Almanac People – 28 John Francis Wynne: my first footy hero

John Wynne is an inductee in the Norwood FC, SANFL and WAFL Halls of Fame which is a incredible, amazing achievement in itself:
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And Western Australia:

I wish to delve into John Wynne the person, the character and influence he has had on so many people and the game especially from a Norwood perspective.

John Wynne arrived at the Parade in 1970 from West Perth having been a part of the Cardinals’ ’69 Premiership side. Originally it was meant to be an interim move before moving to the VFL. Norwood were enduring a long premiership drought, not having won a flag since 1950. Thank goodness through the influence of our greatest ever administrator, Wally Miller, he convinced 28 to stay at the Parade.

I am 53 years old – my earliest footy memories are from ’72 onwards. I remember how tough and committed at the contest John Wynne was. He was my first ever football hero.

In ’73 there were finals played at Norwood Oval and we lost a First Semi Final against North Adelaide through a free kick paid to Dennis Sachse. I remember my mum, Margaret, actually swore and thinking, gee, that must have been a terrible decision for mum to swear! (in an earlier article I mentioned my mum was moving in to a nursing home I am delighted to inform you mum is going brilliantly and, in fact, seems to be getting younger every day. Love you mum.)

In ’75 we went to the Grand Final at Footy park and saw the Legs defeat Glenelg 9.10 64 to 7.10 52. It was a tough game and 28 led from the front. Who can forget Ian Aitken and Wally May’s commentary. Wynne may have given out a few but, by geez, he has copped plenty. He’s high up in my votes for the Seiko (Channel 9 awarded a watch to the player voted BOG.)

Back in the early days Norwood had a place where, in general, the young country recruits would live together. Players such as Phil Carman, Greg Turbill, Neil Craig, Glen Rosser, Michael Taylor and the late Ian Stasinowsky and Jim Thiel among others boarded at Carmel Court (an AFL club would salivate if it could draft that lot!) Wynney was the elder statesman and self appointed prefect at the college of knowledge and kept an eye on the many players. Both in a boisterous fashion and quietly influenced so many players – not just footy wise but life wise. Wynney was and still is a non drinker so rescued many players on nights when things may have gotten a little out of control to say the least.

During this era Wynney was the protector of so many of the Norwood players. Phil Gallagher, Glen Rosser, Roger Woodcock etc would cop one. Wynney would go past: ‘what number?’ Within minutes the offending player was on the ground. The square up would occur but it was never a king hit – it was all knees and elbows.

John Wynne is of course famously remembered for his altercation with Jack Oatey in the Sturt’s coaches box in the ’78 Grand Final. Some people are still under the impression he belted Jack. In reality this was cool and calculating 28 at his best. It was planned – Wynney thought if there was a chance to upset Oatey he would take it.

During the third quarter, with Sturt well on top, players competed for the ball close to the boundary line. The ball rolled out of bounds right next to the Sturt coaching box. Wynney entered and ruffled Jacks hair – this certainly seemed to rattle Jack and subsequently Sturt (maybe Des Foster as well!)

Norwood in its centenary season came from 29 points down at three quarter time to win by a point! 16.15 111 to defeat Sturt 14.26 110. Of course, Sturt’s fantastic kicking for goal played no part in our memorable win!

Back in those days Channel 7 did its Sunday footy show live from the winner’s club. So upstairs at a packed Redlegs club John Wynne is being interviewed by Sandy Roberts: ‘now John I have to ask you about the incident with the Sturt coaching box.’ Wynney replies: ‘I’ve never missed an opportunity to jump into a box.’ There is raucous laughter from the thousand or so people upstairs. Sandy is completely nonplussed and bumbles ‘I think we better go to a commercial break!’

Wynney’s dry wit, practical jokes and ability to set people up were always a highlight. My other favorite was 28 spotting the News (Adelaide’s afternoon newspaper 1869-1992) footy writer in a corner in the Redlegs Club. Wynne suddenly yells ‘I’ve had a gutful – the bear (Neil Button) has quit and is going to Port.’ Wynney storms out the club he goes down the road and re-enters by the side entrance.

Ashley Porter quickly departs – the headline in the News on the Monday ‘Exclusive BUTTON WANTS OUT’ and subsequent article about Neil wanting to go to Port. The retraction is printed the next day (to Porter’s credit he actually seemed to take it pretty well.)

Wynney called myself, Geoff Wilson and Bob Walsh ‘the three elves’. They were the Norwood video gurus – I was the lacky any way. One day Wynney says ‘you three are my guests for the day and I will shout you lunch.’ So we were in the John Wynne Stand (who remembers that?), sitting there and David Parsons all of a sudden appears and says ‘I have your lunch.’ It was three cokes and three packets of chicken chips!

When Norwood champion Michael Aish started he weighed about as much as a biafran donkey. Wynney not only protected Michael on the ground he would go with him for a jog on a Sunday and then back to the Aish household at St Georges to talk about footy and life. Michael whose nickname was ‘Rowdy’ due to his quiet nature readily acknowledges the influence he had on him. Wynney helped Ian Stafford when he was coaching the Under 17s. Again he quietly influenced so many (Klaebes, Neags and many others please comment below.)

John Wynne is as compassionate and caring person I know. He played a large part in starting the Redlegs Foundation for past players who, in his words, may have slipped through the cracks and for various reasons need a helping hand. Even while John has been back living in Perth he has seemingly known everything which is happening over in this neck of the woods – who is sick, who needs a helping hand.

Staying in contact with so many people as a leader he has so many similarities to Ian Chappell. Another thing about Wynney is he is the most reliable person I know. He always returns a phone call or message.

It seems characters are known and remembered by their number. That is why John Wynne is simply known as 28! 99 per cent of people in this world are followers, one per cent are leaders. John Wynne is an ELITE leader!

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(Please comment below with your favorite 28 story – it is time to make the Footy Almanac red and blue blooded again)

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  1. “Elbows” is what I remember as a West Torrens supporter. Unfortunately. Tough player in a tough era. Strong, hard, relentless. Ran all day. Physique like the Sydney Josh Kennedy. A protector like Woosha.
    The Redlegs would have been nothing without him. Lots of skill but soft as butter in the Robert Oatey era that preceded him.
    I know nothing of him off the field, but you paint a worthy portrait. Grand tribute Malcolm.

