Richmond's star players
CRADLED in the Richmond paddock, the Australian game of football has grown into a strong, virile sport, which, in the face of many obstacles, has developed along the lines so clearly laid down by its progenitors. Melbourne was the first team, and owes its foundation to that grand old man the late H. C. A. Harrison, "the father of the game," and his cousin the late Tommy Wills. The Richmond club soon followed, its formation, it is said, being due to the necessity of providing opposition to the pioneer club, for it takes two in football, as in all other sport, to make a match. The original Richmond club did not last long, and it was not until 1885 that the present Richmond club was established.
FOR almost 40 years the Vic torian Football Association controlled the game, but evils had crept in, and in 1897 when with wide vision, such as Alexander McCracken, C. M. Hickey, Jack Worrall, Harry Hodges (of Geelong), Charles Brownlow (also of Geelong) decided on a breakaway, carrying with them the strongest clubs, the Victorian Football League was established. Since then the Australian game has never looked back. The Victorian Football League, with its broad outlook, established the Australian National Football Council, and the unselfish attitude of its founders has produced a strong governing body intent on treating all States alike,and thousands of pounds, most of which have been contributed by Victoria, have been spent on propaganda and development.
THE representatives of the clubs remaining in the Victorian Football Association, with a courage that was admirable, carried on after the breakaway and developed the game in the outer suburbs, leaving the League a free hand among the metropolitan clubs. The men who stood by the Victorian Football Association in those dark days did a great service to the sport, and such loyalists as James Cuming and Tom Evans (Footscray), James Hall, Jack Dennis, and M. J. Fitzpatrick (Williamstown). Julius Sinn, and George Dean (Port Melbourne), James ("Tiger") Gardiner, Alf Woodham (North Melbourne), and W. A. Maybury (Richmond), defying opposition, placed the Association on a strong footing. The Association worked with the League in the interest of the game, and as occasion offered four clubs - Richmond, North Melbourne, Footscray, and Hawthorn - were promoted to the League.
IN later years the Association, growing with the development of the suburban area, has set its eyes and its heart on recovering the control of the game which its incompetence in the 'nineties had lost. Various improvements had in the past been introduced by the Association and developed by the League, but none of these affected the basic principles of the code.
THE Association in its desire for power decided on some dramatic and revolutionary alteration and struck a blow at Australian football. It refused to recognise the League or the Australian National Football Council, and by skilful and insidious propaganda assumed a position to which it was not entitled. As one of the organisations in the game, it abrogated the laws of Australian football, and thus was disloyal to the sport it was pledged to uphold. As a means to an end, its advocacy of throw-ball may be justified; but that is all. There is not one club in the Association which would hesitate for one moment if the League invited it to join. The acceptance of the invitation would, of course, involve renunciation of "throw ball." But what of that? There are more important things just now than whether a ball is to be thrown or not, and the League may be entrusted to maintain the sanctity of the laws of the game, and to so manage the game in war that when peace is restored it will hold its place as the only national sport of Australian origin.
ALTHOUGH the original Richmond club ceased to exist after a few years, there were many clubs playing in the Richmond paddock and Yarra Park preparing for the day when Richmond would have a team of its own. In 1871 a Richmond team was playing with Arthur Jerrems as captain, and two years later the Richmond Standard was formed with A. Kelso, an Old Scotch Collegian, as its leader. Each played In the Richmond paddock. Vaucluse, which later played as Warwick, Cremorne, and Richmond Imperial were some of the junior teams which kept the flag flying. It was not until 1885 that the senior club was established with Mr. James Charles as honorary secretary. From the very inception yellow and black appeared in the colours, though only in the caps. The uniform was all blue, and the caps had yellow and black stripes running from back to front. It was not long,however, before a dark blue or black guernsey with perpendicular yellow and black stripes, was adopted; although nowadays the guernsey is black with a yellow sash, and the "tiger" colours prevail.
"GEORDIE" SMITH was the first Richmond captain. He had already made a name for himself as vice-captain of Carlton, "The Footballer" describing him as "Sterling Geordie, whose excellent back play is worthy of imitation. He has rendered the club the very acme of good service." Among the players in that first year were Alf Seaxle, Fred Wookey, Jack Stewart (later captain of the side), Chris Syle, Harry Layton, Prank Crohan, Jack "Wells, Charlie Stephens, and Tom Graham. There were no permit regulations, and the secretary reported at the end of the season that he feared "the possible loss of Richmond's star players, because the stronger clubs honeycombed the weaker and enticed away the best players by the offering of honorariums," and added, "I hope that none of the Richmond team will lower themselves by accepting bribes of any sort, but manfully decline them and play for the honour and love of the game."
