Geelong’s Record Run – Round 19, 1952: Geelong v Carlton – Cats rev up for finals



Featuring Jim Norman


Round 19

Geelong v Carlton

Saturday 30th August 1952

Kardinia Park


The last round of home and away games in 1952 provided an entrée for the football ahead and a last chance for two clubs to secure a place the final four. At Kardinia Park the stakes were high for Carlton. A loss to the Cats and a win by South Melbourne would tip them out of the four. The Bloods were in a more precarious position: to jump from 5th to 4th they had to win at the Western Oval and hope that the Cats defeated the Blues. Fitzroy and Collingwood were safe inside the four but the second chance was up for grabs and depended on results going their way. On paper, Fitzroy had a reasonable chance of taking second spot. They were matched against 12th placed St. Kilda, while Collingwood faced their traditional rivals, 6th placed Melbourne. Only Geelong had an unassailable position, as they had already secured the minor premiership. The remaining two matches did not have a bearing on the composition of the final four, however there was great interest in the game at Punt Road as Essendon’s John Coleman was within reach of the 100 goal mark for the season.


The motivation of Geelong to defeat Carlton in Round 19 was strong. It was a chance to avenge their crushing loss at Princes Park in the Queen’s Birthday match earlier in the season and an opportunity to make a pre-emptive strike on a potentially difficult finals opponent. For the old dark navy Blues it was simple: win and stay alive in 1952.


The Football Record (30/8/52) lamented the fact that the game was to be played at Kardinia Park and not the MCG where a crowd of well over 60 000 could be comfortably accommodated. It predicted many Carlton followers might miss out on seeing the game. The crowds did flock to Geelong that day. A crowd of 49 100 attended, well above Kardinia Park’s 1952 season average of 28 000.


Kardinia Park in 1952 was a very different ground to the GMHBA Stadium of today. It was more like a country football venue than a suburban ground or a city stadium. While it retains its historical home ground advantage for Geelong, it has lost its low-rise wooden grandstand, white picket fence, grassy terraces and the backdrop of towering pine trees.


Down at Kardinia Park, 1951 (The Argus 6/8/51)



The teams




B. Hovey Morrison Sharp
HB. Middlemiss Hyde Williams
C. Worner Palmer Fulton
HF. Turner Flanagan Davis
F. Pianto Goninon Norman
Foll. McMaster Renfrey
Rov. Trezise
Res. Herbert S. Smith




B. Conley Grieve Caspar
HB. Green English Brown
C. Kerr F. Stafford Thomas
HF. Chick Milroy Beasey
F. Davies Warburton Comben
Foll. Hands Howell
Rov. Mills
Res. Spencer Guy


Geelong made two changes selecting Terry Fulton in preference to Les Reed on the wing and bringing ruckman Norm Sharp back into the team after a long stint on the sidelines with an injured hand. Carlton’s only change was the return of Laurie Kerr from injury.


The trains pulled out of Spencer Street Station packed with the “Blues’ Army” on its way to Geelong and there was an unusual sight at Kardinia Park to see queues at 7am. The grandstand was full by 10am. The attendance surpassed the previous record by an amazing figure of 13 000.


Carlton got off to a bright start with Jack Howell dominating in the ruck and with their defence on top, Geelong were goalless in the opening term. Geelong’s half back line shifted into top gear thereafter and with withering pace and fast ball movement assumed the role of attackers rather than defenders. In the second quarter, George Goninon started to kick goals and the Cats’ forward line started to operate smoothly. The home team were never troubled after that point and dominated proceedings for the rest of the afternoon. Carlton could only manage three six-pointers for their trip to Corio Bay.


The match was a far cry from the Round 9 meeting between the two teams when the Blues jumped out of the blocks and kicked eight dazzling goals in the first quarter. On that occasion it was Carlton’s pace, strength and team work that stood out.





Geelong            0.5         5.9         9.13      10.17 (77)

Carlton             1.3         2.6         2.10      3.14 (32)


Goals: Geelong – Goninon 4, Turner 2, Trezise 2, Norman, Pianto

Carlton – Mills 2, Caspar


Best: Geelong – Hyde, Williams, Morrison, McMaster, Turner, Renfrey

Carlton – Hands, Conley, Kerr, Grieve, Howell, Guy


Umpire:             Jamieson          Attendance: 49 100


Reserves:  Carlton 8.18 (66) defeated Geelong 8.12 (60)



Around the grounds


At the Junction Oval the centre of interest was on whether Fitzroy could win and give themselves an outside chance of taking second position. St. Kilda had other ideas and led all afternoon to win by six points over the inaccurate Maroons.


At Victoria Park Collingwood did no favours for Fitzroy and easily accounted for Melbourne.


At Punt Road all eyes were on Essendon’s number 10. Could he kick six goals and take his season tally to 100? No problem – Coleman booted nine goals out of his team’s 11, but Richmond finished the season with a comfortable win.


At the Western Oval Footscray put an end to South Melbourne’s finals hopes with a 30 point win.


At Glenferrie Oval North Melbourne pulled away from the Hawks to win by 23 points.



