Does anybody recall much about the Essendon player strike at the start of 1970. I think around 6 players were in dispute, Geoff Pryor, definitely; Gosper, John Williams, and Don Mckenzie i think were amongst them. Lost to Carlton in R 1 , with Les Stillman kicking 6 for the Dons, but beyond that my memory is scant. Any recollections to share?


  1. johnharms says:


    I don’t know, but it is a good one for someone to research. Wouldn’t take much to go to the microfilm of the newspapers of the day. Geoff Pryor has continued in his progressive/radical life, being a key in forming the PLayers’ Association and then working as an ecomomist/environmentalist (I think) in Canberra.

  2. Damian Watson says:

    Would this link help?

    Look under the article written by Percy Beams titled ‘Row Nearly Over’.

  3. johnharms says:

    Good get Damo, Good start to the research. From there I would try to get Geoff Pryor’s phone number and ask him for an interview. If you are interested I ahve a number for Geoff. Cheers JTH

  4. Dave Nadel says:

    A bit of self referencing. The following is an extract from my Thesis (The Professionalisation and Commercialisation of Australian Football 1975-1996, Monash University, 2000)The simi;ar situation referred to in the first line was the “strike” by Tuddenham and Thompson at Collingwood.

    “Within a fortnight a similar situation had developed at Essendon. Five players, including 1969 captain Don McKenzie, future captain Barry Davis and Geoff Pryor who was later to found the Players’ Association, also requested an increase in match payments. They wanted $3 (instead of $1) for each training session, $40 per match until fifty games with further increments for each extra twenty-five games. In the club’s official history, Maplestone claims that the committee was unanimously in favour of the increase but was not prepared to grant it because of League regulations.

    The five players announced their retirements and were not selected for the first match of the season. By the second match they had been reinstated and the “strike” was over. The VFL had increased its match payments to $35 and the committee had set up a testimonial fund setting aside money to be paid to players on retirement. Essendon was a deeply conservative club and its president at the time, Alan Hird, was a senior official in the Victorian Education Department which was undergoing considerable industrial unrest as school teachers redefined their concept of professionalism. With this in mind it is worth noting that Essendon eschewed the option adopted by Collingwood of settling their industrial problems by allowing supporters to make up the shortfall under the counter.” (p.24-5)

    On the next page, quoting a Herald-Sun article by Leo Schlink which reported the top player salaries of 1999, I wrote; “Schlink names one player, Essendon captain James Hird, as receiving a salary of $400,000 per year. Ironically, James is the grandson of the Essendon president Alan Hird mentioned above who refused to increase Essendon player payments by $10 per week twenty-nine years earlier.”

  5. Interesting stuff Dave. How does one get access to your thesis?

  6. Thanks for the replys, i will chase this up down the track. Might take me a while to get wheels in motion, but it will be adressed.

  7. Dave Nadel says:

    Monash holds two copies, one at the Library and one at the National Centre for Australian Studies. I have a hard copy which I am reluctant to trust to Australia Post. I also have it stored on line. I could send you a copy but it is 96,000 words. If you are interested Phanto, perhaps you could send me your email address. My address is

  8. Mic Rees says:


    All five “rebels” were selected in the senior side the following week to face the Dogs at Windy Hill – F’scray 14.22 d Ess 10.14. This game was the last in John Jillards 189 game (1 goal) senior career.

    Good luck with the research.


  9. Damian Watson says:

    Here is another article you may be intrested in on Page 12:

  10. John, i have almost finished my studies for this semester, so i will have time to put pen to paper. Can you provide some contact detail for Geoff Pryor?



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