When Sherwood Football Club launched their Hall of Fame in July 2022 there was only one person who could be the first inductee – Maurie McNamee.
After all, he founded the club with Wally Hunter and Bill Michel in 1956, he chose the colors and nickname, and he was coach of the first team with Bill McArthur in 1957. He coached the first premiership in 1958, was the first Life Member in 1964 and was the club’s first recipient of the AFL Merit Award in 1967. He was still only 33.
He was a Sherwood man until his death in 2006 aged 72, having dedicated more than 50 years to the club. A veritable colossus, a larger than life personality, he played a big part in building a culture of unity and loyalty that has been the timeless Sherwood trademark.
As legend has it, McNamee was born in Collingwood Street, Paddington, and lived his entire life in the western suburbs. He played as a junior at Wests, and after time in Melbourne working with the Postmaster General he returned to Brisbane a fanatical Collingwood fan. Hence the black and white stripes and the Magpies nickname.
Senior coach from 1968-73 and in 1976, he took the club into the Metropolitan League in 1968 and after they stepped up to the SQAFA in 1970, he took them to a flag in their first year. He repeated the dose in 1973 and in 1976, when they won the second of an astonishing eight flags in a row from 1975-82 to win promotion to the QAFL. He was never far from the coalface, whether it be coaching, serving as chairman of selectors or just being there as a learned shoulder to lean on.
The only person awarded life membership of Wests and Sherwood and was pleased when the clubs merged in 1991 to form West Brisbane, who won the 1996 QAFL flag.
His contribution far exceeded the Sherwood senior teams. For countless years he would coach juniors at Graceville, Corinda, Sherwood, and Oxley State Schools on a Friday afternoon, providing literally hundreds of players for the club. For many years, it was nothing for him to coach a junior Sherwood side in the morning before the Sherwood seniors in the afternoon.
Every Friday night for years he’d run raffles at the Indooroopilly Hotel to help the club coffers. He served on the Social Club Board of Management from 1975-99, and after stepping away from the football operation was Secretary/Manager of the hugely successful Sherwood Social Club for 19 years and Secretary/Treasurer for three years.
Scott Spencer, son to ‘Moose’ McNamee and wife ‘Billy’, 92 in August, remembers his father proudly. “He was a forceful personality who rubbed some people up the wrong way, but everything he did and said was for the betterment of the club,” he said.
“He lived for the club. Coaching kids was his passion, but he was just as comfortable cleaning the club and doing whatever else needed to be done. Dinner time at home was whenever he’d finished at the club.
“His cousin was Brian Davies, captain of the Australian rugby league, and they were a lot alike. They looked the same and coached the same. His idea was if you see a brick wall you run through it. If you see a head kick it. He was a tough old rooster who didn’t pull any punches. He taught the skills of the game and how to best use them.”
Himself an ex-Sherwood player and official, Spencer also remembers vividly the day his father kicked a long goal at Oakman Park which hit his wife square in the face. As proud as he is of his father’s time at Sherwood, he is just as proud of his overall contribution to football in the western suburbs.
It was no small coincidence that among the early Queenslanders to play in the AFL through the 1970s, Ray Smith, Robert Shepherd, Colin Kimmorley and Gary Shaw were all Sherwood juniors. That the Sherwood Colts best and fairest is named in his honour is a much-valued recognition.
When in 2020 a group of respected locals were commissioned to pick the Sherwood All-Stars, based on performance for the club prior to the 1990 merger, there was only one person who could be coach – Maurie McNamee.