Ultimate Wool Team – Riverina: A better side from historian Rod Gillett?


Here’s the team as picked by the Almanac selectors so far:

Full Backs:                  Terry Daniher              Jim Daniher                 Anthony  Daniher

Half Backs:                 Reg Gleeson                Jack Hawkins              Mark Bos (?)

Centres:                       Chris Daniher              Peter Box                    Ben Mathews

Half Forwards:            Neale Daniher             Jimmy Prentice            Luke Breust

Full Forwards:             Henry Playfair             John Longmire            Tom Hawkins

Followers:                   Justin Koschitzke        Ricky Quade               Paul Kelly

Interchange (from):     Mike Quade    Tom Quade     Ross Wells (wool farmer from Jerilderie)


But here are Rod Gillett’s thoughts:

Riverina Wool Team

B: Reg Gleeson (Lockhart-South Melb) , Anthony Daniher (Ungarie-Swans/Ess), Frank Gumbleton (Ganmain-North Melb)
HB: Dennis Carroll (Ganmain-Swans), Jack Hawkins (Finley-Geelong), Neale Daniher (Ungarie-Ess)
C: Johnny Durnan (Narrandera-Geelong/St K), Peter Box (Footscray-Grong Grong Matong), Jack Lucas (Ariah Park Mirrool-Swans)
HF: Jimmy Prentice (Ariah Park Mirrool-South Melb), Terry Daniher (Ungarie-South Melb/Ess) [Vice Capt]., Luke Bruest (Temora-Hawthorn)
F: John Longmire-North Melb), Tom Carroll (Ganmain-Carlton), Adam Schneider (Osborne – Swans/St K)
R: Pat Quade (Ariah Park Mirrool), Rick Quade (Ariah Park Mirrol-South Melb) [Capt-Coach], Paul Kelly (Wagga Tigers – Swans)
Reserves: Tom Hawkins (Finley-Geelong), Justin Koschitke (Brocklesby-St K), Chris Daniher (Ungarie-Ess), Wayne Carroll (Ganmain-South Melb)

Emergencies: Jim Daniher (Ungarie), Dooley Carroll (Ganmain-St K), Ross Elwin (Leeton-South Melb), Keith Miller (Jerilderie-Geelong)

The key feature of the Riverina wool team which has been drawn from stud breeders (Jim Prentice), wool classers (Ants Daniher), rouseabouts (Peter Box), sheep carriers (Paul Kelly), and a posse of farm boys from wheat and sheep properties from throughout the Riverina (the rest of the team including turkey farmer “Turkey” Tom Carroll) is the number of brothers, cousins and even a father-son combination, “Jumping” Jack Hawkins and the “Tomahawk”, Tom Hawkins.

There could have been three father-son combos, if we’d selected champion Ungarie full-back Jim Daniher and Ganmain premiership coach Laurie “Dooley” Carroll (father of Dennis) in the starting 22. Daniher won three Northern Riverina league competition best and fairest awards and famously scored a try for Riverina against Great Britain in a rugby league match in 1954. Jim, played alongside his brothers, Leo and Jack, in a string of premierships for Ungarie. The three brothers married three sisters.

Dooley Carroll was one of five brothers who played in the Ganmain premiership teams in the 1950s. There were nine Carrolls in the 1957 premiership team. The Carroll family at Ganmain fielded a team against the Rest in 1968 in a fund-raiser for the swimming pool. The Bishop of the Diocese of Wagga, Frank Carroll, coached the team. Frank Gumbleton, later to play in North Melbourne’s 1975 premiership team played for the Rest. Wayne “Christmas” Carroll and Dennis, who are cousins, played in the Carrolls’ schoolboys team against the Rest that day.

The four Daniher brothers pick themselves, even if Neale wasn’t that knowledgeable about farm work, he was better with computers, according to father Jim, but always helped out with the harvest and did his share of crutching when home from boarding school. There could easily have also been four Quade brothers, but in the end we went for Rick and Pat, with Tom and Mike, who both had a run at North Melbourne, left out. Pat was regarded as the best of the older brothers, his ruck duels with Ganmain coach Mick Grambeau (ex North Melb) in the fifties are legendary. Pat starred in Ariah Park Mirrool’s 1962 premiership team coached by Johnny Hawke (father of Paul), who worked as a rouseabout. He also played in the 54-55 triumphs.

