Geelong’s Record Run – Round 16, 1952: Cats race away from Gorillas




Featuring Tom Morrow and Les Reed




Geelong v Fitzroy

Saturday 9th August 1952

Kardinia Park



With three of its remaining four matches to be played at Kardinia Park, Geelong looked near certainties to finish on top of the ladder at the end of the home and away rounds. Their opponents in round 16, Fitzroy, were in sweet form, having won their previous nine games on the trot. Fitzroy named an unchanged team while Geelong were without the injured Davis and Middlemiss.


The teams




B. Hovey Morrison Morrow
HB. S. Smith Hyde Williams
C. Worner Palmer Fulton
HF. Turner Flanagan Herbert
F. Pianto Goninon McMaster
Foll. Swarbrick Renfrey
Rov. Trezise
Res. Reed Stevens




B. Stephen Chanter Ross
HB. Gaffney Goodger Roberts
C. Jarvis Broderick Wright
HF. Streader Magee Gervasoni
F. Johnstone Ongarello Ruthven
Foll. Gale McGregor
Rov. Coates
Res. Hickey Furness
Emerg. Ashman




Geelong outpaced Fitzroy from the first bounce to the final siren. Despite strong opposition from the visitors at times, the Cats were never seriously threatened on the scoreboard. Geelong gained most of its drive from wingmen Bert Worner and Terry Fulton.



Fitzroy managed to close the game up in the second and third quarters, largely through the vigorous play of tall men Gale and Johnstone, well supported by defenders Jack Gaffney, Bill Stephen and Jack McGregor. At that stage of the game Fitzroy were living up to their ‘Gorillas’ moniker (in use between 1938 and 1957). However, Geelong eventually broke through the Fitzroy defensive tactics and started to make good use of the open spaces of their dry home ground. The story of the final quarter at Kardinia Park was becoming a familiar tale – Geelong storming home dazzling their opponents.



Both full forwards, Goninon for Geelong and Ongarello for Fitzroy, were well off target. Goninon was particularly inaccurate, kicking 1.7. Once again their opponents outpointed the Geelong ruckmen but compensation came from wily rovers, Trezise and Pianto, who scouted the packs cleverly.


The scores


Geelong            3.7         4.10      7.14      12.16 (88)

Fitzroy              1.1         2.4         5.8         5.10 (40)




Geelong – Pianto 3, Trezise 2, McMaster 2, Flanagan 2, Worner, Stevens, Goninon

Fitzroy – Ongarello 2, Ruthven 2, Gervasoni




Geelong – Williams, Hyde, Worner, Trezise, Fulton, Pianto, Renfrey, Plamer

Fitzroy – Goodger, Gale, McGregor, Broderick, Stephen, Ruthven,



Umpire:           Robinson                         Attendance:  31 314



Footballer and media personality Alan (‘Butch’) Gale, among the best for Fitzroy that Saturday in 1952, will be remembered by some readers as a regular TV football commentator for HSV7. He worked at the microphone calling VFL games in the 1960s alongside Mike Williamson. Fitzroy supporters will remember Gale for his 213 game career and for being named as the first ruckman in the club’s Team of the Century.



Reserves         Fitzroy 12.16 (88) defeated Geelong 7.15 (57)



Around the grounds


In round 16 VFL teams relished the drier grounds as the scores indicate:


At Princes Park, Carlton 11.16 defeated Essendon 12.11

At Victoria Park, Collingwood 20.19 defeated St. Kilda 8.7

At the MCG, Melbourne 15.17 defeated Footscray 8.12

At the Lake Oval, Hawthorn 9.14 upset South Melbourne 6.14

At Arden Street, North Melbourne 14.10 defeated Richmond 9.12





The ladder




Leading goal kickers


J. Coleman (Ess) 5 72
N. Clarke (Melb) 5 41
J. Spencer (NM) 1 38
G. Goninon (Gee) 1 38
T. Ongarello (Fitz) 2 37



Next week      Round 17: North Melbourne v Geelong at Arden Street

With features on Leo O’Halloran and Terry Fulton for Geelong, and for the opposition, Mick Grambeau (North Melbourne).




This week’s featured Geelong players: Tom Morrow from North Geelong and Les Reed from Euroa



Tom Morrow (jumper number 22), originally from North Geelong (Geelong and District Football League), joined Geelong immediately after the war. He debuted alongside two other notable first-gamers, Russell Renfrey and Fred Flanagan. When Morrow wore Geelong’s blue and white hoops, North Geelong dominated the local league winning seven flags in succession (1949-55). In the 1950-52 period Morrow played with another North Geelong recruit at Kardinia Park, one of last week’s featured player Jack Stevens.



Tom Morrow played 120 games for the Cats, mostly as a ruckman but had occasional stints at centre half back. His trademark raking left foot kicks were as accurate as they were long. The Argus (25.3.53) described Morrow as “… a fast thinker, a quick mover and scrupulously fair.” The round 16 game in 1952 was Morrow’s last. He experienced a cracked kneecap that year and prior to the start of the following season was advised by a medical specialist to hang up the boots.



