1966 and all that: Round 8 – St Kilda v Essendon





Saints take flag favouritism


Monday June 13



In the Round 8 Queen’s Birthday match, St. Kilda took premiership favouritism in defeating reigning premiers Essendon by seven points in a low scoring, wind-affected game at Moorabbin. A large crowd of over 50,000 spectators packed Moorabbin for the meeting of the 1965 grand finalists. Only one larger crowd was ever recorded at the venue for a home and away game, when St. Kilda and Collingwood drew an attendance of 51,370 back in Round 1 of the 1965 season.


With Baldock and Stewart absent on state team duties and ruckman Ditterich injured, Essendon had the chance to end St. Kilda’s long unbeaten run. The Dons were not at full strength either, with Ken Fraser, John Birt and Russell Blew missing. Allan Hird was named as a reserve for Essendon but he would have to wait for another week before getting into the action. St. Kilda brought in Jack Austin to replace Ditterich and named 17 year old Allan Davis from East Sandringham as a reserve. Like Hird, Davis had to keep the dressing gown on all afternoon.


The Saints’ stocks fell further when star half forward Ian Cooper suffered a badly gashed eyebrow in the first five minutes and left the field unable to return. The Bombers scored the first two goals of the game and had the Saints on the back foot right from the outset.


Again, the shrewd tactician Jeans made a vital move to help secure victory. To liven up the forward line in the second quarter he shifted defender Verdun Howell to full forward, a move which produced results for St. Kilda’s attack late in the quarter. Essendon came again in the third quarter kicking four goals, but Jeans responded by moving acting captain Howell out to centre half forward with instant results. Howell, the 1959 Brownlow medalist, added “a little of the ‘Baldock’ touch to the Saints’ attack.” (The Age, 14 June 1966)


The Saints showed greater desperation in the last quarter to reclaim the lead and hold the Dons goalless. The crucial first goal of the final quarter kicked by newcomer Jack Austin brought the Saints to within one point of the tiring Bombers.


St. Kilda were well-served in defence through the fanatical efforts of Synman, Sierakowski, Murray, Head and Breen in denying scoring opportunities to their opponents. A long kick by Daryl Griffiths twenty minutes into the last quarter resulted in a lucky goal which put the Saints in front. The ball landed in front of several players but bounced fortuitously for the Saints, evading Essendon defenders and rolled over the goal-line.


St. Kilda’s win showed that it had now clearly closed the gap on Essendon. It could also take satisfaction from winning a tight battle without the services of the inspirational Baldock. Daryl Griffiths and Ross Smith were the best players for the Saints while for the Bombers Barry Davis, Alec Epis and Jack Clarke provided plenty of drive.


In the Dr McClelland Trophy points score competition, St. Kilda were on top with 100 points. For the trophy, a win in the ’Firsts’ earned 10 points, the ‘Reserves’ 4 points and the ‘Under 19s’ 2 points.


Meanwhile, the VFL crushed South Australia by 68 points in their second ANFC championship series match played at North Hobart Oval on Saturday 11 June. On the Queen’s Birthday Monday, the ‘Big V’ team produced their third straight victory in the carnival (against the VFA) sealing their place in the final the following Saturday.





St. Kilda                     1.0 (6)            5.2 (32)          6.5 (41)          8.8 (56)

Essendon                  2.4 (16)          3.5 (23)          7.7 (49)          7.7 (49)


Goals –

St. Kilda: Smith 2, Neale 2, Howell, Austin, K. Roberts, Griffiths

Essendon: Williams 2, Forsyth 2, Egan, Fordham, Shaw


Best –

St. Kilda: Griffiths (best on ground), Smith, Sierakowski, Howell,

K. Roberts, Breen, Read

Essendon: Davis, Epis, Pryor, Gerlach, McKenzie, Forsythe, Clarke


Injuries – St. Kilda: Cooper (cut eyebrow)

Umpire: Blew                      Crowd: 50 458


Reserves:        St. Kilda 20.10 (130) d. Essendon 4.7 (31)

Under 19’s:    Essendon 12.12 (84) d. St. Kilda 8.10 (58)



Around the grounds:


At Princes Park – Carlton 7.15 (57) d. South Melbourne 8.6 (54)

At Victoria Park – Collingwood 14.21 (105) d. Geelong 11.10 (76)

At the Western Oval – Footscray 11.5 (71) d. Melbourne 7.8 (50)

At Brunswick St – Hawthorn 11.14 (80) d. Fitzroy 8.13 (61)

At the M.C.G. – Richmond 10.11 (71) drew with North Melbourne 8.23 (71)



Highlight of the round:


The drawn game at the MCG between Richmond and North Melbourne was to be the only draw of the 1966 season. North Melbourne’s dreadful inaccuracy cost them four points, but their position on the ladder at the end of the home and away rounds was not to be jeopardised by the draw. In contrast, Richmond would rue the day. Both sides had winning chances late in the last quarter but either fumbled or kicked poorly, leaving the scoreboard unchanged at 71 points each for the final six minutes.