  2. Michael Rehn says

    There’s just so many good stories that could be told about the great contribution John Wynne made to our football club. Those of us lucky enough to be part of the club at any time during the Wynne era would be well aware and have fabulous memories of the impact this great man had on and off field at our club. I remember one night, post match, having a few convivial ales, as was my habit, in the member’s bar in very early 80s, when a prominent rover who played under the most enormous difficulties following a crippling knee injury, was subject to a tirade of abuse from a wheelchair bound “supporter”, which clearly displeased our player. Fearing that our player would get into trouble if he gave the “mouth” what he deserved, the only solution I could think of was to run up the stairs to Sams and get Wynney. John Wynne arrived and as usual in his typical laid back style suggested that our aggrieved player let the wheelchair tyres down. Situation diffused, no lasting issues for the player, and I don’t know or care what happened to the man in the chair !!!!!

  3. John Wynne. What a ripper. Likewise very fond memories of that Redlegs era though the 70’s Malcolm – Wynne, Turbill, Button, the great Stazza of course, Carman – sitting with my grandparents in the members’ stand. I love what John has to say in the HOF speech about measuring success, and it’s something that has been a recurring theme at the Blacks. As 28 says, success at a footy club is not necessarily measured in premierships but rather in terms of the opportunities the club provides for young men and women to enjoy their footy and to be the best they can be in all facets of life. Thanks Malcolm, and thanks Wynney.

  4. Jason Kendle says

    When I was knee high to a grasshopper my old man sat me down to watch the 75′ GF .. Must have watched it hundreds of times and was glued to two eight – always tried to play my footy similarly (as average as I was lol) and always wore 28 .. Such a charismatic presence

  5. Never saw Gentleman John hit anyone on the field in all my years going to the games.
    Saw plenty lying on the ground next to him though.

    Always cracked me up when it was stacks on the mill with players all on top of the ball and there’s Wynneys elbows going like pistons and players flying backwards as he tried to get the ball.

    Remember another time the ump blew the whistle for a ball up but couldnt find the ball.
    Wynney had stuck it under his jumper behind his back and kept facing the umpire as he looked around for it.

  6. Book I too like Daddsy have fond memories of sitting the grandstand with my grandparents at Norwood Oval in the early to mid 70s. There was a lot of talent (Carman was exceptional) but 28 (Gentleman John)was the absolute key. While he was so hard and tough he was also a highly skilled player who in his earlier years played a number of state games for WA and then SA back in the days when interstate footy was taken seriously.
    They would not have won the 75 or 78 premiership without him (and he damned near stole the 80 flag from Port). In 1975 he was the skipper who with sheer strength and determination inspired his team to an upset win in what was a brutal physical GF. In 1978 many people remember the intimidation of Jack Oatey and the free to Gallagher but forget the crucial couple of minutes half way through the last quarter when twice 28 with sheer strength and skill took out multiple Sturt defenders and setup 2 goals for Greg Turbil and then kicked one himself to put Norwood in front for the first time.
    On a separate note, an opposition supporter referred to Norwood as soft under Bob Oatey but I recently did a tour of Norwood (organised by the NFC historical society which are regular and free) which was run by a couple of guys by the name of Mike Colligan (1972 leading SANFL goalkicker) and Roger Woodcock. They could not speak highly enough of Oatey and the skills he taught and the opportunities he gave to young players such as themselves, Carman, Craig, Taylor, Button etc. They may never have won a premiership under Oatey but if it had not bee for that free kick that your mum complained about ( for deliberate out of bounds (which was almost unheard of in those days) when Norwood was in front with less than a minute to play in the 1973 First Semi) they may have gone onto the GF and Oatey not been sacked. That umpiring decision ended Bob Oatey’s league coaching career.
    PS I only ever heard my Grandma swear once at the footy and it was before the game had even started when a guy by the game of Kerley lead Glenelg onto the ground (I think it was the year immediately after the infamous incident involving Damien Nygard). No 28 on our team in 1969.

  7. Great article Malcolm

  8. Ben Larsen-Smith says

    A really interesting bio! Thanks so much for sharing, I particularly would have loved to witness the Norwood comeback over Sturt without knowing the score (and to have seen the box jumping incident). Also good news about your mum, great to hear.

  9. Great article Malcolm and a very interesting read!

  10. Barb Jamieson says

    Hi Malcolm
    So glad that your Mum has settled in , and life sounds as if it is worthwhile in her golden years .
    A really great insight into the good old days , where the larrikin of the club was also its backbone, a player who had an influence on so many people both on and off the field , and is still fondly remembered today
    Unfortunately for me, in those days , I was still living in Broken Hill and following my own team , good old West Broken Hill , so wasn’t into the SA competition so many of the names you talk about dont mean much to me
    However, like you , For me , there was that one standout player , the only indigenous player in our competition , a man called Vincent Copley . He gave me a lot of good memories , and he could make some amazing moves that could be considered Classic at that level and in that ere still , but he also had the unfortunate habit of just not appearing from time to time .
    So generally , the big buzz of the day was always the burning question of ,”will he be playing today”
    He is still somebody I looked up to , because when he played, he really played, and it’s the days he played that I remember .

  11. Neil Anderson says

    Lots of famous names there Malcolm. Many sons of those guns are presently playing in the AFL. Until you pointed out some of those names, I didn’t realize SA provided so many elite players over the border into Vic.
    The Sachse name is big in Footscray’s history of course.

  12. Barb – I remember Vince Copley very well growing up as captain coach of Yorketown in the Southern Yorke Peninsula league in the late 60’s. Little bloke; solid; quick; very clever. very fair and immaculate drop kick. If you google him there is quite a lot about his indigenous activism and life growing up.

  13. Amazing man who was a formidable player in what was arguably the best decade of SANFL football ever- the 1970’s.

  14. bernard whimpress says

    Great piece.
    Of course, Wally May would like him because when handing out best players he would often find something positive to say about the likes of John Wynne and Wayne Phillis viz. ‘did a lot of good work in the packs’. One outstanding game I remember from Wynne was against Glenelg when he had 28 kicks at centre half back while his opponent John Sandland had 18 kicks and 4 goals – definitely a great man-to-man duel. I always thought casting agents missed an opportunity with Wynne as he had something of the Marlon Brando looks.
    Being a bit older than you Malcolm I also remember Wynney on the door at Sam’s Disco on Saturday nights. I can’t remember whether he was a bouncer but I don’t think anyone was willing to take a risk to find out.

