Ricky Quade – “Loyal Son leading the Swans to Victory”

Australian Football celebrates its 140th anniversary in NSW this year after the founding of the NSW Football Association in Sydney in 1880.
Neil Cordy profile the nomination of Ricky Quade to the Hall of Fame.

Rick Quade

Footy is full of sliding door moments. If the great Norm Smith didn’t make the move to coach the Swans in 1969, Ricky Quade probably wouldn’t have worn the red and white.

It would have been a terrible loss for footy in New South Wales.

Not only would they have missed out on one of state’s greatest talents they would also have lost a lifetime of service at multiple levels.

After starting out at the Lake Oval in 1970 Quade went on to play 164 games and lead the club as captain (1977-79), coach (1982’-84’), chairman of selectors (1980-81, 1989-93) and as a director (1995-2011).

All that may never have happened if it wasn’t for the arrival of the ‘Red Fox’ (Smith) who came knocking on the Quade’s door at the family farm at Ariah Park.

The 17-year-old Quade was hot property after kicking 101 goals for Ariah Park-Mirrool in 1968 and then following it up with 131 the next year. He even played against John Longmire’s dad Fred in an inter-league match between the South West League and the Ovens and Murray League who Longmire senior was playing for.

These feats were remarkable considering he spent most of his teens playing Rugby Union for St Patricks College in Goulburn where he boarded.

But Rick’s dad Leo needed some convincing he should go to the VFL after the experience of his two elder brothers Tom and Mick who played at North Melbourne. Both brothers VFL careers were plagued by injury and Leo wasn’t impressed by the player welfare at the time.

“I was set to go to North,” Quade said. Frank Gumbleton came from Ganmain and had spoken to me but dad reckoned I was too young to go so he held me back, then Norm Smith became coach. It was only because Norm Smith was coach that dad let me go, so I went to South Melbourne.”

Leo was no pushover, Smith and South’s recruiting manager Brian “Wrecker” Leahy had to make seven trips from Melbourne before they could convince Leo the Swans were the right team for Rick.

“It was little wonder dad and Norm became friends,” Quade said. “They drove up from Melbourne in the same red Falcon and got to know the road pretty well.”

It was also the start of a remarkable relationship between Quade and one of the giants of the game. Sadly it lasted only a handful of years due to Smith’s premature death in 1973 at the age of 57.

                               Norm Smith

At his funeral a 23 year old Rick was one of the pall bearers along with Norm and Marjorie’s son Peter, their “adopted son” Ron Barassi and former Melbourne player Ross Dillon, another country boy, from Kyabram, who had tragically lost his father.

“It was a great honour,” Quade said.

“It was one of his wishes (that Rick be a pall bearer), his wife Marj rang me the day after he died. He was a legend, I was really fortunate to play under him. I didn’t realise it at the time because I was only 19, but he was a tremendous figure. Everyone says he was a great coach but he was a great man as well.”

There is no doubting Norm Smith’s position in the game. He was named the coach of the AFL’s Team of the Century in 1996 was inducted into the AFL Hall of Fame as a Legend in 2007.

But Quade believes he missed out on an accolade which went to his “adopted son” Ron Barassi after the 1970 grand final.

Barassi’s half-time instructions to Carlton players “handball, handball, handball,” have been described as the “Birth of Modern Football” after it inspired a 44-point comeback to beat Collingwood. But Quade believes Norm Smith started the tactic well before this with the Swans.

“Everyone attributes the handballing game to Barassi but it was Norm who created it,” Quade said.

“He started using handball as a tactic in 1969 and ramped it up in 1970. Skilful players like Skilton, Bedford and Hoffman thrived on that. He was also big on quick ball movement. In those days players would take a mark and go back and take their time, hold the ball in the air and take five minutes to kick it.

“To get South into the top four in 1970 was a huge achievement. That year South beat the eventual premiers Carlton by 12 goals”.

Smith was also big on work ethic and doing the right thing which he often communicated to the young Quade.

“He was in my ear about life and it was often about working harder,” Quade said. “His view was if you didn’t have a job you didn’t get a game.”

Those with life lessons came in handy through the challenging early days of the Swans in Sydney. “We were lucky to survive,” Quade said.

“We were well led on the field by Roundy, Mark Browning, Denis Carroll and those guys. They were offered big money to leave and they stuck fat. We were unwanted and unloved but it galvanised us.” 

Quade Quadrella From Ariah Park-Mirrool

      Pat Quade

Pat Quade was rated the best player from NSW country never to go to the big time according a feature article in the AFL Record (18 May 2018).

“I can remember five VFL clubs – North Melbourne, Carlton, Richmond, St Kilda and Melbourne – were after Pat,” his brother Rick Quade, who was born 14 years after Pat, told the AFL Record.

“When someone from a VFL club came to the house, he’d disappear down the paddock and do some tractor driving. He bought his first farm out at Tallimba when he was pretty young, only 23 or 24, and that was his great love, apart from his family.

Pat was the sixth-born of the 15 Quade siblings (there were nine boys and six girls) born to Leo and Mary Quade who had moved to the area to take up land selection from down on the border.

Pat and his older brother Tom and younger brothers Mick and Rick are on the NSW Greatest Team list. They were all from the Ariah Park-Mirrool (APM) Football Club in the South West District Football League.

Both Tom and Mick played at North Melbourne while Rick went to South Melbourne.

