Almanac Local History: Sporting history in abundance at Coburg Pine Ridge Cemetery



Pine Ridge Cemetery Coburg [Photo:]


Coburg Pine Ridge Cemetery is located on the corner of Elizabeth and Bell Streets in Preston, very near the old Pentridge Prison complex. It was officially established in 1859. The cemetery’s first burial in 1875 was a nineteen-year-old Margaret Sullivan who died of pneumonia.


Friends of Coburg Cemetery (FoCC), formed in 2012, is a small group of volunteers who are passionate about this mostly forgotten public cemetery.


FoCC conducts tours and grave searches, publishes a newsletter, researches people and their stories, and monitors cemetery birds and wildlife. FoCC also promotes the preservation, conversation and appreciation of this Coburg cemetery as a site of local, Victorian and Australian historical significance. FoCC has developed a self-guided heritage walk of the cemetery which is available at a rotunda near the cemetery entrance or can be downloaded from their website HERE.


Several years ago during a family history/genealogy project, I discovered that my great-grandmother was buried in 1918 in the Coburg cemetery. Sadly, while on a visit from Hobart to Melbourne to visit her daughter, she had, like young Margaret Sullivan, succumbed to pneumonia and died in St. Vincent’s Hospital at the age of 36. This discovery began my association with Coburg Cemetery and its hard working FoCC volunteers. Since then I have attended various FoCC led cemetery tours and events and been the recipient of their helpful advice. It is an absolutely absorbing cemetery full of many and varied resting inhabitants with absorbing life stories.


For many years now, when visiting towns and cities in Australia and travelling overseas, I have maintained an interest and fascination in visiting graveyards. In Australia and elsewhere, I have discovered that visiting cemeteries provides cultural insights from another perspective other than the usual tourist hotspots such as art galleries, museums and cathedrals. Coburg cemetery typifies all of this.


As with these institutions, cemeteries also have their saints and ostentatious paraphernalia, but in a different context and evoking different emotions. I have passed many a happy or sad moment pondering headstone inscriptions and their meaning and history. Those words that appear to depict human vanity and the afterlife and a final attempt to pretend that we matter or that we were of saintly disposition.


A cemetery visit tells something not only about famous or infamous people but also about ordinary folk and provides insights into rich local social history. To seek out the tombs of the rich and famous because one might think they matter more is folly; doing so means one misses out on so much. The inscriptions on the graves of ordinary people are just as enlightening as those of the more famous. Coburg is evidence of this very point.


In Paris’s Pere-Lachaise cemetery one can visit Edith Piaf, Marcel Proust, Chopin, Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison and very many other famous people and celebrities. Wandering up and down the cobbled pathways past lopsided tombstones and decorative monuments you can get a wonderful lesson in French political, social and economic history.


London’s Highgate cemetery where Rod Stewart was once a grave digger, is one of my favourite cemeteries to visit. Among the noted buried is Catherine Dickens (Charles’s wife), George Eliot, George Michael and Douglas Adams. There is Karl Marx’s grave which, when I visited, was surrounded by Chinese tourists linking arms and singing the ‘Communist International’. The eerie walkways with weeping shrubs and trees and crypts dug into the hillside provided backdrops to the making of early twentieth century horror films.


I have walked PNG’s war cemeteries, Lae and Bomana, Kanchanaburi in Thailand and those on the Western Front in Belgium and France. Each walk is a sobering and sad experience. In all cases the war graves are set among agricultural fields and lovely bushes and trees; on the Western Front the tranquil and quiet order is in direct contrast to the horrors of ‘the war to end all wars’.


Walking through Skibbereen’s Abbeystrowry Cemetery in Co. Cork, Ireland where, in the infamous Famine Burial Pits up to 10,000 unidentified victims are located, is at once an emotional but worthwhile experience from an educational, social and historical perspective.


A potted history of Ireland can be gleaned from a visit to Dublin’s Glasnevin Cemetery, Ireland’s largest and where Daniel O’Connell, Michael Collins, Charles Stewart Parnell, Maud Gonne (the love of Yeats’s life) and Eamon DeValera are resting. The guided tours there are excellent.


My experience is that cemeteries need not be viewed as gloomy places with nothing to offer the living. Through their known and unknown inhabitants, they provide not only a picturesque culture but an alternative source of historical, social, architectural and artistic knowledge and of trends and fashions over time.


If one is interested in the lives of interesting and famous people of all professions and persuasions, then a visit to Coburg’s cemetery and a FoCC guided tour is a worthy pursuit. At a local level, FoCC’s tours compare favourably with those of London’s Highgate, Dublin’s Glasnevin and Pere-Lachaise in Paris.


Attached are nine short biographies/stories of famous Victorian sporting personalities that were the core element of a Coburg cemetery FoCC tour on 27 August, 2023 (All-Star Sports Tour). The stories were researched and written-up by FoCC committee member, Kelly Morgan, as her walking tour presentation notes.  Kelly has given her approval for me to reproduce them in this written piece for The Footy Almanac.


Evidence and insight into what great work the FoCC volunteers carry out is gained from the grave of former Collingwood footballer Peter Martin – see attached story No. 5 – which has both the Collingwood plaque and War plaque. It was a FoCC volunteer who was responsible for having Peter Martin finally recognised on the Commonwealth War Roll of Honour.


