Greatest footballers to be associated with the wool industry (where was this all up to, March 2015?)

Bill Bailey paddock and flock

Bill Bailey, paddock and flock



March 16 2015 Burra wool function  DETAILS


Last year here at The Footy Almanac, we had a lot of fun with old woollen footy jumpers which, judging from the emails and the posts, have struck quite a chord.

There is something in an old footy jumper – how it feels, how it smells, how it has survived, and (especially) the club it represents and the stories it contains.

We’ve had some terrific stories – keep them rolling in. All you need is an image of a woollen footy jumper and a yarn to tell us about it.

We’ve also had dozens of comments (see the thread at the end of this story) and many emails as well.

Many have nominated good footballers who have a wool heritage or connection.

With footy season upon us it’s time for me to pick a few squads. That means I need more nominations.

So, let’s keep the names coming in, if you know anyone, or can think of anyone, with wool in their blood, who has grown up on a sheep property, or worked in some capacity with wool, or worn a Jackie Howe, or blued with a Kiwi, or owned a kelpie and has played footy, please nominate them for the greatest wool team of all time.

Maybe, like Nathan Fyfe, they’ve found their way to the top level – in any of the metropolitan comps. Maybe they stayed home and played locally. They can be from any era – living or dead. I’ll nominate Tom Wills right now.

Add your nominations here. Give us the name of the person, where they’re from, who they played for and what was their involvement with wool.

I can think of a few regions:

The Western District of Victoria – you may have seen the story on Bill Bailey from the Coleraine FC (that’s Bill up the top)

The Riverina – Jumping Jack and young Tom? Rocket Rod Gillett will know heaps.

The Mid-North of SA  – I’ll be meeting some of the troops up there when I’m at the Sundowner at Burra next Monday. Details of that wool event (featuring Catriona Rowntree) are HERE.

The Yorke Peninsula/West Coast – wool here?

South-west WA – Sean Gorman, you used to work in the wool industry. Your role? Geez, big man, you might even get in it.

Tassie? Please tell me Richo came off a sheep farm

So make your nomination via the comments box below and we’ll see where this leads us.




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. Execellent idea.

    Sam Newman used to model the big white woollen jumpers that were fashionable in the 70s. I’ve still got one in the drawer at home. We used to call them “husband’s jumpers” because only married blokes wore them (purchased by their wives of course). .

  2. Bob Speechley says

    You could start with Reg Hickey who worked with a Geelong Woolbroker in the 1960s and was renowned for his physical prowess at a mature age.

  3. Dr Goatboat says

    Carltons john gould was in the rag trade….Raggsy Gould, in fact

  4. Jo Daniher says

    Anthony Daniher grew up on a wheat and sheep farm and became a wool-classer when he finished school – worked in the industry when get moved to South Melbourne in the early 80’s. He may be able to be squeezed into the the wool industry team of the century back line!

  5. Ron Quartermaine 75 games, East Perth back pocket Over 50 years with Wesfarmers, Elders and the Lamb Marketing Board. Could also shear a sheep with just the old pair of scissor clippers. Probably qualifies more on the wool side of things, but you may need a nuggetty back pocket. Cheers

  6. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Clayton Lamb ?

  7. Skip of Skipton says

    1982 Carji Greeves medallist John Mossop of Penola is a must have. Never actually left the farm. Six hour round trip for training. Still on the farm.

  8. Sean Gorman says

    South West WA – Jim, Phil, Billy, Eric and Andrew (brother) Krakouer. All worked in the teams. Neil Williams (cousin) should have played league for Claremont at least was said to be the equal of Jim by North and South Barker people also.

    Johnny and Norm Dennis played for SOuth Freo and could peel the moss off a big red eye (ie shear the wool of a big wether).

    Scott Edwards (Docker) cockies son from Beverley and shore a sheep as part of the 1995 promo for Freo. I will think of more

  9. Rocket Nguyen says

    A couple readily spring to mind:

    Jimmy Prentice – Ariah Park-Mirrool/South Melbourne 1970-74 – breeder of poll dorsets and white suffolk sheep

    Rick Quade – Ariah Park Mirrool/South Melbourne capt/Sydney Swans coach – sheep and wheat farmer

    Peter Box – Footscray – 1956 Brownlow medalist – Grong Grong Matong coach – shearer

  10. Alistair Watson says

    Charles Massy who wrote the definitive account of how the wool industry bankrupted itself, ‘Breaking the Sheep’s Back’, published in 2011 by UQP, once told me he had a run with ANUFC as a student. Charlie supports Carlton. He was taken aback when I told him that the former Australian Wool Corporation had a box at Princes Park for a few years. This was always vigorously opposed by the late Bob Richardson, not because he supported Geelong, but because he believed that everyone should pay their own way into the football. One of Bob’s first acts when he effectively became receiver manager of the wool industry was to get rid of the box, a rank indulgence and staff perk even if Carlton were playing in woollen jumpers. Both Charlie and Bob deserve some sort of gig.

