Footballers who grew up on dairy farms

This may seem like an unusual request, but all will eventually be revealed. I am trying to answer one of life’s great questions:

Which footballers grew up on dairy farms?

Nominations please.

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. Anthony Stevens and Ben Cunnington spring to mind.

  2. Skip of Skipton says

    Ron Wearmouth. At Noorat.

  3. Ben Cunnington (NM) and Gary Rohan (Syd) grew up on neighbouring farms in the western district, played together at the Geelong Falcons, and were both first-round draft picks.

  4. Litza came off a dairy farm didn’t he?

    I assume you mean ANY footballer?

  5. Grandfather was a dairy farmer – a hard man by all accounts, who’s probably lucky he never saw me play.

  6. Robert Allen says

    Bob Chitty and his brother Les (‘Peter’) at Corryong. Ken Hinkley lived on one for a time when growing up at Camperdown. Horrie Gorringe (the best Tasmanian footballer never to play V/AFL) had a dairy farm but I’m unsure whether he grew up on one.

  7. Current player at the Swans Gary Rohan from down Cobden way. Stephen Theodore who played with the Saints in the ’70’s grew up on a farm at Irrewillipe. John Devine who played and coached the Cats came from Swan Marsh. I’m fairly certain all those farms were dairy farms. The Lord twins and Thorold Merrett all from down Cobden way and I think dairy farms.

  8. Basso Divor says

    Ken Hinkley spent several years of his childhood on a dairy farm at Camperdown, where his parents were share farmers.

    Francis Bourke was raised on the family’s dairy farm, about 40 km north west of Shepparton in northern Victoria, where his father was captain-coach of his home town team, Nathalia.

  9. Chris Weaver says

    Josh Fraser came from a farm at Mansfield specialising in sheep and dairy. He’s just returned there having finished his AFL career.

    Michael Newton and Ben McEvoy are from dairy farms in the Victorian high-country. I know Justin Koschitzke grew up on a farm at Corowa; just don’t know whether cattle are farmed on the family property.

    John Longmire and Craig Kelly also spring to mind.

  10. mick pullen says

    Greg Whittlesea, SANFL Sturt magarey medallist. Played A few games for Hawthorn and was from Yankalilla (as was Kym Koster). Pretty sure Greg was /is A dairy farmer.

  11. Andrew Fithall says

    It is just a guess, but I reckon Hayden Ballantyne probably grew up on a dairy farm. To be able to milk frees(ias) the way he does, he must have learned that skill somewhere…

  12. Was Austin McCrabb a dairy farmer?

  13. Neil Anderson says

    I think Austin was the son of a Scottish fishmonger…just trying to get in first with that one.

  14. Neil Anderson says

    Non-football following wife but local historian just came up with ‘The Couches”.
    Brownlow Paul, brother Bill I think and father Bill. Legends of Boggy Creek,
    Terang and Warrnambool. Refer to Andrew Starkie for confirmation.

  15. Pamela Sherpa says

    Neville Bruns – Leitchville/Geelong

  16. Pamela, as well as Neville Bruns the dairy farms of Leitchville sent Craig Cleave and the late Jeff Fehiring to Geelong. And up the road at Cohuna Gary and Doug Farrant from North Melbourne and Max Robertson from South Melbourne were from dairy farms as well.

  17. Colin Ritchie says

    Were the Danihers dairy farmers in Ungarie?

  18. Paul Couch certainly grew up on a dairy farm. When I lived in Warrnambool in the 80s I was told the following story. Couch, like all South Western Footballers was zoned to Fitzroy but, like the majority of Warrnambool residents, he was a Geelong fans. I was told that Couch told Fitzroy that he would only come up to Melbourne if they employed someone to replace him milking his Dad’s cows. When Fitzroy finally admitted defeat and cleared him to Geelong he made no such demands on the Cats. The story might just be local gossip but the Couch family certainly farmed dairy cows.

    I watched a lot of Billy Couch (Bill jnr) when I lived in Warrnambool. He reminded me of Tony Shaw. He wasn’t really fast enough to be a midfielder but he made up for his lack of speed with cunning, courage and commitment, just like Tony Shaw in the VFL/AFL.

  19. Hawthorn’s Peter Knights is the son of a Gippsland dairy farmer, so more than likely, he grew up on a dairy farm.

  20. Essendon’s Scott Lucas grew up on dairy farms at Pomborneit North and Weerite.

  21. Hayden Ballantyne’s father is a racehorse trainer, so he grew up in horse stables. Only counts as a cattle property in Rumania.

  22. Rocket Nguyen says

    Mrs Longmire bred prize-winning chooks on their grazing and grain farm near Balldale, just out of Corowa. John used to help feed the chooks – good training for post-match footy media conferences

    Kosi comes from Brocklesby – dry country, no milking cows.

    Ditto Daniher County

  23. Ernie Hug, Fred Way; what sort of farms for those former South Melbourne rucks?

    Fred Way was from Berrigan; wheat ? Ernie Hug, who drove a Rolls Royce, must have had a good crop, whatever it was.


