One Hundred Years Ago: Round 2, 6th May, 1911

If the VFL hoped to put one area of controversy behind it with the decision to permit player payments, it was to be rudely reminded that certain sections of society remained implacably opposed to the very notion of professional sport. On the eve of the season’s second round a scathing public attack by a prominent figure served to highlight differences over the issue.

Lawrence Arthur Adamson was headmaster of Wesley College when a teacher at the school, S.B. Gravenall, sought leave to play for St Kilda.  Gravenall was refused permission, and when a delegation from the club was similarly knocked back much public debate followed. Seeking to justify his stance, Adamson claimed to be honouring the decision of a recent public school headmasters’ conference which had banned students from participating in senior leagues (VFL/VFA). This came from the judgement ‘that while the conduct of senior football and its surroundings were as at present, it was undesirable to expose boys to intimate contact with it’.

Mr Adamson elaborated on his personal view. ‘I have waited as long as I conscientiously could to see if the governing bodies of football in Victoria could get their houses in order’. He ‘recognised there is validity in the argument that if the better class of player holds aloof from senior football it minimizes the chance of reform, but I fear that the better class of player would be helpless to reform the present game and its surroundings’. Furthermore, ‘considerations of money’ undermined the moral value of the game. He did not know of one sport other than cricket ‘which had survived the disaster of wealth and retained its utility and purity’. He then sweepingly denounced the effect of professionalism on players’ character and general social worth, and the degradation of standards and morality that crowds who participated would suffer.

Money, by this reckoning, was deemed ruinous to character, except for those fortunate enough to have inherited it.

Whatever the opinions of school masters, there was a round of football to be played, and 20,000 people turned up to Princes Park to watch previous year’s finalists Carlton and South Melbourne do battle in a blustery northerly wind. Observer, of the Argus, felt need to commend the Tramways Company on the ‘timely’ way they handled the rush ‘without incident’. And not a privatised operator in sight.

The game itself offered a poor initial spectacle. South kicked the first four goals, but the predominant impression of play was its scrambling nature, which left Observer lamenting that the game had seen little progress in skills over recent seasons. It was also ‘observed’ that the game was ‘on the rough side’. The contest was redeemed, if not the spectacle, when Carlton fought back in the third quarter.

Debuting with 2 goals for the Navy Blues was Tasmanian rover Viv Valentine, who one scribe described as a ‘moving mass of muscularity’. Valentine impressed this day and others, and would represent Victoria at the carnival later in the year, as he had represented his home state in 1908. Nineteen-year-old Bloods’ forward Fred Carpenter found the opportunity to kick 4 goals whilst main forward Len Mortimer was  ‘closely watched and at times handled roughly’. South midfielder Jim Caldwell ‘played a clever and creditable part’.

Scores were levelled at 10.6.66 apiece and both teams spent the final minutes unsuccessfully trying to scramble a score. This was Carlton’s second successive draw  to start the season, a unique occurrence to this day. In fact, the only other instance of a team drawing successive games is the Blues once again, a decade later in rounds 4 and 5 of the 1921 season.

Simultaneous to the excitement at Princes Park, Geelong were relieved of worrying about train timetables for a week as they hosted great rivals Melbourne at Corio Oval. The northerly must have been blowing fiercely at Corio as well, as only a single behind was to be scored into the wind for the entire match. The Fuchsias led by 19 points at ¾ time thanks to another 4 goal effort from skipper Vin Coutie, but 3 goals from Geelong forward ace (and expert place-kicker) Percy Martini had Geelong within touch coming home with the gale.

They kicked 6 consecutive behinds and still trailed by 13 points with time running out, when their champion of the day Dick Grigg took a towering mark and goaled. Doug Moran quickly followed with another. Then Bert Whittington was given a free kick within range as the bell rang. Despite ‘a row of six opponents jumping like frogs in front of the mark, Whittington kicked well’. A dozen players jostled on the goal line, and as the kick dropped a Melbourne player’s upraised arm touched the ball. Most thought contact had occurred behind the line, but not the goal umpire. Dispute raged, but the result stood as yet another draw: the third in two rounds.

