2023 Queensland Football Hall of Fame – Warren Selvage

Warren Selvage is the Queensland football equivalent of Hawthorn’s AFL premiership record-holder Michael Tuck, plus two. He played in an extraordinary nine senior premierships with Sherwood in 1973 and from 1975-82 in a career that spanned more than 50 years. And is still going.

It was probably always heading that way after he was born to Ian and Ailsa Selvage, hard-working Sherwood president through the 1960’s and 1970’s and his equally-dedicated football wife, but 21 years in the black and white stripes, more than 200 senior games and nine flags is more than they could have dreamed of.

An uncompromising, team-first centre half back, he won seven flags as a player and was captain-coach of the 1981-82 SQAFA sides that ended the record run of eight in a row and sent Sherwood into the QAFL in 1983.

A Sherwood Hall of Famer, admired and respected most by those who saw him at close quarters and understood his passion for the club, he was included in the Top 50 players of all-time in 2006 when the club celebrated their 50th anniversary. During COVID in 2020, as they looked to retain a connection with members and supporters, he was named in the Sherwood All-Stars, a team that covered performances for the club prior to the 1990 merger with Wests.

When the Official History of the Sherwood Football Club was published in 2011 it was not only exceedingly generous but ironically appropriate when he and brothers Rod and Michael picked up the tab. After all, the family was so much a part of it.

Later taking his football passion and experience to regional Queensland as a player, coach, and administrator, he received the AFLQ Merit Award in 2018 in recognition of his 50-year contribution to community football – the highest volunteer recognition in the state.

He also takes special pride whenever Sherwood plays long-time rivals Mt. Gravatt for the Pelly/Selvage Cup, honouring him and long-time Vultures favourite Dennis Pelly.

The Selvage/Sherwood partnership began in 1962 when he was recruited from Sherwood State School by club legend Maurie McNamee. He started out in the Under 11s but dropped down mid-season to be coached by Bob Gibson in the inaugural year of the Brisbane Under 9s competition.

He won flags in the Under 11s in 1964 under Noel Bryce and the Under 15s and Under 17s in 1968-69 under Bob Donaldson, debuting in the club’s first year of senior football in 1972 under McNamee, when they lost to Army in the first semi-final. He coached and managed junior teams from 1972-76 while playing in the all-conquering senior side, was vice-president in 1980, and after Sherwood won promotion to the QAFL in 1983, he played in the club’s first QAFL game against Coorparoo. A job transfer took him to Townsville in 1983, and after a handful of games as a fly-in player he finally called time on the Magpies.

Sherwood’s loss was North Queensland’s gain. He played and coached in Townsville and Mt. Isa and on the Sunshine Coast from 1983-92 and after one year back in Brisbane he moved in 1994 to Buderim, where he has lived and been involved in the game since. Now operating a finance broking business, he is still a Brisbane Lions member and gets to the Gabba whenever other football commitments permit.

In North Queensland he won two premierships as a playing assistant coach with Currajong in Townsville in 1983-84 and was a premiership captain-coach in the inaugural 1984/85 Summer Season with Hermit Park in the same League.

After moving to Cairns to play with Souths Balaclava in 1986, he later took up umpiring and in his first season in 1987 he umpired the senior grand final, the NQ carnival, and the NQ representative game against Windsor-Zillmere, and did the grand final and the NQ carnival again in 1988.

Moving to Mt. Isa, he umpired the Senior Grand Final in 1988, before a stint as Rovers captain-coach in 1989 – at the age of 37. Time to hang up the boots? Not a chance. A self-confessed football addict, he made various spasmodic comebacks thereafter and played his last game in a Masters Grand Final, on the Sunshine Coast, at 51.

Father to daughter Jade (now 41) and sons John (28) and David (27), he was president of the Maroochydore Juniors in 2009 and North Shore Juniors 2010-12 before a stint as president of the AFL Sunshine Coast Juniors League 2013-16. He was on the AFL Queensland Advisory Board for the South-East Queensland Juniors in 2017. He’s coached the North Shore Jets senior women’s team in 2022-23 and is the 2023 North Shore vice-president.

His favourite football memory? A tough call but he chose 1977 SQAFA premiership. Sherwood, under Melbourne and St. Kilda best and fairest winner and AFL Hall of Famer Les Foote, lost the second semi-final to Mt. Gravatt by 125 points before beating Acacia Ridge in the preliminary final to earn another crack at the Vultures in the grand final at Yeronga.

It was a tough affair, and after a wild brawl at three-quarter time which involved players, officials, and spectators, they got home by seven points. Magpies favourite Jeff Langdon, making a fashion statement wearing rarely seen white boots, took 21 marks in the second half back to be named best afield before he was taken to hospital with exhaustion after the game and learned he had a heart valve problem. “That just typified what footy is all about. It’s a team game and that day we came together as a team to do something very special,” he recounted.

A close second was the Hermit Park premiership in the 1984-85 summer season. “It was a team of misfits from all over Australia with some players from Sherwood,” he said. The grand final team included Magpies Craig Lashman, Gregg Stewart, John McColl and John Scanlan, and future Magpies David Riley, Peter Whittle, Paul Franks and Leslie ‘Harry’ Murray.  “Other than that group, nobody really knew each other, and I didn’t know them. The club hadn’t won a flag for 15 years, but we came together and beat the (Townsville) Swans in the grand final. To see the trainers in tears was unforgettable.”

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