Wayne Carey: The Greatest Player Ever

Australian Football celebrates its 140th anniversary in New South Wales this year after the founding of the NSW Football Association in Sydney on 30 June 1880.

To commemorate, 140 coaches, players, umpires, administrators and media personalities from both the Elite (VFL/AFL) and Community level will be inducted into the inaugural New South Wales Australian Football Hall of Fame.

Neil Cordy interviews his former NSW State-of-Origin team-mate Wayne Carey:

 

       A Young Wayne Carey

In the week NSW Australian Football turned 140 its greatest player, Wayne Carey, has revealed he grew up barracking for the Parramatta Eels and South Melbourne.

Its salt in the wounds for Swans fans who lost Carey and John Longmire to North Melbourne for $70,000 in 1988.

But the news should be taken with a grain of the same stuff when the prospect of losing the Kangaroos champion to Rugby League was a real one.

Carey was an Eels fan but his move to his auntie’s house in North Wagga brought footy into the mix. Auntie Pam and Uncle Bob Causley lived on William Street just 50 metres from McPherson Oval.

“They were my happiest childhood memories there at McPherson Oval,” Carey said. “They were really good times for me. I started playing at 8am in the under 10s. The fog would set in sometimes and you couldn’t see the other end of the ground. I would be there all day. I’d run the boundary in the reserves and sometimes, the seniors. I got a pie and a can of coke for doing it”.

“My footy boots were hand me downs from a cousin. The first proper footy I got, a Sherrin, was one I won at a Carnival when I was 10. I treated it like a baby, I polished it and never kicked it on the road. I didn’t trust my brother (Sam) to mark it. If Sam was kicking with me it had to be on the grass.”

Forty years later the game is celebrating their good fortune and Carey’s contribution by including his name alongside triple Brownlow medallist Hayden Bunton’s on the Carey-Bunton medal.

It will recognise the best player from NSW annually through the AFL Coaches Association voting.

The Coaches Association award started in 2004, and previous NSW winners including Brett Kirk, Lenny Hayes, Taylor Walker, Kieran Jack, and Zac Williams will be awarded the medal retrospectively. A team of the year will also be named with Carey one of the selectors along with Mark McClure, Gerard Healy, Mike Sheahan and Richard Colless (conveynor).

It’s a fitting tribute to Carey’s impact on footy north of the Murray and south as well. In 2008 he was named as the greatest player ever in a book titled ‘The Australian Game of Football’. The book, published by the AFL, included a list of the top 50 players of all time.

Remarkably Carey’s inspiration didn’t come from any of the champions listed. His was a home-grown product of Wagga, Laurie Pendrick (pictured below)

“Laurie was my first football hero,” Carey said. “He was a very good player and a standout in Wagga. He played in the centre but could go forward and kick goals. He was tough and hard and opposition fans hated him and North Wagga fans loved him”.

“He was the captain coach and had a really deep voice. The rooms were pretty small back then so they didn’t let many in. I tried to get in as often as I could and I loved the smell of the deep heat and the rah rah. If I wasn’t in the room I had my head sticking through the door. You could usually hear him outside the rooms because his voice was so loud.”

   Wayne Carey in his playing days with North Melbourne

North Wagga wasn’t the most exclusive area of the town and money was scarce. When Carey was named in the NSW primary school team the footy club raised the finance which allowed him to make the trip.

“North Wagga had raffles and raised funds for me to go to Darwin,” Carey said.

“The trip to Darwin was big and my first meeting with John Longmire”.

Carey cut his foot swimming near an oyster bed but did enough to impress then Swans recruiter Greg Miller. A decade later when Miller was working for North Melbourne came calling on the young pair of New South Welshmen.

Carey says at that stage he was the junior partner in the deal which would help secure the Kangaroos amazing run of success through the 1990s.

“Greg Miller remembered me from the carnival in Darwin and threw me in with the deal with John when we went to North,” Carey said. “They paid $70,000 for us and Horse was $60,000 of that and I was $10,000. John was a very accomplished player at a young age, he had every VFL club after him.”

