Ultimate Wool Team: Victoria

Victorian team


Full Backs:      Bill Ryan                     John Hyde                   Peter Walker

Half Backs:     Rupe McDonald                     Ian Bluey Shelton       Shane Heard

Centres:          John Goold                 Carji Greeves              Hugh Delahunty

Half Forwards:            Doug Nicholls             Fred Flanagan             Russell Renfry

Full Forwards:             John Sudholz              Roger Merrett             Jim Jess

Followers:       Russell Crow               Tom Wills                    Des Tuddenham

Interchange (from): Brian Muir, Frankie Coghlan, Bill McMaster, Brian Barney Morrison (gun shearer, national record holder), Fenley McDonald (killed at Gallipoli, 25 April, 1915), Russell Renfry, Ernie Hug, Stewart Gull, John Hyde, John Haygarth, Norman Yeo (leader in the wool industry), George Cuttle, Jack Stevens (once classed 4500 ewes in a day), Billy McGrath (Member of Parliament), Matthew Carland, Rod Waddell, Andy Collins, John Stevens, Mick Delahunty, Eric Brown, Alister Carr, Geoff Case, Michael Close, Frank Drum, Alan Eade, David Grenvold, Ian Morgan, Bruce Petering, John Thomas, Clyde Vearing, Don Worland, Mike Patterson.


Coach:                         Reg Hickey

Runner:           Jack Curran (also won the Stawell Gift)



Bill Ryan                     Geelong, 1963-72. 167 games, 220 goals. Recruited from Swan Hill. Famous for his high marking. Wool classer. Gordon Institute.

John Hyde                   Geelong 1948-54. 108 games, 12 goals. Recruited from Port Arlington. Key backman. Centre half back in Geelong 1951-52 premierships sides. Big strong mark. Cleared to Claremont where he played 1955-56.  One of six Geelong players of the day to be employed in the wool industry or have a wool background.

Peter Walker               Geelong 1960-71. 159 games, 1 goal. From Beeac. Played in the 1963 premiership side. Best and fairest in 1965. Good mark. Loved a run.

Rupe McDonald         Geelong 1929-35. 111 games, 2 goals. Dashing half back flanker from Winchelsea. Played in the Cats 1931 premiership side.

Ian Bluey Shelton       Essendon 1959-65. 91 games, 2 goals. Tough and uncompromising key defender who played centre half back in the 1962 premiership side. Recruited from Avernel where the Sheltons have been stalwarts of the local community since the mid-nineteenth century.

Shane Heard               Essendon 1977-87, 1991. 168 games, 39 goals. An early exponent of the tight tag. Played in the 1984 Bombers flag. Sheep farmer in the Wimmera, originally from the Horsham area.

John ‘Raggsy’ Goold              Carlton, 1963-70. 108 games, 3 goals. Usually a back flanker but could take a strong mark and could play in a key position. From Healesville. Something of a bounder who wound up in the fashion industry and has had (still?) an association with sheep properties in the Mortlake district.

Carji Greeves              Geelong, 1923-33. 124 games, 17 goals. 1925 and 1931 premierships Inaugural Brownlow medallist. Geelong Best and Fairest is named after him. Classical mover and great all-round sportsman. From a sheep property near Cressy.

Hugh Delahunty         Essendon 1971-73. 46 games, 18 goals. From Murtoa sheep-wheat property in the Wimmera. Monivae College. Minister for Sport and Recreation in the Baillieu/Napthine Governments.

Doug Nicholls             Fitzroy, 1932-37. 54 games, 2 goals. Legendary Aboriginal (Yorta Yorta) footballer from the Cummeroogunja community near Barmah. Pro runner and Jimmy Sharman boxer. Later an ordained clergyman (‘Pastor Doug’). Knighted. Governor of South Australia. It is said he worked on sheep stations and with river dredging teams as a boy.

Fred Flanagan             Geelong, 1946-55. 164 games, 180 goals. Captain of the 1951-52 premiership sides. From Swan Hill ‘Troubles’ Flanagan (who had served in New Guinea) was a brilliant centre half forward. Wool classer.

Russell Renfry              Geelong, 1946-56, 201 games, 165 goals. 1951-52 premiership sides. Flanker/ruck rover who could win the footy. (one of the six in the famous Geelong wool photo)

John Sudholz              South Melbourne, 1966-71. 86 games, 176 goals. Full forward from a sheep-wheat farm near Rupanyup in the Wimmera.

