Perhaps more than other player Roy Cazaly symbolises the legend status. He is without doubt the best known name the game has produced. He was one of the oldest recorded players when he retired at age 48 in 1941 after playing for Camberwell (VFA), having played his final senior game in Tasmania for New Town in 1936 aged 43.
Cazaly played in major league football for almost 30 years.
His career spanned four decades, during which he played about 378 senior matches including 198 in the VFL, thirteen State matches for Victoria and five for Tasmania.
Roy Cazaly was born in Albert Park on 13th January 1893. He stood just 5 feet 11 inches (180 cm) and weighed 12 and a half stone. He did not smoke, drink or eat fried food; a fitness fanatic before his time.
He began playing football at Albert Park State School. From there he played at Middle Park Wesleys in the Church competition from 1906 to 1909. Growing tall and lean he was the first choice ruckman.
He started playing league football for St. Kilda in 1911 in a match against Carlton. Cazaly played 99 games for St.Kilda from 1911 to 1920 and was club Best & Fairest in 1918. During his league career his enthusiasm for the game saw him take on numerous coaching roles including Camberwell Juniors, a Wednesday Competition for part of 1918, the† South Melbourne District Wednesday Competition for part of 1919 and the Warnambool Wednesday Competition in 1921.
The Saints 1913 Grand Final team.
Roy Cazaly is fourth from the left in the front row.
At the age of 27, he was voted Champion of the Colony in the 1920 season and also captained the Saints. However at the end of the season and after 99 games with St.Kilda, Cazaly was traded to South Melbourne in 1921 after being refused a clearance to Carlton.
In his first season with the Swans he topped the club goalkicking with 19† He became coach of the Swans in 1922 and also topped the goalkicking again with 28, playing with them until 1927, with a year's break in 1925. He won the club's Best and Fairest award in 1926.
Cazaly added to his natural leap by controlling his breath. He could take a fingertip mark, turn a complete circle, land and keep running without missing a single step. His aerobatic performances inspired the term "Up There Cazaly", a phrase that would be shouted by team mate Fred "Skeeter" Fleiter when he wanted Cazaly to go for a mark. Along with Mark "Napper" Tandy and Fleiter , Cazaly made up a fearsome ruck combination for the Swans. Cazaly developed his leap by jumping for a ball strung up in a shed at his home, and by taking a deep breath as he ran for the ball. Cazaly was certain it was his breath control, that gave him the extra height, often another
Cazaly reminisced in later years that " I used to see Dick Lee of Collingwood and South's Bob Pratt go up. They were both phenomenal fliers but I always felt they rose without getting a lift. I admit I've climbed on other fellow's backs to get higher and toppled right over. But I used to watch the flight of the ball perhaps more than the other fellow did and perfect timing, that deep breath and a natural spring, used to get me above him. "
During the period from 1921 to 1924 and again in 1926 he represented Victoria 13 times.
He dropped out of league football for a year in 1925 but still played 16 games for Minuip in the Wimmera League as Captain and Coach plus played for Litchfield-Carron in the Donald District Wednesday Competition.
After returning to the Swans for a year in 1926, Roy Cazaly coached the
Waterside Workers in the Wednesday Competition during 1927 before moving to Tasmania.
He captain coached the City club in Launceston in the NTFA competition from 1928 to 1930 playing a total of 51 games. Over the three seasons that he coached City the club won two NTFA premierships and one State title, the first in 20 years. During this period he represented the NTFA 14 times leading the association to its first victory over the TFL in 12 years and vice captained Tasmania 5 times during the carnival in 1930.
Roy Cazaly while coaching City (Launceston). He is showing how to place a ball for a place-kick, which these days is a lost art.
The following year he returned to Victoria and took on the dual roles of captain and coach again for Preston in the VFA competition playing a total of 19 games.
He was back in Tasmania in 1932 to take up the reins at North Hobart for two years as captain/coach playing 26 games. Cazaly coached them to the 1932 TFL premiership but lost the State title to his old club City. He missed the final matches of the season due to suspension. The following year North Hobart were runners up for the TFL title.
The New Town 1934 premiership team.
Roy Cazaly is pictured centre second row.
In 1934 he moved to New Town (later Glenorchy) in the same role for three years, playing 47 games in that period and taking the club to a TFL premiership. The club had not won a flag since being admitted to the TFL in 1921 but Cazaly brought them luck and victory in 1935. He also played his final representative matches during this period, appearing three times for the TFL (1932 vs VFL, 1935 vs NTFA, 1935 vs St Kilda).
He returned to Victoria as non-playing coach of South Melbourne in 1937 and 1938. Another Tasmanian legend served under him winning the club goalkicking and captaining the side in 1937 - Laurie Nash.
His retirement from direct involvement with the game was shortlived as VFA side Camberwell induced him to coach them in 1941. However, they were beaten on percentages and didn't make the finals despite the 48 year old Cazaly playing the last couple of games that season. His last match at first-class level was on 6 September 1941 for Camberwell versus Sandringham. Any claim that he played a senior match after World War Two is untrue. His son, Roy junior, played a few matches for New Town between 1947 and 1950.
In 1942 and 1943 Cazaly senior, as non-playing coach, nearly got Hawthorn into the final four of the VFL and was responsible for changing the team's nickname from the insipid "Mayblooms" to the more fearsome 'Hawks".
He came back to Tasmania and coached the police team in the services competition to the Hobart and State premierships. And then he "retired" again. As some wag stated at the time " he's made as many bloomin' retirements as Melba. "
His two year retirement had him itching to get back into it again so back he went to South Melbourne in 1947 as assistant non-playing coach,.
Advertisement for Roy Cazaly's business in the 1947 Tasmanian Football Guide
He returned to New Town as non-playing coach in 1948 taking them to three out of four premierships contested until 1951. In 1948 New Town 11.15.81 beat North Hobart 9.11.65, in 1949 New Town 10.8.68 beat Hobart 4.11.35, were beaten by Hobart the following year by two points 11.10.76 to 11.12.78 and in his final year, 1951 slaughtered North Hobart 20.14.134 to 9.9.63.
When he "retired" from coaching at the end of the 1951 season every member of the club presented him with a signed illuminated address urging him to reconsider.
The club was a favourite of his, and his name lives on there with the Club's best and fairest being presented with the Roy Cazaly medallion.
In 1954 he coached the Tasmanian team to victory over an Australian Amateur side.
In his hey day Cazaly could punt or drop kick 70 yards with tremendous accuracy and he took a special delight in the running drop kick. He taught many youngsters to "fly" his way, to mark from behind or sideways and to become evasive, fast and accurate.
In later years, apart from a couple of charity football games, Roy Cazaly turned to pigeon racing, speed coursing and trotting. He went into a physical culture business in Hobart. He lost his abiding interest in the game at which he excelled and to which he brought such lustre. He was skilled at cricket, rowing, boxing and swimming and was an accomplished pianist. Club Cazaly in Bathurst Street is still run by his grandson Rick.
Roy Cazaly played 141 games of senior football in Tasmania.
He died in Hobart on October 10th 1963.
Roy Cazaly is a member of the Tasmanian Sporting Hall of Fame along with other Tasmanian Football Legends such as Darrel Baldock
, Rex Garwood
, Horrie Gorringe
, Bruce Carter
, Terry Cashion
, Arthur Hodgson
, Royce Hart
, Peter Hudson
, Laurie Nash
and Ian Stewart
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