Geelong’s Record Run – Round 17, 1952: North Melbourne v Geelong – Cats prevail with pace and power




Featuring Leo O’Halloran and Terry Fulton



North Melbourne v Geelong

Saturday 16th August 1952

Arden Street



The Northerners were running into some late season form, and with three wins on the trot, posed a threat to the Cats in round 17. They had a record of putting up a good fight at home against Geelong and were well in the contest for the first three quarters the last time the sides met.


Geelong was strengthened with the return of Bob Davis and Russell Middlemiss but looked shaky in the ruck department with injuries to Tom Morrow and George Swarbrick. Their unavailability gave fresh opportunities for Jim Tuckwell and Leo O’Halloran.




The teams


North Melbourne


B. Parkes McCorkell Lawrence
HB. Icke Hamilton Kelly
C. Doolan Dynon Edwards
HF. Aylett Spencer Brady
F. O’Halloran Marchesi Brooker
Foll. J. Reeves Grambeau
Rov. Alford
Res. L. Reeves Jarrard




B. Hovey Morrison Tuckwell
HB. Middlemiss Hyde Williams
C. Worner Palmer Fulton
HF. Turner Flanagan Davis
F. Pianto Goninon O’Halloran
Foll. McMaster Renfrey
Rov. Trezise
Res. S. Smith Stevens




Geelong dazzled North Melbourne with blistering pace and superlative teamwork in the first half but became complacent later in the match and was shaken by North’s inspired football. While the Cats had a comfortable victory in the end, they were jolted by a seven goal to two North Melbourne recovery.


In the first quarter Leo O’Halloran provided an excellent foil for George Goninon in the forward line booting three goals. Geelong took full advantage of the wind, racing away to a five goal quarter time lead. North failed to take advantage of the wind in the second quarter and struggled against the well organised Geelong defence. As the wind died, Geelong took a healthy 46 point lead into the main break.


After a stalemate for most of the third term, Geelong slammed on three quick goals and appeared home and hosed with a 56 point lead at the last change. But North awoke from their slumber and with a rejuvenated forward line managed to halve the margin in the final quarter. Full forward Jock Spencer kicked four goals for the term taking his season tally to 43, equal with Geelong’s George Goninon.





Geelong                                          6.2         10.7      13.9      15.13 (103)

North Melbourne                    1.3         3.3         4.7         11.9 (75)


Goal kickers: Geelong – Goninon 5. O’Halloran 3, Davis 3, Trezise 2, Pianto, Worner

North Melbourne – Spencer 5, Alford 3, O’Halloran 2, Marchesi


Best: Geelong – McMaster, Hyde, Morrison, Williams, Pianto, Renfrey, Hovey

North Melbourne – O’Halloran, Brady, Hamilton, Alford, Aylett, Kelly, Brooker


Umpire:           Beitzel                Attendance:  15 000


The match was umpired by Harry Beitzel. Harry went on to umpire 152 matches in a VFL career with the whistle that spanned 13 seasons (1948-60). He umpired four finals, but only one grand final; the 1955 decider between Melbourne and Collingwood. During his career he umpired many country football grand finals, including the 1958 and 1959 Ovens and Murray League grand finals.


Many readers will remember Harry Beitzel (the ‘Big H’) as a colourful and controversial character. He compered the ABC TV football panel, was a long-term radio football broadcaster and established the statistics-rich Footy Week magazine. He pioneered the composite rules sport, International Rules football. Beitzel was inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame in 2006 (as a media inductee).


Reserves:        North Melbourne 14.6 (90) defeated Geelong 11.18 (84)

Around the grounds


VFL 1952 season attendances passed the 2 million mark in round 17.


At Princes Park Carlton staged a brilliant last quarter to defeat Collingwood by 19 points.

At Windy Hill Essendon were untroubled by St. Kilda, winning by 96 points.

At Glenferrie Oval Fitzroy returned to the winners list with a 36 point win over Hawthorn.

At Punt Road Richmond defeated Footscray by 45 points.

