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Bill Ebery - My Redan Story


August 2016



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


The War finished in 1945, all football had been abandoned. I had no experience in football until I tried myself at Smeaton. In 1947 Stan McKenzie who played with Redan came as coach for Smeaton. 


He thought I may make the grade at Redan. I played on permit with Redan against Geelong West and later that year against Maryborough. 


I applied for a transfer to Redan, Smeaton refused the application but I won the appeal.


Tell us about the decision to leave Smeaton, your trial with Maryborough and practice matches with Redan before choosing the maroon and gold.


I had reservations about transferring but I was very relaxed after playing with Redan. In 1947 Maryborough invited me to train on a Thursday but was told I could try again next year.


Describe the Redan Football Club during the late 1940s.


My understanding was all personnel bar the coach were volunteers. A number of players played on permit from outside clubs. Jack Wunhym was the only non-playing Coach. I was unaware that any players were paid. I received four gallons of petrol every week.


The most experienced for massage was Val Stewart. He had a number of sprinters in his 'stable'.


Tell us a little about Eric Dalton, Steve Bayly, Les Waller and their impact on the club.


These three members were the backbone of the club and were great contributors to the club.


Eric Dalton played on the half forward flank and would ask me to punch it front to run onto.


Steve Bayly was tremendous committee man. Nice disposition, shining example of what a committee man should be like.


Les Waller was a brick, I got the impression he helped club the financially. I feel he might have helped with our trip to Adelaide one season.


You joined Redan in 1948 and managed to win the club best and fairest in your first four seasons. Were all five seasons played in the ruck and what was the key to your consistency?  How tall were you?


1948 was my first full year at Redan, in 1947 I played two games with Redan on permit against Geelong West at West and Maryborough at Maryborough.


Mainly in the ruck but occasionally Centre Half Forward or Full Back. I remember Ken Dunbar from The Courier comment after a match in 1949 that I'd been dominant in ruck and CHF.


I was six foot.


How many of the 1946 Premiership side were still with the club in 1947 and how many took up coaching positions elsewhere?


Jack Youens and Eric Waller coached other clubs in 1948.


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?


As Keith was only 24 years old, his standard was good and fitted into the side with enthusiasm. He was Captain of the Essendon Cricket Side before he came up.  He was getting close to making the Australian Test side.


He received 12 pounds a year for coaching - payment commenced six weeks before the start of the season and finished the last game of the season. 


We (Anne and I) became close friends with Berryl, Keith and the family.


Bill ‘Bomber’ Wells dominated the league kicking 73 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. Which AFL player of the past thirty years would most resemble his build and playing style?


Bomber was about 5ft 10 or 11. Strong build, used his body to the utmost value and excellent, accurate kick. Was a first touch and seldom went to ground.


He coached Maryborough before he came to us. It is well known when the football went into the lake (at Maryborough) he went out to retrieve it. 


He kicked nine goals against the Bendigo side.


A bit like a shorter Jason Dunstall.


In our conversation you mentioned you would like to share some stories regarding Len Templar and Frank Murphy?


Both of the players were respected members of the club. Frank telling poems and Templar on how to gain the ascendency - an elbow into the ribs.


What do you remember of the footy trip to Tasmania in 1949?


Went over in a DC 3 to Hobart for a weekend. Some us tried for the first time ice skating.


Tell us about your experience playing with Fitzroy in a practice match in 1949 and meeting with the Legendary Coach Norm Smith and your trial with Geelong.


I played a practice match in Geelong in 1948 with limited success. I signed a Form Four which tied you to the club. Bob Davis went down the same year and three pound a match was his payment.


I didn't pursue Geelong any further.


Norm Smith and the President of Fitzroy visited my home the same year but I was tied to Geelong.


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


Circuit work and ball handling was paramount each week. He tried to instil forwards practicing against the defenders as they were doing at Essendon. Not the same individual coaching as today.


I practiced skill such opposite foot at home. Our boots were a lot heavier than today's which are more like running shoes.


Take us through a typical training week and was all your training at the Western Oval in those days?


We trained at the City Oval all the time I was at Redan, I only trained at Ballarat (I was living in Campbelltown) on Thursday night. As I did a lot of physical work at home I only did sharper work at Redan and spent a lot of time ball handling etc at home.


