When Did the Daniher Brothers First Play Together

l-r: Anthony, Terry, Neale & Chris

If you answered at Essendon you’d be wrong.

If you said at Ungarie you’d also be wrong. Although Terry did play with his father Jim at Ungarie.

The first time the four brothers –Terry, Neale, Anthony & Chris played football together on the one team was for New South Wales in a State-of-Origin match against Victoria at the SCG on Tuesday 22 May 1990 at the SCG.

It was the first time a quartet of brothers had played together in a State game.

And in one of the greatest upsets of all time in interstate football NSW beat Victoria by 10 points.

“We had blokes that just kept boring in. We had a real good crack and we just enjoyed it. It was bloody great!” Terry Daniher told Adam McNichol, the author of The Danihers: The story of Australia’s favourite family.

All four Daniher boys were nominated for the NSW Greatest Team but only Terry was included in the team. He was selected on the half-forward flank.

Neale, who had lengthy period coaching the Melbourne Football Club (1998-2007) was named as assistant coach to Allan Jeans.

The Daniher dynasty started when the boys’ grandfather Jim Snr, moved to Ungarie from Euroa where he played in their 1913 premiership team to take up a 740 acre allotment under the NSW Closer Settlement Scheme.

Jim Snr was instrumental in the formation of the Ungarie footy club according to Adam McNichol, the author of The Danihers. He ensured the newly formed club adopted the black and white colours of Euroa for its guernseys.

Jim Daniher Snr proved to be one of Ungarie’s best players in the club’s formative years. He was captain of the 1923 premiership team. The Northern Riverina Football League official history rates him as the best player in the northern Riverina in this period.

According to Adam McNicol, Jim Snr “occupied various positions in the club for many years, including that of patron”. This was also something that Jim Jnr did as well as his son, Chris, who is still actively involved with the club having been coach, and more recently president.

Jim Daniher

Jim Daniher Jnr was an outstanding footballer, both in Australian football and in rugby league. He played both codes for Ungarie for many years. After representing Riverina against Great Britain in Wagga in 1954 and scoring two tries against the reigning world champions, Jim received offers from a number of Sydney-based clubs including Manly-Warringah, but Aussie Rules football was Jim’s passion.

Jim Jnr won three competition best and fairest awards in the Northern Riverina Football League – 1949, 1956, and 1959. He led the Ungarie Magpies for over a decade, the highlight being five premierships, 1950, 1956 and 1959-1961. He was well supported by his two brothers, Jack and Leo, who were integral to Ungarie’s success in this period. Leo won the competition award in 1951.

The three brothers married three sisters. They produced more footballers for Ungarie. Jack’s sons, Mick, Peter (better known as Po) and John, who made their names at Turvey Park in the South-West league, and Mark, Pat and Rodney, sons of Leo. Pat also played in Coolamon’s 1983 premiership team.

Terry Daniher had a celebrated career in football after going to play for South Melbourne in 1976 under the VFL country zoning rules after a season at Ariah Park-Mirrool under Rick Quade.

He played a total of 313 games in the VFL/AFL (19 for South Melbourne and 294 for Essendon) and booted 469 goals. He captained Essendon to the 1984-85 premierships during his period as captain from 1983-88. He played 15 State games (11 for Victoria and 4 for NSW). He was named All-Australian captain at the Bicentennial Carnival in Adelaide after leading NSW to victory over WA and a close loss to South Australia. He also coached NSW against Victoria at the MCG in 1993.

Terry was inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame in 1998 and was named on a half-forward flank in Essendon’s Team of the Century.

After Essendon, Terry coached Wagga Tigers in the Riverina Football league to five premierships. He won the RFL best and fairest Quinn Medal in 1994.

Named as captain of Essendon in 1982, Neale Daniher became the Bombers’ youngest-ever captain in their history but he had badly injured his knee in round 21 against South Melbourne. He underwent reconstructive surgery during grand final week. He was not to play a senior game again until round 9 1985. He never really fully recovered from the injury for which he had multiple operations.

However, he did recover sufficiently to join his brothers in the NSW Origin team that beat Victoria in 1991 and to play more games for Essendon including one game with all his brothers.

Neale played 82 games for Essendon in two stints punctuated by injury, 1979-85 and 1989-90. He represented Victoria twice and NSW just that one time. He won Essendon’s best and fairest in 1981.

