Almanac Footy History: The Long-forgotten Pomborneit Football Club

 

The change in demographics and the demise of country footy clubs has been a constant over the past four or five decades. Very many of these clubs are fondly remembered, still have honour boards and photos up somewhere, and are still talked about in the public consciousness.

 

The Pomborneit Football Club is a long forgotten relic of a bygone era. So forgotten that they don’t even rate a mention on the comprehensive list of clubs on the excellent australianfootball.com website. While the Pomborneit Cricket Club has been a constant presence since 1883, the Pomborneit Football Club had a spasmodic journey between 1884 and 1949. Their story deserves to be told.

 

While the first land grant in the Parish of Pomborneit was given in 1858, and several other lots were obtained in the 1860’s, it was the rabbit infestation of that era that moved the Manifold family to section off the north east portion of their ‘Purrumbete’ property, mainly rocky ‘stony rises’ country, in 1867, which saw many families whose names are still synonymous with the area today take up land in the Pomborneit district.

 

Pomborneit was basically considered a coach stop village for a time after 1867, with only a school, post office and a Presbyterian church in operation. That all changed with the Colac to Camperdown railway line opening in 1883. The Pomborneit railway station opened on July 6th, 1883, bringing railway workers to the area. The Pomborneit Cricket Club played its first game on February 12th 1883, while the Pomborneit Football Club played its first games in 1884. The village seemed to grow rapidly in this time, the railway helping other businesses become established in the 1880’s.

 

The Pomborneit FC played around 7 or 8 games in 1884. There was no league or official competition, just clubs lining up games against each other. A highlight was playing Pirron Yallock at Pirron Yallock, at Captain Haines’ paddock at his “Mamre” homestead, on the eastern shore of Lake Corangamite. The team caught the train on the new train line from Pomborneit to Pirron Yallock according to newspaper reports, though it is unclear how they made the journey from Pirron Yallock station to the Mamre homestead several kilometres away. Pomborneit were victorious on the day, a George Lucas goal saw the visitors win 1 goal to no goals in apparently very windy conditions.

 

There was a return game two weeks later, at the Pomborneit North property known as ‘Cabbage Gardens’, an unknown venue somewhere on the Pomborneit-Foxhow Road, which was formerly (and betterly) known as Cabbage Garden Road. At the time behinds did not count in your score, so Pirron Yallock 2 goals 0 behinds defeated Pomborneit 1 goal 11 behinds. W.Foster, the Pomborneit captain, kicked their only goal.

 

1885 was an even busier year for the Pomborneit Football Club, playing 12 games, including games against Camperdown and Cobden. Pomborneit defeated Cobden at Jancourt (likely to be at the Jancourt homestead near Cobden rather than at the Jancourt locality further south) in May 1885, then defeated Cobden again a week later at Pomborneit. Cobden defeated Pomborneit at Cobden in front of a reported crowd of 150 in July 1885. Pomborneit played Camperdown at ‘Clarke’s Paddock’ in August of 1885, a Camperdown home venue, and beat the home team with 1 goal to Camperdown’s 10 behinds under the old scoring system.

 

After some busy early years, most of the 1890’s sees Pomborneit FC games very few and far between. Maybe some were not reported on, more likely football was not a priority in the 1890’s depression years. It took until 1897 for reasonably regular fixtures to return, with Pirron Yallock a regular opponent most years. In 1897 Pomborneit hosted Pirron Yallock at ‘J.Condies Paddock’ in South Purrumbete, but all other home games between 1897 & 1906 are just listed as being at ‘Pomborneit’, with no specific venue named.

 

1907 is the busiest year for Pomborneit in football since the 1880’s. Still no official league, the matches are just games played with a return fixture a couple of weeks later. Matches are played against Danedite, Camperdown Imperials, Pirron Yallock and South Purrumbete, Pomborneit winning 7 out of 8 games.

