Don Whitten is arguably the best coach to play at Tocumwal. The younger brother of Mr Football, Ted Whitten, Don played for Footscray Under 19's then played 3 seasons with the Dogs in 1956-58, playing 24 senior matches mainly as a centreman.
He then coached Casterton in the Western Border League in 1959-60, coaching them to a premiership in 1960 but was not re-appointed coach for the following season.
He then joined Yarraville for three seasons in the then very strong VFA, and captained them to a premiership in 1961, won their bet and fairest in 1961 and 1962, and went on to be runner-up in the VFA Best & Fairest, the Liston Trophy in 1963, behind teammate and former South Melbourne star Ron Clegg.
Playing VFL football in the 1950's and 1960's was not as lucrative as today's AFL and many young players would "head bush" to coach because they were paid much more than playing in the VFL.
Whitten was a tough, skilful ruck-rover at Tocumwal with exceptional ball skills but also that intangible ability to get players to follow him through "hell and high water". He was an inspirational speaker -- think Ted Whitten bent at the waist delivering a fire and brimstone speech -- spittle and all -- that was also Don!
His players loved him and played for him -- they did not want to let him down -- and he rarely let them down, doing the hard yards himself to lift his side when needed. At Tocumwal the sum of the parts was also far greater then the individual components under Whitten.
He protected his young teammates and while he may have dished it out at time he was prepared to "cop his whack" if it helped the team. However, most opposition players regretted having a go at him because the "square up" inevitably came and with interest!!
He made all his players walk a little taller. Most players in the mid-60's at Tocumwal rated him the best coach and the best player they have played under and with.
When he was appointed, Tocumwal were at a low ebb after 7 seasons in the Murray League wilderness.
He lifted the team to fifth in 1964 then the Bloods played in 3 consecutive grand finals, losing in 1965 and 1966 then winning in 1967, defeating bitter rivals Cobram in the Grand Final at Finley.
In that era every Murray League club was coached by and ex-VFL player and the league was rated as one of the strongest in the VCFL.
In the 1967 finals, Cobram defeated Tocumwal in the second-semi final and the Bloods played another close rival in that era in Berrigan in the preliminary final. The Saints were led by big ex-South Melbourne ruckman Fred Way and he was a key player as the Bloods trailed at half time. Whitten took it upon himself to "do something" and he hit Way with a legitimate hip and shoulder and the big man struggled for the rest of the match. Tocumwal were able to get on top in the middle and went on to win.
In the Grand Final the Bloods were behind by 6 points at the last change and the possibility of three grand final losses in a row loomed large. Tocumwal lifted in the final quarter to boot 6 goals to 2 goals with Whitten a key player in the last quarter as he stopped several Cobram attacks and then set up a goal then kicked a crucial goal himself late in the last quarter.
Whitten would coach the Bloods from 1964-68, then was assistant-coach in 1969-70 and he won the club Best & Fairest in 1971. He would play 150 matches for the Bloods and only missed 2 matches with injury in his 9 seasons with the club.
Controversy erupted in 1973 when he accepted the coaching position at Finley (I refer you to "Bloody Finley" in the archives). There was bitterness in the move at the time but Whitten returned to Tocumwal to take over the licence at Tattersalls Hotel, showing where his true allegiance lay, and all was forgiven.
He coached the Murray League Interleague team to the Grand Final of the VCFL Championships in 1972 (it was a 2 year championships then and Murray League defeated 3 other leagues on the way to the final) but were defeated by a powerful Bendigo League team at Cobram.
Whitten is a legend of country and VFA football but more importantly he is a legend of the Tocumwal Football Netball Club and regarded as one of the best ever players to don the red and white stripes and is the greatest coach in the club's history.
In 1964 a 19yr old footy sensation moves to Toc with his family, to commence farming in the area. He obtains a clearance to play for Toc, but before the season commences, he is snapped up by Collingwood. By round 3, he is selected in the Collingwood seniors, plays 5 consecutive games (all on match permits) and kicks 3 goals. Collingwood wins 4 out of 5 of those matches, however Julian has had enough of the big smoke & cannot be pursuaded to stay on. The story goes that, in his final game, Vise had the ball in the half-forward line and within range of goal. Fiery Pies skipper ,Des Tuddenham, ran past, demanding a handball, Julian refused (as he thought he could kick it himself) & subsequently put it straight through the middle. Such was the torrent of abuse from Tuddenham, that Julian decided, 'If that's how they are gunna treat me, then I'm outta here!')
Collingwood's loss becomes Toc's gain. The Bloods are on the rise, and Vise is a jewel that Don Whitten needs. Along with Whitten & local star, Jimmy Cullen, they are a trio a premiership can be be built around. Vise becomes a key player in the side that played in 3 successive grand finals, culminating in the 1967 premiership.
