Almanac Art: Geelong v University -1909 VFL season


Artwork by DJ Williams



Above is a scene from the match between Geelong and University in round 5, 1909 at the EMCG.

Original artwork reproduced with pigment inks on 300gsm cotton rag archival paper.

Limited edition of 175

Prints available in both A2 – 60cm x 45cm ($150) and A1 – 90cm x60cm ($190)

For orders and enquiries please email [email protected]



The Geelong team traveled to Melbourne on 29 May 1909 for the round five meeting with the University club. Both teams were coming off somewhat unexpected victories against more highly fancied opposition; Geelong had shown remarkable spirit in beating reigning premier, Carlton, by 24 points to register its first win of the season, while University was no less impressive in its nine point win over co-tenant, Essendon.


Expectations that the match would be an even contest were at the forefront of everyone’s mind when the teams stepped onto a dry and worn East Melbourne Cricket Ground. The crowd was given much to cheer about from the moment of the opening bounce. The game was played at a hectic pace and due to the spirited performances of both teams neither was able to gain any real advantage. As soon as a player from one team won possession he was quickly pounced on by the opposition and brought down in his tracks. It made for crowded play and the frequent crush brought a growing dependence on the rucks.


The University colours

The preceding weeks had been played in driving rain and the conditions had caused the turf to be churned up beyond repair. Now dry, the well trodden heel marks that were left behind were now playing havoc with the bounce of the ball and causing the players all manner of problems. The promising start to the match then took a decided turn for the worse. Whether it was as a result of player frustration brought about by the irregular bounce, or as a result of the umpire’s failure to intervene with regard to the strong work being done in the crush, the game turned decidedly bitter and ill-tempered. Blows were frequently traded and it appeared that some of the players may have had old scores to settle. With little football of any note played for the remainder of the term, only one goal was produced and the teams went to the first break with University leading by nine points.


Play improved somewhat in the second term and both teams scored two goals apiece; Ogilvy and Fogarty kicked one each for University, while for Geelong, Eason scored with a magnificent place-kick from long range – Geelong’s second goal came from the trusted boot of young Billy Orchard. At half-time, Geelong trailed by six points, but on the balance of play appeared to be playing the better football and looked the more likely of the two clubs to take home the victory. Of the University players, Edward Cordiner was showing the best form, while for Geelong, Henry Young was playing a determined game in the ruck and his great understanding with rover, Jack Hassett, was on full display.


Henry ‘Tracker’ Young

After the long break, the ill- feeling that had so blighted the first half continued unabated. Hassett soon went down with a severe ankle injury and with him went much of Geelong’s drive out of the ruck. The Geelong defence was now under siege, and though it held off countless attacks on goal, it eventually buckled under the pressure and conceded three goals in quick succession. Four unanswered goals by the University team made a big impact on the scoreboard and the teams went to the final break separated by a margin of 30 points.


Hostilities broke out immediately on the resumption of play in the final term. The level of ill-feeling reached new heights of which the balance of blame was laid squarely on the men in black and blue. Blows were struck on four or five separate occasions throughout the term and it seemed that all regard for the ball was lost. It was the last thing that anyone in the crowd would have expected from the two teams as they made their way to the ground earlier that day. When the final bell rang to signal the end of play there were few who were not glad of its arrival.


Final score: University 9.9 (63) defeated Geelong 3.10 (28).


University had now won each of its three encounters with Geelong since joining the League in the previous year. The Cordiner brothers were amongst the best for University – Edward in defence, Harry up forward. For Geelong, Henry Young has seldom displayed finer form throughout his distinguished career and was clearly his team’s best player on the day. In what was an ‘unusual and well-won complement’, the Geelong crowd showed their appreciation for their captain’s efforts in the fiery battle and chaired him from the ground. Geelong secretary, Charles Brownlow, was heard commenting after the match that he had never seen a ‘dirtier game’ in all the years he had followed football.


A great rivalry quickly grew between the two clubs. University held sway for the first three years with victories in each of its first six meetings with the Geelong club. It would take until the round seven clash of the two clubs in the 1911 season for Geelong to gain its first win over the University club. From there Geelong prevailed in each of their next seven games to make it eight on end before University disbanded prior to the start of the 1915 season. Of all the VFL clubs, University would suffer the greatest number of casualties in WW1.


For more of DJ Williams’ art and words at the Almanac, CLICK HERE:


Do you really enjoy the Almanac concept?
And want to ensure it continues in its current form, and better? To help keep things ticking over please consider making your own contribution.

Become an Almanac (annual) member – CLICK HERE
One off financial contribution – CLICK HERE
Regular financial contribution (monthly EFT) – CLICK HERE


About DJ Williams

Football history artist living in Torquay


  1. John Butler says

    Darren, I love your images of footy from this period. For those who haven’t previously seen Darren’s other work, check the links in the article.

    Joining in 1908, University were quite competitive in their early VFL days. But the going got much tougher when the VFL officially allowed player payments in 1911. They remained amateur, and the wins dried up. Then, as you say, the attrition of WW1 saw them drop out of the VFL. But the Uni Blues and Blacks live on in the VAFA. Not to mention the MUGARS.


  2. Great art work, marvelous story, Darren. Gee whizz the game has changed a bit over time.

    Carlton reigning premiers; Essendon & University co-tenants, who could believe it.

    Great hearing about the history of our ‘own’ game.

    By the Bye John, i’ve not seen your posting of the 1911 season. Here’s a recent short spiel of mine about a golden era of footy.


  3. John Butler says

    Glen, the 1911 series is still up here at the Almanac.

    Just type 1911 into the search function.

    A link to the first round is here:

    Apologies for the self promotion on your piece, Darren. :)

  4. Thanks John,
    Thanks Glen,
    I think it’s important that people know that University was competitive in its first few seasons; it is a view that appears to be often overlooked by history.

    I look forward to reading your piece on the 1911 season.

    DJ Williams

Leave a Comment