“Our coach Frank Dixon convinced us we could beat Victoria (in 1949)” – Jack Dean

A remarkable man lost in the history of football times. Rod Gillett profiles the nomination of Frank Dixon to the inaugural AFL – NSW Hall of Fame:

                 The former Frank Dixon Grandstand                                                   at Trumper Park in Sydney

South Sydney Rabbitoh, South Sydney premiership captain-coach, NSW player, captain and coach, Rat of Tobruk, Senior-Vice President NSW ANFL, Deputy Lord Mayor of Sydney

Frank Dixon did it all in a remarkable career in sporting and civic life stretching from the late 1920s until he stepped down as Deputy Lord Mayor in 1961, declining the opportunity to succeed Harry Jensen as Lord Mayor of Sydney.

“He was a charismatic leader. A great motivator. We respected him enormously” Jack Dean told me in an interview in 2008. “We trained for weeks in advance of the game with the aim of beating Victoria”.

NSW lost that game after a tight first half with the Vics only seventeen points up at half-time. However, with VFL stars Bob Davis, Bobby Rose, Les Foote and Brownlow medalist Don Cordner firing, the Vics ran away to record a resounding win.

At the reunion of the 1949 team at the 1990 NSW v Victoria game Frank Dixon walked into the SCG Trust Suite to meet his charges after being feted by the AFL at the pre-match official dinner and declared, “I’m like Mark Antony walking into Cleopatra’s tent, I haven’t come here to talk!”

Frank Dixon was born in Waterloo and grew up in the South Sydney district which was to remain central to his life in football and politics. He initially played footy for the Daceyville Junior Waratahs club and won the competition best and fairest in 1926.

However, like so many young men in the South’s district, Frank Dixon wanted to play rugby league for the Rabbitohs, and he did in 1928 and 1929.

In 1930 he returned to football and thus began his long and fruitful association with the South Sydney Australian National Football Club as a player, captain, and coach in the club’s most successful era.

Frank took on the role of captain-coach in 1934 and led Souths to its first premiership since 1914. The pen pic of Frank Dixon in the Football Record for the 1935 grand final read:

“Frank Dixon is an inspiring captain and has the whole-hearted confidence of his team-mates. He has outstanding knowledge of the game and should be able to keep command of the game in the position of follower and half forward”.

He was to lead Souths to another premiership in 1935 and to runner-up in 1936 and 1937.

Frank Dixon
               Frank Dixon

Frank Dixon captained NSW for the first time in 1935 when he led the Sky Blues against the Victorian Amateur representative team at the SCG. As skipper led NSW to home-and-away victories over fierce rivals Queensland.

He became captain-coach of the State team the following season and led NSW at the national amateur carnival in Adelaide where the Sky Blues beat South Australia and Tasmania.

The profile in the match day program for the carnival said of the NSW captain-coach:

“….possesses football personality on and off the field, and has the ability to bring the best from his men.”

Frank enlisted in the AIF in May 1940. He served in the 9th Division of the AIF in the western desert and New Guinea until 1945. After surviving the Siege at Tobruk, he was badly wounded at El Alamein and was evacuated to Australia but recovered to serve in the Pacific theatre.

After the war Frank settled back into civilian life and resumed work for the Sydney City Council. But the call to re-join football was strong and he was invited to join the state ruling body, the NSW ANFL, as senior vice president in 1947 as well as coach and selector of the NSW State team.

He took charge of the State team for the 1947 ANFC Carnival in Hobart. Under his tutelage, NSW beat Canberra and Queensland, lost by ten points to hosts Tasmania and were well beaten by the SANFL.

The 1947 Carnival team included players from Broken Hill and the Riverina as well as players from Sydney such as cricket star Keith Miller (Sydney Naval), Roy Hayes (Eastern Suburbs, Ossie Grose (Newtown) and former Henty player Neil Stevens (Eastern Suburbs).

Frank was again coach of the State team at the 1950 ANFC Carnival in Brisbane. NSW were placed in Division II beat Tasmania and Queensland but lost to Tasmania and the Australian Amateurs.

He finished his tenure as coach at the end of the 1952 season. Altogether as a player and coach he was involved in twenty-seven representative fixtures for NSW.

As a senior vice president of the NSW ANFL, Frank Dixon went to Melbourne by train to attend a meeting of the ANFC in 1947 to secure a grant to fund a licenced club in Sydney to promote the game. However, upon his return with a cheque of £5000, the league delegates resolved not to proceed. Frank always regarded this as “golden opportunity missed”.