Apart from the attached sporting identities researched and written up by Kelly, there are others from Victoria’s sporting past resting in Coburg cemetery such as:


  • John ‘Bunny’ Whiting – Pro middleweight boxer and gangster.
  • Herbert Woods – Wrestler.
  • Joseph Tomlin – Four-time Melbourne Cup winner.
  • Charlie Pettiona – South Melbourne footballer. Run over by a military truck while cycling home.
  • James McFadzean – First President of the Preston Rowing Club.
  • David Gillespie – Carlton footballer and police constable. He and twin brother Doug were born at the Melbourne Zoo!
  • John Nicholls – Jockey.
  • John James Carter – Jockey.
  • Mick Grace – Fitzroy/Carlton/St Kilda footballer; and
  • Michael Mooney – Jockey.


An array of fascinating former Victorian sporting characters!


Perhaps, they might be another job of work for a future walking tour for the hard-working FoCC volunteers.






1898 – 1919


One of the best jockeys of his day on pony courses.

Died while racing at Fitzroy Racecourse.

(Notes researched and written by Kelly Morgan)


For ‘Nuts’ Renny, sadly like many of the other jockeys buried in Coburg Cemetery, they didn’t have a happy ending. Even sadder not much has changed in today’s time. Racing is filled with much disaster and tragedy.


Nuts or Albert Sylvester Calder Renny as he was born in 1888, lived most of his short life in Moonee Ponds, 900m from Moonee Valley race track. His interactions with the racing world started with an apprenticeship in 1912 with Flemington-based trainer Chris Moore. Following the completion, he went on to ride at unregistered pony courses in Melbourne and Sydney. This led to the Victorian Racing Club (VRC) disqualifying him from racing. Without considering the legalities, the public considered Renny one of the best jockeys of his day on pony courses. The VRC evoked the disqualification in 1917 and he joined Jack Holt’s stable in Mordialloc, by 1918 left Holt’s stables returning to the pony courses.


Renny died at Fitzroy Racecourse (St. George’s Road, Thornbury) on 24 November 1919. He was riding the favourite, a four-year-old gelding called Wongaburra in the fourth race.


All went well during this race, also known as the Fitzroy Purse, until the final turn. Renny moved into second and tried to ride along the rails. But Wongaburra clipped the heels of the horse in front, stumbled and fell. The fall brought down three more horses and Wongaburra landed on Renny, crushing his skull. Renny died and Wongaburra was so injured they destroyed him. A very similar story to Reg Bell.


The track cancelled racing for the day and a large crowd stood silent as the doctor pronounced him dead. They moved his body to the mortuary and an inquest determined the cause of death was a racing accident.


At the time of his death he was 21 years old, single and living at the Mordialloc Hotel. Friends and family described him as a smart dresser, had an engaging manner and was popular no matter where he went. Renny was a good rider and a clever horseman, and was always out to win the race: ‘You have to fall to get beat’. Sadly that was very true in this case.


In the following years on the anniversary of his death tributes took up half a column memorialising him. He is buried here with his parents Agnes and Thomas and three of his 13 siblings, many of his family were also deeply involved in the racing community.







Involved in the construction of the MCG, competed in ‘First Boxing Day’ Test and had rifleman skills fit for tracking infamous bush rangers.

(Notes researched and written by Kelly Morgan)


Like everything George Launder was passionate about, he rallied behind getting the best sporting facilities and not backing down until it was done.


A carpenter by trade, George arrived in Australia in 1850 from England, aged 16. One of the first notable building sites in Melbourne that George worked on was the MCG in 1853. He later became a member of the MCC. In fact, George played in one of Melbourne’s first Boxing Day matches! In 1849 he played a game on the ‘Old Melbourne Cricket Ground’, just near where Southern Cross Station is now. The ground had to be moved to make way for Melbourne’s first steam train. A newspaper article described the game with young George Launder and a few other Englishmen playing to win ‘a leg of mutton and trimmings’. At the time, the ground still bore traces of John Pascoe Fawkner’s plough, as the site had been Fawkner’s first wheatfields few years earlier. The story goes that the players all went for a drink afterwards and talked about how they might bring the English cricket team out for an Australia v England match. It was another 12 years before that actually happened.


He had been an enthusiastic rifle shot for many years. He was a marksman in 1859, and attended the first military camp at Werribee in 1861. He won the National Rifle Association’s medal in Brisbane in 1863, and during a long career as a rifle shot he carried off many prizes. In 1869 he joined the Volunteer Engineers, and 19 years later was awarded the Parnell medal for military engineering. Within the following 18 months he fired in a match at Williamstown, in which the members of the ‘old brigade’, the pioneers of the eight-hour day movement, made a very good showing against the Engineers Corps.


In 1879 his excellent marksman skills came in handy, he offered his ability and knowledge to the Victorian police in the pursuit of another notorious bushranger – Ned Kelly! Because who better than an award winning rifleman to teach others how to shoot him down. It probably helped that he had bushranger tracking experience too, he was part of the police volunteers team who captured ‘The Wild Scotchman’ James McPherson in Queensland.







Collingwood footballer and greatest coach.

(Notes researched and written by Kelly Morgan)


James Francis ‘Jock’ McHale was born in Sydney in 1882 to Irish-born parents, policeman John Francis McHale and his wife Mary. When Jock was five the family moved to Melbourne. It was as a schoolboy at Christian Brothers College, East Melbourne where he discovered a passion for football.


