Almanac Footy History – Jim Dorgan: The Dashing Defender of the Lake Oval

 

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

The road to success in football can be winding and precarious; and for some players the journey ends in grief and misery. This story tells how Jim Dorgan overcame the hurdles in his early career and ‘won through’ to become one of the best defenders in the history of the South Melbourne Football Club.

 

While this story centres on Jim Dorgan’s rise in the VFL, it also endeavours to place on record the names and achievements of his team mates at the Lake Oval.

 

 

A GOOD START IN LIFE

 

It is virtually impossible to tell the story of South Melbourne’s bold defender, Jim Dorgan, without recognising the crucial role(s) that his family and local community clubs played in his football career.

 

Family life is the bedrock in building a sound pathway for youngsters; and Jim Dorgan (born 1930) owes much to the guidance of his parents and the support of his sister, Jan, and two brothers Frank and Jack.

 

Jim’s father (James) was a prominent and respected member of numerous community organizations; his drive in fostering the Williamston Rovers FC is alluded to later in this story. The Dorgan brothers were capable footballers and were all involved, at some time or another, in suburban football.

 

 

A LIST OF FOOTBALLERS FROM WILLIAMSTOWN

 

It is highly probable that Mr Dorgan was a founding member of the Williamstown Rovers FC (established in 1945). In the early years, the club was an affiliate in the ‘B’ Grade Footscray and District Football League. In later years, WRFC became a member of the Werribee DFA; and tasted great success in winning premiership flags in 1953-1955.

 

Bill Gunn one of the stars at South Melbourne (1952-1959)
Source: Williamstown Football Club website.

 

 

Throughout the years, Williamston FC (founded in 1864) – and not forgetting the role played Williamstown Rovers in developing local footballers – have produced an imposing list of top-line players including: Pat Cahill (Footscray/St Kilda), Bob Monar (St Kilda), Tom O’ Halloran (South Melbourne), Ron Deller (North Melbourne/Footscray), Roy McKay (Footscray), Lou Salvas (Hawthorn), Bill Gunn (South Melbourne), Jim Caldwell (South Melbourne), Alan Geddes (Richmond), Tom Hedley (Essendon), Reg Harley (South Melbourne), Albert McTaggart (Carlton/ Footscray), Bob Briggs (Fitzroy/St Kilda), James Condon (Essendon), Wally Gibbs (Carlton), Ernie Jamieson (Carlton), Bill Redmond (Carlton), the Outen brothers (St Kilda) and Norm McDonald (Footscray).

 

 

CLARIFICATION REGARDING JIM, JACK & FRANK DORGAN

 

Researching the early career of Jim Dorgan was not at all straightforward because there was a good deal of confusion regarding the background of the three brothers. Jack (born August 8th, 1926) played three games with Melbourne in 1949 and his name has often been snared/entangled with Jim’s early football career.

 

 

By ‘drilling down’ and cross-referencing the long-standing confusion regarding the Dorgan boys is clarified. The Demonwiki website refers to Jack as John (aka ‘Black Jack’); and offers some proof of his ‘twists and turns’ through suburban, VFL, VFA and country football.

 

It also substantiates that Jim Dorgan did not play with Melbourne as had been suggested in some earlier texts. Such a matter has taken lengthy research but at last Jim Dorgan’s pre-VFL career seems to have been explained.
There is ample evidence to show that Jack became a star for Echuca and was quite a celebrity in country football circles:

 

A utility nicknamed “Black Jack”, Dorgan spent three weeks in the Demons’ senior side during 1949 after previously winning the Seconds Best and Fairest. He appeared at Richmond pre-season training in 1950 but was not recruited and instead joined Williamstown. Dorgan then played for Echuca in 1951 and 1952, before moving to Echuca East as player/coach in 1953. He won a flag in his first season there and remained with the club through 1954. His brother Jim played for South Melbourne, and another brother Frank appeared in the Melbourne Seconds.’

 

Jack Dorgan and the Echuca East Football Club First XVIII team which won the Echuca District FL premiership in 1953. Jack Dorgan, Captain & Coach that season, can be seen in the centre of the front row. The mascot, holding the victory shield, is Shane Dorgan. Source: ‘The Riverine Herald’ April 14th, 2000. Page: 9

 

It is fair to say that with a degree of confidence that Jim (born 1930) played with Williamston Rovers FC until the time that he was cleared to South Melbourne in 1951…and hopefully the mystery of Jim’s early years has been finally unravelled.

 

Jim Dorgan crossed to South Melbourne from Williamstown Rovers FC in June 1957.Source: ‘The Age” June 7th 1951 Page: 14.

 

 

JIM DORGAN ARRIVES AT THE LAKE OVAL

 

The famous grandstand at Lake Oval. It is recorded that this stand was built in 1926.

 

While the details regarding Jim Dorgan’s early career were muddled, there is no doubt about Jim’s definitive performances as a midfielder for the South Melbourne Second XVIII. The following extract highlights the efforts of Jim Dorgan and another recruit, Fred Goldsmith (ex-Spotswood), in the second XVIII clash against Fitzroy on Saturday June 23rd, 1951. Fred booted seven goals and Jim was named in the better players and helped his team to win in convincing fashion by 48 points.

 

Source: The Emerald Hill ‘Record’ June 30th 1951 Page: 5

 

It would not be the last occasion that Jim and Fred would feature in SMFC match reviews. As time would tell, Jim and Fred reached dizzy heights in their later years at the Lake Oval; and both would become one of the finest ‘defensive duos’ in that era of VFL football. Fred’s story in football is worth telling as he was the first full back to have won the coveted Brownlow Medal (which should bring into question the voting system used in the medal count).

 

Fred Goldsmith arrived at the Lake Oval, from Spotswood FC, as a forward and eventually won a Brownlow Medal at fullback in 1955. Source: ‘PerthNow’.com.au

 

 

JIM DORGAN WINS SENIOR SELECTION

 

The South Melbourne team for Round 13, 1951. Jim Dorgan was selected on the wing for South Melbourne for his first Senior XVIII game against Richmond at the Punt Road Oval. From the above extract, his direct opponent that day was probably teenager John Nix (ex-Trafalgar). Les Flintoff (Richmond’s back pocket in that game) is the father of Australia’s Gold Medal winner at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, Debbie Flintoff. Source: ‘The Herald’ July 8th 1951. Page: 11.

 

Following consistent performances with the SMFC Seconds, Jim Dorgan was ‘given the nod’ at the selection table and chosen, on the wing, in the Senior XVIII for the clash against Richmond at the Punt Road Oval.
Once again, a mistake, in regarding Jim’s selection, was made. On that occasion he was said to have been recruited from Spotswood (i.e. Fred Goldsmith’s former club). Note: See the strongly worded letter (below) that Jim’s father wrote about that particular reporter’s error.

