– Tas Carroll – schoolteacher

We have often written that people in sport and more particularly in our case, football, who are lost in the throng of the many who make up football clubs, leagues and groups.

In their time their names “are up in lights” and many became most prominent players or most influential officials or perhaps an outstanding umpire.

And yet when they withdraw or are lost to the code, their names and qualities are almost gone forever.

Sometimes there is a medal or trophy named after them so you can say their names may live on.  But who questions the name on the medal that was perhaps won by a player from your club?  Who knows about him or her for that fact?  Who knows what impact that person had on the game in their particular discipline?

Of course this is the case right around Australia.  It is the “xxx’ or “xyz” medal but who gives a tinkers cuss who “xzy” was?  We could go on about this forever and while times change the circumstances really do not but the memory of their influence or impact naturally enough fades or has faded into the distant past.

And what of those who want to or do change the names of these trophies.? They have no respect for the past.

In Sydney Australian Football there was such a man who led the push.  He was a school teacher and probably one of three who spread the game across the city and at the time who went to extraordinary lengths to promote his students into the game of Australian Football.

We have written about Rupert Browne, and of course there was H.G. (Bunny) Shepherd and Tas Carroll.  Or to be more precise, Tasman Stanley Shepherd.

Tas. (as he was known to his many friends) was born at Stanley in Tasmania in 1902.  After school he went into a career of teaching.  By 1928 he was living at Sandy Bay then two years later along with his wife he was Lillis, he had moved to his long time residence of 36 Kimberley Road, Hurstville.

Strangely, he did not get involved with the then newly formed St George Club however he began teaching at Leichhardt Tech where he promoted the game and coached teams from his school in the fledgling (Australian) football schools competition.

By 1931 he had been transferred to Hurstville Central Technical School and was appointed co-manager of the NSW PSSSA (Public Schools Amateur Athletic Assn) Australian Football Team which even then included future St George players in Don Menzies, Steve Duff and the 1939 Sanders Medalist (Sydney Reserve Grade B & F), Albert Butcher.

Tas went on to become intensely involved with schools football in Sydney and like Rupert Browne and H G Shepherd, became mentors to young men who would go on to play senior football in NSW with a percentage moving into the VFL.

Despite his commitment to the game he was never elected a life member of the NSW Football League although his two colleagues, Browne and Shepherd were.  Also he missed on the ANFC’s Merit Award, and honour bestowed upon a person for his or her outstanding commitment to football in the state.

Regardless, his loyalty to the game, particularly in the schools remained consistent through to about 1960.  In these latter years he was the honorary schools secretary when he was listed as a teacher at the South Hurstville School.

There are many men in Australia who owe their involvement and in some way so too do the St George Club who were the recipient of these players , including a former outstanding club president in Sid Felstead.

Tas’s daughter, Patsy who also became a schoolteacher, was another who the St George Club benefited from his involvement.  She turned out to be the club’s publicity officer, writing in the St George Leader as well as the Football Record for a number of years.

Tas died in 1992, aged 90, his death unnoticed by the Australian Football community of the time.


Unfortunately we have no image of Tas.


Not so long ago we wrote a story about John Leber, former player, umpire and junior organiser who unceremoniously passed away early in the year at Coffs Harbour aged 91.

We used the information we had at hand in writing the article and at the same time publishing a sub standard photograph of John, given that’s all that was available.

In the process of re-cataloguing material we have in the Society’s rooms at Wests licensed club, Croydon Park, we came across a whole plethora of information about the man which had been misfiled and, considering his contribution to the game in Sydney and what we had found, we felt he deserved another run.  Its a good story.

A red-head, John learned his football when he attended Gardiners Road Public School between 1933-36.  During this and earlier periods in Sydney there were only three or four public schools who were sympathetic to Australian Football:

There was Rupert Browne at Gardiners Road, Tas Carroll at Hurstville Tech and another at Double Bay School.  Gardiners Road churned out many state and players who went on to play first grade football in Sydney.

John represented NSW at the All Australian Schoolboys carnival held in Canberra in 1935 where the NSW team was under the management of H G (Bunny) Shepherd.

When he left school he played with the Rosebery Club in the Metropolitan Aust National Football Assn., which was virtually a second division in Sydney.  Rosebery was quite a strong club and at the time, coached to their 1938 premiership by Jack Hayes, a local, who had played with Footscray and only a few years previous to this coached the St George Club.

Leber then chose to join the very strong Newtown Club where he played both first and reserve grade until 1942 when he enlisted in the AIF and immediately began playing and umpiring services football.

In this year he represented a combined services team which defeated NSW 16.18 (104) to 13.21 (99) at Trumper Park.

In 1943, whilst undergoing a course in Seymour Victoria, Leber approached the Fitzroy Football Club to ascertain if he could get a game.  The club’s secretary, Perc Mitchell wrote back inviting him to play in the seconds for the club against Melbourne on August 14.  Click here to read the letter.

The literature we have supports the fact that he did play with the Lions but, from further research, and despite suggestions to the contrary, we have been been unable to confirm that he played in the senior side.

Upon his return to civilian life in 1946 John again signed on with Newtown but failed to gain a permanent place in their very strong outfit.  During this time he sustained a severe leg injury, dislocating his knee resulting in medical advice that should not continue to play football.

Still with a love of the game, John took up umpiring in 1949.  He went on to umpire 147 first grade games in Sydney.  Additionally he umpired Illawarra v Williamstown in Wollongong in 1948, Combined Sydney v Newcastle game 1951 and NSW FL v Broken Hill in 1952, besides the NSW v Tasmania game we have already mentioned in 1955.

As we also said in our previous article, John umpired two Sydney first grade grand finals and we are fortunate to have his Umpires’ Appointment Card for the 1955 decider between Eastern Suburbs and North Shore. Tas Carroll, Rupert  He was awarded Best Umpire by the Umpires’ Assn in 1951 & 1955.

It has been a long time since umpire appointments have been notified in this manner and the card itself is certainly a find.

John was one of the founders of Boys Town (Engadine) Football Club as well as the St George Junior Football Association.  He also helped in the formation of the Engadine and Heathcote junior football clubs and umpired school and junior games in these areas as well as coaching junior umpires conducting lectures at least twice a week to umpires and junior clubs in the St George District.  Interestingly John was one of the founders of the now Southern Power Football Club.

John Leber was appointed coach of the NSW Under 17 Teal Cup side in 1958 and the NSW Under 15 Shell Cup teams in 1961 & 62.

His last game was in the NSW v Tasmania Schoolboys game at Picken Oval in 1973.  Together with his NSWAFL games, John umpired 261 junior matches which total 408 games, certainly a great service to Australian Football.

In our last article we mentioned that John assisted the league with good rates for interstate teams travelling on the airline, TAA.  To our embarrassment we have found that John worked for Ansett Airlines of Australia where he helped in the movement of state teams from round Australia co-operating with the then league Secretary, Lionel Beale and later General Manager, Russell Hopper.

For a period of five years it was John who arranged for the winner of the Phelan Medal to receive a free airline trip, firstly to Hayman Island then the Gold Coast in the late 1960s to the early 1970s.

As well as all this, John was always only too happy to help Sydney and other clubs with their end of season trips.

A great Australian and a great ambassador for our code in Sydney.