Leaving school at 15, he joined up with Coburg juniors, and played with them from 1899 to 1902. He tried out with Collingwood in 1902 but was rejected. He was given a second chance when former club committeeman Jack Duncan saw him kicking a ball around a local timber yard and invited him back to Victoria Park. This time, luck was on Jock’s side. He was chosen as a member of a combined juniors team to play the reigning premiers, who just happened to be Collingwood. Jock’s impressive performance earned him a spot on the Magpies’ senior list for 1903 and his first of many premierships. This marked the beginning of an illustrious playing career.


During the next fifteen years he played 260 games and kicked 19 goals for Collingwood. Starting out as half-back, he was moved into the centre where he truly excelled, the wage at the time for centres was sixpence a game! He was Collingwood’s iron man and played 191 consecutive games; he contributed to many of the Magpies’ victories with his perseverance and anticipation. He was speedy and strong, though criticised for occasionally punting the ball high into the forward line, his ball handling, marking, and kicking abilities were top-notch. He was one of the most competitive centres in the League.


A staunch Irish Catholic, ‘Jock’ acquired his ironic nickname from a noted cartoonist’s caricature of him in a kilt during the 1920s.


McHale became Collingwood’s most famous coach. He served as playing coach from 1913 to 1918. He continued as a non-playing coach until 1950. Establishing another VFL record, McHale coached the Magpies in a total of 714 VFL matches, an achievement that was not passed until Mick Malthouse in 2015. His coaching time was remarkable, leading his team to eight premierships, including a record four in a row, runners-up ten times. His contributions to the club continued as he served on the committee from 1921 to 1938 and as vice-president from 1939 to 1953.


He only missed one game in his time as coach, the 1930 Grand Final. He was bedridden for the week but that still didn’t stop him drawing up the team’s game plan. This has been a talking point of whether he really had a record number of matches coached but despite being at home sick he was still listed as the coach.


Jock’s retirement on the eve of the 1950 VFL season came as a shock to everyone. This was to be his 38th season as the Magpies’ coach (playing or non playing). It was well known that he seriously considered retiring at the end of the 1949 season after nearly a decade of losses, but a strong section of club members asked him to continue until the appointment of a successor was clarified. Despite the love of Jock, it was becoming clear he was past his prime. An immediate call out was made for a new non-playing coach – they specifically had to be a past or present Collingwood player.


Filling the shoes of McHale was no easy task, for he possessed unique coaching skills that were second to none. During Thursday night training sessions, he conducted full-scale match practices, personally umpiring the games. His keen eye was fixed on specific players, observing every detail. This uncanny ability to assess both footballers and the game itself was evident even during his early playing days. He was not one to endorse the star system and saw every player as a vital part of the team. His judgement of a person’s fitness rarely faltered, and he focused on fostering teamwork among all players, rather than relying on a few standout individuals. Another admirable asset was that Jock insisted on being paid the same wage as his players, embodying a sense of equality within the team even further.


Though naturally reserved, McHale’s firm coaching style earned him respect and admiration from all corners. He was known for his honesty, frankness, and straightforward approach, which endeared him to the players who held him in high regard.


McHale’s name and career have been commemorated by the Collingwood Football Club by means of the J.F. ‘Jock’ McHale Hall of Fame. It contains plaques bearing the names of the club’s best and fairest players, five, ten and 15 year players, life members, records of premierships and distinguished long service records of players and officials.


With such a long commitment to football you might forget that players and coaches still had a 9-to-5 job in those days, after leaving school at 15, he was employed at the McCracken Brewery; he became a leading hand and on his retirement in March 1953 at age 70 was supervising the brewing process at the Carlton United Brewery (CUB), Bouverie Street. He was one of many Collingwood players who worked at Carlton and United Breweries. He had done so since a lad and was a strong supporter of his employer’s products. Despite his fanaticism for fitness, McHale believed it was ‘the best thing out’ for a player to have a glass of ale when fatigued. ‘There is no need for a man to wash himself in it,’ he once said, ‘but a taste now and again is the best thing going.’ He even appeared in anti-prohibition ads that ran prominently in newspapers in 1930. His parting gift from workmates was a grandfather clock and a beer mug in his favourite Collingwood colours. The CUB board presented him with a gold wrist watch, and just in case he managed to still lose track of time, Collingwood presented him with a pocket watch as a thank you for 50 years of service.


Although being a very well known figure Jock had a very private home life. He married Violet Godfrey in Brunswick 1909 and they raised their family in Coburg. They sadly faced much heartache in their nearly sixty years together.


The ‘King of Coaches’ Jock McHale died of a heart attack on 4 October 1953, aged 71, only days after Collingwood had won their first Premiership in seventeen years. He was survived by his wife Violet and son John, who carried on the football legacy by also playing for Collingwood; a daughter and son predeceased him.


Years on, Jock McHale finds himself admired and highly spoken of by many, alongside being recognised by the AFL when the medal awarded to each year’s Premiership coach was named in his honour. The medal was instituted in 2001 and was retrospectively awarded to all premiership coaches from 1950 onwards, the year after McHale’s retirement from Collingwood. A fitting tribute to a man whose extraordinary time playing and coaching almost defies belief. His overall contribution to Collingwood and the AFL as we know it will likely never be matched. Inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame in 1996, he was later elevated to ‘Legend of the Game’ in 2005.


