Doug Wade – Retired Australian Rules Football Player
Belonging to the list of very small group of VFL/AFL players who have kicked more than a 1000 goals, Doug Wade was one of the finest players of the game.
Born on October 16, 1941, Doug Wade’s full name was Douglas Graeme Wade. He was born in Victoria’s Horsham. On four occasions, he became the leading goal kicker of VFL and ended up winning the Coleman Medal four times. After World War II, he was the first player to have kicked 1000 goals in his playing career and was the only second player in League’s history to have achieved this incredible feat. The other player was Gordon Coventry from Collingwood. The three other players who had achieved this after Douglas Wade were Tony Lockett, Jason Dunstall and Gary Ablett Snr.
1961-1972: Geelong Football Club
When Doug Wade was only 17 years old, he worked for Sydney’s CBC bank. However, he did play quite a number of practice games with Melbourne Football Club in year 1960. Then he return to his hometown and started playing for Horsham footy club.
In 1961 however, Geelong picked up Wade. It was the same year when Wade made in VFL debut. Wade played a total of 208 games for Geelong in which he kicked a total of 834 goals. In 1963, Geelong won the premiership and wade was a part of the team. In 1967, Wade was once again a part of the Grand Final team but Geelong failed to win the premiership. During his career with Geelong Football Club, Wade went on to win the Coleman Medal three times.
One of the most memorable events of Doug Wade’s career in history of VFL’s umpiring was in year 1962 when Geelong was up against Carlton in Preliminary Final Replay. Doug Wade was penalized by umpire Irving simply for holding the shorts of Carlton’s full-back player Peter Barry in an attempt to out-maneuver Barry on a 25-meter mark when the ball came back to Barry and Wade during the final moments of the game. Allen Nash, a former VFL umpire said that Irving’s decision was one of the most courageous decisions he had ever seen. Though the decision was termed as courageous, it was in no way a valid decision.
1973-1975: North Melbourne Football Club
When 1972 season ended, Wade joined North Melbourne Football Club because VFL introduced ‘Ten Year Rule’, which was nothing but a free agency. In 1973, Doug Wade made his debut for North Melbourne and went on to kick a total of 73 goals for that season. In 1974, North Melbourne made it to the Grand Final and clashed with Richmond. By then, Wade was a very important player of North Melbourne’s team.
Throughout 1974 season, Wade kicked a total of 103 goals, becoming the highest goal kicker for the season and won the Coleman Medal once again. That particular season was even more memorable because Wade became the 3rd former Geelong player to have kicked the highest numbers of goals in a season after moving to a different club.
1975 was Wade’s final year for North Melbourne and also for his VFL career. By 1975, Wade was out of form and was becoming a liability for North Melbourne. He was not fit and had put on some weight which was the major hindrances to his performance. North Melbourne decided to replace Wade and include Robert Smith (a full-forward reserve) for the Grand Final against Hawthorn. Doug Wade pleaded to the then coach Ron Barassi and North Melbourne selection committee stating that he would pick up the tactic of staying behind the pack. The management eventually decided to stick with Wade.
In the Grand Final, Wade’s tactic worked and especially during the last quarter of the game, his inspirational gestures and unselfish attitude of passing the ball quickly to the teammates helped North Melbourne to pull a victory over Hawthorn. Wade finished his career with this premiership victory.
This move was not really expected by many of the then experts of the game but Wade’s move proved that he was an undeniable champion of both Geelong Football Club and North Melbourne Football Club. Wade played a total of 59 games for North Melbourne and kicked a total of 223 goals. By the end of 1975 season, total number of goals kicked by Wade during this VFL career totalled to 1057 from 267 games.
Awards And Achievements
Undeniably, Doug Wade was a champion player who played with utmost dedication for both the VFL teams he played for. Throughout his career, he managed to bag a number of awards and achievements, which are briefly listed below:
- 1962, 1967, 1969 and 1974: Winner of Coleman Medal.
- 1963: Geelong Premiership player.
- 1975: North Melbourne Premiership player.
- 1969: Winner of Best and Fairest Award of Geelong.
- 1961 to 1964: Highest goal kicker for Geelong.
- 1966 to 1972: Highest goal kicker for Geelong.
- 1973 to 1975: Highest goal kicker for North Melbourne.
- Wade represented Victoria 7 in games and kicked 31 goals.
- Wade was a member of Geelong Team of the Century.
- 1996: Wade was inducted into Australian Football Hall of Fame.
Wade’s dedication and his thirst for kicking goals took him to great heights in VFL world. His achievements are today a source of inspiration for many existing and rising AFL players.