Ossie Grose – Sydney’s first Indigenous star

As the AFL celebrates Sir Doug Nicholls Round, the NSW Australian Football History Society recalls the contribution to the game of NSW-born and bred Indigenous star Newtown’s Ossie Grose. Written by Rod Gillet.

When John “Ossie” Grose came to Sydney from Kempsey with his family and settled in Erskineville he had not previously played Australian football.

However, his speed, skills and courage enabled him to quickly adapt to the Australian game and he became one of NSW’s greatest-ever players.

He gained first grade selection with Newtown after a season in the Under 18s.

A diminutive 5’2” (1.57m) rover, “Ossie” became a key player in the Blood-Stained Angels premiership team of 1942 continuing on to play in another three premierships for Newtown between 1945-47 when the club dominated the Sydney competition.

He was described in the Sydney Football Record for the 1947 grand final as “Newtown’s classy rover. Intelligence and unselfishness are the key notes of his play”.

“Ossie” (pictured left) played over 300 games for the Newtown club in his career and represented NSW on twelve occasions including the 1947 ANFC Carnival in Hobart and the 1950 carnival in Brisbane. He often featured in the best players and was a renowned goal-sneak

At the 1947 carnival he was in the best players against Queensland (3 goals), Tasmania (3 goals) and South Australia (2 goals)

In 1948 he was recruited by the Leeton Redlegs in the Riverina where he was a contract player. The following year he became the club’s captain and coach.

“Ossie” returned to Newtown in 1950 to play in the team that won the premiership for the sixth successive season. He played until 1968, in his later years, mostly in the reserves.

John Mervyn “Ossie” Grose was admitted into the Sydney AFL Hall of Fame in 2008.