“… Selection of Jack Dorgan is well deserved. Coming from Spotswood at the start of the season, he has been one of the best players week after week for the Seconds…he is a wingman, kicks with both feet, but is a natural left footer. He replaces Frank Brew, who is ill.” ‘The Emerald Hill Record’ July 28th 1951 Page: 3

 

JIM DORGAN STARS IN A MAGNIFICENT VICTORY

Jim Dorgan was part of a winning team that day; and that win over Jack Dyer’s team lifted the Swans’ spirits. The headlines in the ‘The Emerald Hill Record’, after South’s resounding victory, said it all: ‘Youngsters Pace Made Tigers Appear Flat-footed.’ The 29 point win was hailed as a mighty coup; and the paper provided readers with a vivid account of South’s victory.
As can be seen from ‘The Herald’s’ headline (and the quarter-by quarter analysis the Tigers did not register a goal in the first half of the match South’s playing coach, Gordon Lane, starred again and was an stirring leader; while Don Scott, Keith Schaefer and Billy Williams were listed as South’s best players that day. Gordon Lane had made his name as the champion forward at Essendon where he had played 131 games and kicked 256 goals.

 

The quarter by quarter scores were:
South Melbourne: 5.3 6.9 9. 13 13.17 (95)
Richmond: 0.3 0.4 2.6. 8.8 (56)
Goalkickers for South Melbourne: Billy Williams 4, Erwin Dornau, Ian Gillett, Don Scott 2 Eddie Lane, and Gray (aka ‘Mick’) Sibun 1.

 

Jim Dorgan received accolades, in the same edition of the paper, for his brilliant debut in VFL ranks…
“Chosen to replace Frank Brew on the wing, Jimmy Dorgan acquitted himself admirably in his first senior game, and by more than holding his own on his flank and demonstrated why he has been the best man on the ground for the Seconds over previous weeks. Well set-up for his 19 years-as one burly Richmond player has found out to his regret-Dorgan thinks quickly, is a speedy mover, and delivers the ball accurately with his left foot. Three years ago he played with Melbourne Thirds” ‘The Emerald Hill Record’ August 4th 1951 Page: 4 .

 

Further to the above extract, the following comment offers and insight into Jim’s outstanding performance that day…

 

“ JIM DORGAN- Made a splendid debut against Richmond. A courageous little wingman; will keep -the regulars on their toes next reason, for he has the ability to challenge the best of them.” September 15th 1951 ‘The Emerald Hill Record’: Page 3.
Such was the new-found optimism of some supporters that there was some talk of the South being ‘contenders and not pretenders’ for the flag.

 

 

A LETTER FROM JIM DORGAN’S FATHER

 

The following excerpt was found in the ‘The Emerald Hill Record’; and it includes a letter, from Mr James Dorgan, which unequivocally refutes any suggestion that Jim was a product of the Spotswood Football club. The article also gives readers an idea of the degree of pride that was engendered, in the local community, when ‘one of the fold’ won selection to VFL ranks. As in modernity, it was certainly a ‘big deal’ to play VFL football…

 

“Williamstown Rovers Club Proud of Jimmy Dorgan: There is keen rivalry amongst clubs in the Footscray District League and those which cannot lay claim to giving players to League teams are ‘on the outer.’ This is obvious from a letter received by ‘The Record’ from Mr. Jas. Dorgan, president of Williamstown Rovers’ Football Club, who incidentally is father of ‘Jimmy’ Dorgan, South’s new wingman, who made such a promising start last week.
Jimmy is a product of the Rovers’ club, not Spotswood, as has been generally supposed. The ‘Rovers’ naturally are literally bursting with pride at Jimmy’s success, and now place themselves on equal footing with those other F.D.L. clubs that have given players to South and Footscray” ‘The Emerald Hill Record “August 4th 1951 Page: 3

 

 

RON CLEGG’S MATCH IN 1951

 

Younger readers may be interested to read about a game which became known as ‘Clegg’s Match’. In 1951, Ron ‘Smokey’ Clegg is credited with taking 32 marks against Fitzroy in *Round: 9.. Ron’s splendid marking display, at the Brunswick Street Oval, was compared with Carlton’s Alex Duncan who took 33 marks in a game against Collingwood in 1927. Ron Clegg’s astounding performance at centre half back was not enough to force victory for South Melbourne that day; and the match ended in a draw.
Note: Jim Dorgan did not play in that match.

 

The Champion of Lake Oval-Ron Clegg. Ron shared the Brownlow Medal in 1949 with Colin Austen (Hawthorn ) with 23 votes; and was runner -up to Bernie Smith in 1951. In his VFL career of 231 games , Ron amassed 121 Brownlow votes . Source: Kornies Cards.

 

Ron Clegg, who won the Brownlow Medal in 1949, was runner-up to Bernie Smith in 1951. Ron was a ‘once in a generation’ champion; and, in a career that extended from 1945 until 1960, he played 231 VFL games. Throughout his years at South Melbourne, Ron polled a total of 121 Brownlow Medal votes; and won SMFC’s Best & Fairest award on three occasions. He also wore the Victorian guernsey 15 times.

Note: Ron acquired the nickname ‘Smokey’ as he worked as a cigarette salesman. (How footballer’s occupations have changed over the years?)

According to well-known journalist, Ken Piesse, Jack Dyer once said:

 

“…Ron Clegg was so good he could stop an army.” ‘Guide to Australian Football ‘ Page: 52.
In his book, Ron Barassi discussed the best centre half backs that he had seen during his extensive playing and coaching career; and he named: Ted Whitten (Footscray), Ross Glendinning ( North Melbourne & WCE), Peter Knights ( Hawthorn ) and Ron ‘Smokey’ Clegg ( South Melbourne )as his ‘top four.’

 

Jim Dorgan finished the season on a high note and was selected to play against Essendon, Melbourne Collingwood and Footscray. South Melbourne failed to make the finals; but the general consensus was that the ‘Lakeside Swans’ were about to ‘find their wings’ and soar higher in 1952.

 

 

1952 LOCAL HEROES OF THE LAKE OVAL

 

Having forced his way into the Seniors team at Round:13 Jim Dorgan finished the 1951 season in fine style ( 5 games) and indicated that he had a bright future with the Swans. South Melbourne’s Playing List, for the 1952 season, was published on the 14th April in ‘The Argus’; and it makes thought-provoking reading for those who are cognizant with the history of the South Melbourne Football Club.

 

Little wonder there was an air of excitement over the Lake Oval when the 1952 pre-season training commenced. The SMFC Playing List included such talented and hardened campaigners as: Gordon Lane (Captain and Coach), Ron Clegg, Jim Taylor, Keith Schaefer, Jack Garrick, Reg Harley, Erwin Dornau , Ian Gillett, Ron Paez and Kevin Hilet.
In addition to the core group, there was a handful of emerging tyros such as : Keith Browning, Bill Gunn, Bruce Murray, Gray Sibun, Fred Goldsmith, Jim Dorgan and, a youngster from the South Melbourne Second XVIII, Don Bradman Earl.