Vise's 103 game career with Toc included the 1967 & 1968 Best & Fairest awards, as well as runner-up in the O'Dwyer Medal in 1967 & 1969.
And what about Collingwood? They lost the 1964 VFL Grand Final by 4 points -- what if Julian Vise had stayed?
Geoff Quick, as his name suggests, was a fleet footed centreman who used his pace to burn opponents off. He was fast, tough and resourceful in the midfield and then later in his career on a half forward flank.
Quicky was runner- up in the O’Dwyer Medal for Best and Fairest in the Murray League in 1976 and 1979 and won Tocumwal's Best and Fairest in 1974 — not sure what happened in 1976 (Greg Burge) and 1979 (Ken Baldwin).
He was a regular Murray League representative player in his prime in the 1970s.
He played in the Billabong League Under 14 Premiership in 1968 and played several seasons of thirds but he missed a lot of his early football at Tocumwal due to attending boarding school in Melbourne.
He returned to play on the wing and be one of the best players in the Reserves 1971 Premiership as a 16 year old after also playing a few firsts matches that year.
He was a regular first grade player until he played his last and 248th first grade game in the 1991 Premiership — what a way to go out!! He played a total of 304 matches for Tocumwal (248 Firsts, 14 Reserves, 32 Thirds and 10 Fourths). His class shone through as in all of Tocumwals’ finals appearances in the 1970s, 1982 and then from 1988 to 1991 he was always one of the best players on the ground, whether in the centre, ruck roving or on a flank.
Quicky was not a shrinking violet and he played it tough — he was happy to dish it out to opposition players but was prepared to take the inevitable square up but if it meant he and the Bloods gained an advantage then so be it!! And he never whinged — he knew if you dished it out you had to be prepared to cop it back!! His game tally might have been higher if he had not copped the wrath of the tribunal on several occasions!!
He coached the Thirds in 1977, the Reserves in 1979-80 and was assistant coach for a number of years as well as serving on the committee. The only blemish in an otherwise stellar career was that he did go to Barooga for a year and played in their 1978 Premiership but he soon returned to the Bloods the following year.
What if Geoff Quick had won those two O’Dwyer Medals -- he would be lauded as one of Tocumwal’s and the Murray League’s greatest players -- and that is what he was.
Thompson is a Life Member of all three clubs which is testament to his ability as a footballer but also that he gave as much if not more off the field.
After 11 years in Tocumwal, he moved back to Griffith in 1968 and was Chairman of Selectors in the Swans second premiership win then coached the clubs Under 16s and Under 19s for several years before taking the reins as President for 6 years. He was also a selector for the South West League for many years.
Keith "Butch " Thompson arrived at Tocumwal at the end of the 1956 season. He was transferred in his job with the NSW Railways and was head clerk at the then very busy Tocumwal Railway station, then a very busy rail junction. He retells the story that he did not start work for his first week as he arrived as Tocumwal was threatened with the 1956 floods and spent his first week on the sandbags!!
Thompson had played a starring role in Queanbeyan-Acton's Premiership in the Canberra League in 1956 and legend has it that he was actually transferred mid year but the Queanbeyan President had some contacts high up in the NSW Railways and was able to defer Thompson's transfer to the end of the season.
What might have been as Tocumwal lost a tight Grand Final to Strathmerton by 7 points. Don "Doughy" Macdermid, who played in the 1956 side, would state later that Keith Thompson cost Tocumwal a flag -- if he had transferred when he should have then he may have been the difference between winning and losing!!
Unfortunately for Butch, the Bloods then had a period where they were at the bottom of the ladder -- he started as a ruck-rover, then to centre half back then finished his career as one of Tocumwal's and the Murray League's toughest and most respected fullbacks. His partnership with back pocket Terry Hewitt was legendary and is still one of the best defensive pairings in Tocumwal's history. Butch was short sighted and relied on "Spurry" to tell him where the ball was and tell him the score and because of this he played his full forwards very close -- he was in touching distance all the time. His long 50-60 metre drop kicks from fullback were an attacking weapon for Tocumwal.
Thompson joined the committee then was Secretary for 3 years when the club recruited Don Whitten to the club and climbed up the ladder. He played in two losing Grand Finals in 1965 and 1966 and then retired at 38 years of age due to a shoulder injury, but remained as a trainer and selector in the 1967 Premiership.
Butch captained Tocumwal for several years and was a three time Best and Fairest winner in 1957, 1958 and 1960 and was a regular representative for Murray League, being in the side that defeated St Kilda in 1960 and then keeping Hawthorn's then VFL leading goalkicker John Peck to 2 goals as the Hawks narrowly defeated Murray League at Tocumwal in 1963.
