Almanac Footy History: The Lexton Football League and Lexton Football Club – Part 4


Roger Spaull has written a history of the Lexton Football League and Lexton Football Club for publication in the Footy Almanac to be presented in four parts over the coming weeks. Previous parts can be read HERE. In Part 4  Roger Spaull  looks  at some of the many great players that have played for other clubs in the Lexton Football League.




For a minor league, under the umbrella of VCFL, the Lexton FL was a gainful ‘breeding ground’ for the VFL ranks.


The following local players made a success of their stay in the ‘big smoke. It is not an exhaustive list; and, hopefully other readers, may be able to contribute further information about players from the Lexton FL, who ‘tried-out’/ trained with VFL clubs and/or played at VFL Reserves Grade level in that era…


Vin Williams (Navarre)… 93 games for Fitzroy (1952-59) mainly on the wing; and represented Victoria in 1954.

Frank Driscoll (Navarre)… seven games with Essendon (1957-58).

Gerry Brennan (Navarre) … seven games with South Melbourne in 1958 and 1960.

Henry Gunstone (Navarre)… 13 games with South Melbourne (1960-62).

Ian Aston (Landsborough)… 98 games with Fitzroy (1956-62) and was selected for Victoria in 1959.

David Norman (Beaufort)… 91 games with Collingwood (1961-66) . David was a tenacious rover with a keen goal sense.


Jim Jess ( Avoca) … Jim was a young star with Avoca and St Arnaud and  his selection for Richmond in 1973 came as no surprise. Jim played with the Tigers until 1988; and amassed 223 games and booted 175 goals. He was selected in the All- Australian team in 1980, represented Victoria and was inducted into Richmond Hall of Fame in 2008. Jim also played with Balranald, Burnie, Port Fairy and returned back in Avoca,   as club coach, in 1993 where he kicked 103 goals and helped the Avoca to its eleventh premiership flag.


Jim Jess in his teenage years.  He was an emerging star in the Lexton Football League in the 1970’s.  The Avoca Bulldogs website states that:  ‘ Jim is the most distinguished footballer to come out of Avoca.’




In 1971, the Lexton FC Executive members were Max Hobson (President), Barry Augustine (Vice President), Les Robison (Secretary), Arthur Pritchard (Assistant Secretary) and Ray Fisher was the Treasurer.


These men formed an energetic and dedicated committee. As readers will know, the success of any football club is proportional to the work that occurs off the field (and is often unseen).

The ‘Lexton 71’ publication    featured glowing tributes to two of the club’s most faithful servants, Ray Fisher and Peter Smith.


The things that stood out in the declarations about Peter and Ray were their selfless voluntary contribution to the game and how important football was to the life of their small community.  Peter cast along shadow across that VCFL region; and the Lexton Football League’s Best and Fairest Award was named in his honour. Peter died in 1960; and the ‘LFL Record’ published the following tribute to his tireless endeavours…


“Our late President was not a flamboyant  personality , rather he was quiet , earnest and unassuming but with character and courage which allowed him to hold the respect of all his contemporaries…Peter Smith’s passing is perhaps the greatest single loss yet sustained by the Lexton Football League.”


Ray Fisher was a dynamo in LFL administration. Among his many citations,  for his contribution to VCFL, was that, in 2002, the ‘Ray Fisher Memorial Shield’ was  named  in his honour and awarded to the champion club in the Lexton Plains Football League.  Furthermore, in 2015 The ‘Bibby-Fisher Shield’ was introduced as a perpetual trophy; and is awarded to the winner of games played between the Lexton and Navarre clubs.


‘The Eye of the Tiger’ – Ray Fisher-an extraordinary administrator and club stalwart.




Arthur Pritchard, who was a contributor to the book ‘Lexton 71’,    was the club’s assistant secretary in that era. Arthur, a primary school teacher, arrived at Lexton FC following his appointment to the Evansford State School in 1967.


Arthur who had grown up in Ormond had previously played soccer with Melbourne Soccer Club. Arthur took to country life and Australian Rules football like a ‘duck to water’; and, in next to no time, had established himself as a shrewd and dangerous half forward in the LFL.