 

The 1908 season is the first season of an official league that Pomborneit plays in, the Brown-Harlock Trophy. Pomborneit is the winner of the trophy, finishing undefeated; no grand final appears to have been played. A notable result is the inaccurate kicking on July 4th, 1908 at Swan Marsh, Pomborneit 1-19-25 defeating the home team 2-8-20. I’d love to know where the Brown-Harlock Trophy is, if it still exists.

 

1909 sees a new trophy sponsor, clubs playing in the Quinn Competition. Pomborneit win 6 and lose 6 games. Pomborneit wore a blue guernsey that season and were referred to as the ‘Blues’ in match reports. The club was reported as having 70 members in 1909, and closed off the season with a well attended ‘smoke social’ at the Pomborneit Public Hall. Below is a fantastic team photo from the 22nd of May 1909, when Danedite defeated Pomborneit at Danedite 4-9-33 to 2-4-16.

 

Pomborneit FC v Danedite 22/05/1909

 

The Pomborneit team in the photo (not in photo order, any help with names to faces would be much appreciated) is: J.Baker (captain), A.E.Boyd (vice-captain), G.Robertson, W.O’Callaghan, J.Patterson, H.P.Jeffers, D.Hose, A.Robertson, J.Murray, T.Murray, F.Hanlon, D.R. Kelly, W.Tomkinson, H.Weston, G.Roache, W.Patterson, J.O’Donnell & R.Mathieson

 

From 1907 to World War 1, Pomborneit home games were nearly all played at ‘W.N.Hindhaugh’s Paddock’, likely located just north east of Pomborneit North on or near the Danedite homestead. W.N.Hindhaugh was club president for all of those years. But an interesting one off game was held ‘on a paddock on the Colac Road near the 7 mile post’ against Bostocks Creek on June 10th, 1909. Basically the location of the current Pomborneit Recreation Reserve. That venue saw no more action until the Pomborneit Recreation Reserve was officially opened in 1933.

 

Pomborneit finished second to Danedite in yet another rename, the McCabe & Hindhaugh Competition in 1910. Clubs had to settle for whatever colour guernseys they could get their hands on in those times, Pomborneit wore maroon and were referred to as the ‘maroons’ in 1910.

 

A mixed season in 1911, winning 5 and losing 5, junior (now known as reserves) teams from Camperdown, Cobden and Terang entered the competition, while some country clubs withdrew. In 1912, a Mortlake junior team joined the competition, Pomborneit now the only country club, yet still competitive, winning half their games. Most 1912 newspaper reports refer to the team as the ‘maroons’, though two reports also give the nickname ‘the rises’, a moniker that is never used again. In 1913 the maroons played their home games at Camperdown’s Leura Oval without much success.

 

1916 seems to be the only year Pomborneit played in during World War 1. There are reports of 2 games against Camperdown and a game against South Purrumbete, but perhaps the most interesting game was between Pomborneit and a Pomborneit District Married Men team. A few bachelors were required to round out the married team. Pomborneit 14-12-96 defeated Married Men 3-10-28. The match was a fundraiser for the Pomborneit State School Patriotic Fund, raising 15 shillings and 9 pence for the cause. This match, plus some matches hosted by the Pomborneit State School team in 1916, were held in a paddock on Mr Harrison’s property in the hills next to Mount Porndon, land still owned by the Harrison family. As the photos below show, we were lucky enough to have a look at and a kick on that piece of land a couple of years ago when taken there by Les Harrison, who is still on that Harrison land his family has had since 1867.

 

 

The field at Harrison’s farm

 

 

Tree goalposts at Harrison’s farm?

 

 

Kick to kick on Harrison’s football ground, more than 100 years after the games played there in 1916

 

Pomborneit resumed football in 1921, first up with a game against Camperdown in aid of the Camperdown Hospital. Only a couple of other games were reported that year.

 

Reports are still few and far between in 1922, and the games are only briefly covered, but there’s mention of Pomborneit becoming premiers after defeating Hawk’s Nest (the locality known as Pomborneit East since 1931) for a third time that season. The second of three Pomborneit football premierships is by far the hardest to find information on.