 

1952- Optimism was high at SMFC. Source: ‘The Argus’ Magazine May 16th 1952. Page: 1

 

 

A TOUGH SEASON FOR JIM DORGAN

 

While the club experienced greater success in 1952, Jim Dorgan had a tough year. Although he started the year in slashing style, injury hit and set him back for some weeks…
“ Jim Dorgan and Don Earl test thigh injuries in light runs but will have more strenuous tests tomorrow “ The Argus July 2nd 1952 Page: 9

 

In a troubled and interrupted season, Jim played only seven games; and he did not return to the senior team until Round: 17 against Melbourne . He was selected ‘on the bench, for the Round: 18 encounter against Fitzroy at Brunswick Street. As the VFL records indicate, the Maroon’s gifted full forward, Tony Ongarello, kicked five goals and played a major role in South’s seven point loss that day. As stated in the ‘Sporting Globe’ (23rd April 1952 Page; 10), Jim Dorgan replaced Bruce Murray in the last term of the game.

 

 

JIM DORGAN STEPS ASIDE FOR FRED GOLDSMITH

 

In 1952, the VFL season was a nineteen round fixture; and according to ‘The Age’ newspaper, Jim Dorgan was named as an emergency for the line-up for vital clash last round encounter against Footscray. Interestingly, Fred Goldsmith was named as 19th man for that match.

 

Could it have been that Jim Dorgan had been dropped from the team for Fred Goldsmith’s inclusion? If so, it confirms that in life and football there many oddities (as will be explained later in this story).

 

The Swans finished a ‘whisker’ outside the Final Four that season; and it was their best performance since 1945 when Bill ‘Bull’ Adams was the club’s coach. Bill Adams (ex- South-Fremantle, Fitzroy, Northcote and Preston ) is best remembered, by South Melbourne fans, as the coach of the team that ‘went to war’ with Carlton in the 1945 Grand Final (also labelled in VFL history as the ‘Bloodbath’).

 

 

1952 A TRIBUTE TO THE DORGAN FAMILY

 

Source: ‘Werribee Shire Banner’ September 11th 1952. Page: 6

 

The Dorgan family was well-known and respected in and around the suburb of Williamstown. Jim’s Father (James) was an energetic and popular member of the community. He appeared to possess unlimited drive in relation to sport, music and local matters. In 1952, James received the following praise for his selfless endeavour in ‘all things’ by way of a column carried entitled ‘Around the Clubs’ which was published in the ‘Werribee Shire Banner’….

 

“AROUND THE CLUBS …A TRIBUTE TO ROVERS’ LEADER: For the past ten years Mr. Jim Dorgan has been president of Williamstown Rovers Football Club. His wealth of experience in the football word, plus untiring activity with his club, have been the means of the Rovers being in a sound financial position as well as being leaders in the Werribee Football League competition. He is noted far and wide for his other hobbies, viz., Friendly Society and Brass Band work. As well as being secretary to a Williamstown Lodge he finds time to be treasurer and Drum Major of the Newport Workshops Brass Band. He has had the honour of leading this band in Melbourne marches and processions as well as on many country and interstate visits. Mr. Dorgan is the proud father of three footballer sons, all at present playing the winter game. John plays in Bendigo League with Echuca; Jim for South Melbourne League club, and Frank is captain-coach of Rovers.
Mrs. Dorgan, truly, a president’s wife, ably assisted by only daughter, Jan, lends a willing hand to dispense ‘Dorgan’ hospitality whenever the occasion arises. Rovers’ supporters are unanimous in hoping that their genial president will be associated with the club for many years to come.” September 11th 1952 Page:6

 

THE KEY TO SOUTH. — No. 1, Joe White, secretary; 2, John Patrick Cullen, president; 3, Pat Farnan, selector; 4, Marty Lynch; 5, Jim Taylor; 6, “Whopper” Lane, 7, Ron Clegg; 8, Esmond Lane; 9, Don Scott; 10,Bill Gunn; 11, Reg Barley; 12, Keith Browning; 13, Ron Paez; 14, Jim Dorgan; 15, Kevin Hilet; 16, Frank Brew; 17, Jack Eichhorn; 18, Erwin Dornau; 19, Bruce Murray; 20, Mick Sibun; 21, Ken Capp; 22, , Reg Hiscock,life member.
Source: ‘The Age’ May 30th 1952 Page 16

 

 

1953 – JIM DORGAN STARS IN DEFENCE

 

Following his serious setback in 1952, Jim returned for pre-season training ‘under the whip’ of South’s new coach, the legendary, Laurie Nash.

 

Whoever saw the potential of Jim Dorgan developing into a back pocket player deserved credit and the gratitude of all South Melbourne supporters because, as from the very first round of the 1953 season , Jim was the ‘perfect’ fit for that role in South’s back line. According to the ‘Record’ Jim was one of the ‘back six’ that day….

 

Source: ‘The Argus’ April 17th 1953 Page: 21

 

Source: ‘Record’ ( Emerald Hill ) April 18th 1953 Page: 2

 

While the Swans received a drubbing at the hands of Collingwood in Round:1 . Jim Dorgan was a standout in defence. On that day, Bill Twomey kicked nine goals for the Magpies Source: ‘Record’ (Emerald Hill) April 25th 1953. Page: 1

 

After just 13 games at VFL ranks, Jim Dorgan found his niche in the last line of defence; and, as the archives show, he promptly established himself as one of finest defenders in South Melbourne’s long and proud history.

 

In that era of VFL football, other clubs also boasted back pocket specialists e.g. Bruce Comben ( Carlton ), Bernie Smith ( Geelong), Wally Donald ( Footscray), Bill Stephen ( Fitzroy), John Beckwith ( Melbourne) , Lerrel Sharp ( Collingwood) , Roy Simmonds ( Hawthorn ), Ron Branton ( Richmond) and Pat Kelly (North Melbourne).

 

It is no exaggeration to state that Jim Dorgan rated with the very best in the above array of stars; and his dashing style and superb disposal turned defence into attack time and time again for the Swans. Jim was exciting to watch and the Swans’ fans ( young and old alike ) admired their ‘Number: 11’.

 

Sometime during the 1953 season, Swan forward Fred Goldsmith was moved from the forward line to full back and a new chapter in Jim Dorgan’s career unfolded.

 

 

JIM DORGAN BREAKS HIS LEG

 

Jim Dorgan ‘was on fire’ at the start of the 1953 and picked up votes in three of the first four games in the local newspaper award…
“ Jimmy Dorgan, the plucky little back-pocket defender, who was injured in the eighth game, received three placings…” ‘The Emerald Hill Record’ September 12th 1953 Page: 1.
Just when everything seemed to be going smoothly for Jim Dorgan, he was struck down with a dreadful injury in the Round: 8 home game against Melbourne…
“ Jim Dorgan Breaks Leg: South Melbourne back pocket player Jim Dorgan fractured his shin against Melbourne and will be outof football for the rest of the season. Dorgan believes he suffered the injury when he collided with Melbourne follower Mike Woods in the third quarter.
He played on for five minutes before leaving the ground; fracture was confirmed by an X-ray take yesterday, and the leg was placed in plaster.” ‘The Age’ June 15th 1953 Page: 14.

