Almanac Footy History: The Lexton Football League and Lexton Football Club – Part 2

 

Roger Spaull has written a history of the Lexton Football League and Lexton Football Club for publication in the Footy Almanac which will be presented  over the coming week. Part 1 has been published and can be read HERE. Part 2 looks at the formation of the Lexton Football League in 1945  and the beginnings of the Lexton Football Club from 1920. highlighting the influence of  one of their greatest footballers, Howard ‘Plugger’ Lockett.

 

PART: 2 

THE LEXTON FOOTBALL LEAGUE:

 

The Lexton Football League was formed in 1945 (with six foundation members) and disbanded in 1998. ‘Change is a constant’ in regional football structures; and, in those 54 years, some small clubs (e.g. Redbank, Talbot, Raglan and Elmhurst) ‘came and went’ (or in some instances merged with nearby clubs).

 

Langi Kal Kal Youth Training Centre (a minimum security prison near Trawalla) entered a stand-alone team in the Lexton FL in 1959 but later went into recess.

 

Talbot (a town with a population of about 500) was a founding member of the   LFL but crossed to the Clunes FL in 1947; and is now a highly competitive club in the Maryborough and Castlemaine District Football League.

 

Waubra, which joined the Lexton FL in 1946, won the premiership that same year and then again in 1947, 1948 and 1950.The club affiliated with the Clunes FL in 1974.  Beaufort FC, which affiliated with the LFL in 1946, transferred to the Ballarat FL in 1966.

 

Marnoo (24 km from Rupanyup on the Wimmera Highway), entered the Lexton FL in 1970. In 1971, the Lexton Football League comprised the following clubs:   Lexton, Navarre, Avoca, Moonambel, Waubra, Landsborough, Marnoo, Amphitheatre and Natte Bealiba.

 

Lexton Football League won the Beaurepaire Shield in 1954.

Source: ‘Melton Express’ July 10th 1954 Page:  6

 

LEXTON FOOTBALL CLUB : A REMARKABLE  JOURNEY SINCE 1920.

 

Lexton Football Club was formed in 1920; and in its inaugural season was affiliated with the Pyrenees Football League. Since that year, the club has been allied with:

 

1920-24      Pyrenees Football League.

1925            Ripon Football Association.

1926-32      Learmonth District Football Association.

1933-38       Pyrenees Football Club.

1939-40       Ripon Football Association.

1945-98       Lexton Football League.

1999-2010  Lexton Plains Football League.

2011-2021  Maryborough-Castlemaine District Football League.

 

LEXTON’S ‘GOLDEN ERA’ OF FINALS AND FLAGS.

 

Lexton won its first flag in 1923 and other premierships came in 1924-27-33-38-45-63-66- 67-68-71-72-74 -76-78 -83-88 and 92.

 

Research revealed that the 1945 Lexton FC premiership team included the following players: P. Smith, K. Morvell, A. Giles, B. Cullinan, D. Jolly, A. Fisher, K. Briody, J. Briody, A. Briody,  M. Bradley, P. Hobson and R. Palmby.

 

In the period 1960-1980, Lexton played in 15 Grand Finals and won nine premierships.  It won ‘three in a row’ in 1966-67-68 but Natte Bealiba ended the Tigers’ historic run in 1969.  On that day, at Avoca, Natte Bealiba 13.12.90 defeated Lexton 11.14.80.

 

FATHER  & SON-1968

 

 

 

The above photograph is of the Lexton Premiership team of 1968. Despite the photograph being grainy and indistinct, it is an historic part of AFL football history. The coach of the team, Howard ‘Plugger’ Lockett, can be seen sitting in the centre of the front row; while the fair haired boy (mascot), sitting at his feet, is Howard’s son, Tony. Tony Lockett went on to play 281 AFL games, kick 1360 goals, represent Victoria and win the Brownlow Medal in 1987.

 

Father and son – in later years

 

HOWARD ‘PLUGGER’  LOCKETT

 

It would be impossible to write about the history of Lexton Football Club without devoting a few observations regarding Howard ‘Plugger’ Lockett.

 

‘Plugger’ was a ‘champion of the bush’; and his record at North Ballarat was imposing and he was a ‘living legend’ at Lexton FC…

 

“ Howard was a bush legend for North Ballarat and Lexton, whom Bob Davis once said was the best country player to never play in the VFL” Source: ‘The Mercury’  June 18th 2015.

 

Bob Davis was an astute judge; and there were many other experts who concurred with that assessment of ‘Plugger’s’ early potential. It was said, ‘around the traps’, that Essendon had tried to coax ‘Plugger’ to play at Windy Hill. However, he opted to ‘remain at home’ in Ballarat (as many young country footballers chose in that era).

 

‘Plugger’ loved the game with passion; and he enjoyed the rivalry and banter with others.  He could (and often did) converse for hours about selection, tactics, players and coaching methods. Those who saw ‘Plugger’ in action were never in any doubt that he was a ‘complete footballer.’  He was tough; highly skilled, daring and his ability to kick ‘goals on the run’ was daunting.

