Laurie Nash
1933-37; 1945
99 games
246 goals
Premiership Player 1933
Champion of the Colony 1934, 1935
Leading Goalkicker 1937, 1945
Captain 1937
Coach 1953
Swans Team of the Century
AFL Hall of Fame


A young Tasmanian footballer named Laurie Nash became South Melbourne's prize recruit when he signed on late in 1932. He'd captured the football world's attention, winning two premierships for Launceston City under the expert tutelage of former South great Roy Cazaly.

Under the veil of darkness, ex-Bloods captain and committeeman Joe Scanlan was smuggled aboard the HMS Nairana to cross the Bass Strait and begin negotiations. Cazaly recommended the club, and the unprecedented offer of £3 per week and employment in a local sports store, was too good to pass up—South Melbourne had their man.

Behind the high-profile recruitment was Archie Crofts, a prominent businessman who owned the state-wide chain Crofts Stores. He invested heavily in the South Melbourne Football Club, recruiting the cream of interstate talent, which prompted scribes to label them the 'foreign legion'.

Son of former Collingwood captain, Bob Nash, Laurie was equally adept at cricket. The sporting prodigy opened the batting and bowling for Tasmania with comparable facility, and his tearaway fast bowling caused the touring South Africans considerable discomfort during their 1932 tour match. He took 7-50, sending one of his victims to hospital with a broken jaw. 

By the time he joined the Bloods, he was a Test cricketer, debuting for Australia against the South Africans following that fearsome display. The team included a young Don Bradman, and in his first Test, Nash claimed 4-18 and 1-4 in a comprehensive victory.

His arrival at the Lake Oval brought great excitement. When Cazaly was asked to describe South's recruit, he said, "South has a champion half-back. Nash is as fine a half-back as it would be possible to discover." 

In the opening round of the 1933 season, a mammoth crowd of 38,000 crammed into Carlton's Princes Park to watch the star-studded South Melbourne take on Carlton. Australian cricket captain Bill Woodfull sat among them, and as the tight encounter drew to a close, the fence at the Princes Hill end collapsed under the strenuous pressure of the excited locals.

However, a lack of cohesion within new captain-coach Jack Bisset's team had supporters feeling restless, with some suggesting a more significant number of local players would instil a stronger sense of pride in the guernsey. The Australasian wrote, "It may be that there are not sufficient men in the colours who would be playing for the district as well as themselves."

Nash's form earned instantaneous popularity, though, and the team's play markedly improved, eventually reaching the 1933 Grand Final against Richmond. An Australian record crowd of 75,754 witnessed a seven-goal Bloods victory, with Nash—taking 13 marks and 29 kicks from centre half-back—celebrated as the best afield.

Following the win, the players travelled straight from the MCG to the South Melbourne Town Hall. With the venue filled to the brim, players and officials made celebratory speeches from the steps, with an adoring crowd of 5,000 hanging from every word. Afterwards, at the club dinner, captain-coach Bisset thanked President Crofts and said, "When the team reached the final four, I was confident of winning the premiership. Every man had done his share, but Laurie Nash had been a match-winner."

In 1934, Nash was chosen to represent Victoria against South Australia at the MCG. In his debut match, he kicked an astonishing 18 goals in the 105-point thrashing. The Sporting Globe marvelled at his versatility, reporting that when South asked Nash to switch into the centre half-forward position earlier that season, he replied, "I'll play anywhere you like. The only thing that would upset me would be to be left out of the side."

His impressive form in big matches continued, and in the ill-fated 1934 Grand Final against Richmond, Nash kicked six goals from centre half-forward. Bisset switched Nash from defence halfway through the year to partner Bob Pratt with devastating effect. In their first match as a forward pairing, they shared 15 goals.

Early in 1935, Nash, like many footballers, found himself looking for work. While the Great Depression was nearing a much-welcome end, employment remained scarce. Searching for a challenge, he joined the Victorian Police Force, buoyed by the enhanced job security.

The Swans reached another Grand Final, with Nash named the VFL's best player by The Sporting Globe. He finished second in the club's best and fairest, as he did in 1936, despite receiving the same award from The Sporting Globe, winning the Melbourne Herald's Footballer of the Year and The Australian's VFL Player of the Year.

South Melbourne’s third consecutive Grand Final loss in 1936 spelled the end of one of the club's greatest eras. Across five seasons, South won 78 games, losing just 23. It featured in every Grand Final from 1933-36, winning the '33 flag. Nash became club captain in 1937, but harder times lay ahead.

His love of cricket never dissipated, and in the summer of 1936-37, Nash played his second and final Test match for Australia. Due to the fiery nature of his bowling, his selection caused great controversy, and the English captain, Gubby Allen, arranged a lunch with Australian skipper Don Bradman, calling for Nash's exclusion. 

Predictably, Bradman refused, stating that "his presence in the team would be a psychological threat to England whether he bowled bouncers or underarm grubbers.”

In 1938, Nash shocked the football world, signing an incredibly lucrative contract with VFA club Camberwell, including the captain-coach role with its cricket club. Across four seasons there, he kicked a phenomenal 418 goals in 74 games. 

After Japan entered World War II, Nash joined the Army in 1942, refusing a safe role in The Army School of Physical Training, instead seeing action in New Guinea and the Pacific as a trooper in the Second Australian Imperial Force. Medically discharged in 1944, he returned to South Melbourne in 1945, playing in the fourth losing Grand Final of his career, and coached the Swans in 1953.

Champion Collingwood full-forward Gordon Coventry once said of Nash, "No player is more versatile, for he can play anywhere. He is fast, has great control of the ball, kicks with either foot and has that little bit of 'devil' so essential in the makeup of a champion of today.”

When announcing their inaugural Hall of Famers in 1996, the AFL described Nash as, "One of the most gifted players ever. His career was half as long as many, but it shone twice as brightly as most. Considered by many judges the best player in the land."

Supremely talented, with a self-confidence to match, Nash held a similar view. When asked who the greatest footballer was he had ever seen, Nash famously replied, "I see him in the mirror every morning when I shave.”