Raconteurs Provide Laughs and Footy Insights

Written by Dr Rodney Gillett

         Greg “Huey” Harris (left) was in scintillating form
interviewed by Simon Kelly at the lunch

The NSW Football History Society first annual lunch and awards event at the Magpies Sports Club yesterday (14 December) proved very popular and an outstanding success by the Society.  Members and guests were regaled with stories by East Sydney legends Greg Harris and 89-year old Ray Millington in interviews with Simon Kelly about their footy careers and playing at the SCG.

You can listen to the The Greg Harris Interview here.

In welcoming the forty-five members and guests from across the Sydney football community including former players, officials and umpires, Society president Ian Granland provided a brief overview of the role of the Society and highlighted some achievements for 2021 including ongoing editorial work, digitising records, preserving trophies and photos, and the purchase of two Phelan medals which were on display along with premiership flags and cups.

A further highlight was the announcement by the Society’s Heritage sub-committee chair Paul McPherson, that the Sydney Cricket Ground, at which Australian Football has been played on since 1881, as the first entry on the Society’s newly established Heritage registry.

Society vice-president and chair of the Publications awards sub-committee, Rod Gillett announced the winners of the awards:

The Gus McKernan Award
The Gus McKernan Award is given to the annual report or yearbook by a club or league or an associated body such as a junior competition or an umpires’ association judged by the Society to be the best produced in that year. The winner is awarded the Society’s certificate and the sum of $250.

Because of the difficulties caused by the Covid pandemic over the last 18 months, for this year’s awards, the Awards Sub-Committee accepted nominations for these publications reporting on any of the years 2019, 2020 and also, where these are already published, 2021.

Consequently, two awards were made this year. Another yearbook nominated for the award was judged worthy of the Society’s ‘Highly Commended’ certificate.

The award is sponsored by Gus’s great mate from football and former insurance magnate,Simon Kelly. 

         Rod Gillett presents the award to Leigh
    Gazzard on
behalf of the Moore Park Tigers
                 Junior Football Club

The winning organisation for the Gus McKernan Award for a yearbook for 2019 was the Moore Park Tigers Junior Australian Football Club

The Sub-Committee considered this an exemplary annual report for that of junior clubs and organisations using proprietary software to easily produce a very professional finished product. Besides providing all necessary information for readers to judge the club’s success, excellent illustrations and appropriate recognition for the club’s many volunteers, was particularly noteworthy for the brief, reflective and supportive reports on all players in each team. This feature of the yearbook concept is likely to encourage young players to continue playing our game.

Rod Gillett presents the award to Leigh Gazzard for Moore Park Tigers

The Gus McKernan Award for a yearbook for 2020

Gus McKernan
   The late Gus McKernan

Pennant Hills Australian Football Club won this award

The Pennant Hills Demons produce a lavishly illustrated, well produced yearbook in both hard copy and digital formats. It contains excellent reports by the President, Secretary, General Manager, Football Manager and the coaches of each team. It includes full reports on awards, staff and team officials in each grade and will remain a work to be consulted by Demons fans and football historians for years to come. Of particular note, is a full ladder for every grade in which the club competes.    You can view the report here.

It is especially appropriate that Pennant Hills receive a Gus McKernan award because of Gus’s long involvement with and support for the Demons.

 Peter Clark’s book on the  Rannock Football Club    Society Vice President, Rod Gillett presenting certificate to Pennant Hills FC icon, Col Huggins   Highly commended certificate to the Charles Sturt University   Club on the Evolution of the          Bushpigs & Bushsows

The Gus McKernan Award – Highly Commended
To receive a Highly Commended certificate is the Mangoplah Cookardinia United-Eastlakes Goannas Football and Netball Club     

The MCUE Club produced a colourful and interesting yearbook for 2021. Primarily directed at its own community, it includes a wealth of detail and excellent, although uncaptioned, photographs. It has well written reports an each of its teams, details of award winners and lists of office bearers. It will have been welcomed, and will be kept, by current players and their families and supporters.

The Harry Hedger Award

           Harry Hedger, MBE

The Harry Hedger Award is given to the best football historical work in NSW. This may take the form of a league or club history or a biography of a prominent personality in the history of the game in NSW. It can be a book, website, blog or extended essay. The winner is awarded the Society’s certificate and the sum of $250.

Again because of the difficulties caused by Covid, for this year the Awards Sub-Committee accepted nominations for works published in any 2019, 2020 and 2021.

The award is sponsored by Paul Feain of Sydney Rare Book Auctions.

The Harry Hedger Award for 2021
The winner is the Peter Clark for his book In the True Sporting Spirit: the history of the Rannock Football Club

This book was clearly a work of love. The Rannock Football Club ceased playing over fifty years ago and Rannock itself, like so many small rural towns is now a community of a mere 103 souls. But, through diligent, extended work in newspaper records, and with the help of some surviving archival material preserved in the community, Peter was able to compile a detailed chronological record of a of football club that played in six different leagues in the 41 years of its existence. The Rannock Football Club was an example the sort of team that formed the sporting backbone of the Riverina (and indeed all country Australia) for most of the twentieth century. Thanks to this work, Rannock now stands as a metaphor for all lost country football clubs.