 

Match reports are still scarce in 1923, but there’s another game against Hawk’s Nest, these are the only two seasons of football from Hawk’s Nest that look like they appeared in.

 

The club looks like it went into recess from 1924 to 1926, reforming to be a part of the Camperdown & District Junior Football Association ahead of the 1927 season, again it was junior in status not age. The competition included 4 teams, Pomborneit, Bostocks Creek and reserves teams from Camperdown and Terang. Pomborneit’s only two wins were both against Terang. While it is unclear what colours Pomborneit wore from 1921-1923, from 1927 onwards they wore blue and gold vertical stripes. Post WW1, blue and gold were the sporting colours of all Pomborneit teams for a certain period, including tennis, table tennis, cricket and women’s basketball (netball).

 

In 1928 the addition of Chocolyn and Elingamite saw the competition expand to 6 teams. Bostock’s Creek had won the previous 4 premierships, but it was minor premier Pomborneit and Elingamite who met in the grand final at an extremely windy Leura Oval in Camperdown where there was a ‘splendid attendance’. Elingamite opened with the assistance of a ‘high wind favouring the town goal’, and led with 2-7-19 to Pomborneit’s 1 behind at quarter time. Pomborneit kicked 4 goals to one with the wind in the second quarter, and led 4-4-28 to 3-9-27 at the main break. Pomborneit could only manage 1 behind against the wind again in the third term, Elingamite leading 5-15-45 to 4-5-29 at the last change. Pomborneit had all the momentum in the final term and stormed home to win 8-10-58 to Elingamite 6-18-54. The players were awarded medals at a footballers ball in the Pomborneit Public Hall in the October of 1928, an event attended by more than 200 people, who ‘thoroughly enjoyed dancing to the strains of Mr Sloane’s high-class orchestra’.

 

The 1928 Pomborneit FC premiership team

 

1929 was another strong season from the Pomborneit FC, this time they could not get over Elingamite in the first semi final, finishing 4th. 1930 was a what if season for the club, losing to Cobden twice by 4 points, losing to Camperdown by a point, losing to Bostocks Creek by 5 points and missing the finals. The Pomborneit Football Club played its home games from 1921-1930 at the Pomborneit North property ‘Chelsea’, the front paddock of which was the home of the Pomborneit Cricket Club from 1894 (but possibly earlier) to the Recreation Reserve opening in 1933. ‘Chelsea’ also hosted the many athletics meetings of the Pomborneit Sports Club over several years.

 

Sadly, Pomborneit decided not to enter a team in 1931. And it looked like football in Pomborneit was done. As the 1930’s progressed, some prominent Pomborneit family names appeared in Bookaar Football Club teams. Yet none at all in the closer located South Purrumbete Football Club. While there was some crossover between Pomborneit and South Purrumbete players in earlier times (particularly the 1880’s and 1900’s), there was none in the 1920’s & 1930’s from any Pomborneit based player. I have a theory that sectarianism played a part, with South Purrumbete being a mainly, but not exclusively, Catholic club at the time, while Pomborneit never had a Catholic church, instead being a mostly Presbyterian and Anglican community.

 

After almost two decades of no football, the Pomborneit Football Club was revived for some matches in 1948. The two matches found so far see a Pomborneit senior team play a Camperdown Under 18 team, both times at Camperdown’s Leura Oval.

 

The Pomborneit team that played on the 8th of May 1948 was:

 

Back: E.Bailey, D.Rippon, R.Boyd
Half Back: S.Burge, K.McGarvie, W.Cust
Centre: D.Boyd, R.Kelly, M.Hallyburton
Half Forward: G.Patterson, R.Everett, E.Rippon
Forward: W.Boyd, D.Kelly, J.Kelly
Followers: F.Payne, R.White
Rover: T.Baker

 

Camperdown 2-8-20 defeated Pomborneit 1-8-14 on that day. The teams also met on the 14th of August, Camperdown winning again, 6-9-45 to 3-11-29.