After a stint as an assistant and Reserves coach at Essendon, Neale was appointed coach of the Melbourne Football Club in 1998. In 2000 he got the Demons into the grand final but were beaten by Essendon led by his old coach Kevin Sheedy. He coached the Dees until 2007 securing 108 wins from 223 games.

He is currently waging a courageous campaign against Motor-Neurone Disease (MND) and has been instrumental in fund-raising efforts that have raised millions of dollars for research into the disease.

Anthony Daniher, better known as “Ants” (never Tony as the Melbourne media called him) has the unique distinction of playing over one hundred games for two VFL/AFL clubs: South Melbourne/Sydney Swans (115) and Essendon (118).

“Ants” went to the Swans under the zoning rules in 1981 after stints at Ungarie, Turvey Park (when he moved to Wagga to do a wool-classing course) and Ganmain, then under former Carlton player and 1961 Coleman medallist, “Turkey” Tom Carroll.

He transferred to Essendon in 1987 where he consolidated his position as a key defender and was named the All-Australian full-back in 1991. He played in the Bombers grand final team that lost to Collingwood in the first-ever AFL grand final in 1990. He played five State games for NSW.

Like his antecedents Anthony also became highly involved in football at the local level and became a junior coach at the Aberfeldie footy club in Melbourne’s north-west suburbs after retiring in 1994. Two of his sons, Darcy and Joe have played with Essendon under the father-son rule.

The youngest brother, Chris, went to Essendon in 1987 and played 124 games and kicked 40 goals in a ten-year stay. He was a member of the famous “Baby Bombers” premiership team in 1993.

He played four games for NSW including Origin wins over Victoria and Queensland.

After finishing his AFL career, Chris returned to the family farm, and to play again for Ungarie. He led the Magpies to premierships in 2000-2001 and just like his father Jim and his brother Terry (1974) won Northern Riverina FL competition best and fairest awards in 2000-2002, and again in 2004.

As well, Chris coached Temora and Mangoplah-Cookardinia United in local competitions. But his primary focus has been the Ungarie footy club where he has served in various roles both on and off the field.

“I want to keep it going so my kids can play footy at home rather than folding and having to drive another half-hour to play with someone else”, he told the author of The Danihers.

In 2019 Ungarie are still a constituent member of the Northern Riverina Football League. Chris retired at the end of last season. His youngest son, Logan, is currently playing in the Under 13s, while eldest son, Harvey, is expected to return home for next season.

POST-SCRIPT:

The NSW AFL History Society expresses its condolences to the Daniher family on the passing of Jim Jnr in May this year. He was secretary of the Northern Riverina Football league for many years and was the delegate to the NSW Country AFL where he developed an association with our president Ian Granland (then Executive Officer of the country body) and vice-president Rod Gillett (who was President at that time).

The Make-Up of the NSW’s Greatest Team Ever

When Jack Fleming made his debut for South Melbourne in the newly-formed VFL in 1897 he became the first player from NSW to play at what was to become, the highest-level. Fleming was born in Inverell in northern NSW but went to South Melbourne from the South Broken Hill club.

Nick Blakey

Nick Blakey aged 18 and fresh out of Waverly College in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, became the 453rd player from NSW to play VFL/AFL football when he debuted for the Sydney Swans against the Western Bulldogs in round one of the 2019 season. He continued the rich tradition of players from NSW playing at the highest level that had begun with Jack Fleming 122 years ago.

The list of NSW’s Greatest Players provided the basis for the selection of the NSW Greatest Team Ever at the Carbine Club’s function in May this year.  You can view the entire list here, however to facilitate the list in its entirety, it has been reduced in size.  (You can enlarge the document for easier viewing by holding down your CONTROL button and press the + button at the same time.  To reverse this, hold down the CONTROL button and press the minus [ – ] button.)

Initially, a list of 423 players was provided by the AFL. Former Sydney Swans and inaugural NSW/ACT AFL Commission chairman Richard Colless, the convener of the selection panel for the NSW Greatest Team, was convinced that there were more players than this and asked the NSW Football History Society representatives on the panel, Ian Granland and Rod Gillett, to investigate.

Between them they boosted the number on the list to 453.

