“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.

 

 

SYDNEY’S RICH AUSTRALIAN FOOTBALL HISTORY

This article is written by Miles Wilks, former member of the Society’s management committee and author of a very detailed and well researched book, Australian Football Clubs in NSW.  To read more about his book and how to get copy click here.

Miles is passionate about this subject and welcomes any comments that can be directed here.
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It is a commonly held belief that Sydneysiders have had an almost non-existent role in the game at the top level, yet the fact is that as many as 80 players have been recruited from Sydney to the VFL/AFL.  Amongst the players recruited from Sydney is a player who kicked the winning goal in a VFL grand final, a Norm Smith medallist, eleven premiership players and a couple of record-holding goal kickers. It is a record of achievement that deserves more kudos.

In comparison, although one must preface this by stating I don’t have an intimate knowledge of rugby league recruiting, this figure of 80 players from Sydney to the VFL/AFL would presumably be larger than the combined number of rugby league players recruited from Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Hobart and Darwin rugby league clubs to the NRL.

Decade by decade- number of players recruited from Sydney clubs to the VFL/AFL

1897-1909 –  4 players

1910s – 6 players

1920s – 12 players

1930s – 10 players

1940s –  2 players

1950s –  7 players

1960s – 1 player

1970s – 5 players

1980s – 11 players

1990s – 9 players

2000s – 11 players

2010-11 – 2 players

In 2012, there are 20 players who have been recruited from Sydney who are on AFL lists. Eight of these twenty have debuted in league football.

1897-1910
Sydney’s first playe
r: Bob Kenny
Bob Kenny was the first player recruited from a Sydney club to play in the VFL. He debuted in 1899 and played just two games for St Kilda. He was followed soon after by John Stephenson, who was recruited from the Balmain football club and played 10 games for Essendon in 1907. Marshall Herbert, a recruit from Redfern, was the most successful of these early Sydney recruits, as he played 51 games with the Pies from 1908 to 1910. At this stage it should be noted that the only major football code that competed with Australian football in Sydney for players was rugby union, as rugby league was not played in Sydney until 1908.

1910s
The 1910s was a decade that resulted in the recruitment of two Sydneysiders who had a significant impact in the VFL.

STAR PLAYERS: Bob Merrick and Chris Laird.  Recruited from East Sydney, Merrick established a goal-kicking record for his adopted Victorian team of Fitzroy in 1919 when he kicked a total of 12 goals in a match. This feat of 12 goals in a match was never bettered by any other Fitzroy player in the history of that club. Bob headed Fitzroy’s goalkicking list each year between 1919-22.

The other Sydneysider to have an impact in the big league during this decade was Chris Laird. He was recruited from the eastern suburbs club of Paddington and is one of the few players in the history of the game to live the dream of kicking a clutch goal in a grand final with just vital seconds remaining in the match. Laird changed the fortune of the 1918 VFL grand final when he kicked the winning goal for South Melbourne with less than a minute remaining in the match.

1920s
The 1920s saw a twofold increase over the previous decade in the number of players from Sydney making the transition to the best Australian football competition in the land. Six Sydneysiders played in the VFL in the 1910s and as many as twelve Sydneysiders were recruited in the 1920s.

Fred Davies, who was another recruit from Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs, was the pick of the
Sydney recruits in this decade. His most notable achievement was being named as the captain of Fitzroy in 1934. Nevertheless, few of the other Sydney players had a large impact during this decade.

1930s
Ten players from Sydney made the transition to the VFL in the 1930s. The pick of the players was Newtown’s Reg Garvin.

STAR PLAYER: Reg Garvin
Before he played football for the Sydney club of Newtown,
Reg Garvin had played soccer and rugby. Garvin was recruited from Sydney by St Kilda and he was a star player for that club, as he won the Saint’s best and fairest award in
1941 & 1944 and also captain-coached the club.

1940s
The 1940s was a decade in which there was a noticeable drop-off in the numbers of high quality players making their way from Sydney clubs to the VFL, obviously due to WWII. Ron Hall, from St George, was one of only two players recruited from Sydney to the VFL in the 1940s. The other player was Arthur Richardson, who played just five games for the Swans.

1950s
The 1950s was another decade in which only a small number of Sydney players were recruited to the top league.  One of the recruits, however, had a large impact in the VFL.

STAR PLAYER: Roger Duffy –
Another Newtown player.   Duffy played his junior football for the South Sydney Australian football club and then for the nearby rivals Newtown.
He was an exceptional player in the Sydney league, and was a Newtown premiership player as well as the leading goal kicking for the Sydney football league in 1950 and 1951.
Duffy achieved the premiership and goal-kicking double by being a premiership player and a goal-kicking leader in two states.
His premiership wins were with Newtown (NSW)and Footscray (Vic) and he was the leading goal kicker with Newtown (1950-51) and with Footscray (1952).

 1960s
The 1960s was Sydney footballs lowest point in terms of the number of players recruited from Sydney clubs to the VFL.  Barry Fitzgerald was the only player recruited directly from a Sydney club to the VFL during this decade.  And he played just 35 games for Fitzroy.

