1911 revisited: Round 4
One Hundred Years Ago: Round 4, May 20, 1911
The Carlton Football Club was founded in 1864, and from its earliest days its vigorous approach to the game drew the description ‘wild men...not particularly observant of the rules’ from observers of a more genteel inclination. The events of this day would do nothing to change such perceptions.
In a period not short of controversy Carlton had raised football turmoil to an art form. Following a premiership hat-trick under Jack Worrall, the club had contrived to split in 1909 over player payments and personal differences. When a Reform group overthrew Worrall as secretary before the 1910 season, key players ‘Silver’ Caine (right), ‘Mallee’ Johnson, Charlie Hammond and Fred Jinks walked out in sympathy - going on to play in a VFA premiership at North Melbourne that year.
If that wasn’t enough, a spiteful round four game in 1910 ended with triple premiership player George Topping knocking a South Melbourne player unconscious, provoking a crowd invasion. Topping was subsequently suspended until 1912. Then, on the eve of the finals, comes the gambling scandal which sees another two players suspended for five years. Despite all this, Carlton made it to the Grand Final for the fifth successive time - losing to Collingwood in a brawl of a match, which resulted in two more lengthy suspensions for Navy Blue players.
It all makes you wonder how it came to be South Melbourne who were known as the Bloods.
After two draws and a narrow loss to start 1911, the dominant team of the last five years faced University, still in search of a win. Things weren’t going to plan. Champion Blues centreman Rod McGregor (left) was left stunned and largely ineffective after an early collision with a teammate. Bert Hartkopf was back for the Students, Jack Brake was starring, and having led all day University were still three points to the good at three-quarter time.
We can only speculate as to the mood in the Carlton camp at the final break. Doubtless it wasn’t pleasant. Coaches were not yet allowed onto the ground to address players. Indeed, most clubs had not long had a coach at all. However, Carlton coach Fred ‘Pompey’ Elliot was also captain. If any conscious decisions were made, it was amongst the players. Perhaps there was just an unconscious accumulation of tensions.
Early in the final quarter one of the Students’ better players on the day, Vic Trood, gathered the ball and kicked downfield. The Argus’ Observer offered a description of what followed: ‘the two Carlton men closed on each side of him. An arm shot up to his jaw, with a deliberate upper-cut, and Trood simply fell as if he were dead and was carried off the ground.’
There was concern for Trood’s welfare. This being a University match, three doctors were quickly on hand to tend to him. Slowly, he came to in the change rooms. A sick and sorry Trood was quoted a few days later as saying "I have no idea what struck me, but it could have been a cable tram". After missing a week, he resumed playing.
The repercussions of the incident lingered longer.
Following the clash, Carlton kicked four goals to none to record their first win. University were outraged. Their secretary J.A. Seitz wrote to Carlton declining the scheduled return match in round 13 unless the players involved were left out.
This created an issue. Though he offered description of the incident, Observer also added: 'the remarkable thing is that amongst the hundreds of spectators who saw the incident there were only a few who could absolutely say who the offender was'. The crowd at the MCG that day was a low 2664, but opinions as to who was the culprit were divided. The umpire also claimed to miss the incident. No football charge would be laid.
Carlton seized on this to refute University’s demand. In any case, ‘they would decide who was to represent the club without any input from outside and they would happily accept a forfeit.’
Martin Gotz and Alex Barningham were eventually identified as being involved. By the following Thursday University had arranged summons for assault against Gotz, a veteran of four grand finals and known for ‘belligerence’ out on the ground. Within a month he was found guilty and fined £10 with £5/5 costs. Owing to the contradictory evidence of witnesses, Gotz eventually won an appeal against conviction in August.
While his old team caused drama at the MCG, Jack Worrall’s new side was having a day to remember just up the road at the East Melbourne Cricket Ground. Unimpressive in perfect conditions the previous week, Essendon put on a dazzling display of team football in the drizzle against Collingwood. 'All their eighteen were taking an active and useful share in the match' as they romped away from a stunned Magpie side to win 21.12.138 to 7.11.53 in front of an alternately delighted or shell-shocked crowd of 15,000.
Amongst the many Essendon goal scorers, Bert Armstrong led the way with six, brother Lou (right) starred in the middle with three, Percy Ogden kicked four and Paddy Shea three. Collingwood, who were credited with playing reasonable football also, saw veteran Ted Rowell kick three, whilst McHale, Baxter and Gibb fought against an overwhelming tide.
To give proper perspective to this performance, it was only the third score of 20 goals since the VFL began, and the first for 10 years. It was the first score of 100 points Collingwood had conceded, making them the last team to do so. Essendon at one stage kicked 12 consecutive goals without a miss, which was unsurpassed until 1929. Scoring accuracy for the league across the season was only 42%.