The award winner Peter Clark kindly used the prize money to become a Benefactor member of the Society. A big congratulations and thank you goes out to Peter.

The Harry Hedger Award – Highly Commended
To receive a Highly Commended certificate is the Charles Sturt University Football & Netball Club for its history of the club, The Evolution of the Bushpigs & Bushsows

The Bushpigs and Bushsows have compiled a wonderful tribute on the fiftieth anniversary of the club. Pieces by well-known football historians, Paul Daffey and Rod Gillett are joined by extracts from Riverina newspapers and the reflections of club stalwarts as well as photographs covering the span of the club’s history to make a well-rounded club history.

Phtotgraphs at the function were taken by Leigh Gazzard

Inside Story on how Plugger got to the Swans

   Plugger reported for striking Peter Caven at the SCG 1994

Former Swans star defender and media man Neil Cordy believes that the recruitment of Tony Lockett was transformational for the Swans in the Sydney market. Tony Lockett’s 1995 arrival in Sydney from St Kilda was a game changer for both parties”, Cordy wrote in a piece on “The Big 3 at the SCG” earlier this year on the Society’s website

“Lockett’s physique, nickname and robust playing style appealed to Sydneysiders, particularly during rugby league’s ‘Super Wars’. The conversion even included the crusty old newspaper seller down at Wynyard station who dumped his Souths’ beanie for a Swans one in the lead-up to the 96 AFL grand final”, Cords told me in a recent telephone conversation.

So just how did the Swans snare Plugger when AFL heavyweights, Collingwood and Richmond had him squarely in their sights?

Footy, races, the William Farrer Hotel – a trinity of factors that came together post-season in Wagga in 1994 when then-Swans match committee chairman Greg Harris was in town on a local recruiting mission that would instead land the greatest goal-kicker in the history of VFL/AFL football.

Harris, known universally as “Huey”, in his role with the Swans as Ron Barassi’s right-hand man had witnessed first-hand Lockett single-handedly complete one of the greatest comebacks in footy history when he led St Kilda from 41 points down with nine minutes to go against the Swans on 8 May 1994 with “Plugger” sealing the 1-point victory with 3 goals in the final three minutes to bring his total for the match to eleven.                                                                                

    Ron Barassi with Greg Harris
                 in the background

At the post-season review when asked who the club should recruit, “Huey” was unequivocal in his response, “Tony Lockett!”.

Just how that happened will be teased out by seasoned Sydney football observer Simon Kelly when he interviews Greg Harris, along with fellow Easts’ legend Ray Millington at the History Society’s annual lunch and publication awards function at the Magpies Sports Club (Hampden St Croydon Park) on Tuesday 14 December from 12 noon.

The luncheon will be held upstairs in the function room overlooking Picken Oval.

There is no charge and no booking required. Non-members are welcome to attend.

Traditional club fare and beverages are available at the Club.

Please feel free to share news of this event with former team-mates and supporters. 

(Drop us a line at: admin@nswfootballhistory.com.au if you and/or friends are coming so we can inform the club’s bistro with regards numbers for the day)

Annual Society Lunch to Feature Two Easts’ Legends

Two of the East Sydney/Eastern Suburbs greatest-ever players Greg Harris and Ray Millington, both of whom played 3 different football codes on the SCG, will be interviewed at the Society’s annual luncheon at Magpies Sports Club (formerly Western Suburbs licensed club) on Tuesday 14 December from 12 noon.

The interviews will be undertaken by well-known Sydney football identity and former 2SER football panel member, Simon Kelly (ex-Balmain). The focus will be around their games at the SCG, on which our game was first played, 140 years ago, in 1881.

Also, the Society will for the first time, unveil the two Phelan Medals (1939 & 1940) which they recently purchased at an Adelaide auction as well as the 1953 Eastern Suburbs premiership flag, donated to the Society by Ray Millington.

Officials will also announce the winners of its inaugural Publication awards – best club annual report/yearbook as well as best publication, written, podcast, digital or visual, about NSW Football.

The luncheon will be held upstairs in the function room overlooking Picken Oval.

There is no charge and no booking required. Non-members are welcome to attend.

Traditional club fare and beverages are available at the Club, which has been a great supporter for footy in Sydney since its inception in 1961.

The Society plans to make the Annual Lunch (formerly the Christmas Party) a get-together of the football community who supports the History Society and its function and activities.