  11. Dr Goatboat says

    Fabulous Phil Carman, the best I ever saw, was from the bush in SA…..anyone know more on that?

  12. Kevan Carroll says

    Fred Wooller?

  13. Campbell Bairstow says

    Ross ‘Farmer’ Ditchburn (Carlton and Claremont) from Kukerin in the Great Southern in Western Australia has a strong claim for full forward. The Ditchburns are very successful wool and grain farmers in the region, and have a distinguished football pedigree. Ross’s brother John is a past senior coach and is now President of Peel Thunder in the WAFL. Extract from Carlton propaganda site follows:

    In 1981, Ditchburn was the 24 year-old captain-coach of his hometown football club at Kukerin, in WA’s wheat belt south of Perth. His family were pillars of the local community and ran a large property outside the town. He had played WAFL football at Claremont, but by then Ross was a star of the strong local league; a powerful key forward with vice-like hands and a right foot that could, the locals said; “boot a bag of spuds over a wheat silo”.

    One day, the Ditchburns had visitors – all the way from the other side of the country. Carlton coach David Parkin and Recruiting Manager Shane O’Sullivan had come to Kukerin with an offer that the big bloke found tough to resist, and that his parents encouraged him to accept. After tea and scones in the Ditchburn’s kitchen, Parkin and O’Sullivan left with the promise that Ross would be at Princes Park the following year…

  14. The Bairstows (including Mark) farmed and still farm in the Dumbelyung district of WA’s southern wheatbelt, where wheat and sheep went together like love and marriage (both concepts perhaps now slightly dated…).

    Likewise the Duckworths, from the same general area (closer to Lake Grace than Dumbelyung), including Bill (West Perth and Essendon), and elder brother John (Fitzroy, West Perth and Magarey Medallist with Central Districts). There were other Duckworths who were formidable footballers on country grounds, but because of farming commitments never translated that talent and physicality to the city.

    Billy Walker (triple Sandover medallist with Swan Districts and rated by many as being at least the equal of Barry Cable) was likewise a wheat and sheep farmer from WA’s midwest wheatbelt near Narrambeen and famously travelled a number of times each week to Bassendean Oval for training and matches.

  15. Josh's dad says

    Phil Carman came from Edenhope in Victoria and played in the SANFL before being recruited to Collingwood

  16. Bill Malcolm says

    Russell Crow the 1960sFitzroy champ ruck man from near Warracknabeal in Wimmera and who played when ruck men were six- four and similar across shoulder, spent his time wrestling Merino wethers on the board-from memory was champ at that too.
    Further north in southern mallee Graham Cook number 10 Footscray mid to late 1960s from Hopetoun off wheat sheep farm,became apprentice lamb buyer and in lambs forever since. Returned to be most successful coach Hopetoun has ever had, in the days of prickly Woollen jumpers. Lambs are made by wool making machines, and they grow a bit themselves, so Cooky should qualify.

  17. Dick Raymond says

    I had a great mate who passed away last year who always told me he had a mate when he worked for one of the Wool companies in Williamstown called Maxie Graham.
    . They had kick to kick at lunchtime, except when they went to the pub ( probably most days ).
    As a bulldog fan for far too many years I remember him as a gutsy little rover in the early 60s. I think he may have just missed out for playing for the Dogs in the 1961 Finals.
    I also think he went out with a sheila who lived near us in Heidelberg.

    Dick Raymond

  18. sean gorman says

    Nicky Winmar – roused for years throughout the wheatbelt. Could work on a hungry too apparently (ie a make-shift stand set up to finish the shed). Its all coming back to e now.

  19. sean gorman says

    Adam McNicol the Manangatang Mauler!!!!

