Vale Allan Gandy

Lacrosse Victoria
Lacrosse Victoria  

The Lambton Mount Lacrosse Club is saddened to learn of the passing on Saturday of Allan Gandy, regarded by many as Australia's finest lacrosse player.

There will be a celebration of the life of Allan Gandy on Monday 15 April 2019 at the Sandringham Club (92 Beach Road, Sandringham) from 2.30pm onwards.

Please no flowers, the family has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Melbourne Legacy.


Allan Gandy was born 2 April 1930 and commenced playing lacrosse as a junior in 1940 at the age of 10 for the Legacy Lacrosse Club in Adelaide.

His playing position was crease attack and he wrote the record book as an attack player, including most goals in a game and a season and the world's first lacrosse player to throw 1000 goals. Gandy threw 17 goals on 6 June 1953 playing A grade for North Adelaide against University and threw over 100 goals in two home and away seasons.
By way of background to provide context in comparing modern lacrosse competition and frequency, Australian lacrosse, and indeed international lacrosse, remained predominantly domestic until the first World Series in 1974, which was held in Melbourne, and thereafter every 4 years. The only two overseas Australian tours prior to the inaugural World Series were undertaken in 1962 and 1967. Senior Australian championships were only held every 3 years when Allan Gandy was playing, whereas they have been held annually since 1976. Thus players in the Gandy era and prior had limited access or opportunity to display their skills against the very best other than through domestic club competition.

The first international lacrosse match that Australia played in after the 1907 test series against Canada was the American team which toured Australia in 1959, which played matches against W.A., S.A. and Victoria, followed by a Test Match at the MCG against Australia. The U.S. at that time was the dominant nation in lacrosse, where the game was played across the nation, in particular at Ivy League colleges and universities.

Gandy made his impact on the Americans in their first encounter in Adelaide, where he was the top scorer and the following week Gandy playing for SA was the dominant forward in the national championships, earning him selection for the Test against the U.S.A.

In the Test Match at a very muddy MCG Allan Gandy threw 3 of Australia's 7 goals to achieve a victory over the U.S.A. team 7-3. Allan Gandy was 29 at the time and coming to what should have been the twilight of his career.

American coach George Corrigan said after the Test Match "Gandy is the best ball player l have ever seen. I sure would like to have him on our team. He can have a scholarship at our university any time he likes". Lacrosse scholarships to prestigious American universities were unheard of in Australia until the late 1970s.

In 1960 Allan Gandy, who had been the leading goal scorer in SA for 10 years, at club and interstate level, was asked by (coerced by) the South Australian Lacrosse Association to transfer from his premiership team to the then struggling Glenelg Lacrosse Club, which was languishing at the bottom of the A grade ladder. He was also encouraged and inspired by the state coach, Ken Roennfeldt, who also was the coach of the 1959 Australian team, to transfer to Glenelg to help them out. Allan Gandy accepted the challenge and transferred to Glenelg and played out his career in SA in 1960-61, whereby through his skills as a player and mentor facilitated a meteoric rise from the bottom of the ladder in 1959 to be grand final contenders in the next 2 years. He not only added skill and increased scoring capability but he also brought with him discipline and dedication to win, which rubbed off on a team that lacked ability but made up for it with drive and discipline.

In honour of his achievements as a lacrosse player he had a new street in Lightsview, a new suburb near North Adelaide Lacrosse Club, named in his honour - Gandy Lane.

Gandy was an insurance executive and was transferred by his employer in 1962 to Darwin, where he resided and worked for the next 3 years. Early in 1962, during the preparation for the inaugural Australian team tour of the U.S.A. Allan Gandy received a call from the manager of the Australian team, Laurie Turnbull, advising that while he knew that he was not playing lacrosse that year and working in Darwin, that if he made himself available for the overseas tour that he would be automatically selected without having to try out for the Australian team, and would be offered a leadership role, probably as vice-captain. Due to family and business commitments as well as financial reasons, Allan graciously declined the very generous offer. 
In 1965 Allan Gandy transferred from Darwin to Melbourne to advance his insurance broking career, and resumed playing state league for Caulfield for 1965-1968, after which he retired at the age of 38. Caulfield won both A grade finals in the first 2 years, and guess who was the key difference?

While small in stature Gandy had it all - a brilliant stick handler, fast off the mark, a great reader of the game and a great shooter. He could take a pass under extreme pressure, was very accurate and was tough - "You had to be" as former Australian forward and coach Denis Trainor put it " He was 9 stone wet, they would hit him as hard as they could, often finishing a match with a jumper so impregnated with blood that it was painful to just remove the jumper, but if he got the ball he put the ball in the net 9 out of 10 times, and he didn't just put it in the net, he put it in a corner, just inside the post."

