Ray Murphy - My Redan Story
What are some of your earliest football memories growing up in Dunnstown?
School: St Brendan’s Primary School, Dunnstown. We would play St Michaels School Bungaree in what could be a no holds barred contest. Dunnstown itself consisted of The Corio Distillery, Grocery Shop, Post Office, Shamrock Hotel, Olive Branch Hotel, Quarry, Railway Station and the Catholic Primary School.
Now remaining: Shamrock Hotel, Water Bottling Plant, Primary School and two large quarries, and of course, general farming.
No recreation reserve in those years. Indeed, Dunnstown never had an area set aside for a recreation reserve. The community bought land, vested it in the Buninyong Shire, and with a lot of self help and a lot of our own money, we now have a rec reserve and facilities that are excellent. Football clubs in those country towns were of one team e.g. no reserves, no juniors. Today we field seniors, reserves, U18, U16 and U12 teams.
You played open aged football at 15 and were part of a senior premiership at the age of 17. How well did that prepare you for your later career in the BFL and then VFL?
I first played open age football with Dunnstown at the age of 15 years. I played in the Dunnstown premiership in 1952 aged 17.
Being used to the country way of life and working on the family farm, I really had not given much thought to playing at the higher level, until Lance Collins (Golden Point coach) took an interest in me. Also, I didn’t think I had the ability to play BFL.
I was fairly light framed, and playing open age I realised the need to strengthen myself physically. Redan training was much more intense to what I’d been used to. Playing with Redan and a couple of years of BFL combined teams - all that was good preparation for VFL football. In my first year at Redan I was selected to play in BFL 1955 combined team. In 1956 I also represented BFL in their first ever Vic Country Championship whilst at Redan.
Can you tell us about Steve Bayly and how you came to become a Redan player in 1954?
Mr Bayly (through my cousin Frank Murphy) came out to my fathers’ home to see if I may be interested to join Redan. In Mr Bayly's words, He said “he was inviting me to an opportunity to play football with Redan”. No pressure to sign any papers.
As he was leaving, he said to me “if you ever come to Redan, understand, it is your privilege to play for Redan, not the other way around.” I always treasured that piece of advice where ever I played football. I wish that philosophy still existed in our game today.
Mr Bayly was a very revered figure at Redan and players always addressed him as Mister Bayly. From his visit to Dunnstown I began playing on permit with Redan in 1954. Indeed, it was my privilege to have played for them.
What are some of your best memories of coach Keith Rawle?
Keith Rawle was a perfectionist. A player of exceptional skills. A coach who could convey his message in a detailed way. Never any sign of anger and absolutely no use of profane language. At training sessions Keith would take any time necessary to improve an individual players skill level.
He took me aside on one such occasion and was going to teach me how to ‘blind turn’. He demonstrated to me to hold the ball in one hand, then to run at him and place my free hand onto his chest, then to turn off him as in a blind turn.
After about four or five attempts to try to perfect this exercise, each time I’d push my hand against Keith’s chest. I always seemed to knock him over. Keith politely said to me, I think we will give this a miss. I had enormous respect for Keith, and whilst he didn’t quite succeed in knocking all the rough edges off me, he continually had a huge influence on my footy career.
Describe yourself as a player.
Bomber Wells (a great Redan full forward) told me I was all elbows and knees. That’s probably an apt description. I was a reasonable strong overhead mark. As a ruckman, I probably played my role fairly well.
I guess I’m in the category of being a poor kick. With my limited ability I managed to represent the BFL in 1955-1956 whilst at Redan, and again in 1963 whilst I was coach of Golden Point and I had the good fortune to play at North Melbourne.
Who were the top five Redan players you played alongside and who was your toughest BFL opponent?
Not necessarily in order:
Keith Rawle – rover or centreman – would never waste a kick. Won Courier award, BFL best and fairest before Henderson medal came in 1954
Les Borrack – could play centre or centre half forward. Best running drop kick I’ve ever seen (played Geelong)
Graham Willey – for a 6 ft 2 player he was beautifully balanced – fine mark. Could play centre half forward or ruck (played Essendon)
Bill McKenzie – a good steady centre half back. Always met the contest. Henderson medallist in 1957.
