Almanac Footy History – The Crapp Chronicles Part 7: A Crapp Excuse

In the first year of the VFL, the league played a combined team from Ballarat, and were duly defeated by a stronger team (albeit the VFL team had been hastily put together). This matchup was repeated in the following years, including the 1901 season.



The VFL team traveled to Ballarat to take on the local combined side at Eastern Oval. The match was much looked forward to and talked about in the streets in the lead up to the game. The VFL side was said to be one of the strongest it had ever fielded.



The umpire for the game was to be Henry ‘Ivo’ Crapp. However on the day of the match, he was unable to fulfil his duties. Now, there is some discrepancy as to why he was unable to umpire this match. The Ballarat Star claimed he had a sudden attack of illness. The Herald of Melbourne elaborates on this in detail, stating that Crapp was up in Ballarat ready to umpire and on the morning of the match he had gone for a run, but collapsed with a stabbing sensation in his side. He was taken to his hotel bed where a former footballer, Dr Cussen came and diagnosed a severe bout of pleurisy (Essentially an inflammation around the lungs).



Former Essendon captain George Stuckey attended to him, before he was bought back to Melbourne on the Sunday, where he was said to be recovering quickly.


Markwell of the Australasian claimed that Ivo Crapp had a previous business engagement that prevented him from leaving Melbourne.


However there was one more suggestion as to his absence, this one coming from the Referee in Sydney. This article suggesting that prior to the game, Henry had been enjoying sometime in the botanical gardens, in his time there he entered a maze, where he became unable to find a way out. In his endeavor to extricate himself from the maze he strained his back, and was therefore unable to officiate.



Whatever the reason, Crapp was unable to umpire this game, a local man named Fenton filled in, as the VFL won the game by 15 points.




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. Kevin Densley says

    Hi Tim! I’ve been enjoying these Crapp stories.

  2. Thanks mate, He is an enjyable character to write about! More stories coming….

  3. Kevin Densley says

    That story about Crapp and the maze is a classic, and fits so well with an umpire!

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