The ladder 


ROUND 19 M Pts %
GEELONG 19 66 134.7
COLLINGWOOD 19 56 144.4
FITZROY 19 52 105.4
CARLTON 19 48 112.4
MELBOURNE 19 38 103.0
ESSENDON 19 34 113.6
RICHMOND 19 32 92.6
FOOTSCRAY 19 20 77.1
HAWTHORN 19 20 69.6
ST. KILDA 19 8 68.1



Leading goal kickers 

John Coleman (Essendon) 9 103
George Goninon (Geelong) 4 52
Jock Spencer (North Melbourne) 5 51
Noel Clarke (Melbourne) 49
Tony Ongarello (Fitzroy) 47



John Coleman, after whom the Coleman Medal for the leading goal kicker in the VFL/AFL was later named, kicked 100 goals or more on three occasions in his career. Remarkably, he kicked 537 goals in his 98 games of League football.



Next week: The 1952 Second Semi-final – Geelong v Collingwood


Plus a look at the First Semi-final – Fitzroy v Carlton


Next week’s featured Geelong players: Cyril (‘Bill’) McMaster and Bernie Smith

And for the opposition: Frank Tuck (Collingwood)



This week’s featured Geelong player: Jim Norman from Horsham


Jim Norman (jumper number 30) was recruited by Geelong in 1950 from Wimmera League club Horsham. At age 19 in 1947, he was the country club’s best and fairest player. Norman played in five of Geelong’s record 26 undefeated matches and 37 games in total for the club. He was a member of Geelong’s premiership winning teams in 1951 and 1952. Playing as a ruckman who rested in the forward line, Norman thrived in the big games where he didn’t mind throwing his weight around. In 1951 he was suspended for six weeks for “hacking” an Essendon opponent in the grand final. The 1952 grand final was his last appearance for Geelong due to a knee injury he sustained in the 1953 pre-season.



Jim Norman snaps a goal against Carlton in round 19 1952 (The Age, 1st September 1952)



In 1956 Jim Norman was appointed coach of Golden Point (Ballarat League) replacing Allan Killigrew who went to the coaching position at St. Kilda.



For the opposition: Vin English (Carlton)



Vin English



Recruited from Sandhurst (Bendigo League), Vin English played 115 games in the centre half back position for Carlton between 1950 and 1956. Although it was a lean period for Carlton, English did play one final match in his VFL career, the 1952 first semi-final against Fitzroy. He made the most of the opportunity and was named best on ground.


English wasn’t a speedy player, but he made up for that with excellent concentration, durability and strength. His safe marking and a long kicking were great assets to Carlton’s defence. He was a good old-fashioned close checking man-on-man type of player.



Country football connections


Vin English was originally from the Riverina where he played for the Methul Football Club in the Ariah Park and District League. In 1947 he played alongside three of his brothers (Bernie, Ron and Allie) in Methul’s premiership team. Two of his other brothers also played in premiership winning teams that year: Jack at Rannock (Temora and District League) and Frank at Narrandera (South West League). All six brothers moved to Sandhurst to further their football careers, but only Vince played in the VFL. After leaving Carlton, Vin English went to Colac (Hampden League) as captain coach.


Vin English’s former club Sandhurst were Bendigo League minor premiers in 1952 but were defeated by Castlemaine in the grand final. His future club Colac won the 1952 Hampden League premiership.


Jim Norman’s former club Horsham did not reach the Wimmera League finals in 1952, while his future club Golden Point (Ballarat League) lost the first semi-final a week earlier.



Meanwhile …


The Snowy Mountains Scheme was three years into its construction in September 1952. It would not be completed until 1974.


At Lake Karrinyup in Perth, Australian golfer Norman von Nida won his second Australian Open championship. He carded a last round of 68 for a record 72-hole aggregate of 278.


Prime Minister Menzies announced that Sir William Slim would be the next Governor General of Australia, replacing Sir William McKell who would retire in early 1953. McKell was, at the time, one of only two Australian-born citizens to hold the position.



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. Methul ? Rannock?

    Ariah Park, and District League? Temora, and District League?

    You’ve stumped me there Peter. I’m struggling to place the two ‘hamlets’ listed above. An Ariah Park and District League tests me. I know Ariah Park, like Ardlethan a small spot in the Riverina, but it must have been like a ‘metropolis’ then to have its own district league. Familiar with Temora, I can imagine a local league in the days of yore.

    Vin English: father of Des?

    They certainly packed them in at Kardinia Park that day. My first game there was 1972. I reckon the biggest crowd i recall was the Easter Monday clash v Collingwood in 1981. The crowd was 41,395.

    Looking forward to the finals stories. Go Cats!


  2. Dr Rocket says

    Good to see a Rannock connection.
    That’s an amazing record – six English brothers playing in premiership teams in the Riverina – with three different clubs!
    I see where Vin, Jack, and Ron played together in Sandhurst’s 1949 Bendigo league premiership team. Jack and Vin also played in the 1948 flag winning team.

  3. Peter Fuller says

    Another great read Peter, thank you. Vin English coaching Colac was just about my earliest memory of local football.
    Glen, Des was Vin’s nephew, iirc. I wasn’t aware that there were five brothers as his possible sire!
    I’m pretty sure that this match was my brother’s debut attendance at a VFL game.

  4. Peter Clark says


    Rannock is 20 km north of Coolamon, while Methul is about 15km west of Rannock.
    Rannock had its own football association between 1932 and 1937 (Rannock and District Association).
    That was quite an achievement considering the population of the tiny village was less than 200 at that time. Rannock won three premierships in the Temora and District League (1939, 1940 and 1947).

    Both Rannock and Methul played in the Tara Association and the Ariah Park and District Association at various times. They had a combined team (1950-55) called ‘The Federals’. Rannock resumed as a stand alone team in 1962 and their last season was 1964.

    The evolution of football in that region is one of my interests and I recently published a book on the history of the Rannock Football Club.

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