Fred Carpenter – slightly built yet played full forward at a very young age. Lovely kick for goal. Later played in the centre and was a lovely drop kick pass.
The best BFL opponent I played against was Jim Walton (North Ballarat – Richmond). Was the best country ruck man including those I played against in country league combined teams. Jimmy was strong and tough.
Best country footballer I’ve seen in my playing days was Jim Gull.
You also played in the BFL combined side in 1955/56 and 1963. What were some of the highlights of that experience?
Whilst at Redan I played in a BFL combined team in 1955 and 1956. I also played in BFL combined team in 1963. In 1955 that trip was an enormous experience for myself and I was still 19 years of age.
The team left Ballarat on the Friday, travelled to Wangaratta (stayed there). We played Saturday morning and won. Saturday afternoon Mornington Peninsula played North Central, then we played North Central on Sunday. A similar programme was being played over at Albury, then Ballarat met Ovens Murray at Albury on the Monday. Ovens Murray defeated us on that occasion. We travelled back to Ballarat on the Tuesday - huge experience.
In 1956 we played Bendigo at Bendigo on the Saturday and we met Ovens Murray on the Monday in Final, and Ballarat won the Vic country championship. That team comprised Don Nicholls, John Nicholls, Noel Teasdale, Paul Dodd, Tom Simpson, John Mulrooney, Ray Murphy, who all went onto play VFL league football. In 1963 BFL played Western District league at Coleraine and we won.
What are some of your greatest memories of your time at Redan?
My first game for Redan was on permit as a 19-year-old. We played Geelong West at Geelong. I didn’t play very well. A big Geelong West Ruckman smacked me and knocked me to the ground. It took me a while to gain my bearings. Val Stewart came out and treated me, and he said to me that number 4 was your man – I thought there wouldn’t be any point in me trying to even things up that day.
In 1954 Redan played Maryborough at Maryborough and we were defeated. In 1955 I recall playing Maryborough at the City Oval and the game got a bit willing – Dinny Murphy - Redan and Frank Rinaldi - Maryborough, were reported for fighting.
Wimpy Taylor - Maryborough got reported for charging Gordon Cooper – Redan. I got reported for so called striking Vic Chanter - Maryborough coach. I certainly knocked him down but I never punched him. Dinny got two weeks, Rinaldi three weeks, Taylor four weeks and I was found not guilty.
1955 – we played Geelong West at the City Oval in the semi-final but Geelong West proved they were on their way to becoming a very powerful combination. They went on to win BFL premierships in 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959. In 1956 I had an appendix operation during the season and didn’t play in the last eight games.
You played 20 games with North Melbourne in 1957-58. What were some of the highlights of your VFL career?
In 1957 I joined North Melbourne. As time progressed, I found the trip to Melbourne down that old singular road highway (no freeway) the driving could become quite stressful. The trip would take every bit of 1.5 hours (today 1 hour).
My first game was against Richmond at Richmond. I remember standing alone in those parklands between the MCG and the Richmond ground. It was a holiday Monday, and as I watched thousands of people entering the ground, I began to feel I was in the wrong place.
Just then, Jim Walton (North Ballarat and Richmond) came along and said come into the ground with me and encouraged me to give it my best shot. My main opponent that day was Roy Wright (dual Brownlow medalist) and I must have had a fairly good game as I was fortunate enough to be named in Norths best six players.
The highlight of the year to me was the fact that I played every senior game (18) plus two games in what was the night series. Jack Dyer wrote of me that Murphy was a hard-hitting potato digger from Bungaree who went where angels feared to tread.
Unfortunately, I had a car accident between 1957 and 1958. I played two senior games and because of loss of weight and internal bleeding a specialist doctor advised me to leave football for the remainder of that season. North made the preliminary final in 1958 and I would have dearly loved to have been a part of that.
Who were the best five players you shared a field with at that level?
Allan Aylett. A top rover in VFL circles. A regular in Vic State teams.
John Brady (captain at North in my time). A brilliant player who could play either CHB or CHF. Represented Vic on a number of occasions.
Noel Teasdale – former Daylesford player. Tireless ruckman. Regular Vic State player. Brownlow medallist.