 

As reported in the ‘Sporting Globe’, Jim was replaced in the third quarter by Stan Smith (ex-Middle Park YCW). Jim would have had mixed feelings that day because, although his season had been brought to an abrupt end by injury, South Melbourne had conquered the Demons by six points. South’s best players were listed as: Gray Sibun, Leo O’Halloran ( 3 goals), Ron Clegg, Fred Goldsmith, Dave Donaldson, Jack Eichorn and Eddie Lane.

 

The following week, after breaking his leg, Jim Dorgan received glowing praise from Dick Reynolds (Essendon’s famous coach in that era) in his weekly column in ‘The Argus.’ Dick wrote about the ‘hole’ in South’s back line caused by the loss of Jim…
“ Both Footscray and South have been obliged to re-organise their defences .Loss by South of that re-liable back pocket defender Jim Dorgan is serious. It must affect adversely the co-operation and understanding being developed on stabilised back and half-back lines.” June 20th 1953 Page: 36

 

As the season progressed, South lost impetus and plummeted back to eighth rung on the VFL Ladder. After just 18 matches (and a win-loss ratio of 50%), Laurie Nash’s coaching career came to a screeching halt; and the SMFC turned to Herbie Matthews to guide the Swans out of the football wilderness. Jim Main explained the sudden departure of Laurie Nash from the Lakeside Oval as follows…
“ …South denied it had sacked Nash and , instead, insisted it had advertised the coaching position to ensure it had the best man for the job. Nash, in fact, applied for the job after it was advertised, but was overlooked.” ‘In the Blood’ Page: 168.

 

The 1953 SMFC team. Jim Dorgan is circled. The coach (centre) is Laurie Nash. Ron Clegg is on the left of Laurie. Source: State Library of Victoria. Ref: H2008.122/29 (This photograph was taken by a Charles Boyles 1888-1971. A website is devoted to Charles brilliant work in recording the history of Australain Rules football) .

 

 

1954 A LUCKY ESCAPE FOR JIM DORGAN AND FRIENDS

 

In 1954, Jim Dorgan and his team mates Ron Clegg, Gray Sibun and Ian Gillett were involved in a serious road accident, on their way home from Deniliquin after a weekend trip, to visit their former team mate Keith Schaefer. The four men were indeed fortunate to ‘walk away’ from the smashed vehicle. As can be imagined, the incident was big news in the metropolitan newspapers and ‘The Emerald Hill Record’ reported…

 

Source: ‘Record’ ( Emerald Hill) June 26th 1954. Page: 3

 

“South players lucky escape in car mishap : Four South Melbourne footballers were fortunate to escape serious injury when their car plunged over a railway embankment at Rushworth on Monday afternoon. The driver was Ron Clegg, and passengers Jim Dorgan, Mick Sibun and Ian Gillett. The car, striking a patch of loose gravel, failed to take the turn into a bridge, broke through a fence; and plunged down an almost vertical embankment. It halted on a flat area about 6 ft. above the railway-line. Sibun’s knee was cut. He was treated in the Rushworth Bush Nursing Hospital, and was limping badly on Tuesday. He was later treated by Dr. Whitehead, the club’s honorary medical officer, who removed doubts of officials, who were worried at the possibility of serious injury.
The party was returning to the city after spending the week-end |with Keith Schaefer, their former team-mate, and having seen his team emerge victorious. Schaefer is enjoying great success as coach of Deniliquin ‘The Emerald Hill Record’ June 26th 1954 Page: 3.

 

Percy Beames of ‘The Age’ newspaper also covered the story (and also wrote about Rob Clegg’s concern with a knee injury). According to the AFL archives, Jim Dorgan, Ian Gillette and Gary Sibun were selected in the South Melbourne team for the next game against Fitzroy ( Round: 10 -June 26th ); but Ron Clegg was not included in the line-up. Further research indicated that he did not play until Round: 12 against Carlton that season.

 

 

THE SWANS’ DYNAMIC DUO- JIM DORGAN & FRED GOLDSMITH

 

As history shows, over the next couple of seasons, Jim Dorgan and Fred Goldsmith developed a unique partnership and became a strong thread in the Swans defence. Jim and Fred were one of the most exciting ‘double acts’ in VFL football in that era; and, in the minds of the Swan’s supporters, the two ‘warriors’ were inseparable.
“ Dorgan combined brilliantly with full back Fred Goldsmith…” Holmesby and Main Page: 227
The following snippet, related to the match against Geelong in July 1954, supported the claim of their superb cooperation in defence…

 

“Great Little Battler…Jimmy Dorgan battled like a tiger in the back pocket, and never relaxed in his efforts to keep the enemy at bay. Twice he saved with marks in the teeth of goal after Goninon had led Goldsmith well out from goal.”
Jim and Fred worked in tandem; and as they gained confidence and trust in one another their reputation grew. Jim Dorgan and Fred Goldsmith became household names in VFL football; and they were consistent performers each week for South …
“The Herald football trophy of £100 is a keenly contested honour and it closed this week with three ruckmen, all, on the ball for great lengths-sharing the first three positions. Best of the placed men was local Fred Goldsmith (14 votes), 1 behind the equal second and 3 behind the winner. Fred has had a great season at full back with South and has settled down well as the custodian of the goal area. He has as his capable assistant another local Jim Dorgan, in the back pocket. Fred came from Spots wood club …” ‘Williamstown Chronicle’ September 3rd 1954 Page: 3.

 

South Melbourne’s ‘Dynamic Duo’ in action in defence.

Caption: JOHN HYDE (GEELONG) TAKES a finger-tip mark above the out-stretched arm of Dorgan (South Melbourne) on Geelong’s forward line at South Melbourne this afternoon. Behind is Goldsmith (South Melbourne). Source: The Herald July 3rd 1954, page 29

 

A measure of their combined talent can be seen in the fact that Fred won the Brownlow Medal in 1955; and Jim finished third in the coveted award in 1956 ( see below). In 1955, Fred Goldsmith received 21 votes while Essendon’s eminent rover, Bill Hutchison, was runner-up with 20 votes . Others to poll well that season were: Neil Roberts ( St Kilda-16 votes) , John James ( Carlton-15 votes ) , Denis Cordner ( Melbourne-15 votes ) and Eddie Lane ( Fred’s team mate and the Swans first rover) also collected 15 votes.

 

Fred Goldsmith, went on to play 119 games and kick 107 goals for South Melbourne. He also represented Victoria on ten occasions; and as stated to Holmesby and Main…“…He (Fred) collected the Simpson Medal at the 1956 Carnival…” Page: 313.