  20. sean gorman says

    Michael Duckworth’s were from Dudinin (due din in)

  21. Doug Nicholls the famous indigenous footballer for Fitzroy in the 30’s (3rd in the 1934 Brownlow) who was also a pro runner, pastor, reconciliation campaigner and eventually Governor of South Australia. A great and dignified man. This is from his Wikipedia entry:
    “At 13 he worked with his uncle as a tar boy and general hand on sheep stations, and he lived with the shearers. He worked hard and had a cheerful disposition. This annoyed one of the shearers so much that he challenged Nicholls to a fight, with the loser to hand over one week’s pay (30 shillings – $3). After six rounds the shearer who challenged him conceded defeat.”
    Captaincy material.

  22. Dave Brown says

    Shaun Rehn should fit in nicely – pretty sure the farm he grew up on ran sheep on Eyre Peninsula. Perhaps we could find a spot for Gillon McLachlan too – grew up on a sheep farm in Mt Pleasant, near all that wonderful Eden Valley riesling

  23. Anyone who has played with East Burwood in the EFL as they are known as the Rams.
    Robert Lamb played for Richmond and South Melbourne in the 70s.

  24. sean gorman says

    PB – nice sleuthing.

  25. Dr Andrew McKay champion Glenelg and SA footballer who played a few games for Carlton must have come off a sheep farm (Litza to confirm). The bloke is a vet and he comes from the town of Lucindale in the South East that has one of the biggest field days in the country.
    Lucindale play in the Kowree (Vic) – Naracoorte (SA) footy league and as every schoolboy knows Naracoorte is home of the Sheeps Back Museum (as in Australia rides on the ….)
    Sean G – do a bit of research on Lachie Neale of the Dockers. He comes from Kybybolite in the same league. Surely off a sheep property? Jack Trengrove of Melbourne is also from Kybybolite.
    My memory tells me there was a very good footballer from Kyby who played in Jack Oatey’s wonderful Sturt SANFL teams of the 60’s. But I can’t put a name to it. Rulebook? Swish? Certainly prime sheep country.

  26. Peter Fuller says

    Fred (Troubles) Flanagan was a wool-classer.
    Alistair and Stewart Lord’s family had a sheep farm at Port Campbell.
    John Goold – already mentioned for his involvement in the fashion industry – qualifies because post-playing days he owned (owns?) a sheep property near Mortlake.
    Ernie Hug (Collingwood and briefly South Melbourne) came from a family sheep operation in Gippsland (Heyfield?). I recall a photograph of him with a sheep in the boot of the family Roller.

  27. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    PB – Bob Shearman wasn’t from Kyby, but fits the bill namewise

  28. Skip of Skipton says

    The Hawkins’ of Finley run a few jumbucks. There’s your CHB and FF locked in.

  29. Dr Goatboat says

    Dean Ottens and his brother, dad of Geelong ottens, was a wheat farmer from ??? NanK you know….
    he was in that Sturt team of Oateys……could kick a Sherrin over a wheat silo it is said

  30. Josh's dad says

    Have to find someone from the now extinct Wunghnu { one-ewe } in the Picola @district league. Was a Joe Sellwood who played for Geelong from Wunghnu?

  31. Point of order Mr Chairman. What is the dividing line between the wool industry and the sheep industry?
    Don Lindner the champion North Adelaide and SA Centre Half Forward of the 60’s (was best afield when SA beat Victoria on the MCG for the first time in 1963) was part of the “House of Lindner” stock agents out at the Gepps Cross Abbatoirs. He was Barrie Robran’s hero and the reason Robran chose the Roosters.
    There were a lot of good slaughtermen from the Gepps Cross abbatoirs on the North Adelaide list in the 50’s and 60’s.
    The sheep would have been shorn before they got the lamb chop.
    Decision please.

  32. Sean Gorman says

    Perhaps we need to ask a Kiwi PB about the dividing line. Cheap shot I know….but hey.

  33. Skip of Skipton says

    Whether bred primarily for wool or meat they all end up at Gepps Cross eventually.
    Might have enough for a beach volleyball team if we only include those who worked with the finished product.

  34. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Carlton Zampatti ?

  35. Happy to receive any noms at this stage (despite the title) PB. It will sort itself out.


  36. E.regnans says

    Billy Picken came from Macarthur.
    Strong enough link.

