Hogan’s Heroes

Here’s a story about a man named Hogan who was busy with five boys of his own, six men all living together, but they were not alone (bit of a mish mash of old TV sitcoms).

Just prior to the turn of the twentieth century a young lad raised in the country town of Naracoorte cherished dreams of future successes. In the beginning life was simple for Keith Macdonald Hogan, the town had all the necessary ingredients for nurture-family, footy, mates and a mouth organ. Naracoorte in South Australia lies midway between Adelaide and Melbourne and the town flourished as an important stopover when gold was discovered in Ballarat. An early association with Dugald Caldwell, journalist with the Narracoorte Herald (the spelling is correct) and a fine musician to boot, provided Keith with the impetus to learn the intricacies of this new instrument in the colonies called the mouth harmonicon (mouth organ). Master Keith conducted and played in a mouth organ band of fifteen local boys under the tutelage of ‘Captain’ Caldwell and performed at various musical events including the town’s Christmas Eve soirée of 1904.

Keith left school for employment at the Caldwell’s newspaper as a compositor. These weren’t his only passions as he also exhibited exceptional talent on the park as an Australian Rules footballer. He even created his own team in 1907, the Warrior Football Club, who would compete in classic and brutal showdowns with the other local Naracoorte team. At their inaugural meeting of the Warrior Football Club Keith was duly elected captain of the team. In 1912 the Warrior Football Club was dissolved (they were back in 1914) and a three team Naracoorte Football Association was formed. Keith captained the Centrals to the first ever premiership and played a blinder. In the same year he packed his kit bag and headed to Border Town, the Narracoorte Herald reported, “….the club had lost the services of Keith Hogan, one of the founders of the club and one of the most brilliant footballers in the South-East.” (Tuesday, 16 April, 1912)

Eventually Keith would settle down and raise a family. He found employment at the Islington Railway Workshops (pictured) near his family abode-a timber cottage at three Kintore Avenue, Chicago (suburb of Adelaide). Here he and Mrs Hogan would raise five boys, Keith the oldest born on the 24th September 1917, Gordon next on the 5th of December 1918, Stephen born on the 28th October 1920, Ray on the 15th December 1922 and James the youngest in 1924. Gordon John Macdonald Hogan would be the first baptism held at the Hogan’s new Methodist Church just up the road in Kintore Avenue in a hall purchased from the Free Gardeners Lodge. The sacrament of baptism was provided by the residing minister, the Reverend E. Ingamells. Music would be at the forefront of their upbringing and what better instrument of choice for a large family that was both economical and easily transportable, but the humble mouth organ. All the boys participated in the Methodist Junior Endeavour program where they entertained at services with solos on their pocket harps.

In the year of 1925 Keith senior ventured to the Coliseum in South Street Ballarat to compete in the Boomerang sponsored National Mouth Organ Championship. Percival Spouse would be crowned the winner by adjudicator Gustav Slapoffski (love the name). Keith (he’s in the photograph somewhere) would win the ‘Best Imitation’ section scoring maximum points. Gustav’s critique on his performance read, “K M Hogan’s imitation of brass band, church organ and mandolin, great dexterity, organ quite good, tremolo good (a comedian).”

Keith Senior was way ahead of his times in 1927 when he performed a chromatic mouth organ selection on Adelaide radio 5KA, probably on the Hohner model (pictured). More expensive than their diatonic counterparts, they were available for purchase from around 1925 (maybe earlier) and this model featured the new and improved leaf styled slide that was mounted on the outside. Hohner’s Chromonica their next improved model, with an internal spring system arrived a little later. Noted Australian harmonica author and historian Ray Grieve supported my presumption that Keith must have been one of the first chromatic exponents in the land with, “Would have to be Shep. Hohner’s Chromatic Harmonica came out in the mid 1920s. Kurt (Jacob) said that they weren’t all that popular but there must have been a few sold of course. Hogan definitely one of the earliest.” Chromatic harmonicas didn’t really take off in Australia until Larry Adler’s visit to our shores in 1938-39, although momentum had been created with release of his recordings in 1935. The Barrier Miner reported in 1927 on Keith’s outstanding skills with the chromatic, “He demonstrated how to play a trio or duet on the instrument and showed the possibilities of playing in octaves on a single reed instrument. He also rendered a tune in three different keys on a natural key instrument without anyway marring it.” (Barrier Miner 17 September, 1927) Just six letters gollygeewowee!