  15. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thanks Peter,Michael that is classic 28,Daddsy I thought of exactly the same thing in 28s speech,Jason I reckon I might have watched the 75 gf a few times and Wynney has had that influence on a number of people.Thankx Milts and thank you re the deliberate out of bounds free kick ( I do remember that now and Des Foster payed,Gags the mark.thanks,Troy,Ben and Campbell thanks,Barb appreciate the kind words ,28 has influenced so many and thank you for the insight in to Broken Hill and Vince Copley.
    Neil thank you and good luck to your dogs wow what a ride so far,Neil Sachse is a truly remarkable man whose positivity and outlook re life is incredible and a lesson for all of us, thank you

  16. What a Legend! This was the era when I used to go to see Norwood with my Dad, and all my favourite Players like Wynney, Neil Button, Splinterdick, Neil Craig, “Racehorse” Warren Packer, Rod Seekamp, Mike Colligan, “the Marshall” Ross Dillon, and of course Bob and Peter Oatey!

  17. Mark Strange says

    I’m like Jeff Milton. I have many fond memories of going to the Parade to watch the Legs.Was lucky enough to see all those brilliant players. Stazza,Neil Butchers,Ross Porritt,Gags,GregTurbull,RogerWoodcock,RossDillon,JimTheill,28 off course Mike Poulteretc.What a era so lucky to have been a part of that.I remember 28 so well even though I was only 12 or so he was so hard at the ball he was my favorite player. I’ve still got my autograph book with all those players and more. I live in Darwin now but still love my Legs. I got to meet Mike Poulterup here at his business .Got talking to him about those days ,so funny what they got up to. My Dad was a one eyed Legs supporter and got cremated in his Norwood tie. So many memories Johnny Wynne you legend

  18. He was a great player and unique character. One day I was playing for Woodville reserves against Norwood. Wynne was playing coming back from injury. In a pack I copped one from Wynne. I got up pissed off but he had cracked a joke and had players from both sides and the umpire laughing. Clever bloke.

  19. Malcolm- your passion for local footy and its people comes through yet again. Superb stuff. My link to this era is that I worked at Marryatville High for many years with Gary “Alby” Menzel.

    On a connected note- I thought today’s SANFL grand final, while scrappy, was a top affair. Sturt were better in their forward half and had more options. Getting 30+ thousand was also a suggestion of confidence in our version of the national code.

    Looking forward to more of these portraits.

  20. Denis Goodger says

    I remember those days at Carmel Court so well. My Father Max Goodger was U19, Reserves Team Manager and a member of the recruitment team. My Mother assisted Mrs Carmen at meal time, so she got to know the boys and spoke highly of each and every young man who was a resident. John Wynne was a favorite as she would often say that he helped and supported the younger residence, had execelent manners and was a very friendly young man. John Wynne is a good person and deserves all the honors that come his way. Denis Goodger

  21. Love 28. Wynney – absolute legend of the NFC. Always bled for the jumper The true measure of the man is his willingness to help others regardless of race or creed. And he continues to do this in his post football days. Well deserved honour for this icon, as you would know Rulebook

  22. A great read Malcolm, Wynne was before my time so I asked my old man about him and he recalled the 1978 grand final where Wynne went into the couchs box, seems to be a favourite for people ?

  23. The People's Elbow says

    Wonderful tribute, Rulebook… great stuff.

  24. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    It’s fair to say that the passage of time has softened my view of John Wynne ‘Book, but he was a good man to have on your side, that’s for sure. Great tribute.

  25. Willow Wilson says

    Nice work Rulebook, as a life long Redlegs fan it is brilliant to get some insights into the club legends. The ’78 grand final is one my earliest Norwood memories and we had to drive around to some friend’s house to watch it on TV (might have been the first time I watched colour TV!)
    Hopefully there are more tributes and stories to come on other club legends.

  26. Brilliant Malcolm he was a pleasure to interview on radio

  27. He was a great footballer but as an Eagles follower since 1956 of course I didn`t like him! We have had so many brilliant players over the years in all clubs.

    As usual a great comment on an excellent player.

  28. Stuff, Rulebook. A tad young for 28 myself but I have enjoyed watching the 75 and 78 grand finals and any snippet of 70s vision I have stumbled over. In a way much of my support of the Redlegs is enhanced with a longing for having been too young for those days – FOMO personified. Carmel Court was on the real estate market a few year ago, I think. If only those walls could talk…

  29. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thanks Mark C and S,Peter that does not surprise me in the slightest,Mickey 28 called Alby cotton top.,rapt for Mark Evans and a fantastic crowd thanks,Dennis and appreciate re the public acknowledgment,28 gave,Mrs Carman fabulous,Phils mum re running,Carmel Court.Neags spot on.
    thanks,Joshua indeed it is.thanks,People’s Elbow indeed,Swish I was always happy,28 was on our side.
    Willow the 78 gf is the only gf I have missed I was made to go on a school camp I may get over it one day grrrr yep I intend to write a few over summer thank you.Raj it was a great interview with very good questions thanks,Jill very much so greatly appreciated every one

  30. Wayne Schmaal says

    Well done Malc, “28” one of life’s eternal gentlemen and one of the best football minds on and off the the field, can still remember the change room discussion with Thiels!

  31. Rulebook, absolutely bloody love your dedication to SA footy. It’s just brilliant! Would have been great to see him play and decided for myself if her was an ‘enforcer like Worsfold’ or a bit of a thug. Haha. Sometimes it often comes down to whether you barack for their team or not. Either way, I’d love to meet him, and to have watched him play. A corker piece mate!

  32. bring back the torp says

    Great article, also with behind the scenes insights.

    We appear to have lost in Senior football comps. the “characters”we once had. This is sad, and I think diminishes the general appeal of football.
    Phil Carman was the first player (I think) to wear white boots (everyone wore black then) – and kicked 13 goals at Moorabbin, and George Young St Kilda full forward kicked 10. That day, he played mainly around CHF, had multiple opponents, and basically won this game for Collingwood.