                 1949 NSW Team v Victoria at the SCG

After finishing with football politics, Frank Dixon turned his attention to local government. A long time ALP member and party official he was elected to the Sydney City Council as an alderman in 1956 and served as Deputy Lord Mayor in 1960-61.

The Sydney City Council named the grandstand at Trumper Park in his honour.

Frank said, outside of football, his crowning glory to the community was the construction of the El Alamein Fountain in Fitzroy Gardens, Kings Cross in Sydney.  “That project was mine, I did that”  Frank told us.

 

Source:: Frank Dixon six-part podcast
interview with Ian Granland (a good listen)

 

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Sydney Naval with All Guns Blazing Sail to Victory in 1960

     1960 Sydney Naval FC Premiers – mascot Ken Wilson

By Dr Rod Gillett

Danny Wilson, one of the leading goalkickers in Sydney football in the 1950s, led Sydney Naval to a grand final win over Newtown for the Sydney AFL 1960 premiership this time from the back pocket!

Playing in his 250th game, Wilson was named best player for Naval. According to the Sydney Morning Herald (9 September 1960) report of the game Wilson was “…Newtown’s biggest stumbling block. He repeatedly saved in the backline and made many clearing dashes which turned back the Newtown attacks”.

It was a stunning victory by Sydney Naval who trailed by 8 points at ¾ time but forged to the front at the start of the last term and despite a late comeback by the Blood-stained Angels to draw level with a goal with ten minutes to go; but Naval kicked the last two goals of the match to win by seven points.

It was Sydney Naval’s first premiership since 1944 when it beat RAAF in the grand final. At that time both teams were laden with active servicemen with VFL backgrounds who were stationed in Sydney during the war.

It was prior to the start of the 1944 season that the ‘Sydney’ Football Club received permission to add the title ‘Naval’ to its title. The club was the first one formed in Sydney in 1880. Playing in Melbourne colours, Naval was runner-up to North Shore in 1961, and then won the flag again in 1962, by again beating Newtown at Trumper Park.

Sadly, the club folded in 1971 after forfeiting both grades due to a player shortage in July; Naval had languished at the foot of the table from the late 1960s. The club had no juniors and were heavily reliant on navy personnel.

  Jack Harding

The captain-coach Sydney Naval in 1960 was, believe it or not, local product Jack Harding, who had returned from Fitzroy in 1956 to coach the club. Harding played 27 games for Fitzroy from 1952-54. He had started playing footy quite by chance. He went to a junior game at Moore Park in 1949 to watch a friend play but was coerced to play.

He went on to play seniors for Sydney Naval the next year and represented the league against Newcastle. Harding was captain-coach of the NSW team at the 1960 ANFC second division carnival in Sydney.

Jack who worked for the Sydney City Council, married Dorothy, the sister of team-mate Danny Wilson’s wife, Iris, better known as “Bubby”.

Danny had come to Sydney in 1946 and while serving in the navy and started playing for Sydney Naval in 1947 alongside legendary cricketer Keith Miller (later the first Chief Commissioner for the NSW AFL)

He served on the HMAS Shropshire until 1949 when he was discharged. Originally from Melbourne where he had played with South Melbourne Districts, he meet Bubby on shore-leave, married and settled in Sydney.

After leaving the navy Danny Wilson worked for Ron Bennett’s menswear, and in the sixties ran the store in King Street Newtown. Naval’s best player each week used to receive a shirt as a trophy from the store when Danny was club president from 1964-1970.

Wilson had a distinguished football career in Sydney. He played 340 games for Naval and kicked over 600 goals in a career spanning 1947-62 including two premierships. He captained Naval in 1953-54. He booted 87 goals in 1956 to win the league goal-kicking and won four club best and fairest awards.

He represented NSW on ten occasions including against Victoria at the SCG in 1949 and at the 1950 ANFC Carnival in Brisbane. He was named in the best players against Victoria on both occasions.

Danny Wilson was inducted into the Sydney Hall of Fame in 2006.

  Brad Wilson
          playing Rugby League

His son Brad (pictured left), who played junior football for Peakhurst and then rugby league for St George 1981-82 recalls very happy days with the whole family going to Trumper Park when his father was involved with Sydney Naval,

“My brother Ken (who had an illustrious rugby league career at Newtown including playing in the Bluebags grand final team in 1981) and I used to play kick-to-kick on the ground. We loved the atmosphere, it was so alive”.