He represented the Lexton Football League in the Beaurepaire Series; and, in later years, played with Maryborough FC in the Ballarat Football League.


Although Arthur was an adept football player (in two codes), he gained a lasting reputation in country and suburban cricket. As a youngster,  he had ‘caught  the eye(s)’ of the legendary Jack Ryder and Keith Stackpole ( Snr) while at Collingwood Cricket Club;   and,  later won a widespread reputation as a fine top order batsman  throughout Central Victoria and in the VSDCA (with Melton CC.).


Arthur represented the Victorian Country XI against the visiting MCC XI at Horsham in 1970; and, over the years, has won a string of prestigious awards for his accomplishments and service to cricket. He was once dubbed ‘Mr Cricket’, by a rural newspaper, for his outstanding deeds in country cricket.


The greatest honour bestowed upon Arthur was his selection for the Australian Veteran XI that toured England; and, as the scorebook reveals, he and the team performed in definitive fashion to clinch that historic series.  He was inducted into the Australian Veterans’ Hall of Fame in 2019. Arthur’s son, Heath, also played   with Lexton FC in 1996-97; and Heath’s son, Lachlan, has expressed a keen interest to play with the Lexton Under: 15 team this season.


An Australian Captain

Arthur Pritchard wearing his ‘baggy green’ Australian cricket cap.




As mentioned above, Langi Kal Kal Youth Training Centre’s affiliation,  with the Lexton FL,  was short lived but, in later years, the youths, from the farm, were warmly encouraged to play with Lexton FC.


The Langi Kal Kal Youth Training Centre was originally a sheep station.

‘Langi Kal Kal’ means the resting place for the singing cicada.


The Lexton FC was most supportive of the aims of the centre; and often received positive feedback for the opportunity and backing  it offered inmates ( as they were then called)  to play Australian rules and be part of a community club.It was not only an effective aspect of their rehabilitation and maturation but it broke down barriers and strengthened the local community.


Many of the staff members, at the centre, were actively involved in assisting with match day arrangements (e.g. driving the bus).  Further, in earlier days, a diligent member of staff coached the Reserves team and others supported the club by playing (if and when their duty rosters allowed).


The following extract is taken from letter that the club received from a former inmate of Langi Kal Kal It was published in Lexton 71…


“…When you chaps got to Lexton , do the right thing by the people there and they will do the right thing by you , because they are so wonderful….I myself, on behalf of the boys of ‘Kal wish to thank all the people of Lexton for having us through the year. I don’t plan to back for my third years, so I am offering my advice now…Give all your determination to Lexton.


Don’t let these wonderful people down…I shall never forget them as I doubt I could ever find a team so marvellous. I would like to wish all the ‘Kal boys the best of luck for next year and my kindest regards to all at Lexton” …Signed by the author in 1969.




The 1971 season went according to plan and Ian ‘Bluey’ Morrish and his well prepared and united team took all before them and claimed the LFL flag.


The club colours of the Lexton Tigers .


The key to the 1971 team was the team spirit and strong bonds of friendship that developed during the season. In all, it was a gregarious group of young men who enjoyed each other’s company and had plenty of fun along the way. Laughter is a ‘secret weapon’ in building successful sporting teams ‘and as Mark Twain once wrote: “Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand.”


The Pyrenees Hotel at Lexton.


The centre of fun and social interaction for the players, supporters and families of the football and netball teams in earlier times. It is stated that the hotel was built in 1845.


The LFL Grand Final was played at Moonambel; and Lexton, despite inaccuracy in front of goal, claimed the pennant by 12 points. The final scores were: Lexton 10.20 (80) defeated Avoca 9.14(68).


That  victorious Lexton team included some very well-known and popular local identities such as:    Ian  Morrish, Robert Palmby, Doug Impey, Brian  Gilby , Bernie Duffy, Doug Yean, Lee Hall, Barry Morvell, Arthur Pritchard, Joe Jensen, Russell Commons , Lyle  ‘Digger’  Bridges and, of course,  ‘Plugger’ Lockett.


The Lexton Reserves also stormed home that season and won the premiership with a most convincing exhibition of team football against Navarre.


The scores were:  Lexton 11.10.76 defeated Navarre 7.7.49 (Navarre’s final score requires validation).