Keith formed a family mouth organ band with his sons and one ring-in a friend of the the boys, Gordon Thomas (an early version of the Partridge Family). They were in constant demand gaining considerable concert experience on their journey. James, the youngest refused to take the stage in one contest. He had been severely traumatised by a previous meeting with a black and white minstrels act (I won’t print the actual name of the minstrels) and he didn’t want to cross their paths again (clowns were fine). Ray was a serious performer who refused to play at a local music store because, in his words, “I only perform at contests!” At a competition in Mt. Gambier an elderly Irish gentleman offered Steve money to perform a solo. Displaying business acumen way beyond his years, as first cab off the rank he blew, ‘The Wearing Of The Green’ (always a good tune for the repertoire). At the conclusion, a voice rich in Irish brogue from the auditorium exclaimed, rather ungenerously for the other contestants, “the rest of you need not play, Steve has won!”

In 1929 Keith senior was bestowed with the honour of State Mouth Organ champion winning with a score of 86/100 and beating a red hot field, A Merrett was second with 82 and H Colmer third with 81. The adjudicator from Victoria was Mr. Virginius Lorimer. Keith’s prize £5/5 and a gold medal was presented by Albert’s representatives.

The following year the Hogan’s suburb of Chicago would be renamed. Post had been a problem with local mail ending up in Illinois and not at the local Post Office agency in Kintore Avenue. The other major issue for constituents was the names association with gangsters and death. Many replacement names were put forward, Makinville, Suburbia, Killarney, Hollywood, Northview, Homeville, Fiveville, Islington Park, Baroka, Wurrook, Braeville and Mapleton. The vote was counted and Chicago became Kilburn, the name derived from the adjoining subdivision. There was some fallout with one resident outlining that the gangsters of Chicago would kill their victims and then burn them so they could not be identified.

Keith (Junior), Gordon, Ray and Stephen would enlist and serve the country in WWII. Both Stephen and Ray in the RAAF. Stephen rose to the rank of Flight Sergeant and Ray, Leading Air-Craftsman. Ray was a member of the local RSL sub-branch in Kilburn. He would perform duties in his roles as Secretary and then President and received life membership after fifteen years of active involvement. Ray lived a short dash away from the RSL with his wife Dorothy (née Bolton) at 19 Kintore Avenue.

Young Keith married local girl Lita Jones and relocated to his Dad’s old stomping ground, Naracoorte. He had graduated in carriage building at the local technical school in Kilburn and would use his newfound skills at the railway workshops in Naracoorte. Keith was more than an accomplished musician playing multiple instruments, including the baritone that he’s pictured holding here with the Naracoorte Municipal Band. He was a popular attendee at local dances tickling the ivories and showcasing his band and orchestra. Each and every Christmas Keith’s father would visit his son and former town, especially doting on his granddaughter Judith Ann (perfectly understandable having raised five boys).

The apple didn’t fall far from the tree in regards to athletic prowess either. Gordon inherited his father’s football endowments. He joined the local club in Kilburn known as the Chics an abbreviation from their Chicago football club origins. Gordon was an integral member of the Premiership team of 1937.

