2023 Queensland Football Hall of Fame – Len Daddow

In ancient England the name ‘Daddow’ means ‘good fella’ in the Cornish and Celtic dialects. But if they were to invent an area-specific dialect at Noosa it would have an extended meaning ….it  would be ‘good fella and club legend’.

Len Daddow is that and more for football in the Noosa area, especially the Noosa Tigers. He formed the club and he named the club. He procured the land for the club oval and since 1970 has been a driving force in the club’s solidarity and success. Pretty much nothing has happened at the club without him involved in some way.

It was a journey that began at 60 Cremorne Road, Kedron, where he spent his first 25 years. He was introduced to Australian football at Kedron State School in 1948 via Sandy McMahon, a representative of the Kedron Football Club who ran a Friday afternoon competition at Windsor Park for students at Kedron, Wooloowin, Windsor and Ascot state schools.

With great mate Ray Drabble, he joined Windsor Football Club. He played Under 12-14-16 and Reserves, and, as Ray went on to become a club stalwart, he played two senior games with local heroes Dick Parton, Ken Grimley and the Trewick brothers – Alan, Ken, Phil and Jim.

He started work as an apprentice motor mechanic at E.G.Eagers & Son (later Eagers Motors) on 30 January 1950 and, after working his way up the ladder, was appointed General Manager of Williams Motors, Nambour, in 1965. Having decided he wanted a dealership of his own, he moved in 1966 to Cooroy, 22km west of Noosa, to form Daddow’s Cooroy Motors. First a Holden dealer and later a Honda dealer, he ran his business for a tick under 50 years.

While everything was going smoothly in the car industry, there was one thing lacking in the Noosa Shire. There was no Australian football, as Carl Radke and Ron Vernon, football-loving gentleman from Melbourne, discovered when they arrived in December 1969. They put an advertisement in the local paper for interested parties. Thirty-people, including Daddow, gathered at the Maroochydore RSL Club on 29 September 1969 to lay the foundations of the Sunshine Coast Australian Football League.

Daddow organised a further regional meeting, attended by about 20 people at the Royal Mail Hotel in Tewantin on 26 January 1970. And so, the Noosa Football Club was born.

At the time there was only one high school – Noosa High – but each region had their own state school. And so, Noosa adopted the brown and gold colours of Tewantin State School, just as other teams would adopt the colours of their local state school.

Daddow was the inaugural president, serving for six years as they played in a three-team competition with Nambour and Maroochydore. Their first game was on Anzac Day 1970 under lights at the Cooroy Showgrounds. An Under 12s game between Tewantin and Cooroy was the curtain-raiser to the senior game between Noosa and Nambour.

The president led the first Noosa team through the banner and onto the field and played “for a little while” before spending the rest of the day on the bench as Noosa took the points. A photo of his run through the banner, sporting a bigger than big smile, remains a treasured possession.

Daddow, too, had bought his own land at the Noosa Junction and built a service station. He spoke with Esso, Mobil and Amoco before settling on a brand. Mobil had the catchy slogan ‘put a Tiger in your tank’. He liked it. So at Noosa’s second game against Maroochydore he suggested to the players they adopt the ‘Tigers’ nickname too. And so, the Noosa Tigers were named.

Noosa would wear brown and gold until 1993 when they joined the then BAFL (Brisbane Australian Football League). A clash with the brown and gold of the Aspley meant they switched to red, blue and yellow but they kept the ‘Tigers’ name.

The first season in 1970 was an odd season. Each team played one week and had a bye the next week. After they’d played each other five times it was Nambour from Noosa and Maroochydore. Noosa beat Nambour in the first final before Maroochydore beat Nambour in the second final. It was Noosa v Maroochydore in the Grand Final. Maroochydore won by three goals.

Along the journey Daddow met Noosa council foreman Ian Buchanan. Never one to let an opportunity pass, he told him “we need a ground in Noosa”. Buchanan engaged the support of former State Treasurer Sir Thomas Hiley, who had settled in Tewantin after retiring from politics in 1966. And in September 1972 the Tigers signed a 30-year lease at $300 a year, now $3000 a year, on 9.5 acres of land (5.9 hectares) owned by the State Government at 149 Weyba Road, Noosaville.

In 1973 Cooroy Junior Football Club was formed, which meant Noosa no longer had a home ground. They played at Peregian Beach as Daddow rallied the troops to begin work at Weyba Road.

With the help of a willing band of workers, Daddow and Buchanan built an oval. Trees were felled using 50 sticks of dynamite, levels were pegged, sand fill was trucked in from the mouth of the Noosa River, and, after they commandeered a grader over many weekends, things took shape.

The club spent more than $6000 on the development of a playing oval, which at Daddow’s insistence was precisely the dimensions of the MCG – 180 yards v 150 yards. The State Government tipped in $1660 for showers, dressing rooms and toilets.

Alan Killigrew, former St.Kilda and North Melbourne VFL coach with a reputation for being something of a ‘hot gospeller’, coached Noosa in 1973 while also assisting at QAFL club Wilston-Grange. But prior to the finals there was trouble. Killigrew stood down and local Ron Fox took over, steering them to their first premiership via a 14-6 (90) to 12-16 (88) Grand Final win over Maroochydore at Maroochydore High School. In May 1974 the club purchased a twin unit at 12 Hastings Street and moved it to Weyba Road. It was raised, and a canteen, changing rooms and toilets were built below.

The ground was officially opened on 30 March 1975 by the Hon. John Herbert, Queensland Minister for Sport. Noosa went on to beat Maroochydore 15-18 (108) to 11-4 (70) in the Grand Final to claim their second flag. It was time for Daddow to step down as president.

Noosa Tigers are in their 53rd year in 2023. Daddow has been on and off the committee and labelled himself a ‘go-for’ who was available to do anything that needed doing. Critically, too, he served on the Sunshine Coast League through the 1970’s and ‘80s and did for the League what he’d done for the club. He was president in 1974-76-77-78 and worked tirelessly to foster the game on the coast. helping 10 years ago to secure Federal Government funding for $260,000 project to fix the drainage at Weyba Road.

An all-round football ‘junkie’, he was a regular at the North Melbourne Grand Final Breakfast and the AFL Grand Final and was a 30-year foundation member of the Brisbane Bears/Lions until he sold his business and retired in 2015.

Twice married, he had three children and seven grandchildren from his first marriage and now lives at Tewantin with second wife Geraldine while doting on his first great grandchild – Vincent Leonard Hardie. Quick to add there are also two ‘Daddow’ families, and he looks forward to the family name carrying on. Still razor sharp at 88, when asked what he was most proud of about his Noosa journey, he said: “That’s easy. I’m most proud the club is still standing … and so am I.”

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