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Frank Murphy - My Redan Story

May 2017

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


In Eureka Street Ballarat East. I played with St Alipius Football team in the YCW competition in 1945-47. I played in the Under 18s on Saturday and in the Under 16s on the Sunday. We won the Premiership in the Under 16s in 1945, 46 and 47.

Where did you play your junior football and who some of the players that went on to have success at senior level and were you fortunate to play in a premiership?


In 1948 the YCW League disbanded and they put teams in the Under 16s, Under 18s and B grade. I played one year in the Under 18s, then the next year East Ballarat Football Club wanted me to play with them. I stayed there from 1949 to 1951. 

Col Dodd was my best teammate. Bernard Nolan who played with St Patrick's in the YCW went to play with East Ballarat. The both played inter city football.

Who or what was it that saw you chose to play with Redan?

Stan Hogg who played with Redan in 1951 had bought the Australia Felix Hotel in Eureka Street and he wanted a clearance to East Ballarat so we were swapped. 

From the first run with Redan I felt at home. Most of the players were about my age (I was aged 20 years).

Describe the Redan Football Club during the 1950s.


It was a fantastic atmosphere. Most of the players were early twenties or younger and we all wanted to play football. Keith Rawle wasn't much older than most of the players.

We had a great committee, Austin Spears, Jack Dunstan and many others whose names I have forgotten. We had a great training staff. The committee ran fundraising nights which we all enjoyed. The whole atmosphere was one big happy family.

What do you remember of 1952 season, did Keith Rawle or the players draw attention to going undefeated during the season and what was the narrowest victory?

No we took one game at a time. I think we were all surprised when we kept winning. It wasn't until half way through the season that were a good side. I don't recall out narrowest victory. 

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

I had the honour of minding Percy Hunt the Captain and Coach of Ballarat. He had been best on ground the week before when they beat Golden Point. I had seven or eight years Percy, I was a stone heavier and I could run faster than him. 

Keith told me to play close to him and it worked, I was Redan's fourth best player. 

The committee hired the drill hall (now Dan Murphys), the place was packed. Redan won the seniors, seconds and the Under 18s.

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


More than half the side were aged under 22 years. We all loved to play and we all played so well as a team. If I got into trouble, Claude Howard or Max Spitlle were there to help. The whole team had great seasons.

Names Les Borrack, Len Templer, Keith Rawle, Dinny Murphy, Bill Ebery, Jack Papworth, Max Lyle, Bomber Wells, Claude Howard, Max Spittle, Herbie Packham, Bob Splatt, Max Haymes, Fergie Borrack, Dick McLeod and myself.

In 1953 the club finished minor premiers losing only one game to Ballarat by one point, Golden Point however defeated 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 lost Les Borrack, Claude Howard, Dick McLeod, Doug Dench, all major postion players. We started the season on a high. We went on our winning way until Ballarat beat us on the Eastern Oval. We had won 24 straight in 1952/53. Redan, Ballarat and Golden Point all had very good sides.

In the 1953 Grand Final some of our players played their best. I was one of those players and did things that day that I would never do in a match and then some of the Point players played above themselves.

Tell us about the game Redan played against Essendon at St Pat’s Oval in the lead up to the finals in 1953 and who was your opponent?

There was a huge crowd. It was a very enjoyable match. I can't remember who I played on.

Tell us about your role to help promote the 1956 Melbourne Olympics?

Henry Bolte gave a letter of introduction to the Victorian Agent General in London. When we contacted him at Australia House London we suggested to him that he may be able to advertise the games on our trip. He agreed and he had the Olympic logo printed on the engine cowling and supplied us with a box of Olympic pamphlets which we distributed along the way.

You also played in a Reserves Premiership with Redan that year alongside Captain Coach and 1952 teammate Max Lyle and many other Redan greats. What do you recall of that victory and some of your teammates who stood up that day?

When I returned from England I didn't play enough games in the seniors so I was picked to play in the seconds Grand Final. We had a great side with quite a few seniors in it.

We played Maryborough. The first half everything went wrong. At half time the coach Max Lyle made a few changes and we won easily.

In his My Redan Story, Bill Ebery referred to your reading of poems. Can you shed some light on this?

Val Stewart our head trainer when he had a few beers would stand on a chair and recite 'Murphy's Brindle Cow'.


In the 80s Charlie Eltringham went to Queensland each winter. He ran into Northey and he asked Charlie if he knew anyone with a copy of Murphy's Brindle Cow. Charlie ask me and obtained a copy from the library. With our 50s reunion coming up I thought it may be a good remembrance to Val Stewart who who had passed on by this time.

I learnt the poem and recited it at our anniversary. I learnt to recite when I was at primary school and this instance remembered by love of poetry. 

Who were the best five players you played with at Redan and you could give a brief description on each?

Graham Willey - easily the best player I played with.

Les Borrack - the best kick I played with and also the most inventive.

Dinny Murphy - the most courageous small man I know.

Claude Howard - it was a pleasure to play beside Claude, if you got into trouble you knew Claude was close handy. 

Bill Ebery - In 1952 we had 20 players with the work ethic of Bill and that is why we were champions.

Who was your toughest opponent in the BFL?

I loved to play against Ballarat. You knew you were in for a hard match but there was no nasty incidents in their play. Perc Hunt and Auther Plamer (Golden Point).

Tell us about Keith Rawle who coached the 1952 side and what you felt his strengths were. Can you recall much of his game plan, coaching methods and favourite sayings?

I can't remember Keith's game plan. He was alway helpful in his comments. He was a coach who did not have to rev you up, because he gave his best and so it was easy for you to give your best.

In addition to the premierships, what are some of your other greatest highlights and memories with Redan and greatest wins you were a part of?


Half way through the 1952 season. We were playing Point and during the last quarter they looked like beating us. Keith made a few changes and we won the day.

How would you describe yourself as a footballer and did you play all of your football off a half back flank?

I did. I was a poor kick. I had better than average pace. I weighed 12 stone 12 and Clete Waller described my method of playing as fearless. Clete Waller was a legend of Redan in the 1940s.

In Fred Carpenter’s interview he discussed the Rabbit drives the club did to help survive in the 1950s. Do you recall any of these and any other fundraising initiatives during this period?

I do with all the Redan sides and their committees, we had great times.

Who were some of the officials who were central to the club’s success during your time at Redan?

Austin Spiers, Bill Dunstan, the chairman (I forget his name) and the whole group that gave their all for the RFC. I realised in 1952 if you want to win the flag you had to have a champion committee.


Have you witnessed any of the Grand Finals in the late 1970s and early 2000s and do you think it’s possible to compare sides from different eras?


Only the 1975 Grand Final when Doc Hepper kicked the winning goal.


Where are you based these days and do you still get along to see some Redan games? Which of your 1952 teammates have you had the most involvement with over the years?

Dinny Murphy, Len Templar, Charles Eltringham, Fred and Bob Carpenter, Graham Willey, Max Lyle and Les Borrack.

2016 re-union of 1952 side.
Frank Murphy left
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