1966 and all that: Round 18 – St. Kilda v Hawthorn



Suspenseful final round



Saturday 27 August



The final round of home and away matches was played on Saturday 27 August with five finals-determining games: St. Kilda at home to Hawthorn, Geelong meeting Carlton at Princes Park, Collingwood taking on the lowly Footscray at Victoria Park, Essendon had Melbourne as opponents at Windy Hill, while the faltering Richmond were pitted against bottom side Fitzroy at the MCG. Only six premiership points separated the top five teams on the VFL ladder come round 18. With an anticipated win, Richmond could upset the apple cart by displacing either the Saints, the Cats or the Bombers from the finals if any one of those teams lost. The simultaneous nature of the matches added to the drama and suspense.


Questions of what might have been may well have crossed the minds of fans of several clubs that day. Cats supporters would have thanked John Gill again for his gift in Round 7 of four points when only two looked probable. Richmond supporters would have still been patting debutant Blair Campbell on the back for his after the siren goal in Round 17 which kept their hopes alive going into the final round. But they would have been tormented by the draw against the ‘Shinboners’ in Round 8. Furthermore, both Bombers and Tigers fans may have thought back to Round 10 when Richmond centreman Bill Barrot nearly stole the match for his team in the dying seconds.


Supporters were in store for a nerve-racking afternoon. Transistor radios were abuzz with the sound of footy across Melbourne and beyond. All eyes switched anxiously between the play and the scoreboard at Moorabbin, scanning for around-the-grounds scores throughout the afternoon.


Likewise, at the MCG, Richmond supporters kept a nervous eye on the scores from Moorabbin, and during the third quarter saw a favourable scenario unfolding. After trailing narrowly at half time, Richmond rallied. Meanwhile, down the Nepean Highway, Hawthorn were pushing St. Kilda all the way, unlikely but just what the doctor ordered for the Tigers’ finals chances. But the real Doc had other ideas. Although not selected in the twenty on the Thursday night, Baldock appeared at Moorabbin in a dressing gown much to the delight of Saints supporters. The injured captain came on as 19th man just before three quarter time and kicked two telling goals, which helped right the ship for the Saints. Allan Jeans reflected: “We were struggling, and in a desperate position when I asked Darrel to go on.”


Richmond boosted its percentage with a 67-point win but it was also premiership points that mattered. Geelong trounced Carlton, securing its finals berth. Essendon struggled against Melbourne but got the four points and dramatically, Hawthorn did its best to rescue the Tigers, but fell just short of upsetting the Saints. In the end a ten point win to the Saints sealed their place in the four and helped secure the valuable ‘double chance’. Richmond were therefore locked out of the 1966 finals. The drawn game in Round 8 came back to haunt the Tigers that afternoon. While they had the necessary percentage to oust the Bombers from the final four, they fell short by the two critical premiership points, forgone in the draw against North Melbourne, to make it count.


A portent for September was the fine form of Barry Breen who was judged best in the Saints win. ‘Cowboy’ Neale kicked five goals and Ross Oakley three. Ian Rowland, with failing form, managed just 10 disposals. Meanwhile at Victoria Park, Footscray did Collingwood no favours for the finals by capitulating in a 104 point loss to the rampant Magpies.


The first two finals were now set in stone: the First Semi-final the following week – Essendon v Geelong; the Second Semi-final a week later – Collingwood v St. Kilda. The same four teams played off in the 1965 finals.





St. Kilda                      1.2 (8)             6.4 (40)         9.8 (62)         14.9 (93)

Hawthorn                   3.3 (21)          4.3 (27)          9.4 (58)          13.5 (83)


Goals: St. Kilda – Neale 5, Oakley 3, Baldock 2, Smith 2, Mynott, Stewart

Hawthorn – Browne 4, Gay 3, Peck 2, Smith 2, Arthur, Meagher


Best: St. Kilda – Breen, Neale, Head, Synman, Murray, Smith

Hawthorn – Wilson (best on ground), Meagher, Johnson, Poole, Crimmins, Gay


Ian Cooper topped the disposal count for the Saints while Des Meagher had a day out for the Hawks with 29 kicks and six handpasses. Ray Wilson, in one of the busiest days of his VFL career, was not far behind in the leatherwork with 33 disposals.


Umpire: Crouch                                 Crowd: 23 860



Around the grounds


At Princes Park Geelong 16.14 (110) defeated Carlton 5.10 (40)

At Victoria Park Collingwood 18.24 (132) defeated Footscray 3.10 (28)

At Windy Hill Essendon 11.18 (84) defeated Melbourne 7.7 (49)

At the MCG Richmond 20.23 (143) defeated Fitzroy 11.10 (76)

At Arden Street North Melbourne 12.16 (88) defeated South Melbourne 11.5 (71)





Ken Dean played his 150th game for North Melbourne. Brian Dixon established a new club record for the Demons playing his 217th VFL game. Melbourne’s ‘Tassie’ Johnson played his 150th game while Carlton’s Wes Lofts played his 100th.


