Almanac Footy: Bill Mohr – The Wizard from Wagga Wagga



Source: ‘VFL Record’ 1930 Round: 9 Page13.



Two of the greatest forwards in the history of Australian Rules football came from the N.S.W. regional city of Wagga  Wagga.   One is Wayne Carey (ex-Wagga North FC) who is regarded, by most experts,   as the best modern-day centre half-forward; and the other champion is Wilbur (aka Bill) Mohr (ex-Federals; later known as the Wagga Tigers) who was a star of the VFL in the 1930’s.




Wayne Carey needs no introduction; and football fans cross the nation are aware of his outstanding exploits with North Melbourne (and later Adelaide).  Wayne’s name will survive the ‘march of time’ because the playing histories of modern footballers have been recorded in newspapers, magazines, books, websites, VCR  tapes, DVD’s  and film. The existing and wide variety of media sources will ensure that the study of current footballers, such as Wayne Carey, is as easy as ‘pressing a button’ on some gizmo or piece of electronic gadgetry.


On the other hand, Bill Mohr played in the ‘desperate years’ of the Great Depression; and in a time when sport was less professional, commercialized and publicized.  While the first radio broadcast of a football match occurred in 1920’s, the next three decades, VFL was heavily reliant upon the metropolitan newspapers to report and promote the game.  It is a shame that there are no films of Bill Mohr in action for St Kilda and Victoria ; and it is hoped that this story about Bill Mohr may rekindle interest in one of the most dazzling forwards during the ‘ hard times’ of the 1930’s .




Wilbur Mohr was born in Wagga Wagga in 1909. He was one of three children born to George Ronald Hugh Mohr and Rosina Ena (nee: Birch).  It is documented ( that George and Rosina married in Wagga in 1905.


Bill’s brother, Jack, who features in this story was  born in 1906; and his sister Isabel (sometimes spelt as ‘Isobel’ was born in 1912…


He (Bill) attended the Wagga Demonstration School and Wagga Wagga High School.  He and his brother, Jack, played with the local Australian Rules team known as the Federals (the predecessors of the Wagga Tigers), where their father was club president.”   Source: ‘Hall of Fame-Riverina Museum.’


For younger readers, a Demonstration Schools, as mentioned above, is…


“…a school where trainee teachers took classes as part of their studies.  There were a number in Wagga, but in all likelihood, Bill attended the Gurwood Street Public School which is still there today, located opposite the Commercial Club.”  Source: Curator of Museum of the Riverina -2017.


Wagga Wagga – Fitzmaurice Street in the 1920’s


It was during his teenage years with the Federals FC that Bill came under notice; and one reference mentions that Carlton FC was interested in coaxing the Mohr brothers to Princes Park. As the record books show, St Kilda won the ‘recruiting race’ and acquired two fine young players.





Wagga Wagga seems to be a city where many people excel at sports;  and the standard of competition, organization and community support can only be described as first-class.


The Riverina Museum has more than 100 inductees, from a wide variety of sports in its Hall of Fame,  including other well-known footballers such as Paul Kelly, Terry Daniher  and Cameron Mooney.


There are many towns and cities throughout NSW that wholeheartedly embrace sport and recreational activities but Wagga Wagga seems to set the benchmark; and the number of people, from Wagga, who have reached the upper echelons of national sport  is exceptional. Melbourne journalist Michel Winkler once described Wagga Wagga as a ‘freakish place’…


“…the freakish sporting cradle of Wagga Wagga in New South Wales (In the one decade, that Riverina town provided an all –Australian captain in Carey, an Australian cricket captain in Mark Taylor;  and  an Australian rugby league skipper in Laurie Daley…”  Source: ‘Footy’s Greatest Players’ Page: 244.


Sport is a fundamental path to fitness, self-esteem and personal well-being; and the people of Riverina are well served by what is offered in the city and the surrounding district. Is it no wonder that the people of Wagga Wagga are so proud of their teams and clubs.




The Wagga Tigers FC has an imposing history and its origins can be traced back to 1861 when the club competed under the name of the Federals


“Football in the area started in 1861 in which we were known as The Federals – wearing Red & White Verticals. The name The Federal’s originated from the Hotel known as the Imperial; this was located next to where the Mill Units are currently being built. The club’s first Premiership side was back in 1887. Following on from the War we became known as the Wagga Tigers. After the war the club borrowed jumpers from the RAAF, these were Blue & White in colour. It wasn’t until 1949 before we actually wore new jumpers which were acquired via the Richmond Football Club. Hence Wagga Tigers as it is today was born.” Source:  Museum Riverina


Over the years, the club has tasted considerable success with some nineteen premierships; and it has also won recognition as a strong and progressive club which has been a fertile breeding ground for AFL footballers.


The list of AFL players who started their football careers at the Wagga Tigers includes: Bill Lampe (South Melbourne), Jack Mohr (St Kilda),  John Bradley  (Footscray),  Ted Obudzinski (South Melbourne),  Neville Miller (South Melbourne),  Paul Kelly (Sydney Swans),  Ron Birch (Footscray),  John Pitura ( South Melbourne /Richmond),  Kim Kershaw (Richmond/Hawthorn), Paul Hawke (Sydney Swans/Collingwood),    James Byrne (Adelaide),   Brad Seymour (Sydney Swans), Matthew Suckling (Hawthorn/Footscray) and the subject of this story, Wilbur Mohr.


Harold Lampke- from Wagga Wagga.

Harold played 135 games for South Melbourne (1899-1907) and kicked 57 goals. He represented Victoria in 1901 and took to umpiring after his retirement and officiated in seven Senior Grade VFL games in 1909.


Currently ( 2021 ) the Wagga Tigers FC is affiliated with  the Riverina FNL ; and the other participating clubs are: Collingullie-Glenfield Park, Coolamon, Ganmain-Grong Grong-Matong,Griffith, Leeton-Whitton, Mangoplah-CUE, Narrandera and Turvey Park.