Thompson had played in Griffith's first premiership in 1952 and won two Best and Fairests at the club as a ruckman and CHB and in 1952 played at Narrandera in a South-West League team that played a VFL team made up the players to just miss selection in the Victorian team that played in the Australian Carnival. Thompson was one of the best players against some of the biggest names in VFL football at the time, such as Lou Richards. His brothers Norm and Jack "Jazbo" Thompson were legends of Riverina football and as they played for three different clubs they would often oppose each other and their was usually a fierce contest between them. All three were good enough for the VFL but to play in Melbourne in the 1950s was not the life changing opportunity it is today. In 1953 he was transferred to Queanbeyan, where he won 3 flags in four years and won two more Best and Fairests, playing at CHB. He was runner up in Canberra League Mulrooney Medal for B & F by 1 vote in 1954 after missing the last 3 matches due to his mother being quite ill and then passing away.
That he won seven best and fairests suggests that he was a pretty handy footballer.
Rob Crow played in the Billabong League Under 14 premiership in 1968. He had not embraced football until that time but, boy oh boy, did he pick it up quickly and then he was to become one of the legends of the club over the next 48 years.
He made his First Grade debut in 1972 as a 17 yo and went on to play a total of 501 matches for the Bloods (385 Firsts, 74 Reserves, 28 Thirds and 14 Fourths (Billabong League). His playing career spanned 35 years -- 1968-2003 and his First Grade career 29 years - 1972-2001. He left Tocumwal for one year in 1984 to be Assistant-Coach at Blighty but that is another story!! Anyway, he was soon back home. He tells the story of being asked to play with Finley in the 1980s and he asked the Cats man what substance he was using before again asking, "What don't you understand about Toc and Finley that would even make you contemplate asking me to play for you?"
At about 183 cm he was not tall but he played tall -- and he had to as he often plugged the gaps in the ruck, CHB and CHF in Tocumwal sides that struggled in a regular basis throughout his career. He had a huge leap which he used to advantage and he played in just about every position for the Bloods except rover - and he would have excelled at that too!!
He could run, jump, kick, tackle, play tall, play small, kick goals and stop goals -- whatever he was asked to do he rarely if ever let his coach down. And durable! -- the only matches he missed was when he lacerated his kidney and nearly had it removed -- he still only missed 3 games!!
He played in every grade for the Bloods and was a regular representative for the Murray League from 1976 to 1988.
He is the club's first grade record holder with matches and he won the club's best and fairest on 3 occasions, 1977, 1984 and 1994 and then added the Reserves B & F in 1996 at 41 years of age!
He coached the club for two years in 1987-88, taking over when the club was not a happy place at the end of 1986. He helped lay the foundation of the success to come. While 1987 was a winless year, the club was healed and this enabled it to start to focus on what was required to achieve success. He then took the Bloods to a Preliminary Final in 1988 and was a key player in defence in the 1991 Premiership. It was said by one long serving Tocumwal player in the mid-eighties that Rob Crow would play on a HBF in the next Tocumwal premiership because if that's where he played the team was good enough to win the flag - he was selected on a HBF in the grand final, but played a key tagging role which took him all over the backline.
He had previously coached the Thirds in 1979, taking them to 2 Grand Finals. Not to be outdone he coached the Fourths for 7 years (1995-2001) and continued to play both Firsts and Reserves during this time. He then coached the Reserves in 2002-03 and not to be outdone when the football and netball clubs amalgamated and netball was then approached in a more professional manner he put his hand up to coach and coached Tocumwal A grade netball in 2008-10, lifting the team and the club to a position of prominence in the MLNA. He was on the club committee on and off from 1978 to 1994 and was President in 1994.
He is a deserved Life Member of both the Tocumwal club and the Murray League.
Other than the Premiership, the highlight of his career was his last game in firsts for his beloved Bloods -- it coincided with his son Jeremy's debut in the firsts and as fate would have it, it was on the same day as his wife Leeanne played her last A Grade netball match as her daughter Alexandra made her A Grade debut -- what a great day!!
And to cap it off he is one of the main organisers of the club's 125th Season celebrations.
Rob Crow, we salute you, a true legend of Tocumwal and Country football.
- Played in Billabong Premiership 1968
- Commenced senior football in 1972 tried to retire in 1994 but continued playing Firsts and Reserves until 2003.
- Played last senior game with Jeremy in his first senior game 2001, same day Lee played her last A Grade game with Alexandra in her first A Grade game.