Please feel free to share news of this event with former team-mates and supporters.  It should be a great day. (It might be a good idea to drop us a line at: admin@nswfootballhistory.com.au if you and/or friends are coming so we can prepare the club’s bistro with regards numbers for the day)

NSW Origin Hero – Anthony Daniher

By Neil Cordy 

Ants Daniher (pictured right) celebrates NSW’s win over Victoria 

 When you’re third in line in one of the game’s greatest footy families it’s hard to get recognition but Anthony Daniher certainly deserves some. 

His role in New South Wales historic run of victories over Western Australia (1988), Victoria (1990) and Queensland (1992), the latter two at the SCG, was pivotal.  

It was a golden run and “Ants” played in all of them. In the last two he put the clamps on one of the best forwards ever, Hawthorn great Jason Dunstall.  

The 1990 win over the Vics at the SCG was a special one for the Danihers’ with all four brothers Terry (Captain), Neale, Anthony and Chris all playing together for the first time.  

It was especially enjoyable for the boys’ father and proud New South Welshman Jim Daniher who’d made the trip from West Wyalong to the SCG with his wife Edna.  

Jim was no slouch as a footballer himself scoring two tries against Great Britain in the Riverina’s 1954 (36-26) win at Wagga. He also had a distinguished footy career at Ungarie. Despite his prowess in Rugby League footy was his first love and the NSW v Victoria clash featuring his four sons stood apart from all others. 

“It was dad’s favourite game of footy,” Ant’s said.  

                   Jim Daniher

“He’s watched about 4,000 but that was his number one.” 

“4,000” games is a lot of footy so Jim and Edna knew their stuff.  

One of their biggest worries going into the match was the potency of Victoria’s forward line which featured one of the best one two punches in modern football, Dermott Brereton at centre half forward and Dunstall at full forward.  

But their prayers were answered when Brereton was blanketed by Corowa and Collingwood stopper Mick Gayfer and Anthony who did the job on Dunstall.  

“Jason (Dunstall) was a super player but the bloke I had trouble with that night was Paul Salmon,” Ant’s said.  

“Being a team mate at Essendon I never played on him. Fish’s reach was so long and he was super mobile. Fortunately for us he tweaked his hammy and had to go off. I actually found Jason easier to play on than Paul.”  

Two years later Ant’s was again pitted against Dunstall at the SCG this time Jason was lining up for his home state of Queensland. Again he held him in check as NSW smashed the Queenslanders by 93 points (22-9.141 to 6-12.48).  

The northerners didn’t leave empty handed though with Queensland winning the curtain raiser between the state leagues by 17 points (14.18.102 to 12.13.85). The NSW team featured former Swans Grant Bartholomeaus, Matt Lloyd, Robbie Kerr and Paul Hawke and coached by Greg Harris.  

It wasn’t just winning footy matches that pleased Ant’s he loved the whole experience of playing alongside the state’s best.  

“The great thing about playing rep footy is you were able to mix with other players you never crossed paths with,” Ant’s said.  

“It was the calibre of the players as well. In training the ball never hit the ground. I always thought it was a privilege to be part of that group.  

“The other thing I enjoyed was playing under a new coach. You get to experience different ideas and approaches. We were also very competitive which helps. I also got to play under Tommy Hafey and Allan Jeans which was a privilege. Their motivation, passion and engagement with players were extraordinary.”  

He didn’t realise it at the time but Anthony was playing in the last games of State of Origin footy. 30 years on, he cherishes every moment.  

“We lived in an era where we were lucky to be able to represent our state,” Daniher said.  

“I feel sorry for players of the current generation who don’t get a chance to do that. Those games were magic.”  

Ants retired in 1994 after 118 games for Essendon and 115 for Sydney. He’s now lived in Victoria longer than he did in his home state but says he’ll always be a New South Welshman.  

“We bought a farm in Moama so I’m in the right post code,” Anthony said.  

“I’m proud of where I come from and love the fact NSW now pick an annual state team. It’s a great way to capture history.”  

While he finished his time in football as a Bomber Ants still has a soft spot for the club that gave him his start.

“They’ve still got a big place in my heart,” Anthony said.

“What the Swans have done has been outstanding. They’re a great club.  

I still have a lot of good friends in Sydney. Tony Morwood is my brother in law and Joe (Anthony’s son) was very close to going to the Swans recently but he’s very happy in Brisbane now, it was the right fit for him.” 



Code 3: Huey’s Rare SCG Treble


“Baby Huey” in hot pursuit of the ball for East Sydney in 1981

As the game celebrates 140 years at the SCG, Dr Rodney Gillett looks back at a larger-than-life character with a unique record at the famous old ground.

As Greg Harris, the coach of the newly assembled Sydney Swans Under-19 squad, strode out on to the SCG in late Spring 1988 to conduct training, he turned to me, and said: “You know I’ve played three different codes of football on this ground.”

I said: “Yes, Huey. I remember you taking eighteen marks out here for Easts in a match against North Shore a few years back.”