 

 

IN THE WARS AGAIN

 

 

A story about Jim Dorgan that may not be known by readers was, that in 1955, he was ‘the wars’ again. A post-match medical check revealed that Jim had burst a blood vessel during the match against Melbourne (June 1955).Jim’s plight received wide coverage; and the story in ‘The Argus’ was accompanied with a large photograph. Jim is depicted sitting up in bed, smiling, smoking a cigarette and reading a novel (perhaps a ‘penny dreadful’) entitled: ‘Never Forget Love.’
It was a terrific photo of Jim and underscored his indomitable spirit and sense of humour. Peter Banfield of “The Argus’ newspaper, reported, on the following Thursday, that…

 

“Despite constant efforts to get him back on the active list, Dorgan is regarded by officials as a certain non-starter . . .He is suffering from a burst blood vessel in his thigh. His condition is improving but he will not train tonight. Yesterday he, Don Keyter and Ian Gillett received special treatment at the ground ‘The Argus’ June 2nd 1955 Page: 20.
However, VFL records and ‘The Argus’ verified that Jim Dorgan was chosen for the match against Essendon. Not only did Jim take his place in the selected team; but he was mentioned as South’s best player that day. Essendon won by 38 points but Jim Dorgan ‘stood tall’ at Windy Hill. Don Keyter also recovered from his injury and played a serviceable game for the Swans. The scores were: Essendon 13.14 (92) defeated South Melbourne:7.12 (54).
Best for Essendon : Harrington (Best on ground), Mitchell, Clarke, Hutchison, Sewell, and Pascoe.
Best for South Melbourne: Dorgan, Keyter, Lane, Sibun, Taylor, and Goldsmith.

 

 

JIM DORGAN PLAYS HIS 50TH VFL GAME

 

During 1955, Jim Dorgan played his 50th VFL game against Collingwood in Round: 9 at the Lake Oval. Considering Jim’s first VFL game was in 1949, it had been a long and, at times, jarring journey. Fifty games in seven seasons averages out to be about seven games per year. It is fair to say that Jim was highly focussed and never lost sight of his objective in football.

 

Jim’s milestone was a day of disappointment as the Magpies won a close battle by nine points. South Melbourne relinquished a three quarter time lead; and, in a low scoring affair, Collingwood kicked three goals in the last term to triumph. The scores that day were Collingwood 9.18. (72) defeated South Melbourne: 8.15.(63).
South Melbourne’s best players were listed in ‘The Argus’ as : Eddie Lane, Bill Gunn, Ian Gillett, Fred Goldsmith, Jim Taylor and, a 23 year old utility player from Wodonga named, Don Star ( not to be confused with Les Starr- Yarragon/ Carlton ).
1n 1955, Jim played eighteen games. South won only five games and finished in 10th position on the VFL Ladder. In analysing that season, the Swans were in the depths of despair. The club was virtually at ‘rock bottom’, as they struggled in the second half of the season, and won only one of their last eight games.

 

The supporters must have been shattered with the club’s efforts in 1955; and, considering that Melbourne thrashed the hapless Swans by 10 goals in the final game, it was the end of miserable and fruitless season for the loyal band of Bloods barrackers.

 

The 1955 SMFC team . Jim Dorgan is circled and Fred Goldsmith is on the extreme right of the back row. Source: State Library of Victoria. Ref: H2008 122/170 (Charles Boyles)

 

 

1956: A STELLAR SEASON FOR JIM DORGAN

 

Source: ‘’The Canberra Times August 23rd 1956. Page: 16

 

While the main topic of conversation on everyone’s lips in 1956 was the impending Olympic Games, VFL football still created plenty of drama , excitement and controversy. Norm Smith’s Demons continued to cut a swathe through the opposition clubs; and set new benchmarks in player fitness and coaching stratagems. Meanwhile at Lake Oval, South Melbourne, under the reins of Herbie Matthews, struggled to find a ‘formula for success. In 1956, SMFC won only 6 games and clung to the ninth rung of the VFL ladder.

 

Jim Dorgan and Fred Goldsmith were beacons in those dark days of South Melbourne FC . Jim had his finest season and finished third in the Brownlow Medal behind Footscray’s Peter Box and Peter Piano (Geelong).

 

Examination of the top ten players in the Brownlow Medal that season, offers a clue to Jim Dorgan’s capabilities on the football field. The poll results in 1956 were: Peter Box ( Footscray-22 votes), Peter Pianto ( Geelong-16 votes), Jim Dorgan ( South Melbourne-15 votes), John Beckwith ( Melbourne-13 votes), Ron Barassi ( Melbourne -13 votes) , Roy Simmonds ( Hawthorn- 13 votes), Neil Roberts ( St Kilda -13 votes), Bill Stephen ( Fitzroy-11votes), Bernie Smith ( Geelong-11 votes), Des Rowe ( Richmond-11 votes) and John O’ Mahoney ( Hawthorn-11 votes).
Jim Dorgan was in illustrious company, and considering five of the above top ten stars were back pocket players, Jim was the ‘pick of the bunch’ that season. Furthermore, to cap off a ‘season to remember’, Jim Dorgan won South Melbourne’s Best and Fairest Award.

 

 

1956- JIM DORGAN PLAYS IN A NIGHT PREMIERSHIP TEAM

 

A VFL Night Series premiership in 1956 S 16. Jim played a sterling game that night against Carlton. Source: ‘The Argus’ September 18th 1956. Page: 16.

 

The ‘icing on the cake’ that season for Jim Dorgan was when South Melbourne won the Inaugural VFL Night Grand Final. The series was introduced in 1956 and played at the Lake Oval. While the lighting was inferior to the modern-day illumination at the MCG, Etihad Stadium and other major football grounds across Australia, it was good enough for the spectators to see all parts of the ground and for the players to see the ball (coloured) clearly in the night sky.

 

The matches were played between the eight teams that failed to reach the Final Four. South Melbourne defeated St Kilda by 20 points; and then overcame North Melbourne to reach the ‘play-off’ against Carlton for the ‘silverware.’ One of football’s most flamboyant and popular umpires, Harry Beitzel, was appointed to officiate that night; and a record crowd of 32,450 devotees crammed into the Lake Oval to watch an enthralling tussle. In a tense and torrid last quarter, South Melbourne hung on to claim victory by six points.

 

 

This photograph of the 1956 VFL Night series at lake Oval. The above match was between Carlton and Richmond. The quality of the lighting in that era was Inferior to what is available today. However, the crowd enjoyed the spectacle and the night matches were played with earnest endeavour by all the players.

 

 

BRIAN MCGOWAN MAKES A BIG SPLASH

 

Brian McGowan starred in the Swans’ premiership in 1956. Source: ‘Australian Football’

 

Jim Dorgan played in the Grand Final. He was listed among South’s best players and gave another fine display to remind the spectators of his brilliant season in the back pocket.
The Swans’ team also included a young rover named Brian McGowan from Barham ( NSW) who impacted in unforgettable fashion that night. As the match review stated
“…and the man who played a major role in South’s victory… 17-year-old Brian McGowan was playing his first senior League game. McGowan now has the remarkable record of having played in three grand finals in the one season-the V.F.L. thirds, seconds, and the night premiership. Helped by veteran rover Eddie Lane and ruckman Jim Taylor, McGowan’s tigerish play gave South their winning chances.” ‘ The Argus’ 18th September 1956 Page: 16.