It is the deal which broke Sydney fans hearts and still lingers in their collective memory, especially those who watched North Melbourne beat the Swans in the 1996 grand final.

The pill is made even more bitter by the fact Carey grew up following the red and white.

“I barracked for the Swans,” Carey said. “The Sydney blokes would come down and do clinics. That’s where I met Stevie Wright. He was my first VFL/AFL hero, he pulled me aside at a clinic and had a kick with me and I loved him from that time on.

“The reason why I wore the number 26 in the 1990 state game against Victoria was because of Stevie Wright.”

Wright coached Clarence (Tasmania FL) to back to back flags in 1993 and 1994 and is still involved in football. He is currently coaching Meeniyan-Dumbalk in the Alberton League in South Gippsland, Victoria.

“Wayne told me the story about the footy clinic but I hadn’t heard about him wearing the number 26 for NSW,” Wright said. “It’s obviously nice to hear that Wayne remembered me, it just goes to show what a difference it makes when you show interest in kids wherever they are.” (Ed. Steve Wright was vice-captain of the 1990 Origin team and wore #12 in that game).

The kid Steve took some time with is now the ‘King’ or ‘Duck’ depending on who you talk with.

He’s looking forward to presenting the first Carey-Bunton Medal later this year.

“I’ve always felt strong about where I come from,” Carey said. “I was born and bred in Wagga and I’m proud of that.”

Neil Cordy played 235 VFL/AFL games with Footscray and the Sydney Swans. After his AFL career Neil coached and played for East Sydney. He worked for Network Ten for 15 years as a reporter/presenter and on their AFL coverage. He was the AFL Editor for the Daily Telegraph from 2011 to 2018 and is currently a member of ABC Grandstand’s AFL broadcast team.

 

Longmire Legacy

Australian Football celebrates its 140th anniversary in New South Wales this year after the founding of the NSW Football Association in Sydney in 1880.

To commemorate, 140 coaches, players, umpires, administrators and media personalities from both the Elite (VFL/AFL) and Community level will be inducted into the inaugural New South Wales Australian Football Hall of Fame.

Neil Cordy profiles Sydney Swans coach John Longmire a true blue New South Welshman:

John Longmire (centre) after NSW
beat Victoria 1990

John Longmire’s eight goal haul in NSW’s epic 1990 win over Victoria was a Hall of Fame effort in itself but it’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to his family’s contribution to footy in New South Wales.

Four generations of Longmire’s have played, coached and administered football in NSW with three of those representing the state.

John’s grandfather Walter Longmire was the first to wear the sky blue when he played for NSW at the National Carnival in Melbourne in 1927.

Sixty-one years later John made his senior debut for the state as a 17-year-old in the 1988 Bicentennial Carnival in Adelaide. John’s son Thomas continued the tradition when he represented the NSW Primary Schools team in 2015.

Donning the state guernsey isn’t a custom that only travels down the Longmire line it’s also spreading through the branches of the family tree.

John’s younger brother Beau captained the NSW Combined Secondary Schools team as did Beau’s son Jedd who played at Primary and Secondary school level. Jedd’s very talented younger brother Tex was set to play for the Primary School team this year before Covid-19 intervened.

Wilbur Chandler (son of John and Beau’s sister Shellie) has also played for the NSW Primary and Secondary School teams.

It’s a production line which continues to grow as does John’s legacy at the Sydney Swans.

John is now in his 10th season as senior coach and his 20th at the club after working as an assistant for the previous decade. He has a 64% win-loss record, a premiership (2012), two runners up (2014 and 2016) and a total of 20 finals appearances. Last year was the first time the Swans have missed finals in his reign as coach.

This came after an outstanding 200 game career at North Melbourne where he booted 511 goals, won a Coleman Medal (1990) and played in the 1999 premiership team.

These exploits have the Longmire family’s service to the code pushing close to 100 years. They now sit very comfortably in the Pantheon of NSW footy families alongside the Quades, the Carrolls, the Danihers and the Strangs.

“The Sky Blue runs deep,” John Longmire said.

“It’s New South Wales right through our family.

