David Murphy – Nominee for NSW’s Hall of Fame

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 the nominees his former team-mate and close friend David Murphy:

Who is the only player to represent Victoria in State of Origin but never lived in the state?

The answer is David Murphy and it’s a trivia question which has produced plenty of quizzical looks and a few free beers over the years.

‘Murph’ played for Victoria six times but is a born and bred New South Welshman.

He grew up in Finley playing all his junior football there before moving to Wagga Wagga and lining up for Turvey Park.

It was a humble beginning to a stellar VFL/AFL career which ultimately saw him claim All Australian honours for NSW and a hallowed place in the Sydney Swans Team of the Century.

One of Murph’s proudest moments when he sat alongside fellow former Finley resident and legendary coach Alan Jeans at the announcement of the 1988 All Australian team. His father Ray played alongside Jeans in Finley’s 1954 premiership when they beat archrival Tocumwal.

“It was the first time I’d met Yabby,” Murphy said. “It was last day of the National Carnival in Adelaide and I was sitting right next to him. When my name was read out he shook my hand and said well done son, your mum and dad would be proud. It was a nice moment, dad had told me a story about the day he was hit behind play and then he heard clunk. He turned around to see Yabby standing over the bloke who hit dad. Dad said to me he felt 10 feet tall.”

Those formative years in the Riverina were no walk in the park for Murph either as he played most of his junior footy against boys much older and bigger. “When I started playing junior footy I was about four years younger than my team mates and opponents,” Murphy said.

“I eventually got to play against my own age group and thought maybe I can play. It was hard but really helped me in the long run. I learned how to stay out of trouble, I learned how to kick the ball and compete against older boys.”

Murphy faced another hurdle early on when he ruptured his ACL just before he turned 18. The injury could easily have cost him his AFL career as it forced him out of football for almost two years.

“I couldn’t have an operation because I was still growing so I had to wait a year,” Murphy said. When I was operated on I was alongside Keith Greig and Roy Ramsay from North Melbourne. It was a long rehab in those days, my leg looked like my arm. I worked in the bank in Wagga so I would go to the gym or the pool after work to build up my leg.”

When he eventually recovered he started playing in the under 19s at Turvey Park. His form was outstanding and the following year was promoted to the seniors. He kicked 76 goals and 78 in consecutive seasons playing as a half forward.

Swans recruiter Greg Miller came to the Riverina to watch Paul Hawke and liked what he saw with Murphy so signed them both for the 1984 season.

If Murphy thought it was tough going playing out of his weight division in the Riverina there was to come in the VFL. Fully grown at 179cm (5’11”) and 75kg he was smaller than virtually every opponent he played on.

But his lightning speed, high marking and long kicking were prized assets in any league and he quickly established himself as one of the stars in a Sydney team which featured some of the greats of the 1980s.

Led by Brownlow Medallists in Greg Williams and Gerard Healy Murphy was part of a super midfield. The group also featured the ball winning of Barry Mitchell, the dash of David Bolton and the flair and hardness of the late Merv Neagle.

Murphy’s ten seasons and 156 games in the red and white played almost entirely on the wing. He, Williams and Healy were all named in the Swans Team of the Century.

He also played alongside Swans Hall of Fame inductee Bernard Toohey. The pair met on their first day of primary school in Finley and went through their entire schooling together including Finley High School.

– Kevin Taylor passes

We don’t often write about the death of people mainly because the nature of this organisation sees the demise of many of our former players and officials.  However we make one exception: Kevin Taylor.  A name known in Sydney football between the 1970s-90s to many, mostly as K.T.  Kevin died last Tuesday as a result of lung cancer, he was 83.

He played a big part in changes to the game after he moved to Sydney from Melbourne in 1976 to manage a large Sydney Cinema which was part of the Village Road Show chain.  He was always interested in football and the media and started all this in his early days as the assistant secretary of the Diamond Valley Football league.