Using his geographical and football knowledge of southern NSW particularly along the border region, Gillett was able to add a substantial number to the list that had been overlooked by the AFL’s historians.

This included the likes of former Carlton and Richmond ruckman David Honybun from Coleambly who was recruited by the Blues from Scotch College, ex-St Kilda defender Jon Lilley (Hay) who went to Xavier College, dual Richmond premiership rover Bill Brown also from Hay who went to work for the State Savings Bank in Melbourne;  he also plaPaul Kelly, Bill Mohr, yed for the bank team in the amateurs.  then there was Damian Sexton (St Kilda) from Finley who was recruited from Ovens and Murray league club, Yarrawonga.

A gem of a find was the late Sir Doug Nichols, who grew up and played football at the Cummeragunja aboriginal mission on the NSW side of the Murray River opposite Barmah, near Echuca. Sir Doug played for the mission in the district competition before making his mark with Fitzroy in the VFL. Ironically, he played for Victoria against NSW in the 1933 ANFC Carnival in Sydney.

They also came up with the names of some outstanding SANFL players that had originally been recruited from Broken Hill. Two of these players, West Adelaide’s Bruce McGregor and Neil Davies from Glenelg, were subsequently selected in the Greatest Team. Both captained South Australia in interstate matches and were selected in ANFC All-Australian teams.

Broken Hill has been a rich source of players for both the VFL and the SANFL competitions. Forty-eight players on the list came from Broken Hill’s four clubs: Norths (13), Centrals (9), Souths (11), and Wests (15).

The Albury Football Club provided the most number of players on the list with 49 including five from the Strang family starting with Bill Strang (South Melbourne) in 1904, his three sons Doug (Richmond), Gordon (Richmond) and Alan (South Melbourne) and Doug’s son Geoff, who played in Richmond’s 1967 and 1969 premiership sides.

Rival Ovens & Murray League club Corowa, that merged with Rutherglen for the 1979 season, provided twenty players including current Sydney Swans coach John Longmire (North Melbourne), 1975 North Melbourne premiership star Peter Chisnall and Swans 2005 premiership player Ben Matthews.

The Sydney clubs have supplied 106 players on the list with Eastern Suburbs providing the highest number with twenty-four, the most notable being Carlton champion Mark “Sellers” McClure; Newtown with eleven including Footscray’s 1954 premiership player Roger Duffy, ten from North Shore, nine from Pennant Hills which included the former St Kilda champion Lenny Hayes.

The Riverina was also a fertile area for the list. The highest number of players came from the Wagga Tigers which provided 20 players including 1995 Brownlow medalist Paul Kelly (Swans), the sublimely skilled John Pitura (South Melbourne/Richmond), and the NSW Greatest Team full forward, Bill Mohr (St Kilda) who topped the VFL goal-kicking in 1936 with 101 goals.

Leeton (12), Ganmain (10) and Narranderra (9) also supplied high numbers of players for the list.

South Melbourne/Sydney Swans have been the main beneficiary of players from NSW. One hundred and seventeen players have turned out for the Swans since 1897.

Under zoning by the VFL of Victorian Country/Southern NSW from 1967-1986 the Riverina was allocated to South Melbourne. In this period Rick Quade (Ariah Park-Mirrool), Doug Priest (Holbrook), Ross Elwin (Leeton), Colin Hounsell (Collingullie), Brett Scott (The Rock-Yerong Creek), Paul Hawke (Wagga Tigers), Dennis Carroll (Lockhart) and Jim Prentice (Ariah Park-Mirrool) were recruited from the Swans’ zone.

When the club moved to Sydney in 1982, the number of players from the local competition increased. This included Terry Thripp (Pennant Hills), Lewis Roberts-Thomson (North Shore), Nick Davis (St George), Kieran Jack (Pennant Hills), Arthur Chilcott (Western Suburbs), and Neil Brunton (Holroyd-Parramatta) and many more.

The Greater Western Sydney Giants have also recruited players from NSW since their entry into the AFL in 2012. Their number of players from NSW currently stands at eighteen following the debut of Penrith local and national decathlon champion, Jake Stein in round 12 against North Melbourne.

Stein became the 454th player to play in the VFL/AFL. The list was boosted to over 500 highly skilled players to recognise those from the city and the bush that didn’t go to the big leagues and the players from Broken Hill that represented the SANFL.