  37. PB – not sure of Andrew McKay’s upbringing, but his time as a veterinarian may have seen him come across a sheep or two…

  38. James Lang says

    Shaun Rehn, did indeed grow up on the farm between Cleve and Arno Bay on SA’s Eyre Peninsula where his Dad Peter ran sheep. North Adelaide star Michael Redden still runs sheep today and even in the peak of his career playing for the SA against the Big V he still remained on the farm at Pekina three hours North of Adelaide. He even had team mate Grenville Dietrich venture North to rouse in the shed. Dean Ottens was working at Bungaree Station between Spalding and Clare after his footy days having grown up over the hill near Koolunga. 1972 North Adelaide champions of Australia player Barry Stringer was also from the area along with his brothers Wayne and Allan who crossed over to Graham Cornes’ powerhouse Glenelg side. Sturt’s Trevor Sims did plenty of shearing around Port Broughton.

    The great Len Fitzgerald (Collingwood and Sturt) worked for the Australian Wool Testing Authority, whilst apparently Neil Craig used to tell his other country team mates that he wasn’t bad at crunching back on Yorke Peninsula. Rick Davies (Sturt and Hawthorn) and Rod Miller (South Adelaide) worked for famous SA wool brokers Michel. Richard Cousins (Central District/Footscray) and Damian Kitschke (Sturt/St Kilda) also grew up on Mid North wool growing properties at Spalding and Gulnare, whilst Damian’s Uncle Peter who is the only player in the SANFL hall of fame to never play League football retired from shearing his own sheep well past the age of seventy!

  39. James Lang says

    On an international front, AFL South Africa National representatives Thembinkosi “Dhino” Zwane and Thabiso Phakedi spent much of the 2013 winter working in shearing sheds around Jamestown in SA’s Mid North. They are hoping to be in Melbourne this year for the AFL International Cup.

  40. I might have it wrong but Paul Lynton Bagshaw MBE was a rural and in an interview with Sandy Nelson and Rick Davies on the 76 grand final when they used their greater experience to outwit the porters, he looked every inch the woolgrower. I think he came from around Mount Pleasant but might be wrong. He wasn’t a city boy.

    Alastair Watson mentioned the late and great Dr Bob Richardson who when he was a lecturer at UNE donned the whites and wielded the whistle. Umpires were supposed to be serious but he always has a good laugh especially at the on field banter. A great man that hung in among the agrosnouts of the Wool Industry and was quietly influential as was Al Watson et al on the wool industry golden trough.

    Weren’t the Lindner boys of North Adelaide in the meat trade?

  41. Dr Goatboat,

    I think Deano and family were from around Gulnare. Will check that one.

    swish and others can anyone remember a bloke called shepherd that played for South Adelaide ? briefly in the late 60s. He was from Kybybolite. He missed it so much he dropped out despite having significant potentials.
    Monfries is from Naracoorte and his family have sheep grower form. His uncle Chainsaw Monfries grew sheep and cattle and probably enlisted the nephew come shearing time. Chainsaw used to come into his own at the Naracoorte Bachelors Ball where his favourite party trick was to lower the marquee pole with his favourite chain saw then retreat to Robe where the local cop called Sandy Roads would be waiting for him. Sorry for the digression

  42. James Lang says

    The legend that is Paul Bagshaw is apparently still farming, but I’ve been told he is more of a grape grower than a wool grower. Of the current players I know that Bernie Vince and Jay Schulz’s families are wool growers on Yorke Peninsula, whilst Brisbane’s Justin Clarke has family still running sheep between Melrose and Booleroo Centre at the foothills of the Flinders Ranges, not far from where former North Adelaide player Gary Gum used to shear.

    Don Lindner ran a livestock and merchandise firm “House of Lindner”, who traded for years at markets at Gepps Cross and Dublin.

  43. Nank – you may have unwittingly solved by “Sturt” Kybybolite question from earlier in the thread. The name John Shepherd (?) stuck in my mind, but for some reason I linked him to Sturt. Bloke I am thinking about was strongly built but not tall. Beautiful mover and huge kick. Sure that he came from Kyby, so your South Adelaide story fits the bill.
    If he is a Shepherd, he fits the Woolgrowers team under 2 criteria.
    Anyone remember more about him or what became of him if he didn’t stay in the SANFL long.

  44. Paddy O'Peace says

    Stewart Gull ex South Melbourne. A Tough and Talented Footballer and Boxer,recruited from North Ballarat. Post Football he has had a highly successful business career including buying a sheep station and producing fine merino wool.