Followers of the game today might remember Kevin through his website: Footystats and in the 1990s edited the Sydney Football Record and there was no more well researched and well written publication than this.  He did a wonderful job on the Record, starting in 1979 when he, as part of a coup that took over the management of Sydney football, produced a wonderful series of documents that year.  You can read the copies here.

He was very much pro the VFL coming to Sydney and was part of that coup that set up the eventually failed Sydney Football League 1980-1986.  And in fact wrote a book on the Sydney Swans, a publication that is probably on the book shelves of many of the people reading this article.

In 1978 Kevin hosted the VFL Match of the Day on Channel 7 each Saturday during the season.  He chaired a rather large table of mostly Sydney football identities in a half time session which discussed local footy and also featured a clip of a first grade match.  During that year he interviewed Brownlow Medalist and South Melbourne player, Graham Teasedale and you can view his Erskineville Oval interview here.

In his involvement in Sydney football he was also a member of the NSWAFL Board of Directors; he produced a series of publications in 1980 including one called Between Seasons.  We have only found three of these and you can read them here.  There are more similar documents at our Magpie Sports Offices and we will shortly scan and add these to our online collection.

Kevin was also an Australian Football journalist for the Sunday Telegraph and the Australian during the eighties and he reported live on Sydney Swans home games from the SCG for radio stations, 2GB, 2UE, 2KY and 2SM at the same time, ending each quarter x quarter report with “this is Kevin Taylor reporting exclusively for ….. ”

Kevin supplied statistics for various media outlets and was always on hand for Fox Footy to text through pertinent stats on a particular incident or event that might have just occurred in a game.  He did this right up to a year or so ago.

Kevin was the secretary of the NSW Australian Football History Committee, the name of this group before it incorporated in 2010, the same year he was made a life member of the AFL Sydney.  He was also a benefactor member of the Society which means he made a significant financial contribution to the organisation.  His loss is not only one for his family but also to football in general.  He was a good hand and a likeable bloke.

I will never forget the time in early 1990 when a weekly Saturday Morning radio show on Community Radio Station, 2SERFM particularly concerning Sydney football was started.  League officials went to the Broadway studios to introduce themselves and get a feel for the place;  Kevin was one of those.  Community radio in those days was not particularly well organised (has it changed?) and as the aging 2SERFM panel operator was fiddling with the nobs and dials to produce a better sound, Kevin boomed across the room “for God sake man, get it right!!”  He was such a perfectionist.


– Society Cements History Links With Swans

Society officials, President Ian Granland and Vice President Paul Macpherson met with executives from the Sydney Swans Football Club today to discuss football heritage in NSW, as well as what the club has achieved prior to 1982 and within the sport in this State.

For some time the History Society has been gathering as much material as possible on the game from throughout NSW, both tangible and digital, to add to its ever expanding repository of significant historical items and events of the game.

The Swans intention is aimed at documenting the heritage of their club, including the days of South Melbourne FC, and educating their steadily growing membership, which is likely to top 60,000 by year’s end, with not only their history but the history of football in NSW.

Swans CEO Andrew Ireland was very positive in his endeavours to promote the concept and could not have chosen a better mentor than Paul Macpherson, an archivist and librarian by occupation.  His expertise will afford an solid guide to those trainees regarding what is expected in the serious business of seeking out and preserving the heritage of the club during an era which extends well over a period of one hundred years.

The promoter of the concept, former Swans Chairman and now a member of the SCG Trust, Richard Colless AM, was passionate in his efforts to facilitate this gathering of the two parties.

Finally, Society Vice President, Paul Macpherson said “our group looks forward to the next practical steps with the Swans in spreading more widely the knowledge of the long and fascinating history of football in NSW.”


VFL Moves to Sydney

How long is it since South Melbourne relocated to Sydney and went on to become the Sydney Swans?

If you said thirty-three years you would be right.

They have now established themselves as part of the Sydney sporting scene, trend setters in a number of ways and accepted by many whom 30 years ago could not spell Australian football.  Of course now its the turn of GWS to make their mark in Sydney.