- Coaching: Thirds 1979, Seniors 1987-88, Fourths 1995-2001, Reserves 2002-03, A Grade Netball 2008-10
- Senior B & F 1977, 1984, 1994 Reserve B & F 1996
- Club President: 1993, Committee on and off from 1978 till around 1994
- MFL Representative: U17s 1971, U18s 1972 Seniors 1976-83,1988
- Matches: Firsts 385 (club record) Reserves 74; Thirds 28; Fourths 14; Total: 501
- Life Member: Tocumwal and Murray Football League
- Premiership player 1991
The Boy from Barooga first came to Tocumwal as a schoolboy boarder (as Barooga had no school in those days). By the late 1950's, had grown into a young man of raw talent, so came back to Toc for a season or two (he decided to play at Tocumwal as Barooga were then only playing in the Murray League Second Eighteen competition. His move from Barooga to the Bloods caused some angst at Barooga and he was often shunned when he went back to his home town -- when Barooga joined the Murray League Jim took great delight when the Bloods had a victory over them!!)
By the 1960's, and a fully-fledged Blood, Jimmy's brilliance was a sight to behold; raw sometimes, athletic & high-flying always . He was the country star that a coach from the big league could build a side around, which is exactly what Don Whitten did. Toc's rise from cellar-dweller to the 1967 premiership was linked around the talented trio of Cullen, Vise & Whitten. An unequalled 5 successive Best & Fairest awards plus the 1965 O'Dwyer Medal is ample evidence of his value.
To explain how good Jimmy was, picture this -- playing in the centre, his clashes with established league stars was a drawcard to any game - Graeme Ion from Deniliquin (straight from Footscray), Ian 'Doggy' Rowland from Finley (the only player dropped from St Kilda's 1966 premiership team) & Strathmerton's Lance Oswald (St Kilda Team of the Century & twice All-Australian). Jimmy could match and mostly beat them all. His trademark skill was brilliant high-flying marks. Good on the ground, but brilliant in the air, he is universally regarded as the best mark in the club's history, entertaining all and sundry with high flying grabs on a weekly basis that would win him a car every year if he played now!!) .
Tragically, a major knee injury curtailed his best attribute. However, the best players find a solution, which is exactly what Jimmy did. Reinventing himself as a full-forward in the early 1970's, he would boot more than 50 goals in a season. Then, at the end of his career, he reinvented himself again as a tough dogged full-back. To cap every possible achievement, in his last season (1977) he became the Murray League games record holder (311 games).
Upon retirement, Jim Cullen contributed much off the field; Toc Senior coach, Toc thirds coach, Murray League selector then coach, Toc President, MFL 200 club Chairman. However his football ability & career is what is best-remembered by all who witnessed it. Arguably the greatest local player ever.
JIM CULLEN CAREER
Tocumwal 311 matches (then MFL record)
Club Best and Fairest 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965
Murray League O'Dwyer medallist 1965
Grand Finalist 1965-66
Premiership player 1967
Senior coach 1977-78
Thirds coach 1984
Committee 1977-1996 (total 20 years)
Club President 1986 - 1992; 1994-1996 (total 10 years)
Murray League coach in the 1980's
Murray League 200 Club Inaugural Chairman
A brilliant footballer in the late 1940's & 50's, Jeff's story of how good he was & how far he might have gone is the one of many a good country star. Highly skilled with both feet, Jeff was a prolific ball-winner on either the wing of half-forward flank.
Born & bred in Toc, Jeff first played senior footy for the Bloods in 1948 & his skills were immediately evident. By the early 1950's , even though he wasn't in a key position, Jeff match-winning abilities were the springboard for Toc's rise up the Murray League ladder. Representing the Murray League every season, as well as the Goulburn Valley in 1954 and NSW in 1957, Jeff was clearly a player pursued by the big league clubs in Melbourne.
In 1955, Jeff is lured to Hawthorn on the standard 6-game match permit, with the Melbourne papers describing him as, '..one of the finds of the year.' After some games in the reserves, Jeff finally makes his senior debut, however with the match permits running out, Jeff cannot be persuaded to stay. The reason? Hawthorn's financial offer was 1 pound per game. As Jeff says, 'I was earning about 20 pounds a week shearing, so it wasn't a hard decision to make!' He had proved to himself that he could match it with the best in the land, and that's all he needed to know.
Back with Toc, the fortunes of Toc were , to some degree, dependent on Jeff's performances...which were sometimes dependent on how hard a week he had endured in the shearing shed. If his back was ok after a week in the fleece, then his form would be good, and so would Toc's.
Jeff career finally ends in 1958 with a broken ankle, however his performances in the 1950's were a direct reflection on Toc's grand final appearances in 1953/1954 & 1956. On a personal note, Jeff won the senior Best & Fairest in 1956 as well as runner-up in the O'Dwyer Medal the same season. in 1958, at the completion of his final season in red & white, Jeff is honoured with Life Membership.
Ron "Rolly" Watt was a talented player who made his debut for Tocumwal at 16 years old and then won the Bloods 1981 Senior Best and Fairest as a 17 year old playing in the centre. Ron had earlier played in the Tocumwal Thirds Premiership in 1978 and then was Best on Ground in the Thirds tied Grand Final in 1979 and kicked the Bloods only goal in the narrow loss to Cobram in the replay payed in atrocious conditions.
