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Extracts from NEWSLETTER APRIL 2017


Past player, John Birt, was inducted as a Life Member of the AFL in January of this year. The contribution that John has given to VFL/AFL football has been enormous and his AFL Life Membership is thoroughly deserved. The following are some of the achievements John has accumulated throughout his involvement with football:

With Essendon Football Club;

Years played1957-1967
Games played210 (194 day games, 5   night games, 11 State games)
Goals kicked304
Premiership Team Member1962 & 1965
Best & Fairest Awards1961, 1965 & 1967
Senior Coach1971
Life Member of EFC
A Member of the EFC Hall of Fame
John was nominated number 21 in the Champions of Essendon.

John had the nickname of Sparrow, as when he first started playing it was suggested that he had legs like a sparrow. It was a very appropriate nickname as he was very adept at picking up the crumbs!

John’s record with other clubs;

Coached West Torrens FC1968-1970
Footscray FC Assistant Coach1972-1976
Hawthorn FC Assist Coach1977-1980
Carlton FC Skills Coach1981
Collingwood FC-Football Manager1982-1986
Joint General Manager1987
Membership & Public Relations Manager1988-1993
Marketing & Public Relations Manager1998-1999
Fitzroy FC General Manager994-1996
Brisbane Lions FC Melb. Marketing Manager1997
AFL Premiership Players Club-Vice-President2000- Current

This is a fantastic record which would be difficult to be bettered by any other past player. Well done John on a great performance.

John turned 80 on the 29th January 2017 and a function was organised to celebrate his birthday at which in excess of 100 attended. It was an excellent event and was testament to John’s great character and companionship.


The fallout from the supplements saga that the club and players have had to endure over the last four years came to an unfortunate head recently when former great champion player and coach, James Hird, attempted to take his own life. We should all be very grateful that James is now on the road to recovery and getting back involved in the football media.

This whole saga has placed enormous pressure on all of those associated with the club during this period and it is extremely concerning that James has taken the brunt of this controversy to the degree that he has. The AFL and the press generally have a lot to answer for in respect to how individuals have been treated during this period and many should be completely ashamed at the way some, including James, have been treated.

Irrespective of how each individual feels about what happened at the club during this period, we should all be totally behind James, and wish him and his family well in his recovery. Our Association has offered any help to the family should we be able to assist in any way. Our motto stands firm, “We look after our own”.

Although they may take a little time to jell together with the return of the ten suspended players, the team looks very promising and we can expect some exciting times over the next few years. Our congratulations are expressed to Dyson Heppell in his appointment as Captain and Cale Hooker and Zac Merrett on their appointments as Vice-Captains. A fantastic first up win.




The 64th AGM of the Association was held at Windy Hill Function Centre on Sunday 26th March.

In respect to election of Office Bearers, it was noted that the 10 members of the 2016 Committee had re-nominated, and as no further nominations were received, the members present voted that the Committee for 2017 be confirmed as follows:

PresidentBarry Capuano
Vice-PresidentsGary Grainger, Darryl Gerlach
SecretaryDavid Collins
TreasurerDon Gross
Committee MembersGraham Leydin, Barry Besanko, Howard Staehr, Joel Reynolds,Kelvin Steel.On the recommendation of the Committee, the Members inducted the following as Life Members of the Association:David Collins and Graham Leydin, for 10 years continuous service as Committee Members.Jack Jones, for outstanding service to the EFC and our Association.Life Membership Medallions will be presented to the three nominated Life Members at the Life Members Dinner in June.BAREFOOT BOWLS DAYDespite enthusiastic and lengthy planning of our first effort this year it was a great disappointment when the event on February 17th had to be cancelled due to the lack of member support.However always positive and proactive your Association grasped another welcome opportunity to build and further strengthen our relationship with the EFC. A coordinated effort between your Association and the EFC staff was planned involving both groups. With the generous support and contribution of the Essendon Bowing Club a more comprehensive event was organised and Friday, March 17 (St Patricks Day) the EBC venue welcomed  over 60 participants.With the EFC staff granted an early finish (2.30pm) the day’s activities would commence at 3.00pm and continue until 7.00pm in the evening. A lovely warm afternoon, excellent rink preparation with lots of bowls available, and keen participation made for an outstanding event. Once the formalities were out of the way a wide variety of optional clothing (and footwear) was the order of the day.Sixteen(16) mixed teams of three were arranged comprising one EFCPP&OA member as “skip” and two EFC staff members to tackle our “two bowl triples” format. Each team was rostered to play three games of five ends whilst enjoying the opportunity to chat and gain a better appreciation of the work staff members contribute to the Essendon fraternity.With a highly visible “green theme” provided, access to food and refreshments throughout, and a smooth running program it wasn’t long before the early giggles and shyness gave way to the competitive instincts and some serious bowling.The basic rules of bowls applied – however a few simple modifications (e.g.) kitty in ditch was replaced on “T” – ensured play was kept brisk and flowing with few interruptions. Teams winning a game received 6 points PLUS an extra point for each end won – a maximum of 11 being possible. All sixteen teams played on the one beautifully maintained green simultaneously with great energy and lots of lively banter.At 5.30 or so there was an opportunity for socialisation as all scores were collated (secretly) before announcing the results — as follows …..

