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Allan Fyffe - My Redan Story


August 2016


Where did you grow up and what are some of your earliest footy memories and highlights?


I was born at Minyip in 1933. My mother died suddenly in 1944 and I was sent away to boarding school in 1947 at Ballarat College.


My earliest footy memory was seeing Geelong play Collingwood in 1949. I played school football at Ballarat College. John Birt (Essendon player) and I were in the same house at school.


I played against John James and Geoff Tunbridge.


Tell us about how you came to play at Redan and your initial impressions of the club?


I boarded in Peel Street. While at Teacher's College Les and Fergie Borrack convinced me there was only one decent team in Ballarat, Redan.


Under 18 at the Western Oval, Boo Jenkins was our coach. He insisted on strong discipline and as you know, won the premiership with us in 1951. Boo convinced us the only way to success was strong discipline. He was right of course.


You were part of the 1951 Under 18 Premiership side. Tell us about your memories of that season and the number of teammates that then played with you in the 1952 Senior Premiership side.


The Under 18 team was very strong led by Les Borrack and Claude Howard and many others of similar talent. Bill Ebery lived near my brother Keith at Sandon near Newstead. He was seven years older than Under 18 team members but looked after us.


However Keith Rawle had a profound influence on the whole team, lived and led by example. A great Captain/Coach and a fine man.


Keith Rawle arrived at Redan to great fanfare in 1950 following a distinguished career with Essendon in the VFL. Tell us about the level of football he was still playing while at Redan, what he was like to play under and which current AFL player coming to coach Redan would you liken his arrival to?


Keith Rawle barely drank alcohol. He trained as the played, gave it everything he had. Didn't shout and rave. The message was in his eyes. He knew how to handle his players like Alistair Clarkson today. 


He took us all to see Essendon play and I met two great Essendon players in the rooms, Bill Hutchinson and John Coleman. Coleman kicked eight goals that day.


You played in the ruck alongside Bill Ebery who had won 1951 Henderson Medal and the previous five Dalton-Bayly Club Best and Fairest medals.  Tell us about him as a player and the tandem you formed that season.


Bill Ebery could run all day. I rucked and changed with (me) forward pocket and Bill back pocket. Keith Rawle formulated a game plan and we all knew our role.


Geelong West and East Ballarat had tough players but Redan had the talent. Max Spittle, Max Lyle, Lennie Templar, Bomber Wells. 


Bill Ebery told me how to run in the ruck.


Bill ‘Bomber’ Wells dominated the league kicking 73 goals in 1952 and 116 the following season. Describe how he played his football, his height and build and what it was that made him so effective.


Bomber was the most fascinating character I ever met. Built like a bull, powerful and a great kick. Five foot ten inches at best. He was paid good money for each goal.


He encouraged me to handball to him as often as possible. I received ten pounds after the Grand Final, I felt really rich.


Who were some of the other players of the 1952 side that impressed you most?


Les Borrack was a beautiful drop kick, even with a wet ball. Speed of Lennie Templar and Max Spittle. Bomber Wells' intuition, always knew where the ball was. Bill Ebery's resilience.


What can you remember of the game plan and brand of football Keith Rawle instructed the side to play?


Keith said to me one day 'if you have the ball, the opposing side hasn't'. That was Keith's philosophy, he was right again.


Keith had a talented group of players. He was a wizard around the pack at times like Peter Daicos.


Take us through a typical training week and were you training at the Western Oval in those days?


It was nearly dark by the time we all arrived at the Western Oval. Only trained Tuesday and Thursday night. Only lasted one hour, became dark. Kick to kick (15 minutes), tackling (10 minutes), match play half the ground (20 minutes), laps (15 minutes), home.


There were no remaining members of the 1946 Premiership side, what was the average age of the 1952 side?


Only a guess, 23 to 24 years old.


What do you remember of the season itself and was there a feeling of invincibility as it progressed?


Keith and let's not forget Jack Wunhym and Les Waller, they were always there telling us the Premiership was ours for the taking. Looking back the Redan Football Club was ahead of its time, very well organised. 


Who were some of your toughest opponents in the ruck that season and opposition players in general who impressed you most?


Forgotten their names. Tom Brudenall (East) and Ruckman from Geelong West hard to beat.


Can you recall whether the discussion of going through the season undefeated came up from within the club much that season and what was the narrowest victory?


Looking back we only narrowly won the Grand Final. It was difficult to keep winning week after week. Keith Rawle's great experience was paramount.


You took on Ballarat in the Grand Final at a packed Eastern Oval. What are your memories of the day, the game itself and the celebrations thereafter?


The crowd heckled us but once again the talent won over. Celebrations for me were two glasses of beer and home to bed.


Following your brief time with Redan, you then moved to Warracknabeal. Take us through your time there and then later in Stawell.


I returned to Warrack in 1953 to play with my brother Keith. Max Currie from Richmond was coach. Ken Smale was Full Forward (later to Collingwood). We won the Premiership against Minyip.


Were you fortunate to play with your brothers Keith and Redan U/18 Premiership Player Ken at some point during your career and tell us about their time in football?


I didn't play with Ken, he was five years younger.


Have you been involved with football since your playing days?


I was principal of the school at Bright. Coached the Junior team. Am a Life Member of the Bright FC as is my wife.


Where are you based these days and do you have you had much contact over the years with some of your 1952 teammates?


We live in Highton, Geelong. I see Les Borrack occasionally and played bowls with Claude Howard (now deceased).


What have you made of the many highs and lows of the Redan FNC over the past half century?


I follow Redan's highs and lows in the newspaper.


As a teacher yourself, can you understand why there are not more teachers coaching at AFL level?


Good question.


What advice would you have for the boys and girls starting their football and netball careers with Redan?


Discipline - Discipline. The rest will take care of itself.


Bit of trivia


As Ballarat Teacher's College we had qualified to play Geelong, Bendigo and Toorak Teacher's College in July 1952. Our Phys Ed Lecturer at BTC hadn't played Australian Rules. He said to me would you Captain/Coach the Ballarat team. I was rather shocked but agreed. He said you at 19 are playing senior football with Redan.


We had to play Toorak TC in the Grand Final. I was Captain and Neil Roberts was Toorak Captain. We won by nine points. Neil said he never forgot that game.

Brother and North Melbourne player Ken Fyffe played some games with the Redan Under 18's.


1952 - Redan Premiers and Champions

Keith Rawle addresses the side.

Allan's letter 2016

William 'Bomber' Wells

Bill Ebery

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