Coleraine Football Club: Bill Bailey

Bill Bailey paddock and flock

Bill Bailey in his Coleraine jumper. Note the Vickery cap: that’s Ty’s family. [Always knew there was more in Ty’s life]


Bill Bailey is a wool farmer from Wannon in Victoria’s famous Western District. Like so many from the area he grows wool, raises kids and barracks for Geelong.

He played footy for Coleraine in the late 1960s and, while he made good use of his Coleraine footy jumper on the field in his day, he’s made even better use of it round the farm since. Warm, and with the perfect fit around the gentle contours of his athlete’s frame that only wool can give, this jumper is Bill’s pride and joy. What a beautiful thing it is!

I ring him up for a chat and catch him just before tea.

“Good photo,” I say. “Good jumper: Coleraine, the Maroons. Did you play much footy?”

“I was more of a cricketer,” Bill says, “but I played a few years for Coleraine. I wasn’t that tall, but believe or not I was a ruckman. I had an outstanding vertical leap. Yeah: about six inches!”

He played in the glory days when Coleraine were in the Western Border League.

“We lost to Portland in the ’66 Grand Final,” he remembers. “Col Saddington – the Richmond bloke – had come across from Adelaide. Then we won it in ‘67.”

He’s been on the land all his life.

“Dad bought Park Hill before the war: 3000 acres, 6 pound an acre. Big money. But the wool boom helped.”

His Dad, Bill senior, was a sportsman. When he went off to Melbourne to study Medicine he was at Trinity. He did one year, but he won a triple blue: cricket, footy, and billiards.

Bill’s family had interests around Victoria. His great (?) grandfather (yes, William Bailey as well) became a wealthy man. He was famously known as Weeping Bailey. Having arrived from England in 1848 he eventually worked as a mine manager in the Ballarat district for the Learmonth family. They were so impressed with his work, including his role as agent in selling a major mine, they gave him 5% commission which amounted to 675 quid. Overcome with emotion, tears cascaded down William’s cheeks and he was forever  Weeping Bailey after that. He features in one of Geoff Blainey’s books.

The Bailey family became involved in farming and  other enterprises, including racehorses, and that all remains in the blood.

So there is quite a story to Young Bill, and the Baileys. And quite a story of the jumper.

These days the Maroons play in the South-west League. They’ve won six out of the last nine flags and are in the mix again this season. Matt Dunne coaches them.

They play at a magnificent oval nestled into a ridge above a creek.

Bill will buy you a beer if you get along.

Bill Bailey fleece

About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and He has written columns and features for numerous publications. His books include Confessions of a Thirteenth Man, Memoirs of a Mug Punter, Loose Men Everywhere, Play On, The Pearl: Steve Renouf's Story and Life As I Know It (with Michelle Payne). He appears (appeared?) on ABCTV's Offsiders. He can be contacted [email protected] He is married to The Handicapper and has three school-age kids - Theo, Anna, Evie. He might not be the worst putter in the world but he's in the worst four. His ambition was to lunch for Australia but it clashed with his other ambition - to shoot his age.


  1. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Familiar colours, but Bill’s fits him better than mine does.

    What would be in the background of a photo of a player in a modern jumper – a laboratory?

  2. No disgrace getting beaten by Col Saddington. He and Teddy Langridge and Dodger Ryan were recruited by Jack Oatey to Sturt as the building blocks of the mighty double blues revival. As history shows they played their part. Col was the classic ruck rover, with Teddy the nippy rover and dodger ryan a prodigious kicking full back. He used to drop kick almost to the centre on the small unley oval. Col Saddo was a great enforcer that gave the young blues charges support when needed especially against port. I wondered where they went when the three of them retired. Teddy became a commentator but I didn’t ever find out what happened to Saddo and dodger.


  3. Great ‘yarn’ (is that a woolly quip?) Anyway, loved the bush heritage and sense of enduring community.
    Nank – I too remember Saddington and Langridge at Sturt at the start of the Jack Oatey era. Dodger Ryan didn’t ring a bell but the grey matter is struggling these days. I do remember a Sturt full back called Keith Jarrett who put droppies into the centre square (with Brenton Adcock in the back pocket). Maybe that was a bit later in the premiership years? Can you jog my memory?

  4. Andrew Starkie says

    Used to go rabitting with dad and uncle Jock down that way. Spotlight on the back of the ute. Cold, dark, scary. Possums eyes like tiny stars in the scrub. Slept in an old shack with a wooden floor in the back paddock of a farm. Sat around the fire at night.

  5. This series about old jumpers are awesome reading…

  6. Harmsy, Shane & I come from Coleraine stock – Konongwootong to be specific. Like Andrew, we spent many joyful childhood hours on our uncle’s farm culling the lagomorphs – trapping, shooting, digging out – never did get on top of ’em, but had a lot of fun trying. Our uncle had some hard-arsed shearers (reputedly ‘active’ in the war against NZ wide combs), one of whom would start off with his Coleraine guernsey on before stripping down to the regulation wife beater. Bill’s photo takes me right back there. Happy memories. Corka

  7. Pamela Sherpa says

    Love the pictures . Gorgeous. Old footy jumpers make such good working jumpers. Perfect ad for wool .

  8. I too am loving this serious of stories on old footy jumpers – keep them coming.

Leave a Comment