The demise of University in the VFL
With war having broken out in Europe, the close of the 1914 VFL season brought with it the demise of University as a League club. Below is a sample of articles from the newspapers of the day, revealing their 'take' on the fall of a club that had joined in 1908.
The Herald's Kickero reported that the VFL might not adopt a motion to invite VFA club North Melbourne to fill the breach, suggesting each week's 'bye' club could be sent to play in the country. Meanwhile Pivot was keen to point out that The Age had indeed forecast University's withdrawal weeks earlier, in a piece that has somewhat of a 'We told you so' feel.
In The Leader, Amateur analysed the reasons for the club's failure and intimated the club could have learnt from the administrators of its Sydney counterpart. The Argus reported on the official communication to the VFL of the withdrawal, with League president Alex McCracken presenting a much more conciliatory tone. He thanked the club for its courage and said it was retiring from the VFL "with honour".
– Andrew Gigacz
UNIVERSITY WITHDRAWS – MEN TO JOIN MELBOURNE CLUB
For years the University- football team has performed indifferently in the field and it has been admitted at last that the position is untenable. The decision has been arrived at that the club shall withdraw from the League, and this will he communicated to the League at its next meeting. The position was placed before the players recently, and they were asked if they would he prepared to join forces with the Melbourne Club. They agreed, and last night a conference was held between representatives of tho University and Melbourne Clubs.
The whole matter was discussed, and a satisfactory agreement made. The question now arises us to whether the North Melbourne Club will be taken into the league. Some time ago Alderman A. Crichton gave notice of his intention to move that they be invited to become a League team.
Some of the delegates, however, are not favorably disposed to consider the proposal, and prefer to carry on the League with nine clubs. This they hold will enable them to further the policy of improving the game in the country districts, as the team which will not be engaged in a premiership match in Melbourne would he sent into the country towns to play against local combinations.
UNIVERSITY WITHDRAW FROM THE LEAGUE
There will probably be an amalgamation with the Melbourne club. The vacancy in the League is not likely to be filled, thus allowing for a bye for each of the nine clubs. This phase of the matter has yet to be discussed. Melbourne may take up the University (Metropolitan) team, and allow it to practice on the Melbourne ground.
The decision of the University club to withdraw from the League is not unexpected, as, for the last two seasons rumors of the impending retirement have been continuously circulated. It is understood that the authorities of the Alma Mater have a strong distaste to the Students participating in a professional game, which is only natural, for the University in other parts of the world is looked upon as the genesis of amateur sport.
This is one of the reasons why the University club has never bean permitted to play League matches on its own oval, and, consequently, has had to seek a foreign ground. The Students opened their League career on the East Melbourne ground, but after being domiciled there for two or three seasons, they shifted their headquarters to the Melbourne ground.
After doing fairly well at Jolimont, they have failed completely to show any class on the field on the Melbourne ground, and on their recent form cannot be said to be fit for League company from a playing point of view. Personally, one is disappointed at the defection, for the influence of a big University should be wholesome and beneficial to any form of sport.
Both in cricket and football our Alma Mater has never achieved its rightful place, and in spite of a big sports union only a flagging interest is taken in these major games. The Sydney University Football and Cricket Clubs are live institutions, possessing one of the finest grounds in the Queen City, and take a leading part both in the administration and practical work of football and cricket. Wake up, Melbourne!
The League has arrived at no decision as to filling the vacancy, but already one hears of many willing and eager candidates for the position. A rumor is current that the League will not include another club, but the team having the bye will play in the provinces. But a country 'gate' cannot compare with a metropolitan one, and in a professional game the monetary aspect looms large.
The Association premiers, North Melbourne seem to have the biggest claim to inclusion, both on their recent record and the fine and conveniently-situated ground possessed by them, which is easily the pick of the Association grounds.
EXIT UNIVERSITY. FOOTBALL LEAGUE RETIREMENT
The University Football Club some weeks ago decided to retire from the Victorian Football League. This decision was formally communicated to the League at its meeting yesterday evening. Professors Baldwin Spencer (president) and T. R. Lyle (vice-president) attended and explained the position of the University club.
Professor Spencer said that the decision had only been come to after careful consideration. They felt that the only course for the club was to withdraw. They could always put a number of first-class men in the field, but to maintain a high standard was beyond them. Examinations came in the middle of the season, and men could not give football the preference.
It was important for the University to keep their men together, in view of inter-university matches. They had therefore approached one club with a view to getting University men to play with that club, and had made informal arrangements to that end. They did not look forward to ever being able to re-enter the League, but wished to thank that body for the kindness and courtesy the club had always received. (Applause.)
Professor Lyle endorsed what Professor Spencer had said, and added that it was not for want of work, but on account of the peculiar circumstances that they had to retire. They thought it was not fair to the public or the League to go on.
The president of the League (Mr. Alexander McCracken) regretted the retirement of the University. They realised the difficulties, and could justly say that it was a retirement with honour. The club was to be congratulated on its courage. It had often had to fight a forlorn hope, but had never failed to place a team in the field.
The League will hold a special meeting to deal with the formal retirement of the University club. It was decided to thank the University for its assistance to the game, and to express the regret of the League at the retirement of the club.
Title: University Withdraws
Date: Thursday 17 September 1914, page 9
Publisher: Herald (Melbourne, Vic. : 1861 - 1954),
Title: University Withdraw From the League
Date: Friday 18 September 1914, page 11
Publisher: Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954)
Title: Football Gossip
Date: Saturday 26 September 1914, page 19
Publisher: Leader (Melbourne, Vic. : 1862 - 1918, 1935)
Title: Exit University
Author: Staff Writer
Date: Saturday 17 October 1914, page 22
Publisher: Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957)