“I wasn’t aware of my Grandfather’s NSW connection when I played in 1990. But when my dad showed me the photo of Walter from 1927 it really resonated.”

Corowa’s geography made Melbourne the bigger influence in his early football universe but as time passed John’s connection to his home state became stronger.

“My passion for NSW was a slow burn,” Longmire said. “I started wearing the sky blue growing up, first at primary school level, then secondary and at 17 I was in the senior team”.

“What really made an impact was playing alongside all four Daniher brothers. It hadn’t happened at Essendon because of different circumstances so this was pretty special”.

“I roomed with Neale and we didn’t waste the chance to celebrate the win over the Vics. All four brothers were there plus their five sisters and Jim and Edna. Neale got back to the room at about 4am and woke me to up to have a cup of tea and tell me about the 80 metre goal he kicked. It’s a great memory because the Danihers are one of the great NSW footy families.”

It was also a memorable night for John’s father Fred who had to drive through the night to get to the SCG. He was running on two hours sleep after working through the early hours sowing a wheat crop. It was worth the trouble as the sight of John wearing the same guernsey his father wore brought back some boyhood memories.

“I remember mum showing me dad’s (Walter Longmire) jumper from 1927 with the Waratah on it,” Fred Longmire said. “Who would have thought John would be wearing the same jumper 63 years later on the SCG and to play the way he did.”

Walter played for Balldale in the Coreen League for more than 20 years winning premierships in 1930 and 1934 before finally retiring at the age of 44..

“The Coreen League was a very strong competition during those years,” Fred Longmire said.

“There were a lot of very good footballers who had played in the VFL working in the area. They would beat a lot of the Ovens and Murray teams of the day.”

Fred was a pretty handy footballer too, he also played for Balldale before moving to Corowa in 1967 and winning their Best and Fairest. The following year he played in their premiership team coached by former Richmond champion and 1967 premiership captain Fred Swift.

He also had a run with South Melbourne in the 1960s playing in a couple of practice matches.

“I’ve still got the Football Record from one of those matches,” Fred said, “I was wearing number 48. I’m glad I kept it after John finished up at the Swans.”

John’s maternal grandfather Keith Williams was another big talent, playing for Fitzroy, captain-coaching Corowa and winning the Morris Medal for the Ovens and Murray Best and Fairest.

The Longmires are still very much a part of the Corowa area with Fred serving on the Council after a stint as Mayor and Beau running the farm which Walter selected 100 years ago called Sunny Hill.

Neil Cordy played 235 VFL/AFL games with Footscray and the Sydney Swans. After his AFL career Neil coached and played for East Sydney. He worked for Network Ten for 15 years as a reporter/presenter and on their AFL coverage. He was the AFL Editor for the Daily Telegraph from 2011 to 2018 and is currently a member part of ABC Grandstand’s AFL broadcast team.

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)

 

– Player Clearance Refused to VFL Club

It doesn’t happen now, players with talent are immediately absorbed into an AFL club with the blessing of their parent club.

In the old days however certainly Sydney, and I imagine country clubs, were very reluctant to let their players go.

1921 NSW State Schools Team – Fred is front row on the right

Such was the situation with Freddie Davies.  A product of Double Bay School and later the Eastern Suburbs Club, Fred was bathed in talent.  He represented NSW Schoolboys in 1921 and again in Brisbane in 1922 as captain.  He later captained the NSW state team at the age of 23 against the VFL at the SCG.

Prior to this Fred represented the state in the 1927 National All-States Carnival and was beseiged by VFL clubs for his signature.

In those days local clubs and state bodies frowned on such action and went to great lengths to discredit the Melbourne clubs.