But those who orchestrated the move, who pushed the VFL into playing outside of Melbourne, a move which eventually led to the creation of a national competition?  Who were they? Well, they now have all but gone.

You might ask, who was it that came up with the Sydney idea and why?

The VFL president at the time, Allen Aylett, (pictured) certainly was in the box seat for the change and history will probably recognize him as the man responsible for change.

Allen is now 82 and there is no doubting his footballing talent.  He played 220 games with the North Melbourne club, captain and later president leading North to change its image from also-rans into that of a football powerhouse.

But the VFL had to tread on egg-shells in their effort, not so much to make a presence in Sydney, but to convince their clubs of the move, to overcome the straitlaced Victorian Government’s ‘no football on Sunday policy’ (apart from the VFA) and at the same time appease the struggling grass roots football fraternity in Sydney.

In 1980 the fractured NSW Football League administration met with Aylett and VFL General Manager, Jack Hamilton with regards to the possible establishment of a VFL club in Sydney.

The then erstwhile secretary of the NSWAFL, Kevin Taylor, a fastidious administrator who left no stone unturned in documenting a record of the meeting, gave a very factual account of the gathering in the league’s 1980 annual report which can be read here.

More specifically, Kevin’s record of the meeting and what was said is set out here.

Let us not forget that certainly in the first year of South Melbourne’s move to Sydney, the VFL:  rostered a Sydney Football League match as curtain raiser to the main game, paid the Sydney Football League $1,000 as compensation (for what is unsure) each time a VFL game was played at the SCG and most importantly negotiated with the VFL television carrier to telecast the match Australia wide.

And how will history judge Allen Aylett, the dentist who gave so much of his time and energy to change only to have his wings clipped by the VFL in 1983.  We hope people see Allen as a true champion and leader of our great game.

Alas these memories are soon cast aside as life moves on through time and some other issue grabs the attention of the footballing public.  But never so much as the time of the VFL’s move to Sydney.


NFL Logo thumbnailContemporary officials and fans of the game are probably ignorant of the power struggle in football that was taking place in Australia during the late 1970s.

The National Football League, since absorbed by the AFL, was basically a democratic forum where equal representation was provided for each state to meet  and discuss things like the laws of the game, coaching accreditation, player clearance procedures as well as managing national carnivals, which, besides, the open age series, went on to include under age interstate competitions like the Under 17 Teal Cup.

First known as the Australian National Football Council, it was initially formed in the late 1890s, first as a talk fest, then moving into take responsibility for the above mentioned roles.

The position of delegate to the National Football League was looked upon as a plumb role, certainly for the NSW representative.  They had all their expenses paid to attend Melbourne two or three meetings per year together with the issue of two tickets to the VFL grand final where again their expenses were paid.

At that stage though, NSW was a rather plastic organisation.  Yes it was the most populated state but basically it only represented the interests of Sydney, for those who were interested, and one or two near and arguably frail country centres.  Ironically, the NSW delegate possessed the same voting rights as the delegate from Victoria who represented mostly the VFL and ostensibly football in the remainder of the state as well as the the Riverina region, which at that time was affiliated with the Victorian Country Football League, not NSW.

Particularly in that decade, the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) became well and truly sick of the VFL’s administrative and intuitive dominance of the game.  It can be said that for the most part, they pulled the strings and the minor states (delegates), danced to their tune. The majority of Australia’s football population where unaware of this and probably did not care.

Then towards the close of the 1970s, the SANFL threw down the gauntlet.  Mostly through their very competitive but fair minded general manager, Don Roach, the ‘architect’ behind the establishment of Football Park, later AAMI Stadium, alternative and progressive initiatives, like the Ardath Cup, were introduced and states like NSW, were invited to become involved.  Ardath was a brand of cigarettes.

All this no doubt grated on the senior officials of the VFL.  They would have seen the South Australians as a bunch of upstarts moving in on their perceived supremacy of the game.Don Roach

With the advancement of time it all settled down and in the mid eighties Roach was induced to move to Sydney as General Manager of the Sydney Swans.