Tom played just three games over 1957-58 due to a persistent knee injury. He returned to be captain-coach of APM for the 1959 season but was unable to play due to the persistent injury. After a few games the following season Tom was forced to retire.

Prior to going to North Melbourne, Tom played in APM’s 1954 and 1955 premiership teams. A tall athletic man, Tom had an epic battle in the ruck against Ganmain captain-coach Mick Grambeau (ex-North Melbourne) in the “rough and tough grand final of 1956” won by Ganmain (Ariah Park Mirrool Football Club 30th Year, 1983).

Pat played alongside his brother Tom in the 1954-55 premiership teams and then went onto carve out an illustrious career with the Brown Bombers. He won six club best and fairest awards in succession from 1956-61. He also played in the 1962 premiership team along with another

      Pat Quade     
        marking

brother John, under Johnny Hawke, the father of former Swans and Collingwood star Paul Hawke.

“Pat certainly wasn’t tall compared to the other ruckmen, but he had a terrific leap, was a very good mark for his size, and he was very strong,” Rick Quade told the AFL Record. “He was a strong bugger, I know that. Some of the things I used to see him doing on the farm. Bloody hell, he was terribly strong”.

During a career of more than 200 senior games from 1954 until 1965, Pat also represented the South West League against the Ovens and Murray, the Farrer league, the Sydney league, North Melbourne, Collingwood, Geelong, South Melbourne, and Carlton.

Mick went to North Melbourne in 1966 and played 16 games and kicked nine goals until 1968. His VFL career was plagued by a nagging thigh injury. He returned to Ariah Park but he too was forced to retire prematurely in 1971.

He was described as “a beautifully built big man who possessed all the skills” (Ariah Park Mirrool Football Club 30th Year, 1983).  

He played his first senior match for APM in 1962 while home from school on holidays. All the boys except Pat went to boarding school at St Pat’s College Goulburn. According to Rick, Pat never wanted to leave the farm.

His first full season was in 1965 when he won the club’s best and fairest award. Playing at full-forward in the preliminary final he booted 9-3 but on that occasion APM was overpowered by Griffith.

Rick Quade has done almost everything at the Swans – player, captain, coach, selector, and board member. He went to South Melbourne under country zoning rules in 1970 to play under legendary coach Norm Smith.

Norm Smith made numerous visits to the family farm to entice Rick to go to South. He developed a strong rapport with Rick’s father Leo and undertook to look after young Rick.

The coach and the recruit developed such a strong relationship that Rick became a regular guest at the family home in Northcote, as well as at the coach’s beach house at Rosebud.

Highly regarded by the Smith family, Rick along with Norm and Marj’s son Peter, plus “adopted son” Ron Barassi, and another country boy, Ross Dillon from Kyabram, who went to play for Melbourne in 1966, were pall-bearers at Norm’s funeral in 1973.

Rick played his first senior game for APM aged 16 in 1967 after returning home to the farm from boarding school in Goulburn. He had an immediate impact by finishing runner-up best and fairest and was the club leading goalkicker with 49 goals.

The following season Rick established himself as a star in the competition booting his 100th goal for the season in the grand final against Griffith who were led by Ron O’Neill the league’s leading goalkicking with 114 goals and led the Swans to a 24-point victory over the Brown Bombers. Rick also won the club’s best and fairest award that season.

In 1969 aged 18, Rick kicked a competition record 131 goals but APM slipped to 7th. He again won the club best and fairest award.

He was finally enticed to South Melbourne the next season, but badly injured his knee on debut and missed the rest of the season including the Swans’ first final appearance since the Bloodbath Grand Final of 1945.

After four more seasons in the VFL, Rick returned to APM as playing coach in 1975 along with team-mate and friend Jim Prentice as assistant coach; Jimmy had played 60 games for South from 1971-75. In an exciting run the Brown Bombers surged into the finals and beat Griffith by 2 points in the first semi-final but went down to runner-up Turvey Park in the preliminary final.

In 1976 Rick returned to South Melbourne to play under new coach triple Brownlow medalist Ian Stewart. He had an outstanding season playing as a ruck-rover and won the club best and fairest award.

     Rick Quade

The following season Rick was appointed captain and led the Swans into the finals only to be beaten by Richmond in the elimination final at VFL Park, Waverly. Rick also represented Victoria that season against Tasmania and scored eleven votes in the Brownlow Medal.

Rick retired in 1980 after having played 164 games and kicked 111 goals. He won the Cazaly award in his final season for the Most Courageous Player in the VFL.

The following season he assisted Ian Stewart as a specialist coach.

He was appointed coach of the club for the 1982 season and spearheaded the Swans entry into Sydney when they played their home games at the SCG. A major highlight was the Swans victory in the nation-wide Escort Cup played at night under lights during the week.

Rick stood down as coach in mid-1984 for health reasons.

He was chairman of selectors from 1989-1993. He then became a board member from 1995-2009 and oversaw the club’s rise leading to the first premiership win for seventy-two years in 2005.

Rick is now the chairman of the club’s Hall of Fame committee.

“He was a fearless leader and mixed pure talent with raw aggression to gain the respect of his team-mates as well as the opposition” according to a profile by David “The Sandman” Oehm in the Riverina AFL Record (2003).

Rick was selected in the final squad for the NSW Greatest Team named at the Carbine Club function in May this year.

Tom, Pat, Mick and Rick were all named in APM’s Best Ever Team (Ariah Park Mirrool Football Club 30th Year, 1983).

(Written by Society Vice President, Dr Rodney Gillett)