The final scores were:
South Melbourne 13.16. (94) defeated Carlton 13.10.(88)
Goals for South Melbourne: Goldsmith 3 McGowan 3 Sibun Pratt Matthews Taylor Clegg E. Lane and Gillett.
Best for South Melbourne: McGowan Taylor Lane Clegg Dorgan Goldsmith and Sibun.

 

Note: The following season, South Melbourne won back-to-back flags in the Night Series when the club defeated Geelong by 51 points.

 

 

JIM DORGAN KICKS HIS FIRST VFL GOAL

 

Jim had played more than 80 VFL games before he kicked his first goal. It was a long wait, but in Round: 11 at the Lake Oval, in 1957, he kicked his first-ever VFL senior goal. Later, in the same game, he booted another; and those two goals would be Jim’s final goal tally in VFL ranks.

 

Source: The Age July 1st 1957 page 11

 

As has been mentioned throughout this story, Jim was a superlative left-footed kick; and his precise stab-passing was often cited in the press reports of that period. It is a pity that Jim’s various coaches, at South Melbourne, could not (or did not) use him on the forward line on occasions. Perhaps his ‘golden boot’ may have snatched victory from the ‘jaws of defeat’ in some of those narrow defeats.

 

 

100th GAME MILESTONE FOR THE SWANS

Jim Dorgan brought up his 100th game milestone for SMFC at the Junction Oval in Round: 16 (1958) against St Kilda. It was an historic occasion for SMFC as, on that same day, Ron Clegg played his 200th VFL game; Ron had been a genuine champion in VFL football and was a ‘local hero’ at the Lake Oval. It was a most memorable day for Ron and Jim (and their fellow teammates) as South Melbourne won in convincing style by 22 points.
Brian McGowan, Fred Goldsmith and Ken Boyd each kicked three goals, Don Keyter chipped in with two vital goals; and Ian Tampion ( ex-University Blues) kicked the ‘goal of the day ’ when the Saints defenders ‘dropped their guard.’

 

According to Col Hutchinson, in a game when goals really mattered, South’s Ian Tampion (ex-University Blues) kicked his only VFL goal that day…
“ A team-mate of ‘Smokey’ and Jim, Ian Tampion took a mark 80 metres out just before the three quarter time siren. He took his kick, which bounced through for a goal. The Saints’ defenders were careless in not guarding the goal square properly.” Col Hutchinson -AFL Statistics and Historian November 2017.
The South Melbourne team that day had only four players who had played 100 games or more for SMFC; they were: Ron Clegg ( 200 games), Ian Gillett ( 133), Fred Goldsmith ( 104) and, of course, Jim Dorgan. Ron, Ian, Fred and Jim were the veterans; and their experience could not be undervalued as half of their team had played less than 50 senior games.

 

A BRIEF COMMENT ON IAN GILLETT

Ian Gillett was a most under-rated player in the history of SMFC. Ian was a strong and tough ruckman and played from 1951-58; and notched up 135 games before hanging up his boots in VFL football. Jim Main ( a die-hard South Melbourne supporter), wrote that Ian later became a legend at Coolamon FC; when he steered that club to a premiership in the South West DFL in 1959. On that day, Coolamon 13.11.89 defeated Turvey Park (11.11.77) .

 

JIM DORGAN IS INCLUDED IN THE VFL SWAP CARD SERIES

 

Jim Dorgan was one of thirty six VFL players be selected for the ‘Kornies Swap Card collection in 1957. Jim was card No: 30; and the player summary/history, printed on the back of the card, stated his great judgement , his courage and his uncanny cooperation with Fred Goldsmith.

 


 

 

JIM DORGAN PLAYS HIS LAST VFL GAME

 

1958 was another testing year for the Swans under the leadership of Ron Clegg; and any hope of playing finals had dissipated with some lack-lustre performances in the first half of that season. However, all was not lost as South won five consecutive games ( Rounds: 13-17 and including the prize scalp of finalists Fitzroy) which gave some indication that on ‘their day’ the Swans were competitive and not without system and flair.

 

Jim’s Dorgan last game was on the wing against Carlton in 1958 . Ron Clegg, Jim Taylor and Ian Gillett who had been Jim’s teammates in his debut against Richmond in 1951 also played in Jim’s ‘farewell’ game. Source; ‘The Age’ August 22nd 1958. Page: 12

 

Round: 18 against Carlton, at Princes Park, was Jim Dorgan’s ‘Swansong’ in VFL football. Jim was only 27 year of age. It appears to have been a young age to quit the ‘big stage’ but it must be remembered that Jim’s nine years of VFL football had been physically challenging and not without several significant obstacles. Some of Jim’s listed team mates that day were: Ron Clegg, Fred Goldsmith, Bill Gunn, Don Keyter, Brian McGowan, Hugh McLaughlin and, of course, the emerging star of Australian football, Bobby Skilton.

 

The youngest player in the Swans’ team, for Jim’s last VFL match, was an eighteen year old named John Heriot from Spotswood. John would go on to play 153 games and be selected in the club’s Team of the Century. Carlton boasted several champions of its own that day including: John Nicholls, Sergio Silvangi, Laurie Kerr, Bruce Comben, Graham Donaldson and, the ‘later’ Brownlow Medallist (1961) John James.

 

The game was a thriller and the crowd of 17,897 got their money’s worth as the two teams went ‘hammer and tong’ from the very first bounce. At half time, Carlton led by eight points but South fought back and ‘nosed ahead’ in the last term.
The dying minutes must have unbearable excitement for the fans as Carlton hit the front and hung onto secure a two point victory. The scoreboard told the story; and the Swans had ‘paid a dear price’ for poor conversion. South kicked itself out of the game with 21 behinds that day.

 

The final scores were: Carlton 12.11 (83) defeated South Melbourne 10.21 ( 82). Brian McGowan kicked four goals for South; and the reliable forward, Max Oaten, booted two majors to win the SMFC goal-kicking trophy with a tally of 34 goals that year. The Swans best included Brian McGowan, Don Keyter, Bobby Skilton, Ron Clegg. Marshall Younger, Bill Gunn and Hugh McLaughlin. That narrow loss meant that south Melbourne had finished ninth on the VFL Ladder with seven wins and a percentage of 88.7%

 

 

RON BARASSI RATES BOB SKILTON

 

Bob Skilton would go on to be, arguably, the greatest rover in the history of VFL football. Bob was selected as the rover in the AFL Team of the Century. Source: AFL Legends com.au

 

Bob Skilton won the first of his nine club Best and Fairest awards in 1958; and, as time would reveal, he became the finest rover in the history of the club and, arguably, the VFL. The following passage regarding Bob Skilton , was written by Ron Barassi in 1995, and is an excellent summary of Bob’s football prowess …

 

“ Skilton was an uncanny player who was as good on his left side as his right. He also possessed limitless courage, going into the heaviest packs with seemingly no regard for his own Safety. Normally he would emerge with the ball. It is no wonder he won Three Brownlow Medals.” Ron Barassi. 1995.