  45. Dwayne Lamb

  46. Skip of Skipton says

    An old mate of mine used to work with the late Peter Walker (CHB ’63 premiership, and grandad of Josh) at the wool scourers down near the river in Newtown, Geelong. That’s gotta count.

    Stewart Gull owns Banongil Station on the outskirts of Skipton. Pat Hyland Jr is the manager (should a link between the racing and wool industries ever need consideration).

  47. Mark Branagan says

    Robert Shepherd? Fitzroy half forward mid 1970s; Grogan Medallist. Mike Woolnough. John Brady North Melb 1960s,
    was a butcher as was Peter Chisnall.

  48. Sean Gorman says

    Aaron Sandilands dad Gary – or Stretch as he is known – shore for years. Also rucked to Jim and Phil Krakouer for North Barker

  49. David Evans says

    Steve Copping (Glenelg, Essendon) came from a sheep property at Lucindale SA and could play a bit.
    John Mossop runs sheep at Penola SA.
    In answer to previous comment re Paul Bagshaw, he came off an almond block at Willunga; an out and out star of the 60’s & 70’s at Sturt.

  50. Eric Hutch says

    John Mossop from Penola was and old Gordon Institute Wool School graduate.

  51. Sean Gorman went into the wool industry as a great player but it ruined him.

  52. Sean Gorman says

    Les it did not ruin me per se just my kidneys

  53. Peter Fuller says

    Mark Branagan’s mention of two North Melbourne butchers has reminded me of Harvey Stevens who rucked for the Bulldogs in their only premiership, after crossing from Collingwood. His contemporary claim to fame is that he is the grandfather of the Talia brothers on current lists at Adelaide and Western Bulldogs.

  54. Alistair Watson says

    Jason Koschitzke is a most suitable candidate for a wool industry team. He comes from the hamlet of Brockelsby, near Corowa. Tom Roberts painted ‘Shearing the Rams’ on Brocklesby Station in 1890! Not only that, JK is a subtle man. In a recent interview with Mike Sheahan, he suggested the AFL have an ‘Honesty Round’ to give players the opportunity to say what they feel and think. If only the wool industry had had an honesty round. Coaching is also not an issue. Apart from Reg Hickey mentioned by Bob Speechley, John Longmire is eligible. He hails from Balldale in the same district.

  55. Brilliant nomination, K Carroll.

  56. Roger Merrett. Family farming wheat and sheep on the Vic/SA border.

  57. Dr Rocket says

    Great to read of tributes to the late Bob Richardson from Nankers and Alistair Watson. Can’t believe his old student and employee Lyle Rex Malcolm missed him!

    Played alongside Bob at UNE in the forward pocket. Enjoyed his company immensely at Bruyns over a Reschs post-match. Sadly missed by the Wanderers.

    He was a great supporter of the UNE 50 year reunion in 2004.

  58. Craig Nelson says

    Clyde Vearing, sheep farmer, 400-odd games with Avenel and a Swans could-a-been, ‘cept he hated the city.

  59. Sean Gorman says

    Clinton Wolf (ex Freo – Wafl East freo and Claremont) roused for a season in end of 92.

  60. Tom Martin says

    Campbell Brown has recently announced that he is in training to swim across the English Channel, protected only by a swimming cap, his Richard togs, and the liberal all-over-body-application of lanolin . . . . or wool fat.

  61. Jack Trengove’s (Demons) father is a vet – albeit specialising in livestock nutrition – so he fits the bill nicely! Lived in Naracoorte and played his junior footy for Kyby.

  62. James Lang says

    Jack Trengove’s late grandfather Ken was a well known wool grower and cattleman around Spalding. Jack’s Uncle’s Glen and Ian still run the family property while his Dad Colin became a vet and finished in the South East. Plenty of wool growing genes in the Trengove clan!

  63. Oliver Cay says

    I grew up on a farm with John Longmire on one side and Ben Mathews on the other. Both started as farm kids growing wool and played with Corowa Rutherglen before heading off to the big smoke.

  64. Daryl Griffith the 1966 premiership player with St Kilda worked for Elders, he was head of stud stock for many years and ran ram sales all over the state.
    Micheal Close who is currently playing for Brisbane is from Kurra Wirra Merino Stud at pigeon ponds.

  65. Loving this.

    Nank – more digression please. Great yarns.