 

 

 

“North Ballarat made the finals in 1959, losing the Grand Final to Geelong West by a record 83 points…The game was a fitting send-off for one of the club’s most revered players, Jim Walton, who was included among the best players, as was Howard “Plugger” Lockett, Tony’s father.”  Source:  Phil Roberts: ‘Roosters A History of NBFC’ 2003.

 

In his memories of the Ballarat Football League (which participated in the 1961 VCFL Country Championships),   former Geelong star, John Haygarth, referred to ‘Plugger’ …

 

“ The Ballarat League team included Geelong West’s Les Borrack (ex-Geelong), North Ballarat’s Howard ‘Plugger’ Lockett (father of Tony Lockett), Jim Gull, and three players from Maryborough.”  Source:  ‘ A Favourite Not Forgotten – the biography of Geelong’s John Haygarth by Ken Mansell.

 

‘Plugger’ arrived at Lexton in 1965 and coached for the next six seasons. He won the club’s Best & Fairest award in 1965 , 1966 and again in 1967.  He also claimed the League award in 1966 and 1971.

 

Further, he coached the LFL, in the interleague fixtures ( Beaurepaire Shield),   with unbridled enthusiasm and considerable success  in those years.

 

The Beaurepaire Shield ‘Plugger’ Lockett and the Lexton Football League combination. On Plugger’s left is one the Lexton finest defenders, Doug Impey. Roy Day, Barry Morvell, Robert Palmby and the White brothers are also pictured in the LFL line-up.

 

 

In 1971,  ‘Plugger’ was appointed Senior Coach of Redan ( Ballarat FL ) but,  due to unexpected circumstances, decided to return to ‘where his heart was’ at Lexton. Ian ‘Bluey’ Morrish (ex-Beaufort), who had accepted the coaching role at Lexton that season, welcomed ‘Plugger’ back with ‘open arms.’ ‘Plugger’ was happy to play ‘second string’ to Bluey; and they formed an effective ‘double act’ which delivered another premiership flag in 1971 (see below).

 

One of ‘Plugger’s most spirited efforts occurred in an away game (un-named for the purpose of this article) where he was unfairly ‘decked’ at the opening bounce. It was, in any one’s language, a callous ‘off-the- ball’ hit which stopped ‘Plugger’ in his tracks. The heavy blow demanded ‘running repairs’ to stem the flow of blood; and he was aided by the club’s trainers (from memory Laurie Karslake and Jack Graham).

 

In typical fashion and despite the severity of the injury, ‘Plugger’ returned to the fray; and then proceeded to dominate the game (which he underlined with a five goal haul). It wasn’t until much later (that evening) that ‘Plugger’ sought medical assistance and had sutures inserted in his lacerated eyebrow.

 

That incident is still spoken about; and it was a classic example of his ability to ‘get up off the canvas’ and it emphasized his fortitude and combative spirit. It was also a day when ‘Plugger’ demonstrated his gift to ‘goal on the run’ with long and powerful torpedo punts.

 

Former Lexton FL League stalwart and President, Ray Bibby, once said…

 

“Lexton has always been most enthusiastic about Beaurepaire Shield matches and always encouraged its club’s players to participate.  Another great contribution to the league has been the inspiring leadership of ‘Plugger’ Lockett to interleague matches over recent years. The league remembers few of the calibre of this football personality”

 

From Lexton 71’- ‘Meet the Players’- Howard ‘Plugger Lockett.

 

In 1972, ‘Plugger’ returned to North Ballarat as assistant coach to Daryl Peoples (ex-Fitzroy). Following stints by Daryl, Colin Tully (ex- Collingwood) and then Con Britt (ex-Collingwood), ‘Plugger’ was appointed as the NBFC Senior Coach; and in 1977 guided the club to the BFL Grand Final .On that day, Redan 12.15. (87) defeated North Ballarat 10.12 ( 72).

 

Note: ‘Plugger’ registered over 200 games for NBFC and is a Life Member of NBFC.

 

In that era of football (1970- 1980) at North Ballarat, no less than ten players broke into the VFL ranks: Michael Malthouse, Jeff Dunne, Eric Clarke, Greg Burns, Val Perovic, Malcolm Scott, Stewart Gull, Gordon Polson, Ian Baker and Ian Stevenson (who played with East Devonport and later Essendon is noted in some texts as being recruited from NBFC in that period).

 

‘Plugger’ Lockett (No:  16 ) kicked two goals against Maryborough – August 1960.

Source: Boyles Football photos website.

 

Source: LFL ‘The Footballer’ Saturday 31st August 1968 Page: 2. This extract was taken from the official league publication for the 2nd Semi-Final between Lexton and Natte Bealiba which was played at Moonambel.

 

Plugger’ Lockett at training at NBFC with former team mate Teddy Lovett (also Fitzroy ). Teddy won two Henderson Medals (1963 and 1965) for the Best & Fairest player in the Ballarat FL.  Source: Unknown (perhaps ‘The Ballarat Courier’).

 

To be continued

 Part 1 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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