Ian ‘Bluey’ Morrish-Formerly of Beaufort FC was the coach of the 1971 Lexton Football Club premiership team.  Ian, who was a dedicated teacher of deaf children, made an enormous impact at the club and became a local favourite with his sterling play across half back.


Although the Lexton Third XVIII had won flags in 1969 and 1970, the 1971 Grand Final was between Landsborough and Navarre; and Landsborough (sometimes known as the Hawks) won its second premiership in the Thirds competition.


Perhaps,  the Landsborough Hawks victory was an omen because, in the 1971 VFL Grand Final, Hawthorn hung on to clinch the premiership by seven points against St Kilda in front of a crowd of 118, 192 fans.


As mentioned above,  in 1971, ‘Plugger’ Lockett won his second Peter Smith Medal; and to put the ‘icing on the cake’ Colin Wood , of Lexton , won the John Farnsworth trophy for the Best & Fairest player in the Lexton FL Reserves competition.


Colin was an experienced and classy midfielder who had opted to forgo retirement from the game; and ‘played on’ to assist the young Reserves team that season. It was a selfless decision; and his influence and understanding of the game was of immense value in the development of the younger boys of the team (which often included youths from Langi Kal Kal team).




One of the articles carried in ‘Lexton 71’ was an essay especially written for Lexton FC by an ‘anonymous urban dweller’ who loved football and possessed a special affinity for rural communities and ‘bush football’.


The writer died in 2019 but what he wrote some 50 years earlier, for the LFC publication, still rings quite true. The name of his essay was titled ‘Football: Its contribution to the rural community.’ The following extract is part of the article and seems to be fitting end to this article regarding country football….


“Country football offers pride, excitement and, above all, a sense of belonging. It also offers more tangible products. It provides the many ‘March city wonders’, the ‘few June successfuls’ and the ‘once in a generation VFL champion’.”


Without it, the VFL umpires could not be ‘blooded.’ Without it, VFL football would have remained a ‘suburban backyard’ game. Without country football the true meaning of the game (the fun and physical release by player and spectator) would be lost. Further, what would a country dance be like without barrels in the ‘ute’, a three piece band and the saw-dusted floor without a preceding afternoon of football?      Conversation, mateship and community spirit would barely survive.


Without country football, the small town with its isolation would be swallowed up by the bush and the new TV set. Written for ‘Lexton 71.’



1920- 2021- A century of community football at Lexton.



A recent photograph of a match between Navarre and Lexton. Since the founding of the club in 1920, the design of Lexton’s guernsey has changed but the club’s indomitable essence has survived and will ensure that it can  withstand any challenges in the years ahead. The pulse of Lexton FC beats strongly and the club is in good  health and high spirits.


The Home of the Lexton Football & Netball Club.



This article was written for ‘Footy Almanac’ by Roger Spaull in June 2021.



Parts 1, 2, and 3 can be read HERE.




The Tigers (Covid) Almanac 2020 will be published in the coming weeks. It will have all the usual features – a game by game account of the Tigers season – and will also include some of the best Almanac writing from the Covid winter.  Pre-order right now HERE




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  1. Roger: since they came over to the Maryborough Castlemaine DFL Lexton hasn’t been all that wonderful.

    Not a single flag since the move across for the 2011 season.

    Compare that to two other LPFL clubs in Navarre and Natte Bealiba.

    Natte has won twice: in 2011 and 2019. Navarre, in those appalling green and musty yellow guernseys, have four MCDFL premierships: 2013/14/15/16.

    I covered the 2016 grannie for the Bendigo Addy. Navarre Grasshoppers beat Carisbrook 10.12 to 4.7.

  2. Lexton going pretty well this year. Even though they went down to Maldon 19.15 to 8.6 just before lockdown they’re still fifth on MCDFL ladder. Six wins, 3 losses and one bye. Well clear of Natte and Navarre who are well down the table.

  3. Arthur Pritchard says

    What Roger fails to include was his importance as a player in both the 1968 and 1971 premiership years.
    An excellent mark and kick he was such an asset being able to fulfil key postions as a forward or backman. The ultimate team player and clubman.

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