No such excitement took place at Punt Road, where Richmond failed to live up to the promise of their round 1 efforts. Kicking with the wind, they didn’t register a goal in the first term, and were scoreless in the second. Essendon had the game wrapped up by half time, going on to record a comfortable 47 point win as the Tigers only mustered 3 goals for the game.

Fitzroy led Collingwood for the first half in front of 10,000 at Brunswick St, but the Magpies again finished too strongly for their opposition, running out 15 point winners. Dick Lee had kicked 2 goals and been best afield until he ‘fell heavily on the small of his back’ whilst flying for a mark. He was carried off  ‘suffering from a severe contusion’, and would miss games. Tom Baxter was again in the goals, with 2, while ‘slashing winger’ Jim Jackson also kicked 2. Much later (in 1925) Jackson would be Hawthorn’s first VFL captain.

The round’s final game saw a major reversal of round 1 form, with University running out comfortable 26 point winners against St Kilda in front of 7, 797 at their new MCG home ground. Though lacking system, the Professors had enough ‘lightning dash which came spontaneously at intervals’ to run away from a St Kilda team which was ‘slow, but not always sure’. Bert Hartkopf ‘marked over everybody’s head and kicked splendidly’ at half forward in scoring 3 goals. Wells Eicke and Reg Gregson stood out for the Saints.

As this would be University’s only win of the 1911 season, it seems an appropriate time to examine the club’s VFL history, for it is highly relevant to the debate about professionalism.

On 4th October 1907 the eight founding clubs of the VFL voted unanimously to include University in the league as its ninth team. Richmond would have to win a later vote against North Melbourne to join the VFL. The Students had won successive flags in the Metropolitan Junior Football Association (the precursor to the Ammos), and their attraction was in part their social cache as an amateur club. It was thought they would add ‘tone’ to the league. The Australasian predicted the Students’ ‘superior intellect’ would ‘tell in time’.

Others thought differently. One South barracker, unimpressed with the Students’ supporters, ‘thought these was the kind of blokes what cleaned their teeth and wore pyjamas’, but they lacked ‘verbal vigour’. Conduct was important to the Students: only one University player would ever be suspended by the VFL.

In fact, University was highly competitive in its first three seasons, winning 48% of its games whilst sharing the East Melbourne Cricket Ground with Essendon. In 1910, they finished 6th with 10 wins, not far off a finals berth.

But the coming of official professionalism marked the beginning of a steep decline for the club. After moving to the MCG to cohabit with Melbourne, this win in round 2 of 1911 would prove to be the second last that University would ever enjoy. They beat Richmond in round 3 of 1912, and thereafter went winless in their final two seasons, 1913-14. They were to lose their last 51 matches.

Despite the club’s overall lack of success, it produced some notable individuals. Dr Albert Ernst Victor Hartkopf would kick 87 goals in his 48 games, providing the Professors with some early fire-power. The high flying Hartkopf was also a good enough cricketer to be selected for Australia at the age of 35, in 1924/5, scoring 80 batting at number eight. Sadly, he’d been picked for his off-spin bowling, which proved considerably less successful. It was his only Test.

Though he wouldn’t play ‘til 1912, another footballing doctor replaced Hartkopf as University’s star goal scorer. Roy Lindsay Park, at just 5’ 5” and 9 stone (165cm, 56 kgs), was justifiably known as ‘Little Doc’. An ex Wesley man, he ‘looked harmless on field, but he was a shrewd, calculating footballer and a deadly shot for goal’. In 1913 he managed to kick 53 of the club’s 123 season goals in a winless side, representing Victoria for his efforts. His 111 career goals was the most for the Students. He was also a fine cricketer, and it’s unfortunate he is famously known for being dismissed first ball in his only test, in the 1920/21 season. Allegedly he’d been out all the previous night on doctoring duties. Legend compounds the misfortune, claiming that ‘his wife, who was watching in the stands, dropped her knitting as he prepared to face his first ball, bent down to retrieve it at the moment of delivery, and thus missed his entire test career’.

