Almanac Poetry: Melbourne’s Not Yinnar



Anonymous (1905?)


The Toilers of Toongabbie
Have stripped them for the fray,
The boys of Boolara
Are out in force today.
The messmates of Taralgon
Have mustered from afar,
With stringy bark from Morwell
And blackbutt from Yinnar.


They met a team from Melbourne
And showed them all they knew,
When charging down full-chested
As Gippsland players do.
For little marks and umpires
They hadn’t time to spare,
But caught up their opponents
And whirled them in the air.


They met a team from Melbourne
And brought them to their knees;
They were a combination
Expert in falling trees.
And oh! those men of Melbourne
Like grain in Autumn dropped,
For some of them were ring-barked
And some of them were chopped.


The clever team from Melbourne
Were quickly in the dumps,
With floundering by the swampside,
And bouncing off the stumps;
For half the team were injured,
The other half were sore
This was the kind of football
They’d never played before.


Oh send abroad the tidings
Pass it from peak to peak,
From Whitelaw’s Track to Foster,
Which once was Stockyard Creek.
Tell fishermen by Toora,
The stirring story tell,
How Melbourne went to Gippsland
And like dead timber fell.


I ask you to remember,
When speaking of this game,
That Yinnar is not Melbourne
Nor are its ways the same.
It may not mark so deftly
It may not kick so far
But when it comes to falling things
Why – Melbourne’s not Yinnar.


They gathered up the fragments
And washed away each stain,
With bullock-team and jinker,
They drove them to the train.
Laid out in splints and stretchers
They tucked away each man
And sent them back to Melbourne
In the Casualty Van.



The Almanac features the work of a number of poets. Read more from Almanac poets HERE.



Return to our home page at


  1. Great story. John Harms’ challenge would surely be one for Ian Syson to take on.

  2. How does that game stand against the current AFL zero tollerance of violence John? Sling tackles, chops etc.

    I will keep out of the research bit. I have been getting into trouble for sleuthing lately.

  3. Ian Syson says

    Not this one is it?

    Gippsland Times 20 May 1878

    A football match will be played on the Queen’s Birthday between the Sale team and the Carlton club on the Sale ground.

    I can’t find a match report yet.

    I’m interested in the disdain the players had for the little mark (which was of course the distinguishing feature of the emerging VFA-type footy) as well as the bigger mark. Is this another example of the imperialism of the VFA being resisted (though ultimately in vain) by the colonial fringes?

  4. johnharms says


    I reckon it’s the Melbourne Football Club, but I’m not sure about that.

  5. Ian Syson says

    Can you give us a decade?

  6. Ian Syson says

    It was written in 1905. Curse you John Harms for setting this problem!!

  7. johnharms says

    Did you find it in a collection published in Gippsland? Was it Melbourne FC?

  8. Ian Syson says

    This looks like it

    Gippsland Times Monday 7 August 1905

    “On Thursday next the match between the Melbourne Football Clubs’ team and Sale will take place on the Sale cricket ground, when lovers of the game and the public generally will have a rare opportunity of witnessing a match in which every detail of the game is studied. The Melbourne boys will arrive by the 1.30 p.m. train that day, and play will commence at 3 p.m. sharp. Sale will have the assistance of six players from the district clubs, and these men with our representatives should put up a good game against the visitors.”

    The report makes no reference to rough or foul play and says the game was played in a good spirit. Evidently Melbourne moved on to Traralgon, and played a game which produced the following response:

    Traralgon Record Friday 18 August 1905

    “THE MELBOURNE FOOTBALL TEAM. On Monday this team reached Bairnsdale, and were driven to the Shire hall, where light refreshments had been laid. In responding to the toast of ” The Melbourne Football Club,” Manager Norcott among other things referred to two of the members of the team being disabled, and said he wished to take that opportunity of saying publicly – and he hoped the press would make it known – that it was not true that the Traralgon team had played a very rough game, as it was said they had. In not one instance had any injury sustained by members of the team been caused by rough play on the other side. They had met with nothing but fair play. (Applause). Evidently Mr Norcott was alluding to a paragraph which appeared in the “Argus.”

    So, the poem’s a beat up!! (err so to speak)

  9. Ian Syson says

    Funnily enough I can’t find the Argus reference. I’ll have a closer look later.

  10. johnharms says

    Brilliant IS. Isn’t it interesting that the public memory (a reader who contacted me) told me that it was Melbourne – and in this case it was accurate.

  11. Wonderful balladry. I often think any fool can rhyme, but to get the meter and rhythm right – in the length and flow of the words is a real art.
    When was the poem first published? Is there no record of the author?
    Probably just a lonely toiler and contributor to ye olde Gippsland Football Almanac. Someone who read his (or her) Lawson, Patterson and Adam Lindsay Gordon. Loved them and pined to join them one day.
    “Full many a flower is born to blush unseen…..”
    Thanks for sharing it (perhaps 105 years too late from the author’s perspective).
    Do you think we could grant him/her retrospective status (like the tied Brownlow/Magarey) winners as the original/patron Knacker? Memorial to the Unknown Knacker?
    So many wonderful passages and sentiments, but:
    “I ask you to remember
    When speaking of this game,
    That AFL is not grassroots
    Nor are its ways the same”
    Could almost go on the Almanac masthead.
    I have always liked the way that Rhythms magazine has a John Lee Hooker quote on the masthead.
    Ian’s historical research on the origins of the poem is amazing. They bred them tough in Gippsland. Was that Matt Zurbo’s first club?

Leave a Comment