He was a 180 cm, 85 kg solid player with equally good skills left and right and he would range up and down the ground all match racking up possessions. He was not fast but had stamina, was strong overhead and rarely missed targets. In a period when Tocumwal struggled he would often win the ball deep in defence then 30 seconds later would be kicking a goal at the other end.
He was recruited to Geelong in 1982 when Murray League was zoned to the Cats and played Under 19s and Reserves before breaking through for his first senior game in 1984. This coincided with the arrival in Geelong of Gary Ablett, Greg Williams and Mark "Jacko" Jackson, an interesting time indeed! It was an era when speed was the essence and Ron was not made for speed. In the modern era he could be likened to a Sam Mitchell and many think he would have been a 200 game AFL player in today's football.
He played one more senior match for the Cats and in 1985 joined Geelong West in the strong VFA competition and he was Best on Ground in the 1988 Premiership and was runner up in the Liston Trophy for Best and Fairest in the VFA.
In 1989 he was appointed coach of the amalgamated Geelong West-St Peters club in the Geelong League and played for 4 seasons, winning 4 successive Best and Fairest awards. He was made a Life Member of the club, captained-coached the Geelong Football league in the VCFL championships, and captain-coached the VCFL combined side.
In 1993 he transferred to North-Shore, also in Geelong FL. Captain-coached premierships in 1993/1995/1996/1997 and played in 1998 premiership team.
Up to this point he was a teacher but in 1999 he joined Geelong FC (AFL) on their coaching staff, as Development Coach and coach of the Reserves in the VFL and in 2002 coaches Geelong to a VFL premiership. While he was Development Coach and he had a major hand in the recruitment and development of players such as Steve Johnson, Cameron Ling, Jim Bartels, James Kelly and Paul Chapman, who he coached in the VFL Premiership.
He was the Cats longest serving member of the football department, serving the Cats for 15 years before taking on the role of the Manager of Professional Development for the AFL Coaches Association in 2015.
His role is to mentor the AFL coaches and coaching staff in coaching, education and development.On his departure, Cats' general manager of football Neil Balme paid tribute to Watt's contribution at the club."Ron has been a major member of our club for the better part of 15 years," Balme said. "In that time he has taken on a variety of roles and filled them in an outstanding manner."
Ron played a senior match for North Shore as a 44 yo and played with his son Dylan. He has played a match for the reserves this year at 50 yo.When an opposition player a few years ago asked why an old bloke like him is still playing (in a more disparaging manner) he replied "because I can" then proceeded to be best on ground.
Ron "Killa" Watt may have played only 2 VFL matches but in country football and in Geelong he has been one of the greats and is regarded among the best players to have played in Geelong League.
The other aspect to Ron is that he was a suburb wicketkeeper/batsman and in his early days at Geelong he also played second grade for St Kilda in the VCA. He was slated to be first grade keeper when football won out -- it was an era when Victoria and Australia were searching for a wicketkeeper -- what if Ron Watt had chosen cricket instead?
Toc Games: 4ths-17 3rds-34 2nds-2 1sts-36
Senior Best & Fairest-1981
In 1922, the 21 yr old Clem Carr, arrived in Toc to work on a farm at The Rocks. Already a talented horseman & natural athlete in his home state of SA, Clem looked the goods when the farmers from The Rocks decided to challlenge the Toc team in a scratch match. "What position do you play Clem?" the farmers a asked. "Who is Toc's best player?" was the reply. "Clarrie Hearn is their best" .To which Clem stated, "Well I'll play on him!" . It's an historical fact that The Rocks did beat Toc for the only time that day, and so began Clem's career in Toc.
A 6ft high-leaping ruckman of immense strength, Clem commenced his career with the Bloods, and soon established himself as their premier player. After a season in the Goulburn Valley with Tatura(1925) Clem was being pursued the strongest club in the land, Melbourne. On his return to Toc, he was named Captain in 1926 & 1927 (there were no coaches).
Finally , in 1928, Clem is lured to Melbourne and becomes Toc's 1st ever VFL/AFL player at age of 27. Playing in the ruck, he is partnered the Demons ruck-rover & coach Ivor Warne-Smith (dual Brownlow medallist & the best player in Australia). After 4 senior games in 1928/29 Clem returms to the bush, much to Toc's delight. Appointed captain again in 1932, Clem win's Toc's 1st ever Best & Fairest in 1930, followed by another B&F in 1934.
Clem's local footy career culminates in 1935, when Toc win their 1st Murray League premiership, in his last game of football, he is voted best-on-ground. A perfect finish to a great career.
