A tale of two debutants
The league clubs commenced operations on Saturday upon grounds so hard that every conditions favoured fast play. And it was fast. The tendency of the game to gain pace with each successive winter was more than ever marked on Saturday. It is the natural trend of things, helped largely through training. The rush and fury of the contests are decidedly thrilling, but whether the game gains anything in skill, or is a better spectacle because of the pace, is altogether another matter. Whatever be the tendency in this respect, things must be allowed to run their course towards possibly entirely new developments in football. No team can be expected to slow down the game in order to bring out its better points, and no legislation can alter the position. The ever increasing pace is a problem for future consideration. Does it mean thrill or skill?
In the first round of matches it was shown that Carlton are playing quite up to championship form; that South Melbourne have a concerted system, which must make them dangerous; that Essendon is apparently a greatly improved side, and that St. Kilda may be quite up to their best form of the last couple of seasons when they have remedied one or two rather serious defects. The rest is, for the present, speculation.
University’s Commencement day
The University made their first venture as seniors on the East Melbourne ground against Essendon, and there was a fair attendance to see the match. Nearly every man in their colours has played for them in the Metropolitan Association last season, and, although a couple of good ones may yet be brought in, there was no bracing up for the senior test. The students had not built any castles in the air. Their impression was that unless their pace could help them to carry Essendon off their legs, they were not likely to win. In the first quarter they made the pace so warm that Essendon for a time seemed to be in difficulties. The University finished several good scoring chances before Tom Fogarty kicked their first goal, but all day their forward work was rather unlucky than faulty, a number of shots going just outside the post, while a couple of tries were stopped in goal. Towards the end of the quarter Parkinson and D. Smith scored for Essendon
In both the second and third terms of the game it was evident that the University had been playing too long against teams easily paralyzed by dashing attack, and in attempting the same tactics against Essendon, they failed to made certain plans on the other side which accounted for the greater part of their trouble during the afternoon. Whether kicking off or repelling, the Essendon backs nearly always played along the left wing and were very successful on that side, Again, their forwards were too clever for the University backs, playes like D. Smith , Cameron, Landmann, and others being constantly left unguarded, and this was mainly the reason why Essendon were able to score so heavily. Once they settled to their work too it was obvious that Essendon has a first rate team this this season, and - with the expectation of some of the big men, like Busbridge, Belcher, and Smith, who to the disadvantage of their side, nearly always played a lone hand - they helped each other much better than the University did.
In the second quarter Essendon scored 4-3 to their opponent 4 behinds, but in the third term the game was very fast and exciting, and Essendon had the best of the scores bare a goal only. In the last quarter they made it appear an easy win by their success in goal-kicking; D. Smith three times running almost into goal before taking his shot
A great deal of the difference between the two teams on Saturday was explained in the fact that Essendon's backs were as a body much superior to the University defenders while Essendon’s exchanges all over the field were conspicuously successful. Otherwise the University held their own in dash, in determination, in high marking, and kicking, and gave a fine, breezy, open exhibition of football. In seeking promotion to the seniors they are not in the least presumptuous. After the match there was an exchange of complements between the teams and their friends.
As far as this one game enables me to judge Essendon have a good side and I shall watch with interest their game against St. Kilda next Saturday. The three men they obtained from West Melbourne - Ryan, Minto, and Armstrong - all played well, Ryan as full-back, Minto along the wing - where his cleverness was repeatedly shown - and Armstrong wherever they placed him; though he did not shine out as he was accustomed to do in Association company. Of the last year's men Belcher was playing finely at the outset, Busbridge just as effectually in the last half, Sewart in the centre, Legge placed and roving, Londerigan from the centre forward, and Parkinson both following and in a place. The forwards I have already mentioned.
Between half a dozen men on the University side it was difficult to make a choice, but the determination and dash shown by Elliot in the ruck, where he hardly made a mistake, was a surprise to his own team A good deal was expected from the big fellow Tom and Chris Fogartty, and they had to do most of the hard work in the ruck, where the University may be able to reinforce with a little more weight in future matches. It was the third member of the family, Joe Fogartty, who played the game of the afternoon, and always probably the best man of his side, although Harry Cordner, half- forward - where his marking was first rate- Sleeman on the wing, Browning forward and in the ruck. Ted Cordner and Gray on the back lines, Ratz roving and forward and Ogilvie and Marshall in the attacking line, all played a dashing and picturesque game. Neither Barker nor Kneen played quite up to his senior reputation but both are going for their final examinations in medicine this week
Richmond’s first game - Melbourne defeated
Melbourne sent rather a weak team into the field against Richmond, for Coutie, Park, Strong, Hammond, and Nolan were all, from one cause or another, absent, and Melbourne had the misfortune to lose their new man, Holland for the match, and possibly for the season, through a serious injury to his knee. In kicking the ball he struck a tuft, and crippled himself so that he had to be carried off and his knee, placed in splints. Neither side gave in absolutely first-class exhibition of football, and it was clear that Richmond found difficulty in forgetting the association practice of not kicking the ball in the ruck, and were to some extent handicapped by it. Seeing the two teams in contrast like this, I am inclined to think that dragging the ball out of the ruck does not add either to the pace or attractiveness of the play. Although Richmond had the wind with them in the opening, quarter, they made such poor use of it, while Melbourne, on the contrary, played such a good defensive game that the Reds looked like winning. If they had not lost Holland so early in the match it would have been a much keener finish.
In the first quarter, against the wind, Melbourne got the goals and Richmond the behinds. As they went on Richmond played more strongly, and a successful eight minutes towards the close of the second quarter, when they got a cluster of three goals, put them in heart
The third was the best quarter of the day, and saw a still more decided advance in their form. Condon, their new coach, was urging them to play starting down the centre, and the effect was soon manifest. The game was inclined to be somewhat too vicious in this term, but the umpire rigorously penalised offenders till they mended their methods. When the last quarter commenced Richmond were 10 points ahead, and practically the state of the game was not altered. Richmond lasted rather better than the Reds, and just about deserved their 11 point victory. One will need to see them on a larger ground before estimating their chances in league company, but their victory on Saturday was received with the wildest enthusiasm. There were speeches before, during, and after the match.
The pick of the men in Richmond colours on Saturday were Luff on the half-back line, Heaney half-forward and following, and Megson in the centre. Four of their new men snapped very well indeed though Condon had not recovered his Collingwood form the other three were Olson, a Northcote junior, whose forward work was excellent, Burns of South Bendigo, who was first rate on the half-back line and Bourke, a Collingwood junior. Schmidt scored four of their goals, and other good performers were Hill, Lang, and Mahoney. Amongst Melbourne's novices Tottey forward and Friend following were both prominent Jones got a couple of goals, and is likely to improve, and Donaldson, from Bairnsdale, justified his trial. Their best man was probably Harris on the half-back line, though Rigby, Homan, Gardiner (who is leaving for Tasmania) Smith, and Sykes all played good football.
Title: League Clubs Commence - New Teams Afield Author: Observer /Argus Staff Writer Publisher: The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956) Date: Monday, 4 May 1908 Web: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article10678548