So talented was he that that South Australian National Football League (SANFL) club North Adelaide (Roosters) drafted him the following year. Kilburn premiership teammate John Summersides would follow Gordon to the Roosters not long after. In an interrupted career Gordon would play fifty nine official senior games and kick fifteen goals over a period of ten years. In his first season he was voted Best Backman. In the Annual report of that year it stated, “Gordon Hogan showed that he is a backman of real class; his displays at full back were characterised with steadiness and purpose.” In 1939 he was awarded Best Utility and in 1941 Best Backman once more even though he didn’t play in all games. During WWII the SANFL was disbanded, however combined teams were formed and Gordon who had been discharged early from the forces was a significant member of the Norwood-North Adelaide combine teams of 1942, 1943 and 1944-playing in twenty seven games and drifting forward kicking two sneaky goals (these games and goals weren’t included in his North Adelaide official totals). In the Grand Final of ’44 Gordon was right in the thick of it, which was highlighted in this report, “Once again we were destined to meet the Port-Torrens combination to decide the premiership, and with players of the calibre of Oatey, Lush, Schmelzhopf and Cearns out of action, our prospects did not appear too rosy, however, our losses were, to some extent, counter-balanced by the return of Gordon Hogan and Stan Hancock, and how they rose to the occasion is now history.” The combine were Premiers in the latter two years and in 1944 having finished on the bottom of the ladder (only four combined teams) after the minor rounds their rise to take the flag was meteoric. Gordon’s work as a painter resulted in a shift to the panoramic fishing town of Port Lincoln in the following year. In 1946 newly formed Lincoln South (Eagles) appointed Gordon as Captain Coach. He left mid season as North Adelaide were desperate to regain his experience and with work granting him extended leave he returned to the big smoke and the best competition in the State. In 1949 North Adelaide football club honoured Gordon with life membership in recognition of long and meritorious service. Gordon’s love and indebtedness to North Adelaide FC was ongoing. He was a founding member and honorary treasurer of the Port Lincoln branch of the Roosters organising many a riotous function for club members situated in the Eyre Peninsula. Gordon also contributed to the local community by umpiring in the local league and painting the name of the racecourse on a sign at the track (Ravendale Park). His interests in racing didn’t end there, at the local the Hotel Boston he was the SP Bookie-that was until he was caught by the local constabulary. In the 1962 North Adelaide Annual Report there were several mentions of Gordon’s sudden passing (aged 43), “The tragic passing of ‘Goog’ Hogan”, “Shock and sadness attended the notification at the sudden passing” and “A tragedy overcame the Club in the passing of ‘Goog’ Hogan-a great chap and a great player, and his untimely passing is a blow we could ill afford to have.”

Then there’s Ray Macdonald Hogan (apologies to Stephen and James as I couldn’t resource your grand deeds on this mortal coil). Ray could run like the wind. A late-comer to competive athletics. He joined local amateur athletic club Western Districts at the age of nineteen. The club embraced Ray and on his wedding day provided a unique arch of spiked running shoes for the bride and groom as they left the Pirie Street Methodist church on December 23 1944. Within a short stretch of time Ray had strung a number of consecutive victories that would have made Winx (Australian Racehorse Champion) envious and in 1941 he broke the club record for the mile running a 52.2. He was selected to represent South Australia in the Australian National Championships in 1947 held at the Leederville oval in Perth. In the 100 yards he ran a solid fourth in his heat clocking 10.2 narrowly missing the final. In the 220 yards he finished fifth in his heat recording a time of 22.8. The following year he missed State selection, but fellow club members funded his trip to Melbourne (held at the St. Kilda Cricket Ground), where to his credit he made the final of the 220 yards.

A young boy’s dreams can come to fruition as can a father’s desire for his son(s) to fulfil their God given talents too. They do make you proud!


PS: Here’s Keith Hogan’s tip for beginners, “….beginners must exercise patience in learning to produce a clear note. ….it is essential that the tongue be placed on the front of the instrument to smother all the holes except the one from which the sound is to be emitted. It is most difficult to play an air which requires a clean note, but if the tongue is correctly employed the result is satisfactory. ….also desist from playing vamp like sounds between each note in soft passages.”

roostersThanks to Barry Dolman from the North Adelaide Football Club for his efforts in providing extra information on Gordon and in particular the access to the Annual Reports. It was really appreciated. Go Roosters!

Extra Information

PS: 28/9/2020 Discovery of Steve Hogan graffiti – behind upholstered seats of a carriage that Dave Hoppo is restoring. Written by Steve on the 9th August 1939. Refer below to comments section and to Kilburn Queen for further information and photos.

17/11/2022 Norwood FC contact HRR with news Keith Senior plays one game for the Redlegs in 1913. Family also discover a football medal of Pops – check it out here Big Brother .

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16 thoughts on “Hogan’s Heroes