Clem Carr - arguably the best player with Toc in the 1st 50 years.
Neville Pollard arrived in Tocumwal at the beginning of the 1987 season after he purchased a farm on the Lower River Road.
Nifty had a big reputation as a class player after winning Best & Fairest honours at the highly successful Wangaratta Rovers in 1983 and 1984. He had previously won the Ovens and King League Best & Fairest award, the Baker Medal, in 1978 and 1980, as well as Milawa's Best & Fairest in those years.
He arrived when the Bloods had come off an unhappy season in 1986, winning 1 match. The Bloods were still struggling with numbers at the beginning of 1987 and training wasn't the greatest - Nifty was having second thoughts, but to the eternal gratitude of the Bloods he decided to stay.
He was brilliant in the centre that season in a winless side and easily won Tocumwal's Best & Fairest then added another in 1988 when Tocumwal started its climb to the top.
He had a wiry frame but was tough as old nails and always had clean skills and great balance. He would pick the right options and his courage in taking countless marks when backing into the packs was legendary. He was impeccably fair and the word "Fairest" in the awards he has won were exemplified in the way he played the game.
Under the coaching of Phil Nicholson he shifted to the HBF to form one of the best half back lines in country football, let alone Tocumwal, with Peter Gittos and Rob Crow. He was a fine player in the 1991 premiership but luckily survived freezing to death during the prolonged after match presentation which was held in freezing weather.
Nifty was and is a great bloke, was always positive and gave off good vibes and was a great educator of young players. He also coached Tocumwal thirds for several seasons in the early 2000's.
He played 111 matches for the Bloods on top of 139 matches for Wangaratta Rovers.
The members, players and supporters of the Tocumwal Football Netball Club were saddened recently with the passing of Tony Smith, a 1991 premiership player. Tony passed away on 24.12.16 after a long battle with illness but he faced his illness in the usual cheery manner and smiling face that had endeared him to the Bloods faithful when he played his 78 matches for Tocumwal from 1990-93.
Tony was recruited to the Bloods from Templestowe in 1990 as Tocumwal were still seeking a long awaited flag after a grand final loss in 1989 and a preliminary final loss in 1988 following over a decade in the Murray League wilderness. Tony's brother Russell also joined the Bloods but family commitments meant he only stayed for the one season.
"TS" was one of the best recruits Tocumwal had because not only was he a fine footballer, he was simply a lovely bloke. After he went back to Templestowe he always called Tocumwal his second home and loved coming back as often as he could to catch up with many of his premiership mates. He attended the club's 125th Anniversary celebrations in July and was his usual smiling, happy self despite his illness.
He played a key role in the Blood's 1991 premiership, playing on a wing and with his blistering pace and clean ball handling skills was a conduit to goal and he loved nothing more than sneaking down forward to snare the odd goal. Tony entertained the Bloods' crowd with long bouncing runs down the wing and the flank and he could take a hanger as well.
I will paraphrase the Templestowe report below - wearing No 34, "chest out, legs pumping, with the closest defender at least 10 metres behind him." And almost laughing at the chasing pack with that big smile of his!!
His goalkicking prowess was noted by the selection panel and in 1993 he was moved to full-forward and became only the third Tocumwal player to win the Murray League Goal-kicking Award and the second to boot 100 goals in a season with 113 goals (Darren Brookes the other in 1992). His fast leading and accurate kicking for goal were a highlight in 1993.
Unfortunately in 1993 only 2 players from the 1991 premiership were still playing for the Bloods - Rob Crow the other - and Tocumwal just missed the finals that year.
In 1994 Tony moved back to Templestowe and he became a legend at that club and highly regarded by all in the club and by opponents alike. He was leading goalkicker for 5 seasons, winning the league goalkicking twice. He coached the club for one season and was assistant coach for 3 seasons and served as the club Treasurer for 3 years. He played in Templestowe's 1997 Premiership, the club's first flag for nearly 30 years.
His record at Templestowe is impressive and indicates that he remained a fine player but more importantly a great and loyal clubman.
We at Tocumwal were privileged that Templestowe loaned him to us for four fantastic years.
Templestowe FC posted this --- One of Templestowe Football Club's greatest forwards, we remember the prodigious No 2 - chest out, legs pumping, with the closest defender at least 10 metres behind him. We also remember his big smile (for everyone), his favourite drink - an Ouzo & Coke but sometimes a cold beer, always positive and up for a chat with anyone. However, it will be his massive zest for life that we will always remember.
His record at Templestowe is listed below.
