Wool Team: Nominations from Victoria (includes classic Tom Hawkins farm video)


Some great footballers here, and also some questions arising about who should qualify for the Greatest-ever wool team.

To Ponder:

Does inventing the game (with a little help from his friends) make you a certainty (and skipper?) – Tom Wills

Does being  Secretary of the National Wool Committee who coordinated the sale of wool to England during WWII get you a guernsey?

Does being able to class 4500 ewes in a day get you in?

Does winning the first Brownlow get you in?


Here are some Victorians who have a connection with wool:

Eric Brown                                                           Inverleigh

Alister Carr                                                          wool classer

Geoff Case                                                         wool buyer

Michael Close                    Brisbane              Pigeon Ponds

Graeme Cook                    Footscray            Hopetoun   wheat/sheep farmer

Russell Crow                      Fitzroy                  Warracknabeal, shearer

Delahuntys                         Essenson/Collingwood                  Murtoa

Frank Drum                        Richmond

Alan Eade                            Collingwood       wool classing teacher

Fred Flanagan                    Geelong               wool classer

Josh Fraser                         Collingwood/GC

John Goold                         rag trade              Mortlake

Maxie Graham                  Footscray/Williamstown   – worked for a wool company

Carji Greeves                     Geelong               Cressy

David Grenvold                 Essendon            wool classer

Daryl Griffith                      St Kilda                 Elders stock sales

Stewart Gull                       South                    owner of a sheep property

Shane Heard                      Essendon            sheep farmer

John Polly Haygarth         Geelong              Winchelsea

Reg Hickey                          Geelong               Cressy

Ernie Hug                            Collingwood/South        Rolls Royce story

John Hyde                           Geelong

Rupe McDonald                 Geelong                                             Winchelsea

Billy McGrath                     South Melbourne            Minyip (Member of Parliament)

Shane McGrath (son of Billy)      Essendon Under 19s and Norwood

Bill McMaster                    Geelong               Lake Bolac

Adam McNicol                   Manangatang seconds

Roger Merrett                   Essendon/Brisbane         Kaniva

Russell Middlemiss          Geelong

Ian Morgan                         Rupanyup

Brian Barney Morrison   Richmond            shearer

Doug Nicholls                     Fitzroy  –  worked on sheep stations as a 13 year old

Bruce Petering                  Essendon seconds/Prahran

Bill Ryan                               Geelong               wool classer, Gordon Institute

Bluey Shelton

John Jack Stevens                     South/Geelong                 once classed 4500 ewes near Heatherlea

John Sudholz                     South Melbourne            Minyip

John Thomas                                                     Winchelsea

Clyde Vearing                                                    Avanel

Peter Walker                     Geelong               wool scourer

Tom Wills                             Geelong

Murray Witcombe           Geelong               wool classer

Don Worland                      Geelong                               Winchelsea

Norman Wyatt Yeo         Essendon 1906 / University                 Secretary of the National Wool Committee who coordinated the sale of wool to England during WWII

Thanks for all these nominations. Please add new names via the comments section that follows.

The nominations for SA, WA and the Riverina can be found HERE


Wool Geelong wool 1952

Can you name these Geelong footballers? Photo: from the Bob Gartland Collection, original from the Geelong Advertiser.


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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. 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?

  2. Some Geelong greats in that photo. All associated with the wool industry and the 1951-52 premierships.

    From the left Bill McMaster, Russell Middlemiss, Reg Hickey, Fred Flanagan, John Hyde and Russell Renfrey. Go Cats!

    Cheers, Burkie

  3. Dave Brown says

    Important classification question – is state attributed based upon where their wool association is, where they played football or where they were born?