“Yeah, plus I played rugby and rugby leagues games here too …,” he added, leaving that last comment to hang in the warm air. “Now, put the cones out for the boys to do the handball drill!”

Greg Harris was known throughout his sporting career as “Huey”, shortened as Aussies are want to do from “Baby Huey”, the oversized baby duckling in the Harvey comics in the 1960s. The nickname was bestowed on him by his Sydney Uni rugby team-mates after he wrestled a sumo wrestler on a tour of Japan.

Huey and another former East Sydney champion, Ray Millington (to be featured in Part 2), are believed to be the only two players to have played three codes of football on the SCG.

In Huey ’s case, his father, Col Harris, an original inductee into the AFL Sydney Hall of Fame in 2003, also played on the famous ground when he represented NSW in 1949 against Queensland.  Huey coached NSW state teams in matches against Queensland in 1983 and 1990.

He started playing junior football with the Penshurst Panthers in the St George district competition, and then graduated to the St George seniors at age 15 in 1970.

Following an impressive debut in a Sydney representative team while still at school he received an invitation to train with Richmond but chose to take up a scholarship to study at Sydney University.

Greg Harris playing for St George v South Sydney at Trumper Park [10]
Greg Harris playing for
St George v South
Sydney at Trumper
His first experience of playing any code of football on the SCG came in 1972 when the rugby league team from his school, Kogarah High, played against Farrer Memorial Agricultural High School, from Tamworth, in the final of the state-wide University Shield, which Farrer won.

At Sydney University, Harris quickly adapted to rugby union. “I found it easier to play than footy as it was a 180-degree game,” he told me in an interview for this article.

In his second season for in Sydney’s rugby union competition, in 1975, he was a regular in Sydney University’s first-grade team and he played at No.8 for a combined Sydney team in its defeat of an England XV at the old Sydney Sportsground.

A fortnight later, he played for the NSW Under 23 team against the Queensland Under 23 team in a curtain-raiser to the Wallabies v England Test match at the SCG.

Following graduation, Huey returned to rugby league. He signed with Cronulla-Sutherland, where he mainly played reserve grade, but this included a final on the SCG in 1978.

“It was a great thrill to play at the SCG”, Huey said. “I usually played fairly well in games there. The atmosphere is special, and you were conscious of the crowd noise even in a curtain-raiser”.

Harris returned to Australian Football the next year, in 1979, with East Sydney, which turned out to be the ill-fated “flag’s-in-the-bag” season in which the Bulldogs, under former Fitzroy star Alex Ruscuklic, went through the roster matches undefeated, only to lose both finals – out in straight sets – as the saying goes.

However, in the club’s much-celebrated centenary season in 1980, Huey sustained a knee injury during the opening rounds which ruled him out for the rest of the year including the grand final at the SCG.

Legendary Easts president Jack Dean, a contemporary of Harris’s father, Col, in state teams, recognised Huey’s astute leadership skills. He arranged for Huey to take over from Austin Robertson as the playing-coach in 1981, and took Easts to a premiership with a victory over the Sam Kekovich-led Newtown, in the Grand Final.

Harris added further premierships to his record when he coached Easts to victory over Pennant Hills and Balmain respectively in the 1982 and 1983 grand finals, cementing his place among the best all-time coaches in Sydney football.

“Huey could mix with and understand many diverse types: aspiring young sportsmen, musicians, plumbers, stock-brokers and garbos.

While he is university educated, Greg could slide easily from one group to another and was able to unify diverse people into one team with a common goal”, Easts’ premiership and State back pocket player Ted Pleming reiterated when we discussed this story.

During the 1984 and 1985 seasons, the local Sydney clubs played against each other in curtain-raisers to the Sydney Swans matches on the SCG.

East Sydney often featured in these curtain-raisers, and the smaller ground suited the hulk-like physique of Harris, whose ability to read the play enabled him to win a pile of possessions.

The Swans Reserves hosted their matches in Melbourne until the end of 1985. The following year, in 1986, they too were finally brought to Sydney.

When the Swans decided to base an Under 19s team in Sydney for the 1988 season, Harris was a logical choice to coach the squad, given his teaching background at Sydney Boys’ High School and his success with NSW development squads. The Under 19s played home games at the SCG and away matches in Melbourne.

Huey’s connection with the SCG was deepened when he took on the role of senior chairman of selectors for Swans coaches Ron Barassi and Rodney Eade from 1994 to 1996.

It was in 1996, that the Swans made their first grand final appearance since 1945 after famously beating Essendon by one point kicked by Tony” Plugger” Lockett after the siren in the preliminary final also at the SCG.

“Sellers” – From East Sydney to Carlton Triple Premierships

Mark Maclure, 1972 Winner of Sydney’s Sanders Medal

Former Swans player and East Sydney Captain/Coach Neil Cordy profiles the nomination of Mark Maclure to the NSW Hall of Fame.

