Past & Present Players’ & Officials’ Association Ltd
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 Melbourne Football Club team players,

Memories of Tony Anderson

Tony played 75 games for the Demons during the club’s finest years of 1955 to 65.  Included in these games was the 1964 Premiership team.

Tony’s first game was against the ‘Tigers’ in 1963, round four.

The following year he was chosen to represent Victoria, an early indication of his prowess. He continued playing with the Dees till a persistent knee injury after three games in the 1969 season forced his retirement.

Aggressive when needed on the field, a fun-loving personality off,

Players enter the realms of the football arena during their formative years. Some at eighteen-ish, others into their twenties. They have their own personality that adds to the camaraderie in the club and contributes to its success.

Time only diminishes the contributors ………..

Tony and friend and teammate ‘Doc’ Roet

Tony’s friend Doc Roet sent this from London.

I was a G.P in East St.Kilda and learned hypnotherapy (which is my work now).

Tony rang me to ask if I could help one of his team ( he was coaching the Old Melbournians in the amateur league) who had been playing very well, but due to romantic problems had completely gone off form.

He asked if hypnosis would help him out of his emotional difficulties.

I said I would try, and the footballer came to see me on a rainy Saturday before a match.

We discussed his difficulties and I asked him to lie on the couch and I put him into a trance. I then asked him to go through all the games when he had played well.

He lay there for about fifteen minutes, talking like a radio commentator, describing in excited tones all the games in a ball to ball description where he had played very well–every pass, every mark, and every goal.

When he came out of the trance, he said he was full of energy, confidence and excitement about the game that afternoon.

“I am going to be best on the ground” was one of his comments.

I drove him to the Old Melbournians’ ground, and said I was going home for lunch and would come back and see how he was getting on.

I had my lunch and drove back to the ground.

I stood on the sideline peering out through the rain, but I could not see him. I assumed he must have been injured and taken off.

I walked round to where Tony was shouting orders to the players and asked him “Where is the chap I saw this morning? Is he injured?”

Tony replied very loudly and sarcastically–“Injured! Bloody injured!! I wish he was!”

“He was playing like a dummy. Didn’t get a kick. He just stood in the middle watching the game.”

I sent a runner out to take him off, and he said, “You can’t take me off – I am the best on the ground!!”

“I DID take him off, even though he kept repeating the nonsense that he was best on the ground.”

“You and your bloody hypnosis!!”

When Tony and I were having dinner together a couple of weeks later, I asked him if he had any more players who could benefit from my skills?

Unfortunately, the censors will not allow me to repeat his reply!! 

Barrie Vagg, one of our great half forward flankers, mentioned this in passing. Couldn’t get away doing this today, but I have heard of other HF flankers and HB flankers doing it. Kept very hush hush, must be their devious nature!

To quote..”funny you should mention that as I brought up what I heard, Geoff Turnbridge, the other HF flanker and Ian Thorogood agreeing to ‘wax’ during one if not all of our pre-season four practice matches, blue jumpers versus red jumpers, “Tony suggested that to me as we were pitted against each other one Saturday. I sort of agreed, no sense in busting each other.”

My memory is not only of him being a dashing and attacking half back player….represented Victoria  at some stage….but best memory for me was his lovely deep voice.

I think he had a perfect voice for radio……talk back….overview or even in the classical music area singing opera or arias with a lovely bass or bass baritone voice.

Not that this probably ever entered his mind but would not have surprised me if ever it came to be.

Franky Davis, who was our other HBF after Geoff Case and Thurra and went on to captain Melbourne in subsequent years.

Tony Anderson was a half back flanker, who loved to run with the ball. He had great pace and determination. The incident he is best remembered for is in the in the dying minutes of the 1964 Grand Final, chasing Ray Gabelich to try and stop him kicking the goal that put Collingwood in front. Tony could not catch him but Froggy came to our assistance and kicked one from the centre to win it for us.

