The Great Trade War

Archbishop Mannix called World War 1 , ‘The Great Trade War’,as Millions around the world died, whilst their imperial masters saw  their spheres of influence altered. The Hapsburg empire disappeared, Czarist Russia was gone, the Kaiser became an irrelevancy, whilst Britannia continued to rule the waves. In Australia the impact was marked. Visit any country town and you see the memorials for those who fought, many to never return. Whenever I get up to Corowa I see the name of my grand-uncle Frank on the statue, he and many more. Opponents of the war, be they pacifist, Catholics, or industrial workers were savagely pilloried; in today’s parlance, they would be labelled Un-Australian. The field of sport was not untouched, and it is here I focus.

There is quite a bit re this period i don’t know/or have forgotten, and would like some feedback on. Here is what I know, or think I do !  
At the outbreak of the Great Trade War, 1914, the VFL consisted of 9 teams. By 1916 it had shrank to only 4, which saw the strange spectacle of Fitzroy winning both the Premiership and Wooden Spoon in the same year !!! These 4 clubs were Carlton, Collingwood, Richmond, and Fitzroy, the inner city working class areas. In 1917, both Geelong, and South Melbourne returned, with 1918, seeing the resumption of Essendon, and St Kilda. The ‘Establishment’ side, Melbourne, remained out of the VFL, until after the guns finished firing, returning in 1919. University never returned.

The colours of St KIlda to me are an interesting one. For some silly reason i thought they were Red, Yellow, and Black at the start of the war, and then changed to Red, White, and Black. The rationale i had heard was that Germany was Red, Yellow, and Black. How did I fall for such an ‘urban footy myth??? The reality is the current German flag colours of Red, Yellow, and Black were adopted during the 1920’s, the period of the Weimar Republic. ‘Little Belgium,’ who we allegedly went to war on behalf of, were the ones whose flag was Red, Yellow, and Black. St Kilda did indeed change their colours, and the colours of Red, White, and Black they had at the start of the war, were actually the colours of the Kaisers Germany. In the years 1915-1922 they wore Red, Yellow, and Black, which was the colours of St Kida Cricket Club, and of course, Belgium. In 1923 they reverted to Red, White and Black, which they still wear.

Well these are some of my thoughts on this tumultuous period. I look forward to feedback from other Almanackers.

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