Perhaps the greatest University player was ‘sterling follower’ Jack Brake, who was claimed to often be ‘half the side’ in his 81 games. He represented Victoria on six occasions, and joined Melbourne when University left the VFL, before enlisting in the war. His partner in centre duties, Herbert Hurrey, was the only Student to reach 100 VFL games. ‘A quick, clever, reliable centreman’, Hurrey was rated best VFL centreman in 1912.

Individual effort, however, couldn’t sustain an amateur club in the newly professional VFL world. University would lose a known 14 players in World War 1, the most of any club. Combined with lack of success, this saw them withdraw from the league after 1914. Melbourne would inherit the famous Cordner brothers of a later generation when their father Edward became a Fuchsia, as did most of the prominent remaining University players like Park and Brake.

The decision to withdraw was no doubt also influenced by the views of men such as L. A. Adamson, who was to again lead the verbal charge assailing the VFL for playing on in 1915 in a time of war. Those University men that, amongst so many others, gave their lives in  European battle, were doing their ‘patriotic duty’ as many such as Adamson saw it. To which country the patriotism was really directed was questioned by  fewer at the time.

Australia of one hundred years ago held a view of itself still largely illuminated by the reflection of others. Federated just ten years previous, many still regarded the British Isles as ‘Home’. Though there were plenty of stirrings of a more radical nationalism in the air, most Australian history remained to be written. Those men who went to fight a war on foreign soil may have been serving foreign purposes, but their deeds and experiences would provide essential foundation stones for building a more authentic nationalism to come.

Carlton 2.1  3.3  7.6   10.6 66 Sat 06-May-1911 2:10 PM
South Melbourne 4.1  6.1  8.3  10.6 66 Match drawn Venue:Princes Park
Fitzroy 3.1  3.5  3.9  4.10 34 Sat 06-May-1911 2: 10PM Venue: Brunswick St
Collingwood 0.1  2.3  5.6   7.7 49 Collingwood won by 15 pts
Richmond 0.4  0.4 1.10 3.11 29 Sat 06-May-1911 2:10 PM  Venue: Punt Rd
Essendon 2.1 7.11 8.12 10.16 76 Essendon won by 47 pts
Geelong 0.1   5.5   5.5  7.12 54 Sat 06-May-1911 2:10 PM  Venue: Corio Oval
Melbourne 4.5   4.5  7.12  7.12 54 Match drawn
University 3.3   4.5   8.6  10.9 69 Sat 06-May-1911 2:10 PM Venue: M.C.G.
St Kilda 2.1  3.4   5.6   6.7 43 University won by 26 pts

The ladder at the conclusion of Round 2 was:

Rd 2 Ladder
CW 2 8 144.4
ES 2 6 163.5
SM 2 6 158.5
ME 2 6 101.6
CA 2 4 100.0
SK 2 4 86.5
UN 2 4 75.2
GE 2 2 92.5
FI 2 0 86.0
RI 2 0 55.3


The Clubs: ed John Ross & Garrie Hutchinson

Encyclopedia of AFL/VFL Footballers: Russell Holmesby & Jim Main

100 Years of Australian Football: ed. John Ross

More Than A Game: ed. Rob Hess & Bob Stewart

Up Where, Cazaly? : Leonie Sandercock & Ian Turner


AFL Tables

Full Points Footy

Andrew Gigacz

Peter Flynn

John Harms

About John Butler

John Butler has fled the World's Most Liveable Car Park and now breathes the rarefied air of the Ballarat Plateau. For his sins, he has passed his 40th year as a Carlton member.


