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.

David Murphy – Nominee for NSW’s Hall of Fame

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 his former team-mate and close friend David Murphy:

Who is the only player to represent Victoria in State of Origin but never lived in the state?

The answer is David Murphy and it’s a trivia question which has produced plenty of quizzical looks and a few free beers over the years.

‘Murph’ played for Victoria six times but is a born and bred New South Welshman.

He grew up in Finley playing all his junior football there before moving to Wagga Wagga and lining up for Turvey Park.

It was a humble beginning to a stellar VFL/AFL career which ultimately saw him claim All Australian honours for NSW and a hallowed place in the Sydney Swans Team of the Century.

One of Murph’s proudest moments when he sat alongside fellow former Finley resident and legendary coach Alan Jeans at the announcement of the 1988 All Australian team. His father Ray played alongside Jeans in Finley’s 1954 premiership when they beat archrival Tocumwal.

“It was the first time I’d met Yabby,” Murphy said. “It was last day of the National Carnival in Adelaide and I was sitting right next to him. When my name was read out he shook my hand and said well done son, your mum and dad would be proud. It was a nice moment, dad had told me a story about the day he was hit behind play and then he heard clunk. He turned around to see Yabby standing over the bloke who hit dad. Dad said to me he felt 10 feet tall.”

Those formative years in the Riverina were no walk in the park for Murph either as he played most of his junior footy against boys much older and bigger. “When I started playing junior footy I was about four years younger than my team mates and opponents,” Murphy said.

“I eventually got to play against my own age group and thought maybe I can play. It was hard but really helped me in the long run. I learned how to stay out of trouble, I learned how to kick the ball and compete against older boys.”

Murphy faced another hurdle early on when he ruptured his ACL just before he turned 18. The injury could easily have cost him his AFL career as it forced him out of football for almost two years.

“I couldn’t have an operation because I was still growing so I had to wait a year,” Murphy said. When I was operated on I was alongside Keith Greig and Roy Ramsay from North Melbourne. It was a long rehab in those days, my leg looked like my arm. I worked in the bank in Wagga so I would go to the gym or the pool after work to build up my leg.”

When he eventually recovered he started playing in the under 19s at Turvey Park. His form was outstanding and the following year was promoted to the seniors. He kicked 76 goals and 78 in consecutive seasons playing as a half forward.

Swans recruiter Greg Miller came to the Riverina to watch Paul Hawke and liked what he saw with Murphy so signed them both for the 1984 season.

If Murphy thought it was tough going playing out of his weight division in the Riverina there was to come in the VFL. Fully grown at 179cm (5’11”) and 75kg he was smaller than virtually every opponent he played on.

But his lightning speed, high marking and long kicking were prized assets in any league and he quickly established himself as one of the stars in a Sydney team which featured some of the greats of the 1980s.

Led by Brownlow Medallists in Greg Williams and Gerard Healy Murphy was part of a super midfield. The group also featured the ball winning of Barry Mitchell, the dash of David Bolton and the flair and hardness of the late Merv Neagle.

Murphy’s ten seasons and 156 games in the red and white played almost entirely on the wing. He, Williams and Healy were all named in the Swans Team of the Century.

He also played alongside Swans Hall of Fame inductee Bernard Toohey. The pair met on their first day of primary school in Finley and went through their entire schooling together including Finley High School.

Allan Jeans

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

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

Allan Jeans coaching St Kilda in the 1960s

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then there was his renowned sense of humour.

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

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

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

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

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