Best NSW Team Ever Announced

       Wayne Carey

The player regarded by many as the best player to ever play the game, Wayne Carey, has been named as captain of the Greatest NSW Team at the Carbine Club of NSW annual AFL Lunch today (9th May, 2019).

“The King” captained North Melbourne to two premierships in the 1990s and was selected in seven All Australian teams and was named captain four times. He won four best and fairest awards at North Melbourne and was leading goal-kicker five times. He captained the club from 1993-2001.

Carey played in the NSW team that beat Victoria at the SCG in 1990 and led a NSW/ACT team against Victoria at the MCG in 1993.

He began his football journey at North Wagga and strongly identifies with that club where his brother and nephews played. His boy-hood hero was the illustrious North Wagga captain-coach Laurie Pendrick.

The selection of the NSW Greatest Team was jointly sponsored by the NSW Australian Football History Society and the AFL NSW/ACT.

A panel of experts was assembled to undertake this extraordinarily challenging exercise. Senior selectors were Mike Sheahan and Gerard Healy supported by NSW Australian Football Society executive members Ian Granland and Rod Gillett and society member and author Miles Wilks. AFL NSW/ACT CEO Sam Graham and AFL Commissioner Gabrielle Trainor represented the AFL.

The panel was chaired by former Sydney Swans chairman and inaugural NSW/ACT AFL chairman, Richard Colless, who is the AFL convenor for the Carbine Club of NSW.

Nearly 500 NSW players have since 1897 played senior football in the VFL/AFL and a smaller number in the SANFL.

NSW players have won seven Brownlow Medals, five Magarey Medals, and three Sandover Medals.

There have been various attempts to select teams that represent part of NSW, e.g. Southern NSW/ACT, Riverina and Sydney teams. And there have also been a number of teams selected by historians and supporters that have been posted on the internet.

There has however, never been an official NSW team that embraces the game’s 140-year history and includes every part of the State in which the game indigenous has been played.

One of the issues is that there has never been a natural senior competition in NSW. Broken Hill, Sydney, and various Southern NSW and Riverina Leagues have at one stage or another been ascendant.

Nonetheless the game has a very rich history in NSW and the selection of the Greatest Team represents a major celebration for Australian Football in this state.

The team is:

 

 

 

 

Click here for criteria and bio of each player

 

– The Boy From Parkes – 1935

jim-reid-2-001If you turn to page 139 in Miles Wilk’s book, Australian Football Clubs in NSW, you read about a player who played with the South Melbourne Club in 1935-36 who was recruited from the Parkes Rugby League Club.

You have to ask if there’s got to be more to it than that.

Well in 1934 a young Rugby League player from Parkes, New South Wales, took himself to Melbourne with the intention of trying  out for the South Melbourne team.  An ankle injury put paid to his chances so he returned to play the season out with the Parkes Rugby League Club.

His name was Jim Reid and back with the Blacks where he had played at either fullback or in the centres for the previous two years.  In 1934 Reid played against the visiting Balmain team so at 19 he was pretty well entrenched in the club.

However come the following year Reid again made the trip to Melbourne to try out with South.

Now I guess you have to ask yourself why would this young man persist in his attempt to break into the VFL ranks when coming from a Rugby League background?

His mother and father were both from Western Australia.  Unusual at the time but by 1930 found them in William Street East Sydney operating a newsagency.  In fact just near the real estate premises of a former president of the NSW League, William Butler.

This was a strange move for someone who had been a railway worker then to run a newsagency or paper shop as it was called in those days, then later to manage brewery owned country pubs, and all this on the other side of the country.

Well, not that much later from his newsagency position, Jim’s father took over the license of a hotel at a Lake Cargelligo, NSW and of course brought his 17 year old son with him.  Then by the early 1930s the family was in Parkes and dad the licensee of the Royal Hotel.

This is interesting because although a 1935 Melbourne newspaper article, supposedly written by Jim Reid the footballer, says his family left Perth or Western Australia to settle in Adelaide for a period of time then onto Parkes, there is no mention of his time in Sydney.

H2008.122/31 Missing South Melbourne
1936 South Melbourne
1st Grade
(SLV 122_031)

His father also named Jim, has an interesting history.  He was born in South Australia in 1884  and his footballer son said that his father had played for both Port Adelaide and ‘Fremantle’, facts we were unable to verify but we did find his father had served in WWI.