During the period that Allan Gandy played lacrosse there was no body protection other than a floppy hat and very basic gloves. The wild slashes into the body often from two defence men guarding him, the rough stuff behind the play, he copped it all and just kept throwing goals.

In the high calibre games including interstate matches and carnivals, and the international matches against the U.S.A. in 1959, he was never held score-less. Regardless of the level of lacrosse he always performed, he always scored, regardless of the circumstances and the competition.

Back in 1956, the rules of lacrosse were such that if you were injured and had to leave the field your immediate opponent had to leave the field as a "Pair". As Denis Trainor recalls " We (The Victorians) knew that we had to stop Gandy to win, which over those 10 years they rarely did, and as such in the latter years of the 1950s would have the defender playing on Gandy feign an injury, thus Gandy had to go off for a period of time and as a result South Australia lost their key scorer. It was not long after this time that the rule was changed so that the player marking the injured player did not have to go off the field, and the injured player was merely replaced by a substitute.
Again quoting Denis Trainor, who was a great Australian player and coach in his own right "Gandy was unstoppable, he could make a bad pass look good, if it wasn't happening he would move out and let others make the play. No one else could take as much punishment as he took. He was a high percentage shooter (9 out of 10). He was an extremely disciplined player, never failed to score."

When asked about rating the greatest forwards he has seen over the last 60 years Denis Trainor simply said, "Gandy as the standout, then Brian Griffin (Already a member of the Australian Sports Hall of Fame), Peter Cann and Graeme Fox."

Defence player Roy Sloggett, a member of the Victorian team for many years and member of the 1959 Australian team said that looking back over his career, and playing the very best during the 1950s, he couldn't think of a better forward than Allan Gandy, unlike many players he said, Gandy would always lift for big occasions, something that a lot of great club players could not do.

Allan Gandy was a very humble man in his approach to lacrosse. Again Denis Trainor recalls "He could stop a room full of players talking merely by walking into a room, because of his ability and humility. He had a mesmerising effect on the very best players. If you spoke to people about catching up with Gandy they wondered how did you get to catch up with him?"

In the wooden stick era (Plastic sticks came into use in the 1970's) he was probably the best known and most admired player by all and clearly one of the all time great Australian lacrosse players, regardless of the era.

Former SA and 1959 Australian team captain Dudley Hamilton could not speak more highly of Allan Gandy and echoed the comments of his peers, he was truly one of the greats, if not the great. "He would go quiet a few days before the big games, then play a brilliant game and get done what he had to done, then after the game the jovial and mischievous Allan Gandy would return".

Bill Stahmer (Former Caulfield, Victorian and Australian player and coach) recalled in his first year in A grade in 1967 Allan Gandy said to him "When l get the ball go to the front of goals. I threw 80/90 goals in my first season, every opponent was looking for Gandy, he just kept smiling! He was the rubber man, never knocked over. The best pivot dodge of all time, and he was 37 years old".

Graeme Reddaway (Former Victorian and Australian player and referee) said "He was the best pure forward l have ever seen. I have seen him knocked down by 15 stone defence man and still score a goal, l witnessed him being knocked down by a heavy defender and on his way to ground disposing of the ball to another player in a better position to score. His catching and throwing skills were incredible. More importantly, as an interstate opponent he was always a gentleman and all round nice guy."

Legacy Club (Junior) 1940-1945
North Adelaide Lacrosse Club - State League 1946-1958
Glenelg Lacrosse Club - State League 1959-1960 
Transferred to Darwin for business (Did not play) 1961-1964
Caulfield Lacrosse Club -State League 1965-1968 
South Australian state team 1952-1960
All Australian selection (Based on carnival performance) 1953, 1956 & 1959
Most outstanding player in Australia (Brady Trophy) 1956
Best and fairest player - South Australia 1960
Leading goal thrower - South Australia 1952-1960
First player in world lacrosse to throw over 1000 goals
All-Australian team member 1959/62

Allan Gandy also played A grade squash and cricket in Adelaide, had a glider pilot's licence and was heavily involved in insurance settlements in Darwin after Cyclone Tracey.

Victorian senior team 1986/87/88/89/92/99
Under 23 Australian team tour - Japan 1986
Senior Australian team tour - USA 1990
Australian team - World Championship Perth 1990

Specialist coach - Caulfield Lacrosse Club 1980
Specialist coach - M.C.C. Lacrosse Club 1981/82
Co - coach - Chadstone Lacrosse Club 1987
Co - coach - Caulfield Women's Lacrosse Club 1985/89

Vice President 1992- 2000s
Past Players Association - President 2002-2016
Chairman - Investigations committee 1992/93/99
Grants committee 1992/1993
Insurance officer 1997-late 2000s

Caulfield Lacrosse Club 1995
Victorian Amateur Lacrosse Association 2002

Allan Gandy's two daughters, Sue and Allison also played lacrosse, representing Caulfield and Victoria


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