Roger Merrett             Essendon and Brisbane Bears, 1978-95. Versatile key position player and ruckman. Enforcer. From a sheep-wheat property at Kaniva in the Wimmera.

Jim Jess                       Richmond 1976-88. 223 games, 160 goals. Great character who could play pretty well anywhere, forward and back. 1980 premiership. Coached in the country. Shearer who was once offered a mob of merinos for coaching Balranald in the western Riverina.

Russell Crow               Fitzroy 1960-64, 1968-73. 158 games, 114 goals. Shearer from Warracknabeal in the Wimmera. Ruckman.

Tom Wills        Melbourne, Geelong, 1858- (last game?). One of the founders of the game. Of pastoral heritage. His father, Horatio’s run – 120,000 acre Lexington – was near Mt Ararat in central Victoria. The family established a run in central Queensland, which ended in tragedy.

Des Tuddenham          Collingwood and Essendon, 1962-77. 242 games, 316 goals. Half forward flanker, ruck rover and rover. Played in three losing Grand Finals. From a cattle and sheep farm near Ballarat. Could shear 80 in a day.



Wool Geelong wool 1952

Bill McMaster, Russell Middlemiss, Reg Hickey, Fred Flanagan, John Hyde, Russell Renfry


About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and footyalmanac.com.au. 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. Berrimadrifter says

    Andrew Dunkley use to list his job before footbal, as shearer.
    It would be good to include a few boys from South Gip !
    plenty of sheep down there
    and some great little footy clubs too.
    A great sporting family the Dunkley’s,
    and South Gippsland is one of footy’s real heartlands

  2. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Thought Grenvold was from SA originally (Wiki has him coming from Bordertown, he played for the Bays before moving across)

  3. Sean Gorman says

    They are gonna get belted by WA (sorry for being so glib).

  4. Hugh Delahunty on a wing ? Right Wing makes sense re his politics, but I thought he played as a ruck rover or back pocket type. I can’t recall him being on a wing.


  5. I would throw in the Hickmott’s, Adrian Hickmott played 184 for Carlton & Geelong from 1992 to 2003 and his Uncle – Peter Hickmott played 69 for Essendon & Footscray from 1972 to 1980. Off the farm just out of Horsham.

  6. Nev Cooper says

    I thought Graeme Mackenzie would have been in there somewhere. He played for Fitzroy from 1956, 1958 a 1962 and was selected in the Vic squad in 1961. Was nominated best back pocket for Fitzroy team of the century in 2001.
    He managed a sheep station in Edenhope for many years.

  7. Graeme Amoore says

    Just catching up on past editions after an o/s trip. I have a feeling that Alistar and Stuart Lord were of a sheep property around Port Cambell/ Scott’s Creek.

  8. Mal Nicholls says

    Daryl Griffiths would have walked into this side. St Kilda and Victorian champion from Elders Wool. Member of Saints only premiership side.

  9. Hi Mal

    Thanks for your comment.

    This is exactly what we hoped would happen.

    We need to know about any players who have not been nominated up until now.


  10. Thanks Nev and others for your comments.

    We’ll add these suggestions to the list and the debate can continue.

    Always an issue with Best Ofs…

    But tha’s what we love about it.

  11. Did some research on the weekend (asked the old man). Dale Lewis spent roughly his first 8 years at Ultima in the Mallee. His dad Tuppy (Owen) had a wheat/sheep farm before they sold up and headed to Ballarat to begin a life of running pubs (I remember quite a big fuss was made of them leaving at my primary school).

    Dad said also that two former Richmond players probably qualify. Tony Free’s dad at Lalbert would have had sheep and also that Craig Smith’s dad (also near Lalbert) probably had sheep or would have worked for farmers that did. Not sure if anyone else can confirm this?

  12. Tony McCann says

    I seriously cannot believe Bill Bailey from the Wannon was not included in the Victorian team. Not only was Bill a gun footballer he was and still is an avid supporter of the wool industry. I realize that the selection process would have been incredibly difficult and oversights would occur and I just assume that this was one of them.

  13. Mike Patterson, one of Richmond’s 1967 heroes qualifies as a South Gippsland boy. His family ran a sheep and dairy farm at Mirboo North.

  14. Thanks Widbom. Straight into the mix. I’ll add all of the names mentioned in the comments.

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