1st PRIZE – 31 points    $300.00     $100.00 each

Kevin Harwood (PP), Bernard Shepheard , Elli Dickinson


2nd PRIZE – 29 points    $150.00    $50.00 each

Kevin Parks (PP), Maddison Steel, Richard Lugg


3rd PRIZE – 22 points (on countback)    $60.00    $20.00 each

Ian Graham (PP), Sarah Ongarello, Steve Pisano



We offer our congratulations to the following members for reaching significant age milestones between 1st January and 30th April 2017.

50 years of ageGerard Robertson
60 years of ageGrant Fowler
Graeme Hatcher
Stephen Robins
70 years of age + Neil Evans (70)
Bob Greenwood (70)
Don Gross (70)
Ian Payne (70)
Barb Cullen (71)
Rex Dale (72)
Keith Gent (72)
Noel Judkins (72)
70 years of age + Lindsay McGie (72)
Darryl Gerlach (73)Greg Brown (74)
Ray Horsburgh (74)
Terry Rodgers (74)
Ken Forge (75)
Ken Fraser (77)
Ian Graham (77)
Graham Leydin (77)
Max Owen (77)
Ian Shelton (77)
Brian Crowe (78)
Don McKenzie (78)
Mackie (79)
John Welsh (79)
80 years of age +  John Birt (80)
Don Carmichael (80)
Rob Gluyas (80)
Kevin Harwood (80)
Colin Hooper (80)
Jim Carter (81)
Allan Dunn (81)
Barry Colliver (82)
Kevin Green (82)
Colin Stubbs (83)
Mal Pascoe (84)
Ron Smith (84)
Brian Paine (85)
Fred Gallagher (86)
Sam Chazan (87)
Bill Stephen (87)
Allan Taylor (88)
Tom Leehane (89)
John Ward (89)
90 years of age +  George Goninon (90)
Fred Payne (90)

We wish you all many more years of health and happiness.



Years Played:1971-1977Games Played:112

Goals Scored:127

Number Worn:33

Best & Fairest1973

 What did you do, football wise, following your playing days with Essendon?

I had a year out of football after retiring from Essendon FC and played Pennant Tennis at Grace Park Tennis Club. I then found that I missed football so played a couple of seasons with Perth FC in the WAFL. I did have a few injury problems for the first time, including two broken ribs caused by Brian Peake at the first bounce of my first practice match in Perth. Other injuries were a fractured ankle and a fractured Fibula.

What job/jobs did you pursue following your playing days, including what you are doing currently?

I was employed by Stellar International (Manufacturer of Squash & Tennis Equipment) as State Manager of their West Australian Office.

I had two seasons playing team tennis and coaching in the Rhine Pfalz Region in Germany, before returning to my job with Stella.

I then took the Stella Brand to the United States and set it up in Southern California.

After almost 9 years in the US I decided to come back to Victoria and was employed by Rebound Ace as Southern States Sales Manager. This entailed servicing Vic, SA, WA and Tassie.

I am currently running my own business in Sports Surfacing and Court Maintenance, using Rebound Ace Products.

Are you still working?  Yes

Have you suffered with any post football injuries and have any required surgery?

I have had some hip problems, particularly when playing competitive tennis but have avoided a replacement as yet.

Do you have any ongoing medical problems?

I have had some problems with blood clots (DVD) in my right leg. This required taking blood thinners to dissipate clotting. I did have surgery on a hernia a couple of years ago, but apart from that I am in reasonable shape, I think.

What are your thoughts on the modern game, and how would you change any of the areas that you don’t like!

I still enjoy watching modern football, but some things about it can be frustrating. These include: 1. Flooding back and seeing every player on both sides at one end of the ground. 2. Kicking backwards. 3. Keeping possession without sending it forward to your scoring zone, then turning it over which often ends up in a goal to the opposition.

I would like to see more positional play, such as a certain number of players required to stay in their own forward half.

Do you have any special anecdotes from your playing time to pass onto other past players?

In my first season playing mainly in the reserves under coach, Bob Syme, if it was a tight game at three quarter time Bob would bring out what he called firewater. I guess it must have been something to fire us up. I never tried it so don’t know what it was (possibly rum or whisky). If I wasn’t playing well he would tell me that I was playing like a bloody tennis player. That normally fired me up. In those days we used to have the occasional “Pleasant Sunday Morning” (a barrel in the club rooms) after training. I am not sure when that practice came to an end!

Who were your mates in your playing days with Essendon, do you keep in touch?

Tough question as in a team environment we all got on pretty well. Playing as a rover I tried to keep in the good books with the big blokes and I knew most of the Wimmera League guys well. These include: Bronco Grainger, Greg Perry, Barry Grinter, Graeme Schultz, Peter Hickmott and Ross Higgins. Being away from Victoria for a long time, I didn’t keep in touch, but now really enjoy catching up at Past Player functions.