Highlights of the round


Collingwood full forward Ian Graham kicked 8 goals in what was the biggest haul of his 63 game VFL career. Despite the absence of their number 5, ‘Polly’ Farmer, the Cats purred against Carlton and along with the Magpies looked the goods for the finals.


Leading goal kickers


The Coleman Medal, awarded to the player who kicks the most goals in the home and away rounds, was not introduced until 1981. The first Coleman Medal was won by Richmond’s Michael Roach. Retrospective Coleman Medals (1955-1980) were instituted by the AFL in 2001. 1955 was chosen as the first year of the retrospective award as it was the season after John Coleman retired. Leading goal kickers prior to 1955 were recognised and awarded the Leading Goalkicker Medal.


In 1966 the leading VFL goal kicker and Retrospective Coleman Medallist was Ted Fordham (Essendon). Fordham (73 goals) won from Austin Robertson (60) and Ian Graham (55).



Read The Age, Monday 29th August 1966, for coverage of all matches HERE.



Interstate Footy


In the Canberra Football League (CANFL), Ainslie defeated Eastlakes in the second semi-final. Two weeks later the tables were turned as Alex Jesualenko’s team Eastlake defeated Ainslie in the Grand Final. It was Jezza’s last game in Canberra before joining Carlton in 1967.





First Division – final home and away round:

Preston 14.13 (97) defeated Waverley 13.13 (91)

Port Melbourne 15.11 (101) defeated Dandenong 6.7 (43)

Yarraville 11.14 (80) defeated Brunswick 10.13 (73)

Sandringham 21.17 (143) defeated Coburg 9.8 (62)

Williamstown 15.19 (109) defeated Oakleigh 11.9 (75)


Bob Murray and Des Kennedy were recruited from Sandringham while Kevin Billing came to the Saints from Oakleigh.


Second Division – Second semi-final

Geelong West 15.15 (105) defeated Northcote 8.19 (67)




Country Footy


Taking a look at country footy scores that day, we will do a tour of Victoria and the Riverina to check on matches played by clubs from the home towns of several Footy Almanackers.


Glen! – Your Ovens and Murray League team Corowa (the Spiders) put up a mighty effort against Wodonga, going down by just four points despite kicking one more goal than the Bulldogs. Wodonga 15.17 (107) d Corowa 16.7 (103). Wodonga claimed the four points with a goal kicked on the siren.


Col – In Victoria’s south west your two ‘home’ teams, Colac and Colac Imperials, were in the thick of the action of the Hampden and Colac and District leagues respectively. Colac 8.16 (64) went down by 18 points to Terang 12.10 (82) and Imperials 7.10 (52) were knocked out of the finals by South Colac 11.21 (87).


JTH – In the second last home and away round of the Ovens and Murray League, Wangaratta 17.15 (117) had a big win over Yarrawonga 4.9 (33).


Dr. Rocket – In the Goulburn Valley League, Kyabram 7.10(52) lost to Tongala 15.18 (108). Meanwhile, Rochester 14.22 (106) did you proud, with a big win against Castlemaine 7.14 (56) in the Bendigo League.


Peter – My home town club North Albury (the ‘Hoppers) 15.20 (110) were defeated by Wangaratta Rovers 20.15 (135) that day in a high scoring O&MFL game. My first senior club, Temora , had a disappointing day. The Kangaroos 9.5 (59) were narrowly defeated by the North Wagga Saints 9.18 (72) in the Farrer League first semi-final.


Footnote: 1966 premiers in those leagues were: Albury (O&MFL), Mangoplah Cookardinia United (Farrer League), Warrnambool (Hampden League), Kyneton (Bendigo League), Shepparton (Goulburn Valley League), Alvie (Colac and District League).



Meanwhile …


And while the September football for 1966 lay ahead, the music world was treated to a fantasy by the Beatles with their number one hit song ‘Yellow Submarine’. For television viewers in Melbourne the afternoons were filled with Tommy Hanlon’s sentimental It Could be You, while for the kids it was one show after another with Rin Tin Ti’, Jet Jackson, Huckleberry Hound and Robin Hood followed by The Munsters. After the nightly news, evening shows started with a choice between American favourites Hogan’s Heroes and The Addams Family. On another channel viewers watched the local sit-com My Name’s McGooley What’s Yours and the Man from U.N.C.L.E. before moving on to the imported serials Peyton Place and Coronation Street. Then live time television took over with Graham Kennedy and Philip Brady hosting In Melbourne Tonight prior to the Thursday night ritual for footy fans on GTV-9 with a look at Saturday’s line-ups in League Teams.


