Almanac Footy History: The Crapp Chronicles Part 4: Crapp And The First Report?

By 1898, the second year of the league, no player had been reported and the new rules were deemed a success. “Follower” commented, early in the 1898 season, that the 4 main rules bought in, had been positive, however in following the rules, umpires “must be strict, without needlessly hampering the players”, and “it is the duty of all who desire to play the game in a fair and manly spirit, give the umpire a fair chance to do his work properly”. So it was, in 1898, that Ivo Crapp was the first umpire to report a player.


It took until round 7 of the 1898 season for the league to get its first taste of the process, in a game between the 7th placed Carlton team and the winless team one rung below them on the ladder, StKilda.  In this game at Princes park, StKilda, winless since the VFL started, came as close as they had in any of their previous games to a win, losing by only 10 points. In fact, under the old VFA rules, the game would have been a draw, with both clubs kicking 5 goals. It was only Carlton’s errant kicking that kept them in the game.


During the game StKilda ruckman, Bill Matthews, playing in his 51st game for St Kilda (VFA/VFL), and his 21st game of league football, used inappropriate language towards Ivo Crapp, the central umpire. What was said is not known, however, Bill Matthews, 22 at the time of his report, had to wait almost 2 weeks to learn of his fate. At a meeting of the league, the night before round 9, Mr. Arthur Hewitt Shaw, league chairman, dealt it out in a strong dose to Matthews, telling him that “if he came before the league again for any offense, the lesson would not be a caution, but disqualification for life*”.  They decided for this indiscretion, he would receive a reprimand. Bill Matthews missed the two games following the round 7 indiscretions, waiting for the hearing, then came back into the St Kilda side in their round 10 loss to Fitzroy. Matthews would play another 62 games for StKilda, finishing at the club in 1902. He would forever hold the dubious title of ‘first VFL player reported, EVER!



For more of The Crapp Chronicles, click HERE.






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About Tim

A host of the Kick to Kick Podcast, educator, fan


  1. The start of a long tradition. And we’re still debating tribunal decisions all these years later.

  2. Daryl Schramm says

    Enjoying this. Just recapped the earlier works. Who was it that said that Ivo was the first and only umpire that didn’t have a nickname to describe his performances? Blainey?

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