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Compiled for Darebin Heritage by Brian Membrey

The City of Darebin : Cazaly Ward

(This is a summary of a full history of Cazaly's year held under Melbourne Rules - Local Footy)

Darebin City Council was created by an Order of the Governor in Council published in June 1994 incorporating the former municipalities of Preston and Northcote (north of Heidelberg Road) and a small section of the former municipality of Coburg (from the Merri Creek east to James Street, primarily Coburg General Cemetery)

One of the by-products of the forced amalgamation was the rezoning of the former cities of Northcote and Preston into nine new Wards   Most of the names adopted were fairly mundane, except for a central area of Preston (including the Park) that was deemed Cazaly Ward

The name was, of course, taken from one of Australian footballs most revered names, Roy "Up There" Cazaly who was captain-coach of the Preston Football Club in 1931

Much has been written and spoken about what Cazaly did and didn't do at Preston - but now is the time for some facts!

First and foremost, Cazaly and Preston were very much a marriage of convenience

Cazaly in 1930 had been captain-coach of the City club in Launceston, and although 37 years of age, his form was good enough for him to be named vice-captain of the Tasmanian representative team at the A N F C  Carnival

He left Tasmania for Melbourne in late November, Tasmanian newspapers suggesting that he had a coaching job in Melbourne - given his experience and the fact that he had been captain-coach of South Melbourne in 1924, the assumption could only be that Cazaly had secured a contract with a League club

What club it could have been may never uncovered - it is known that he trained with Melbourne and in fact played half a practice match after competing in a cricket final earlier in the day, but there was no further mention of him

Preston meanwhile had problems of its own   The club initially appointed giant North Melbourne ruckman and 1930 captain-coach Johnnie Lewis, but the deal went sour after it was discovered he was still under a long-term suspension imposed by the V F A  before North switched to the League in 1925

Preston then appointed Collingwood full-back Charlie Dibbs who had just moved into the area with his family

Dibbs conducted the few weeks of what in those days constituted a pre-season, but at just 26 years of age and having already played in four premierships, Collingwood refused to clear him a week before the season began

Nothing was ever documented as to how the two parties came together, but Preston breathed a sigh of relief on the Tuesday before the opening match when it announced that it had secured the highly-prized services of Cazaly and were hopeful of obtaining a clearance from his Tasmanian club in time for him to play in the opening round

Due to unforeseen circumstances, the clearance didn't arrive - Preston losing the opening match to Northcote on the final kick of the day

Most fortuitously, the second Saturday of the season fell on Anzac Day, then sacrosanct with no football played, but it wasn't until the Thursday of the following week that Cazaly's clearance was approved by the City club - fortunately a special meeting of the League Permit committee was scheduled for the Friday evening and after a delayed air-mail flight to Essendon and a desperate motor-cycle dash by a committeeman, Cazaly was cleared on the eve of the match

Cazaly inherited a team which had been noted pre-season as having a lot of new players after a couple of seasons where it had been described by one commentator as "a little long in the tooth" and by promoting younger players, he managed to win eleven straight matches (with a draw) before Preston were defeated in a semi-final and eliminated

Research into his season at Preston suggests that other that an early season dance at the Town Hall where he and his wife Agnes competed in a fox-trot competition, Cazaly had little to do with the local community   The couple along with their five children lived in a modest four-room rented house in Dundas Place,  Albert Park - Cazaly shown in electoral rolls as a mechanic on the docks

He supplemented whatever he was earning at Preston by captain-coaching the Waterside Workers team in the Wednesday Industrial League - Preston at one stage after another player had been injured in a mid-week game moved to ban players for playing in the Industrial League, but did a quick about-face when they discovered Cazaly's dual role

1931 was Cazaly's only year at Preston and just why he didn't continue is something of a mystery   

Preston advertised twice for a coach early in 1932, but Cazaly didn't apply (he was at one stage noted as nominating for the Melbourne coaching role), and although a couple of committeemen claimed to have spoken to him, by the middle of March he was back in Tasmania and captain-coach of the North Hobart club

With the world in the grip of the Great  Depression, it has been suggested that Cazaly may have asked for an excessive amount which the club could not afford

There is no definite evidence to suggest this, but Cazaly did have something of a reputation for coaching for a year and then either holding out for more money or departing abruptly - stints at Minyip in country Victoria, at North Hobart, and even Hawthorn in 1942-43 ending in much the same way


Preston and Gowerville Park