He contributed to the Geelong FC on several levels: as captain in 1949 and later as vice captain; as a reliable follower; on the scoreboard – kicking 58 goals; leading in the ‘trenches’, where enjoyed the physical side of the game; and mentoring young players as coach of the reserves team after he retired.



Tom Morrow (Kornies Footy card)



 Wingman and utility player Les Reed (jumper number 17), recruited from Euroa, played 25 games for the Cats between 1951 and 53. Also a talented cricketer, he was selected in the Victorian Country team that played the touring MCC side at Euroa in 1951.



Matching his jumper number, Reed played 17 of Geelong’s record run of undefeated games. He was 19th man in Geelong’s 1951 premiership triumph over Essendon, coming on in the last quarter to replace the injured Bernie Smith. In 1952 he was not selected in the Cats’ grand final team, but got his chance in the 1953 premiership-decider. His preliminary final performance against Footscray sealed his spot in the side. Selectors valued him as a tough, workman-like player who could hold his own in the heavy stuff.



On the eve of the grand final, the speedy wingman was photographed in The Herald (24.9.53) with gun in hand and an accompanying caption: “…on the look out for targets as he goes rabbiting near Geelong. Reed is a country boy… Reed spends most of his leisure time rabbit-hunting.” But it was not happy hunting on the last Saturday in September for Reed, or his team, as the Magpies avenged their loss to the Cats in the 1952 grand final.


Les Reed photographed on the eve of the 1953 grand final



In 1954 Reed returned to Euroa to work at his father’s sawmill. With Euroa (Waranga North East League) he was part of many premierships and later gained selection in the club’s Team of the Century.



For the opposition: Jack Gaffney (Fitzroy) from Broken Hill


South Broken Hill footballer Jack Gaffney came to Melbourne in 1947 to study law. He played 80 games for Fitzroy (1949-1953) as a half back flanker and was known for his doggedness and determination. His most consistent season was 1952, when he played 21 consecutive matches for the Gorillas.



Jack Gaffney (Fitzroy)



 After playing for Fitzroy, Gaffney coached VAFA club Old Paradians in 1954. He was appointed playing coach of VFA club Prahran in 1955. Later, Gaffney became the Supreme Court of Victoria Registrar and also chaired the VFL Tribunal.



Country football connections


Les Reed’s home club Euroa (Waranga North East League) lost a close game against Thornton by five points. Tom Morrow’s former club North Geelong enjoyed a huge 154 point win over Barwon in the Geelong and District League.


Meanwhile in the Alberton League, Toora full forward Salmon kicked 34 of his team’s 35 goals. Their opponents, Carrajung, only managed one goal for the afternoon.



Meanwhile …


Australia invited the United States to use the wartime base of Manus Island for its warships and aircraft in the western Pacific. The island was within the external territory of Australia until Papua New Guinea gained independence in 1975.


Treasurer Sir Arthur Fadden introduced the Federal Budget for 1952-53, featuring welcome tax cuts.


Australia’s Olympians returned home from Helsinki to a heroes welcome in Sydney but with no fanfare in Melbourne.




To read about the earlier games in Geelong’s run, click HERE.



Peter also wrote about St. Kilda’s premiership season in his 1966 and All That series. You can read that HERE.






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About Peter Clark

is a lifetime Geelong supporter. Hailing from the Riverina, he is now entrenched on the NSW South Coast. His passion for footy was ignited by attending Ovens and Murray League matches in the 1960's with his father. After years of watching, playing and coaching, now it is time for some serious writing about his favourite subjects… footy, especially country footy, and cricket.


  1. Ta Peter. Tom Morrow had a early, sad end to what read as promising career. He reminds me a tad of Barry Stoneham. Morrow’s career finished early due to injury. 40 years later Stoneham’s career was impacted by serious injury. Medicine had come a long way. Stoneham returned to the playing field, but he was never the same.

    Interesting looking at the Italian surnames among the players. This being in the time of ‘New Australians’ the language my parents and grand parents used to describe those from Southern Europe post WW2.Good to see these names.

    Why did the Maroons become the Gorilla’s? An academic question as Fitzroy is long gone, though i’m curious.

    Looking forward to the R17 visit to Arden Street.


  2. Peter Clark says


    Fitzroy’s moniker, ‘The Gorillas’, was adopted because the club wanted a more fearsome identity. But the name lost popularity with the committee in the early 50s and was replaced with the nickname, ‘Lions’, in 1957.

    Interestingly, newspapers continued to refer to Fitzroy also as the ‘Maroons’ throughout the Gorillas era. Just like the Cats continued to be called the Pivotonians, unofficially by the press, long after that name was abandoned.

  3. I remember Butch Gale and Tony Ongarello quite well Gale was a bullocking ruckman while Ongarello’s fame came from a quite different background. Did you know, Peter, that he was a prodigious place kicker n the era when place kicking was just past its most-used decades. Billy Stephen was a tough-as-nails back pocket player who, as was the custom in the Fifties, picked up the resting rovers when they into the full-forward line.

  4. Peter Clark says

    Thanks Elijah.
    A cameo of Tony Ongarello was part of the round 10 episode (Footy Almanac 31.3.21).

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