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


I would have thought that the age would have been the middle twenties.


What do you remember of season 1952 itself and was there a feeling of invincibility as it progressed?


As our success had been limited, we were determined to succeed. 


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?


No I cannot recall either.


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?


We lost the toss and kicked into the wind. We led and quarter time and half time and I felt I was going fairly well and so was the club.


I got a knee in the middle which took me a time to recover and wasn't as effective after. 


Keith and Berryl and Anne and I went to dinner with other players but we were tired we went home probably early.


What made that side so dominant and which players had their best ever seasons with the club?


We had an influx of quality players - Les Borrack, Len Templar, Max Spittle, Bomber Wells, Bob Splatt, Dinny Murphy and Claude Howard.


In 1953 the club finished minor premiers losing only one game to Ballarat by one point, defeated an Essendon side minus only John Coleman in a practice match and you played your 100th game for Redan. Golden Point however defeat Redan in the Grand Final by 35 points. Did the side lose many players following 1952 and what are your recollections of season 1953?


We were very disappointed - we gained Harrold and Chris Lambert from Essendon and Graham Willey. I had an annoying groin injury and I couldn’t get rid of it. But we should have won, but the determination wasn't there.


We played and beat Essendon in Ballarat in 1953 when we both had the bye during the finals. Bill Hutchinson said first time they had lost outside of Melbourne.


Who were the top five players you played with at Redan, your toughest opponent, the tallest ruckmen and best player you saw playing the BFL?


East Ballarat had two players 6ft 4, but I could break evens. The majority of the ruckmen were 6ft 2, no more.


Graham Willey, Bomber Wells, Les Borrack, Stan Webb and Keith Rawle were the best five at Redan.


Graham Willey arrived at Redan looking for a game. He was studying metallurgy at the School of Mines and went on to play Full Forward at Essendon.


The toughest opponent would be Lance Collins from Golden Point. A centre player for East Ballarat was one of the classiest players - I forget his name (Roach?), he would have walked into any League side.


Following your brief time with Redan, you then moved to Carisbrook to coach. Take us through your time there and any involvement in football in later years.


I coached Carisbrook for three years - Premiers the first year. Runners up second year. First and Third years I won the League Best and Fairest while Keith Fyffe won in the middle year.


Coached the Under 18s at Newstead, President of Newstead - followed our son Rob with Castlemaine until he injured his shoulder.


Tell us about the day you played against John Nichols and could you see that he was about to become a champion ruckman in the VFL with Carlton?


John was only 17 years old and went to Carlton the following year. Showed a lot of promise.


Have you been involved with football since your playing days?


After coaching and President of Newstead, I entered State Politics in 1973 to 1985 as the Member for Midlands. I was also involved with the Extended Care Hospital at Castlemaine as a committee member. 


After Politics I became a member of the Acute Hospital in Castlemaine where the two hospitals amalgamated and was President for two years.


Where are you living these days and have you kept in touch with many of your Redan teammates over the years?


Ten year ago Anne and I retired to Castlemaine to a two-bedroom unit. Six years ago Anne was diagnosed with Dementia. I have been her carer until she went to Castlemaine Health two years ago, she died in January aged 91.


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


Redan was a big part of my early life and will be ever grateful to the friendships I made there. I always check the games Redan plays in the paper on the Mondays.


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


Never forget the many people who volunteer their time to create the climate for you to prosper. Enjoy your development, it is up to you.

With Keith Rawle right and Herb Packham front.

1951 - Back row, third from left.

Four consecutive Dalton/Bayly Medals 1948-1951

Bill 'Bomber' Wells

Austin Spiers (President), M.Borrack with hat, Bill Ebery - Presentation 100 games in 1953.

1952 Premiers and Champions

Bill Ebery, Max Lyle, Len Templar, Bill Chaplin - Tasmania trip 1949.

Ballarat Combined side 1953 featuring Graeme Willey, Bill Ebery, Val Stewart, Les Borrack, Bill 'Bomber' Wells, Keith Rawle, Claude Howard, Len Templar from Redan.

1949 winner of the The Courier medal for the league's best player.

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