His legacy lives on in the 1980 movie The Club and a memoir published in 2011 Jock. The story of Jock McHale, Collingwood’s greatest coach.











Father and son VFL and VFA players and coach.

(Notes researched and written by Kelly Morgan)


Percival Gordon Ogden, born on January 25, 1886, in Canterbury, New South Wales, was a prominent football player, captain and coach. He is known for his contributions to Aussie rules football across Melbourne’s suburbs.


Ogden began his career in the League with Collingwood in 1905 but only played four games with the club. The Magpies were not satisfied with his performance, particularly after a controversial trip to Adelaide and Broken Hill in August of that year. Consequently, he was dropped from the team for the grand final against Fitzroy. Percy was quickly picked up by Preston’s VFA team. After his move to the VFA, he did not return to the VFL until 1910 when he joined Essendon.


Percy joined Preston, where many of his mates were playing, he played for them between 1906 and 1910.


The beginning of his success came when he returned to the league ranks with Essendon in 1910. A place where three men of the Ogden family would come to play for sometime in their sporting lives. Percy’s experience with the VFL at Essendon was the very opposite of his time with Collingwood. Ogden quickly established himself as one of the finest rovers in the game. He was a member of Essendon’s back-to-back premiership wins in 1911 and 1912. The grand final in 1911 provided him with the opportunity to show off his skills to Collingwood and show them what they were missing out on by letting him go. During the Great War when Essendon disbanded, Percy made the switch back to Preston which was in the then Victorian Junior Football Association ranks. He served as the captain-coach of Preston until he returned to Essendon when the team resumed in 1918. Upon returning to Windy Hill he captained Essendon in 1919 and served as captain-coach in the following two years.


Percy was not only a local star as he had the opportunity to play in the Victorian state team ten times playing in two grand finals in 1911 and 1912. He held the position of Vice Captain in 1918 and Captain-Coach from 1920 to 1921. He also had the honour of captaining the Victorian team in 1919.


Percy received rave reviews for his on-field talent. The Weekly Times praised his ‘dashing cleverness, quick judgement, and resourcefulness’ and noted that he used his head while playing. Known for his composure and skill, Ogden was often able to get his kick before being tackled by opponents. In 1920, he won the Sporting Globe’s readers’ poll, earning the title of ‘The Herald’ as the best rover in the league. He received 7,172 votes, while his closest rival garnered only 967. In the same year, he was Essendon’s equal second top goal kicker.


Off the field, Ogden’s temperament was not always as composed. Following a match late in the 1911 season, he was charged with assaulting George Holden of Fitzroy over an on-field incident. Facing a three pound fine or 14 days locked up, George received both. However, both clubs and players decided to abandon the charges, avoiding potentially serious consequences to both reputations.


After playing 161 games with Essendon, Ogden retired from the league and returned to Northcote in the Victorian Junior Football Association, where he served as captain-coach in 1922. He attempted a return to Essendon in 1923 but was unable to do so due to zoning rules for ‘New Players’ introduced after the war. Ogden was tied to Fitzroy under these rules, and his permit to play for Essendon was refused. Since Fitzroy expressed no interest in him, Ogden returned again to Preston. After three years with Preston, he retired for good at the age of 40 at the end of the 1925 season, just before Preston was readmitted to the Association ranks.


Percival Ogden passed away on July 13, 1967, at the age of 81. His love for sports was evidently passed down to his sons Terence and Gordon, who grew up watching their father play football. Their home in Northcote featured a cricket pitch and tennis court, providing an environment that fostered their love.







(Written by Kelly Morgan)


Terence William John Ogden, was a remarkable football player whose legacy lives on.


Terry Ogden was born on March 25, 1911, into a family deeply rooted in the world of football. With his father, Percival Ogden, and his brother Gordon renowned players and coaches, Terry had football running through his veins from a young age.


An athlete from his schooldays, his journey towards the VFL began in 1928 when he joined the Northcote Catholic Young Men’s Society football and cricket teams, displaying his athletic prowess. Although he initially faced challenges breaking into the senior team, Terry’s determination led him to join his brother Gordon at the Melbourne Football Club in 1931.


For three years, the Ogden brothers proudly played side by side, creating a formidable force on the field. Terry’s time with the Melbourne Football Club may have been spent mostly in the reserves, but he became an integral part of their 1933 premiership win.


In 1934, fate took a dramatic turn for Terry. Not only did he showcase his athletic abilities by winning the Bendigo Centenary Gift and getting third place in the Wangaratta Gift, but he also received a well-deserved opportunity in Australian Rules Football. Carlton Football Club called upon him, and Terry donned guernsey number 27 with pride.


As a centre/wing, Terry brought his lightning speed and fearless play to the field. Though his time at Carlton was brief (he played only 15 games), he made a significant impact both on the team and the game itself. Terry Ogden’s potential seemed limitless.


But on the fateful day, February 28, 1935, during a routine pre-season training session at Princes Park, Terry’s life took an unexpected and tragic turn. Rushed to hospital, it was believed that an injury sustained on the football field had led to his hospitalisation. Carlton Football Club members, including the club secretary Newton Chandler, generously offered blood for a transfusion, in a valiant effort to save Terry’s life.