And numerous North Melbourne Best and Fairests.
Brian Martyn – a 6 ft 5 ruckman. Won North Melbourne Best and Fairest in 1957 and represented Vic in 1957
Gerald Eastmure – a fearless rover who was a very good mark on a HFF. Represented Vic in 1957.
Following your North Melbourne days, you came back to coach Golden Point in the BFL. What were some of your greatest highlights there?
In 1959 it was by sheer chance that I became coach of Golden Point. Having not long been married, and, along with my brothers having purchased farm land under heavy mortgage, football was the last thing on my mind.
Jack Daziel – Redan, came out to see me and I told him that I hadn’t done any training and that I wasn’t focused on footy. Ken McKenzie (Courier sports writer) met me in the street and began talking football and questioned me as to what I was going to do football wise. I told him what I had previously told Jack Daziel.
I also told him that North Melbourne had also been in touch with me and were trying their best to re-kindle my interest. Following on that conversation, McKenzie, along with Rex Hollioake, came out to see if I would be interested in coaching Golden Point.
I told Rex that I was still unsure if I could get my fitness level back to meet the demands of a coaching position. Rex said the first consideration for Point was to secure a coach. If in time I managed to play that would be a bonus. Eventually I decided to take on the coaching role and once I started to get a feel for it all I worked hard on my fitness and decided to play.
I remember playing against Redan for the first time at the City Oval. I felt so uncomfortable. The game itself was a real good game of footy. With seconds to go we were five points down. We managed to secure a goal for us to win by a point (our final score 12.2).
During my tenure at Golden Point we seemed to have some transfers of players from time to time, but I do take full responsibility for the fact that we didn’t reach the success that the club deserved.
You were president of the BFL in 1969 and 1970. What were some of your proudest achievements in that role?
I was asked by a number of BFL clubs to stand for a position on The Board of Management of the BFL. I became Vice President of the BFL in 1966 and then became President in 1969-1970.
At one point I organised a day conference with all club presidents and secretaries to be held on a Sunday at Craig's Hotel. There was a lot of ground covered during the day, with the main topic being as to how we were going to get crowds back to BFL football.
Whilst the conference (the first of its kind held) possibly didn’t achieve a great deal, I think it bought the clubs closer together with a realization that the clubs themselves had to take a more positive role in the actual function of the league. Many clubs seemed to agree that we needed to attract bigger name coaches, but that still was not easy to do.
Describe the honour of being names in the Redan Team of the Century and what are your memories of the night itself?
There was a wonderful atmosphere that emanated about the room on that occasion. So well attended and an extremely well-run event.
It was great to catch up with so many people that one hadn’t seen for quite some years. My expectation was that I might make the nomination list of about 50. I certainly didn’t expect to make the actual team. A century of players spans a lot of players.
Two of the players sitting at the same table as myself were Les Borrack and Graeme Willey, and as we made our way to the stage, I felt enormously proud to be part of this whole group. I know there have been clubs who have had team of the century functions only to find a lot of discontent among people who haven’t made the list and that to me is quite understandable.
I guess, for those of us who have made the team, we have our moment of glory. But I also guess we do need to look around us and feel for those players who have given so much but unfortunately haven’t made such a prestigious list.
You attended the 1946 BFL Grand Final won by Redan. Can you recall the game and which players impressed you most?
In 1946 Redan played Maryborough at the Eastern Oval. My two uncles took me to the game. I was 11 years of age. They sat me on a seat in front of the old press box and told me not to move. I don’t think there was any room to move. There were 13,500 people at the game. Even as young as I was, I could still see that their's was a standard of football much better than I had ever seen.
I recall Ernie Coward the Maryborough coach was a very clever player and Ron Branton – Maryborough, also Neil Kane full back Maryborough. But the most impressive player who seemed to do everything with ease was Redan centreman Stan Webb. Eric Dalton and a fellow Waller seemed pretty tough players. I don’t recall the final scores but I remember Redan didn’t start too good.
One of your North Melbourne teammates Bob Wiltshre and you were both national Sheaf Tossing Champions. What can you tell us about those victories?