  66. Steve Hodder says

    Forgive me for going off on a tangent; but hazy memories, of staying with my grandparents in Pilleau St, Coleraine in the 70’s, has Coleraine in a Carlton style guernsey. One match against Portland (Richmond style guernsey) in particular stands out. Malcolm Fraser tossed the coin. Long drop kicks by the fullbacks and Coleraine won, which wasn’t often in those days. The relos are adamant; Coleraine has always been the Maroons! Fallacious memory or did Coleraine “drop the ball” in the fashion stakes at one time? Anyone?

  67. Sydney Lawrie says

    Roger Dunn- Sheep, wheat farmer and ran a Dohne stud from Tumby Bay SA played 139 games for Sturt from 1957-68 and dominated their 66,67 grand final wins. Also represented SA three time and won three local mail medals.

  68. Peter Flynn says

    Dan Marino

  69. george G says

    I am wondering why this is restricted to Australian Rules. I Have two sons that fit the bill But they played Rugby Union, . One played 1st grade in Sydney and Canberra, played for the NSW Country Cockatoo’s, was a Wool Auctioneer and is now a wool producer. I’m sure there are dozens that have done the same in Rugby

  70. Rob Heath says

    Joseph Darling (1870-1946), cricketer, pastoralist and politician – cricketer and footballer. He played 31 Tests against England – 18 as captain. He played in a flag-winning Norwood side. Later, he ran a sheep station and also became a member of Tasmanian Legislative Council.

  71. Billy Ryan – Geelong, grew up Swan Hill & attended Gordon Institute- Wool classing with my Dad. Attended milestone celebration for Wool School last year.

  72. You cannot leave out Big Jim Daniher; threw the ajax press head around the shed like it was a Frisbee, has lanolin running through his veins, self confessed wool classer, maestro sheep handler, only problem, played wing for the Northern Riverina combined rugby league team against the touring Poms, he was not allowed to leave the farm for Sydney of Melb, then took up AFL, a renowned key backman, no frills, no rubbish, no fuss, just get the job done, legendary drop kicks from fullback, 60 m, his specialty..

  73. Paddy O'Peace says

    I would also add Alec Epis, an Essendon stalwart: Premiership player, Committeeman,
    Mentor, General Great Guy from Boulder WA.
    During playing career worked in a butcher’s shop in Moonee Ponds.
    Parked his Ford Cortina outside.
    Team members eg JB would place adverts on his car ‘For Sale. Apply Within’.
    Now is a Viticulturist & Winemaker at Domaine Epis, Woodend. Superb Pinor Noir.

    As does The nearby Hesket Estate where the proprietor is an ex VFL umpire. Top Pinot there also & Sparkling. Hesket Estate also breed sheep and Alpacas. Plus good accommodation & food in picturesque setting. His name is also Alex, wife is Elizabeth.

  74. Tom Riordan says

    Jed Lamb

  75. I would nominate Carji Greeves and Reg Hickey both originated from Cressy Lismore districts Western District Vic off farms sheep wool and wheat .one must include Bluey Shelton of the bombers loved his sheep and wool a real character you can see I am a woolly as I use wool in my email address

  76. Ellie McGrath says

    Nominate Father and son combination Bill McGrath and Shane McGrath.

    Both are qualified woolclassers , have held a passion for sheep and wool on the farm property at Minyip in the Wimmera .
    Bill leaving school at 14 in those days, also had to cut out a living shearing to add to the farm income.
    Both left the farm in there youth to pursue a footy career .
    Bill in 1959 aged 22 having only taken up the game at 19 played for South Melbourne at Centre Half Forward.
    Bill in those days (hard to believe) travelled down each week from the farm for thursday training played saturday and returned to the farm sunday night.
    After returning to the farm ,coaching became known as Barrassi of the bush.
    Playing Coach of several preimer ships at Donald and Watchem Corack in the North Central Leauge before returning to the Wimmera leauge.
    Coached interleauge sides in both leauges before being named Vic Country side Coach.
    Followed this with 20 years as the local member of parliment for the Nationals and ministry postions in the Kennett Government.
    Shane first played 2 reserves games for Essendon on permit at age 16 in 1980 , before moving permanetly to Essendon in 1982 winning the Essendon under 19 best and fairest and gaining employment firstly as a casual wool presser and then as a permanent wool classer in Footscray.
    1982 was a drought, good year to be off the farm, the drought also forced some other country folk to the city, one such person my father met at the wool store in Footscray wool lot builders, with his two sons was the 1952 ? ? Brownlow Medalist Peter Box.
    Who could also be nominated for the team, and hard to beat for the centre postion my father played..
    Shane then ventured to Adelaide playing for Norwood in the SANFL before returning home to coach and then play in premierships with Minyip.
    Following the journeys, the current wool clip sits in the barn ready for sale.
    shorn and prepared by the next generation my brothers Tom and Jae.
    Bill now 76, is busy out promoting a local fleece competion for Legacy and the annual Horsham show.