As well as being an extremely good administrator, Roach was a particularly straight shooter and this was at a time when the Sydney Swans were going through a difficult period.

Whatever transpired, and 12 months on, Roach answered a knock on the door of his Double Bay home late one night to find a taxi driver who gave him a letter from, ‘the club’.  In it he was told that his services were no longer required.  Wanting to retrieve his possessions from the office he travelled the short distance to the SCG early the next morning only to find the locks had been changed.

So you might say that some had long memories, particularly when you read the following which was re-printed in the 1977 April 17th, copy of the Sydney Football Record.  This was most likely written by Don Roach.




Reproduced from the South Australian Football Budget (Dated April 2, 1977)

With the kind permission of the S.A.N.F.L.

For many years State Leagues were critical of the seeming inactivity of the National Football League. It was then and now considered that the role of the national body should be much more than that of a processing office for clearance papers and maintenance and publishing of a uniform set of laws of the game. In a comparatively short span of time the National Football League have not only recognised its responsibilities but with great energy and enthusiasm thrown itself into implementing important projects.

The NFL National Coaching Scheme is now a reality. The gathering together of national identities in specific fields of sports medicine, physical education, administration and senior coaching has facilitated the preparation of a coaching manual and prepared syllabus and set standards of coaching accreditation. Risks and costs associated with accident and injury has long been a cause of concern and it is pleasing that the NFL on behalf of all leagues and associations has established a Player Registration and Insurance Scheme. The initial insurance coverage is limited, however, it is possible that a comprehensive range of coverage will be available through the NFL scheme in the near future.

National companies have long wished to be able to discuss and negotiate sponsorships and promotions with a body representing the interests of all leagues. The NFL now offers this facility and has successfully initiated endorsement projects in the area of football equipment. Queensland and New South Wales in particular, have wished for opportunities to be tested in competition. Only by being exposed to competitive opportunities can these States and its clubs truly progress. These opportunities are now offered through the NFL Ardath Cup Competition. These above activities have been openly discussed in the formulative and implementation stages by delegates representing all States and the Australian Amateurs. It is important to note in this context that the V.F.L. not only have a delegate to the NFL but also that some delegate is a member of the NFL Executive.

In this light, it is regrettable to say the least, that the VFL have not only chosen not to recognise, support and participate in any of the above mentioned NFL projects, but have chosen to go its own way in direct opposition.

The VFL has earned its reputation as the citadel of Australian Football. It would be a sad day if this were not so for many years to come-however, it has not earned the right to monopolise the people and financial resources that it has clearly set out to claim.

Australian Football is no longer protected by Australia’s isolation. The world communication system-particularly Television with its satellite links and input of live world class sporting and entertainment spectaculars is having a dramatic impact on our public’s tastes and responses. Maintenance and progress of Australian Football’s standing will now and more so in the future depend on our unity of purpose and presentation.

It is time now for the VFL to accept its true responsibilities-shed its ego and deceit and declare itself once again as a contributing member of the football family.”


Nevertheless, we all move on.  Many of the combatants of those times have passed on while nowadays it plays little on the minds of others.

In many ways though, football has had its share of casualties and will probably continue to do so, some, were great men.

Another Flag for Wests

For Western Suburbs, premierships of late have been few and far between.

For this once strong and well managed club where players flocked when they came to Sydney, this year’s flag in the Division II Under 19 grade is the first premiership in the club since 1996, when former Sydney Swans General Manager, Ron Thomas, took them to their only first grade flag for 19 years.

A Western Suburbs club first competed in the Sydney competition between 1926-29 playing out of Marrickville Oval but they petered out when the St George club emerged to take their place.  Or rather the idea that Wests amalgamated with the new St George club was promoted.

Then, along with Balmain and Sydney University, Wests became the third new club to be admitted to the Sydney competition in 1948 when the game was riding on a high following WWII.

