Jack Dean – Contender for the NSW Australian Football Hall of Fame
Australian Football celebrates its 140th anniversary in NSW this year after the founding of the NSW Australia Football Association in Sydney in 1880. One hundred and forty coaches, players, umpires, administrators and media personalities from both the Elite (VFL/AFL) and Community level will be inducted into the inaugural Hall of Fame at an event to be confirmed later in the year.
Neil Cordy and Rod Gillett profile the nominees for the Hall of Fame:
In the 1949 interstate match between NSW and Victoria at the SCG nineteen-year-old East Sydney ruckman Jack Dean went up against veteran Victorian captain and legendary Richmond icon Jack Dyer at the opening bounce.
“He sat me on my arse!”
“The Vics. cleaned us up that day, but it was a great thrill to play against them” recalled Jack in an interview at the Alexandria Hotel in 2009.
“We thought we were a chance, our coach Frank Dixon (later Deputy Lord Mayor of Sydney) was a great motivator and we trained for weeks in advance with a view to beating them” he added.
Born and bred in Paddington, Jack went down to Trumper Park with his brother Mal in 1944. His father Joe had also played for East Sydney, as did Jack’s son, Marshall. Thus Jack Dean began a distinguished football career that took in over 400 games in NSW until he retired in 1966.
He played 310 games for Easts, 45 for Sydney Naval, and 40 games for Ardelthan.
Jack also represented NSW on 25 occasions including the Australian National Football Council (ANFC) Centenary Carnival in Melbourne in 1958 where he was voted the State’s best player.
He was a star performer in five of Easts’ flags in this period when the club won a staggering seven premierships in a row under legendary coaches Alf Penno and Roy Hayes from 1953-59.
Following his stand-out performance at the 1958 carnival Jack took up an offer to coach Ardlethan in the South-West League in southern NSW.
“We struggled to match it with the clubs from the bigger places, but we always took it up to them. We had lots of good times afterwards particularly at the London (Ardlethan’s only pub). After 6 o’clock the publican would pull down the blinds and we’d have a great sing-along around the piano. The other clubs used to love to stay back after a game at Ardelthan!”
Following his return from the bush Jack spent a season coaching Easts; he crossed to Sydney Naval, where he played until he retired in 1966 including the 1962 premiership.
He won East Sydney’s best and fairest four times and was runner-up on four occasions.
After his retirement, Jack returned to Easts on the committee and assumed the presidency in 1970 and held the position until 1982 during which time the Bulldogs won six premierships including the much-vaunted club centenary flag in 1980.
Jack was a long-serving State team selector and served as chairman of selectors for former St Kilda and Hawthorn premiership coach, Alan Jeans, in 1979-1980, when NSW competed in the national pre-season competition against VFL clubs.
The best and fairest medal at UNSW-Eastern Suburbs is named in his honour. He is a life member of the club. He was awarded an ANFC Merit Award in 1977.
Jack was one of the first players inducted into the AFL Sydney Hall of Fame in 2003.
This induction earnt him a nomination under the category of Community Player for the New South Wales Australian Football Hall of Fame.
Neil Cordy played 235 VFL/AFL games with Footscray and the Sydney Swans. After his AFL career Neil coached and played for East Sydney. He worked for Network Ten for 15 years as a reporter/presenter and on their AFL coverage. He was the AFL Editor for the Daily Telegraph from 2011 to 2018 and is currently a member part of ABC Grandstand’s AFL broadcast team.
Rod Gillett has written extensively about the game in NSW for country newspapers, the Sun-Herald, Inside Football and other publications. He has also had chapters published in the Footy Almanac and Footy Town. Rod was a member of the selection panel for the NSW Greatest Team in 2019 and is currently a member of the AFL NSW Hall of Fame selection committee.