Despite initial signs of improvement, Terry’s condition took a devastating dip. On March 2, 1935, on the eve of the 1935 season at the tender age of 23, he died in a private Fairfield hospital. Initially his cause of death was listed as pneumonia and pleurisy. Many years later it emerged after some family history research that osteomyelitis of the left scapula – inflammation of the bone- and septicaemia were the true nature of his illness.


Terry Ogden’s premature passing left a profound impact on the Carlton Football Club and the entire community. Carlton’s President, Mr. Crone described him as one of the most beloved players and a true success both on and off the field. His courage, modesty, and sincerity were qualities that were admired by all. His funeral became one of the largest gatherings in the district, a testament to the deep respect and affection he had garnered.


In recognition of Terry’s contribution, the Carlton Football Club honoured him by naming the ‘Most Improved Player’ award after him, ‘The Terry Ogden Memorial Trophy’. This award, presented between 1935 and 1950, acknowledged Terry’s dedication to self-improvement and his commitment to the team. Although the specific memorial trophy is no longer bestowed, Terry Ogden’s niece holds hope for its reinstatement in the future.







Collingwood wing man, Garrison Royal Artillery Team and ANZAC

(Notes researched and written by Kelly Morgan)


Peter James Martin was born on July 24, 1875, in Geelong.


Known as a Collingwood player, his time on the field began as a junior for Wellington. He caught the attention of Collingwood Football Club in 1898 when he won a goal-kicking contest. Martin continued to play well and was rewarded with an offer to join the hopefuls at Victoria Park for practice matches before the 1901 season. During training, he won a play-off by kicking three goals from three attempts, which beat 14 competitors. Collingwood were so impressed he went straight into the senior team for the opening round against Essendon at the East Melbourne Cricket Ground.


Playing on the wing, he was described as 5’5″ with the speed of a whippet. That made him a difficult opponent outside, which is where he spent almost all his time in senior football. He also had a fine long kick, had good evasive skills and handled the ball smoothly. Unfortunately, in 1902 he only played one more senior game, likely a result from an earlier injury. He was lucky enough to join his teammates on the historic 1902 tour of Tasmania though.


Peter was a well respected player for the Collingwood Football Club, despite playing only 15 games.


After his time with Collingwood, Martin joined North Melbourne and played there for three years. He ended his time at Arden Street with a premiership medal in 1906. Following this stint, he played for the Australian Royal Garrison Artillery Football Team as the vice-captain for four seasons.


Like many sportsmen of his time, Martin’s promising football ability was interrupted by his service in World War I. Everything Peter seemed to do was fast-paced and short-lived. Enlisting in August of 1915 at age 40 – significantly older than most – he embarked for the Western Front two months later. Martin served as a Private with the 6th Battalion of the First Australian Imperial Force (AIF). During the war, Martin was struck in the head by a German bullet at Pozières, France, on December 8, 1916. The injuries he sustained were severe, fracturing his skull and causing the loss of his right eye. However, he wasn’t listed as a casualty until January 1917. It seemed like good things were awaiting, Martin was discharged from the army on January 26, 1917 and he was going to return home to hopefully recover. He arrived back in Australia in April, just as the footy season was about to kick off, despite his injuries he was reportedly as cheerful as ever.


Peter seemed to have a determination to get on with it and enjoy the life and family he had returned to after such horrific scenes at war. Sadly, his problems continued as his wounds never properly healed. Consequently, he succumbed to cerebral abscesses at the Caulfield Military Hospital on March 25, 1918.


The sympathies from his fellow employees at the West Melbourne Gas Works acknowledged his service and the wounds he suffered in action and the all round good fella Peter was.


He received a full military burial with honours.


Despite his sacrifice, Peter was only very recently named on the Australian War Memorial’s roll. This is because, at the time of his death, it was more than 12 months and a day since he was wounded in action. Additionally, by the time of his death, he had been discharged from the army and was not officially listed as ‘Died of Wounds’ on any casualty list.


Over time Peter seemed to be forgotten, that was until 2002, when author Jim Main, who wrote a book called Fallen about footballers who died at war, told Collingwood that he had found Peter’s unmarked grave at Coburg’s cemetery. The club arranged to have a memorial headstone placed there.


In 2002 Martin’s great-great-grandson had the honour of tossing the coin at the Anzac Day game, paying tribute to his relative’s legacy and service to country. 100 years on from when Peter Martin last wore his black and white guernsey.







Tragic story of a promising child jockey from a strong horse-racing family

(Notes researched and written by Kelly Morgan)


Reg was the youngest child of Edward Spencer Braham and Rachel Bell, born in May 1899. From a young age Reg was a rising star in the horse racing world, born into a prominent racing family at the time, with most of the men before and after him making a name for themselves as bookies, journalists, trainers and jockeys.


Despite being so young, it is said that Reg had been riding confidently since the age of two. He had ridden in over 100 hundred races. Among his rides were many triumphant wins including the Geelong St. Patrick’s Day meeting in 1911 and what was to be his last win riding Gold Braid, his father’s horse, at Moonee Valley, on June 28 1913. The Bell family would regularly attend the race meetings of Melbourne. In Reg’s day there were racing tracks in Fitzroy, Mordialloc, Heidelberg, Brighton, Richmond. Replaced now by hotels, train stations, football ovals and housing, few have remained.


‘Little Bell’ as he was affectionately called was a smart, well-behaved boy, and was a favourite with his fellow jockeys and followers of racing. He was apprenticed to his brother, Edward Alan Bell, who was himself a well-known jockey and trainer. Edward was inducted into the Victorian Racing Club’s hall of fame in 2017.