    Fabulous Phil is one of the earliest players who I can remember very clearly, and he was an excitement machine. He won the B&F at Collingwood in his first year in 1975.
    Unfortunately, his brilliance was tempered by his indiscipline, and had a lot of suspensions. Almost certainly, if Carman had played in the 1977 GF, Collingwood would have won it, he was so exceptional. Fantastic acceleration over 15 metres, and a running machine -literally wore his opponents out. I understand he had the time record for running the Tan 3.9 km running track in Melbourne for about 15+ years!

  33. Can’t say I’m a fan. He was obviously the sort of person who believed in the ends justified the means no matter what actions are taken to achieve a goal. In lining up an over 60 year old coach while he was sitting on the boundary did not take courage, simply a calulating mind to do whatever was necessary even if well outside the rules of the game to achieve a result.

    That to me is not football and it’s something that Sturt have never engaged in, it’s called thuggery. Wynn justifies it as achieveing a means to an end no matter what it takes. That’s not an attitude I endorse at all.

  34. My old man still talks about the ’78 GF altercation Wynney kick started LOL
    Bloody classic. Well done

  35. david butler says

    Hi Rulebook
    This essay brought back lots of fond memories as ’28’ was an idol of mine too. My father and I were discussing him on Saturday whilst watching Uni playing at Thebarton Oval (well done Chards), recalling his (I think unless I’m mistaken) debut for Norwood. Thebby was always a terrible place to visit as a Legs supporter. If Nwd managed a win there was no real pleasure in it because we were (usually) favourites, but more often than not the Eagles would lift and send the Legs home bruised, sore and without the points. We recalled going there one such day (with one such outcome) for Wynnie’s debut . I remember a huge melee in the goal square with bodies on the ground everywhere and ’28’ in the middle of them fighting off several very angry Eagles; my dad commenting ‘he looks a bit lively’. I also recall being on the fence a few meters away at the Parade when ’28’ was reported after hitting Grave Danger with a beauty right in front of the ump after the Port man had roughed up Gallagher a bit. To give him his due Granger got straight up, God knows how. No sense no feeling I guess. I also remember in the 75 Grand Final you mention a contest on the wing between ’28’ and Rex Voigt; 2 hard men going shoulder to shoulder in a clash that made the ground shake. They both stared at each other immediately after looking for signs of pain but neither obliged of course despite both probably feeling like road crash victims. Fantastic stuff you’ll never see in a soccer match!
    To change subjects I was surprised to hear mention of Vin Copley. When I was a young boy my father was transferred with The Bank of Adelaide to its Curramulka Branch and played for the ‘Currie’ magpies. Vin was their playing coach and whilst I can’t remember my seeing him play I have heard for years stories from my Dad about him. Apparently a wonderful footballer but also thorough gentleman respected throughout the peninsula.

  36. Nice work Rulebook. I was a little too young to really remember him ( My first GF was the 1982 triumph) but many stories came from the Parentals in regards to the ’78 Gf and the Character that was 28.

  37. Michael Aish says

    Not much to say about 28 other than he couldn’t run,mark,kick but heck he was good and belting blokes. No only talking rubbish. He was like a Macintosh. Could play and protect. The Norwood faithful loved him. He loved the club and loved his team mates. Had a big heart on the field and off.

  38. Geoffrey Wilson says

    That’s a great read Malcolm and yes, John Wynne and Phil Carman were both my first footy heroes. Like you i remember pretty much everything from 1972 onwards. My Dad would take me to every home game and most away games, always sitting in the Mayors Box at Norwood. To watch Wynne, Carman and all our other stars we had on a Saturday afternoon was a fantastic experience for a young fella. Then to have the opportunity to meet your heroes as a ten year old afterwards in the Magnificent Redlegs Club indeed was a great highlight. To meet John as a ten year old with my Dad, then to have some coaching with him as an under 17, then of course to always be sent through the dinning room kitchen for my free entry to Sams, we’re experiences I will never forget. Then Rob Walsh and I worked with him with the early days of video and video analyzes. He is indeed a hero and will always be the Head Prefect and Captain of this Great Club. More importantly he is a very caring individual. Well done Wynney.

  39. Luke Reynolds says

    Really enjoyed this Malcolm. Our childhood heroes are always the best, those who follow never quite stack up.
    Loved the Sandy Roberts exchange!

  40. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Schmally could not agree more and v interesting discussions to say the least.Old dog good point re how any one judges the enforcer re who you barrack for.Dave I truly get your point re being a bit young and ohh if those walls could talk.BBTT re good point about characters and fabulous,Phil yep re the white boots and personally the only player I rate the equal of Barry Robran re ability but white line fever cost him big time he badly hurt his ankle in a state game which cost him a brownlow and yes his suspension cost the pies the flag as a athlete there are a lot of people who think he could have been a Olympian decathlon champion.Big Jim while I understand a opposition supporter having resentment towards,28
    it has always been well and truly exaggerated re what happened in the Coachs box he did not run thru,Jack Oatey what so ever.Harry likewise re the chards ( sorry didn’t see you would have said hello)spot on re 28 and Rex Voight both were desperate not to show pain.thanks,Smack.Aishy yes definite similarities,28 and Macca and love the huge heart line,100 per cent agree.Geoff I remember walking thru the kitchen with you and then up those back stairs to get in to SAMs was always interesting depending on how many beers we had I wasn’t as fortunate as you re the contact with 28 as a junior ( yes you were more than a tad better than me re footy) but those memories as we got older are priceless.Luke,28 well and truly had the knack of getting humour involved in any situation especially re any controversial confrontation a master at work and the Sandy Roberts line was brilliant thanks folks

  41. Danny Goddard says

    I can only just remember him great story in itself he was a brut hard at the contest just a tough player…… a lot of great stories within a story with this one …one of the best reads of the year

  42. Nice read Malcolm, as a Victorian I’d never heard of John Wynne until I moved to Adelaide in in the late 90’s. Sounds a lot like another great premiership ruckman of the 1970’s – Don Scott.

    It’s a pity “28” never spent a year or two in the VFL to enhance his reputation outside of South Australia.

    Phil Carman is a huge name in foot,y both in SA & Victoria and any Victorian footy fan from the mid 70’s would have vivid memories of his exploits, particularly his first VFL year in 1975.

