SOUTH Bendigo played matches against a number of Melbourne-based teams in the early part of last century achieving more success at home on the Upper Reserve than in the city.

At the end of August 1904, the Bloods travelled to Melbourne for a full-scale match against VFL cub St Kilda.

The Saints posted 13 goals to four in the first three quarters, before South banged home no less than eight majors in the final stanza to go down by just 18 points.

It was a great few days in the capital city for the South party. Not only were they feted at the St Kilda Town Hall pre-match, but also a substantial dinner was held in South Bendigo’s honour at the Junction Hotel after the match.

Ill-health kept the Federal Treasurer of the day at home for the evening function. It’s inconceivable to imagine a Federal Treasurer attending a Bendigo Football League function these days: a State politician perhaps, but hardly one of the Federal Government’s leading office-holders.

>>>>>     <<<<<     >>>>>     <<<<<     >>>>>     <<<<<

The South Bendigo group was met at Spencer Street Station on their arrival on the Tuesday evening before the next day’s game.

Officials and committee members of the St Kilda Football Club formed the greeting party and the South players and dignitaries were driven to the Federal Coffee Palace. Remember, this was 1904 and there weren’t many cars in Australia at this stage. Certainly not in regional and rural areas.

At 1 pm on the Wednesday the South Bendigo group was driven to the St Kilda Town Hall, through Prahran. The St Kilda Mayor, Councillor Pittard, met the South people and they were welcomed over a glass of wine.

The Mayor proposed the toast to the visitors and Mr R.L.S. Murphy, the president of the Bendigo District Football Association, responded.

The visitors were later driven around the city to the Junction Oval where the match was played.

The weather was perfect and the game — watched by a large crowd — was exciting, according to the Advertiser report of the day.

IN the first quarter South led, two goals to nil. The home players warmed up in the second quarter and by half-time had scored 8.6 to four goals.

In the next quarter the St Kilda players, using the wind, increased their score to 12 goals while South Bendigo was able to add only two points.

However, some really good work was put in by South in the last quarter as the visitors added eight goals, outclassing their opponents.

Final scores: St Kilda 13.14 (92) def. South Bendigo 12.2 (74).

H. Wright came out as premier goalkicker for the visitors notching four goals. O’Connell, another Bendigonian, was unfortunate to sustain an injury in the first quarter and this injury prevented him from taking further part in the game, the reporter noted.

IN THE evening the South party, at the invitation of the St Kilda club, dined at the Junction Hotel and later were entertained by Sir George Turner at a smoke night.

Mr. Sydenham occupied the chair and apologized for the absence of the Federal Treasurer through ill-health. The Mayor of St Kilda proposed the toast to the visitors and was supported by Mr Agar Wynne.

The toast was acknowledged by South Bendigo’s F. Mueller, M. Barnett (manager) and H. Buckley (treasurer).

But it wasn’t over yet for the entire South Bendigo group. Although some of them returned by train to central Victoria on the Thursday, a fair number joined a theatre party to witness the production of ‘Tapu’ at her Majesty’s Theatre.

TWO years earlier in mid-September 1902, Richmond had taken advantage of the railway picnic to visit Bendigo.

[Richmond, unlike St Kilda which was an 1897 foundation member club of the VFL, did not join the League until 1908. In 1902 the Tigers were playing in the VFA.]

The Tigers were captained by Edmunds and placed a strong representative team on the field. South Bendigo played three new men: Herb Hunter, Holman and McDonald.

Holman and McDonald were from the junior ranks, or what we could call today the Reserves.

Early in the game a fine exhibition of combination play was given by South Bendigo. Nickells, from about the half-back line, kicked across field to Buckley who quickly passed to Daykin.

Daykin and Kirby combined to send the ball forward to Wright. He avoided the Richmond defenders and sent the ball between the posts in fine style.

Karkett scored the visitors’ first goal, followed not long after by another Richmond goal.

Kirby and Wright replied for South and by half-time the Bloods led by four points: 3.6 (24) to Richmond 3.2 (20).

The third quarter gave the game a decidedly different aspect, the Advertiser reported. South added just three behinds while Taylor, Ganet and James each kicked Richmond goals.

The final term was the most interesting of all. South battled hard throughout and when Wright snapped a goal for South excitement ran high among the home supporters.

South played splendidly together and in quick succession goals were added by Johnstone and McDonald (2). The latter, a brother of ‘Bullet’ McDonald, justified his inclusion in the team.

In the final quarter South scored 4.2 to nil from Richmond and gained an easy victory. The report concluded by stating that:  “Waters of Melbourne made a satisfactory umpire.”

Final scores: South Bendigo 7.11 (53) def. Richmond 6.2 (38).

Leave a Comment