Ganmain, Ungarie and APM each have four in the team, although it turns out that Terry and Chris Daniher both played for APM and Ants played for both Turvey Park and Ganmain before going to play for South Melbourne.

The only non-Riverina origin player in the team is 1956 Brownlow medallist Peter Box who went to coach Grong Grong Matong in 1959, later coached Narrandera, and was instrumental in the South West League’s famous 1964 VCFL championship win over the Hampden League at Narrandera Sportsground, which was attended by a crowd of approximately 10,000 and was televised live.

Box worked as a rouseabout and is photographed wearing a Jackie Howe blue singlet in the book on Brownlow medalists. He is widely regarded as the best to play in the Riverina.

One of my personal favourites is the late Jim Prentice. Jim went to South Melbourne in 1971 and played 60 games. He returned to the Park in 1975 as assistant coach to Rick Quade, who also quit South Melbourne for a year to coach his home club. Jim became a highly decorated country player; despite a bout of serious knee injuries. Jim was a very successful stud poll dorset breeder, and he also bred white Suffolk sheep.

He was also a brilliant cricketer and made 55 centuries in local cricket and opened the batting for Southern NSW against India at Griffith in November 1977.

The wool industry in the Riverina prospered as a result of the Victorian quest for the wool trade that saw railways built into southern NSW to channel the wool to the Port of Echuca initially for steam-boat transport down the Murray river to Adelaide, and following the completion of the rail-line in 1864 from Melbourne to Echuca.

These transport links provided the means from settlers from Victoria to take up land selections in the Riverina in the 1870s – and they bought their football with them. And it remains to this day the most dominant football code in the region, and a rich source of talent for the AFL.


  1. David Conallin says

    What about Leapin Leo Barry? I think is old man is a sheep farmer who played for Deni

  2. Norman Welsh says

    Interesting to note that the teams so far nominated all have several brothers[or other relatives] But such is nature of country footy at least as it was. I would not quibble too much but being born and raised at an early age on a sheep [or mixed farm] is a somewhat tenuous connection to the wool industry – shearers, wool classers, stud breeders all definitely qualify but a truck driver not so sure.

    One thing that interests me is the distribution among the “VFL” teams, in part a reflection o the old zoning system or maybe boarding school [Geelong]. Few Footscray players – it had Gippsland as a zone!! But I see few Collingwood and Hawthorn players – too working class?/

  3. Dr Rocket says

    Thanks for the comments.

    David – you are so right! Baz has confirmed that his old man had sheep and crops. So let’s put Leo into the back pocket, and put Rick Quade’s favourite Reg Gleeson onto the bench.

    Norman – Quades (14 of them), Daniners (11 siblings) and Carrolls (5 brothers produced enough for their own team) dominate my Riverina wool team. All Catholics and all good folk.

    A further twist on the family connections -Jack Lucas (father of ex Blue Kane) is Ricky Quade’s nephew. And Jimmy Prentice married a Quade….

  4. Top job Dr Rocket, but is there no room for the butcher from Corowa ; Peter Chisnall ?


  5. Dr Rocket says

    Thanks Glen! I always value your interests and comments. I know you love bush footy and country races. And mine host Peter Chisnall!

    But given that it is a wool team, and applying Norman’s criteria that the players need to be directly associated with the wool industry then a butcher doesn’t cut it…

    I know that you have previously suggested Fred Way but his old team-mate Rick Quade tells me that Freddy did not carry stock.

    Paul Kelly now has a carrying business but also raises fat lambs on his property on the Murrumbidgee River just out of Wagga; at some point Kel will have to crutch the sheep and maybe get them shorn.

    Another historical link was the growth of the sock market to feed the gold miners and the subsequent population growth in Victoria back in the 1850s and 1860s.

  6. DOCTOR Rocket …… Reg Gleeson took over from Harry Watts as playing coach of South Bendigo at the end of the 1979 season.
    Just in time to take pre-season training in preparation for the 1980 Bendigo F.L. season.