    Not diminishing their outstanding records, but Wynne, Aish & McIntosh – three Norwood ‘legends’ don’t have the national recognition of someone like Phil Carman because they remained loyal to Norwood. And from a Victorian footy fan who never got to see Wynne in action, it sounds like I missed out on something special.

  43. Paul
    The SANFL hall of fame is full of great players (like Wynne, Aish & McIntosh) who lack so called national recognition because they didn’t play in the old VFL. They would all have walked into any VFL/AFL side but chose not to. Barrie Robran never played a VFL/AFL game but not only is he in the AFL Hall of Fame but he is rightly amongst the handful who are in The AFL Legends section of the hall. He was that bit better than everyone else (including his peers that he played against like Malcolm Blight, Phil Carman etc) but there were many not far behind (Ebert, Davies, Bagshaw, Peter Carey etc).

  44. As a Sturt supporter, I remember the 78 GF with heartache. Most of that game is now a blur to me but I still think of that controversial moment Des Foster paid the mark to Gallagher that he didn’t hold.

  45. @ Sally
    Yes, and later Des finally admitted on radio that he was wrong with his decision since he stated that he guessed that Gallagher had taken the mark since he was unsighted for part of that play. Great idea that… guessing at crucial decisions so close to goal right at the death knell of a Grand Final!
    Perhaps he was ahead of his time when one looks at the standard of the current crop of AFL umpires?

  46. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thanks Danny,Paul as Milts points out there are a hell of a lot of champions who stayed loyal to there SANFL,WAFL,Tas clubs etc back then there really wasn’t much of a difference between the standard of the competitions or pay then and while there are a lot of good things about the Afl the decimating of other state leagues( and the VFA ) is well and truly a negative and unless the Afl wake up and provide more support for the other leagues and there clubs they could fall by the wayside unless there is a strong belly underneath there can’t be a top level.Thanks Sally and Jim yes as a legs supporter I will always appreciate that error by Des and yes if I was a blues supporter I would still be spewing

  47. There’s incorrect decisions made every week now and yes Des should never have made that call at a guess. He would definitely fit in well with today’s umps. Even though one can’t say that one decision can make a game as there’s frees given that weren’t there and missed shots at goal. Saying that I still haven’t forgiven him lol. I liken it to a soccer game where it’s nil all and a penalty is given in the dieing seconds for a dive in the box. Shattering!

  48. One of your best Rulebook

    I was sitting with Sturt supporters in 78 grand final when he ran into to hassle jack Oatey

    It was a turning point

    I wonder how he would have fared in the VFL ?

  49. Such a interesting read. Well written. Well done Malcolm. I don’t remember him, but my mum loved him, as a player, think she had a bit of a crush on him too, lol

  50. Ash, as a youngster it was reassuring to have a couple of tough bastards in the team like Wynne and Button as well as the courage of Turbull and Taylor. Made up for the more brittle outside runners in Gallagher and Rosser especially against the perceived filfth from the Maggies. The men of 75 were a great mix of experienced characters and guys like Pope and Nicholson brought maturity to that era.
    So yeah, I loved watching Wynne getting the job done and protecting the smaller players.
    Not sure if current video replays and 3 umpires would suit his style.
    But that probably goes for most of the tough guys from those days

  51. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Sally yep I understand that,Plug thank you and yes,28 would have been a v v good vfl player the muddy grounds and toughness of the era would have suited him to a tee in reality then there was stuff all difference between the state leagues re standard of the game any way.Sonia thank you and your mum would well and truly not been the 1st ! Greg I agree with every single word thank you

  52. BD Brett Dutschke says

    Well written, Rulebook. Insightful. Wynne, Palm, Poulter and Clarke were my favourite Norwood players from that era (I was young enough to admire players from all teams as if they were ours). Wynne, partly because of how he spoke on the footy shows. Strongest memory, lime most peoples, was him tackling Jack Oatey in the box in ’78 GF.

  53. A great read, thanks Rulebook.
    You are really broadening my education on all things SA footy.
    Looking forward to seeing you at the Blacks lunch in November.

  54. I enjoyed this very much. Perhaps when you publish use the term “two eight” rather than 28.

  55. Andrew Geisler says

    A great article, my early memories of John 28 were not long after moving to Adelaide in 1977, my old man an avid Norwood supporter took me to games in 78, my strongest memory that year was the grand final, sitting on the concrete steps of Footy Park, what a day to come home from 29 points down, I can clearly remember Neil Craig running into an open goal to score, John Wynne at the time was 1 of the hardest players I seen at Norwood, a few yrs later I was involved in the U17s under Ian Stafford, great memories and great blokes, some who went on to League and AFL level, being coached by John Wynne was a treat, I can still remember his sand trick on the oval to which all of us had to run through so John could check our footprints in the sand to see if we were running correctly! Great memories, great experience and to be at the Parade for several yes to see all my childhood heroes was incredible, Jimmy Thiele was my favourite as I played the same position as he, RIP JIM! John Wynne certainly commanded respect wether on the ground coaching and more so playing, to all the players of that era, THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES!

  56. Martin Rumsby says

    A good read Malcolm. Wynney was one of my early heroes as well. A tough and skillful man. I remember him being very much a “two-sided” player; equally comfortable on his right or left side. He, along with Robert Oatey and some other league players did a coaching clinic at Norwood High in 1970 and I was very impressed with 28’s ball skills. A legend of the SANFL and WAFL.

  57. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thanks BD,the Palm family good friends of the Ashwooc family ( went to Norwood High with the Palms
    David,Jenny and Michael ) thanks Smokie appreciated,thanks Mike reasonable point have seen it written both ways.Andrew I can well and truly picture,Wynney re the sand and checking running patterns out
    I spoke to the great man yesterday I am sure he will enjoy your comment.Martin Wynney was fantastic re coaching clinics I was privileged to have Allan Killigrew coaching us at school a amazing man also
    thanks folks

  58. Brenton Klaebe says

    The 1975 Grand Final was the first GF I ever went too. My dad and Uncle both lifetime Norwood supporters took me and of course it was a great day for the club with club legend and my favourite player (and my dad and uncles too) John Wynne captaining a Premiership side. I was 9 years old at the time and it’s a day etched in my memory. John Wynne was the most famous person in the world to me at that time. 6 years later while training with the Norwood U17’s on Norwood Oval, which was a thrill in itself a man approached me and said lets go for a walk, to my surprise it was John Wynne. Thinking I was in trouble we walked a lap of the oval and JW gave me some tips on how to ruffle feathers without being obvious and getting caught. lol. I loved it and my dad thought it was pretty awesome when I got home and told him. I’ve learnt over the years with my association with our great club that great clubs are built around great people and John Wynne is one of those people. His Hall Of Fame speech said a lot about the type of person he is, he’s a bit different, has a huge big heart and genuinely cares about people which sadly is rare in this day and age. Last year was a real thrill to be standing with John Wynne and some of my Norwood footy heroes celebrating the 40 year anniversary of that Grand Final. I realized then just how lucky I was to be involved with such great people like John Wynne and the NFC.
    Good story Malcolm I enjoyed reading it.