A fact that often escapes football devotees,  is that Bill and his brother Jack both made  their debut for St Kilda FC on the same day at the Junction Oval against Hawthorn in Round: 1 1929. Bill (182cm/81kgm) was 19 years of age (3 years younger than Jack).


The St Kilda line-up, that day, included some well-known names in the history of the club: Barney Carr ( the oldest player in the team that day-31 years),  Bill Cubbins , Percy Outram, Fred Phillips, Horrie Mason, Stan Hepburn, Roy Bence  and Cyril  Gambetta . The coach that day was George Sparrow.


Note: Throughout the club’s history, St Kilda has, at times, been known as the Seasiders, the Seagulls and also the Panthers (1945). However, for the sake of clarity throughout this story, the moniker ‘Saints’ has been used.


It is believed that Bill Mohr started on a flank; and in a solid opening performance kicked two of the team’s twelve goals.  Percy Outram (ex- Carlton/Kyabram/Wesley College) kicked five goals and Arthur Hart (ex- Brunswick) booted three goals.


For the Mayblooms, Bert Hyde (ex-South Brunswick) was the only multiple goal kicker with three.  Bert was a resolute and talented player with Hawthorn, in that era, and was the club’s leading goal kicker on five occasions.


The final scores were St Kilda: 12.10 (82) defeated Hawthorn 8.10 (58).  The Mohr brothers were the only siblings to play in that game; and, in front of a sizeable crowd of 13,000 fans, it would have been a memorable event in the lives of their friends and family from Wagga Wagga.




Jack Mohr in later years
Source: ‘Daily Advertiser ‘June 14th. 1935.


While it was quite an historic occasion for the Mohr brothers, obviously, Jack and Bill Mohr are not the only brothers to have played for St Kilda.  Further, the AFL archives indicate that there were two famous sets of brothers in the early history of the Saints.


  • The three Stewart brothers (George, Andrew and Walter) who played with St Kilda FC between the years1898-1901. One text said that there may have been a fourth brother but it was a difficult task to verify the claim. It is known that Walter Stewart also played two games with Geelong in 1905.
  • The Sanford boys (Albert, Cecil and George) played with the Saints from in the period: 1897-1904. George Sandford made his debut with St Kilda at the ‘late’ age of 28 years of age.


The fact that Jack and Bill Mohr debuted on the same day was a cause of jubilation for the Mohr family; however, what happened to Jack that season was nothing short of heartbreaking. Jack played in Round: 2(v South Melbourne), Round: 7 ( Footscray) and the Round: 10 clash against Essendon at the Junction Oval. Sadly, that was Jack’s final game in VFL football ….


“…Injury stymied Jack’s career after only a few games but Bill went on to become one of the greatest full forwards of the game.”   Source: Museum Riverina


It was a cruel end to Jack’s playing days and this fact, about the highly talented Jack Mohr, is rarely mentioned in the existing biographies of Bill Mohr. The history of football is all the poorer for such oversights/ omissions.


Bill was a teenager when his brother was forced from the game; and Jack’s abrupt forced retirement may have impacted upon Bill in some way.




1929 had been a personally satisfying season for Bill and George Sparrow as the Saints finished in the Final Four for the first time since 1918 (i.e. when James ‘Jimmy’ Smith was the club’s coach).


On September 7th 1929, St Kilda and Carlton met in the First Semi-Final at the MCG in front of a crowd of 58,481. St Kilda went into the match without several experienced players (Barney Carr, Ed Sanneman and Arthur Ludlow) ;  and their absence told as the Saints were kept goal-less in the first quarter.


However, the Saints re-grouped then hit back hard and nearly stole the game. The final scores that day were Carlton; 12.9 (81) defeated St Kilda 11.7 (73). Fred Phillips was at his brilliant best that day for St Kilda while Horrie Clover, with five goals, steered the Blues to victory. Bill Mohr kicked two goals in that final which brought his season aggregate to 38.


Semi- Final scoring analysis. Bill mohr kicked two goals that day. 

Source: Table Talk September 12th 1929 Page 48


It is believed that in 1929, Bill played some games on the half back flank and also on the half forward flank. Consequently, a 38 goal haul,   in his first season of VFL football, was commendable as he headed the club’s goal kicking. Percy Outram kicked 37 goals, Fred Phillips (24) and a big-hearted ruckman, recruited from Preston, Arthur Ludlow, kicked 15 goals that season.


Note: There is some evidence that Bill Mohr may have been employed as an ink maker with a Melbourne printing company when he transferred from Wagga to Melbourne in 1929.




The year 1929 ( i.e. Bill Mohr’s first season of VFL football) was one of the  most significant seasons in VFL history as Gordon Coventry kicked 16 goals against Hawthorn to establish a new VFL individual record.


As if that wasn’t enough, in Round:  16, against Fitzroy at the Brunswick Street Oval,   Gordon Coventry broke through the ‘Century Barrier’; and again made history as the first VFL footballer to kick one hundred goals in a season.  Gordon ended up with 124 goals that season.


Gordon repeated ‘the dose’ again in 1930 (118 goals), 1933 (108 goals) and he booted 105 goals in 1934 to underline his title as Australia’s greatest full-forward. Gordon Coventry had done what most thought was impossible.  However, within a few ‘short years’, Bill Mohr would join Gordon in that elite band of forwards.




A sketch of Bill Mohr as published in the ‘Sporting Globe’ July 5th. 1930.


It wasn’t long after Bill’s arrival at the Junction Oval, that he ‘took over’ the goal square and became St Kilda’s focal point in attack; and it was position that he relished and would occupy for the next decade.


In 1930, Bill Cubbins took over from George Sparrow as the club coach; and it appears as though Bill quickly recognized the untapped potential of Bill Mohr as a key forward. Bill was just twenty years of age when he was given the role as the spearhead at St Kilda.  The AFL statistics reveal that Bill Mohr started 1930 on a bright note with six goals against Hawthorn; and then followed up with another ‘bag’ of six goals on the following Saturday against South Melbourne


Bill Mohr hit the headlines with ten goals against Collingwood at Victoria Park in Round: 8; and that game, against Collingwood, must have been something special to behold for the supporters of both clubs.


