Almanac Footy History: Bendigo Footy League greats inducted into AFL Halls of Fame
Castlemaine-raised Arthur ‘Joe’ Murdoch was inducted into Richmond’s Hall of Fame back in August 2011.
He’s just one of a number of footy greats with Bendigo Footy League ties who have made it into ‘Best Of’ lists at their AFL clubs.
Murdoch was brought up in the Maine but moved with his family to inner suburban Albert Park when he was 10.
He was a star in Richmond’s defence right through the 1920s and early 1930s before returning to coach Castlemaine, starting out in the BFL and later during the World War 2 years in the Castlemaine District Football League.
When first in Melbourne, Murdoch played for the Burnley Church of Christ junior teams before being recruited to Tigerland.
That’s where he racked up almost 200 games in the yellow and black. Joe played for Richmond from 1927 to 1936.
He was a key position defender in the era when VFL clubs boasted gun key forwards.
Murdoch had to match up on Collingwood’s Gordon Coventry, South Melbourne’s Bob Pratt (two of the greatest spearheads of all time) along with Geelong’s Jack Collins.
The Cats’ Jack Laurie Collins shouldn’t be confused with Footscray’s 1954 premiership player, also named Jack Collins.
Joe Murdoch was in Richmond’s 1928 grand final side, beaten by the Jock McHale-coached Collingwood by 33 points and a year later — again in the Big Dance to the Magpies — when the Tigers lost by 29 points.
It seemed that Murdoch and his Richmond teammates were never going to taste the ultimate success after they’d gone down to Geelong by 20 points in the 1931 grand final.
So after three losses victory must have tasted sweeter when the Tigers finally celebrated a nine-point win over arch-enemies Carlton in the 1932 Big Dance.
Then it was back to second best when the Tiges finished runners-up to South Melbourne’s renowned ‘mosquito fleet’ in the 1933 VFL grand final before the ultimate revenge with Richmond victorious over South by 39 points in September 1934.
Murdoch had manned the tough centre half-back post through these amazing years for Richmond, playing in six grand finals in seven seasons for two premierships.
Although it must be recorded that Joe played from a half-forward flank in the ’34 premiership success over the South Melbourne Bloods. The Tigers had an over-abundance of backmen that season.
He wound up with Richmond in 1936 -– with 180 games (6 goals) to his name — and the next season he was Castlemaine’s senior coach in the BFL.
The Magpies finished 7th in ’37 with six wins, 14 losses.
And then by the late Thirties Castlemaine United was a member club of the Castlemaine District Football League.
They wore red and blue hence their nickname ‘the Demons’, and in 1940 they looked certain premiers. They’d left the BFL before the start of the 1939 season.
After only one home and away season loss they went down to Kyneton CYMS in the 1940 grand final despite booting 6.5 in the last quarter.
Final scores: Kyneton CYMS 14.11 def. Castlemaine 12.10.
But Murdoch and his Demons made up for it in the next season winning 9.20 (74) to Kyneton’s 11.5 (71) with 33-year-old Murdoch hauling in two match-saving marks deep in defence in the final moments as Castlemaine took home the 1941 cup, winning a thriller by three points.
Another Castlemaine DFL flag was to come in 1944 with Joe as captain-coach though the then Demons were only semi-finalists as war wound up in 1945.
Murdoch was interviewed for a Rhett Bartlett-penned book entitled Richmond F.C. well after his footy career was over.
Bartlett asked him if he’d played with the legendary Tiger enforcer: Jack ‘Captain Blood’ Dyer.
“No,” said Murdoch. “He played with me.”
“Jack was only a kid when he started playing so he grew up with some of the great Tigers’ sides.”
“I’d been there for quite a while when he started out.”
Joe played for Castlemaine from 1937 to 1949, the season they returned to the BFL wearing their traditional black guernseys with a white collar and logo.
Playing in an eight-club league the Maine finished a creditable sixth in the ’49 BFL season with a 9 win—12 loss record. Joe was in his 41st year.
Murdoch took up lawn bowls after his footy career was over and was still playing in a ‘Dad’s Army’ foursome for Castlemaine when aged in his late 80s.
Arthur ‘Joe’ Murdoch died on Boxing Day in 2002 aged 94.
Jimmy Buckley was recruited from Kyneton by Carlton and played his first senior game in 1976 for the Blues aged just 16 years, 6 months and 18 days.
He was Carlton’s equal youngest senior player ever.
Buckley went on to rack up 164 games (146 goals) between 1976 and 1990, including the premierships of 1979, 1981 and 1982.
The ’79 premiership was memorable as the Blues pipped arch-nemesis Collingwood by just five points.
Buckley won the Carlton best and fairest in ’82 — a premiership year — and was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2000.
Alongside him that year was another former BFL player in centre half-back Michael Sexton along with Garry Crane and Wayne Harmes.
The Blues’ side of Buckley’s era was a closely-knit unit with their famous catch-cry back in the rooms after a win: “Whose shout is it tonight?”
Sexton was recruited from Sandhurst and played for the Blues between 1990 and 2000.
He was born in Papua New Guinea. I knew his father Adrian when we both worked in the PNG capital Port Moresby during the Sixties and Seventies.
Michael grew up in Bendigo and became well known as a defender in his junior footy career.
At 192cm (6 ft. 4 ins.) he was a tremendous key backman for Carlton, racking up 200 AFL games and landing 23 goals during a decorated career.
After falling short with the Blues in the 1993 grand final, Sexton played in Carlton’s 1995 premiership team with his co-defender Stephen ‘SoS’ Silvagni completely negating Geelong’s match-winner, the mercurial Gary Ablett senior.
Michael was named an All-Australian in both 1996 and 1997 and also played in two State of Origin matches for Victoria.
He’s one of four footballing Sexton brothers, a group which includes 300-gamer with the Dragons, Matt, another AFL product in Ben (43 games with Footscray and Carlton) and Paul.
Horrie Clover is perhaps one of the most enigmatic footballers recruited by an AFL/VFL club from central Victoria.
Originally from (now) MCDFL club Carisbrook and later the Maryborough F.C. he played 147 games for Carlton from 1920 to 1931, booted 396 goals and served as playing coach in 1922 and 1923 and again in 1927.
As coach he garnered 26 wins from 45 matches and was 36 years of age when he finished at Princes Park in 1931.
In his very first VFL game for the Blues in 1920, a grudge match versus old rivals Richmond at Punt Road, Clover booted three goals but hit the post four times. He was 25 years old.
He also played for Victoria nine times, nailing 20 goals. Horrie was a centre half-forward standing 185cm (6 feet one inch, in the old measure).
In his third season Horrie finished off 1922 as the VFL’s leading goalkicker.
And his service to the Blues didn’t end when he hung up the boots in 1931. During his administrative career, Clover served terms as club secretary, vice-president and later was elected overall Carlton club president.
He died on New Years Day 1984 aged 88, two months short of his 89th birthday. Horrie Clover was inducted into the AFL Hall of Fame in 1996.