Almanac Pro-running: The Stawell Gift Monday program from 1961


Swish Schwerdt sent me a note saying he’d  found an old Stawell Gift program – for the Monday [April 3] of the 1961 event. He loves this stuff, as we know. He wondered whether it was worth scanning each page – for it to be published on the Footy Almanac site.

“Well I’ll read it,” I replied, “and Dips will definitely read it. Let’s do it.   [Dips’ Dad won it in 1955 and Dips ran third in 1984.]

So the ten images, featuring twenty pages are below.

What I reckon would be an interesting exercise is that if you know anything about anyone in the program that you mention it in the comments. We’d be very grateful. We might build a story or two.

I’ll start: B. Yemm of Brighton off 260 yards in the Grampian Stakes over two miles is the twin brother of Norman Yemm of Homicide fame.

I’d also love to know a bit more about the Footballers’ Relay, especially Murtoa and Geelong. Any clues? [I reckon Swish will be on to it in a flash]















Read more about the Stawell Gift HERE



Read more from Dips O’Donnell HERE

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About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and He has written columns and features for numerous publications. His books include Confessions of a Thirteenth Man, Memoirs of a Mug Punter, Loose Men Everywhere, Play On, The Pearl: Steve Renouf's Story and Life As I Know It (with Michelle Payne). He appears (appeared?) on ABCTV's Offsiders. He can be contacted [email protected] He is married to The Handicapper and has three school-age kids - Theo, Anna, Evie. He might not be the worst putter in the world but he's in the worst four. His ambition was to lunch for Australia but it clashed with his other ambition - to shoot his age.


  1. Superb JTH. Heaps of familiar names in this program. Lots of blokes who were mates of my old man and who we knew as kids. And some family history.

    4th Semi of the Gift is LW Stock. Ran third to JD O’Donnell in 1955.
    2nd semi of the Gift is JE Trussler. Mate of my father. I trained with his son across the 1985/1986 season.
    PM O’Donnell – my dear old uncle Peter (POD) O’Donnell. Won the final of the 440 yards in 1961. Can’t recall if it was the Bill McManus or the Jack Donaldson? Think the former. Was a brilliant athlete.
    Club Invitational Sheffield. KW Webster was a training partner of my father in 1954 and 1955. Won the Bendigo Gift I believe? And big race. Or was it Wangaratta? Both big races. His son Matthew was a superb runner in the 1980s.

    I’ll keep checking through the names.

  2. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Page 5, Race 17, that would be Peter Hafey, brother of Tom

  3. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Page 11, number 15 is Lloyd Frisby, father of Roger Frisby who is on the Central District History Committee.

    I received this program from Sam Donovan, former Centrals player who I covered in my recent article. Sam and Roger have recently made contact, but I only made this connection today.

  4. Amazing how a name can jog a memory. “R.K. Kitto of Clinton Centre, SA” somehow rang a bell. “Clinton” Kitto was embedded somewhere in my grey matter.
    Listed in the 1961 program as off a front mark of 5.5 yards in the 3rd semi final of the Gift. And also as the winner of the 100 yard Park Handicap in 9.4 seconds in the previous year 1960.
    Google fills in the gaps in memory. Clinton Centre is a farming community in Northern Yorke Peninsula between Maitland and Ardrossan.
    Dad was a bank manager in Yorketown from 1965-70 and then in Kadina from 1971. He was a very good cricketer – opening bat and wicketkeeper and played in an A Grade premiership at Kadina. He was also variously Secretary or Treasurer of the football clubs in those towns. I would follow dad around scoring at cricket and playing colts football in the Yorke Peninsula leagues – there were two back then North and South.
    Maybe that was where I heard of “Clinton” Kitto?
    What do you know – Google turns up Klynton Kitto as a remarkable athlete, cricketer and footballer at Arthurton (one of those crossroads that had an oval and not much else with teams made up of strapping farmers) in the 1950’s and 60’s.
    Klynton finished third in the 1965 Stawell Gift final on a bitterly cold Easter Monday and calls it “the biggest disappointment of my life”. He was a remarkable athlete winning a Bendigo Gift and also an outstanding cricketer. A tall lean fast bowler he took 10/36 in a Country Carnival match in Adelaide and played for SA Country in 1961 against Worrell and Sobers great West Indian touring side, and Graeme Pollock’s 1964 South Africans.
    Google also tells us he was a fine country footballer and later umpire. He played 4 SANFL games for Rulebook’s Norwood in 1960 but presumably the call of the farm kept him home.
    Both dad (92) and Klynton (85) are still going strong. Dad immediately remembered him as an athlete, and must have played cricket against him in the early 70’s. He remembered the Arthurton team as “good blokes” but was not so fond of some teams from other towns. He said Alan “Spratter” Ferguson also played cricket for Arthurton in that era and later went on to be a Liberal Senator in Federal Parliament from 1992-2011.
    The picture of the Yorke Peninsula country carnival cricket side from 1960 has K Kitto standing in the back row. J Barns sitting in the front row was John Barns – captain of Yorketown in dad’s era. Dad won A Grade flags at Renmark and Kadina. Unfortunately the tiny hamlet of Sunbury (4 Gutsche’s; 2 Aldenhoven’s; 2 Newbold’s and 3 hangers on!) always had our measure in the titanic SYP cricket grand finals of the era.
    Great memories. It’s amazing the rabbit holes that sporting memorabilia and Google can take you down.

  5. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Uncle George Nelson won the 1961 Jack Donaldson and the Shepparton Gift now bears his name. He also trained the 1964 Gift winner Noel Hussey

    His life story is told in Dharmalan Darma –

  6. Mark ‘Swish’ Schwerdt says

    Sam just informed me that JE Clarke of Beaumaris, p12, #64 was Essendon’s Jack Clarke

  7. Fair history of Essendon players at Stawell. Lance Mann. Norm McDonald.

  8. Mark ‘Swish’ Schwerdt says

    Footscray’s Bob Spargo in the fifth semi of the Gift

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