footystats, will join with us in wishing Kevin all the best.


2014-08-19 Film cannisters smallThe Society’s Committee today agreed to digitise eleven cannisters of 1978 16mm film which were found recently.

The exercise is an expensive one with a quote of $35 per 100 feet (30.5 metres) accepted by officials however they have resolved to apply a ceiling limit to costs.

A box of the films, including a cannister of offcuts, were located at the league offices, Moore Park.  Apparently no-one there knew the origin of the film but since, former league CEO, Craig Davis, has indicated that he had the box together with other historical material, in a store room for some years.  The image shows two of the Society’s committee, Jenny Hancock and Ian Wright with the film.

Also, author of the website, Footystats Diary and former League Publicity Officer, Kevin Taylor, told the Society they were part of his World of Australian Football Panel Show which filled the half time slot in Channel Seven’s VFL direct Saturday telecast.

“A number of the rolls of film do not have sound but I believe they are in excellent condition, possibly only being shown once” Taylor, now 81, said.

“We used them in the show and those on the panel with me would comment on the games.  There was only one cameraman at the ground but from memory he did an excellent job with a range of lenses to capture the games with his camera in a very professional manner.”

Those were the days of some great footballers in Sydney, including one of the best to come out of NSW, John Pitura, who was coach of North Shore.  He was recruited from Wagga to South Melbourne then transferred to Richmond.

All the senior teams in the competition are shown in this vision, apart from Balmain.  Some are shown on a number of occasions.

These are the match film currently being processed:

2 9 April Western Suburbs v Pennant Hills Macquarie Uni
4 23 April St George v Newtown Olds Park
5 30 April Southern Districts v St George Rosedale Oval
6 7 May East Sydney v Southern Districts Trumper Park
8 21 May East Sydney v Western Suburbs Trumper Park
9 28 May Newtown v Southern Districts Erskineville Oval
10 4 June East Sydney v Newtown Trumper Park
16 16 July East Sydney v St George Trumper Park
18 30 July St George v Newtown Trumper Park
19 6 August Pennant Hills v Newtown Trumper Park
1st Semi 27 August Newtown v Western Suburbs Erskineville Oval


Also, besides the players it will give an idea of the grounds and facilities clubs had to put up with 46 years ago and obviously too, show some of the supporters and patrons of the game in Sydney in the period.

The decision to digitise the film was motivated by a need to secure the vision while still in a good condition and then make these games available to the public on DVD for a reasonable cost.


My beautiful pictureAlmost 30 years ago now, yet another new regime took hold of NSW football.

Only a few years prior to this, a new broom under president, Bernie Heafey, in a coup, swept aside the congenial governance of Bill Hart, which, for the most part, had followed the operational football pattern based on that set when the game was resuscitated in Sydney in 1903.

The VFL supported Heafey management lasted no more than half a dozen years following the bluff and bluster of their introduction.  In fact it sent a very divided Sydney and NSW football administration almost broke.  In late 1986 the NSWAFL auditors advised that the league would be declared bankrupt.

By this time a new regime which followed and was linked to the private ownership of the Sydney Swans, and had, as part of their licence, to guarantee $417,000 per year for development of the game in NSW, had taken root.  But in all the manoeuvrings, conivings and plottings which in the end produced poor management as opposed the good and benefit of football, had made its mark.

Players and officials from clubs and country leagues knew little of of the problems and issues of the inner sanctum of NSW/Sydney Football.  Their main concern was their little patch and so long as the game went ahead on the weekend, these issues were of little concern.

By mid 1986 the turmoil faltered to an administrative staff of two: the aging former St George official, Bob McConnell whose role was to deal with player clearances together with the office typist, who both conducted the day to day activities of the league.

Queanbeyan FC guru, Ron Fowlie had resigned his job as CEO of the NSW Football League to return to his club while the machinations of the Sydney competition itself started to show signs of self destruction.

NSWAFL was under the direction of the affable and relatively young, Rod Gillett (pictured), who had made a name for himself working at a number of university student unions throughout the state.  The vital asset Gillett had over his four man committee of Pritchard, Smith and Thomas was his commitment and passion for the game and in particular NSW football.  Fortunately, and in probability with some bias, they made the very important appointment of Ian Granland to the role of CEO of the league.

Important because Granland was a local, he had been a club secretary in Sydney and had an extensive involvement at club and league level.  He understood Sydney football and his heart beat for football.  He knew and understood the problems, the issues and the politics.

Bob Pritchard, who gained his notoriety with Powerplay in the Edelsten years at the Sydney Swans, called a meeting of Sydney Club presidents at the Western Suburbs Licensed Club premises in late 1986.  He laid the options on the table, which included a commission to run the league.  Either relinquish ‘power’ to his group and continue as a viable league or go under.  He also sold the blueprint of a state wide league to operate in NSW which would incorporate some but not all Sydney clubs.  Incidentally this never came to fruition although a similar competition was later tried.

At the same time, Pritchard had arranged for cricket legend, Keith Miller, a former St Kilda, Victoria and NSW player to take on the position of Chief Commissioner ( president) of the NSWAFL.  Miller was reluctant but had Gillett as his accomplished offsider.

The clubs acquiesced.  Authority was once again vested in the NSW Australian Football League.  Change was swift.  The NSW Junior Football Union, which had acquired some dominance over junior football in the state, most particularly because of their influence in the selection and promotion of junior state teams, was abolished.

Next to go was the NSW Country Australian Football Leauge, of which Granland had been a leading advocate. Ironically, it was he who wielded the axe.

The roles of both these organisations was then vested in the NSW Football League, of which, Sydney became one and not a dominant partner. Many of the positions undertaken by volunteers were assumed by paid administrators and the coaching of young state representative teams was in time, assigned to professional football people.

Then there were changes to Sydney football.  Make no mistake, the league was broke.  They had creditors of $50,000 and debtors of $30,000. The competition was split into three divisions, affiliation fees were substantially increased, an individual player registration fee was introduced and those clubs that were in debt to the league were told to pay up or go and play somewhere else.  All but one paid.  The plan was to make the three divisions pay their way, instead of relying on the major clubs to contribute the lions’ share.

There were other subtle changes  The accounts were split, the major one concerning the $417,000 was isolated and the Sydney development officers, all of whom were Sydney Swans players, had their job descriptions better defined to be capably overseen under manager, Greg Harris and later Craig Davis.

Despite some heartache and fractured egos, the foundations were well and truly laid for a revised and viable NSW Australian Football League until the October 1987 world stock market crash bit into the private ownership of the Sydney Swans, effecting the cash flow of the annual $417,000 development money.

My beautiful picture Bob Pritchard 2 My beautiful picture My beautiful picture My beautiful picture My beautiful picture
Keith Miller Bob Pritchard Ian Granland Ron Thomas Greg Harris Bob McConnell
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1987 Sydney Swans Development Officers
Brett Scott Craig Davis Dennis Carroll Mark Browning Paul Hawke Stevie Wright