At one end of the ground ‘a youngster from New South Wales’ was demoralizing the Magpie defence ; while at the opposite end the luminary of VFL football, Gordon Coventry, was on target with five goals.


The legendary Gordon Coventry- 1299 goals in 306 VFL games.


St Kilda lost the match that day but as the fans filed through the exit gates at Victoria Park, the performance of the youngster from Wagga would have been a major topic of conversation.




Source: ‘Sporting Globe’ July 16th 1930 Page :  8


In Round: 12, in that season, Bill Mohr booted nine goals against North Melbourne in Round: 12 and went on to register 83 goals in a season.


Only Collingwood’s Gordon Coventry surpassed Bill’s tally. It was new record at St Kilda and placed Bill well among the VFL club’s leading forwards in 1930…


Player Club Total
Gordon Coventry Collingwood 118
Bill  Mohr St Kilda 83
George Margitich Melbourne 73
Bill Kuhlken Geelong 57
Les Allen Carlton 56
Keith Forbes Essendon 54
Austin Robertson South Melb. 54
Jack Titus Richmond 50
Alby Morrison Footscray 48
Charles Chapman Fitzroy 46
Bert Hyde Hawthorn 42
Bob Mathews North Melb. 29


Up until 1930, the greatest tally ever recorded by a St Kilda player was by Ernie Sellers who booted 53 goals in 1913.  To further illustrate Bill Mohr’s importance to St Kilda in attack that season, only one other player, Arthur Ludlow, kicked more than twenty goals.


In all, St Kilda kicked 210 goals in 1930; and Bill’s share of that equates to approximately 39.5% of the team’s score.




In 1931, Bill Mohr had the Magpie backline in some disarray when he kicked eleven goals against Collingwood at the Junction Oval. It was another shining display; and it gave the impression that Bill ‘saved his best’ for when the Saints met the Magpies. The Saints won by fourteen points in a high scoring affair. It must have been a spectacular sporting event to witness because Gordon Coventry also kicked eleven for the Magpies.


While Bill Mohr probably ‘got under the skin’ of the Magpies supporters, he was highly respected and admired by the Collingwood fraternity…


 “ ..A demonstration of his brilliance came in 1931 when he booted 11 goals against the Collingwood side….to spearhead an unlikely St Kilda victory. In the previous year Mohr kicked 10 goals against Collingwood and his effort so impressed the Collingwood Club that at the return match at the Junction Oval they presented him with a commemorative trophy. “Source: ‘Clubs’- Page 326.


Collingwood’s Jack Regan, who has been called the ‘Prince of full-backs’ listed Bill Mohr among the best players he had opposed during his brilliant VFL career of 198 VFL games.


Included in the Jack’s group of listed of ‘best opposition forwards’ with Bill were: Laurie Nash, Peter Reville, Haydn Bunton, Ivor Warne-Smith, Harry Vallence and Dick Reynolds. An elite band of champions of the VFL !


Another iconic figure at Collingwood FC, Gordon Coventry, had no doubts about Bill Mohr’s incredible talent in as a forward…


“ He (Bill Mohr) produced some his best efforts against Collingwood and Gordon Coventry rated him as one of the best two full-forwards he had seen”  Source: ‘Holmesby and Main’ Page; 599


It is interesting to note that, throughout his career; Bill Mohr played against Collingwood on 17 occasions and kicked a total of 70 goals at an average of 4.11 goals per game. In those clashes with Collingwood, Bill Mohr kicked four goals or more on ten occasions. (Please note: These are the author’s calculations and are not official VFL data).




In 1931, Bill didn’t reach the dizzy heights of the previous season but he still managed 57 goals in a difficult year for the club. He won the club goal-kicking award but finished well behind Horrie Clover, from Carlton, who registered 86 goals on the league table.  St Kilda finished a disappointing ninth that season.  The other leading club goal kickers that season were: George Maloney (Geelong-74), Gordon Strange (Richmond-69), Gordon Coventry (Collingwood-67) and George Margitich, of Melbourne, whose tally was 66 goals.


By the end of 1931, Bill Mohr and played 53 games and kicked 178 goals at an average of 3.35 goals per game. As a comparison with Gordon Coventry, after 53 games with Collingwood, Gordon had kicked 130 goals at an average of 2.45 goals per game.( Please note: Again the authors computations not official figures).


While statistics in football can be misleading, the above, average goals per game, are a strong pointer to Bill Mohr’s ability to win the ball in contests and convert his opportunities.




The 1930’s were turbulent years at St Kilda FC and could best be described as a ‘decade of disappointment.’ There were several reasons for the club’s malaise; and the link between ‘off-field conflict’ and ‘on-field mediocrity’ was evident in that unstable period of the Saints’ history.


The turmoil at the Junction Oval was exemplified in 1932 when coach, Charlie Hardy, was sacked after Round: 7. Following a ten goal defeat by Carlton,  at Princes Park, Charlie (who had coached StKFC in 1931- for 8 wins) was summarily dismissed; and Stuart King (ex-University Blacks and Victorian cricket star) was asked to fill the breach.


Stuart was virtually ‘thrown to the wolves’ but he was successful in ‘stopping the rot’ and restoring some harmony to the club.  Stuart coached St Kilda in 11 games for two victories (five of the team losses were by less than three goals).


Stuart King    Source: ‘The Citizen’ ( University of Melbourne)


With his outstanding background, Stuart had ‘the makings’ of a good coach. However, at the end of that season, the Saints appointed Colin Deane ( ex-Melbourne) to the position. Stuart King played eleven games in 1933; and after the match against Hawthorn at Glenferrie Oval, he retired from VFL football having played 43 games with the Saints.