In early 1928 when North Melbourne attempted to secure his clearance they were exposed when it was reported that:
“It was a big offer (£4/10/ a week to play football) and a job in the bargain for Davies to turn down. He did not know what the other players had been offered. Mr. Thomas, (said Mr. Smith) explained the whole position and there was not the slightest possible doubt that negotiations with the three players had reached an advanced stage when Mr. Thomas called on me. THE THREE PLAYERS. Fred Davies was the best all-round player in the League last season. Twenty years of age, he weighs 11st. and is 5ft 11 in. With his exceptional capacity for ‘mixing it’ in any company, Davies would he sure to succeed in Melbourne League football. He moves into position well, and, in addition to handling the ball ably, is a fine kick and marksman. He is a product of the Double Bay School. When several Victorian critics endeavoured to select an Australian team after tbe recent Carnival games in Melbourne, Davies was the only New South Wales player to receive popular recognition.” [1}

Then, on the same day, the Sydney Sun reported on a letter sent to North Melbourne from the Secretary of Davies’s Eastern Suburbs club:

SYDNEY FOOTBALLER

CLEARANCE REFUSED FOR VICTORIAN CLUB MELBOURNE, Wednesday.

The Eastern Suburbs Australian Rules Football Club, Sydney, has refused a clearance to the North Melbourne Club of F. Davies.   Alrc McWhinney, secretary of the club, explains the position in the following letter to Stan Thomas, secretary of the North Melbourne Club: — “Your committee and yourself cannot realise the strenuous fight that we in Sydney have had in the past to foster the good old Australian game. If, when we are making steady progress, we have to lose players of the type of F. Davles (by trafficking), then we in Sydney will have to close up business and go back to Rugby. “It is only on very rare occasions that we get a local, player like Davles; who is not only a draw for our club, but a big draw for our game In general and while we can produce his class of player the game is going to make rapid strides in Sydney. Therefore my committee appeals to your club to refrain from encouraging players from Sydney when you have so many to choose from In Victoria.” [2]

1934 image of the Fitzroy Team. Freddie Davies is highlighted. The mercurial Hayden Bunton is on his right

Now today there would be hell to pay if a club took this action but it kept ‘Snowy’ Davies in Sydney until 1930 when he took the field for Fitzroy.  During that time Easts were runners  up in 1928 but failed to make the four in 1929.

Fitzroy were a strong club in those days while North, who hadonly been admitted to the League in 1924, struggled.

Davies went on to play from 1930-34 for Fitzroy and captained the side in his final year.  Upon his return to Sydney he played for St George, firstly under Ted Shields, then Bub Phelan and finally under former Footscray player, Jack Hayes.  He was appointed captain and coach of the club in 1938 when they won their second consecutive premiership.  Fred was 32.

The only other player we know of who had problems gaining a clearance was Mark McClure when he was recruited by Carlton from East Sydney (same club).  Easts officials delayed the clearance in the hope of a securing substantial ‘transfer fee’ only to have the Carlton Secretary tell them ” …. if you don’t clear him we will sign someone else and he can stay in Sydney.” (or words to that effect) [3]  The clearance was quickly despatched to Melbourne after the matter went before a special meeting of the NSWAFL administration on June 21, just before the clearance cutoff date. [4]   McClure went on to play 243 games over eleven seasons with Carlton and was captain of the club in 1986.

[1]  Referee  Wednesday 15 February 1928 p 13 Article
[2]  Sun  Wednesday 15 February 1928, page 7
[3]  Anecdotal – club official
[4]  Sydney Sun 23 June 1973

1966

19661966 could be judged as just another year in Sydney football.  The footy system went on as normal but we take a deeper look at the season which is just 48 years ago.

Wests won the flag before a crowd of 7,000 at Trumper Park, Sydney Naval’s Norm Tuxford took out the Phelan Medal, Don McKenna an army recruit from the St George club booted 71 goals to win the first grade Leading Goalking Award, the league returned a (never to be repeated) profit of $2,575 on the Football Record, Eastern Suburb’s Roy Hayes, was made life member of the league, a junior competition was started in the Balmain-Ryde area which included North Ryde, Ermington, Pennant Hills-Normanhurst as well as a Balmain junior club and long term league secretary, Ken Ferguson once again took the reigns at the league, this time in a fulltime capacity.

The league consolidated their newly acquired premises at 64 Regent Street Chippendale, (a photo of which now adorns the website front page in a rotating banner) and again recorded their recognition and appreciation for its purchase to the Western Suburbs Licensed Club.  Sydney Naval and Eastern Suburbs clubs, separately, had their applications for a licensed rejected by the Licensing Court.

