Vale Keith Leach

The AFL Queensland family passes on our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Keith Leach along with the Wilston Grange Football Club supporters past and present, following the recent passing of arguably the greatest ever Gorilla.

His on-field achievements are legendary in the code in Queensland but his contributions off the field are almost as significant. The list of his achievements in a glittering career include:

  • Wilston Grange Senior Best & Fairest winner in 1958, 1960 and 1961.
  • Grogan Medal winner in 1961 and 1962.
  • Courier Mail Best & Fairest winner in 1960 and 1962.
  • Premiership player in 1969.
  • Queensland Team of the Century member selected in 2003.
  • Initial inductee WG Hall of Fame 2019.

Keith commenced in the juniors in the late 1940s when he was ten years old and surprisingly, he was not the dominant force he would become later in his career. In his own words he was just a battler. Keith was at the Exhibition Ground as a spectator in September 1955 to see his brother John play in Wilston Grange’s grand final win over Kedron for the club’s first premiership. It was a pivotal moment for Keith as he realised that football could help him make his mark on the world. He made his senior debut as a 16-year-old in 1956 in Round 11 against Sandgate at the old Deagon Oval. A year later he was runner-up in the Grogan Medal and represented Queensland against VFL club Essendon. In 1958 while still a teenager he was in the state squad for the National Carnival in Melbourne. Keith had the disappointment of being a member of Grange’s losing 1959 grand final side, but this spurred him on to become the dominant player in the QAFL competition for the next three years. In 1963 a broken wrist in Round Three saw him miss 13 games and cruelled his chances of making it a Grogan Medal hat trick.


Since 1957 a severe right knee injury restricted Keith’s agility and in the middle of the 1964 season he called curtains on his career when his left knee started to give him problems. Earlier that year he had the highlight of playing alongside Melbourne legend Ron Barassi at the opening of Hickey Park. (He was to remain a lifelong friend of Barassi). With his playing career seemingly over Keith became club president in 1965. He attempted a comeback that season but played only two senior games before injury struck once again.

Keith ventured to Sydney in 1966 and decided to test his knees again by playing for the Western Suburbs club. He was free of pain and helped the club to a premiership victory over St George. In 1967 he was joint winner of the club’s Best and Fairest award with Ken Garcia (WG Premiership coach 1969) and finished sixth in the League’s Phelan Medal voting. That year Keith also gained the honour of becoming a dual state representative when he was selected to play for NSW against Queensland. His playing days looked to be over when he returned to Brisbane in 1968 but a year later, he returned to the field and made up for his grand final disappointment from a decade earlier when he was part of Grange’s 1969 grand final winning side. Keith’s greatness was recognised in 2003 when he was selected alongside the likes of Michael Voss and Jason Dunstall in the Queensland Team of the Century. That he basically played on one leg for the bulk of his career makes his achievements even more outstanding. His passing will sadden many of the old timers in the Gorilla family, but they will cherish the memories of a magnificent footballer.

Leach wasn’t just a Grange man – his love of football and his want to help the game overall was widespread. He often provided a financial guarantee to opposition clubs to build club facilities, and in 1987 when Queensland finally got a team in the AFL, Leach hosted the entire club at their first pre-season camp at his Orchid Beach Resort on Fraser Island.

The family company Leach Motors was a great sponsor of Queensland football for over 30 years.

Keith is survived by wife Louise and children Chelsea and Kristian.

Kristian’s comments “he was a great man and will be missed by many” is echoed by the club.

Grange faithfuls are invited to attend a memorial for Keith to be held at the Mt Gravatt Crematorium and Chapel next Monday, the 8th of May at 2pm followed by a wake in the Community Centre at Elements Retirement Village in Springwood.

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