2023 Queensland Football Hall of Fame – Wally McKenzie

On 24 July 2007, the Tweed Heads Daily Telegraph published a story under the heading ‘Last Siren for Wally’. It was a tribute to local football stalwart Wally McKenzie, who had died three days earlier and it said it all.

“It is hard to imagine Coolangatta-Tweed Football Club without Wally McKenzie. For many people he wasthe Blues.”

Indeed, he was from the moment he arrived in the border town in 1977 after a distinguished career in which he played in and coached six premierships at Healesville, 52km north-east of Melbourne.  

A classy and clever rover, he quickly become the heart and soul of his adopted club, which counts among its finest products David Hale and Sam Gilbert. David Hale won AFL/AIS Academy selection from Coolangatta and forged a 237-game AFL career with North Melbourne and Hawthorn from 2003-15 which included the Hawks’ 2013-14-15 premiership hat-trick. Sam Gilbertswitched from rugby league to play Australian Rules at Coolangatta at 15 and begin a career that saw him play 208 games with St.Kilda from 2006-18, including the 2009 grand final and the 2010 grand final draw and replay.

Starting as Coach of the Under 19s in the late 1970’s, McKenzie was president from 1981-91 and again from 1992-2002, when he returned when the club was teetering on the edge amid financial problems and helped return them to their rightful standing.

It was nothing for him to work 60 and 70 hours a week, running the sports club and the football club during an era in which the Blues won six Gold Coast League premierships in 1978-81-82-83-88-89. Only a stroke in 2003 ended his around-the-clock commitment. It was always going to take that or more.

“Wally was the Coolangatta Football Club,” former premiership coach Rocky Larkin said of a man known for his wicked sense of humour, an awe-inspiring love of football, and an apparent inability to say ‘no’. He would help anyone and everyone.

“He had a passion for football I’ve never seen in anyone else … he held the club together,” said Larkin. “He recruited a lot of very talented players and with a few others were responsible for lobbying the government and getting the Blues’ sporting complex built.”



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