A direct and live broadcast (albeit of the second half) by Channel 7 of the Western Suburbs v Sydney Naval game on June 4 game gave the code a lift while East’s captain-coach, Alan Gray was transferred to Wagga prior to the end of the season, upsetting the club’s plans for the finals  Souths had a foreign legion in the senior side which only contained three locals.

Junior players in the state’s Under 15 training squad included Jack Slade (Newtown), Phil Fenny (Wests), Paul Paitry (Easts), Chris Bucko and Paul McCook (St George) were some who would go on to play senior football in Sydney.  Peter Hastings, SC, QC, former Tribunal Chairman who now heads the NSW Crime Commission, was president and player of the Sydney University Club.

Forty-two year old, Jack Armstrong, The Black Fella, retired from umpiring.  Incidentally the Society is working on a story of this once legend of Sydney football which will be published soon.  Ellis Noack was captain-coach of the Southern Districts club.  St George moved to their new home on the site of a former quarry which became Olds Park.  In the rules of the game, the flick-pass was ditched.

History Society president, Ian Granland, began his long journey in football administration when elected secretary of the South Sydney club at age 17 and Vice President, Bill Carey, played his 100th consecutive first grade game for Balmain.

Former VFL umpire and Sydney Naval Coach, Bill Quinn, who went on to become a wonderful supporter of the Sydney Swans club, was appointed coach of the NSW Umpires Assn.  And who could not forget the appointment of Ray Catherall as Sydney Naval’s coach.  Ray, a restauranteur,  had Mother’s Cellar and Moby Dicks restaurants at Kings Cross in his stable.  He gained international notoriety by playing ‘soothing’ music to his players in the change rooms at half time breaks.  He only last one season at the club only to move on to coach Sydney University the following year.

However one of the biggest and least remembered events of the season was the umpiring furore at Trumper Park on July 10 when NSW played North Melbourne.

Our last featured photograph prompted a few memories when, in the days of one (central) umpire, the then Umpires’ Assn secretary and the 1965 Sydney grand final umpire, Len Palmer, was ‘unappointed’ from the game and replaced by VFL umpire, Stan Fisher.

We contacted the Ettalong based Palmer to get the real story.

KilligrewHe said he was at the ground and had begun to change into his umpiring attire when Kangaroo’s coach, the 168cm former St Kilda dynamo, Alan Killigrew (pictured) told officials that “he would not let his boys be umpired by someone from a football outpost like Sydney.”  When asked to be reasonable about the matter and that the 31 year old Palmer, who was after all,  was straight off the VFL Reserves Umpiring list in 1964 and quite competent of handling the match, but the volatile Killigrew refused and stood his ground.

Minutes before the start of the game, Sydney officials had no choice but to capitulate.

Palmer said he had been told before the match that a VFL umpire was at the ground but he did not know his identity.  North Melbourne had brought Fisher to Sydney for the game but there appeared to be no prior communication on the appointment between the two organising parties.

Fisher, who began his VFL umpiring career in 1963 and by then had umpired over 40 league games, was embarrassed about the controversy and suggested to Palmer that they eac do one half.  Palmer could see the problems this could cause and declined his offer.  He then sat on the sideline as the reserve umpire but joined in the after-match hospitality at the Wests Club.

NSW was soundly beaten 20.17 (137) to 7.11 (53).  And incidentally, several current members of the Society were in that NSW team including Brian Tyler, Denis Aitken and Peter Burgess.

As a show of their support for Palmer, the league had sent him to Canberra only weeks before to umpire the Queensland v ACT game at Manuka Oval.  He 1966 NSWANFL 1st Semi Final 1 smallalso umpired the 1966 Sydney Grand Final before he retired from umpiring due to his work in the TAB.

When asked if he had any regrets he said no, “Football gave me a great journey through life and I have made some wonderful friends.  I wouldn’t change a thing” he replied.

Our photograph shows Len Palmer taking the field for the 1966 Sydney Grand Final at Trumper Park.  Note the crowd.  The footballs the umpires had in their hands were used for bouncing and throw-in practice.  None was the match ball.