 

In 1949 Pomborneit again played Camperdown Under 18’s, losing 8-6-54 to 1-5-11 on July 9th. Two weeks later, Pomborneit hosted Tesbury at the Pomborneit Recreation Reserve, the Camperdown Chronicle reporting the ‘game was well attended’. Pomborneit 5-14-44 defeating Tesbury 6-5-41. Goalkickers for Pomborneit were T.Baker with 3 and N.Boyd with 2, best players were T.Baker, N.Boyd, J.Boyd, E.Roff and W.Pegg. The Chronicle reported that the two teams were to meet again in a fortnight at the Pomborneit Recreation Reserve, but a record of a second game is yet to be found. There’s no record of Tesbury ever having a football team before or after 1949. It’s interesting that after nearby South Purrumbete went into recess after the 1948 season, the Tesbury team contained many South Purrumbete football names. South Purrumbete Football Club wouldn’t return until 1956.

 

The Pomborneit team who played Tesbury on July 23rd 1949, pictured in front of the old pavilion at the Pomborneit Recreation Reserve.
Photo courtesy of the Harlock family archives

 

Pomborneit v Tesbury 23/7/1949 at Pomborneit
Photo courtesy of the Harlock family archives

 

Pomborneit v Tesbury 23/7/1949
Photo courtesy of the Harlock family archives

 

I’ve only been able to come across one person who has memories of that 1949 game at the Pomborneit Recreation Reserve, though I did know a few participants in the game, all who have sadly passed before I commenced work researching Pomborneit’s sporting history. I caught up recently with Kath Podger (nee Harlock), who remembers being at that game as a young girl. Kath remembered there being a large crowd, and that Doug Boyd, who had a long and successful career at the Pomborneit Cricket Club, broke his leg in the game in a story I’ve also heard from later generations of Doug’s family. Kath’s father Ron Harlock was a member of the 1928 Pomborneit FC premiership team and talented in several sports including cricket and table tennis.

 

There’s no record of any Pomborneit football after 1949. Maybe an opportunity lost with South Purrumbete in recess in the early 1950’s? The cricket club dropped back to one team for the 1950/51 season so maybe the numbers just weren’t there.

 

Little remains of the Pomborneit Football Club apart from the few photos in this article. No trophies, no honour board. The 1909 team and the 1928 premiership photo are now on the wall at the Pomborneit Recreation Reserve. We live in hope that maybe, just maybe, someone has an old trophy out there somewhere. Some more photos. Or even better, an old guernsey.

 

If not, there’s more research to do, hopefully more games to uncover. The Pomborneit Football Club deserves to be remembered, to be acknowledged. Go the Blues/Maroons/The Rises/the Blue and Golds!

 

Any further information, photos or memorabilia of the Pomborneit Football Club is keenly sought after. Please contact Luke Reynolds on 0428 560 402 or [email protected] if you have anything.

 

 

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About Luke Reynolds

Cricket and Collingwood tragic. Twitter: @crackers134

Comments

  1. roger lowrey says

    Marvellous yarn that, Luke.

    As well as admiring the thoroughness of your research, I was also quite taken by the way the big picture historical “cycles” within the greater national narrative played out in the local patch.

    For example, you highlight that golden age of Victoria’s rural railway expansion in the 1880’s and how it drove social development. Those few gaps you encounter during the 1920’s and 1930’s were, in my mind at least, perhaps caught up in the backwash of the prevailing rural nervousness as they struggled to fully recover from losing that huge chunk of able bodied young men from all parts of the country in the War.

    And your reference to the ongoing Catholic/Protestant bitterness is a most perspicacious call. The consequences of sectarianism were particularly harshly felt in smaller country communities where everyone was known to everyone else but that cleft silent “don’t mention the war” dynamic ensured you were only ever comfortable with half your fellow rural battlers despite the common hardships of rural life being an unavoidable cross all of them had to carry.

