Almanac Footy History: Jim McShane – The Accidental Pioneer


A pioneer is someone who paves the path of the greatest.


But Jim McShane didn’t set out to break records and change the way goal kickers were received in the game of Australian Football.


James ‘Kilby’ McShane was born on the 28th of February, 1871 and grew up alongside brothers Henry, Joe and Pat in Keilor, where they would spend their spare time in their backyard of their family home.


In 1884, McShane joined Geelong, before moving to Essendon, then returning to the Cats (who were the Seagulls at the time) in 1887.


McShane played in Geelong’s first ever official VFL match in 1897, where he began his career as a centreman and a forward.


‘Kilby’ played alongside brothers Henry and Joe for 17 games that season, also creating history as one of the first trio of brothers to grace the football field.


But, the most memorable of his 82-game career came in 1899, where he would break the game of football open and mark his name down in history, without really even planning to.


In Geelong’s last home game of the season, McShane and his side were to face St Kilda in what would be a history-making match.


This game saw McShane boot 11 of Geelong’s 23 goals, defeating the Saints 23.24 162 to 0.1.1 point.


But these 11 goals were unlike the rest, with Kilby being the first ever VFL/AFL player to kick double figures in a single match.


Arguably, this was Kilby’s best ever game in the hoops. And, unbeknownst to him, would label him as a pioneer in the history books.


The Geelong Advertiser form 1899 stated of Geelong’s 161-point win: ‘The game was also productive of a League individual goal kicking record, the honour falling to Jim McShane who piloted new fewer than 11 goals.’


McShane, although quite unknown, was the first of many to write his name in the history books.


One is to wonder what the relevance and impact this broken record had on the rest of McShane’s career, a career where he would only kick another 42 goals.


We would be curious if this double-figure-wonder guided the goal-kicking that was to come, for McShane and for the other forwards in the competition.


Was he praised by the media? Was he the talk of the town?


If we could go back, I’m sure we’d be watching Kilby intensely; analysing his moves and how he manoeuvred himself against his defenders on that one significant day, comparing it to the forwards of today.


We’d wonder how much of an influence, if any, that his 11-goal haul had on the forwards to come.


Was it unorthodox? Was it spectacular? Was he a pioneer?


We will never know.


But one thing is for sure.


Jim McShane was just the man on the day, the first to make a history that is now a mere statistic in the history books.



About Anna Pavlou

Anna 'Pav' Pavlou is a current Year 11 student and a born and bred Melburnian who has a passion for sport and sharing people's stories. She is an intern journalist for YourLifeChoices and writes for The Roar, the Victorian Amateur Football Association (VAFA Media) and is a Melbourne Cricket Club contributor. Most winter weekends you'll find her down at the Ross Gregory Oval in St Kilda, supporting Power House FC, who play in Division 2 in the VAFA. She works as the Division 2 writer for the VAFA. She completed work experience with 3AW Radio and has been published in The Age as well as with Carlton FC and Geelong Cats. Check out her website below for more sport pieces!


  1. An interesting read, Anna. Thanks.

    11 goals back in 1899 would be the equivalent of 22 now, surely?

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