Next round:

Match of the day – Richmond v St. Kilda at the MCG


Read The Age, Monday 13th June 1966, for coverage of all matches HERE.
Read The Age, Tuesday 14th June 1966, for coverage of all matches HERE.



Country Footy


In the Murray League, which straddles its namesake River Murray, two teams from the NSW side met on 11 June 1966. Tocumwal 7.10 (52) defeated their arch-rivals Finley 5.11 (41). In other matches that day, Numurkah defeated Berrigan, Deniliquin defeated Cobram, Nathalia defeated Shepparton East, and Jerilderie defeated Strathmerton. At the time, the Murray League was a truly cross-border competition with an even number of clubs from both sides of the Murray.


The first interleague game between the Murray League and the South West District League (Riverina) was played that weekend at Tocumwal. Former St. Kilda champion Lance Oswald, captain coach of Strathmerton, was among the best for the Murray League with three goals, but the Riverina boys were victorious by 14 points.


St. Kilda coach Allan Jeans played his first senior football with Tocumwal before moving to Finley. His move to Finley was not only controversial but also costly. His former coach at Tocumwal, then coaching Finley, offered him a job at a hotel in the town but Tocumwal refused his clearance. So, Jeans was forced to sit out the rest of the season and as a result missed Finley’s 1952 premiership. He was however part of Finley’s 1954 flag-winning team, ironically against Tocumwal. Jeans joined St. Kilda as a player in 1955.


Coming full circle, at the end of his career in 1960, Jeans played in a match between St. Kilda and the Murray League at Tocumwal. It was a great day for the Murray men as they defeated the Saints by 14 points. It was also Allan Jeans’ last game of footy. His 77 VFL game career actually finished at the end of 1959. The next year he succumbed to injuries and retired to take up the post as St. Kilda’s reserves coach. In 1961 he was appointed St. Kilda’s senior coach.



Meanwhile …


Pentridge Gaol escapees, Ronald Ryan and Peter Walker, lost appeals against their convictions for the murder of a prison warder.


Britain moved closer to joining the Common Market with tentative support from several Commonwealth countries including New Zealand and Australia.


On a lighter note, one car rental company advertised to women the virtues of the new Morris Mini: “How to keep your husband young (and have him home sooner)”  Somehow the car would make him more efficient in business, more relaxed, on time and less worn out!



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



Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.


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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. Colin Ritchie says

    Always hard for the Bombers to win at Moorabbin, I hated going there to watch them play. A crowd of over 50,000 is amazing, where did they fit them all? Thoroughly enjoying your weekly reviews Peter!

  2. Allan Grant says

    Peter, thanks so much, I am having so many I was there moments. You have brought back some great memories. I remember the size of the crowd and one of my endearing memories is Jumping Jack Austin kicking a crucial goal. Keep up the good work. When you get to us getting a hiding at Vic Park please be kind to the one gamer Paddy Murphy who I went to school with. He was so short sighted. Played in specs at school but contact lenses were his go to in 1966. Got hit in the head by a footy in the rooms pre game, lost the contacts and literally played blind for his one and only VFL game.
    Cheers.. looking forward to more.

  3. Ta Peter.

    A few names i didn’t recognise, such as Austin for St Kilda,ditto Forsyth for Essendon. Should i surmise Williams who kicked 2 for Essendon is John Williams long time centre half back?

    50,000 @ Moorabbin sounds unbelievable/unbearable. I went to see Geelong win there in 1991, unsure what the crowd was, but it was big. So was Geelong’s winning margin.

    Berrigan,Numurkah, Strathmerton; yep know them all . How’d Corowa go in the O&M that weekend?


  4. Peter Clark says

    Glad you are enjoying ‘1966 and all that’. Thanks for your anecdote about Pat Murphy.

  5. Peter Clark says

    Yes Glen, John Williams (from Rochester) was a long-time Essendon defender.

    That weekend the Caltex Country Championships semi-finals were played. The Ovens and Murray thrashed the Bendigo League at Albury. Hence no local footy that weekend.

    Corowa were about to embark on their roller coaster 1966-68 experience – wooden spooners in ’66 and ’67 to premiers in ’68.

  6. Rod Gillett says

    More great stuff Peter!

    Verdun Howell was such a champion player for the Sainters, but overshadowed by the Doc, Stewie and Big Carl

    “Whopper” Williams was a forward at Rochy, but as Corowa Glen! points out he became a champion CHB at Essendon (no relation to Dirty Dave Williams who played at Melbourne and coached Rochy for 16 years!).

    And yes, so much animosity between Finley and Tocumwal – when Jumping Jack Hawkins’s father Wynne bought a farm closer to Finley, Toc wouldn’t clear him so he ceased playing. He was only in his mid-20s….

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