When Mark Maclure arrived in Sydney as a 12 year old footy was his passport to fitting in.O

Over the decades it would become so much more. He went on to win three premierships at Carlton, play 243 games, captain the club and develop into one of the AFL’s great personalities.

Born in Perth into a navy family, his father Murray was a Chief Petty Officer and spent a lot of time at sea. His mum Joan took care of Mark, his older brother Steve (aka ‘Bomber’) and younger brother Peter. Their grandmother Molly was a mad West Perth follower and passed on her love of the game to the boys.

Mark’s footy career got off to a flyer at the Manning Park under 10s. Playing alongside Robert Wiley (Richmond, West Coast), Brian Peake (Geelong) and Peter Spencer (North Melbourne) the boys went through the season undefeated.

The next year the Maclures were off to Queensland when Murray took a two-year posting in Brisbane. Remarkably the boys from Manning Park met decades later when Mark lined up for Victoria against Western Australia in Perth and Wiley, Peake and Spencer played against him.

That was all in the future for the young Maclure who was on the road again in 1967 when Murray took another posting to Garden Island in Sydney. The family lived in Paddington, Trumper Park and the East Sydney Bulldogs were just down the road, it turned out to be match made in heaven for player and club.

“The East Sydney Football Club was a very social place,” Maclure said.

“It was a melting pot of people who played Aussie Rules, so you got all walks of life.

I enjoyed that; it was fantastic. The club owned two terrace houses right next to the ground, that was the social club. It was full of people like me from other parts of Australia, there were people from Tasmania, Western Australia, South Australia, Queensland and Victoria.”

In March this year Maclure was back in East Sydney heartland as the club celebrated their 140th birthday at the Paddington RSL. His respect for the club and its great characters was clear for all to see as he interviewed some of East Sydney’s greats.

It was a reminder to the Carlton champ why he had such a strong attachment to the place.

“I love the differences in people,” Maclure said. “If everyone is the same, it’s a boring, boring world. There’s a 1000 people who make up a village. They can’t all be choir boys, they’re all different types”.

“That was East Sydney, it was full of rogues and that is what you want in life. It was a learning process. They were knockabout blokes and you learned to navigate your way through. Nobody was better than everyone else, we were all equal and I loved that. This was our club and that’s where we’re going to be for the rest of our lives”.

“That’s what I felt before I left for Carlton. Where I had to start again and build relationships with another group of people”, Maclure said.

As well as developing his social skills East Sydney helped hone Maclure’s footy talents which ultimately caught the eye of the Blues. After starting in the under 12s he graduated to the under 19’s by 15 and senior footy at 16. On one day he played on all three grades.

“It was a big day,” Maclure said. “I started in the under 19s at nine o’clock, I was taken off at three quarter time and was on the bench for the reserves. I played a quarter and and then a bloke pulled out of the seniors so I was on the bench for that game. I was there all f….. day! My old man was there at 5.30pm and he asked me what I wanted to do, I said I want to go home, I was stuffed.”

It wasn’t just an endurance test for the young Maclure, playing senior footy in the 1970s was a tough going at any age, the Sydney comp had more than its fair share of hard men.

“I was very young and very well protected,” Maclure said.

“Playing against men isn’t easy but it was part of the game, part of growing up and it was great to be thought of.”

Trumper Park was full of big personalities who made an impression on the young Maclure and still do to this day.

“There was a bloke there called Jack Dean (East Sydney Legend) who was a great man,” Maclure said. “Ralph Waldock ran all the kids competitions and he was a great bloke. Roy Hayes (seven consecutive premiership player) was a fantastic bloke, he was one of the best people I met in my life. Greg Harris (East Sydney triple premiership coach) and I played together in rep footy, “Huey” was the ruckman and I was the rover, the slowest rover that ever played.”

While he may not have been the quickest across the ground but Maclure had plenty of ability and footy nous. He needed it playing three football codes each week. Rugby League on Saturday for the Coogee Sharks, Aussie Rules on Sunday for East Sydney and Rugby Union for his school (Randwick North High School) on Wednesdays.

It wasn’t long before Carlton secretary and Brownlow Medallist Bert Deacon came calling.

East Sydney legends, John Roberts, Mark Maclure
and Enzo Corvino at a club reunion

“Bert Deacon turned up when I was 16,” Maclure said. “He me asked if I wanted to come to Melbourne. I didn’t know him and my dad didn’t know him so it started from there. I went there in June 1973.”

Sadly Deacon didn’t live to see the great player Maclure was to become. He suffered a heart attack while holidaying in Balnarring just six months after recruiting Maclure.

The kid he signed debuted against Geelong in round 13 the following year and played another 13 seasons retiring at the end of 1986 one of Carlton’s very best.

“My footy life has been fantastic and East Sydney was a big part of that,” Maclure said.

“I loved it. What else would you want to do.”

