One Hundred Years Ago: Round 15, 29th July, 1911

 

Any hope that St Kilda might resolve the internal conflict of the previous weekend soon dissipated as the following week unfolded. The committee stuck fast to their position in relation to withdrawing dressing room passes. At Tuesday training the players voted unanimously that ‘the indignity to which Messrs Eicke and Hogan had been subjected could not be tolerated’. Eighteen players resolved to strike; the only exceptions on the list being those who would suffer ‘loss of business’ should they join their teammates.

With opinion divided though the district, the committee called for the strikers to turn in their uniforms and set about the task of assembling a new team. The call went out for players from ‘junior’ clubs to attend Thursday training in preparation for the game against Carlton. A game which had been scheduled for the upcoming interstate carnival break against East Fremantle was cancelled, with that club arranging an alternate fixture against Fitzroy.

Club secretary H.W. Stoddart remained optimistic. ‘We had the pick of 50 players’ he proclaimed. When St Kilda answered Carlton’s opening goal of the game with one of their own some thought Stoddart may be justified. Events soon proved him sadly mistaken.

The game quickly descended into farce, with Carlton doing as they pleased and the ball rarely entering the St Kilda forward line. The only point of interest soon became how many goals Carlton forward Vin Gardiner might kick. ‘Kick it to Gardiner’ became the cry of the crowd and the focus of the Blues as the sharp shooter had a day to remember.

At 5’6” and 10 stone, the diminutive Gardiner was regarded by many in the day as the best pound-for-pound kick of the time. He was Carlton’s preeminent goal-scorer of the pre WWI era, with 342 from 157 games.

He wouldn’t be a full forward if some didn’t also consider him hungry for a goal.

Both his kicking and appetite were working overtime as he ended the game with a personal tally of 10 goals 11 behinds – his usual immaculate kicking going astray, possibly due to fatigue from the sheer weight of opportunity, or perhaps because he was laughing too hard. This was only the second 10 goal haul in VFL football. The first had been Geelong’s Jim McShane kicking 11 against St Kilda back in 1899. To this day only three players have had more scoring shots in a game of VFL/AFL football.

The atmosphere of the rout is best summed up by the circumstance of St Kilda’s second (and last) goal. Carlton full back Ernie Jamieson took shelter by the fence under a spectator’s umbrella as a sharp shower of rain fell in the third term. The ball suddenly made a rare appearance past the centre and Ernie Sellars (one of few Saints to have played the previous week) pounced and ran toward goal. Jamieson emerged from the umbrella too late to prevent Sellars goaling.

The final Carlton winning margin was 114 points, second only to Geelong’s 1899 thrashing of the Saints (162-1).

The one St Kilda ray of sunshine was that one of their nine debutants was Roy Cazaly, playing his first of 99 games in Saints colours. Of course, Cazaly would later play a perfectly symmetrical 99 games for South Melbourne, as well as (much later) be immortalised by Mike Brady. Others to debut this day such as Claude Crowl and Otto OPelt enjoyed considerably less fame.

Cazaly’s future club were hosting Richmond at the Lake Oval, where they comfortably avenged their round 6 loss to the Tigers despite appalling inaccuracy in front of goals. Len Mortimer and both scored 3 goals but missed many more as the Bloods only kicked 8 majors from 33 scoring shots.

Bruce Sloss and Vic Belcher once again starred in the following division, while defenders Tom Grimshaw, Jack Scobie and Bill Thomas were seldom passed. Across the centre, Jim Caldwell and Joe Prince were dominant. Rover Bill Mahoney was Richmond’s best player, closely followed by ruckman Barney Herbert, defender Vic Thorp and star centreman Syd Reeves.

Fitzroy drew only a small crowd to Brunswick St as they hosted University under skies which offered much more threat than the depleted Students. University remained competitive for a half, but as the rains came Fitzroy asserted their superiority to run away 37 point victors. Percy Parratt and George Shaw continued to mark brilliantly in the Maroon forward line despite the rain, while Bruce Campbell kicked 3 goals. Allan McCracken kicked 3 for the Students, whose best player was rover Ken McLeod.