“Then after the game the partition in the change rooms under the grandstand would be moved, and the players and their families would join together for food and drinks and a sing-a-long. Dad’s signature tune was That Old Black Magic. Mum and dad made so many friends through Aussie Rules. Jacky Dean and dad were great mates”.

Danny, Brad and Ken all kicked with their left-foot. Danny’s sons were famed in rugby league for their kicking and ball-handling skills. Ken once kicked the only point for a game in NSWRL history when he slotted a field goal for Newtown to win 1-0 against St George in 1973. Danny taught them how to kick drop kicks in the backyard of the family home in Bexley.

The left-foot Wilson kicking tradition continues with Brad’s son Matthew now on Sydney University’s NEAFL list. However, as a Norths junior product, he will ply his trade with North Shore in the Premier League this season. 

Much of the information for this article was gained the Sydney competition match day programs going back to 1927. These are accessible from the Society’s website: click here

Jack Dean – NSW Hall Of Fame Nomination

Australian Football celebrates its 140th anniversary in NSW this year after the founding of the NSW Australia 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 some of the nominees for the Hall of Fame:

Jack Dean in 1958

In the 1949 interstate match between NSW and Victoria at the SCG twenty-year-old East Suburbs FC ruckman Jack Dean went up against veteran Victorian captain and legendary Richmond icon Jack Dyer at the opening bounce.

“He sat me on my arse!”

“The Vics. cleaned us up that day, but it was a great thrill to play against them” recalled Jack in an interview at the Alexandria Hotel in 2009.

“We thought we were a chance, our coach Frank Dixon (later Deputy Lord Mayor of Sydney) was a great motivator and we trained for weeks in advance with a view to beating them” he added.

Born and bred in Paddington, Jack went down to Trumper Park with his brother Mal in 1944. His father Joe had also played for East Sydney, as did Jack’s son, Marshall. Thus Jack Dean began a distinguished football career that took in over 400 games in NSW until he retired in 1966.

He played 310 games for Easts, 45 for Sydney Naval, and 40 games for Ardelthan in the Riverina.

Jack also represented NSW on 25 occasions including the Australian National Football Council (ANFC) Centenary Carnival in Melbourne in 1958 where he was voted the State’s best player.

He was a star performer in five of Easts’ flags in this period when the club won a staggering seven premierships in a row under legendary coaches Fred Pemberton,  Alf Penno and Roy Hayes from 1953-59.

Following his stand-out performance at the 1958 carnival. where he won the Div II Best Player medal, Jack took up an offer to coach Ardlethan in the South-West League in southern NSW.

“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 Ardelthan!”

Following his return from the bush Jack spent a season coaching Easts; he crossed to Sydney Naval, where he played until he retired in 1966 including the 1962 premiership.

He won East Sydney’s best and fairest four times and was runner-up on four occasions.

Allan Jeans

After his retirement, Jack returned to Easts on the committee and assumed the presidency in 1970 and held the position until 1982 during which time the Bulldogs won six premierships including the much-vaunted club centenary flag in 1980.

Jack was a long-serving State team selector and served as chairman of selectors for former St Kilda and Hawthorn premiership coach, Alan Jeans, in 1979-1980, when NSW competed in the national pre-season competition against VFL clubs.

The best and fairest medal at UNSW-Eastern Suburbs is named in his honour. He is a life member of the club and was awarded an Aust National Football Council Merit Award in 1977.

Jack was one of the first players inducted into the AFL Sydney Hall of Fame in 2003.

This induction earnt him a nomination under the category of Community Player for the AFL NSW Hall of Fame as part of the celebrations for the 140th year of Australian Football in NSW in 2020.

 

You can listen to (football) Jack’s life story in two parts on our website;  Here is part I here and part II here  You might have to turn your sound up a bit.

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.

– Football On The Domain

More than likely, the majority of those reading this will have no idea where ‘the Domain’ is in Sydney.

In 1816 Governor Macquarie inaugurated what are now the Royal Botanic Gardens and the ‘Domain’, on land that his predecessor, Arthur Phillip had set aside as a ‘Governor’s demesne’ [a piece of land attached to a manor and retained by the owner for their own use] late in the eighteenth century.

