|V/AFL Clubs||St Kilda|
Born in Aylestone, Leicestershire, Ralph Robertson achieved substantial, if fleeting, notoriety as an exponent of a 'strange' code of football on the other side of the world, initially in Melbourne where he ventured with his family as a three year old in 1885, and later in Sydney, where his involvement was significant in helping the sport establish a toehold after a prolonged hiatus. ] Robertson's early football was played with junior club South Beach which was based in the St Kilda area. In 1899 he fronted up in the VFL with the Saints, and went on to play a total of 14 league games in two seasons. The 1901 season saw him based in Sydney where, with Australian football being in abeyance at the time, he played rugby union with a club that gloried in the name of Fitzroy. When Australian football resumed in the harbour city in 1903, Robertson was an inaugural member - and vice-captain - of East Sydney, which landed that year's premiership.
Somewhat diminutive in stature at only 171cm, Robertson, perhaps not surprisingly, played mostly as a rover, although he could also provide more than solid service across half forward or at the goalfront. A regular member of metropolitan and state representative teams, Ralph Robertson, who was once described as "one of the most scientific footballers in the state" (see footnote 1), represented New South Wales with distinction at each of the first three interstate championship series, winning a Referee Medal at Sydney in 1914. His tally of 30 interstate appearances for New South Wales has been bettered only once.
In 1909, after six seasons with East Sydney, Robertson transferred to North Shore, and enjoyed the immediate satisfaction of participating in another premiership team. He was still at the top of his game when he signed up for active war service in 1914. He died while after a mid-air collision while piloting a single-seater fighter plane over Egypt in May 1917.
In 2003, Ralph Robertson was named as one of ten inaugural members of the official Sydney AFL Hall of Fame.