Young Jim also said he played on the wing with the South Australian Schoolboys team in the national carnival held in Melbourne in 1924; this would have made him 11.  Well that year the carnival was played in Sydney and no trace can be found of him ever representing South Australia in a schoolboys carnival.  We also checked the 1926 South Australian Schoolboys team that did play in Melbourne to no avail.

Regardless, Jim was also good at cricket both as a wicket keeper and batsman and said he played in several representative teams.

It became obvious that this young fellow was  a talented sportsman and in 1935 the Sporting Globe said of him: “Jim Reid, the South Melbourne wing player has burst onto League football with a bang and surprised all the critics.  Formerly a Rugby player from Parkes, N.S.W. he felt that he would like to play the Australian game … Gordon Rattray, a  former  Fitzroy captain “bracketed him with Austin Roberston as the best man afield against Hawthorn”.  Another 1935 Sporting Globe article said “this season finds him more than holding his own with the best flanks in the game.”

His speed on the ground was quite often quoted.  He played on the wing with South and at one stage was said the be the fastest man in the game.  He is pictured here in the 1936 South Melbourne team at far right in the back row.  We thanks the State Library of Victoria for use of the image.

At the end of the 1935 season Reid said because he had no work he was returning to play Rugby and was sure he would be picked up by one of the Sydney clubs.  He also suggested he could quite easily claim a spot in the Australian side which was set to tour the UK.  He told the press he was offered the job as coach of the Parkes Rugby League team at £4 ($370 today) a week and this was 12 months after the club said they had received 100 applications for the position.

While newspaper articles carried the story, it was probably only a ruse to find him a job.  It worked, and he was quickly offered three positions – and this was deep in the time of the 1930s depression.  He took a job as a driver of an ice wagon.

In 1936 he again turned out for South playing seventeen of their twenty one games.  It was in this year, for the second successive season they were runner-up to Collingwood for the flag.

By this time his parents had moved from the Club House Hotel at Eugowra to another brewery pub, the Federal at Wallendbeen (near Harden).  His father by now was in his early fifties and a move back to Perth was on the drawing board.  He purchased or got himself a job in a newsagency in the Western Australian capital.

Young Jim also decided to make the move west and joined his family at the Agett Street Claremont address.  At 23 he had played 35 games for South Melbourne.

He signed with the Claremont Club and applied for a clearance.  Although he had completed the then compulsory 3 month residential qualification and said he had told at least three officials from the South Melbourne Club of his intention, his clearance was refused.

Following repeated requests South finally cleared Reid, with conditions.  Reid lived up to his reputation as a “speed merchant” helping Claremont to three successive premierships in 1938-40.  He missed selection in the 1939 team because of injury.

Reid was the club’s best and fairest in 1939-40 and also vice-captain of the team in 1940.  He represented Western Australia in the 1937 Carnival.

By 1941 WWII was well and truly underway and he enlisted in the army.  By this time too he was married.  Reid Remained in the services until his discharge in October 1945.

At 32 he made a comeback for Claremont whilst still in the army.  He was keen to get back in the saddle but his club were not what they were before the war.  He saw the season out and managed a handful of games the following year after which he retired.  He was made a life member of Claremont in 1946.

In 1948 he played with Boulder in the Goldfields League.  Used as a goalsneak he booted 52 goals in seven games.  He returned to Perth where he became football coach at his local police boys club and was noted about the same time hitting a quick century for the Claremont Cricket Club.

Reid died in 1983 aged 70.

– NSW Players to the AFL

Miles Wilks Book smallThe Society will work with author of Australian Football Clubs in NSW, Miles Wilks, to publish a list of the NSW players who have played in the VFL/AFL.

Miles’ book is an extra-ordinary read where he discusses not only the players but also the clubs they came from.  From Broken Hill, Corowra-Rutherglenn, Newtown to Nelson Bay, Wilks covers all the known players and he tells us of the most recent recruits and the very few he missed in his research.

Miles is a member of the History Society having served one term on the committee.  He is committed to continue his recording various aspects of NSW football and never lets a chance pass by without penning some information about an event.

The list which will appear on our site will include the name, home club, VFL/AFL club, games, image and where available any outside links to the person.  Miles will manage the page which Society officials are in the process of arranging.

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.