It is situated to the south of the Opera House and behind the NSW Parliament Building.  The land is home to the NSW Art Gallery and also Mrs Macquarie’s Chair.

The subsequent growth of Sydney’s magnificent Botanic Gardens was at the expense of the Domain. The Domain now exists only in four small precincts, where once it covered all the area from Woolloomooloo Bay to Circular Quay, and south to Hyde Park. Encroachments over time – such as in 1942, when Domain land was taken for naval fuel tanks, and during the 1960s when land was taken for ramps for freeways and traffic tunnels – have greatly diminished its original size.

The venue was also used for political orators of a Sunday who used to gather people in their thousands to listen to these various soap box speakers.  Sadly this part of Sydney’s history is gone.

However at lunch time, midweek, a few sports are still played there, in particular soccer and touch football while netball courts are located on top of the Domain carpark.  The park was also the scene of a midweek city business houses rugby league competition in the fifties, sixties and seventies.

People could be seen hurrying from their city offices the short distance to the Domain to watch or play sport their during their luncheon period.

Clinton Wines

On Wednesday 27 August 1947 a lunch-hour game of Australian Football was played before a crowd of 500 people at the Sydney Domain.  Eastern Suburbs player and former Carlton star, Clinton Wines, was instrumental in having the game played.  The teams were made up of a number of Sydney first grade player including test cricketer, Keith Miller who then played with the Sydney Club.

Although reports on the game (we think there was only one), are scant we can provide some detail on the leadup to the match:

Test cricketer Keith Miller, and NSW captain Roy Hayes lead the two teams in what was described as a lunch-hour promotional match.

Nine State players and other outstanding first-graders took part. Many of the players worked in the city, but others travelled from distant suburbs to participate.

Besides Wines, Newtown captain Alan Smythe along with Ron Matthews, policeman Neil Stevens, Roy Geddes, Ted Larsen and Darcy Coleman were all involved.  It was reported “that many spectators, who have never seen the code, would get an idea just how spectacular it is,” said Hayes, the captain and coach of the Eastern Suburbs Club.

“The Australian Council is spending money on fostering the code in NSW and Queensland, but there Is no better way of making progress than ‘to bring the game before the public. “Hundreds of people walk in the Domain and Gardens In the lunch-hour, and we want them to see the match.” he added.

Roy Hayes

The game was played in two 25 minutes halves.  Many of the players had to dash from their city offices at 1:00pm then be back at their work place by 2:00pm.

Jack Dean, (now deceased) a former member of the History Society Committee played in the game and said it was very popular amongst the lunchtime crowd.  Dean, a plumber, had to organise himself to be ready to go at 1:00pm and then back to his work in the Eastern Sububs of Sydney.

We have no record if other matches were played or the actual result of the game but were told that further games were planned for 1948.  They did not go ahead.

The concept of Lunchtime AFL at the Domain could well be taken up by present day administrators of the game in Sydney who might want to schedule an AFL 9s game or a modified Womens AFL match on this popular Sydney lunchtime venue.

– Umpiring

1972 Umpires at Training, Erskineville Oval

Each time I watch the AFL on TV it amazes me how quick the reactions are by umpires when they detect a free kick etc.

I guess its the same with all sports but Australian Football umpires are right on the spot, and in the big games, there are three of them!

Of course, like players, the game hasn’t always been particularly kind to umpires over the years but in more recent times umpiring as a discipline has become more professional and their role much more appreciated.

In 1973 Rod Humphries was a feature writer for the Sydney Morning Herald and he authored a great piece about umpires and their training.

He began with:
“Any casual observer who happens to look in at Erskineville Oval between 5 o’clock and 7 o’clock on Wednesday nights is likely to make a quick retreat to the Park View (hotel), just across the street.

At one end of the ground a team of deaf and dumb Rugby League players ginger their way through training, while at the other end an assorted bunch of men spend much of their training running BACKWARDS.”

Umpires in Sydney have used many training grounds over the years.  Erskineville Oval, Moore Park, Reg Bartley Oval at Rushcutters Bay, Fraser Park at Sydenham and Trumper Park, just to name a few.

Jack Armstrong playing for NSW as a ruckman

And they have had their share of characters in their number whether it be field, goal, boundary, their coaches and/or officials.  None though, could have been a more controversial character than ‘Black’ Jack Armstrong.