  77. Who are the two blokes in the Geelong and Essendon jumpers with the Premier? Did you get a share in a racehorse for publishing this Harmsy?

  78. Paddy O'Peace says

    Great photo. Think I remember the Merino, not on the BBQ but playing for C-Bush.
    Or was it the Coach.
    Look forward to the Sheep Team of the Century, coached by Kelpie.

    Perhaps after sheep stories could be Greatest Footballers associated with horses.
    EG: Polly Farmer,GA Sen, JTH

  79. Tony Prytz says

    My grandfather Norman Wyatt Yeo played for Essendon in 1906 and topped the goalkicking that year. He later became the secretary of the National Wool Committee which was the body that co-ordinated the sale of all Australian wool to England during WW2

  80. Paddy McCarthy says

    A couple of names to be considered –
    Peter Box ( Brownlow medalist) – gun woolpresser for Lot Builders
    David Grenvold – woolclasser/bombers premiership player
    Brian ( Barney ) ‘Morrison (Richmond) Australian shearing record holder
    Alan Eade ( Collingwood) Woolclassing Teacher/ Champion bike rider /Coburg Premiership player
    Tom Rockliff grandfather Neil ( Wizard) Mintern woolpresser, Uncle Andrew shearer
    Alister Carr ( StKilda) wool buyer

  81. Bill McMaster played for Geelong (may have been captain ? ) in the 1960’s had a sheep property at lake Bolac in Western District of Victoria and later played with Mortlake FC
    I visited the property several times during school holidays with my children.

    Geoff Case – Melbourne 1950-60’s was a Wool Buyer with a European company at the same time.

    Denis S

  82. Alan Mycock, Claremont and WA ruckman ran sheep and grew wheat at Kukerin. Vern Orr and a few Goodings hailed from the same area.

  83. MVP is another fine victory for the wool industry as the boy from Lake Grace is celebrated by his peers. Nat Fyfe is a star.

  84. Hugh Lyon of Lyon Knitwear is worthy of an honourable mention here if for no other reason than having the foresight to retain the machinery capable of manufacturing the woollen jumpers – his expertise and experience will also be invaluable.

  85. Murray Whitcombe played 120 games for Geelong and 1 for victoria Woolclasser from the Gordon Institute and successful farmer at Inverleigh

  86. Peter b, you were right John shepherd played a handful of games for Sturt before getting homesick and retuning back to play for Kybybolite in the KNFL. He was a long kicking CHF. His brother Peter (Huck) Shepherd played some games for West Torrens

  87. Frankie coghlan. X st kilda & sandhurst star. Loves merino wool and produces some of the best. Farms at bridgewater in Victoria.

  88. Trevor Witcombe says

    Winchelsea players where farmers and played with Geelong in the 1950-1960 era were John Thomas our next door neighbor when I was farming and Rupe McDonald and Don Worland and John “Poly” Haygarth .

  89. Mike Shuttleworth says

    Stephen Michael didn’t get those muscles from sitting around in the gym. He carted wool bales driving a truck around the wharves and warehouses of North Fremantle.

  90. Warwick Green says

    Footballers who grew up on sheep farms include West Coast trio Darren Glass, Shannon Hurn and Daniel Chick. The Danihers, Mark Bairstow, Jeff Farmer, Josh Fraser, John Longmire
    Also Jack Stevens, who played for Geelong and South in the 1950s, was a wool classer (he once classed 4500 ewes in one day at Heatherlea near Mortlake)

  91. Sean Gorman says

    Does the Lambassador Keka count?

  92. The Wagin Woolarama was on last weekend.

    The Materas grew up there. And Stephen Michael, while best known as a Kojonup product, also spent a lot of his early time in Wagin.

  93. Nicky Winmar is currently rousing for Spencer Shearing contractors at lake Grace WA

  94. A few for the Crow Eaters state team

    Jack Murphy, Collingwood B/F 1941 had a mixed farm at Padthaway after he retired his son John played for Sturt and then South Melbourne.