Sadly, on 20 August 1913 while riding his father’s horse, a filly named Balvenie in the Maiden Plate at Moonee Valley, Reg took a tragic fall on the closing straight. An inquiry from the stipendiary stewards concluded that Balvenie had stumbled due to galloping on another horse’s hoof, leading to a devastating chain of events. Reg was seriously injured with a fractured skull, broken nose and concussion. Edward Snr. said the fall was of natural occurrence, due to the racing horses overcrowding when merging coupled with the fact that Balvenie was an unseasoned runner.


It was a long and agonising seven days for his family and the racing community held its breath, hoping for Reg’s miraculous recovery. Yet, it was not to be as 110 years ago in the early hours of August 27th, 2013 the racing prodigy tragically passed away at a private hospital in Moonee Ponds.







Sport journalist and creator of the Football Record

(Notes researched and written by Kelly Morgan)


Thomas Kelynack, better known as ‘Kickero,’ was a sporting legend whose impact in journalism and Australian rules football is still felt today.

Born in Bendigo in 1868, Tom grew up in a large family and developed a passion for writing early on. His first taste of journalism came at the Bendigo Advertiser, where he honed his skills as a reporter. Reporting in Bendigo and Broken Hill he delved into two fields that would become his specialties: football and crime. In his early days his knack for reporting on these subjects led him to cover a high-profile murder trial of a well known local footballer that caused a sensation in Bendigo. His talent for storytelling and captivating writing quickly gained recognition.

At the age of 21, Tom Kelynack moved to Melbourne after being persuaded by The Herald newspaper. It was here that he adopted the pseudonym ‘Kickero’ and revolutionised sports reporting. While other newspapers like The Argus and The Age primarily focused on cricket and horse racing, Kickero dedicated himself to football. He collected snippets of news, gossip, and everyday happenings from clubs and competitions, bringing them together in a weekly football-dedicated column. His articles stood out not only for his way with words but also for the use of imagery, including an illustrated “FOOTBALL” banner and cartoons.

During World War I, the coverage of football diminished as the war took hold of everyday life. Kickero’s coverage didn’t return until 1920, and even though presented in a different format, his ideas continued to shape the sport. While the Anzacs were away fighting, some who had been football players sent home letters to Kickero, with words of their longing to get back on the field.

One of Kickero’s notable contributions after the war was the concept of the Football Record, a booklet listing player jumper numbers. It was an idea inspired by the cards at race meetings which identified the race horses. Kickero recommended the creation of an official VFL match program, which was eventually produced by printer George Cathie and sold beside the entrance gates. This innovation banished rogue sales and provided fans with an authentic source of information. Along with this idea many suggestions made by Kickero for the improvement of the Australian game were adopted.

Kickero’s contributions to sports journalism were recognized in 1927 when the National Football Council presented him with a mahogany box. It is due to this recognition that football writing fanatics are still for him to be inducted into the Football Hall of Fame – as Reg Wilmot the second recipient of the mahogany box has been.

Kickero was a man of the people, always seeking to bring sport to the masses. He believed that football was “the cheapest sport in the world, offering a magnificent spectacle for a mere nine pence.” He had an unwavering dedication to the game, only missing one premiership match throughout his career. Fans, players, and officials trusted Kickero’s judgement and fairness, even if he was giving criticism. He covered leagues across the country, from the Ulverstone Robins in Tasmania to Canberra schoolboys’ games, providing updates on not just the winning teams but the social events, the history of the game, and the players and officials involved.

During the off-season, Kickero turned his attention to cricket, where he held a remarkable record. In 1897-8 ‘Reuter’ approached The Herald to borrow Kickero. Subsequently this approach resulted in Kickero accompanying six English cricket teams on tour in Australia as a representative of the ‘Reuters Telegram Company’. His ability to dispatch cables quickly and obtain news before his competitors impressed Baron de Reuter early on resulting in Kickero services being enlisted by Reuters for five more tours.

Kickero’s talents were not confined to sports journalism. His exceptional shorthand ability led to a stint with the Hansard staff, where he recorded parliamentary proceedings. He also served as a confidant to the Police Commissioner and reported on the major crimes of Victoria for nearly 40 years. His dedication and keen instincts often led him to crime scenes before the police. Sometimes this led to suspicion about how he already had the information and caused police to trail him in vain for an answer. However, he earned the respect and trust of law enforcement officials, Supt. Brophy said that “Tom was always among one of us”. Tom attended, as a witness, most of the state’s hangings. An exceptionally fast worker, he once wrote a five column story of a murder at Clifton Hill in two hours, working actually in the room in which the murder had been committed.

Time to retire came in 1930, The final siren rang on the 1930 VFL Grand Final, Collingwood v Geelong at the MCG and Kickero put down his pen and paper. We can only imagine he was happy with Collingwood’s win by 30 points – he had a personal connection with the team and players as mentioned in a Jock McHale memoir. Tom once called Collingwood the “Bradmans of the football field”

After retiring Kickero received a well-deserved honour from the VFL. He became the first press man to be recognized with a presentation, where he was praised for his 42 years of association with the game. The president of the VFL, Dr. McClelland, presented him with an engraved silver salver and a set of crystal. A photo of him reporting his last match was hung in the boardroom at Harrison House, the League’s headquarters.