Sadly , Sturt King , who later joined in the RAAF during World War: II,  was listed as MIA ( Missing In Action)  in 1943.  The following extract is taken from a letter that his wife received (dated on March 8th 1943) …


“ …Regret to inform you that your husband Flying Officer Stuart Patrick King is missing as a result of air operations in February 28th…” Source: ‘Fallen’ Page: 276





Within ‘next to no time’, Bill Mohr became the ‘go-to man’ in the Saints attack and central to the teams game plan; and rarely did Bill fail to ‘hit the scoreboard’. In fact,  in his second season of VFL football he booted 83 goals (see below).Bill Mohr played on some ‘mean and desperate’ defenders ; e.g. George Todd (Geelong) , Jack Regan ( Collingwood) , Maurie Sheahan ( Richmond) ,  Frank Gill ( Carlton) and South Melbourne’s Ron Hillis.   However, Bill averaged almost four goals per game in that period of his career. For the mathematically minded, at the end of the 1935 season, Bill’s goals-per-game average was 3.97.


In 1932, Bill Mohr won the club’s Best and Fairest award and goal-kicking award ( 68 goals). It was meritorious effort and a sign of his looming ‘champion’ status.


The 1934 St Kilda team… Bill is circled.
Source: ‘The Pat Hartnett’ website


In the period 1929-1935, Bill Mohr kicked 469 goals at an average of 67 goals per season as shown in this table:


1929 1930 1931 1932 1933 1934 1935
38 goals 83 goals 57 goals 68 goals 74 goals 66 goals 83 goals


As a comparison, the dominant forward of that era, Gordon Coventry, of Collingwood, kicked 692 goals at an average of 98.8 goals per season. While comparing the two forward’s  statistics, it is important to remember that, in that period, Collingwood had won three premierships (1929-30-35) while St Kilda played in just one unsuccessful final in 1929.


St Kilda 1933 ; Source: St Kilda FC




1936 was a very special year for Bill Mohr and St Kilda FC.   From its affiliation with the VFL in 1897, not one St Kilda player had ever topped the League goal kicking table.


Note: Charlie Baker led the goal kicking, in the home and away series, with 30 goals in 1902. However, Ted Rowell of Collingwood kicked five in the VFL finals series to take his season tally to 33 goals;  and is , consequently, listed in most reference books,   as the winner that season.


However in 1936, Bill Mohr put the issue beyond doubt when he ‘crashed through’, topped the table and created history with 101 goals. 100 goals in season is always a hot topic for journalists, an exciting day for fans and, sometimes, a ‘psychological nightmare’ for full-forwards and Bill’s record was no exception.


In 1936, Bill has started the season in a most pedestrian fashion; and then things ‘took off’ when he booted eight against Essendon.  Bill’s eleven goals, at the Junction Oval against North  Melbourne,  had the fans becoming vitally interested in his  ‘weekly returns’  In Round:17, Bill kicked four which brought his year’s  total 93; and  with only one match left to play (  against Carlton)  a century of goals seemed to a ‘bridge too far.’


Bill ‘defied the odds’ and in a brilliant display he kicked eight goals that day which ‘gave him a ton’ (101 goals ) for the season. It was a gargantuan effort by Saint’s spearhead as he had kicked half the team’s score and his team  had won by a solitary point…


“Mohr was a champion in every sense and  year after year he continued to amass goals for the Saints. His greatest year came in 1936 when after a slow start …he consistently starred. Mohr’s eight goals in the final home and away round took him to the top of the VFL goal kicking list with 101…”  Source: Clubs: Page: 126




Bill was the first-ever St Kilda player to: (i) ‘Crack the ton’ and (ii) Win the VFL goal kicking award. He was only the fourth player in VFL history to achieve that feat, the others being: Gordon Coventry (1929-1930), George Maloney (Geelong 1932), Bob Pratt (South Melbourne 1933-34-35) and Bill Mohr in 1936


The leading goal kickers in 1936 were: Bill Mohr 101, Harry Vallence (Carlton 86), Jack Titus (Richmond 83), Bob Pratt (South Melbourne 64) and Gordon Coventry amassed 60 goals. Bill Mohr’s 101 represented about 37% of the team’s goals; and the other goal kickers at Junction Oval that year were: Laird Smith (31) , Alby Weiss (25),  Ron Fisher (19),  Pat Hartnett ( 13)  Les Hughson (12)  and Ossie Bertram kicked eleven goals .


Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), Monday 14 September 1936, page 14


Note: Ron Todd (Collingwood 1938-1939) and Jack Titus ( Richmond -1940 ) also kicked a hundred goals in a season during the extraordinary decade for full forwards.




‘Sporting Globe’ June 10th  1936.  Page :8.


Not only did Bill Mohr etch his name into VFL history with his 101 goals in 1936; but he won his second club Best & Fairest award. (He won his first in 1932- see above).  Furthermore, Bill polled his highest number of votes in the Brownlow Medal that season. His seventeen votes placed him in equal fifth position alongside the best full back of that era, Jack Regan, of Collingwood. With Bob and Jack both polling the same number of votes it is another small quirk in football.


The ‘Top Ten’ players in the Brownlow Medal that season were:


26 votes: Denis Ryan ( Fitzroy),  21: Reg Hickey ( Geelong), 20: Herbie Matthews  ( South Melbourne), 19:  Alby Morrison ( Footscray) & Allan La Fontaine ( Melbourne),  17:   Jack Regan & Bill Mohr,   16 : Tommy Quinn ( Geelong),  15: Dick Reynolds  ( Essendon ) and Norm Ware of Footscray polled 14 votes.


Denis ‘Dinny’ Ryan as portrayed on Australia Post’s commemorative stamp


The St Kilda players to poll votes that season were:   Bill Mohr (17), Laird Smith ( 8), Stan Lloyd (5), Jack Davis ( 5), Doug Rayment (4 ), Clarrie Curver (3), Ron Fisher (3), Billy Cole ( 2), Pat Hartnett (2) and Ken Mackie & Harry Comte each collected one Brownlow Medal vote.


Bill Mohr was at the ‘top his game’ in 1936; and it was no surprise when the St Kilda FC committee appointed him to the position of club captain for 1937.