1970s
The 1970s can be viewed as a decade of revival for football recruiting from Sydney. Whilst the 1960s was a low point in terms of player recruitment, the 1970s saw the recruitment of two stars of the game – Mark Marclure and Michael Byrne.

STAR PLAYER:Mark Maclure
Maclure played junior football for East Sydney and also won the Sanders Medal as the best player in Sydney’s reserve grade competition as a 17 year old. From there he tried out with Carlton’s under 19s team and was eventually lured to Carlton by their master recruiter Bert Deacon.
Of all the players to have been recruited from Sydney, Mark Maclure is the player who can boast as having the greatest CV. On top of his list of achievements is being a member of three premiership teams (1979, 1981 and 1982). Maclure is the only player recruited from a Sydney football club to have played in as many as three VFL/AFL premiership teams. On top of this, he was the captain of his AFL club (in 1986), won his club’s goal kicking award (1979 and 1985) and played over 200 games for his beloved Blues.
STAR PLAYER: Michael Byrne
Michael Byrne is Sydney born and raised, having come through the ranks of local Sydney football on the northern beaches and then playing for the Sydney club of North Shore.
Byrne’s induction into football was a tough one, as he played in the ruck for North Shore in the bloodbath Sydney grand final of 1976 at Trumper Park. This match was infamous in Sydney football for being punctuated by rolling brawls involving almost every player on the ground. After he left Sydney, Byrne became a premiership player with Hawthorn in 1983 and he produced on the big day, as he was the 2nd highest goal kicker for Hawthorn in the grand final after the legendary Leigh Matthews. Playing during Hawthorn’s greatest era.  Byrne also had the honour of being runner up for the club’s best and fairest in 1984.

1980s
The 1980s saw the introduction of the Sydney Swans into the VFL competition and it was a decade in which there was a large upswing in the numbers of players recruited from Sydney.

Only one player (1960s) and five players (1970s) made the transition to the top league in the two previous decades, but 11 players made the transition in the 1980s. Amongst these players was St George’s Mark Roberts, who was a premiership player with North Melbourne in 1996.

1990s
The 1990s was a remarkable decade in terms of the contribution of Sydney footballers to the AFL. It was the starting point for the careers of three Sydneysiders who played over 200 games of AFL football. The three players from Sydney who pulled on the guernsey in over 200 games of AFL football were Mark McVeigh [pictured left] (Essendon), Lenny Hayes (St Kilda) and Greg Stafford (Sydney and Richmond). McVeigh and Hayes were recruited from the Pennant Hills football club and Greg Stafford was recruited from Western Suburbs.

 

STAR PLAYER: Lenny Hayes
Hayes became the first player from Sydney to win the Norm Smith medal. His last quarter performance in the 2010 grand final for the Saints was one for the record books, as he willed his team back into the contest by obtaining 11 possessions as well as kicking an inspiring goal from 50 metres out.

STAR PLAYER:  Nick Davis
Nick Davis, recruited from Ramsgate juniors, didn’t have the longevity of career that Hayes, McVeigh or Stafford had, but he produced one of the defining moments in finals history and arguably the Swan’s greatest moment outside the 2005 grand final when he kicked four goals in the last quarter of the 2005 semi-final against Geelong. That blitz of goal turned the match around and secured the Swans a vital 3-point victory and the passage to a grand final victory.

2000s
Two exceptional footballers were recruited from the Pennant Hills football club in the 1990s (Lenny Hayes and Mark McVeigh), and the feat was replicated in the noughties, as two further Pennant Hills juniors of exceptional talent, Jarrad McVeigh and Kieran Jack, made their transition to the AFL.

STAR PLAYER: Jarrad McVeigh
McVeigh won the Sydney Swan’s best and fairest award in 2008. This was a noticeable feat as McVeigh became the first player to be recruited from a local Sydney football club to win the award. It took 26 years after the club started in Sydney for a Sydney local to win the award, yet it only took a further two years for the next Sydney local to win the award when Kieran Jack was deemed Sydney’s best and fairest player in 2010.

STAR PLAYER:  Kieran Jack
Jack started his career for the Swans as a dogged tagger in 2007, yet it was only three years later that he won the club best and fairest award. Displaying unbridled determination,

Kieran Jack won the award in 2010 largely because he had become a vital attacking option for the Swans. In his best and fairest year of 2010, Jack kicked 21 goals whilst still largely working in the midfield. In 2012, he is in contention for All-Australian selection as he continues to combine attacking flair with an ability to win the contested ball.

Many may question if the introduction of the Swans has been a success, yet from a recruiting viewpoint for Sydneysiders it has been. Only one player from Sydney in the 80 years prior to the Swans introduction into the Sydney sporting landscape played over 200 games of top grade football. Since the Swans moved to Sydney there have been three 200 game players from Sydney .

The players recruited from Sydney clubs in the years ahead will be following in the footsteps of exceptional footballers such as Roger Duffy, Michael Byrne, Lenny Hayes and the McVeigh brothers amongst others. Over the journey, the record of Sydneysiders at the top level is far better than what many would presume is the case“ there have been premiership players, club captains, club coaches, and best and fairest winners. Sydneysiders have achieved at the highest level of the Australian game, but just not with all the fanfare of players from other cities.