Maclure was honoured to be named in the ‘Greatest NSW Team of All Time’ and is a selector for the NSW AFL team of the year.



East Sydney Champ Passes

Ian Allen
in his
playing days

Ian Allen, better known as Champ, has passed away in Sydney.

Allen, who played over 300 plus games for North Shore and East Sydney in an illustrious career spanning three decades from 1966-1980 and 1982-84.

“Champ was the best key defender in Sydney football during my active involvement in the game. I should know, I played one of my earliest games for St George against him. He gave me a football lesson”, recalled legendary East Sydney coach Greg “Huey” Harris, who coached Ian at Easts from 1982 -1984.

“He retired after being a star player in Easts’ much-celebrated centenary premiership in 1980. He came to me at the end of 1981 and asked if he could play again. He told me how much he liked the camaraderie of the new group of players that had played in the 1981 premiership team that I coached.”

A more recent
image of Ian

“He was a champ. One of the best blokes you could possibly meet”, Harris added. Ian started his career with North Shore in 1966 where his father, Kevin, had also played as well as his older brother Kevin, known as “Kevie”. “Champ” won two best and fairest awards and was vice-captain in 1971. He was equal third for the Phelan Medal in 1969 and again, third in 1974.

“Champ” was enticed to cross the harbour by East Sydney for the 1973 season by the “Prince of Promises” as he fondly referred to then-Easts’ president Jack Dean. Ian and his brother Kevie were running the family business of cash register sales and service from a shop on Broadway. Ian came to East Sydney at the start of a golden reign for the club. He played for East Sydney in eight grand finals winning premierships in 1973, 1976, 1980, 1982 and 1983. He won the club best and fairest in 1982. His represented NSW five times and won the best player award twice, against Victoria and South Australia.

Ian was inducted into the Sydney AFL Hall of Fame in 2007 and a long term member of the Football History Society.


As this season fades into history, we have been looking round for something to write about.  The question is, where do we start.

Then we identified a year which heralded so much change to football in NSW: 1970.

It would take several sessions to outline what did take place in that year, so we have centred on just a few events.

It was Australia’s Bi-Centenary.  The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh together with Princess Anne and Prince Charles visited Australia to join with the rest of the country in the celebrations.

And they didn’t miss watching a game of Australian football as shown in the photo – details below

And in Sydney, a show for the Royals was put on at the Trocodero in Sydney’s George Street.  This was a large dance and concert hall that operated between 1936 and 1971.  It was once regarded as the “most glamorous dance palace in Sydney and accommodated up to 2,000 people”. It was the favoured venue for university and school ‘formals’, and hosted many important local rock and pop concerts during the 1960s.  The block of cinemas has replaced the old Troc. between Liverpool and Bathurst Streets.

It was April when the Royal party “met young sportsmen (we don’t know if the word sportsmen refers to both genders) from all parts of the state” we were told.

Our Australian Rules representatives included David Sykes, captain coach of Newtown, Rodney Tubbs the captain coach of Sydney University Club, Bob Sterling and Emmanuel (Manny) Keriniaua from the St George Club.  Also Ian Allen, North Shore and NSW centre half back and Chris Huon, one of the young brigade of umpires making their mark on Sydney football.”

Both David Sykes, Ian Allen and Chris Huon are members of the Football History Society.

On the opening day of the season a team of Northern Territory Aboriginal Schoolboys played a Sydney Schoolboys team in an Under 16 match.  The boys from the north cleaned up the Sydney side, 17-12 (114) to 11-12 (78) at Picken Oval.

It is interesting to look at the names of some of the Sydney players and the junior clubs they came from. For example:



Alan Bouch (son of NSWAFL Board Member, Doug) Warringah
Graeme Foster  –  later Balmain, East Sydney and NSW player Ermington
Mark Andrews(son of Brian, a former state player and Balmain coach) who played with North Shore Warringah
David McVey –  who went on to win a Kealey Medal with St George
Mark McClurelater captain of Carlton FC Eastern Suburbs
Greg Harris –  later state player and captain coach of East Sydney FC St George
Bill Free  – former Newtown player was the coach
Other junior clubs that no longer exist or have had a name change: Warwick Farm, Holsworthy, Green Valley, Bankstown Sports, Manly/Seaforth


In 1970, the long term league secretary Ken Ferguson retired and was given a well attended sendoff at the Western Suburbs Club.

At last the league introduced a second division after years of half-hearted attempts to cater for burgeoning clubs in Sydney.  The clubs that comprised the league’s other open age competition since the demise of the Metropolitan Australian National Football Association in 1952 were: Warringah, St Ives, Salasians, Penshurst, UNSW, Sydney University and Western Suburbs.  Later, North Shore and South Sydney also entered teams.

The second division thing just wasn’t right, it was unbalanced.  Because they didn’t have enough clubs to go round in a stand alone competition, Sydney Uni, UNSW, South Sydney and Macquarie University fielded their senior teams in the normal open age reserve grade, which, like today, created problems at away games.  This was corrected the following season.