Extract text; BILL MOHR WINS VICTORY CUP: HOLDING a commanding lead in the voting, with only one match to play, Bill Mohr. champion goalkickor of the league has already won the Victory Theatre Cup as the best and fairest player in the St. Kilda team. Votes were recorded during the season by The Herald representatives at St. Kilda matches, and points won were: W. Mohr. 19; L. Smith. 11; J. Davis. W. Roberts, 8; C. Curyer, K. Mackie. 7; P. Hartnett. S. Lloyd. T. Sutherland, 6; F. Fisher, J. . Scanlon, 4; J. Perkins, A. Weiss. 3; A. Roberts, R. Flett, P. Cheffers. 2; W. Bertram. S. Snell, D. Rayment. 1  Source: ‘The Herald’ 1 September 1st 1936 Page 28




Bill Mohr played for Victoria on 18 occasions; and it is written (but hard to verify)  that he kicked 88 goals. On a comparative basis,  Gordon Coventry played 25 games for Victoria and booted 100 goals.


It is impossible to summarize all of Bill’s matches for Victoria; but two of the most interesting contests in which Bill played were in 1934.


That year, Bill was selected for the clash between Victoria against South Australia; and he was also picked for the ‘Challenge Match’ between the VFL and the VFA in June.


The 1936 Victorian  team Source: ‘The Argus’  August 10th 1936. Page 1


The ‘Challenge Match’ was at the MCG; and a sizeable crowd witnessed an entertaining and free flowing exhibition of football.  The VFL combine included:  Alan Hopkins (Footscray), Doug Nicholls ( Fitzroy), Len Thomas (South Melbourne) and  Ted Pool ( Hawthorn ).


Bill Mohr was selected at centre-half forward that day; and Reg Hickey was chosen as captain with Carlton’s Maurie Johnson as vice-captain. It was indeed a talented combination.


The final scores were: The VFL: 21.17 (143) defeated the VFA:  17.9 (110)


Gordon Coventry and Jack Green kicked four goals while Bill Mohr booted 3 goals. The VFA was well served by Glen Denning (Oakleigh-6 goals), Frank Seymour (Nortcote-6 goals) and Tom Lahiff, one of football’s most celebrated and respected personalities, notched two goals.


Another famous match in which  Bill Mohr featured was against South Australia. On that historic day, Victoria won by 105 points. Laurie Nash (South Melbourne) booted 18 goals for Victoria in a dazzling exhibition which had experts reaching for their record books and the fans captivated with his awe-inspiring display of power football. Laurie Nash ran rampant that day.


It is known that Bill Mohr, who suffered an injury in the first quarter, kicked three goals for Victoria also…


“…He ( Nash )once kicked 18.3 from Victoria in just three quarters  against south Australia in 1934 , having been moved from defence after Billy Mohr was injured…” Source:  Ken Piesse  ‘The Complete Guide to Football’ Page: 197


Caption: EAGER FACES beyond the boundary fence watching today’s big League game at St. Kilda. Players in the picture are, from left: Bill Mohr and Vontom (St, K.), Jack Regan (Coll.), O’Donncll (St. K.), and Unwin (Coll.). Source: ‘Herald   May 13th 1939.  Page:  44.


Caption: Bill Mohr leads the pack in a chase for the ball in a practice match at St. Kilda on Saturday afternoon. Source: ‘The Argus’ 28 March 28th 1938.  Page:  18




In 1939,  Edward Augustus Ansell Clarke (ex- Carlton) guided the Saints into the finals for the first time since 1929. Bill Mohr has been steadfast during the rough times of the thirties; and St Kilda had not played in final since 1929.Bill Mohr had been the youngest member of the 1929 finals team.


In 1939, St Kilda finished fourth on the VFL Ladder and Richmond (3rd), Collingwood ( 2nd ) and Melbourne made up the top four. The Saints line-up was regarded as one of  the best balanced, fittest and most skilled in the club’s history; and it was thought, by many,  that the team had the ‘wherewithal’  to go deep into the finals…


“St Kilda’s 1939 combination was one of the most talented teams ever to don the red, white and black Guernsey”

Source: ‘Clubs’ Page: 327.


St Kilda defeated Richmond in First Semi- final in convincing style by five goals.  Allan Killigrew kicked three goals and Ansell Clarke chipped in with two majors.


The Saints had strong performers, across all lines, but none better than Roy Fountain who took on the Richmond ‘tall brigade’ with startling success. Other players to stand out for St Kilda were:   Doug Rayment, Bill Maslen, Jack Kelly, Colin Williamson, Reg Garvin and Albert Sawley.




From the 1939 Preliminary Final Source: ‘Sporting Globe’ September 23rd  1939. Page: 4.


The Saints went in to the Preliminary Final against Collingwood with confidence and a real chance of victory. A then-record crowd of 66,484 saw a high class contest which was described by Graeme Atkinson as…


“… the best finals game since the memorable 1937 Grand Final”  


It was ‘nip and tuck’ all day; and, at three-quarter time, the Saints were in striking distance of victory but a scintillating last term by Ron Todd saw the Magpies safely across the line by 29 points. Ron Todd was ‘without peer’ that day and booted eleven goals …


“ A last quarter burst of six goals …in which Todd was outstanding sealed the result. Todd’s eleven goals equalled the VFL record shared by himself (1938) and Vallence…” Source: ‘The Courage Book of Finals” Page: 123.


The scores that day were Collingwood: 20.14 (134) defeated St Kilda 15.15 (105). Bill Mohr kicked four goals for St Kilda which took his season total to 47. Bill was listed among the team’s best players but it was a dashing Collingwood winger, named Norman Campbell, together with Ron Todd, who received the rave reviews in the after-match ‘wash-up.’


Note: Ron Todd went on to kick 120 goals that season.


The super spearhead of Collingwood Source: ‘Collingwood Forever’ Football Club


That final was to be the last one that Bill Mohr would ever play; and the Saints supporters would have to wait until 1961 to buy tickets to watch their beloved team play in another VFL final series. It would be ‘long wait between drinks.’