The club was always well managed and accordingly attracted some talented and very capable players.  Concord Oval was their home ground for many years until in the late 1950s they settled on their current ground, Picken Oval, then owned by trotting magnate, Billy Picken.

Picken helped the club in many ways but it was through careful and a well organised administration that saw them granted a liquor licence in 1961.  This was in a period when social groups of all persuasion gained licences which gave them access to the almost unregulated poker machine scene of the time.

Bulging with money and people, they were able to appoint some highly talented coaches as well as players.  At the same time the club also sponsored the league in their endeavours to purchase their own premises in Chippendale, Sydney.

The 1960s and 70s was a golden period for Wests where they won flags in 1963,65,66,69,72,74,75 and 77.  In fact, it was no secret that their reserve grade could have easily defeated the lower end first grade teams of the period.  And then the drought set in, but that is a different story.

Quite often then they figured in the match of the day at Trumper Park of a Sunday where some very large crowds congregated to watch their clashes against Easts, Newtown and St George.

Of late though the club has had a lean run, despite good administration where they have almost achieved premierships in various grades, this flag by their gallant Under 19 side on Saturday will be savoured by those club members who followed the Sydney Magpies through thick and thin.

Wests premierships:


1st Grade


Under 19





















Don Roach Passes

Don Roach, a former commissioner with the NSW AFL and Chief Executive Officer with the Sydney Swans, died on Sunday.  He was 71 and is survived by his wife Shirley.

There are probably few in the Sydney football scene today who knew Don.  His time as a real dominant influence was in South Australia.  Don played 158 games for West Adelaide and was the team’s captain and coach in 1966 and 1967; 42 games for Norwood, 33 games for Hawthorn and nine for the South Australian representative team.

Roach was a Life Member of the SANFL and inducted into their Hall of Fame in 2002.  He was named in the All Australian AFL team in 1961 and was life member of the South Australian National Football League. He was inducted into the SA Football Hall of Fame in 2002.

Don moved to Sydney to become chief executive of the Sydney Swans in 1985 and 1986.

His involvement in Sydney football was not always confined to the office.  In the August 1973, while working for the SANFL as a promotions officer, Don Roach, along with Norwood FC vice captain, Ross Porritt, visited NSW as part of the Rothmans National Sports Foundation.  The two conducted coaching clinics for young boys in Sydney, Newcastle and on the South Coast.

Don said of the talent in Sydney ” I was very please and surprised at the high standard of many of the boys attending these Rothmans Clinics. All of the boys exhibited a great desire to learn and these young players will assure NSW a most promising future growth of the code.”

In 1974 Don was appointed the General Manager of the SANFL and, in the ten odd years at the helm of SA football, was one of a band of South Australians who, at the time, loathed the VFL’s (as they were then) self given attitude as pseudo controllers of the game throughout Australia.  It was Roach who was a continual thorn in the side of the VFL and thwarted many of their moves to impose their ideas at the expense of other national affiliates and in most cases these were what were regarded ‘minor states’.  Of which, NSW was one.  It was this attitude towards the VFL that eventually was to prove his downfall.

Roach always said that the National Football League (ANFC) should be the recognized controlling body of the game and at times he went to great lengths to reinforce that stance.

However the VFL won the day.  In a astute move, the VFL’s Assistant General Manager, Alan Schwab, organised for Roach to be appointed the Chief Executive Officer of the Sydney Swans in 1985.  A job he held for just over 12 months but it brought him to Sydney, and removed a persistent thorn from the VFL’s side.  Sydney is where he remained.

A little known fact that Roach’s exhibited a fantastic foresight for the game when he started what what he believed became the most successful bi-product of Australian Football: Auskick.  “I wrote the rules on the back of a cigarette packet in 1968” Roach said “and called it ‘Mod Football’.”

This was the first and the start to Australia’s and possibly the world’s adoption of modified versions of open age sporting games particularly for young children.

It is a legacy that Don Roach will be remembered for for many years.