Noel Teasdale – Former Australian Rules Brownlow Medal Winner
Gordon Collis ran away with the Brownlow Medal in 1964, leaving two other players, Ken Fraser of Essendon and Phil Hay of Hawthorn eight votes in his wake.
Such was not the case in 1965, when Ian Stewart of St. Kilda, winning the first of his eventual three Brownlow Medals, the first two as a member of the Saints and the third with Richmond, was tied atop the list of vote getters with today’s subject, North Melbourne’s Noel Teasdale.
The voting system at the time gave the outright Brownlow award to Stewart, even though both he and Teasdale had received 20 votes. Teasdale had played in three more games, however, which from 1024 – 1930, would have been used to break the tie. After 1930, and during the 1965 season, ties were broken by the award going to the player that had the most three-vote games, with that edge also going to Stewart. Teasdale received the retrospective Brownlow Medal in 1989, seemingly because he had nine games in which he received at least one vote, compared to seven for Stewart.
It seems at times that Brownlow votes are a consolation prize of sorts, given to good players on poor sides. History would seem to bear that out. The Saint Kilda side attracted 73 votes in 1965. North Melbourne had only 48. That 1965 season, however, presents something of an anomaly from the perspective that St. Kilda posted a 14 -4 record, whilst North Melbourne suffered through a 5 – 13 campaign in the home-and-away season. After 18 rounds, St. Kilda was at the top of the ladder. North Melbourne was relegated to ninth.
With that preamble concluded, here is a bit of a look at the 178-game playing career of Noel Teasdale (2January 1938).
Teasdale initially played footy in the Ballarat Football League with the team that was then known as the Daylesford Demons. He made his debut with the Kangaroos in 1956 at the age of 18, producing a goal in his very first game, a round one match with St. Kilda that the ‘Roos won quite handily, the game turning into an utter rout in the third and fourth quarters.
He was mainly a ruckman that first season, but did for a time play at full-back. He displayed a tough, aggressive style of play that may have contributed to his only being on the ground 11 times. His side finished as far down the ladder as was possible, 12th out of 12 teams and earning the wooden spoon.
Teasdale experienced his best season from a team perspective in his entire 12-season career in 1958 and his second-best from the point of view of goal kicking, when he booted 12. The Kangaroos made it into the finals, winning a semi-final over Fitzroy, but then fell to Collingwood in the preliminary final when a too-little-too-late comeback in the fourth quarter did not suffice to erase the deficit established in the first three quarters. Teasdale attracted the first Brownlow votes of his career, tallying nine. It was also to be the only season where he played in every match.
He took part in only 10 of the side’s matches in 1959. The season held great promise at the start, with the Kangaroos winning their first six matches and eight of their first nine, but a four game losing streak in the final four rounds left them at sixth on the ladder and ineligible for the finals. Teasdale kicked eight goals, but his overall level of play attracted only one Brownlow vote.
It was much the same story for Teasdale and the North Melbourne Football Club over the four seasons. The Kangaroos were mired in mediocrity. Teasdale contributed as much as possible to a side that could never gain much ground. He did kick his career high in goals in 1961, producing 15. In 1963, he was declared North Melbourne Best and Fairest for the first time. The team itself could finish no better than seventh (1963) and another wooden spoon was the result of their efforts in 1961.
Teasdale suffered a severe head injury in 1964, the result of his style of play that was always rather careless from the respect that he knew no method other than all-out at all times. He missed rounds three through six and managed only to participate in 14 games that season. He did receive eight Brownlow votes and his second North Melbourne Football Club Best and Fairest.
Following the doctor’s advice, he began wearing a head guard in 1965, which seemingly along with protecting his skull, imbued him with the confidence to result in his best season to date. That same year saw the VFL getting more sophisticated about player statistics. Teasdale did kick eight goals, but it is some of his other figures that reveal his true value to the side. He is credited with 109 marks, 114 handballs 370 disposals and 14 behinds, along with taking 48 free kicks.
North Melbourne was still far down the ladder at ninth after winning just five games and losing 13. He was Best and Fairest for the third time to go along with his 20 Brownlow votes. At the time, he would have found Ian Stewart as the sole claimant of the Brownlow.
He played two more seasons beyond 1965 and was still a major contributor. In 1966, he was for the fourth time club Best and Fairest and he was chosen for the All-Australian team. He was approaching his 30th birthday when he played his final game against Footscray in the final round of the 1967 season. As of 2015, he holds the distinction of most Best and Fairest for the Kangaroos.
Noel Teasdale served as a non-playing captain from 1969 – 70, and was honoured as one of the North Melbourne Football Club’s Team of the century at the ruck position, along with Anthony Stevens and Barry Cable.
After his VFL days concluded, he was seen in the western suburbs of Adelaide, playing footy for the Woodville Football Club. As of this writing, he is approaching his 78th birthday and living in Hervey Bay.