Source: ‘Herald’ August 8th 1939. Page:  20




In later years- Bill with eyes still on the ball and being chased down by another VFL legend, Reg Hickey, of Geelong. Source: Original source of the photograph is unknown.


In analyzing Bill Mohr’s lengthy VFL playing history, a fact that has not been recognized in some of the books about St Kilda is that ,  Bill Mohr was the only Saint who had played in the 1929 Semi- Final ( against Carlton ) and also took the field in that 1939 Semi- Final.


All of Bill’s former team-mates, from the 1929 final, had retired or departed from the Junction Oval.  For example:  Barney Carr retired in 1930 after 130 VFL games, Bill Cubbins (1934 after 182 games), Cyril Gambetta (1931 after 129 games), Arthur Ludlow (1932 after 48 games) ‘Horrie’ Mason (1931 after 137 games), Percy Outram (1930 after 51 games), Harold Matthews (1932 after 136 games)  and, one the champions of that era, Fred Phillips died in the most tragic circumstances in   1933 after 134 games with St Kilda.


Bill Mohr’s ‘young teammate’ in the 1929 final, Billy Roberts had retired at the end of the 1937 season after 160 games with St Kilda and  six games with Victoria. What a pity that Billy Roberts has become another forgotten star of footballs earlier times.


It had been a long and difficult journey for Bill Mohr (and the Saints) since 1929 but never once had Bill wavered; and while some had ‘fallen along the wayside’, Bill Mohr stood a tall.


It is somewhat disappointing that Bill’s fortitude and resilience has never been fully explored by football historians. He was an ‘oak tree’ for his club.





Alan Killigrew, who had played such a key part in the Saints victory in the above final, with two telling goals in the last term, was one of the most fascinating personalities/celebrities of VFL football. Alan (ex-Murtoa/ CBC-St Kilda) went onto play 78 games for St Kilda and kicked 75 goals, He was a capable rover but it was as a coach that Alan would leave a lasting impression on St Kilda in later years. Following a serious health scare, Alan turned to coaching; and became a positive force in resurrecting the fortunes of the Saints when he took the helm in 1956 ….


“ Alan Killigrew refused to accept defeat, he hated it and set out to instill pride in the players through 1956. Although they only won 4 games for the year, there were no walkovers, the side fought out all the games and they gained a new respect…The Saints had gained some long lost respect. Supporters who braved the terraces week after week had been given new hope.” Source:   Alan Grant: ‘In the Beginning – 1956. Allen Killigrew and the rebirth of the Saints’ Footy Almanac  2015.


Alan Killigrew died in June 2001 at the age of 83 years.




By 1940, Bill Mohr’s football had seen ‘better days’ and he struggled with injury and could only play ten games. Readers will be surprised that even in that season he won the goal kicking (with just 25 goals).  His best effort that season was in Round: 9 at the Junction Oval, against Melbourne, when he kicked seven goals. The club’s leading goal kickers that season were: 25-Bill Mohr, 19-Alan Killigrew and Clarrie Curver and then followed Norm  Raines and Ken Walker with fifteen  goals each.


Bill Mohr won the goal kicking at St Kilda for 12 successive seasons (1929 – 1940); and it was a magnificent record that would take ‘some beating.’


Bill’s body was beset with serious injury and he was forced to miss eight games that season. Most footballers know when the ‘end is nigh’ and they begin the search of looking for a ‘nail on which to hang their worn-out boots.’


Keith Miller in action with the Saints.  


Note: In Round 3 against North Melbourne,  at the Junction Oval in 1940,  Bill Mohr played with a most talented St Kilda debutant from Brighton VFA, named Keith Miller; and, as the cricket archives show, Keith would eventually become Australia’s greatest all-rounder and a legend in Australian cricket history. (Keith went on to play 50 VFL games and kick 42 goals) .




By 1941 the nation was fully committed to war; and life in Australia underwent a dramatic transformation.  All aspects of community life ( including sport ) were changed in so many ways; and, as the casualties lists were posted,  the nation  became bitterly divided over the ethics of football continuing while our troops fought for survival in foreign lands.


Bill returned to the training track for pre-season training that year and he was selected for the Round: 1 clash against South Melbourne at the Junction Oval. The Saints scraped home that day and Bill Mohr kicked one goal. The following week he could not play and he announced his retirement the game …


“ It was announced that at the start of his final season (1941), he would play in the defence position.  But in May that year, after having played just one game that season, Bill announced his retirement, saying that he felt he could not reach form and that it was time to make way for a younger player.”  Source:  Museum Riverina.


When Bill Mohr finally stepped down from VFL football he was close to 32 years of age. Bill had played 195 games and kicked 735 goals for St Kilda; and he represented Victoria on 18 occasions. He held every sort of goal kicking record at the club in those days and was respected by all and ‘loved by the locals.’




Source: APT Collectables


Most football champions have an outstanding attribute that ‘sets them apart from the pack’ ;   and in Bill Mohr’s case it is documented that he was an extremely accurate kick; and his precision in front of goal…


“His (Bill Mohr’s) marking was sure and superbly judged from in front or behind but his art had its core in his kicking. He could boot goals from any sort of angle or from long distances with every variety of the punt kick and with the frequent magnificent drop kick. Mohr had the skill of being able to kick a goal from the seemingly impossible situation” Source: ‘Holmesby and Main’ Page:  599


John Devaney’s thorough research also fully supports the views of Russell Holmesby and Jim Main about Bill Mohr’s remarkable kicking skills …


“ A sound mark as well as a lithe, skilful ground player the real secret of Mohr’s success as a goal-sneak lay in his kicking, which was almost unfailingly accurate from distances of up to 60 metres. Perhaps surprisingly, where possible, he favoured the drop kick, of which he was arguably one of the game’s most classical ever exponents. Source: ‘Australian Football website.’


Note: In 1942, Bill’s famous number: 10 guernsey was handed to a twenty -eight year old recruit named Eric Ward formerly of Malvern/ Murrumbeena.