. Played 1986-1989 and 1994-2001
. 276 club matches (135 First Grade- 11th highest), 453 goals (109 in 1994)
. Premiership player 1997
. Club leading goal-kicker 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999
. League leading goal-kicker 1994, 1996
. Runner-up Best & Fairest 1994, 3rd 1996
. Senior Coach 2005
. Senior Assistant Coach 1997 and 1999-2000
. Under 19's leading goal-kicker 1984-1985
. Most goals in a game - 13 goals x 1, 11 goals x 1, 10 goals x 1, 9 goals x 3
. Club Treasurer 2001-02 and 2007
Jeff Beasley has been a bookmaker since he retired from playing football in 1973.
Now as a betting man he would have given long odds if you told him as a youngster that he would play in seven grand finals in a row for Tocumwal and win four premierships!!
Jeff has the record of the most numbers of grand finals played for the club, a continuous run from 1965 to 1971.
He played in three first grade Grand Finals, losing in 1965 and 1966 but winning the drought breaking flag in 1967.
He then dropped back to the Reserves as he slowed a bit and played in the Reserves four Grand Finals in a row, losing in 1968 then being a key player in the Bloods Reserves trifecta in 1969-70-71.
Jeff started with the Reserves in 1959 as a teenager and played his early career as a key forward. He played in the 1965 and 1966 losing Grand Finals before starting at full-forward in the 1967 decider. By his own admission he had done nothing extraordinary until in a Don Whitten masterstroke he was moved to the flank and Jim Cullen to full forward at three quarter time and both kicked 2 goals in the last quarter as the Bloods powered their way to the flag.
He started in the Firsts in 1968 but by mid season was playing Reserves and played in 4 Grand Finals in a row in what he considers were the best Reserves teams in the history of the Murray League. The Bloods lost in 1968 after winning the second semi final and then went on to win the trifecta in 1969-70-71. He reckons they should have won four in a row!!
Two of the flags were coached by tough and wily rover Des Watt who Jeff regarded as one of the best coaches he played under.
League Best and Fairest awards were won by ruckman Reg Randall (1967-68), Des Watt (1969) and rover John Herberte (1971) in this period.
Jeff was runner-up in the Murray League Senior goalkicking in 1966 and won Tocumwal Reserves B & F in 1965 (called up late in the season to Seniors and retained for the finals series) and 1970. He was also the Murray League Reserves leading goalkicker in 1973 and runner-up in the Murray League Reserves B & F in 1970.
He played a total of 244 matches for the club -- 116 firsts and 128 reserves. He retired after playing in a losing Tocumwal reserves semi final in 1973 and went bookmaking the following week and continues to do this today.
Jeff was also a fine contributor to the club off the field, serving on the committee for 10 years (1964-73) with three times as Secretary (1967-68-69) and two times as Treasurer (1970-71) with the distinction of being a premiership player in years he was also club Secretary and Treasurer. He was awarded Life Membership of the club in 1991.
His business -- MV Printers -- was based in Cobram so he moved there in the late 1970's and with his boys playing for the Tigers he joined their committee and served as President for a number of years.
So while Jeff's career may not put him as one of the truly great players, his record of 7 grand finals in a row is without equal in the club and his contribution off the field is also significant and worthy of recognition.
John Jones started playing in the Tocumwal Thirds in the first year of the Murray League competition in 1960 under the legendary 'Nugget' Fuller. He was the team captain as the Bloods made the finals but bowed out in the semi finals after several controversial umpiring decisions cost them a Grand Final berth. He also won the Thirds inaugural Best and Fairest award.
The following year the teenager started playing in the Firsts with his good mate Graeme Sebastian. He was a skilful and fearless rover with a big aerobic capacity and after three grand finals, a premiership, 216 firsts, 34 reserves and 15 thirds matches for the club and a Life Membership, he retired in 1979.
On the way he added a reserves Best & Fairest in 1978 as a 35 year-old.
He briefly came out of retirement in the early 1980's when a Superrules team was formed from Murray League clubs.
The following story demonstrates his footy smarts ... John told an opposition player, who was 20 metres in the open, that he was clear several times and that he was being shepherded as he closed quickly and then pounced on the unsuspecting and very surprised player to lay a tackle and earn a free kick.
John also contributed to the club, serving on the committee for 12 years from 1970-81 and was Secretary in 1974-75.
He coached the fourths for several years in the early 1990's and was coach when the fourths won the club's only MFL Under 14 Premiership in 1991.
John always put his hand up to help the gate and was the game day raffle seller for over 20 years, often after he did a stint on the gate.
John was part of a group of young blokes that came through in the early and mid 1960's which included Graeme Sebastian, Peter and John Glanvill, Graham Johnson, Peter Haley, Hugh Bondarenko, Cibby Baldwin, Ken Baldwin and Jeff Beasley. All were part of the mid-1960's ascendancy of the Bloods and all but Ken Baldwin (knee injury) played in the 1967 premiership.