    Reg Burgess, Essendon B/F 57, 60 was a wool buyer in Naracoorte.

    John McBain, Fullback for Port Adelaide in the 60s was a shearer from Edenhppe who he coached and regularly made the trip up to the Adelaide Show for the Long kicking comp which he usually won.
    I think he was ” fabulous” Phil Carman’s uncle who would scrape in.

    Graham Ashby, North Adelaide and his cousin Robert, Norwood, both had merino studs near Hallett. Robert was President of the World Federation of Merino Breeders .

    Simon Taylor, Hawthorn’s unluckiest Ruckman comes from a long line of Tasmanian wool Barons .

    Henry Playfair , Geelong and The Swans grew up on a farm at Holbrook.

    Simon Taylor

  95. Andy McKay – Lucindale ‘Roos, Glenelg-SANFL, Carlton #5. Raised on Merino Sheep and Cattle property “Bokara”, at Lucindale. Wool classer, GH Michell & Sons, Player and Vet.

  96. Here’s another one – a youngster. Thanks to Callum Twomey from AFL Media

  97. Seem to remember in 1989-90 Jimmy Jess playing and coaching back to back premierships at Balranald. Story at the time was that he was being paid in kind with a big mob of merion sheep. Balranald has a few other former VFL players at that stage in Jeff Fehring, Mark Lee, Ron Andrews, David Simpson and Peter Laughlin but I dont know if they were on the same deal. Not sure if Jimmy was involved in the wool industry back at Avoca where his family farm was but others may know?

  98. Another worthy mention is Doug Heywood – grew up at Seymour on Tasmania’s West Coast on a sheep farm – before going on to play 54 games at Melbourne and a become a legendary commentator.

  99. Rodney (Rocket) Maynard SA – Lameroo, Norwood, Adelaide Crows – Has done the lot! Rouseabout, Shearer, Farmer-WOOL grower, Coach.

  100. Floyd Sullivan says

    Stephen Michael used to cart and deliver wool in the 80s around Fremantle to all the wool houses. He had to load woolen bales onto his truck from various wool houses. That is why he didn’t had to do weights, everyday he was lifting and unloading 220kg wool bales on his truck.
    Nicky Winmar was a Shed hand around Pingelly
    As mentioned already Bairstow and Ditchburns Daniel Chick. Robbie Hadrill Dockers Full back curtailed by injury currently a grain trader comes of a Sheep Property at Northam along with Darren Glass.
    Keith and Brett Doncon Stud Breeders from Wickepin.

  101. Angie Condon says

    Leo Merrett played for Richmond in the 40’s & won the best & fairest twice. He worked for Dalgety’s and came off a sheep farm at Serviceton.
    Kevin Merrett (Leo’s brother) was also a skilled country footballer. He was invited to try out for Port Adelaide, but opted to stay on the farm. He played for Leeor & then Apsley when he bought a farm there.

  102. BILL HAYGARTH says

    Peter Box won the 1956 Brownlow was a gun woolpresser for many years in the Riverina.

  103. BILL HAYGARTH says

    Brian Morrison played 6 games for Richmond in 1960 was the founder of Morrison Clothing and an Australian record holding shearer.

  104. The Fitzgerald’s of Cockaleechie, Eyre Peninsula SA. From memory, ran a sheep stud. Whilst John was making his way in tennis, His brothers Peter & Ray had a fair run with Cummins Ramblers. Peter played in 14 a grade premierships, and won four mail medals, and Ray played in 11 premiership sides.

  105. Danny Gregory says

    John Shepherd from Kyby did play a few games for Sturt and his younger brother Peter ( Huck ) played for West Torrens.Their farm “Mullinger Park” is still run by the Shepherd family who are prominent woolgrowers

  106. Wayne Macfarlane says

    David Burns, one of the 3 Burns Brothers to play for North Adelaide and Westies in the 70s and 80s, from Coonalpyn. David coached Tintinara in the early 80s while working the Family farm.

  107. Wayne Macfarlane says

    Brenton Smart played some Senior football with West Torrens in the 70s, I think may have been farming then(?), went on to play and coach Keith F.C. while farming in the Keith District.

  108. Bill McMaster was raised on a sheep property at Lake Bolac and travelled to Geelong to play. 3 grand finals, premiers for two. 1951 and 1952. Bought his own property at Lake Bolac. Later captain/coached Mortlake. Coached Geelong 1971 and 1972. Recruiting Manager until retirement in 1994.

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