  59. The number 28 was the most talked about number in my family household as I grew up. I finally got to tell John about that when I met him at the 1975 reunion last year. He was certainly very humbled at the fact he was so well loved by three generations of family members. :)

  60. Thanks Malcolm, As a youngster growing up in Perth, I was a one-eyed Cardinals supporter and John Wynne my hero! He could do no wrong except leave for SA!! But as fate would have it, in 1971 my family would move to Adelaide! There was only one team we would be following… John Wynne’s!
    He had changed though, he wore 14 for the Cardinals but 28 for the Redlegs seemed appropriate!!
    But I should tell you that as great as the final quarter comeback GF win over Sturt was, there will be no memories better than the “physical” 2nd semi and “runaway thrashing”grand final wins of 1969 over Mal Brown’s East Perth by the Polly Farmer and John Wynne lead West Perth!
    The Mighty Cardinals!

  61. Duane Stewart says

    Love Wynney was lucky enough to be around him in u17/u19’s (80-83) “college of knowledge” as he called it with Staf. He would talk to us all at the same level but didn’t suffer fools and told you how it was! Was big on skills and a big advocate for two sided players. I was only a fringe league player but it didn’t matter with him because we were all NFC! I bumped into him in a pub in 2004 in Melb on GF day with a mate who was a mad Port supporter and didn’t really know or like 28 before he met him. 2hrs later after talking to Wynney and hearing many stories he saw a different side of him and still to this day rates that one of his great memories meeting Wynney. A great man and worthy entrant to the Hall of fame.

  62. Peter Chenoweth says

    Another great article Malcolm. Though I was only 8 in 78, I can still clearly remember that game as it was on TV live (I think the first ever GF to be televised??) I followed John closely after that and remember him well,. A hard player, a great character, one of our legends.
    Thanks for taking the time to write this. I learnt lots, and thoroughly enjoyed the read.

    I still watch our 70s and 80s flag replay occasionally at

    Sharing that here – I love this site, hope others do to.


  63. Peter Chenoweth says

    Oops-lets try that link again…
    There’s also a link to the WAFL equivalent.
    Cheers again

  64. Steven-Wizard Neild says

    28 was one of the hardest men in football, he gave his all for the Red AND BLUE,he was an insperationto all yhat followed the legs in particular my young son ,who wanted to grow up and be 28 ,hahaha

  65. One of your best articles, Malcolm. Sadly, I was too young to remember much of two-eight, and he was struggling with injuries when I first attended matches in 1980. Suffice to say that my Dad had many stories of his deeds, in particular the famous ’78 GF. I recall my Dad and older brother, arm in arm, singing the song at the top of their voices as they walked into the house. It was from that point that I took a real interest in Norwood. I gather he was also of great assistance to Neil Balme in his first year as coach (1980), as some have told me over the years. It appears from the comments that his influence upon the football clubs he played with was most profound. Great recognition by the SANFL.

  66. Yes JW was a huge part of my life in Football at Norwood. I was recruited from Myplonga in 70’s with Ian Stazinowski & Neil Button ( Tangles ). We all went to school together. Boarding at Carmel Court. 28 was there with us all. He was The College of Knowledge. Also Craiggy, Noeline Pettinggill, Fab Phil Carmen, the Mulrainy bros ….to name a few. Myal Ave. was great times training & living with all the boys 24/7.
    After 4 years there Wynne &amp and I rented a house in Kensington Park behind the Chelse Theatre May Tce.
    Then the fun really began. Wynney was captain of A’s and I had just beat Port in GF by point in Thirds. Micheal Taylor& Toto, Craiggy played in that match on Adelaide Oval !
    The fun John and I had growing up in those days running Sams Disco. Tie worn to get in very top place to
    be Saturday after footy. He came to my 21st birthday with Chicken as did Mike Poulter with Sandy Berriy
    at my home in Mypolonga. A great party & fun times. JW never drank or smoked but could act as if he been drinking. Ha ha ! Picked in the State team to tour Overseas I dropped him at the Airport with no luggage and slippers on. I said, “you’re crazy.” He said, “I will buy stuff while away … ”
    I still have a couple of his jumpers in my Memoriabilia …28 I knew he would one day be famous
    Roger Pinches # 18. Norwood Football Club ….1969. To 1975 Circa

  67. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Love it zKlaebes,,Lisa yep he is incredibly humblethanks,Milky sensational go the cardinals.Stewey yep remember having a chat with you at the Queems Head along those lines ( yes I sold him a raffle ticket)
    Peter thank you and greatly appreciate the link.Steven love the sentiment and I reckon a lot of us and our kids dreamed of being like,28.Hardman thank you and yes,Wynney was a huge influence on Neil Balme a quiet advisor and a protector in ways I remember sitting with them in the redlegs club after a loss and a female walked up and told,Balmey what she thought to say 28 put her back in her box is a understatement.Roger thank you for the insight and again showing how much a influence,28 was on so many young men,thank you I am really enjoying the emotion and obvious respect shown in the comments by so many

  68. i am 72, true blue red and blue blooded, i sang in the band at the redlegs club when wynne and carman ran it, great blokes, some of the best years of my life.

  69. Brilliant article Malcolm. I’m not old enough to remember 28 playing, but my mum always raves about him! Great insight, much appreciated.

  70. Paul Cowie says

    i am 72, true blue red and blue blooded, i sang in the band at the redlegs club when wynne and carman ran it, great blokes, some of the best years of my life. Thanks for sharing,Malcolm

  71. Was too young to see him play but the old man talked him up a lot . Couldn’t we do with a few like him at the moment. Another good read ashy

  72. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thanks Paul love it,I reckon the band is before my time,thanks Brad appreciated and Gilbo yes wouldn’t go astray !