Collingwood also suffered from inaccuracy as they defeated Melbourne at the MCG in front of 12,476 spectators. Rover cum forward Percy Wilson kicked 3 goals, whilst notoriously bad kick Les Hughes managed to get 2 shots on target whist team mates all around him missed. The Magpie performance featured star turns from Jim Sharpe in defence, and Jock McHale, Jim Sadler and Percy Gibb across the centre line. Melbourne wingers Jack Robertson and Bill McKenzie made it a good contest on the wings, whilst new Fuchsia skipper Hughie Odgers fought hard at half back.

Top team Essendon hosted Geelong at the East Melbourne Cricket Ground (EMCG) for the round’s final encounter. The EMCG was not a happy hunting ground for the Pivotonians, their last win at the ground coming seven years previously. They didn’t improve their record this day, as the Same Olds held an advantage at every break to win by 26 points.

In fairness to Geelong, Observer felt part of their trouble was due  ‘a few remarkable decisions or oversights from the field umpire’. Those fans who had made the trip from Geelong didn’t withhold from letting umpire Boyle know their feelings at half time. It seemed to have a delayed effect, as Geelong ‘got almost as many free kicks as they wanted’ coming home in the final term when the result was decided.

Geelong were also unfortunate to strike an Essendon outfit returning to near-full strength for the first time in a few weeks, with Paddy Shea, Ernie Cameron, Fred O’Shea and champion defender Bill Busbridge all returning. This was Busbridge’s first game for the year after injuries had forced him into the role of spectator. The strapping on his hand and ankles suggested all was still not entirely healed.

Four goals to Lou Armstrong were supported by 2 from Shea, while followers Cameron and Fred Baring shone, as did defender Percy Ogden. For the Pivot there were none better than rover Alec Eason, though ruck Harry Marsham, winger Percy Scown and Dick Grigg (mainly in defence) were also prominent. With only three rounds to be played the loss left Geelong 10 points adrift of the top four.

This win continued Essendon’s unbeaten season record at the ground that proved a formidable fortress for them for thirty years. Though it’s hard to imagine now, for sixty years Melbourne had a major sporting ground only strolling distance from the MCG. The site of the EMCG was an area formerly known as Captain Lonsdale’s Cow Paddock, bordering Wellington Pde South and Jolimont Rd. The East Melbourne Cricket Club were the initial occupants, and they were joined by Essendon in 1882. University has also used it as their home base until they moved to the MCG prior to this season.

Able to accommodate crowds of almost 40,000, the ground was a favourite venue of the VFA, which played over 30 finals there. It also hosted 3 VFL finals, including the 1900 premiership play-off between Fitzroy and Melbourne.

The EMCG was a significant cricket venue as well, the pitch even winning the approval of one William Gilbert Grace, who voiced the desire to cart the strip with him wherever he batted.

It would seem remiss not to mention one of the more remarkable games the ground staged in 1886-87. Arthur Shrewsbury’s English touring side played a game to make up for the EMCG being contractually usurped by the MCC for that tour. Designated as the Smokers vs the Non-Smokers, the puffers and abstainers consisted of a mix of the touring Englishmen and leading Australian players.

The Non-Smokers won the toss on a typical EMCG road and scored 803, a then world record for a first class fixture. Shrewsbury scored 236, and a certain Jack Worrall scored a handy 78. In reply, the Smokers ran out of puff (apologies- Ed) in scoring 356, but managed to hold on for a draw.

The EMCG hosted its last game in 1921, just before it was reclaimed by the Victorian Railways and subsumed by extensions to the rail yards.

Returning to matters football, the VFL season now entered a 21 day hiatus as a Victorian team travelled to Adelaide for the interstate carnival of 1911. The side was minus South Melbourne and Melbourne players, these clubs having organised their own trips away.

The squad was to play four games against New South Wales, Tasmania, Western Australia and South Australia, returning home by train on the 15th of August. This was obviously a highly regarded trip by many, Observer suspecting of several games in this round that ‘it seemed that most of the men picked for the interstate carnival were taking care of themselves on Saturday lest accident should deprive them of their holiday.’