Two other memories I have of Tony, one was his cowboy effort at Marysville during a break in the ‘65 season, when he hired a horse and went for a ride but his horse came back without him. His fall led to him getting tetanus and a short stay in hospital.

The other one occurred at the South Melbourne Football ground in a game in season ‘65 when the half back line of Anderson, Roet and Davis could not stop the Swans’ half forward line of Papley, John and Sarich, everything we tried had no impact, and needless to say one Norman Smith was not pleased with our efforts and certainly let us know about it. Tony, in his strong booming voice, stepped forward and told Norm we just had an off day.

John Lord’s memories of Tony.

As well as the memory of Tony being a very strong, reliable straight ahead player on the half back flank for quite a few years after joining us from Melbourne Grammar amateur team, I have vivid memories of him going flat chat after Ray Gabelich as Ray ran towards goal during the final minutes of the 1964 grand final, Ray running and bouncing the ball which seemed to bounce every which way when ‘Gabbo’ bounced it; he probably ran 50 or so yards, he also managed to gather the ball in and kicked the goal from the square which looked like it won the Grand Final for Collingwood. Watching ‘Gabbo’s” run could have been comical except it was then serious. Tony would have beaten ‘Gabbo’ in a straight hundred-yard dash anytime but at that moment, ‘Gabbo’ seemed to get an extra dash of speed and was unstoppable.

I guess to the relief of every Melbourne player and supporter, Neil ‘Frog’ Crompton did kick the saving goal after that incident, and we did win.

The other incident I recall of Tony was that in 1965 we had a weekend away mid-season at Marysville. It was a good fun weekend highlighted by Tony and a couple of guys getting some for-hire horses to go for a ride surrounding the guest house. After a while Tony and his horse appeared heading back home, I guess for the horse anyhow. Tony appeared to have lost control of the horse and could be seen to be a bit lacking in any “High Ho Silver impersonation”.

Tony and horse disappeared behind some trees, the horse re-appeared, minus Tony. Tony had either dismounted, or the horse had dismounted him, we never saw, nor did we ever hear but for the consequences.

Tony must have got some abrasion in his dismounting, for at the following weekend game Tony was stripped to his footy gear when he was sent to the medical room prior to the game and it turned out he had an infection from the fall and had tetanus, a problem that meant he had to be admitted to hospital, kept in isolation and in silence.

Tony took it in his stride though his absence was noted. We had to play a few games without him but fortunately he recovered and played for quite a few seasons onwards. A valued team player.

Ron Barassi’s memories of Tony Anderson

When he started at the Club in 1963, we saw Tony as a successor on the half-back line to the great Don Williams who had left the Demons for a few seasons. Like Don, Tony was a dashing player as well as being tough, reliable, versatile, skilful, and fast.

Tony was a goer and incredibly determined. As a defender he played on smaller forwards and would also take on the big ones. However, he might have been glad he wasn’t able to run down Ray Gabelich in that famous chase in the desperate last minutes of the 1964 grand final. It would have been like tackling the incredible hulk. (A bit like a dog chasing a car: what are you going to do if you catch it?)

Later, during the years after football, I enjoyed Tony’s affable and eloquent good company on many occasions. He is sadly missed as a teammate for life.

From Ray Groom

Tony was a great friend during my time at the club. I was riding a horse awfully close to his up at Marysville when he fell onto the roadway. His legs were badly grazed. He developed Tetanus a couple of days later.

It was a very serious illness. I remember Norm not being too happy with Tony, he thought he was exaggerating his condition. He sure was not! He finished up in intensive care.

Tony took me for a few spins in his sports car. I think it was a Volvo. Very flash. He was a bit of a speedster as he was on the field. On one occasion he was stopped by a copper but smoothly talked his way out of it!

A great bloke sadly missed!

From Barry Bourke

In 12 years at the club I did not see a more courageous player, we saw that many many times. Tony as we know started in 1963, playing 14 games and 7 games later in 64 represented Victoria after a total of 21 and played in a premiership team. Sometimes we forget just how good a player he was. BB.