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Football's surprising source

KEVIN Sheedy has always prided himself on being a student of history, and the Greater Western Sydney coach certainly delivered a thought-provoking history lesson on Melbourne radio station 3AW on Tuesday night.

In the build up to the Giants' first official AFL outing in the NAB Cup this Saturday night, Sheedy has been pumping up all things Western Sydney to anyone willing to listen, and he was at his parochial best on the Sports Today program.

Sheedy was keen to educate fans from traditional football states (but especially his fellow "Melbourne people") of the significant contribution Sydney, particularly Western Sydney, and New South Wales as a whole, have made to Australian football.

The region, and state, hadn't received due recognition for producing some of the most influential figures in the game's history, Sheedy lamented.

He claimed that two of the game's pioneers, Tom Wills and HCA Harrison, had been born in Western Sydney (Wills was actually born near Queanbeyan, in the vicinity of Canberra, while Harrison first drew breath in Picton, 80km south-west of Sydney), but got it right in mentioning the AFL's 'First Lady', the late Jill Lindsay (described by Sheedy as "one of the most beautiful women ever" and "just a superstar").

Sheedy also highlighted the fact "the greatest coach ever", Collingwood's Jock McHale, had been born in Sydney, while his Sheedy's old coaching rival Allan Jeans was also a New South Welshman by birth.

"So Melbourne needs to recognise maybe that there are many other people that contributed to AFL, not just [those from] Melbourne or Tasmania or Perth or South Australia," he said.

"When you look at it, I think there's a fair contribution New South Wales has put into Aussie rules. I don't think we've studied that enough."

So we studied it further and expanded on the few examples Sheedy offered, which barely scratched the surface. Here is a fuller, although not definitive, collection of notable players and coaches who were born in NSW. It's an impressive list that may surprise many readers.

Players born in, or recruited from, NSW

Tom Wills
Birthplace: Molongolo Plains, near Queanbeyan
The most celebrated pioneer of the game, Wills "did more than any other person - as footballer and umpire, co-writer of the rules and promoter of the game - to develop Australian Football during its first decade". He was also the premier footballer and cricketer in Victoria.

Henry Harrison
Jarvisfield, near Picton
A pioneer of the game and a cousin of Tom Wills, Harrison captained Richmond, Melbourne and Geelong before becoming a powerful administrator.

Jock McHale
Botany
The most successful and longest serving coach in AFL/VFL history. His 38-year reign (1912-49) netted 17 grand final appearances for eight premierships, including a league record of four in a row. Also played 261 games for the Pies.

Ivor Warne-Smith
Lavender Bay
The first dual Brownlow medallist (1926 and 1928), Warne-Smith is regarded by some as Melbourne's greatest ever player.

Haydn Bunton Snr
Albury
One of the all-time greats, the superstar rover won three Brownlow Medals in the space of five seasons with Fitzroy in the 1930s and three Sandover Medals with WAFL club Subiaco.

Allan Jeans
Finley
A four-time premiership coach, he guided St Kilda to its only premiership in 1966 and then took Hawthorn to three flags in the 1980s.

Wayne Carey
Wagga Wagga
In 2008, Herald Sun chief football writer Mike Sheahan rated the champion centre half-forward the greatest player of all time. Captained North Melbourne to two premierships and saw out his career with Adelaide.

The Daniher brothers

Ungarie
Neale, Terry, Anthony and Chris played a total of 752 games from the 1970s-90s. They are the only set of four brothers to have played in the same team, which they did for Essendon in 1990. Terry captained the Bombers, and Neale was appointed skipper but never led the team due to a serious knee injury. Neale later coached Melbourne.

Shane Crawford
Finley
A brilliant midfielder who won the 1999 Brownlow Medal, won four Hawthorn best and fairest awards, captained the club and was a member of the 2008 premiership side.

Paul Kelly
Wagga Wagga
Courageous Swans skipper who won the 1995 Brownlow Medal. Won four club best and fairest awards in six years (1992-97).

Brett Kirk
North Albury
Recently retired Swans star who was a remarkable study in application, determination and leadership, and was a driving force in the Swans' 2005 premiership.

Leo Barry
Deniliquin
'Leaping Leo' will forever be remembered for his match-saving mark in the 2005 grand final, which gave the Swans their first premiership in 72 years.

Billy Brownless
Deniliquin
Lovable larrikin who made his name at Geelong as a high-leaping, long-kicking forward before becoming a larger-than-life personality in the media.

Mark Maclure
East Sydney
A three-time premiership forward for Carlton, he later captained the club and had a great influence on his successor, Stephen Kernahan.

Dennis Carroll
Albury
Captained the Swans during the glamour years of the mid-80s and was superb at centre half-back. Represented both Victoria and NSW.

John Longmire
Corowa-Rutherglen
The current Sydney Swans coach was a star full-forward for North Melbourne, kicking 511 goals, including 98 in 1990 when he won the Coleman Medal and North's best and fairest - at just 20.

David Murphy
Turvey Park
Exciting Swans wingman capable of taking screamers. A star in the 1980s, he played regular interstate football.

Mark Roberts
St George
'Fridge' Roberts didn't have the most athletic build but he became a highly valued utility and a member of North Melbourne's 1996 premiership side.