Read more of Peter Clark’s weekly reviews of  St Kilda’s triumphant 1966 footy season HERE


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About Peter Clark

is a lifetime Geelong supporter. Hailing from the Riverina, he is now entrenched on the NSW South Coast. His passion for footy was ignited by attending Ovens and Murray League matches in the 1960's with his father. After years of watching, playing and coaching, now it is time for some serious writing about his favourite subjects… footy, especially country footy, and cricket.


  1. Dr Rocket says

    Love this piece on the last round of the VFL in 1966 plus VFA and the Country round-up. Thanks Peter.

    The Doc famously went to Sandown races to watch his horse run in race 1 that day.
    Then came back to come on in the last quarter to ensure victory for the Saints.
    I’ve heard reports of the grandstand at Moorabbin levitating that day as the Doc warmed on the boundary late in the third quarter such was the immense affectation St Kilda fans had for the club’s greatest-ever player.

    Always good to read of Rochy wins. Think they made the finals that year but not a grand final after playing in every one from 1958-64. Do you know how they went in the finals? Beaten by Kyneton?
    Tonny would have enjoyed that local derby win over Ky. They were pretty fierce rivals in the GVL.

    Just looked up the team lists in The Crier – Barney McKellar coaching Temore that season while Arthur Cole in charge at Mango – with the likes of Rex Burge, Dusty Maher, Big John Ross and Maxie Sanbrook in the team. MCU very strong through this period.

  2. Reflecting on Richmond’s near miss in 1966 (and again in 1968) in between their 1967 and 1969 Premierships, one wonders what they might have achieved had they made those finals series. What is evident is that the old Final 4 often excluded worthy teams from playing finals, whereas today the Final 8 often includes unworthy teams.
    Great series – Peter. I sense a bit of a crescendo as we head into September!

  3. Ta Peter. The arrival of Fred Swift, and the Premiership, were just around the corner. I imagine our old family friend Peter Chisnall was a young member of the team in the close loss to Wodonga. I’ve not seen Peter since he relinquished the Tungamah hotel circa 5 years back.

    Temora straddles the Barassi Line. I had family there, but that was before i was born. My two visits to Temora have found it a pleasant town.

    Looking at the leading goal kickers for 1966 Fordham on 73, Robertson on 60, & Graham on 55 made me wonder. Peter McKenna opened the season with a bag of 12, however did not retain his spot after R6. Was he injured, thus Ian Graham went back to full forward? By 1967 McKenna occupied the goal square, Graham was gone though he returned in 1969.

    Austin Robertson only had the one year over here. Too young to remember that but i do recall his name from football publications of the early 70’s.

    I’m also too young to recall Ted Fordham, i’m more familiar with names like Alan Noonan, Geoff Blethyn & Robin Close kicking goals for Essendon.

    Stainless, a final 5 or final 6 gives the best balance?


  4. Peter Clark says

    Dr Rocket, Glen!, Stainless,
    Glad you are enjoying 1966 and all that.

    Rod, Rochester were defeated in the first semi by Sandhurst.

    Stainless, yes the best of 1966 is yet to come. I agree; final 4 too thin – final 8 rewards mediocrity.

    Glen!, I understand Peter McKenna’s form tapered off quickly after than 12 goal haul. The final straw was when he refused a club direction not to play mid-week teacher’s college games and was banished to the magoos.
    Peter Chisnall must have played for Corowa in ’66 as he debuted as a 16 y.o.

    Temora is indeed a pleasant and friendly town. I found the footy club very welcoming.

  5. Dr Rocket says

    Thanks Peter,

    Oh, Sandhurst, as long as it wasn’t Echuca!
    Although the Bendigo clubs were also loathed.

    I like to admire the statue of Paleface Adios in the main street of Temora while imbibing in a refreshing ale from the nearby Temora Hotel when passing through on my way to Wagga. Recent mine hosts were Luke Breust and mates but I think they’re out of it now. Temora down to three pubs from eight 30 years ago…

  6. Peter Clark says

    The ‘Temora’ was our watering hole in ‘77 Rod.

    Luke Bruest’s Dad, Allan, (Mustick) was a very handy player for Temora.

  7. Colin Ritchie says

    Thanks Peter. Being a footy mad teenager in 1966 I assume I was at one off the matches, most likely the Colac game as they were a very strong club around that time.

  8. Dr Rocket, please jog my memory. The last time we visited Temora would have been 2017. The pub Luke Breust is part owner of is about 1/2 way down the main street. It was on southern ( Melbourne) side of the street & it wasn’t on a corner, you’re saying it was the Temora? I can’t recall the dashed name. I was in Temora in 2004 when there were six pubs, i reckon the last visit was four pubs and the bowling club (RSL?).

    As well as the wonderful statue of the legendary Paleface Adios the Warbirds, aircraft museum is a must see.

    The Temora trots and greyhounds both feature a bit on Sky racing.



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