Max Hardacre and the clearance wrangle

By Neale Hardacre



The following story is about my late father Max.

The Clearance Wrangle

The year was 1971 & local Tasmanian footballer Max Hardacre was considering his options for the twilight years of his footy career. Little did this seasoned campaigner know that his decision was going to cast him slap bang in the middle of a clearance dispute that would have him embroiled in controversy for the entire season. At the ripe old age of 46 Max was well renowned for his longevity in the physically demanding, injury prone world of Aussie rules with his career spanning over 33 years & a tally of 549 senior games. It was Max’s intention to play his remaining days with the club where it all started 30 years ago when Max was just a 13 year old lad playing his first senior game. His football days days started at Chudleigh, a small country town nestled at the foothills of the Great Western Teirs mountain range in Nothern Tasmania’s picturesque Meander Valley. However Max’s existing club Wesley Vale, (also a small country town in a nearby North Western region of Tasmania) were very firm in their stance & committed to Max not gaining a clearance to fulfil his wishes for his final years. The club’s officialdom cited reasons that Max was a life member of the club for the past 14 years & wasn’t allowed to play for another club. Even though Max played 211 games for the club & coached them to two premierships they were still obstinate in their uncompromising view!

So the clearance wrangle was on in earnest & this time the cagey veteran was a piece of meat in a fair old sandwich. The following weeks saw him hounded by former teamates & Wesley Vale’s committee to reconsider his decision but the wily veteran was as mad as an old wet rooster about his wishes getting rejected. In the end Max decided to stand down for the remainder of the season & coach arch rival Forth Magpies (seconds).

He took Forth from rags to riches in that year of 1971 & they rallied behind their grand ol master gaining Premiership honours     for the boys. The Forth boys were very loyal to their father figure coach, playing that season like 18 blood brothers as Max used to encourage during his team’s address & pep talk sessions. The Forth boys were only weekend warriors & started the season as the    competition’s F-troop with one of the boys sporting coke bottle glasses like Vanderbilt but by season’s end they had refined their skills somewhat to lift to win the flag.

The off season Max’s career was still in limbo & faced an uncertain future but he was still determined to make a comeback putting his aging frame through a gruelling pre-season with his preferred 1st club Chudleigh, hoping for a positive outcome to the conflict of interests. Finally just before the start of the 1972 season common sense prevailed & Max was granted his clearance to play with Chudleigh at long last. The next three seasons seen Max compete as a respected opponent with his lavish servings of cunning & guile guiding him through the challenges against his more youthful counterparts.

His last official game at 49 years of age was against Mole Creek in the grand final. Max’s last hefty punt of his swansong game put the TW Sherrin through the centre of the sticks pushing the game out of Mole Creek’s reach & another Premiership was Chudleigh’s, a fitting tribute for this loyal servant of our great Australian game.


Match Result Chudleigh 12.15 (87) defeated Mole Creek 8.15 (63)

Max Hardacre ~ Football Career at a glance

*Born Deloraine 11th December 1924

*Football career spanning 40 years 1938 ~ 1974

*First played with Deloraine Football association club Chudleigh 1938 at 13 years of age.

*Total number of games played – 725

*Breakdown of games played:

SENIOR – 605

East Devonport – 203

Wesley Vale – 211

Chudleigh – 89

Spreyton -71

NWFU (combined intrestate)- 17

NWFA (combined inter-association)- 14



Devon u/21 competition (East Devonport)- 38

East Devonport juniors – 22

12/50th Battalion and “A” company army – 60


Breakdown of coaching career

*First took up coaching in 1951 for East Devonport which he coached for two years.

*Playing coach for Spreyton from 1953 to 1955 and again in 1957

*Playing coach for Wesley Vale from 1958 to 1961

*Non playing coach for Forth 1971


A highlight of Max’s career was in a charity match for NWFU versus Melbourne Football Club on Saturday, October 23, 1948 . Although the NWFU team lost by 47 points it was reported in the Examiner newspaper that the NWFU put up a surprisingly good performance. Max played on Melbourne’s team of the century member Jack Mueller & Max confessed that Mueller gave him a bit of a bath however Max was invited to practice with Melbourne the following year. The jpg’s are the programme from the Melbourne 1948 premiers end of year hospital benefit match against the NWFU.

Max also played with Darrel Baldock & his father in the same side when the Doc was just a youngster starting off at East Devonport. He also played with Neil Conlan & was Chairman of selectors for East Devonport when former St Kilda player Graeme “Gypsy” Lee coached them after Max’s playing  days were over. Max was an honest toiler in footy circles who was lucky enough to rub shoulders with some of the game’s elite.


Memorable occasions notes from Chudleigh days

Chudleigh’s runners were a far cry from the qualified professionals of today. One runner’s remedy for most ailments was two Aspros or smelling salts. One almost fateful day at Mole Creek one of the Chudleigh boys was in a great deal of difficulty with his tongue collapsed across his windpipe, almost knocked out, suffering concussion. Out jogs the Chudleigh’s runner with two Aspros & smelling salts to revive the patient & obviously no response. It was sheer luck that one of the players was a qualified paramedic & knew what to do. The patient was cyanosed (blue) from lack of oxygen & the pearly gates looked a possibility however a little treatment from the footballer paramedic turned the tide restoring the player’s equilibrium nicely.

One day a herd of pigs run onto the ground at Elizabeth Town with the game in progress & went through the changerooms & somehow soiled some of the players’ clothes. Unluckily for Max he had to attend a wedding that night & had to get a loan of some clothes off the boys which were about several sizes too big for him. He had to go to the wedding looking like an old hobo Michelin man.

Forth Premiers During Clearance wrangle



Sports club small


  1. John and Colleen Gardam says

    There are many stars that shine in the history of our great game and Max Hardacre was and remains one of the great men who were and are dedicated to this great sport . We. are proud to have the honor of having known Max as a friend and uncle. Rip. a wonderful man and a great sportsman.

  2. Warwick Nolan says

    Thank you Neale. Fantastic piece.
    I live in Victoria but would you believe I was at Girdlestone Park last Saturday!

  3. Neale Hardacre says

    Hi Warwick ,

    Thanks for the favourable comments :-) Yes the Girdlestone park has a fair bit of history about it , it even staged
    a couple of World Series Cricket matches when Kerry Packer had his privately promoted cricket matches years ago.
    Max (Dad) played a lot of footy with East Devonport & when he finally did retire from the game he returned as a
    chairman of selector’s there. I hope to put together another story about him in the future . Certainly enough yarns to tell with all them games played . Cheers mate ! Neale

Leave a Comment