    Great work mate.

    RDL

  2. Enjoyed this Luke. Like a good historical yarn. And this is very well told. Agree with Roger that footy club histories tend to follow the ebbs and flows of the national cycles. Which is probably logical.

    Love the old photos. The state of the grounds they played on also interesting. Compare that to the carpet of the MCG where it gets slippery at worst.

    Great stuff.

  3. Malcolm Rulebook Ashwood says

    Luke it is truly extraordinary that a cricket club has continued to grow while a footy club died it really is a tribute to you folk who have worked extremely hard re your cricket club – One thing that hasn’t changed is bad kicking is bad footy

  4. Colin Ritchie says

    Fantastic Luke! Congratulations and well done! Some of those old photos with muddy grounds reminded me following my dad when he played for the Colac Imperials in the CDFL in the late 50s early 60s. Those grounds were always muddy!

  5. Great work Luke.
    Do you know who Danedite were known as or colours.
    Clearly Pomborneit v Married Men were the original rivals.
    Great to see Wal, Doug play for Pombo as well as I assume Ron. I assume Pa had retired as he only played for Bookaar.

    Maybe need a reanactment match to celebrate 140 years

  6. Just brilliant

  7. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Well played Luke. Here’s hoping even more history can be uncovered.

  8. Fantastic work Luke it’s great to have so many memories recorded and not lost forever and forgotten. Keep up the great work.

  9. Luke Reynolds says

    Thanks to everyone for the comments and the interest. Have been keen to write this for some time and glad I finally got around to it.

    Roger- the historical cycles are fascinating. As well as the ones you mentioned, the scarcity of games in the first half of the 1890’s, while there was a major depression, stands out too. I found the same with cricket in that time. I think sectarianism endured until the 1960’s in my area, maybe later? It’s something I find really interesting yet find it hard to comprehend how divisive it was.

    Dips- thanks! The Pomborneit Recreation Reserve is in much better nick these days than it appeared in those 1949 photos!

    Malcolm- when the footy club finished after 1949, the cricket club dropped back to one team in 1950/51 for the first time in decades. And stayed at one senior team until 1973, with 7 years of junior cricket in the 1960’s the only other team for a bit. They did well to hold on in that time unlike other clubs. It’s a tribute to the guys who did great work in keeping the club running in the 50’s and 60’s. Bad kicking will always be bad football!

    Col- thanks! Muddy grounds not as common these days, but grounds starting to hold water now, South Colac was quite waterlogged tonight at training.

    Rod- thanks mate! Don’t have a nickname for Danedite but they wore red and white hoops from 1907-1909, wore red and blue in 1910. They seemingly only played for 4 years. Fantastic to have Boyd’s in the late 1940’s teams, and yes that was Ron. Love the idea of a reanactment match!

    Cheers Smokie, thanks for your editing work on this!

    Thanks Swish. The Pomborneit FC stuff I’ve found has largely come incidentally from my time focussing on the Pomborneit CC history, I’m sure I’ll find more when I can focus fully on the footy side of things.

  10. Luke Reynolds says

    Simon- thanks coach! Basically nothing was recorded of the Pomborneit FC so it’s important to do this.

  11. Great work Luke, you’ve certainly put in the hard yards. Hopefully you access the other information you’ve been seeking re Pomborneit FC. Anyhow a few Q’s from me.

    The Pomborneit Recreation Reserve: what takes place there now?

    The Pomborneit Cricket Club: you mentioned yesterday. they stayed at one senor club until 1973, then?

    Clubs with quaint names like South Purrumbete ,Elingamite, Bostocks Creek, also Tesbury are they like Pomborneit, just memories?

    Thanks for this article Luke, it’s interesting.

    Glen!.

  12. Luke Reynolds says

    Thanks Glen.