At the Lake Oval South Melbourne led at every change but only just held off Melbourne to win by 8 points.



The ladder



Leading goal kickers


J. Coleman (Ess) 9 81
N. Clarke (Melb) 3 44
J. Spencer (NM) 5 43
G. Goninon (Gee) 5 43
T.Ongarello (Fitz) 5 42



Next week      Round 18 Geelong v Richmond at Kardinia Park


With features on Leo Turner for Geelong and for the opposition, Ray Poulter.





This week’s featured Geelong players: Leo O’Halloran from Barwon Heads and Terry Fulton from East Geelong



Leo O’Halloran (jumper number 20) was one of the two Geelong players who made only a single appearance in Geelong’s record of 26 undefeated games. The other was Don Worland.


O’Halloran, a follower and forward, came from local club Barwon Heads (Geelong and District League) in 1949. He was a mature age recruit who played 20 games over four seasons for Geelong before moving to South Melbourne in 1953. His sole appearance during the streak, in round 17 1952, was a good one with three goals to his name that day. O’Halloran was captain of the Geelong seconds team and won the league’s Reserve Grade best and fairest award, the Gardiner Medal, in 1952.


Another local recruit, Terry Fulton (jumper number 33) from East Geelong (Geelong and District League), also played his first game for Geelong in 1949. Fulton first played at Kardinia Park in the thirds (under 19s) in 1947. By 1951 he had established himself as a regular in the senior team playing every game of the season. Fulton was a tenacious and speedy wingman with excellent disposal skills who enjoyed a good understanding with half forward Bob Davis. He played in 11 of Geelong’s 26 matches without a loss, before his 51 game VFL career ended in 1954.


Terry Fulton



In 1955, at the age of 25, Terry Fulton took on the job as playing coach of Geelong West (in the Ballarat League) and led them to four premierships in a row (1956-59). After his retirement from football in 1959 he returned to his beloved Geelong where he gave decades of service to the club in various roles, including the Past Players Association, the general committee, the match committee and the vice presidency. He became a Geelong FC life member in 2001.



For the opposition: Mick Grambeau from North Melbourne


Who was the highest paid footballer in the ‘country’ in 1956? Arguably it was ex-North Melbourne big man Mick Grambeau, at the time coach of Ganmain, NSW (South West District Football League). Grambeau’s fee was £40 per game plus a house and a job paying £20 per week (with a milking cow thrown in!). That’s not bad money when you consider that in the same year Collingwood champion Bob Rose was recruited by Wangaratta Rovers on a contract of £35 per week (plus other financial assistance). Grambeau’s two-season Riverina football excursion produced premierships for Ganmain in both 1956 and 57. In fact, Ganmain lost only one game in Grambeau’s time with the club.  No doubt, money well spent.



Mick Grambeau



Mick Grambeau was recruited by North Melbourne in 1952 from VFA club Sandringham. He played his early football down the road at Blackrock. Known as ruthless and as hard as nails, Grambeau played 56 games for the ‘Shinboners’ over four seasons. He is also remembered (along with Laurie Icke) for being sacked by the club during 1955, only to be reinstated days later amid talk of legal action and strong support from teammates. Mick Grambeau’s wish was to be cleared to St. Kilda in 1956, but when that was denied he set off for the ‘job’ at Ganmain, which is located on the south west rail line between Junee and Narrandera.


Most of Ganmain’s 800 residents attended his welcome to the town. He soon became a very popular figure and generated a lot of publicity for Ganmain and the South West District League. Grambeau was surrounded by members of the Carroll clan at Ganmain; with eight Carroll’s in the 1956 premiership team and nine the following season. After two seasons in the Riverina he went to Minyip (Wimmera League) as playing coach, replacing his old North Melbourne teammate Laurie Icke. Later, Grambeau completed the circle by returning to Sandringham in 1960.



Country football connections


Terry Fulton’s future club Geelong West (Ballarat League) enjoyed a 48 point win over Maryborough that Saturday in 1952.