 

 

JIM HEADS TO THE LATROBE VALLEY

 

Jim Dorgan said farewell to VFL football following that match at Princes Park. Jim had played 102 VFL games and, although there was little ‘ballyhoo’ in the news about his retirement, the club’s perceptive band of faithful supporters recognized that they had lost one of its best and most fearless campaigners.

 

Following his retirement from VFL Football, Jim Dorgan was very much a ‘wanted man.’ In some parts of Victoria, country football, having recovered from the losses of men during the World War: II, was experiencing a boom period. The Latrobe Valley was a centre of industrial expansion; and the newly formed and powerful Latrobe Valley Football League offered experienced footballers the possibility of: (i) Meaningful employment and (ii) Good remuneration in signing on as a coach or a player.
In the period 1954-64, the path, made by VFL footballers heading to the Latrobe Valley, was ‘well worn’ as retired stars looked to secure an income ( and perhaps employment and/or a house ) in the burgeoning towns of Central Gippsland.
Jim Dorgan was just one of many VFL footballers who went to the ‘Valley. Jim coached Moe (and then Yallourn) with considerable success; and as can be imagined he became a personality in LVFL football. Jim was a ‘standout’ in country football; and his high level skills and classy style drew people through the gate to watch him play.

 

 

AN EXODUS TO THE LATROBE VALLEY

 

Other ex-VFL players who played, at some point in time, with the ‘mainline clubs’ (as they were called i.e. from Warragul to Sale) in that exciting decade of LVFL football included: Les Jones ( Richmond), Bill Milroy ( Carlton ), John Nix ( Richmond), Gerald Marchesi ( North Melbourne), Geoff Collins ( Melbourne), Jervis Stokes ( Richmond), Laurie Shipp ( North Melbourne), Frank Munro ( Carlton/ Richmond), Pat Twomey ( Warragul ), Dick Gill ( Carlton), Noel Alford ( North Melbourne), John Coffey ( St Kilda) Robert Milgate ( Hawthorn ), Peter Bevilacqua ( Carlton ), Bill Welsh (Collingwood), Maurie Reeves ( Melbourne), Bob Hancock ( St Kilda), Jack Green ( Collingwood) , Brian Woinarski ( St Kilda), Harry Vanderbist ( Hawthorn) and Frank Considine ( Hawthorn ).

SMFC PLAYERS WHO PLAYED IN THE LATROBE VALLEY

 

Keith Browning was cleared to Trafalgar – Source: Coles swap cards

 

Those South Melbourne players, mentioned in this story, who signed on with clubs, affiliated with the Latrobe Valley Football League, during that decade included: Alf Callick coached Traralgon in 1954; and then Keith Schaefer took over from 1955 after his season in Deniliquin and Don Keyter coached Moe FC.
Keith Browning was cleared to Trafalgar after retiring from VFL football. Kevin Hogan (63 VFL games) coached Sale FC in the 1960’s.
One Of South’s finest rovers, Esmond ( aka Edie) Lane, went a ‘bit further up the highway’ when he coached Bairnsdale FC from1957 until 1960. ( Eddie later played with Lindenow FC) ; and, as mentioned above, Jim Dorgan was appointed to coach Moe FC in 1959.
It is little wonder that the LVFL assumed the status of ‘major league’ within such a short timeframe. Not only did the LVFL challenge the supremacy of the once- dominant Gippsland FL; but smaller country football leagues such as the Sale-Cowwarr, Bass Valley-Wonthaggi , West Gippsland and Mid Gippsland found it difficult to attract high profile players to their allied clubs. It was a classic case of the strong becoming stronger while the smaller clubs scrambled for survival.

 

 

1959 JIM DORGAN COACHES MOE FC

 

Moe FC is quite a story in itself as it was a ‘rags to riches’ story. In the early years of local football, Moe fought hard to be competitive. However, the arrival of Jarvis Stokes, from Richmond, brought about a remarkable transformation in the fortunes of the club.

 

                                Jervis Stokes played a key role in the emergence of Moe FC as a power in LVFL football.

 

Sportswriter Ron Testro of ‘The Argus( and a strong advocate for country football) described the rise of Moe as a resurgence…
“ A football renaissance is about to bloom in Latrobe Valley League ….” ‘The Argus’ July 2nd 1956 Page: 7
Ron Testro’s words were prophetic because in 1956 Moe defeated Traralgon in a gallant victory against all odds. The final scores were: Moe 10.9(69 ) defeated Traralgon 8.14.(62) . It was a masterly display by a determined and highly motivated Moe combination. Some of the stars of Moe FC in that era included: Jervis Stokes ( Richmond), Alan Steele, Max Donnelly, Lester Ross ( St Kilda), George Savage ( Footscray), Alby Law ( Essendon ), Len Millar ( St Kilda), Dick Baxter, Bill Anderson, Pat McIvor, Peter Bevilacqua ( Carlton ), John Somerville ( Essendon) and Neil Kennedy.
Moe was a club ‘going places’ and eagerly sought out Jim Dorgan to coach; and on the 26th November in 1958 ‘The Argus’ reported…
“Also going to the country is back pocket-defender Jim Dorgan…he has accepted an offer from Moe in the Latrobe Valley Football League.”

 

JIM LEADS MOE TO THE LVFL GRAND FINAL

Jim coached Moe in 1959 and he took the club to the Grand Final against Sale but the Magpies prevailed and defeated Moe by 29 points. It must have been a slogging affair in the heavy conditions at Yallourn, as Moe was held goal-less in the second half of the match. John Nix (ex- Richmond) coached Sale that day; and as can be seen from the results, Jim Dorgan was Moe’s best player in a match where stamina and ‘intestinal fortitude’ meant everything. The quarter by quarter scores were:
Sale: 1.1 1.4 3.5 8.10. (58)
Moe: 3.3 4.3 4.5 4.5 (29)
Goal-kickers for Sale: Tatnell 2 Chown 2 *Dawson 2 Evans 2
Best for Sale: Brennan Wyld Mason Jones Evans *Nix Green and Chown.

 

Goals Kickers for Moe: Howlett Donnelly * Somerville
Best for Moe: * Dorgan Howlett *Goode Kennedy *Millar and Marslen.
*Note : The above players marked * (as mentioned in the above match review) played VFL football at some time or another: John Nix ( Richmond), Len Millar ( St Kilda), Ray Dawson ( Melbourne/South Melbourne), Alf Chown ( Hawthorn), John Somerville ( Essendon) and Frank Goode ( North Melbourne).

 

Frank Goode, a young star from Moe, went on to play 73 games ( 107 goals) with North Melbourne (1961-67). Frank won the goal kicking award twice (1965-66) and became a successful coach in later years with NMFC’s Third XVIII, Sandringham (VFA) and Footscray. Frank also served on the VFL tribunal for five years. Photograph Source: Scanlens Cards.

