Jones files: After sixty years, I’m still yelling for the Pivots

By Richard Jones

GROWING up in Geelong in the late 1940s and early 1950s there was no way I could have been anything but a supporter of the Hooped Marvels.
My father was a Welshman who had migrated to Australia in the mid-1920s, ostensibly to escape possible employment in the coalmines of south Wales.
So I didn’t get any Aussie Rules genes from him. No, it was my maternal grandfather who nurtured what’s turned out to be a lifelong love affair with the Geelong Footy Club.
Grandpa Alf Outtrim was a great friend of the late Jack Jennings, the president and doyen of Kardinia Park for what now seems an eternity.
Alf also distributed how-to-vote cards and other federal election paraphernalia for Hubert “Oppy’ Opperman. I was often in the car with Alf when he drove to Meredith, Lara, Ceres and other places in Oppy’s federal electorate of Corio.
As someone who demonstrated for 48 hours straight outside Port Moresby’s Australian High Commission in 1975 following The Dismissal, I cringe now when I think of my tiny role in helping Old Ming Menzies remain in power.
But be re-assured that I’ve maintained the rage since then.
As far as the Geelong Footy Club is concerned I first saw my boys play in 1949. And it was at Kardinia Park, not some ridiculously named corporate arena.
We played Collingwood that June day six decades ago. I had long thought we’d won. But consulting some records the other day I found that “Mocha” Dunstan and the Pies pumped us: 17.14 (116) to 12.7 (79).
We had some great names running around in the blue and white hoops back then. And the players wore sensible boots which gave a bit of ankle support — not the dance pumps of today.
Our full-forward was Lindsay White. Forget Old Gazza, Dougie Wade and even Noel Rayson and Larry “The Lamb” Donahue, who were to come down the track.
Lindsay was a great goalkicker. In 1948 he topped the VFL goalkicking with 84 sausage rolls, 22 ahead of second placed Jack Dyer of Richmond and 25 in advance of Fitzroy’s Eddie Hart, who was third.
In 1949, the year I started watching the Pivotonians, as we were known then, Lindsay finished with 53 in equal third place. Essendon’s John Coleman topped the table in his first VFL season with an even ton. He got his hundredth goal in the last quarter of Essendon’s huge 1949 Grand Final win over Carlton.
Over the next two seasons I travelled with Grandpa Alf to matches in Melbourne as well as with him on our fortnightly sorties to Kardinia Park.
There weren’t many cars about in the early ‘50s. My grandfather was a successful hotelier with big pubs in Maryborough, Inglewood and Geelong, so he’d amassed a tidy sum for those days. I was lucky, I suppose, to be driven to Princes Park, Glenferrie Oval, Windy Hill and the MCG to watch VFL footy.
At home games I watched our No. 4, Bobby Davis, scorch along the boundary of the members’ wing. I preferred standing up when I watched football, a habit nurtured to the present day.
That’s just about all you could do back then. Stand up.
Even when my own children came with me to Geelong home games in the 1980s and ‘90s we always stood under the scoreboard on the Moorabool Street wing.
Sitting down is for the cinema, theatre or the opera.
Geelong at one stage in the early ‘50s boasted the entire Victorian representative half-forward line: Leo Turner, Fred Flanagan and Bobby Davis.
Fred finished second to Fitzroy’s Alan Ruthven in the 1950 Brownlow Medal count.
Leo Turner was a far more skilful player than his son, Mick, in my opinion. Leo was a delightful left-footer who could hit a leading forward with pinpoint stab kicks.
Russell “Hooker” Renfrey was, perhaps, the first true ruck-rover in VFL ranks. Just a trifle short to be a true tap ruckman, old Hooker battled it out alongside Bill McMaster in the ruck duels.
When I came down on leave from Port Moresby in the 1960s, I’d join another Cats player Jimmy Tuckwell and Hooker for a beer in a South Geelong boozer.
Former Eaglehawk boy Peter Pianto and Neil “Nipper” Tresize were our rovers in the early ‘50s. And a cracking pair they were, at that.
Bruce Morrison and Bernie Smith were an ideal full-back line pairing although I don’t think I ever saw Bernie, 1951 Brownlow medalist, kick with the left slipper.
He was a completely one-sided footballer, albeit a very clever one.
My greatest footy thrill was in September 1951. I was given a ticket as a birthday present for the Geelong-Essendon Grand Final. The catch was I’d have to go on my own.
To this day I can’t remember where my grandfather was that day. Maybe he had a business appointment.
My father had arranged for a teaching colleague to pick me up outside the ‘G after the game, and the colleague drove me to his mother’s house in Brighton, where they lived.
How I found him in the crush I don’t recall. The attendance was 85,795 on Grand Final day 1951, yet I found Barrie and we drove down to Brighton.
Geelong beat the Bombers 11.15 (81) to 10.10 (70) even though Essendon coach Dicky Reynolds made a surprise last quarter appearance on the ground as twentieth man.
It was a desperate ploy by Reynolds. I’ll never forget the roar when he ran on — but the mighty Pivotonians had led at every change and we were never going to relinquish our grip.
In 1951 Geelong not only won the premiership and the Brownlow Medal, but Essendon reject George Goninon topped the goalkicking with 86. That effort equalled Collingwood’s awards treble of 1927 and 1929.

Comments

  1. johnharms says:

    Richard

    Great memories. Geelong (the city and the district) is such a fascinating place. It has such a strong identity and is full of characters, and stories. To me it has the precisely right footy club. J. Dunne once invited me to lunch in the Fred Flanagan Room (v WB last year). There was a tallie on each table. It reminded me of a photo of my Grandfather’s birthday in about 1964.

    I didn’t know Bobby Davis wore No. 4.

    What were you doing in New Guinea? Was there any footy up there?

    JTH

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