  1. Outstanding JB. I wonder what Lawrence Arthur Adamson would think of Joffa?

    Seems the Cats have been getting ripped off by poor goal umpiring since 1911!

  2. John Butler says

    Thanks Dips.

    You know, I hadn’t considered Joffa. But I should have. :)

  3. Peter Flynn says


    Enjoying it.

    Extraordinary game at Geelong.

    Roy Park’s son-in-law captained Australia.

    He also bowled one expensive over in his ill-fated Test.

    Park was very loyal to Armstrong. This cost him playing more Tests.

  4. Dave Nadel says

    Excellent article JB, even better than last weeks. This extract is really good historical writing with a strong social and general historical context to the sporting narrative.

    The admission of University and Richmond to the VFL in 1908 was interesting in as much as North Melbourne had been the strongest club outside of the VFL for most of the first decade of the 1900s. They weren’t in 1907 but they amalgamated with West Melbourne for their attempt to join the VFL. West had won the 1906 VFA flag.

    If University were selected for the social cachet then the Shinboners were probably excluded for their lack of same. I have always understood that North’s application to join the VFL was rejected because the other clubs feared their supporters and did not feel that North could control them. However I can not find any direct statement to that effect in any of the histories of North or the early VFL. What is certain is that North’s player and supporter base in Newmarket Saleyards and the nearby abattoirs gave them a tough and “socially unacceptable” image, comparable with Port Melbourne and further out of bounds than Collingwood, Richmond and Fitzroy at the time.

    Adamson would have hated Joffa, not only for his flashy larrikin style, but because as a youth worker, Joffa approaches helping the underprivileged as an equal rather than from the lofty position of a religous charity doing good works, which was the Wesley way under Adamson.

  5. John Butler says

    PF, thanks. That Armstrong book sounds like a must read.

    Dave, thank you as well. Interesting re North. Their playing strength is obvious through newspaper reports of the VFA. So many under-currents to what happened.

    And you’re right. Adamson would not have favoured Joffa. Which is no reflection on Joffa.

  6. smokie88 says

    Great work, JB.
    Really enjoyable reading.

    In many ways, Australia 100 years on still has a view of itself largely reflected by others.

  7. John Butler says

    Smokie, plenty of truth in that. But that’s another discussion altogether.

  8. Alovesupreme says

    I’ve no doubt that this series involves a mountain of research. As such, I hesitate to advise some additional reading but Adamson as a leading figure in the VAFA features prominently in the version of its history “For the Love of the Game”, by Joseph Johnson and his absolutist view of professional sport is extensively discussed.
    There is a fine history of North by (Father) Gerald Dowling, unimaginatively titled “The North Story”. It’s decades since I read the first edition of the North Story, but I’m sure it casts some light on Dave’s interesting hypothesis. Fr. Dowling has a log rather than a chip on his shoulder where North is concerned.
    He tells a funny story against himself about his extravagant barracking and generally outlandish behaviour at the footy, saying that he once over-heard some-body at the “G” referrring to GD, not realising that he was within earshot “Some say he’s a Catholic priest.”

  9. Phil Dimitriadis says

    “One South barracker, unimpressed with the Students’ supporters, ‘thought these was the kind of blokes what cleaned their teeth and wore pyjamas’, but they lacked ‘verbal vigour’. ”

    That’s Gold JB. Taunts were much more civilized back in 1911.

  10. John Butler says

    ALS, all suggestions are gratefully received. It’s just a matter of finding the time. Adamson certainly wasn’t ambivalent in his attitudes.

    Thanks Phil. They certainly had a way with words back then.

  11. “The northerly must have been blowing fiercely at Corio as well, as only a single behind was to be scored into the wind for the entire match. ”

    Research by Stephen Rodgers in 2010 (Author and compiler of the Every Game Ever Played series of books) discovered that in fact Geelong’s score in the first quarter was a goal and not a behind.

    Most of our knowledge of quarter scores for much of the League’s history comes from Rodgers’ research as there was no League repository of such information.

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