Roy Cazaly
1921-1924; 1926-1927
99 games
128 goals
Captain-Coach 1922
Best & Fairest 1926
Coach 1937-1938
AFL Hall of Fame Legend


"Everywhere in Australia where the national code of football is played, the saying 'Up there, Cazaly' is as well known as any other sporting term in any game”—Percy Taylor, The Argus, 1937.

Roy Cazaly's high-marking aerial feats earned him renown across the land. When he joined South Melbourne in 1921, he combined with Fred 'Skeeter' Fleiter and Mark 'Napper' Tandy to form a formidable on-ball division known as 'The Terrible Trio.'

"We practised night after night," Cazaly later recalled. "We had to work for it. Finally, we were so well accustomed to each other that it was like mind reading. We were a true ruck team in every sense."

The famous cry of 'Up there, Cazaly' came to life during this period. Originally used as a term of instruction by Fleiter, it spread among the rest of his teammates before permeating the crowd. Eventually, it entered the Australian lexicon as a common phrase of encouragement, highlighted by its use by Australian troops in the Second World War.

In 1979, Up There Cazaly, a song written by Mike Brady to promote Channel Seven's coverage of the VFL, topped the charts, quickly becoming the game's unofficial anthem.

Born in Albert Park, the 10th and youngest child in his family, Cazaly began his VFL career with St Kilda. After 99 games, he joined South Melbourne ahead of the 1921 season for the princely sum of six pounds per week. In his first match for the Swans, he played his 100th game against his former team, kicking the winning goal in an enthralling one-point victory.

In his first season at the Lake Oval, Cazaly starred. He won the club's goalkicking, was named South's 'Best all-round player,' earned selection for Victoria, while declared the League's best follower in a readers' poll conducted by The Herald newspaper.

The following year, Cazaly was appointed captain-coach, determined to introduce the team to a heavier training load. He had always been a fitness fanatic, practising a monastic lifestyle. He once said, "Conditioning is a dominating factor in any game — spare no effort to be fit. Be intelligent in this regard. Hard work without regard to strength and energy used up can make a man stale more quickly than anything else."

While his form remained strong, the team's performance slipped, and South replaced him as captain and coach. However, Cazaly remained the star attraction and was a major contributor to the rise in football's popularity.

In 1923, the Round 18 match between South Melbourne and St Kilda at the Lake Oval drew an incredible crowd of 40,441 supporters. Promoted as a mini-final, South saluted to secure its place in September action. Fans crammed into the ground, taking some to the grandstand roof, with others hanging from the trees to gain any possible vantage point.

Using his prodigious leap to dominate ruck contests became a hallmark of Cazaly's game. But, ahead of the 1924 season, he relinquished ruck duties to play on the half-forward line. His accurate kicking landed a career-best 32 goals, while also winning praise for his sublime delivery to the team's chief goalscorer, Ted Johnson.

Despite another finals appearance and being named as The Sporting Globe's best all-round player for the third consecutive year, Cazaly was lured to the country. Record wheat yields in the Wimmera district meant that its football clubs could offer exceptional rates for a playing coach. Cazaly signed on with Minyip for 12 pounds per week.

He returned to South in 1926. The team only missed the finals by percentage, but Cazaly made history. At a club dinner and smoke concert at the Cafe Francais, officials presented him with a silver tea and coffee service after being voted by his teammates as the 'most consistent player.' The Sydney Swans now recognise this as the club's first official best and fairest award.

In 1927, Cazaly called time on a glittering VFL career. Late in the season, 'Jumbo' Sharland wrote of Cazaly, "He is defying father time and can ascribe his long service to his clean life. He does not drink or smoke and generally looks after himself as regards regular sleeping hours. Cazaly is a man who has his own methods of training."

As explained by author Robert Allen in Cazaly: The Legend, Cazaly is regarded by many as the greatest Australian footballer to have played between the two world wars. He built an obsession with sport, the body, and physical movement. While playing for South, he studied muscular autonomy under the supervision of the club doctor and masseur, and learned how to treat athletic injuries.

In 1928, the Cazaly family settled in Tasmania, and Roy embarked on a further nine seasons of playing and coaching in Launceston and Hobart. The Swans unleashed an auspicious recruitment drive in his absence, taking club officials across the land, scouring for talent. It heralded a golden era, with 'The Foreign Legion' period delivering the club its eighth premiership in 1933.

After losing the 1936 Grand Final, South Melbourne appointed Cazaly as the club's senior coach. Upon his return, he told South Melbourne's The Record, "It is essential that a complete balance be obtained—every player must be taught to realise that he is only a cog in a machine that must work smoothly. It needs only one cog to smash that machine, and my first objective will be to guard against that danger."

The team's heavy opening-round loss in 1937 prompted Cazaly, at 44 years of age, to declare he would make a playing comeback. His planned return was only aborted due to opposition clubs insisting the VFL impose the League's residence qualification, ruling him ineligible.

Two seasons of disappointing results meant that Cazaly was replaced as senior coach in 1939, by Herbie Matthews, instead spending the final year of his three-year contract coaching the club's juniors. A silver lining emerged as Cazaly played in South's reserves alongside his 19-year-old son Roy Jr before the teenager joined the navy, spending the next six years at sea.

Cazaly spent the 1942 and 1943 seasons coaching the fledgling VFL club, Hawthorn. Despite producing their most outstanding season in his second year, Roy and his wife, Aggie, returned to Hobart, where they'd remain for the next 20 years. In 1963, Roy Cazaly passed away, aged 70.

His standing as one of the game's greats is undisputed. On his 70th birthday, The Sun Herald wrote, "Roy Cazaly is to Australian Rules football what Babe Ruth was to baseball and Don Bradman is to cricket." Bloods champion Laurie Nash regarded him as his greatest coach—the complete strategist and tactician.

But the most genuine indication of his impact rests with his friend and writer, Hec de Lacy. He described Cazaly as a "Philosopher, fighter, family man, healer. He's the man you like to call a friend."