He played first grade in Sydney for over 15 years after he moved with his family from Coolamon in 1943.  Although the family settled in Ashmore Street, Erskineville, a stones throw from Erskineville Oval, Jack couldn’t get a game with the the nearby Newtown Club who were on the verge of a seven consecutive premiership run, so, along with his brother, he signed with the South Sydney club.

Jack spent six years with South before moving back to Newtown.  He was appointed captain-coach of the club in 1953 a position he held for three years.  Then he moved out west and played with the Liverpool club where he was also coach.  In 1960 he moved back to captain and coach Newtown then, in 1961, he gave away playing and began to umpire.

So here was a player who had probably been reported more times than any other Sydney footballer at that time who was now umpiring Sydney first grade.  If you listen to our podcast on the Jack Dean interview, he says that Jack was the hardest and most difficult oppenent he had opposed in his 20 year history.

jack’s umpiring career only lasted five years but during that time he officiated in club, final and interstate matches.  Lke his brother Joe  ten years before, Jack umpired the 1964 Sydney first grade grand final.  Then went back to the South Sydney Club at 44 years of age as captain-coach in 1967.  Of course he was reported again but used as his defence at the tribunal, “insanity”.  He got off.

1957 Jack Armstrong with Liverpool, in the thick of it. Ellis Noack is about to cop it

Humphries went on his article about umpires – and Jack, telling the readers “Jack was umpiring a third grade game before doing first grade and had cause to send the coach, a first grade player off the field for abusing him.”

“We were all in the same dressing room and he had a shot at me.  I told him if I wasn’t an umpire I would do something about it.  He said I didn’t have the guts”

“It was a sweet left hook’ Jack said laughing “and they had to drag him out of the mens’ toilet trough…”

So as you can imagine, he was one hell of an umpire!  and during his time, he knew almost everyone in Sydney football certainly during the 1950s and 60s.

In 1971 a car pinned him up against a brick wall which eventually led to the removal of his leg but he never lost his passion for the game.

– Jack Dean Interview – now includes part 2

The Society has released an historical interview with Jack Dean, now deceased, which was recorded in 2011.  Click the link which will take you to the site where you can listen.  When you bring up this link, click the > feature marked on the black ‘recording’ icon.

www.nswfootballhistory.com.au/?post_type=podcast&p=20614&preview=true

www.nswfootballhistory.com.au/podcast/jack-dean-interview/

Jack Dean Interview, part II
www.nswfootballhistory.com.au/podcast/jack-dean-interview-part-ii/

Society officials said they were very fortunate in locating the recording after a dozen interviews of former Sydney football players and personalties were given to the State Library of NSW for safe keeping but now find they are unable to obtain copies to load onto this site.

Jack Dean was a powerful man during his time in Sydney football and he was inducted into the Sydney Hall of Fame in 2003.  Here is a little of his bio:
“Born in Sydney and due to his father’s influence (Joe Dean also played for “Easts) he joined the Eastern Suburbs Football Club at the age of 16. Jack was chosen to play for NSW at 17 then became a driving force as a ruckman at Eastern Suburbs and went on to represent NSW 25 times. Played in Easts premiership teams between 1953-58, coached Ardlethan FC in the Riverina for 1959-60 seasons before returning to coach Eastern Suburbs in 1961. In 1962 Jack crossed to Sydney Naval and played there until he retired in 1966. He won 4 Best & Fairest Awards and 4 Runner Up Awards with Easts and in 1958 won the Best & Fairest Trophy representing NSW in the Centenary Carnival in Melbourne.  Later, he became a State Selector for 12 years.

Jack was President of Easts from 1970-82 during which the club won 6 premierships. He received the ANFC Merit Award for Service to Australian Football in 1977. Jack was involved with Easts Juniors as a coach and was Junior State Selector for the NSW Under 15 Shell Cup and Manager on several Shell Cup Interstate trips. In a career spanning 20 years, Jack played 310 games for Easts, 45 for Sydney Naval, 40 for Ardlethan and 25 for NSW. He also won Best & Fairest Awards for NSW against Western Australia, Queensland and ACT during his career.”

Jack was twice nominated for the AFL Hall of Fame in Melbourne without a positive result.

He lived in Paddington for the greater part of his life and was one who was involved not only in local football but also with the successful application for a licence for his club which became ‘East Rules club’.