  73. Phil Schonfelt says

    I can remember after 75 Premiership win Dad and 11 year old me trying to crash into the wood st club and who was on the door but Gentleman John and I think Ji Thiele. Dad pushed e ahead of him and looked at 28 and said I wanted a few signatures for my new Mke Coward book ‘Red and Blue blooded” John smiled took the book and both guys signed it and waved us through. I nearly got the whole team to sign it that night and is a treasured book. The book brings back a fond memory of Wynne, that night, a premiership after 25 years, Dad who waited 25 years for the win and Norwood faithful buzzing. Thank you John and well done on your deserved recognition in the WA & now SA hall of fame.

  74. Every team needs an ‘enforcer’ and that’s what 2-8 was to Norwood. Players walked taller under the Wynne influence. A couple of great Wynne stories:
    While playing against Wynne in a Reserves final, a skinny, scrawny Stephen Kernahan was being encouraged and mentored during the game. ‘Sticks’ tells the story better than me but Wynee went to great length to explain leading patterns, body work and reading the play. An indication of the mans broader interest in growing and developing people.
    As coach of West Perth in the WAFL, players were working themselves into a frenzy pre-match with a vigorous warm-up. Wynne said nothing. The voice and the intensity reached fever pitch as leaders were encouraging extra intensity and effort to get the desired result. Wynne called the players in, grabbed an empty carton of milk and crushed it with his foot.
    “That’s what we are going to do to them today fellas!” Wynne suggested.
    West Perth won comfortably.
    Great character. A far cry from some of the “cardboard cut-outs” these days.

  75. Great article . Well written Malcolm

  76. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thanks Phil 28 was brilliant at that sort of thing thanks,Lachlan I had forgotten about that but yes remember,Sticks being very complementary re the advice he received and what he learnt from 28,he always saw the whole picture and what have had a affinity with,Harry Kernahan thanks,Malcolm greatly appreciated

  77. 28 was Norwood’s Rock. Norwood and 28 could not be separated. When he was on the field, others lifted. Incredible memories growing up as a fan and watching him, Stas, the great Jim Thiel, Tubs, Kingo, Button and favourite Woodcock. He was such an incredible kick for goal. Those 75 and 78 grand finals were my childhood iconic memories and then when later training and playing with these guys it’s something that is very dear to me.

  78. A really good read Malcolm, certainly brings back memories of a great era of big crowds and hard tough football. As you would know the players of that era come to mind first of all when you try and work out who the players are today in those jumpers! Loved watching Carmen and Wynne and I liked his ‘fatherly’ approach to looking after the younger players on the field!

  79. Too young to know what he was like as a player but from what is said about him, he sounds like a champion of the Norwood Football Club back in the 1970s. Really good to have blokes like him play for Norwood, ones who will have an impact one way or another in years to come. Glad he got some premiership success at the Redlegs and hopefully we will see that again in years to come with the current lot.

  80. Great article Book. I never saw 28 play live, but have seen plenty of footage of him since and have been lucky enough to spend some time with the great man on a number of occasions. A couple of things stand out for me, firstly is the care he has for our club. It wasn’t just a place to play footy for him, it’s clearly a home (an SA home) of sorts for him. Secondly, he is adored universally by anyone who has ever been associated with the NFC. From volunteers to past players, board members and supporters, I don’t think we’ve had a more loved player. I get the sense that for a few years in the 70’s, everyone I’ve listed above walked a little taller with 28 wearing red and blue. One special personal memory, is him coming down into the rooms after my 200th game. We’d come from behind to beat Port by a couple of points and were all pretty excited and emotional in the rooms. Wynney was there and grabbed me for a big hug and a few special words.

  81. Steve wood says

    I remember my father in the early days describing 28 as ‘elbows’. Watching john in my early to late teens, I thought had so much more to his his game. He was such an intergral cog to the Norwood team back both on and off the field.
    A great man.

    Well written Mal.

  82. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Olaf likewise as you well no the playing part in that regard for me was never going to happen
    ( knackery I played school footy with,Olaf ) Greg couldn’t agree more.thanks Cameron,,James superbly put.Steve 28 played 12 state games for SA and WA he is a Premiershipmcaptain and in Norwoods team of the century,a team which would give any clubs a run for there money he was a v v v good footballer
    thank you

  83. Yep great read my brothers father in law worked as a bouncer @ the club.One night Gary Dempsey and a few others rocked up 28 told him under no circumstances were they 2 be allowed upstairs .it started 2 get abit fiery until they spotted 28 pissing himself laughing in the corner

  84. Rob Crompton says

    My earliest memories of Norwood go back to 1966; my brothers and I used to walk to the Parade to watch home matches. John Wynne is high among the football luminaries in our memories of the 70s. This piece highlights some admirable aspects of John’s character I was not aware of – his sense of humour I do remember! I remember he also had dodgy ankles. But foremost are my memories of his skill on the football field and that goal in the 1978 GF which gave us the lead against Sturt in the last quarter (I had flown from Canberra, where I worked, to see that game and sat on the concrete steps on the eastern side, surrounded by Sturt supporters).
    Thanks Malcolm for a wonderful picture of John Wynne.

  85. David Payne says

    Well said Malcolm,

    I have to agree with you all,what an amazing person and character,As like you [Stewy] Those walk around the oval experiences with his son, little 28 where memorable, yet visionary.He did in his way, give you all the ideas but did not give you the answers.You had to read between the lines and work it out yourself.
    His influence on me was unforgettable and i thank him for that.
    David Payne

  86. Chris Smelt says

    Malcolm thanks for the article on 28 It bought back many wonderful memories of a great mentor & advisor to a Junior Norwood footballer. I always felt I was very lucky to be at Norwood the time I was. Like Stewy, Klabes & Payney I was there at a time that Wynney became involved in “The College of Knowledge” with the junior program. Like the other guys one of the memorable times was the night I had the walk of a lap of the oval with 28. At the time I was captain of the U17’s & he put his vision across about what it means to be the captain of any Norwood side. A talk I will always remember not so much what he said but the ideas he left you with after spending time you. A very smart man in a true footy sense. One of my biggest regrets in footy was not taking up his offer to go over to West Perth & play under him when he left Norwood to go & coach. Like Wayne Schmaal I to can remember the discussion he had with the late & great Jim Thiel in the gym during training about what training drills we should be doing!!!! A great Norwood & SANFL legend who sits very comfortably in the SANFL Hall of Fame.
    Thanks Malcolm for the article.