1970-04-01 - Chris Huon Invitation to Royal Reception small1970 was Sydney Naval’s last hurrah.  It was their final year in the competition after such a splendid involvement in the game dating back to 1881.  There was an attempt to combine the club with the struggling South Sydney side but that too failed. South in fact, were on their knees after being relegated following a number of poor seasons.  But with a band of willing workers they managed a further half a dozen years.

There were early moves to play a Victoria v South Australia game at the SCG mid season.  The expenses were estimated at in excess of $30,000 (assessed using the Reserve Bank of Australia’s calculator today at $317,647.06), seems a bit rich, but thats the reason the game did not go ahead and Sydney had to wait until 1974 to see the Vics play the Crows at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Big news during the season was that Wests were to lose their home ground of Picken Oval to a supermarket complex.  Canterbury Council failed to give the idea the green light so it was shelved but it didn’t take too many years before a further and very damaging issue effected the relationship between Wests and their ground.

The Newtown club opened clubrooms on the normally unknown mid level in the grandstand at Erskineville Oval.  It wasn’t long though before they moved their social activities to the old Stage Club at 303 Cleveland Street, Redfern which became the Newtown Rules Club.

And finally for the first time in Sydney, the ABC telecast highlights of two VFL games each Saturday Night at the very late time of 10:50pm, well before the introduction of domestic VCR – recorders.  It didn’t take long before the then very conservative ABC decided to ditch the show producing howls of complaint from footy followers.  So much so that the league printed a form on which supporters could register their PROTEST to the Director of Programmes, ABC 2, Sydney. It worked and these highlights were retained for the rest of the season.

Our photograph of course is not Sydney football, but the Queen being introduced to the Fitzroy team in the same year.  Some questions for you about this event:

*  What ground was the game played at?
*  Which team played Fitzroy on that day?
*  What was the most unusual and in fact unique circumstance of this game?

And seeing Australia lost probably its most iconic prime minister this week, it is worth a mention that either in the late fifties or early sixties, Gough took one of his sons along to Rosedale Oval to learn the game of Australian football.  We don’t think there were many follow up visits.

You can send your answers to this address: Click here.


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
My beautiful picture My beautiful picture My beautiful picture My beautiful picture My beautiful picture My beautiful picture
1987 Sydney Swans Development Officers
Brett Scott Craig Davis Dennis Carroll Mark Browning Paul Hawke Stevie Wright


Jack-Dean3-207x300In the 1949 interstate match between NSW and Victoria at the SCG nineteen year old East Sydney ruckman Jack Dean went up against veteran Victorian captain Jack Dyer at the opening bounce.

“He sat me on my arse!” Jack told me over a few beers. We were at Harry McAsey’s pub in Alexandra after a tribute lunch for our late mate and fellow NSW Football History committee member Ted Ray a few years ago. I put the tape on to record our conversation which was considerably enhanced by the consumption of schooners of Reschs.

“The Vics. cleaned us up that day, but it was a great thrill to play against them” recalled Jack. “We thought we were a chance, our coach Frank Dixon (later a Deputy Lord Mayor of Sydney) was a great motivator and we trained for weeks in advance with a view to beating them”.

Victoria were ‘too polished’ according to Keith Miller’s report in The Daily Mirror. Yes, that’s right, the great Australian cricket all-rounder who had recently retired from football had taken up a new career as a journalist. Miller had represented NSW at the ANFC interstate carnival in 1947 after moving to Sydney to play cricket for NSW after the Second World War.

In addition to the grizzly old Tiger, Jack Dyer, other famous names in the Victorian team for that match were Bob Davis, Bobby Rose, Les Foote, Don Cordner and Bert Clay, who if state-of-origin rules were in place would have been wearing a sky blue guernsey. Clay was recruited to Fitzroy from Henty in southern NSW.

Jack Dean played 25 times for NSW in interstate matches and was voted the Blues best player at the 1958 centenary carnival in Melbourne in 1958. He must have been unlucky not to have been selected in the All-Australian team.

Born and bred in Paddington, Jack went down to Trumper Park with his brother Mal in 1944 and thus began a distinguished football career that took in almost 400 games until he retired in 1966.

His father Joe had played for East Sydney and Jack’s son Marshall also played for Easts. A handy rover, ‘Marsh’ is a raconteur who in tandem with Stephen ‘Bomber’ McClure (brother of Mark ‘Sellers’ McClure) provided their team-mates with many hilarious moments at their favourite pub in Paddington, the Grand National.

Jack was a star performer in the Easts teams that won a staggering six premierships in a row from 1952-59 firstly under captain-coach, Fred Pemberton, then Alf Penno with the last under club legend Roy Hayes. Following his stand-out performance at the 1958 carnival Jack took up an offer to coach Ardlethan in the South-West League in southern NSW.