Eric’s only VFL match was against Fitzroy at the Brunswick Street Oval in Round: However, there may be much more to this short chapter in St Kilda’s history than meets the eye.




The question of who was the most accurate kick for goal in AFL football is difficult to resolve because the emphasis of collecting data has changed dramatically throughout the history of the game. Although Bill Mohr played in a time when statistics were basic and limited, his conversion (i.e. accuracy) rates for seasons 1932- 39 are as shown in the table below


Note: The conversions rates below are only a rough guide and were calculated by this author; and they are in no way official VFL or St Kilda FC data. The figures do not include shots for goal that were deemed ‘out of bounds.’ Furthermore, Bill’s conversion rate for 1929, 30, 31, and 40 could not be calculated because the behinds he registered in those seasons were not tabulated.


Year Goals Behinds Conversion


1932 68 50 58%
1933 74 45 62%
1934 66 42 61%
1935 83 51 62%
1936 101 55 65%
1937 58 48 55%
1938 34 19 64%
1939 47 40 54%


Bill’s highest (available) rate of conversion was in 1936 (65%).  As a comparison with that era’s greatest forward, Gordon Coventry, Gordon’s highest (available ) conversion rate  was 63% in 1932..


Other champion VFL forwards highest rates of conversion are:


Tony Lockett ( Sydney Swans- 82% in 1993), Jason Dunstall ( Hawthorn-75% in 1998) Doug Wade ( Geelong-70% in 1971), Gary Ablett Senior ( Hawthorn and Geelong- 69% in 1996), Jack Titus ( Richmond-60% in 1936), Peter McKenna ( Collingwood and Carlton -72% in 1972),   Harry Vallence ( Carlton-61% in 1935),  Bob Pratt ( South Melbourne-61% in 1934) and Peter Hudson (89% in 1972 –in 8 games).


Unfortunately, the conversion or accuracy rates of other earlier stars such  as : Dick Lee ( Collingwood),  Jack Moriarty ( Essendon/Fitzroy),  George Maloney ( Geelong), Jimmy Freake (Fitzroy), Cliff Rankin ( Geelong ) and Ron Todd ( Collingwood ) could not be calculated for this story because their tally of behinds was never officially recorded by either league or club officials.


While factors such as ground conditions, the type and number of footballs used in game and wind strength (e.g. sheltered pockets at various venues and today’s roofed stadiums) are   significant,  it is not unfair to conclude  that Tony Lockett is/ was probably the most accurate forward to be ever seen in VFL/ AFL football.


In summary, Bill Mohr’s accurate goal kicking was ‘up with the best’ of the brilliant forwards known to our game and he can be rightly called a ‘true boot’ of the game.




In 2003, Bill Mohr was inducted in the St Kilda FC Hall of Fame.  He was one of 13 inductees; and the list of names underlines the champions that have played with the Saints over the years.


The inductees as announced at that auspicious event were:  Darrel Baldock (Legend status), Ian Stewart, Tony Lockett, Trevor Barker, Carl Ditterich, Verdun Howell, Nicky Winmar, Ross Smith, Neil Roberts, Dave McNamara, Allan Jeans, Ian Drake and Bill Mohr.


Note: In 1938, Life Membership of St Kilda FC was conferred on Bill Mohr as he had met the 10 year service criteria (as a player) and had played 150 senior games with the club.




In 2003, Bill Mohr was named on the half -forward flank in St Kilda FC’s Team of the Century ;  it is a powerful line-up and the players named in the team are household names .


The team included six Brownlow Medallists:  (Robert Harvey, Neil Roberts, Verdun Howell Ian Stewart, Tony Lockett and Ross Smith). An interesting aspect of the team is that four Tasmanian ‘recruits’ (Darrel Baldock, Ian Stewart, Barry Lawrence and Verdun Howell) were selected in the team.


The six forward line players chosen were: Stewart Loewe, Darrell Baldock, Bill Mohr, Dave McNamara, Tony Lockett and Nathan Burke.  Most experts would concur that Tony Lockett is the greatest- ever Saint full-forward; but, again, the name of Bill Mohr sits easily with that elite group of AFL stars.


The only Saints, who played prior to World War: II, to be selected in the team were:  Dave McNamara (1905-1923)   and Bill Mohr (1929-1941).  The fact that Bill and Dave were included in such a splendid line-up, speaks volumes for their contribution(s) to St Kilda considering that other champions such as Vic Cumberland, Roy Cazaly, Bill Cubbins, Colin Watson, Barney Carr and Fred Phillips would have been seriously considered by the panel of selectors.




In March 2015, AFL Riverina announced its ‘Team of the Century’ with the express objective to…


“…acknowledge the achievements of players with in the region encompassed by the Great Dividing Range to the east, Lachlan River to the North and west and the Victorian Border to the south. Source: ‘AFL Riverina’ website.


As mentioned earlier in this story, it appears that the football clubs in the Riverina region have the capacity to produce an never-ending supply of AFL footballers and the list of nominations for the Team of the Century was impressive.


Bill Mohr was selected at full-forward; and Wayne Carey was named at centre-half forward and also as captain. Allan Jeans, originally from Finley FC, was named as the coach of the team. The other feature of the team was the selection of the three Daniher brothers from Ungarie. The selected line-up was:


Backs Bernard Toohey


Anthony Daniher


Jack Hawkins


Half Backs Neale Daniher


Dennis Carroll


Leo Barry


Centre David Murphy

Turvey Park

Paul Kelly

Wagga Tigers

Shane Crawford


Half  Forwards Terry Daniher


Wayne Carey

North Wagga

Cameron Mooney

Turvey Park

Forwards Luke Bruest


Bill Mohr

Wagga Tigers

John Longmire


Rucks Brian Gleeson


Ricky Quade

Ariah Park

Adam Schneider


Reserves : Frank Gumbleton  (Ganmain),     Percy Bushby (Narrandera),  Bill Brownless (Jerilderie) Tom Hawkins (Finley),  Greg Smith (East Wagga)  and Geoff Kingston Emergencies : Tom Carroll  (Ganmain)   Bill Brown  and  Issac Smith ( Wagga Tigers)




In May 2019, Bill Mohr was named at full forward in the greatest NSW Australian Rules team. The team was announced by the AFL in Sydney; and, as can be seen, comprises some legendary figures in AFL football including Hayden Bunton, Gordon Strang and Chris Lethbridge.