Despite his retirement, Kickero’s passion for the game never waned. He mourned the changing landscape of football, where it had become big business and lost its essence as a sport. He longed for the days when men played the game for the love of it, rather than for financial gain.

On November 16th 1936, after battling a long illness Thomas’ Kickero’ Kelynack passed away, age 68 at his home in Shaftesbury Street, Moreland (now Coburg).

Tom is buried in Coburg cemetery with his wife Catherine and son Ralph He was survived by two daughters and three sons. His son Frank, followed in his steps and became a journalist at the Daily Telegraph in Sydney.

Tom’s funeral was a sight to be seen. The list of association representatives and dignitaries that attended his funeral speaks volumes about the impact he had on the industry and the sporting world.

Today, Kickero’s mark on Victoria lives on in his scrapbooks, chronicling the cases he worked on. All can be viewed at the State Library, including his press pass, all serving as a testament to his dedication and expertise and his illustrious career.

Thomas Kelynack, aka ‘Kickero,’ will always be remembered as a masterful writer and a true advocate for sports journalism. His passion, wit, and ability to capture the essence of the game in his writing made him an outstanding football journalist. His concise summaries of the game, his wonderful fund of anecdotes, his sparkling touch of humour left an unforgettable mark on Australian rules football.  Kickero’s contributions continue to be celebrated and honoured today.






Founder of the Seaford Cricket and Football Clubs.  Roaring force behind accessibility to community services and facilities.

(Notes researched and written by Kelly Morgan)


Thomas Molloy was a true embodiment of the spirit of sportsmanship and community. Born in Richmond, Victoria in 1883, he was the firstborn among ten siblings. From an early age, he exhibited a deep sense of responsibility towards his community working many jobs that directly provided for and to the community.

Thomas grew up in Clifton Hill, Northcote, and later Coburg, before a seachange in 1920.  It was during his time in Seaford that his true sporting legacy began to take shape.

Tom played a pivotal role in the formation of the Seaford football club in 1921, where he served as the secretary for the first six years. His dedication to the club and the community was unwavering. When the new boundary permits were introduced, qualifying players had to reside in the suburb three nights a week.  On several occasions, always one or two rounds away from a final, allegations were raised against Seaford regarding the use of non-eligible players. Tom and the Seaford club committee staunchly defended their integrity and upheld their promise to play by the rules. They remained resolute in their commitment to the traditions and fighting spirit of the Peninsula District Football Association. Seaford were originally admitted into the peninsula league after the expulsion of Carrum for the same alleged offence.

Tom’s efforts were instrumental in securing the land for a sporting reserve in Seaford.  500 pounds was given to the cause including a 200 pound government grant but it took over two years to start work on the purchased sandpit. This riled Tom who wrote to the Frankston Somerville Standard demanding to know “when this eyesore will be completed, and how long it will be before football and cricket will be played there?”

The Seaford Cricket Club still plays today at the R.F. Miles reserve on Seaford Road 99 years later.

Tom’s sporting prowess extended beyond the field as well. He trained numerous horses and ponies, achieving remarkable success. He was also an active member of the local bridge club. Using his community mindset the club raised funds for the Orthopaedic Hospital in Frankston.

However, it was Tom’s unwavering commitment to the progress of Seaford that truly set him apart. As one of the first cabmen in the area, he provided an essential service to the growing community. Additionally, he actively participated in his children’s school committees, playing a significant role in various improvements, including the construction of a shelter-shed and an additional room.

Sadly, on July 21st, 1939, Tom passed away at his Seaford home after a long illness. His departure left a deep void in the district, and his funeral was attended by a large number of mourners, including family, friends, local council members, and representatives from various clubs.







Collingwood Captain.  The first VFL/AFL player to kick 500 goals.

A player with spectacular skills.

(Notes researched and written by Kelly Morgan)


Walter Henry (Dick) Lee was one of football’s, but more specifically Collingwood’s, greatest players

Dick was born in Collingwood on 19 March 1889 was the son of legendary Collingwood player and head trainer Walter Lee, (also buried in Coburg cemetery). Walter Snr played football for Britannia the precursor of the Collingwood Football Club later becoming their head trainer.

As a young boy Dick Lee’s talents quickly became evident. In those days the Eastern Market held football kicking contests. His father later recalled that Dick took great delight in visiting the market and trying his skill. “He never failed to bring me home two or three shillings’ worth of cigarettes.” said Wal. “Finally they barred him.”

His marking was also exceptional, even at an early age, and it was impossible not to notice his wonderful spring and anticipation. But it was not until the age of 13 that he played his first match. He then joined the St Joseph’s team where he quickly became a star. His performances at St Joseph’s soon attracted attention, and he was given a run with Collingwood Juniors. When Collingwood played Richmond in a charity game for the Lady Talbot Milk Fund, the 15-year old Dick was chosen to wear the black and white.

Dick played his first VFL game at age 16, making him one of Collingwood’s youngest players.

He became a champion player in defence, on the ball or at full forward. At full forward he took one of football’s ‘freakish marks’, possibly superior to Roy Cazaly, who only became known as a ‘high-flyer’ in Dick’s final playing year. Dick was gifted with a drop kick and punt, but continued to habitually use a place kick when lining up for a goal after a mark.