  4. Michael Green says

    Jim Jess Richmond Shearer

  5. John Lewis – Melbourne (’36-’38)- Shearer

  6. Graham Cook, i ‘d totally forgotten him. A H/B flanker with Footscray in the early 70’s. No sign of any slaughtermen, or those working the mutton chain? Will any of them get a guernsey for their use of sheep for its other purpose; tucker


  7. The Pope says

    Nat Fyfe drives sheep trucks

  8. Tom McCluskey Carlton 1910 Wool-classer

  9. Had a pen last year next to Rod ‘rocket’ Waddell who played with Collingwood, Carlton and Geelong.

  10. Fenley (“Fen”) McDonald (Carlton) – grew up on cattle/sheep property at Nagambie and was then a stock and station agent at Pearson, Rowe, Smith, and Co. Played at Carlton 1911 – 1912 – 10 games, 4 goals and Melbourne 1913 – 1 game. He was killed at Gallipol during the landing on April 25 in 1915.

    Two of Fen’s brothers played a single VFL match with Essendon, on the same day (Saturday, 9 September 1905): Edwin Patrick McDonald and Archibald William Campbell “Arch” McDonald.

    William Lilley (Geelong) 1896 was thought to have been killed by a wool bale that fell on him.

    William Harry (Carlton) 1906 worked at Port Melbourne woollen mills played one game for Carlton.

    Andy Collins (Richmond-Carlton) sheep/crop farm at Bridgewater.

    Ben McEvoy is from a farm with cross breds (the fine wool snobs might veto this nomination but cross breds produce wool too!).

    And I am nominating Jack Curran (the only Stawell Gift winner from Stawell) who was a sheep farmer and drover (nominating him as team runner).

  11. Brian Barney Morrison (mentioned in JTH’s list above) played 8 senior games for the Tigers in 1960 before choosing the more lucrative career of shearing, at which he excelled being named Australian sheep shearing champion in 1967 and 1968 and in 1972 breaking the world record by shearing 410 Merino sheep in one day.

  12. George Cuttle Carlton (pre VFL) founder of Maryborough Knitting Mills http://www.blueseum.org/tiki-index.php?page=George+Cuttle&_sm_au_=i7V4sZDH8QpPjPtH

    Matthew Carland – 6 games Essendon, 1 Footscray – shearer – Matthew Carland was a pacy half-back and utility player who came from Nathalia and played six games in late 1932 for Essendon. He returned home to Nathalia in 1933 because he couldn’t find work in Melbourne and then joined Castlemaine from 1933 to 1937.In 1938, he played one game with Footscray and then went to South Warrnambool in 1939 and 1940.During World War II, he captained the Army signals team in Palestine and then returned to captain-coach South Warrnambool in 1946. He was later captain-coach of Lake Boga in 1952 and 1953 and played with Wycheproof in 1955.He was also a fine professional athlete winning 23 races. Carland retired as a transport driver and shearer in 1976 and died on 5th February, 1998.

  13. Steve Peucker says

    Reg Burgess Essendon Wool grower

  14. I met Des Tuddenham on Saturday at the Fitzroy FC luncheon. Des tells me he has shorn sheep – his PB was 80 in a day.

    I’ll have to follow up on this and get the full story from him.

    He’s in great nick for a 70+ year old. A disciple of Tom Hafey and his fitness regime.

  15. BILL HAYGARTH says

    Russ Middlemiss (Geelong) was a real shearer and premiership player.
    Peter Walker (Geelong) was a real woolclasser and premiership player.
    Reg Hickey and Glen Bow ( all Geelong) worked in the wool store.
    John Haygarth (Geelong) worked at the “POPLARS” Merino Stud at Murgheboluc.
    Brian Morrison was a Champion shearer who played for Richmond in 1960.
    Jack, Rob and Michael Hawkins (all Geelong) all worked on the family Riverina sheep property.

  16. Des Tuddenham told me recently that he was from a sheep and cattle farm near Ballarat – and that he could shear 80 a day back then. One of his brothers was a gun shearer.

  17. Steve Hodder says

    Wool (or is this the connection?)worths reckon Tom Hawkins “grew up or around a dairy farm”. What’s with the random place names e.g. “Cressy”? wool by association?


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