Chris Lethbridge was the valiant captain of the 1922 Fitzroy premiership team. The modern-day superstar, Wayne Carey, was named skipper; and the following extract is taken from the AFL’s  website…


“ The skipper of North’s Team of the Century paid special tribute to fellow Wagga product and Swans great Kelly, with the pair famously captaining their respective sides in the 1996 Grand Final at the MCG, which the Kangaroos won by 43 points.


“To have two boys not only from New South Wales, but from the same country town, standing there as opposing captains in that game, I’m not sure it’s ever been done before,” he said. “It was pretty special actually and I’ve got a lot of respect for Paul Kelly, he was one of the toughest players ever.”


Sydney coach John Longmire joined long-time NSW and former Kangaroos teammate Carey, Daniher and Saints goalkicking star Bill Mohr (who booted 735 goals from 195 games from 1929-41) in a powerful forward line. “


Backs Chris Letherbridge Leo Barry Ross Henshaw
Half Backs Jarrad Mc Veigh Gordon Strang Dennis Carroll
Centre Shane Crawford Lenny Hayes Neil Davies
Half  Forwards Terry Daniher Wayne Carey Luke Breust
Forwards Paul Kelly Bill Mohr John Longmire
Rucks Bruce McGregor Brett Kirk Haydn Bunton
Reserves : Mark McLure Isaac Smith  Kieren Jack Tom Hawkins


Former North Melbourne champions John Longmire and Wayne Carey pictured at the announcement of NSW’s greatest football team. Wayne was named as the skipper.

Source:  ‘NT News’ ( website article) May 2019.




There is a great deal of statistical information related to Bill’s stunning career and Bill Mohr’s ‘set of numbers’ make for absorbing reading.  From the available sources, the following brief statements may assist younger readers to fully appreciate Bill Mohr’s contribution to St Kilda FC and the VFL.


  • Bill is 17th on the list of all time goal kickers based on goals per game.
  • He kicked more than 5 goals in a game on 68 occasions.
  • He kicked double figures in a match three times.
  • He kicked 9 goals in a game on five occasions.
  • He won St Kilda’s goal kicking award 12 times.
  • He played 98 games at the Junction Oval and kicked 398 goals at an average of 4.06 goals per game.
  • His highest total against any club was 79 goals against North Melbourne in 18 games at an average 4.38 goals per game.
  • His lowest aggregate against any VFL club was 44 against Richmond in 17 games at an average of 2.58.
  • The Punt Road Oval was a ‘barren place’ for Bill as, in 8 games, he could only amass  12 goals.
  • In 195 games he kicked 735 goals at an average of 3.77 goals per game.
  • He kicked more than 50 goals in a season on eight occasions.
  • Throughout his career, Bill collected 50 votes in the Brownlow Medal with his highest return being 17 votes in 1936.
  • In his time at St Kilda he played in 94 winning teams which equates to a win-loss ratio of 2%




There is so much more that could write about such a gifted player and earnest gentleman as Bill Mohr but it is time to bring this story to a conclusion.


Bill Mohr died on the 29 March 1971; and   in 1996, Wilbur ‘Bill’ Mohr was inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame. He fully deserved that honor because, throughout his stellar career, he was not only a mighty footballer but also a remarkable human being; and the following quote says so much about one of the most gifted forwards in our game’s history…


“One of Bill’s rituals before each game was to meet a young boy at the front gate of the ground and pay him 3 pence to carry his bag to the dressing room. His advice to others was to always show good sportsmanship.” Source: Museum Riverina


No wonder the people of Wagga Wagga are so proud of Bill Mohr.




  • It is known that Bill’s Mother (Rosina, nee: Birch) was born in Adelong in NSW in 1875. Adelong is a small town on the banks of the Adelong River in the Riverina. It is known that Rosina died in Wagga Wagga in 1957 and was 82 years of age at the time of her death.
  • Bill’s Father, George Ronald Hugh Mohr, may have been born in 1875; however,  there is some doubt regarding  George’s place of birth as one source cites Goulburn while another lists his place of birth as Tumbarumba. However, it certain that George died in Wagga Wagga in 1939, aged 64 years.
  • It is possible that Bill Mohr was buried in the Nunawading Cemetery; following a lengthy search it was confirmed that Bill was not interred at the Box Hill cemetery (as had been suggested in one text).
  • According to Geoff Bell, Jack Mohr died in 1971 in Wagga Wagga but his grave site is yet to be located.
  • Isabel was born in 1912 in Wagga Wagga, as written above, but records regarding, her marital status and the date of her death are unknown at this stage.



  1. Thank you to Michelle Maddison who is the Curator of the Museum of the Riverina for kind assistance regarding Bill Mohr’s schooling.
  2. A special thank you to Geoff Bell of the ‘Bellsite website’ for his assistance in researching the resting places of Bill Mohr and his family members. Geoff resides at Wagga Wagga and his research regarding the connections of the Mohr family will/may continue.


As way of explanation (perhaps a cautionary note) several of the above statistics,  related to  Bill’s conversion rates,  were collated by the author and are  not official AFL figures. This article was researched and written for ‘Footy Almanac by Roger Spaull in 2021.  


We’ll do our best to publish two books in the lead-up to Christmas 2021. The Tigers (Covid) Almanac 2020  and the 2021 edition to celebrate the Dees’ magnificent premiership season(title is up for discussion at the moment!). These books will have all the usual features – a game by game account of the Tigers and Demons season – and will also include some of the best Almanac writing from these two Covid winters. Enquiries HERE


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