 

The squad named was as follows:

Carlton – Valentine, Jamieson, Clancy, Wells, Gardiner

Collingwood – McHale, Lee, Rowell, Saddler

Essendon – Smith, Baring, Cameron, A. Belcher

Geelong – Grigg, Heinz, W. Eason

University – Elliot, Greenham

Fitzroy – Holden, Cooper

Richmond – Incigneri, Herbert

St Kilda – Pierce

The players elected Geelong’s Bill Eason to be captain, with Magpie Jock McHale vice captain.

 

Carlton 4.4  6.13 11.17 18.21 129 Sat 29-Jul-1911 Venue: Princes Park
St Kilda 1.0   1.1   2.3   2.3 15 Carlton won by 114 pts
South Melbourne 1.5  5.16  6.19  8.25 73 Venue: Lake Oval
Richmond 2.2   2.2   5.4   5.7 37 South Melbourne won by 36 pts
Fitzroy 2.4   5.8  8.12 12.14 86 Venue: Brunswick St
University 3.2   5.4   5.6   7.7 49 Fitzroy won by 37 pts
Melbourne 2.1   3.1   4.1   4.6 30 Venue: MCG
Collingwood 1.5  5.10  5.15  6.16 52 Collingwood won by 22 pts
Essendon 2.2   4.2   9.6   9.7 61 Venue: EMCG
Geelong 1.1   1.4   3.5  4.11 35 Essendon won by 26 pts

 

Rd 15 Ladder
ES 15 50 168.2
SM 15 50 151.2
CA 15 44 150.4
FI 15 36 116.8
CW 15 36 106.3
GE 15 26 94.0
RI 15 24 83.3
ME 15 22 91.1
SK 15 8 54.5
UN 15 4 58.6

 

Sources:

The Argus

AFL Tables

Blueseum

Encyclopedia of AFL/VFL Footballers: Russell Holmesby & Jim Main

Football Grounds of Melbourne: Santo Caruso, Marc Fiddian, Jim Main

Flying High: Michael Maplestone

The Point of it All: Jules Feldman & Russell  Holmesby

 

 

About John Butler

John Butler has fled the World’s Most Liveable Car Park and now breathes the rarefied air of the Ballarat Plateau. For his sins, he has been a Carlton member for more than 30 years.

Comments

  1. Dave Nadel says:

    One of your best reports JB. The East Melbourne Ground and the St Kilda strike are both aspects of Melbourne sporting history that should be better known.

  2. John Butler says:

    Thanks Dave

    Hard to imagine a major ground once so close to the ‘G.

    Mr Stoddart doesn’t seem the most effective communicator from the available evidence.

    His failure to notify the players prior to round 14 of the committee decision seems typical.

    Perhaps the players were responding to a casual disregard as much as the decision.

  3. Did Roy Cazaly end up playing with the great City South in Launceston.?

  4. John Butler says:

    Phantom

    I believe he coached them to a flag in 1930 (with Laurie Nash playing).

    Played for City and Glenorchy (and many other clubs).

  5. Just like Aka JB.

  6. John Butler says:

    I’m trying to imagine the Aka song Phantom.

    Don’t think there’ll be one actually. Unless he writes it himself.

  7. Great article, i knew nothing of the St Kilda players strike. I recall the Essendon ‘strike’ by a handful of players in R 1 1970, but the issue of sports persons, and collective representation is very much untold. Would like to learn more.

  8. John Butler says:

    Thanks Glen

    I don’t think this strike was particularly about pay. More a disagreement between personalities and the way the committee dealt with the players (current and ex).

    Or course, money always hovered in the background as an issue in these days (in various guises).

    That ambiguous statement about ‘business’ as the excuse for those who didn’t strike would seem to warrant further examination.

  9. “Of course, money always hovered in the background as an issue…”

    JB,
    the more things change, the more they stay the same.

  10. John Butler says:

    In so many respects Smokie.

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