  24. Andrew Starkie says

    Yeah harmsy, the Couch story is classic country footy stuff. The father Bill is considered the greatest player who never left the bush. he shot a few fingers off on the farm and wrapped his hand in a bandage and played on the weekend. He shopped at our butcher shop for years and i recall dad being saddened by his death. I can ask dad about him if you want. he may be able to put you onto someone down that way.

    Apparently Paul returned home to the farm pretty full of himself one summer so his brothers took him behind the dairy and took down a peg or two. Bill Jnr was a tough nut, played for Wbool. I recall another brother thumping someone in a local gf. There are Couchs everywhere down our way. I played cricket and footy against a few of them.

  25. Andrew Starkie says

    actually, if you’re after local players, contact clubs such as Timboon and Panmure in the WDFNL. They are dominating due to farmer support. Wbool based clubs can’t get a look in.

  26. Andrew Starkie says

    Adrian Gleeson, Smirky Dywer from Koroit? Noel Mugavin? The Mugsys have a dairy and carrot farm in Killarney. Billy Picken is married into their clan, he’s from Macarthur. don’t know if he was dairy. The Mahonys from Allansford. 18 children, most boys played in premierships at Allansford. Dave Ryan from Panmure played in flags at Balwyn and had a summer at Bris bears back in the day.

  27. I would’ve thought Cookie would have the full list.

  28. Neil Anderson says

    As Andrew said, the Couch family would be well worth checking out for a story…if you haven’t already done so John.
    There is a connection for me and my dairy-farming uncle. He was a volunteer goal-umpire at the oval accross the road from his farm in Nirranda (between Warrnambool and Peterborough) in the 1960’s. The story goes that Bill Couch Senior didn’t like one particular decision and clocked my uncle. I’m not sure if it was a grandfinal or not but it could be the one Andrew was referring to.
    My uncle was a big muscley bloke (I can still see those massive biceps from our haycarting days) so I can only imagine what a monster footballer Bill Couch must have been to have a go at him. All part of the legend I guess.

  29. Garry Cowmeadow?

  30. Gary Cowmeadow who played a handful of games, mainly in the Magoos, for South Melbourne in 1973. Also a fast medium bowler for Tasmania in the 1970’s. From the North of Tasmania, Cooee, Penguin ???.


  31. Barny/Josh's Dad says

    Anthony Stevens father had a dairy farm at Waaia, so too did Glen Coghlan,Collingwood and StKilda.

  32. Gary Cowmeadow! Surely that can’t be his real name?

    John Cornfield.

  33. Barny/Josh's Dad says

    Charlie Stewart who played one season for Footscray,19th man 1961 Grand Final grew up on a dairy farm at Waaia also,same farm the Steven’s family moved to.Saw Charlie on the “Marngrook Footy Show” grand final week 2012.He won Waaia’s senior B&F as a 14 year old. He also rode bulls at rodeo’s, he told the story of his picture being in the paper and Charlie Sutton and Ted Whitten visiting him at work and telling to stop as he might get hurt.

  34. Dips, from Wiki (what a great name!!):

    Garry John Cowmeadow (born 21 August 1954 in Huonville, Tasmania) was an Australian cricket player, who played for the Tasmanian Tigers. His career was from 1976 until 1979.

    Garry Cowmeadow was a useful medium fast bowler with a good economy rate, who proved well suited to the one-day game. He was a member of the Tasmanian Tigers team which played in the state’s first ever Sheffield Shield match in 1977, and was a member of the 1978-79 Gillette Cup winning side.

    He also played 3 games of Australian rules football in the Victorian Football League for South Melbourne in 1975.

  35. Medium Dazza says

    Kevin Neale from South Warrnambool?

    Friersian Gehrig, Alex Jerseylenko, Gary Cowton?

  36. you can’t list dairy farmers without reference to the legendary hoop, Nifty.

  37. Medium Dazza, i’m prety sure Fresian Gehrig is from a vineyard near Barnawatha.


  38. Barkly St End says

    Ian “Fish” Salmon – KPP with Footscray through the 70s, came from somewhere around the Latrobe valley/Gippsland. Word is that he continued living on, and working, his dairy farm right through his playing days, doing the long commute to West Footscray for training.

  39. Gary Cameron who played a few games for the Pussies in the mid 80s might have come off a dairy farm around Katamatite. Darren Flanigan from the same area had wheat and sheep. Rod Grinter might have wrestled dairy cows around Katandra in his youngers days as well.

  40. Gary Walpole – Footscray
    Dairy Farm – Yanakie (Gippsland)

  41. In 2000 the Otway Under 17s gave me, as coach, the Premiership I could never get as a player, and the community its first flag in 20 years. We looked at the photo years later. 17 of the 22 boys came from dairy farms!!

  42. I met one of the Couch brothers at Cairns airport recently. A real gentleman whom I’d like to contact. He is a farmer in the Warnnambool area heading to the Daintree area for a holiday with friends who owned a caravan park in the area. Wish I had asked him more about himself, unfortunately I didn’t. My daughter and I merely shared a taxi with him into town that evening. Any clues out there to he’s first name contact etc would be appreciated. He is older brother to Paul! Ps I am a true Geelong fan.

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