  7. Ta Dr Rocket for that insight, especially re Berrigans best ever ruckman, Fred Way. Where does the late Merv Neagle fit into this equation? I know his origins are from the Wimmera-Malllee neck of the woods but when he was tragically killed a few years back he was based just north of Albury ? Any suggestions ?


  8. Dr Rocket says

    Glen! You have raised an interesting proposition that would vastly strengthen the Riverina Wool team….

    Merv was originally from Dimboola, where my grandfather went to play as a paid player in the Depression. At a Swans’ Mad Monday back in the mid-80s I recall Merv telling me that he lived in the town…
    I can’t believe I can remember any conversation from that day and night

    He was living in – and coaching Walla (half-way between Wagga and Albury) – when he was tragically killed driving a grain truck. He was a terrific fella. Very popular with all those he came into contact with.

  9. Rocket, how about Bert Clay from Henty? Bert played at Fitzroy (with twin brother Ivor) for 157 games from 1940 to 1951, including the 1944 grand final which the Gorillas won in an upset against Richmond. Bert was best on ground and the difference between the two teams according to his direct opponent on the day, Jack Dyer. In today’s currency that’d be a Norm Smith medal. As Henty (not Albury) is the birthplace of Margaret Court, nee Smith, it also means that Henty has one Norm Smith medal and 24 grand slam singles titles more than Culcairn. I’m still investigating Bert’s connection to the wool industry but know as a fact that he did work in one of the local chaff mills that produced chaff to feed the sheep and feed the horses that drove the sheep. I’d put Bert in the forward pocket and give Henry the Grasshopper green jacket. Go Swampies!

  10. Dr Rocket says

    Thanks JBM,

    Bert Clay played for Victoria against NSW in 1949 at the SCG – this deems him ineligible. This side is True Blue.

    Darky Harms has picked young Playfair (ex Holbrook) – not even considered by me. Darky likes his Cats. He wanted to pick John Sharrock first, but couldn’t establish his wool credentials other than becoming a folk hero in the Western District. He was a ripper!

  11. G’day Dr Rocket. Jog my memory please, but didn’t Harry Playfair head west to Deniliquin prior to going to the Cattery, then the SCG ?


  12. Dr Rocket says

    Hi Glen!

    I’m not aware of Henry Playfair playing at Deni.

    The family property is based near Holbrook – the Brookers in the HUme League (Walla are the original Grasshoppers) but when Julian Bruce Morison played for Henty in the Farrer League they were the Grasshoppers.

    Henry went to boarding school at Shore in Sydney – there is a strong tradition of Playfairs going to Shore – as Jack Playfair was Chair of the School Council for a period after World War II. He played for North Shore in Sydney.

  13. Rocket
    As you know many non-Victorians have played for Victoria (Barry Cable, Polly Farmer, Malcolm Blight, et al.). The fact that Bert Clay was selected for Victoria should enhance his credentials not disqualify him. Seems like the “True Blue” eligibility rules are the cunning work of a state of origin Victorian (or a CFMEU organiser or both). But here’s the thing Rocket, and you might consult your in-house fact checker, I do believe Terry & Neale Daniher got a few gigs wearing the big V as well.

  14. Thanks Dr Rocket, though for some reason i feel Henry was recruited from Deniliquin. Doesn’t seem like it though.

    I’m thinking of some ex Jerilderie players, Mickey Dowdle and Rod Waddell. Neither have wool links ?


  15. Dr Rocket says

    Hi again Glen!

    Yes, Mick Dowdle would have helped the smaller brigade: he was a terrific rover for North Melbourne back in the 60s.

    Knew his brother Peter, whom I played with at Turvey Park – they lived in the town at Jerilderie.

    Reckon Rod Waddell came to Jerilderie as a paid player from Darwin…?
    No sure

  16. From David Honybun

    If it helps clarify at all, whilst our farm was mainly irrigated rice and wheat, we did have some wethers running around to keep the place tidy, as the rest of us couldn’t. So I was thinking that I could be at least as eligible as the bloke who’s dad was a school teacher in the Riverina, though he may have been excluded on these grounds in the finish. I can’t recall.

    JTH: definitely in the mix I’d say Rocket.

  17. From the Selectors:

    Dave, you’re eminently qualified, from wearing woollen jumpers to taking on the -what the UNE boys would call – woolly thinking wankers.

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