Who were the players you most admired in your playing days at Essendon?

For Essendon: Barry Davis, Darryl Gerlach, Geoff Pryor, Alan Noonan, Graeme Moss and Neville Fields. Later years: Simon Madden, Tim Watson and Paul Vander Haar.

Other teams: Bruce Doull, Alex Jesaulenko, Wayne Richardson, Peter Bedford, Barry Price and Barry Cable

Do you have any comments that you would like to pass on about your time at Essendon?

Even though it was not my ambition to play VFL football (it was to play tennis) when it happened at Essendon it became one of the best experiences of my life. The great part about being a past player for Essendon FC is that when you meet other past players of all generations, you feel a real bond with them. I would also like to thank some people who helped me in my time at Essendon: Coach Des Tuddenham, who pushed me pretty hard to be a better player, Jim Bradley who helped me improve my pace and endurance and Russell Blew who talked me into trying out in the first place.


Thankfully we have not had any of our members pass away since our last Newsletter, however we did recently receive information that Eric Webster passed away late last year. Eric played 11 games for the club during 1957 and 1958.

Our condolences have been passed onto his family.



 Games Played                                            9

Years played                                              1948-1950

George was recruited from Burnie in Tasmania as a full forward and was most unfortunate to be playing in the same era as John Coleman, who commenced with the club in 1949. During 1950, in which Essendon won the Premiership, George transferred to Geelong and played at full forward in their winning Premiership Teams of 1951 and 1952.

He was dropped from the 1953 finals series, having kicked 65 goals in 18 games (average 3.6 per game) during the season. Geelong was beaten in the Grand Final by Collingwood by two goals, so in dropping George, it may have cost Geelong another flag!

George played with Geelong from 1950 to 1955, playing 78 games, kicking 278 goals averaging 3.5 goals per game.

George, who is a member of our Association, turned 90 on the 19th April and now lives on the Gold Coast.



In 1936, the Essendon Sons of Soldiers football team was formed and supervised by officials of the Essendon RSL. Every Player in the team had to be the son of a returned soldier and under the age of 16, the team playing in the Essendon District Junior Football League competition.

The 1936 team won the Premiership, with four players, namely, Harold Lambert (5th from left in front row), Chris Lambert (1st on left in front row), Milton Clark (6th from left in 2nd row) and Murray Dimble (7th from left in second row), going on to play senior football with the Essendon FC. The coach, Tom Brooker (1st on left in second row), went on to coach the Essendon FC U19’s from 1950 to 1957.

During his career, spanning from 1942 to 1957, Bill Hutchison accumulated a staggering 172 votes in the Brownlow Medal, averaging 10.75 votes per season. He was the outright winner of the Brownlow Medal in 1953 with 26 votes, and was later awarded a further Brownlow Medal retrospectively for being equal winner with Roy Wright in 1952 with 21 votes. Back at that time the winner was judged on a count back system, however this was changed at a later date and Bill was rewarded with his second Brownlow Medal. Bill was runner-up in the Brownlow Medal in 1955 with 20 votes. It should also be recognised that only 18 games were played during the home and away season during his playing career.

The first official Coach of the EFC was Jack Worrall who was appointed in 1911 and remained Coach until 1920, winning two flags, 1911 &1912 in that time.

A 1912 Membership Medal

A 1923 Membership Card- note the club moto included.




We are still keen to ensure that all eligible past players become members of our Association and we ask members if they are aware of any past player who is not a member, including those listed below, and would like to become a member, to let us know. Apart from playing at least one senior game with the club, reserve grade players who played a minimum of 20 reserve games with the club are also eligible. The following list is of reserve grade players who are eligible to be members, however at this stage we have been unable to track down. Our membership is now approaching 400 and we are aiming to increase the total again this year.

Richard Ambrose1991-92
Craig Anderson1998
Dwayne Armstrong1996-97
Garry Barrow1989-91
Jason Casey1994-96
Peter Christoforo1997-98
K. Currie1977-78
Mark Deakin1984-87
Anthony Dell1985-88
S. Demitriou1973-74
Anthony Dimattina1996-99
Mark Fotheringham1975
Brett Hanks1986
John Harper1985-86
Dean Haydock1995-96
D. Heard1978-79
Andrew Henderson1997
Robert Hickmott1988-89
Scott Hicks1987-88
Christopher Johns1983-86
N. King1973
Adam Kingsley1994-96
T. Leslie1972-73
A. McClure1978
G. McClure1978
Andrew Mills1990-91
Kieran Murrihy1993
Ross Napoli1990-91
Anthony O’Brien1983
J. Roach1970
Jeremy Schmidt1986
Shane Sheppard1999
Michael Strickland1989-91
Enzo Tomasiello1994
Anthony Tranter1987-90
Luke Trew1997
P. Veccheit1969-71
? Waters1975
Jim Wynd1984-85

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