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Interviews Rugby League

int13 - Interview with the man himself Noel KELLY, The Magpies Legend. by Tony Lewis of www.noelkellyskids.info

Posted by... quigs eraofthebiff - on ... Saturday, June 02, 2012


From Tony Lewis off
Kelly's Kids
a tribute site to the Mighty Maggies during Noel Kellys years




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Interview with the man himself Noel KELLY, The Magpies Legend

Visit Tony's website for a great read and memories of the Mighty Old Magpies. Click image above




It was my great honour to interview Noel Kelly at his home at Collaroy with my mate and fellow West's supporter Steve Lothian.

Steve came with me to video the interview.

To be truthful we were both a little nervous to be meeting Noel Kelly, our boyhood football hero.

Steve and I agree that Noel Kelly was the greatest player ever to wear the famous black and white football jumper.

Noel met us at the front door and showed us through to the back patio where we carried out the interview. Noel made us feel very welcome and our nerves soon disappeared.

Over the years that Kelly's Kids web site has been running, I have received many emails asking me questions about Noel and his time at West's so I asked him some of these questions to "break the ice" at the interview.

One such game was from "Magpie Mal." It concerned the game West's v Newtown in 1966 at the old Sydney Sports Ground.

Even as a kid, Mal has always wanted to know why West's played so well and won that game even though two of their players had been sent off. "Funny thing," said Noel "One of the players sent off was me and the other Alan Allison."

Noel remembered saying to Big Dennis Meaney as Noel trudged towards the dressing room " Get stuck into them and we can still win this…."

The final score was West's 16 Newtown 15.

Noel believes this was the game when Big Denis Meaney came of age as a player.

(left) Big Dennis Meaney with Ned

I asked Noel which was his favourite ground??

"Easy." said Noel. "The Sydney Cricket Ground followed by Pratten Park."

Noel was not a supporter of the move by West's from Pratten Park to Lidcombe Oval in 1967. "

Pratten was a real Home ground all the people from Ashfield would come along and support their team, West's".

Noel loved the way the crowds were so close at Pratten Park he said "a ground with a hill all round."

It was during this time that every dog or cat in Ashfield was names after Noel or Peter Dimond.

Speaking of Pratten Park (left: old Pratten Park Stand and Dressing Sheds) and Lidcombe Oval if you have a favourite ground between these two please email me ( link at bottom of page) and tell me which one and why. Maybe you have some old photos of these grounds please let me know.

I then asked Noel "Which West's player from the Kelly's Kids era was the best?"

Without thinking he said "John Elford".

Noel then told us about a game at the old Belmore Oval when "Snoozer" Elford scored a try against Canterbury -Bankstown.

Noel said Snoozer beat the whole Canterbury team using his famous running fend.

Snoozer of course was a huge tackler.
(see pic left)

Noel also had big wraps on Tony Ford and Mick Alchin.

Tony Ford (above) Mick Alchin (right)

I asked Noel about the referees of that time compared to now

"Before my move to West's in 1961 my old Brothers coach Dan Dempsey said that there were 2 referees in Sydney to watch out for one was a cheat the other never smiled."

"Col Pearce was the one who never smiled and I will let you work out the other one".

"Col Pearce was a wonderful referee and a wonderful man but he never smiled."

Noel thought that today's refs are coaching the players calling them by their first names telling the players when the ball is out of the scrum etc.

Noel you were sent off 11 times during your 9 seasons with West's. Did the Sydney refs have it in for you?

"Yes and no," Noel Replied" " Four send offs were for scrum breaches and 1 was for swearing at a touch judge.

I played the game hard, and I played for keeps".

" Retaliate first. That's what I told my young Magpies".

"This is a question from the past, Noel. Can you tell me what happened to Glen Brown?" "He was a very good second rower from Queensland. I think he joined the army"

Just for the record Glen played 3 first grade games in 1966 plus he played in a Combined Services match with Barry Bryant in 1966.

If anyone has any news on Glen please email me and I will be happy to add the info to this story.

"Noel did you have much to do with Jack Gibson?" Noels reply. "Well Jack played 2 years with West's 1963 and 1964. We were in the front row together for many games and we became good mates both on and off the field. He nickname for me was "Snoz" . Jack would always have a BBQ at his place or at Gunnamatta Park at Cronulla for all of the West's boys. To me Jack is a great bloke" Noel told Steve and I some funny stories about himself and Jack. Due to the fact that Ned and Gibbo are still with us they will remain in the Cone Of Silence. All I will say is "Jack did Ned ever pay for that boat??"

At the end of his Sydney career and at the age of 34, Noel told us he made the biggest mistake of his football career he signed to play captain-coach for Wollongong for the 1970 season. Noel told us of the first training session. " All the players turned up for the first nights training session and I asked the committee men for the training balls. They had none. The only ball they had was a cheap plastic one that could be bought from Coles. I should of quite then and there."

Just for the record Noel played 115 First Grade games for West's (1961-1969) and scored 6 tries. He played 6 games for Queensland (1959 - 1960) scoring 1 try. 5 games for New South Wales (1963-64 and 1966-1967) scoring 1 try.

25 Tests (1959-60, 1963-64 and 1966-1968) scoring 2 tries. Noel was the first hooker/prop forward to make three Kangaroo tours (1959,1963 and 1967)

In the last few years Noel has become a committee man of a charity call Men Of League. This charity has been set up to help old Rugby League players who need a helping hand. Noel gives of his time, as do many other Rugby League greats helping to raise money for old footballers who are not travelling so well. Men of League has a website and if you would like to become a supporter of the Men of League for $10 just click onto this website link to join. www.menofleague.com

For your one off payment of $10 you get personal ID keyring, bi monthly magazine (for old frontrowers this means one every 2 months) and a good feeling of helping an old footballer that once you cheered for.

Ned and Tony

Unfortunately it was time to go. The two hours had gone very quickly.

For Steve and I the interview is a memory that will live with as forever.

We had only scratched the surface of Noels life in those two hours.

For more detailed information about his life I can recommend a great book called "HARDMAN A Life in Football".

This book tells the full story warts and all from 1936 until 1996.

You can find it in most second-hand bookshops.

Buy it, read it, then you will know the real Noel "Ned" Kelly……a Hardman.

Steve and Ned

Thanks to Noels wife Chris for the coffee and biscuits and Ned thanks for giving us so much of your time but most of all thanks so much for the years you played for West's.

Steve and Ned


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To email Tony,click on the link

THANKS FOR THE INTERVIEW TONY......... "Quigs @ Era of the Biff"
Visit Tony's website for a great read and memories of the Mighty Old Magpies.
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