Fortunately we have located the second tape of this interview series which is also now posted on this site.  Both tapes end abruptly and unfortunately our equipment at this stage does not provide the apparatus to correct this, but we are working on it.

Treasurer, John Addison, is now working on loading the six part interview with Frank Dixon interview.  Dixon is also a member of the Sydney Hall of Fame.  He was very actively involved in Sydney football both before and after WWII.  He is a former Deputy Lord Mayor of Sydney after which the Frank Dixon Grandstand at Trumper park was named.  These interviews should be on our site mid next week.

Both of these men provide very interesting insights to Sydney football.

JACK DEAN ‘PRINCE OF PLAYERS’ IN SYDNEY FOOTBALL

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.

JACK DEAN STEPS DOWN – more pics

Society Committee member for five years, Jack Dean, has finally decided to hang up his football boots.

He joined the committee in 2006 prior to the establishment of the group formalising its Society status and incorporation.

He was invaluable for his knowledge of specific eras of Sydney football from the mid forties through to the 1980s.  Jack is 83 years of age and his bio in Sydney football is almost unique:

Born in Sydney and due to his father’s influence (Joe Dean who also played for Easts) he joined the Eastern Suburbs Football Club at the age of 16.  An easy decision seeing the family lived next door to Trumper Park.

Jack was chosen to play for NSW at 17 then became a driving force as a ruckman at Eastern Suburbs and went on to represent NSW on 25 occasions. He played in Easts premiership teams between 1953-58, coached Ardlethan FC in the Riverina for 1959-60 seasons before returning to coach Eastern Suburbs in 1961.

 

In 1962 Jack crossed to neighbouring club, Sydney Naval and played there until he retired from football in 1966.

He won 4 Best & Fairest and 4 Runner Up Awards with Easts and in 1958 won the Div. II Carnival Best & Fairest Trophy representing NSW in the Centenary football carnival in Melbourne. Later, he became a NSW State Selector for 12 years.

 

Jack was President of Easts from 1970-82 during which the club won 6 premierships. He received the ANFC Merit Award for Service to Australian Football in 1977. Jack was also involved with Easts Juniors as a coach and Junior State Selector for the NSW Under 15 (Shell Cup) and Manager on several Shell Cup Interstate trips.

 

In a playing career spanning over 20 years, Jack played 310 games for Easts, 45 for Sydney Naval, 40 for Ardlethan as well as 25 for NSW. He also won Best & Fairest Awards for NSW against Western Australia, Queensland and ACT during his career.

He even had a booklet of his playing football photographs and newspaper articles published in his honour.

Jack’s knowledge of those past players in Sydney was invaluable when it came to nominations for the Sydney Football Hall of Fame and he himself was an almost automatic selection to the post in its first year.

His presence will be sorely missed and sited his inability to again stand for election on the Society’s move to the Western Suburbs Club at Croydon Park.  At Jack’s age, the trip to and from the venue posed a real issue and he decided not to test fate, particularly after he has spent several bouts in hospital in recent years.

The Society is indebted to Jack for his involvement and has invited him to continue his relationship with those on the Board.  In return Jack has donated a number of items of his memorabilia of Sydney football which include several from former East’s coach and mentor, Alf Penno.

The top photo is a recent one of Jack sporting one of the new Society polo shirts which are now available for purchase.

Noack Talk Recorded

Hall of Fame member and Sydney football icon, Ellis Noack, had his 30 minute discussion before the the forty plus crowd on Saturday recorded.

Its important to document memories of people involved in Sydney football and Ellis is no exception” Society president, Ian Granland said.

He has given a lot to Sydney footy and the game owes it to him and the organisation itself to go to extra ordinary lengths to keep those recollections as best they can and to have his voice on tape for prosperity for future generations to enjoy.

We will have the recording digitised and provide a copy to the State Library of NSW where other similar tapes have been lodged.”

Asked if he ever considered a football career interstate Noack replied that in the early 1960s when the South Australian club, Sturt, visited Sydney he was approached to move interstate.  “I seriously considered the offer” Noack said “but it was just as I met my wife so my entire world changed and I remained in Sydney and continued in my work with the NSW Police Force.”

The photo shows Ellis Noack marking over a Newtown ace fullback, Harry Free in the 1958 Preliminary Final at Trumper Park.  History Society committeeman , Jack Dean is also in the picture.  All three are members of the Sydney AFL Hall of Fame.

You can listen to the recording of Ellis by clicking here