Dean Solomon
North Broken Hill
A tough defender who was a key member of Essendon's 2000 premiership side. He finished his career at Fremantle.

Richie Vandenberg
Wentworth
Captained Hawthorn and helped set a leadership standard that helped the club in its premiership of 2008, by which time Vandenberg had retired.

Ricky Quade
Ariah Park
Star ruck-rover for South Melbourne who won a best and fairest and captained the club. Later coached the Swans in Sydney.

Troy Luff
Nelson Bay
Blond utility for the Swans who overcame early delistings to play 155 games. Kicked two early goals in the 1996 grand final loss.

John Pitura
Wagga Wagga
Brilliant left-footed half-forward/midfielder for South Melbourne who controversially crossed to Richmond in 1975 and was never the same player again.

Wilbur 'Bill' Mohr
Wagga Wagga
A dangerous spearhead for St Kilda, he slotted a then club record of 736 goals in his 195 games, including a league-high 101 in 1936. Represented Victoria 18 times. Won two best and fairest awards and 12 consecutive club goalkicking awards.

Denis 'Dinny' Ryan
Albury
The 1938 Brownlow medalist, he was a strong-marking, long-kicking centre half-back who represented Victoria.

Gordon Strang
Albury
Superb key-position utility for Richmond who was best-afield in the 1932 grand final. Represented Victoria nine times and in 1999 was selected at centre half-back in the Tigers' team of the Century.

Doug Strang
Albury
The younger brother of Gordon Strang was a forward who kicked 180 goals in 64 games, including hauls of 14 and 10.

Albert 'Bert' Clay
Henty
Great Fitzroy ruckman who was among the club's best in the 1944 grand final triumph.

Roger Duffy (Footscray)
Newtown
Half-forward who averaged a goal a game in his 117 appearances for Footscray and was a member of the Bulldogs' 1954 premiership side. Represented Victoria.

Chris Lethbridge
Sydney
Tough, long-kicking backman who played in two Fitzroy premiership sides (1913 and 1922) and represented both NSW and Victoria.

Reg Garvin
Newtown
Captain-coached St Kilda in 1942-43, won the club's best and fairest and represented both NSW and Victoria.

Jack Gaffney
Broken Hill
A solid defender for Fitzroy in the early 1950s who later chaired the VFL Tribunal.

Frank Gumbleton
Ganmain
Low profile back-pocket who played in North Melbourne's 1975 and 1977 premierships.

Jack Hawkins
Finley
'Jumping Jack' was a high-leaping defender for Geelong in the 1970s. His son is Cats forward Tom Hawkins.

Ross Henshaw
North Albury
A no-fuss defender who was a member of North Melbourne's 1975 and 1977 premiership sides.

Don Ross
Albury
A flanker/midfielder who won the Bulldogs' best and fairest in 1956, the year teammate Peter Box won the Brownlow. One of the club's best in the 1954 premiership.

Neil Davies
Broken Hill
Prominent Glenelg centreman who was runner-up in the 1953 Magarey Medal and earned All Australian selection.

Dave Low
Broken Hill
A terrific defender with SANFL club West Torrens who won the 1912 Magarey Medal after being runner-up the previous year. Died in action during World War I.

Bruce McGregor
Broken Hill
Won the 1926 and 1927 Magarey Medals and is believed to have won West Adelaide's best and fairest six times (records vary) in his 102 games. His grandson, Ken McGregor, played for the Adelaide Crows.

Jack Owens
Broken Hill
The brilliant left-footer bagged 827 goals in 177 games for a struggling Glenelg from 1924-35. Captained his club and state.

William 'Nipper' Truscott
Sydney
A star centreman in three East Fremantle premierships, he represented Western Australia in an equal-record five interstate carnivals. Captained WA to its first interstate championship in 1921.

Arthur Hodgson
Sydney
Represented Tasmania and Victoria in an equal-record five interstate carnivals, and won a best and fairest at Carlton in 1950.

Current players from NSW

Lenny Hayes (St Kilda)
Pennant Hills

Cameron Mooney (North Melbourne/Geelong)
Wagga Wagga

Mark McVeigh (Essendon)
Pennant Hills

Jarrad McVeigh (Sydney Swans)
Pennant Hills

Daniel Cross (Western Bulldogs)
Albury

Justin Koschitzke (St Kilda)
Brocklesby

Adam Schneider (Sydney/St Kilda)
Osborne

Hamish McIntosh (North Melbourne)
Lavington

Lewis Roberts-Thomson (Sydney Swans)
North Shore

Ben McGlynn (Hawthorn/Sydney Swans)
Wentworth

Taylor Walker (Adelaide)
North Broken Hill

Tom Hawkins (Geelong)
Finley

Paul Bevan (Sydney Swans)
Pennant Hills

Kieren Jack (Sydney Swans)
Pennant Hills

Brent Staker (West Coast/Brisbane Lions)
West Broken Hill

Dylan Addison (Western Bulldogs)
St George

Craig Bird (Sydney Swans)
Nelson Bay

Sources

• Full Points Footy (www.fullpointsfooty.net). Also check out their NSW Team of the (20th) Century (www.fullpointsfooty.net/new_south_wales.htm).

• AFL statistician Cameron Sinclair.