  87. Andrew 'Legs' Meaney says

    A true champion Norwood person – two eight.

    Well deserved and rightly in the HOF

    Norwood forever!

  88. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Doug that is so 28 a master of the practical joke.thanks Rob for all the tough image of Wynney people forget just how skilled he was and it was a sensational goal.( I will get over it one day that I got forced to go to a school,camp and missed the game grrr ! ) Payney and Smelt superbly put he was visionary and the expert at planting the seed and then you work it out from there his influence at the parade re so many juniors at the time can never be underestimated and that discussion( well put) with indeed the late and great,Jim Thiel is part of Norwood folklore.Andrew well and truly thanks folks

  89. Barry Solomon says

    Love it mate, although growing up in the enemy camp, after many years at the parade I became completely addicted to the history and grew an incredible amount of respect for those who had graced that hallowed turf. To have spent what could only be described as the best years of my working life serving this magnificent club is indeed not only humbling but in so many ways emotional. The amazing stories of battles on and off the field should never be lost and many thanks to yourself and others for continually keeping that flame lit. Cheers all.

  90. steve Arnold says

    agree with everything above- saw just about every game 1968- 1984. some do not realise just how skilful 28 was. on eastern wing one day he took an absolute speccy right in front of us. check out youtube of game at adelaide oval against port . wynne just picked up beswick and dumped him….. got 4 games…

    lucky to have a pirated copy of his testimonial dinner in 82. max basheer with live chicken raffle, bazz and pilko, mike coward, pratty, polly farmer, 28 speaking………

    so many memories of 28. leader, red and blue through and through. in these days of programmed footy, I just feel lucky to have seen 28 lead us in those great years. remember an internal trial game at glenside when 28 and phil stood each other and had a fun day. also the day he stole a football boot that had come adrift from an opponent. thanks Malcolm for the memories

  91. Eric Weltner says

    It would be fair to say that TWO EIGHT was not exactly revered by Port fans (or other opposition supporters), which is understandable – because he was not only happy to take it up physically to the opposition, there were also occasions he went out of his way to do so. But I can certainly see why Norwood fans loved him. A big presence that added leadership and a hard edge to a club that had drifted for the previous couple of decades. His role as protector would have helped those around him walk taller. Some opposition players must surely have thought twice about belting any of Norwood’s on-ball brigade knowing Wynne was capable – and certainly willing – to even up the score.

    Port Adelaide was odds-on to win the 1980 Grand Final after a record-breaking year – but the ‘Legs certainly took it up to Port and had them somewhat rattled with their physicality in the early stages, with John Wynne leading the charge. It took that Magpies outfit, one of the best ever according to Russell Ebert, until deep into the last quarter to put a brave Norwood away.

    Sounds like he was a good bloke with a great sense of humour and a legend of your club – thanks Malcolm for giving perspective on a bloke that back in the day I loved to hate.

  92. Great read. Every person has their story and, if we knew it, we’d likely change our views of him. As an avid Port supporter, I hated no player – opposition or Port (although Robbie Muir got me close to that emotion). I respected the me like number 28…they were scary in terms of intimidation and because they were the people most likely to beat your team. Eddie Fry said to me, 28 could put on a 10 minute burst and kick 5 goals and he was brutally strong and you never knew when he was going to lose it and get overly physical. But Eddie respected the hell out of him.

  93. Greg Harderson says

    The Enforcer was an epic team man. Didn’t necessarily have the pace and skills of some of his peers but made up for it with heart.
    I remember reading somewhere that he used to often butt heads with the senior coach as well as the strategy coach about the roles they would ask him to play. He just wanted to get in there and biff someone. Oatey! The ultimate team man! Wynne!

  94. Fantastic effort mal making it hard to pick my favorite articles
    Grew up as 28 joined the red and blue
    Nearly same age as you
    Was at 75 78 gf came up from the country to watch
    78 granny locked us out of her home in urrbrae had to stay in motel she was sturt supporter and bought us the tickets

  95. Paul Harradine says

    I love this one Malcom.As I remember 28 he wasn’t just a tough man he could play the game terribly bloody well..He had a great football brain,football awareness that is not taught, he would seem to be able to read the game exceptionally well and this made up for any perceived lack of pace because that “lack of pace”line always amused me because when something started pace was never a problem.I can only say I have had nothing but respect for John and I wish I could have played more games against him.

  96. only just discovered your profile Malcolm. What a great read for a person who has followed the Legs since ’57. Unfortunately we lost that ’57 GF to Port by 11 points in what was to become known as “The Butchers’ Picnic”. We sure could have done with 28 that day to settle some scores. I seem to recall that Robert Reginald Oatey disapproved of some of Gentleman John’s methods and at one stage their relationship became strained. Fortunately 28 remained with the club. I also remember when Wynney was reported (in a GF I think) and he didn’t bother to turn up at the tribunal. A message he sent said the umpires never ever looked after his welfare on the field so he had no obligation to be present.. Anyway RB a great read about an exceptional player.and i humbly apologize for my late comments.

  97. Just heard Dennis Cometti interviewed about Polly Farmer on ABC Radio in Perth. Polly was his first coach at West Perth. Asked how his players/team mates reacted to Polly in his latter years when Alzheimers was “chipping away at him”, Dennis said a lot couldn’t cope with his diminished situation or Polly not remembering them in recent years. Dennis said John Wynne was an exception who visited him regularly in the nursing home and took him on outings right up to the end. Measure of the man.

  98. Damian Woodards says

    Changed my guernsey number to 28 in 2002 for the Grand final I coached and played in from 55 which in numerology adds up to 1 and it worked. We won the premiership.

  99. Susan Bavey says

    I remember 28 very well, especially at Sams Disco upstairs on Saturday nights. Was a great place to catch up with most of the players. Was there in the early seventies and not too sure, but did John end up marrying Jill Winchester, I know they were engaged for a while.
    Does John have any other Children apart from his 50 year old Daughter called Joanne, who lives in Adelaide ??

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