 

 

JIM DORGAN LIFTS YALLOURN INTO THE LVFL FINALS

One would have thought that Jim Dorgan had ‘done enough’ to ‘hold the reins’ at Moe in 1960; but in a surprise announcement , Jim was appointed as the coach of the neighbouring club, Yallourn FC, for the 1960 season. The exact details of Jim Dorgan’s departure are elusive and have probably been lost with the passage of time; but the news was a ‘proverbial bombshell’ in local football circles.
The former North Melbourne champion, Vic Lawrence had coached Yallourn in 1958-59 and there was no argument that Vic was one the finest players to don the Yallourn colours; and knowing supporters thought that Jim Dorgan was be the right man to fill the void left by Vic.

 

Jim Dorgan followed the former Victorian player and Captain of North Melbourne (1955) ,Vic Lawrence, as the coach of Yallourn FC . Vic (circled above) was one the finest contested marks to have played LVFL in that era. The other Yallourn players seen in the photo are Bruce Knight, Bill Jackson and John Henderson. Bruce is the nephew of the famous Collingwood ruckman Jack Knight (who also coached St Kilda in 1941). Photograph source: Virtual Yallourn .

 

Early in 1960, ‘The Live Wire’ carried a photograph of Jim running onto the ground at his ‘new’ club. Jim was 29 years of age when he took ‘the helm’ at
YFC; and he made an immediate impression with his ‘sure-footed, slick and skilful’ style of football. Even under pressure, in a match situation, Jim’s
precise and pin-point foot passing was a ‘cut above the rest.’ It is little wonder that Jim established himself as a ‘blue ribbon’ player of the LVFL that season.

 

The famous Yallourn Football Oval- One of the finest arenas in country Victoria. Jim Dorgan steered Yallourn into the LVFL Finals in 1960. Source: Rose series.

 

ANOTHER CAR CRASH SIDELINES JIM DORGAN

1960 was a successful season for the Yallourn; and the team won the right to play Bairnsdale in the LVFL finals. YFC had finished in fourth position with 13 wins and 5 losses and a percentage of 131%. Unfortunately, Yallourn suffered a major setback when Jim Dorgan was injured in a motor accident in the lead-up to the game. It was calamity for Yallourn because Jim missed the game; and his young team missed his on-field presence and leadership. Yallourn was overrun by Bairnsdale in the last quarter, and any chance of a LVFL flag vanished as Yallourn stalled and ‘stopped to a walk’ in the last stanza.
Jim Dorgan coached the Club again in 1961; but the ‘window of opportunity’ for that ever-elusive premiership flag had closed. Yallourn missed the finals that season; and John Hutchinson, who had returned from Fitzroy FC in 1959, took over as the coach of the club in 1962.

 

John Hutchinson who had played with Fitzroy was appointed the Coach of Yallourn FC when Jim Dorgan stepped down at the end of the 1961 season. Source: Virtual Yallourn.

 

 

JIM DORGAN IS NOMINATED FOR THE SWANS BEST EVER TEAM

 

 

Jim Dorgan’s considerable exploits in VFL football could have faded into the ‘mists of time’ but fortunately, in May 2003, his name was again raised in football discussions when he was nominated for the position of back pocket for the Swans Team of the Century.
It must have been an extremely tough decision for the selectors of that team ( Ricky Quade, Bill Jacobs, John Heriot, Dennis Carroll and Jim Main) because of the outstanding service that Jim Dorgan and other notable defenders (e.g. Jim Cleary, David Ackerly, Jim Taylor, Hugh McLaughlin and Andrew Dunkley ) had given the Swans during their distinguished careers.
The selectors finally chose John Rantall for the back pocket.Only four Players from Jim Dorgan’s era were included in the line-up; and they were: John Heriot, Ron Clegg, Bob Skilton and, Jim’s comrade in arms in defence, Fred Goldsmith.

 

Jim Dorgan’s former team mates ( from the left ) John Heriot, Fred Goldsmith , Ron Clegg and Bobby Skilton were selected in South Melbourne’s Team of the Century. Bobby was named Captain of the team; and John and Ron were named as key defenders. Fred was listed as are reserve There are not many teams in the history of AFL/VFL which have a Brownlow Medallist on the interchange bench.

 

 

A FINAL WORD ON JIM DORGAN

 

This is an appropriate juncture to draw this story about Jim Dorgan to a close. Jim’s remarkable journey in VFL football may serve as a salutary lesson for all budding footballers to persist and persevere in reaching their set goals.
“Strength shows not only in the ability to persist but in the ability to start over.”
There are two things that have been gleaned from researching the football career of Jim:
• What a brilliant defender he became for South Melbourne in the period 1953- 1958.
• What a lion-hearted and skilled player Jim Dorgan was for his club.
The following citation about Jim Dorgan is taken from ‘The Emerald Hill Recorder’. The quote was written in May 1954, after South Melbourne had upset Essendon, to break a 16 year hoodoo at Windy Hill, and prevail by 13 points…
“Jimmy Dorgan was always on the move, and hardly made a mistake in four quarters of hard working football. The nuggetty little back-pocket player has a natural asset with his blind turn and his left-foot drops never fail to steer the ball well away from the danger zone. Jimmy’s ambition to repay South for kindnesses during his long period of incapacity last season is certainly being carried into effect. He is proving a big problem for resting rovers…” ‘The Emerald Hill Record’ May 1st 1954 Page: 6.

 

Jim Dorgan died on the 30th January 2003, aged 72 years.

 

 

THANK YOU & APPRECIATION.

 

Sincere thanks and appreciation are extended to the following people for their support in writing this story about Jim Dorgan:
• Paul Carter: Former Promotions Officer GFL, Honorary Historian  and currently a football commentator on TRFM for his provision of LVFL results in 1959.
• Dr Bob Grogan: Former Medical Officer, South Melbourne FC; and current football historian and writer.
• Staff at the Rosebud Public Library for arranging inter-library loans of references re: SMFC.

 

This story was written for The Footy Almanac by Roger Spaull in December 2022.

 

You can read more from Roger Spaull Here.

 

 

 

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Comments

  1. This is a ripping yarn, Roger.
    Many thanks for the time and effort that you have put into this piece.

  2. Hi Roger
    Thanks for this wonderful article about my dad Jimmy Dorgan
    It is so good to read about the good all days
    Thanks you so much for an amazing read
    Leanne Pearce

  3. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Well played Jimmy Dorgan. Well played Roger Spaull.

  4. John Gallus says

    Roger.What an outstanding piece of writing and research.Your name caught me as a fellow student at Frankston and a shared premiership.there early 60’s.Playing my first game for Drouin in Latrobe Valley in ‘62 I can appreciate your assessment of the competitiont..Milroy,Keyter,Steele,,Collins,Browning,Thripp,Coverdale,Alby Law and Max Donnelly as interleague coaches,Donaldson,William,Dick Baxter was a team mate..Certainly brought back some memories of hits and biffs. Great days.Thank you.Also a special mention for Paul Carter as another gifted historian for football. and our great league.John Gallus.

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