With this performance Worrall’s Same Olds seemed to announce something entirely new in the making.
Contrasting with elsewhere, 'the game was free from undue roughness or feeling'. In what many would consider an atypical observation, 'Collingwood took their crushing defeat like men'.
Corio Oval would have seemed a comparative haven, albeit a showery one this day, as Geelong hosted Richmond. Missing Joe Slater, Geelong matched it with the Tigers in the first half before getting away in the third term to eventually register a 13 point win. Percy Martini (left) kicked four goals, with his place-kicking again a feature, whist Observer found it ‘monotonous’ to again have to declare Dick Grigg best afield. The Eason brothers, Alec and Bill, were also prominent, whilst fullback Neil Freeman 'saved Geelong again and again'. The win saw the Pivotonians climb to third.
Richmond found the wet conditions unconducive to their preferred run and short-pass game. Bob Bowden strived tirelessly on a wing, while Mick Maguire and Billy Schmidt stood out with two goals apiece.
Melbourne travelled to the Lake Oval and produced an improved effort against South Melbourne, leading at quarter time by seven points. Thereafter, the Bloods showed themselves 'a fairly even lot afield’ and too good overall, reclaiming the lead and going on to record a 26-point victory. Forwards Fred Carpenter (right, four goals) and Len Mortimer (three) proved decisive, as did winger Jim Caldwell, ruck Vic Belcher and defender Jack Scobie.
The Fuchsia’s were best served by diminutive (165 cm, 65 kg) winger Bill McKenzie and skipper Vin Coutie, who again led their goal tally with three.
The round’s final game was at Brunswick St, where an 8,000 crowd of mainly Fitzroy supporters confidently 'thought it a good thing' for a win over the Saints. Despite atrocious kicking for goal, their expectations were met with a 10.24 to 4.6 win. Skipper Harold ‘Lal’ McLennan led the way for the Maroons in the middle, well supported by Percy Parratt and second gamer Tom Reardon. Prodigal son Chris Kiernan contributed four goals, while teammate Bob Rahilly 'aroused the love of crowds for record breaking by hitting the post four times. He spoilt his record by putting the ball between the posts twice without touching either pole'.
St Kilda captain Harry Lever kicked out 24 times and his drop-kicks 'on each occasion sailed well into the centre of the ground'. As Saints fullback in this era, Lever would have had plenty of practice at kicking out. His career would span from 1905 to 1922, totalling 218 games. As befits the relatively position based style of the time, he only snuck forward for six goals in all that time. Recruited from Brighton, he overcame a workplace accident which cost him two fingers to be 'a totally reliable full back' over a long period for a club with more downs than ups. His St Kilda games record lasted for half a century.
Essendon and South Melbourne sat clear atop the ladder, both with thumping percentages, at the conclusion of a round which left ramifications for some time to come.
Round 4 results:
|University||3.2 5.4 6.5 6.8||44||Sat 20-May-1911 3:00 PM Att: 2,664 Venue: M.C.G.|
|Carlton||1.2 3.5 5.8 9.11||65||Carlton won by 21 pts|
|Essendon||5.5 7.10 14.11 21.12||138||Sat 20-May-1911 3:00 PM Venue: East Melbourne|
|Collingwood||3.2 4.5 6.6 7.11||53||Essendon won by 85 pts|
|Fitzroy||3.5 5.11 6.18 10.24||84||Sat 20-May-1911 3:00 PM Venue: Brunswick St|
|St Kilda||1.1 3.3 3.6 4.6||30||Fitzroy won by 54 pts|
|Geelong||1.3 4.5 7.10 8.12||60||Sat 20-May-1911 3:00 PM Venue: Corio Oval|
|Richmond||1.1 4.4 5.8 6.11||47||Geelong won by 13 pts|
|South Melbourne||2.3 6.7 10.9 12.13||85||Sat 20-May-1911 3:00 PM Venue: Lake Oval|
|Melbourne||3.4 4.6 6.8 8.11||59||South Melbourne won by 26 pts|
|ROUND 4, 1911 LADDER|
For further 1911 season details, click here.
This is an updated version of an article that first appeared on the www.footyalmanac.com.au website.
- Encyclopedia of AFL/VFL Footballers: Russell Holmesby & Jim Main
- The Old Dark Navy Blues: Lionel Frost
- 100 Years of Australian Football: ed. John Ross
- Up Where, Cazaly? : Leonie Sandercock & Ian Turner
- The Argus
- AFL Tables