  1. What a fantastic article! I’m Bryan Hogan, another one of Steve’s sons and grandson of Keith (Pop to us). I’m a musician and inherited all of pop’s harmonicas – although I’m more of a guitarist and I have to say the best I ever managed with harmonica were a few ‘Bob Dylan’ impressions with the harrmonica holder while playing guitar. I ended up passing on most of the harmonicas to one of my nephews when I moved overseas, but I still have Pop’s Hohner ‘Song Band’ Vamper harmonica (like a typical blues harmonica) which my son likes to noodle on. I remember dad very rarely playing a harmonica, he was very talented but sadly passed away when I was 14 and ‘knew everything’… if only I’d paid more attention I would’ve been a better player! James (Jimmy) was probably the most talented of the brothers, he graduated from harmonica to trumpet, slide trombone, piano and a few other brass instruments. He played in the Channel Nine studio band and appeared regularly on the ‘Ernie Sigley’ show, and in his youth he played in many bands in Adelaide and was well renowned. He was good friends with Bobby Limb, and when Bobby moved to Melbourne he encouraged Jimmy to join him. Jimmy told me he tried it for a while, but he found the lifestyle of a professional musician too cutthroat so he moved back to Adelaide. He played music until the day he died though, he had a trio that played in a restaurant in Adelaide for many years. I believe one of my brothers may even have a cassette with Pop (Keith senior) playing harmonica on it… we’ll have to dig around the boxes in his sheds! Thanks again for this wonderful article – I’ve told my kids that their great-grandfather won national awards for his harmonica playing and they always look at me with doubting eyes – it’s nice to have some proof!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Nothing like having supportive evidence with kids. Great to hear from you Bryan and to see the article has reached those nearest and dearest. Thanks for the extra info and in particular pertaining to James. If you find the cassette of Keith I’d be very interested in hearing/restoring for prosperity. Cheers Shep

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Hi Bryan,
      Keith is my Great Grandfather and Gordan is my Grandfather, Bradley is my father. Unfortunately the musical talent has stopped at me, my father and sisters although share the talents.
      Ben Hogan

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Hi, My name is Dave and I have a 1900’s Adelaide train carriage that I got from the Salisbury McDonalds restaurant (used as a party room) many years ago.
    A lot of the interior had been removed and we refitted it as a home office. Whilst doing this I found a hand written letter written in pencil behind one of the seats, it is a little difficult to read but It goes along these lines
    Stephen McDonalds Hogan
    3rd yr App Trimmer
    9th August 1939
    Day of Kilburn football club
    Queen competition final
    held in progressive hall
    Chicago Kilburn
    8pm – 12MN
    Winner – Miss (not sure about this name) Jean Rival
    7602 Votes

    Fascinated to hear this story and would love to learn more about Stephen.
    I am currently going to renovate the carriage externally with new metal sheet and timbers

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Dave, thanks for adding to the history of the Hogan clan. A fine archaeological find. Wondering if you could post a photo of the letter. I’ll contact Bryan Hogan about the post. What a great idea for an office. We had a restaurant up here in the Dandenongs in a train carriage and our local theatre has one – I think originally used as a ticket box. 3MDR, where I have radio segment, at one time looked at the theatre’s carriage as a viable radio station. Ch S


    2. Dave Hoppo, that’s amazing! This is definitely my dad the note is referring to, he did his apprenticeship at the old Islington workshops, was a lifetime member of Kilburn Football Club (known as the Chicks from the days when Kilburn was Chicago) and I have a feeling that Jean may have been one of his old flames. I told my family about this and they were very excited, we’d love to see a copy or be reunited with it if you’re amenable to that – I’d be very happy to discuss this offline with you. A tram as an office sounds great, I once stayed in a hotel in the Barossa with apartments made from old train carriages… I also have very fond memories of taking the tram to Glenelg with my grandma (Steve’s mum).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Bryan
        Great to hear from you… the actual note is written in pencil onto the wood that would have been behind the upholstered death back… I have sent photos to Shep’s email address and would be happy to send direct to you…it is very hard to get a full clear photo as the pencil is light and the timber has darker areas…. I have taken a few different shots so you can make it all out..
        I couldn’t find anything on the queens competition on line and wonder if the football club had records to confirm the winners name from that year?
        We love having the train carriage in our garden and are currently staring a full external refurbishment over this summer… please send me your email address and I will send you photos of the note and carriage….
        Did Stephen go to war? Did he live a full happy life? What was his occupation for the remainder of his working life….
        love the fact he left this note
        Kind regards Dave

        Liked by 1 person

  3. A terrific story. Well done. Can I add one thing?

    Keith Hogan senior played a league match for Norwood against Port Adelaide at Alberton Oval on the 17th of May 1913. Port won easily but Press reports rated Keith as one of Norwood’s conspicuous players that day. Unfortunately we do not know why that was his only game.

    I’d be very grateful if someone could send me a good picture of Keith to replace the one we have in the online Redlegs Museum.

    Phil Robins
    Norwood Football Club History Group
    0409 677 563

    Liked by 1 person

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