Mick Grambeau’s future Riverina club, Ganmain, finished third after the home and away rounds in 1952 but were knocked out by Leeton in the first semi-final. Grambeau’s next country club, Minyip (Wimmera League), defeated Horsham by a solitary point that Saturday in 1952. When coached by Laurie Icke in 1956, Minyip reached the grand final but fell at the final hurdle to Ararat by 13 points.



In a footnote to last week’s report (from the Alberton League) on the 34 goals kicked by Toora’s full forward, the Football Record (16 August 1952) put things into perspective when it revealed that Carrajung started the game with just eight players and finished with only 12.



Meanwhile …


In the Hunter Valley, NSW, severe flooding continued with Maitland inundated after the Hunter River broke its banks. 4000 Maitland residents were forced to evacuate their homes. Meanwhile, flooding in Devon, England, claimed 34 lives.


The Australian National Library purchased one of 14 known copies of the Magna Carta, making Canberra the only world capital outside London to have a copy of the historic charter.


How lucky can you be? A mountain climber on the summit of Mount Stuart in the Cascade Mountains, USA, was reportedly struck three times by lightning … and survived.





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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  1. Dr Rocket says

    Great piece on Big Mick Grambeau!
    As you allude to there was a street parade in Ganmain to welcome him to the town followed by a dance in the town hall.

    A sign was written on a sheet of paper in the change rooms, ” Mambo with Grambeau every Tuesday and Thursday night”. At his first training run seventy-two players attended aged from 14 to 40.

    And as for that milking cow, Mick sold it for punting money.

  2. G’day Peter. Does Ganmain still have its famous hay-bale house building firm? I reckon the last time I went through Ganmain would have been my last visit to Ardlethan races, circa 2014. I’m intrigued by the Mick Grambeau,Laurie Icke sackings. Not aware of this episode.

    Arden Street is just a memory. My last visit there was R 3 1984 when Footscray trounced the homeside on a sunny Saturday afternoon. By the end of 1985 Arden Street was no longer used asa VFL ground.

    Interesting seeing an O’Halloran played in both VFL teams in that match. Is Hawthorn’s David the last to possess that surname?

    I see John Coleman kicked a lazy 9 this round, on the way to 103 goals for the year. This was his third,and final ton, in his 98 game carer, which was cruelly ended by injury.

    I saw a Magna Carta when i was in England late 2019. This was when I visited Salisbury. Amazing place.


  3. Peter Clark says

    Dr Rocket
    Thanks for your input into the colourful story of Mick Grambeau at Ganmain.
    More to be told!

    North sacked Mick Grambeau and Laurie Icke but reinstated them a week later. They both missed one match. The reasons for the club’s action were not revealed in the press, although one thought was their poor performances the week before. Laurie Icke was active in seeking better remuneration and conditions for the players. The Coulter Law kept VFL players on low wages – no wonder so many went to the bush in search of a better deal. Great for country footy at the time.

    There is Xavier O’Halloran (no. 33) with GWS.

    I believe Ganmain’s hay-bale house construction business is still going.

    Thanks for your interest.


  4. Frank Gumbleton came from Ganmain, I think?

    Thanks again, Peter.

  5. Peter Clark says

    Yes Smokie, Frank Gumbleton was from Ganmain.

    Other VFL/AFL players from Ganmain include: ‘Turkey’ Tom Carroll, Wayne (‘Christmas’) Carroll, Dennis Carroll (played some junior footy at Ganmain), his father Laurie (‘Dooley’) Carroll, Daniel McPherson (Ganmain Grong Grong Matong).

  6. Peter i’m being pedantic but in light of including Daniel McPherson , you could consider adding Tad Obudzinski from being not too far away in Grong Grong Matong territory.

    He played for Wagga Tigers, but ran the pub in Grong Grong Matong. Been there a couple of times. Have family buried there.


  7. Peter Clark says

    Always on the ball Glen!

    Now there’s a thought … a team of league footballers who became publicans?

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