    In answer to your questions, cricket is the only sport played at the Pomborneit Recreation Reserve now, the PCC has had a minimum of 2 senior teams since 1973, currently has 5 senior teams (3 x men’s teams, 2 x women’s teams) plus 7 junior teams.

    Elingamite & Bostocks Creek never returned after WWII, Tesbury only played in 1949, while South Purrumbete (where I played most of my footy) folded after the 1999 season.

  13. Peter Fuller says

    Superb research, Luke, well done.
    I’m very familiar with Tesbury, as I have cousins continuing to farm in the area. Six brothers turned out at various times for Cobden, but as the eldest was only seven and the youngest not yet born in 1949, their contribution to the hypothetical Tesbury football team was prevented by timing. In my childhood, Tesbury had strong tennis teams, and all my cousins began their schooling at the primary school.
    It’s noteworthy that the Hinkley farm is in Tesbury, so (without knowing for sure), I suspect that the Port Adelaide coach is the most famous product of the locality.
    I note that J. Reynolds’ is starring this season in South Colac under 14.5s, and also that the team has developed to being highly competitive.

  14. Murray Walding says

    Great story Luke. Ive driven past that ground many times and wondered about its history and as to wether it ever featured footy. It certainly looks to have a better surface than the South Purrumbete ground I remember playing on, and the slope on its forward flank was even more extreme than the rise at the Alvie footy ground.

  15. Luke Reynolds says

    Thanks Peter!
    The Tesbury football team is a strange sidenote, seemingly only in existance for 2 games. And completely forgotten in local memory. The Tesbury Tennis was successful for many years, my Mum played there as a young girl. Think the Port Adelaide coach is more a Camperdown Hinkley than a Tesbury one but need to look into that further. Josh and his Under 14.5 teammates at South Colac are playing great footy and currently 3rd on the ladder, my other boy Gavin and his Under 18 team are also 3rd on the ladder, the South Colac junior program going well!

  16. Luke Reynolds says

    Cheers Murray. Pomborneit would certainly be a good footy ground now, but as a cricket club we are happy to have it to ourselves these days! The South Purrumbete forward flank slope was very extreme.
    Can report that while the Alvie slope is still there, they have done an incredible job in getting their oval up to a superb condition.

  17. Brian Boyd says

    Outstanding reporting luke, by a volunteer researcher, it would put many professionals to shame, important history now recorded. Regards Brian and Sue

  18. Kevin Densley says

    Love this, Luke! Excellent article and fine research. So much football was played in that part of Victoria back in the day. I presume you’ve read that wonderful book by Robert McLaren – Playing Footy and Milking Cows: The Mount Noorat Football League. It is relevant to your enterprise. In another context, not so long ago, I was highly pleased to discover a record of one of my great-great grandfathers (surname Emeny) playing footy for Terang way back in 1878.

  19. Hi Luke, brilliant piece of writing, well done!

    I’ve included a small snippet of the text and a link to the full article on countryfootyscores.com to share this great piece of work that I’m sure all lovers of country footy would like to read.

    Let me know if yo have ay issues with this – I’ve included the direct link below for you to view.

    Cheers,

    Glenn

    (link here: https://www.countryfootyscores.com/from-the-papers/155-around-the-traps/26432-the-long-forgotten-pomborneit-football-club.html)

  20. Great research Luke for which your community is, I’m sure, most grateful. How about the married v single blokes game? Really enjoyed this!

  21. DBalassone says

    Brilliant work Luke. Have been saving this one for my Monday morning read and was not disappointed. What a rich history. The Pomborneit Football Club lives on!

  22. Luke Reynolds says

    Brian & Sue- thank you, very important to record this history

    Kevin- I actually have never come across that Mt Noorat book, will definitely search it up

    Thanks Glenn, and thanks for featuring the article on country footy scores!

    Thanks Mickey, you don’t hear of married v Single games these days!

    Thanks Damo, it even surprised me initially how rich the PFC history was.

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