One Hundred Years Ago: Round 8, 10th June, 1911

‘Football in the Mud’ was the headline The Argus chose for round 8 of 1911, and the weather was the dominant theme for more than just VFL fixtures.

The constant rain was certainly causing havoc and confusion in the Geelong District League where communications went badly amiss for previously undefeated Chilwell. On the advice of their president and secretary, the Chilwell team believed the game cancelled due to the weather. No one had informed the large crowd, or their opponents Geelong West, who persuaded the umpire to commence the game in Chilwell’s absence. They promptly ran the ball forward, kicked a goal and claimed victory. The win stood despite Chilwell’s subsequent appeal.

There was no problem about Collingwood and Carlton turning up at Princes Oval for their first encounter since the bruising 1910 grand final. Nor were the 12,000 hardy souls who attended in any hesitation. Except for Observer, who found the ‘only remarkable thing about football on Saturday afternoon was that so many people should have gone out to look at it’ when ‘presumably everyone of them had a home and a fire and might at any rate have borrowed a book’. Making rather a meal of the obvious, he observed that  ‘football must be an obsession’. Not that we’d suggest Observer was another one of those blokes ‘what brushed his teeth and wore pyjamas’.

With one wing under water, what was an ‘imitation of football’ to Observer was a torrid slog for the players who were contesting their third game in eight days. Carlton won the crucial toss and kicked with the wind while the ball was still relatively dry. A free kick gave Vin Gardiner the opportunity to kick Carlton’s first, but thereafter the Collingwood defenders ‘played persistently for the wing, where shooting was awkward’. Carlton’s forwards ‘came a long way up to meet the ball’, but only a late ‘running punt’ goal to Jack Wells gave the Blues a 17 point lead at the break.

In the second term, Collingwood kicked goals through Baxter and Lee, but Gardiner scored with a superb shot into the wind to see the Blues 7 points to the better at the break. Wells and champion centreman Rod McGregor did much to hold the Magpies out in this period..

Carlton captain-coach Fred ‘Pompey’ Elliot was one of several notables not able to back up from the King’s Birthday round, but stand-in captain and triple premiership defender Billy Payne marshalled his men for the crucial 3rd quarter. There is no evidence it was called a ‘premiership quarter’ back then.

McGregor kicked a long goal but Collingwood held fast into the wind largely due to veteran defender Ted Rowell’s efforts. Finally, late goals to Gotz and Dick changed the complexion of the game. When a now dominant Viv Valentine fed Wells to make the margin 33 points early in the final term, the Collingwood side gave in to their exhaustion and didn’t kick another goal.

Jack Wells was a significant Carlton contributor who had arrived in controversy from St Kilda the previous season. Appointed Saints skipper in only his second year, he had led them into the finals in 1908 but then found dispute with a St Kilda committee more noted for strife than balancing the books during these years. In 1908, allegations of gambling had involved champion player Vic Cumberland and others, who were suspended, then subsequently reinstated. Wells had led a player protest, then left disenchanted the next year as the fallout lingered. He played for the Blues in the 1910 grand final and would captain them in 1912.

Both Essendon and Fitzroy were missing players for their clash at East Melbourne. The Maroons were minus skipper McLennan, Kiernan and Furnless, while Essendon were without Alan Belcher and McLeod. A tight struggle in muddy conditions suddenly exploded early in the 3rd quarter when Essendon’s Jim Martin and Fitzroy’s George Holden ‘were in collision’. Said ‘collision’ provoked several spectators to jump the fence and it was some minutes before order was restored. Martin would receive a 12 game suspension for the ‘collision’, effectively ending his season.

As Holden was carried off, Essendon took charge and ran away comfortable victors, Fitzroy only managing 1 point in the second half. Lou Armstrong was again dominant for the Same Olds, along with Fred Baring.

Only 2,753 people huddled under the MCG stands to watch University and Melbourne play. Observer was one of many who  ‘stamped their feet throughout the afternoon to assist in the circulation of their blood’. The centre of the ground  ‘was a black morass and the eastern wing a chain of waterpools’, but the ‘amphibious’ players put on a close contest for three quarters before the Fuchsias ran away in the final term. Bill McKenzie, Jack Robertson and Wally Naismith stood out for Melbourne, whilst Jack Brake lead the way again for the Students, with Bert Hartkopf’s 3 goals being the highest individual tally for the round.

Geelong travelled to the slightly drier Lake Oval to take on South, who failed to take full advantage of the strong wind despite holding the Pivot scoreless in the first term. The Bloods used the dead wing cleverly in the 2nd quarter to restrict Geelong, and eventually worked their way clear through the 3rd term as the visitors faded. South’s ‘ruck’ division of Bruce Sloss, Jim Caldwell, Vic Belcher and Jim Cameron featured, as did Geelong’s followers Dick Grigg, Bill Eason and the freshly returned Joe Slater.