Lance Lane arrived in Tocumwal as the senior coach in 1962, with the club at a low ebb after 5 years in the wilderness, finishing bottom or near bottom of the ladder. This was unacceptable to the Tocumwal committee after the Bloods had played in 3 grand finals (all lost) in the mid 1950s.
He was recruited from Eaglehawk in Bendigo the year after he had won their best and fairest award.
At about 6'2" (187cm), he was average height for a ruckman of that era but he also had a leap and was a fine exponent of the tap ruckman's art.
He grew up at Kerang and played his first senior game at 13 years of age with Kerang Rovers. The club won the premiership that year and he played several senior games. When not selected in the senior side he ran the boundary.
Two years later he joined Kerang in the Northern District League where he played senior and reserve grade football. The following year at 16 years of age he was approached by Carlton to train and play a few trial games and remained on their list for 3 years.
When he turned 18 he was drafted into National Service and was appointed coach of his team. His side won the National Service competition premiership and it was here he made up his mind to aspire to be a team coach.
After completing his National Service he played three years with Eaglehawk in the Bendigo League, winning the club best and fairest in 1961.
After seeing an advertisement for the coaching position at Tocumwal, he made application and after being impressed with club leaders, Col McCulloch, Leo Porra, Brian Kelly and John Haynes, accepted the club's offer of a two year appointment. Although the club had limited success he continued to nurture the large group of young local players.
In 1964 the club attracted Don Whitten to the coaching position and the club asked him to stay on as assistant coach and after meeting with Don agreed to stay on and pursue greater success for the club. His five years as assistant saw the club enjoy its greatest success with finals appearances each year and a premiership in 1967.
At Tocumwal he was a key player in the ruck and was very dangerous when resting forward. He was a strong pack mark and very mobile for his size and would always kick a few goals when resting.
He is regarded as one of the best ruckman to play in the Murray League and most of his teammates in the 1960s thought very highly on him.
His decision to stay at Tocumwal was probably the difference that led the Bloods to finally win in 1967. The unwavering support he gave Don Whitten when it would have been logical to coach elsewhere was much appreciated by his teammates and the Tocumwal supporters and community.
After seven years at Tocumwal he accepted a one year appointment at Barooga in the Picola League where he won the Picola League and Barooga clubs Best and Fairest.
His employment took him back to Bendigo in 1970 where he returned to his old club Eaglehawk and he was a member of their premiership in 1971. The following year he was appointed captain coach of Newbridge in the Lodden Valley League on a five year appointment. During his time there he was runner up in the League best and fairest on four occasions.
At 38 years of age he hung up the boots to concentrate on business opportunities.
Ken Baldwin played 322 senior matches for Tocumwal and over 21 years of senior football. He was he epitome of durability and loyalty. He is a rare bird compared to these days as he was a one club player.
He started in 1960 in the thirds and graducated to the seniors in 1965, going on to play in the 1965 and 1966 grand finals.
Unfortunately for Ken he had a serious knee injury at the beginning of 1967 and missed that year's premiership flag.
He did have one premiership success as he was a member of Tocumwal reserves 1970 premiership - the second of three flags in a row for the reserves.
He was a prolific ball winner on a wing but his sometimes wayward kicking would at times let him down. He was tough and durable and after a hard days shearing would still train as hard as anyone else. Ken was hard at the contest but never anything other than a ball player.
Ken played in successful eras for the club but the reality is he also played more matches in struggling teams but his loyalty and passion for the club and quiet determination have made him a legend of the Tocumwal Football Club. Typically he always turned up for training and never once complained, always giving his all every week regardless of the score.
Ken was good enough to win two club best and fairest awards, 1975 and 1979 and he was a regular Murray League representative in the 1970s.
No-one ever heard him abuse an opposition player or umpire and he was one of the most respected players in the Murray League. A true gentleman who was never reported in his career, Ken continued to contribute to the club on retirement from playing by being a long serving club trainer.
He is a deserved Tocumwal and Murray League life member.
All up Ken played 400 matches for Tocumwal across three grades.
Ken broke Jim Cullen's games record of 319 first matches in 1986 and he himself passed by another club legend in Rob Crow in the late 1990s.
Ken's son Scott now has played 382 matches and will break Rob Crow's record of 385 senior matches in a few weeks.
The father-son record of 704 senior matches for one club takes some beating and in all matches for the club they have played an incredible 880 matches!
Both Ken and Scott remind us of a line from Rudyard Kipling's famous poem "If" -
"If you can meet Triumph and Disaster
And treat these two imposters just the same".
Ken and Scott Baldwin are two of the reasons that the Bloods "keep on keeping on"!
400 club matches (322 firsts, 25 reserves, 53 thirds)
Best & Fairest 1975 and 1979
Reserves Premiership 1970
Grand finalist 1965 and 1966
Tocumwal and Murray League Life Member