Between 1906 and 1922, in what was then the Victorian Football League he set a record of seventeen consecutive seasons. Lee played 230 VFL games for Collingwood and kicked 713 goals. Dick was the first VFL or AFL player to kick 500 goals. He was named the VFL’s lead goal-kicking eight times and tied the lead twice, a record which has not been challenged. Dick was players’ representative for nine years, vice-captain twice and captain twice. He was one of only three players chosen to play every interstate carnival between 1908 and 1921. He was also named the Victorian Champion, an accolade rarely bestowed on a full forward. ‘Champion of the Colony’. Dick was made a life member of the Collingwood Football Club in 1918. He played in three premiership teams including his final game.  His last kick in his last match for Collingwood scored Collingwood’s final goal in its six-point loss to Fitzroy in the 1922 VFL Grand Final. After retiring as a player he served Collingwood for an additional sixteen years as vice-president. His long service and gentle demeanour made him one of the most respected and beloved figures in the club’s history. On the streets of Collingwood, he was viewed as a God.

Throughout his long and glorious career Dick had to battle with a succession of painful and debilitating leg injuries that would have stopped many men in their tracks. But not Dick Lee. Not only did he keep playing but he set standards and records previously considered impossible, and became the benchmark against which other great forwards were measured. And all this on one or one-and-a-half legs! What might he have done on two good legs?

His injury problems began very early in his playing in 1908 during a game against St Kilda when one of his teammates accidentally kicked his right shin and tore it open. The shin was horribly split and the wound, poisoned by dye from his socks, simply refused to heal, re-opening almost every game. Dick himself later confessed that the shin injury was so painful it sometimes reduced him to tears and made him “howl like a kid”. Collingwood tried everything to help its young champion, including having a special steel and leather shin guard made for him by Syd Sherrin – the owner at the time of Sherrin footballs. But nothing worked, and every Saturday Dick would have to visit a doctor to have the flesh of the wound burned with caustic soda. Finally, some years later, a doctor tried a special way of cauterising the wound and succeeded in closing it. Nevertheless, the injury still haunted Dick and even late in his life, would sometimes cause him to limp and wince with pain. His other problem, perhaps even more serious, involved a series of injuries to his right knee which caused him to miss several years of football. He did it twice in 1911 and actually retired in 1912, believing he would not be able to play again. Fortunately, a surgeon, Dr Zwar, disagreed with Dick’s diagnosis and the game’s greatest forward was back on the field for the last few games of 1913 — the beneficiary of football’s first known cartilage operation.

Outside of football Dick married Zella Dixon on 2 March 1927. They didn’t have any children.

Dick worked as a carrier until his death on 11 September 1968 at his Northcote home.

Nearly 40 years after his death Dick Lee was inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame. In 1998 he was named in the ‘Collingwood Team of the Century’ and in 2004 was inducted into the Collingwood Hall of Fame.





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  1. Colin Ritchie says

    Cracking read Allan, and thank you for rekindling an interest to chase up some final resting places of long lost relatives.

  2. Fine writing and history. Thanks Allan.
    We often visit my father in law’s grave in Midland Cemetery. Football has replaced religion in worship and iconography. Over half the graves have scarves and other mementoes/inscriptions to a football team.

  3. Tommy Mallet says

    This piece is off-charts SENSATIONAL! Well done!

  4. Thanks Allan. Terrific piece.

    I’m anticipating that many Almanac contributors and readers have the same disposition to visit cemeteries.

    I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy driving and travelling through the coutryside. In towns I like to stop at the war memorial, the footy/cricket ground, the racetrack, one of the pubs, the cemetery.

    Equally fortunately, our kids are happy to travel long distances and have done from the outset. Initially the promise of seeing much-loved rellies at the end of the trip was important. But they have also come to appreciate the towns – especially the Newell Highway.

    Last winter holidays, we travelled to the Red Centre. We had day in Coober Pedy along the way. That is one of the most fascinating cemeteries I’ve been in. The number of premature deaths is telling.

    Toowong (Brisbane) is another fascinating cemetery.

    Another cemetery to have a massive impact on me was Tyne Cot near Ypres and Passchendaele. 10,000 white crosses among the peaceful farms. Corn blowing in the breeze.

  5. Thanks, Allan, another cracking yarn!

    I too share your keen interest in cemeteries and the wonderful history that they contain. The Geelong Cemeteries Trust conduct historic walks too with the added attraction of seeing and listening to the person who is buried (actors from the local theatre group add complete realism to their historic character, dressed in clothing of the era and speaking in many cases the accents of the immigrants they portray). The Geelong Eastern cemetery has many significant local and national heroes, including Charles Brownlow of which the AFL’s Brownlow medal is named.

    Best wishes Allan. I look forward to your next contribution!

  6. The Cleaner says

    The Australian War Cemetery on Labuan Island off the north Borneo coast is particularly poignant as it contains the victims of the 1945 landings at Balikpapan and Tarakan (then Dutch East Indies now Kalimantan Indonesia). These battles were unnecessary strategically and were more about securing rich oilfields for Royal Dutch Shell and BP in the face of the likely occupation by Sukarno’s Nationalist rebels.
    The Ambon War Cemetery in the Moluccas (now Maluku) contains the graves of the more than four hundred Australians of the ill-fated Gull Force sacrificed to the hopeless task of preventing the Japanese occupation of the East Indies in 1942.
    Like all Australian War Cemeteries, they are both immaculately maintained and beautiful if very sad places.

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