“I was the only non-ex VFL player coaching in the league.”  ‘The Heap’ (former South Melbourne captain Ian Gillett) was coaching Coolamon, ex North Melbourne star Gerald Eastmure was in charge at Leeton, Footscray’s Brownlow medalist Peter Box was coaching Grongy (Grong Grong Matong), and Don Keyter (ex South Melbourne) was at Griffith. “It was a strong league”, recalled Jack.

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

“We made lots of good friends down there and still in contact with them”, but Joy (Jack’s wife) was a city girl and was pretty keen to return to Sydney to be near family, so we came back.”

Jack returned to his old club, East Sydney for the 1961 season. But the next season Jack was enticed to join local rivals Sydney Naval that shared Trumper Park with Easts, but trained down at Rushcutters Bay.

“I’d formed a close friendship with (rover) Danny Wilson through playing together in state teams. Plus, of course, there was a bob in it for me. They were a well run club at this stage and were well supported by some of Sydney’s biggest bookmakers who fielded at the races on Saturdays and came to the Aussie Rules on Sundays.”

Sydney Naval beat Newtown for the 1962 premiership in Sydney of which Jack was part. He played out his career with Sydney Naval until he retired in 1966.

Following this, Jack then turned his hand to administration and after joining the East Sydney committee became club president from 1970 till 1982.  He presided over another golden period for the Bulldogs during which they won six premierships. The most satisfying was for the club’s centenary year, 1980, when under Austin Robertson they thrashed North Shore in the grand final at the Sydney Showgrounds by 121 points.

“After going through the previous season undefeated we got beaten in both finals, which was terribly disappointing. We got ‘Oscar’ to take over from Alex Ruscuklic. We had assembled a very good team with players like Wayne Goss, Ian Allen, Grant Luhrs and Jim Richardson, plus we had retained Peter Ruscuklic as full-forward.”

Ruscuklic was a prolific goal kicker for Easts booting huge tallies of 136 (1979), 156 (1980), and 213 (1981).

A big let-down was expected the next season after the centenary triumph, but Jack had the inspiration to appoint local player Greg ‘Huey’ Harris, who had returned to footy from rugby union in 1979 and missed the premiership season with a knee injury.

Harris master-minded one of the great comebacks in Sydney footy history by leading the Bulldogs to a 89 point win over Sam Kekovich’s Newtown in the 1981 grand final. Easts had been down by 90 points at ¾ time in the second semi but came back to lose by only 10 points.

“Greg was a natural leader. He possesses great people skills, he can lead men. I had become a good friend of his father Col, who I played against when he coached St George. I just knew he would make a successful coach”

“Huey’ sure did he led East Sydney to premierships in 1981, 1982 and 1983 moulding a bunch of eccentric characters and ace footballers into an almost unbeatable combination. Easts won another premiership for good measure in 1984 under Wayne Goss“ Jack Dean was chairman of selectors.

Jack was a selector for many years for State teams and was Alan Jean’s trusted chairman of selectors when Jeans coached NSW in the Escort Cup in 1979-80 when the Blues almost upset the highly fancied Fitzroy (remember the ‘fat full forward for NSW’ Laurie Pendrick kicking 7 goals on then Victorian full-back Harvey Merrigan?) and Richmond in its premiership season.

Jack would go out to the airport in his plumbing truck and pick up Jeans for training. “He is a terrific fellow (Alan Jeans), a great football brain, but more importantly he had the ability to pass it on” according to Jack.

He continued on as chairman of selectors under Sam Kekovich and later, Greg Harris. It was in this period that I got to know Jack as I was the Country team manager for the state squad. Sam and Jack would fly down to Wagga on weekends to conduct training. Following a brisk, light training run we would head off with fellow selectors local legend Greg Leitch and former Essendon star Bobby Greenwood (who would drive over from Griffith in his Pontiac Parisienne) for a long lunch to discuss team selections.

In those days most people in Wagga stayed at home for a roast on Sundays so I used to get a Chinese restaurant to open up especially for us. Sam would always order up big, then feign that he’d forgotten his credit card and ask Jack if he could pay for the meal and claim it back from the league. Jack would always pay and never make a claim.

These days Jack is highly involved in the NSW Footy History Committee and he heads up the committee that selects the members for the local Hall of Fame each year.

Jack was the first player elected to the NSW Hall of Fame in 2003. The Eastern Suburbs-UNSW best and fairest trophy is also named in his honour. He is also a life member of the club.

This year Jack has been nominated for the AFL’s Hall of Fame. In recent years players and officials from the other states have been justly honoured but there is yet to be a non VFL/AFL player from NSW elected. Unlike the other nomination from North Melbourne via North Wagga, there are no issues about character. Jack Dean is True Blue.

Story by Rod Gillett – former Commissioner NSWAFL and former History Society Committee person.