Richmond journeyed to a ‘swamped’ Junction Oval and found St Kilda in the mood to make a contest. A close battle really came down to the Tigers’ superior ability to take their chances, and they eventually won 6 goals to 3, making it three wins in a row for them. Relieved of the Richmond captaincy, Billy Schmidt found good form as he alternated forward and roving, Ruckman Barney Herbert was again prominent and Ted Olshen managed 2 crucial goals in the slush. For St Kilda, Harry Lever and Hugh Plowman stood up well in defence and Artie Thomas and Wells Eicke led the rest.

As the VFL contested its round of games, the VFA took on South Australia at North Melbourne. A powerful SA team was preparing for the interstate carnival later in the season. The VFA were excluded from that carnival, and no progress on the mooted merger with the VFL was evident. South Australia won the match 9.7 to 7.10. On opposing sides were old St Kilda team mates Vic Cumberland (SA) and Dave McNamara (VFA). Both would eventually return to the Seasiders, but not until their old club would endure considerably more turmoil.

Essendon remained undefeated on top as everyone returned to their fireplaces.


Carlton 2.5   3.5   6.8  7.13 55 Sat 10-Jun-1911 Venue: Princes Park
Collingwood 0.0   2.4   2.6  2.10 22 Carlton won by 33 pts
Essendon 0.1   2.4   6.6   8.7 55 Venue: East Melbourne
Fitzroy 1.1   3.1   3.2   3.2 20 Essendon won by 35 pts
South Melbourne 2.2   4.3   5.7  7.10 52 Venue: Lake Oval
Geelong 0.0   2.6   3.6   5.9 39 South Melbourne won by 13 pts
University 2.5   3.5   5.6   5.9 39 Venue: MCG
Melbourne 2.0   3.6   5.6  9.13 67 Melbourne won by 28 pts
St Kilda 2.1   2.7   2.8   3.8 26 Venue: Junction Oval
Richmond 0.2   2.4   5.5   6.6 42 Richmond won by 16 pts


Rd 8 Ladder
ES 8 30 215.9
SM 8 22 155.2
CA 8 20 128.7
CW 8 20 92.0
FI 8 16 105.8
RI 8 16 83.2
ME 8 14 94.8
GE 8 14 89.9
UN 8 4 64.7
SK 8 4 54.7




The Argus

AFL Tables

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

The Point of it All: Jules Feldman & Russell  Holmesby

The Mighty Blues- Team of the Century: Garrie Hutchinson



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. johnharms says

    Lou Armstrong: more versatile than I had realised. In his more svelte days?

    Funny how it was always wet back then. I have just read a lot of newspaper reports of 1898 and 1899 (both supposed to be drought years), and it was always raining.

    Interesting stuff. The VFA-SA match is also interesting. The VFA/VFL rivalry and quest for dominance in Melbourne should not be underestimated. It was a real struggle, as I understand it.

  2. John Butler says


    It was a very real rivalry in those days. The VFL had the upper hand in terms of money and crowds because it was the bigger, wealthier VFA clubs who where the basis of the league.

    But a lot of stars came and went (often with difficulty) between both competitions. in 1911 alone you had the ‘Big Four’ who’d left Carlton, McNamara and several others.

    Money was obviously attracting some to the VFA as well as the VFL.

    The proposal to merge mentioned in a previous round seems a curiosity. The VFL rarely appeared happy to cede any power, and the VFA remained constantly suspicious of their motives.

  3. John Butler says

    PS: you’d reckon someone called Lou Armstrong would play for the Saints wouldn’t you?

  4. Dick Grigg’s name constantly features in a pretty ordinary Geelong side like David Clarke used to in the 70s.

  5. John Butler says

    The Jimmy Bartel of his day?

    Dips, from reading about Grigg that doesn’t sound far wrong. They threw him around everywhere.

  6. Dave Nadel says

    It was always wet at the football when I went in the sixties and seventies. The logical explanation for this is Global Warming but for the benefit of Barnaby Joyce, Andrew Bolt and Lord Monkeytown I have an alternative theory. The construction of a stadium that could close its roof meant that the Football Gods immediately changed the weather patterns so that the roof was redundant and the usual suspects would have something else to criticise the AFL about.

  7. Dave – point of order. Its not global warming anymore, its climate change. Subtle but significant.

  8. Dave Nadel says

    Point taken, Dips

  9. John Butler says


    One minute you write an historical footy piece, the next you’re having to fend off Lord Monkeynuts & the Boltster with a fire-hose and a delousing kit.

    Dave, I like the thought about the roof. Murphy’s law is the enduring law.

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