I remember tossing sheaves at the Royal Melbourne Show in 1955. An old fellow from down Foster (South Gippsland) bought Bob out to the event to see if he might be interested. Bob originally came from Foster and at the time he was on Geelong Football clubs list. He played football with Geelong.
Then in late June of 1957 he transferred to North Melbourne. He spent time at our home learning to toss sheaves. I equalled the then world record in 1958 but it wasn’t long before the big fella topped that. I probably beat him more times than he beat me, for to get it up and over the bar at heights of 50 feet you needed to be fairly accurate. Something I was good at.
Bob on the other hand would get the height but would toss outside of the poles. We both won numerous state and national titles. We recruited him into our Tug of War Team. He as our Anchor man. Strapped in a heavy belt with the rope attached to it, Bob was like a horse.
We won the Victorian Championship in 1962-1963 on HSV7 World of Sport. The first year we beat a team from Wangaratta who had never been beaten in 108 pulls. He was a big fellow Bob, and was surprisingly quick – he could out sprint a lot of footballers.
Have you followed Redan in recent years and which of your teammates have you kept in touch with since your playing days?
Being fairly heavily connected with Country Football and with the Dunnstown Football Club, I haven’t seen a lot of Redan or BFL football since the middle 1970s. I have however seen a number of finals matches and would have seen most grand finals.
In 2010-2011 I had a grandson play with Wendouree. He played in their premiership Team in 2010. Of course, I watched him play against Redan each time during those years. I do keep in contact occasionally with Ian Pym. I did keep fairly close contact with Bill Dunstan, Fred Carpenter, Ted Neville and of course Frank Murphy.
Did you play much football alongside your cousin Frank Murphy?
During 1954 and all of 1955 I would have played with Frank. I’m not sure but I think Frank may have retired at the end of 1955. Frank came from East Ballarat to Redan and always said it was the best move he ever made. Frank is listed among Redan's best players in Redan's premiership championship team of 1952.
CAN YOU GIVE SOME INSIGHT INTO YOUR ROLE IN ESTABLISHING THE CHFL?
I was connected with the Ballarat and Bacchus Marsh League from 1975 to 1978. That league comprised eight teams. In 1975 Sebastopol were directed into the BFL as was Maddingly. The Ballarat and Bacchus Marsh League were forced to play the 1978 season with six teams.
It became obvious that this situation would not remain viable. The Clunes League had ten teams. I, along with John McCarty and Robert Molesworth kept putting pressure on the Vic Country Football League to bring about an amalgamation of the two leagues.
The Clunes League resisted this very strongly. Eventually, our persistence bought about a change that saw the two leagues amalgamated, so, in 1979, The Central Highlands League was formed with 16 teams.
Bacchus Marsh decided to go with Maddingly into the BFL. Korweinguboora folded mid-way through the first year. That left the CHFL with 14 teams. Geoff Taylor became the inaugural president and after seven years I then became president for six years. I’ve always believed that the formation of the CHFL was a real strength to football in the Ballarat region.
What advice do you have for the young girls and boys starting their football careers at Redan?
Be ambitious by all means, but take your expectations step by step. Have respect for your team mates, coaches and administrators, and never underestimate your opponent. Success doesn’t come to lazy people. You will only get out of your sport by how much you are prepared to put into it.
Do you have any other stories you would like to add?
I doubt if I could add much more that all of the above
Played Senior Football Dunnstown Age 15
Played Senior Premiership Dunnstown 1952 Aged 17
Played Redan 1954, 1955, 1956
Represented BFL 1955, 1956, 1963
Played North Melbourne 1957, 1958
Coached Golden Point in 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, and 1964 (only played in 1963). Coached again in 1964.
Board Member BFL
As Vice President 1966, 1967, 1968
President BFL 1969 – 1970
Represented BFL BBML CHFL at Victorian Country Football League
Spent 30 years connected to VCFL
President of CHFL from 1986 for 6 years
Was Vice President of CHFL for 14 years
Life Member of Vic Country FL, Life Member BFL, Life Member CHFL, Life Member Dunnstown FC
Awarded a special service medallion by VCFL
Recipient of Australian Sports Medal