AFTER two years Jack Stewart replaced "Geordie" Smith as captain, but in 1888 the veteran was in charge again, with new players in Harry Eldridge, "Bolivar" Powell, "Toots" O'Loghlin, "Billy" Brown (from Adelaide), Jim Shore, and "Tot" Reddan, a brilliant wing man. "Billy" Brown, who in one match kicked five goals in six shots, won the cup for the best forward in the game. While the team was being strengthened by recruits from the clubs in the park more seasoned players were also enlisted, notably Walter Warren, from Williams town, and Winks, a New Zealand Rugby player.
IN 1890 "Jimmy" Eastman, later "The Australasian" photographer, was secretary, and Ned Burwood was captain. Professionalism was not recognised in those days, and Richmond refused to pay the players surreptitiously, as did other teams, and thus "The Tigers" did not acquire any of the leading players. For the following year, however, its juniors, Charlie Backhouse, one of the best centre men in the game, and Jimmy Parker, a follower from Ivanhoe, were gathered in, and their influence on the team was most marked for many years. Jim O'Halloran, afterwards an interstate cricketer, was the first Richmond player to be chosen to represent Victoria in football. He was a splendid back-man and a very long kick.
"BOLIVAR" POWELL returned from South Melbourne in 1892, bringing with him Dinny McKay and "Diver" Dunn. Fred Egglestone, now a well known public man, and Rupe Speary, of Wesley College, had transferred from St. Kilda, and George ("Sugar") Sparrow, who later played a great part; Dave Elder, and Tom Deane also joined. In 1893 Jack Stewart was captain again, only to be succeeded by Charlie Backhouse, and Billy Lafifan from the Vaucluse club, and P. AIlsopp, from Camberwell, made names for themselves as forwards.
FREQUENT changes in the team prevented anything like a good combination being developed. We find such fine players as Charlie ("Fishy") Taylor, Chris Bahen, Tim Howard, and Jimmy O'Meara (from South Melbourne), Alex. Digby, Harry Dickens, Dick Kelly, who also played for Melbourne, among the stars in those days which led up to the formation of the League from which Richmond was excluded as not being up to standard.
THE struggle in the Association was strenuous, but at last in 1902 the first premiership was won. Charlie Backhouse played long enough to see his ambition reached. In leading up to that success such players as Barlow Carkeek (the Australian Eleven wicket-keeper), Hector Milne, Ernie Rudd, Archie McNair (a great follower), "Dodger" Lott, Dave and Tom Watson, Alex. Edmonds, Charlie Curtis (from Carlton), "Rich" Pirrie (from Melbourne), Ernie Vollugi, Jack Cathie, "Chook" Davidson, Prank King, and Phil McGuire did yeoman service.
RICHMOND'S long climb ended in 1902, when Alex. Edmonds led the side to victory and the premiership. Percy Gibb (afterwards a Collingwood stalwart), Archie Richardson, Tom Gault, Ernie Justins, Archie McNair, Barlow Carkeek, and the two veterans Charlie Backhouse and "Fishy" Taylor, Joe Justins, Ernie McDonald, Jim Douglas, and Jack Cathie were the leading players. Richmond was second to North Melbourne in 1903 and 1904, but regained the premiership in 1905. In 1903 the side was strengthened by the inclusion of "Mallee" Johnson (later of Carlton) and Jack Hutchinson (the crack goal-kicker from Port Melbourne). Other recruits who were to be famous were Charlie Ricketts, from Geelong, who subsequently went to South Melbourne, Arthur Cleghorn, and particularly noted players were Stewart Geddes, Sam Hore, Ernie Ruddock, and Arthur Brennan. In 1905, , although "Mallee" Johnson had gone to Carlton, Tom Watson to Melbourne, Stewart Geddes to St. Hilda, and Archie Richardson and Ernie Rudd had retired, a thoroughly reorganised team regained the premiership. Ted Brown (from Port Melbourne), Ted Leach (from Melbourne), Harry Rigby (from Carlton), and Bill Lacey and Eddie Willaims (the boxers) had filled some of the vacancies.
ARTHUR CLEGHORN became captain in 1906, and Mr. Andrew Manzie was the secretary. Charlie Ricketts had transferred to South Melbourne, and Richmond thus lost a most brilliant player and leader. Tom Heaney, from Fitzroy, one of those men who on his day is unbeatable, was an acquisition, and Billy Mahoney improved so much that the loss of Ricketts was greatly minimised. Alex Edmonds had resigned the captaincy, and Charlie Pannam, the Collingwood wing champion, father of Albert, the present Collingwood rover, succeeded him. New men in the colours that year were Billy Schmidt and Len Incigneri.
THEN came the return to the League, and with such champions as Charlie Pannam as captain and Dick Condon, perhaps the cleverest player of many generations, as coach, modelling the side on Collingwood lines, "The Tigers" were given a good start. Jack Hardiman was vice-captain, and the side included such splendid players as Billy Burns, Jack Megson, Ted Ohlsen, and others. The team won six matches in its first season and justified its inclusion in the League.
THE year 1909 saw the arrival at Richmond of Bernie Herbert, destined to become a sheet anchor of the club as player, leader, and president. His 30 years of service were outstanding. Another newcomer was Bon Bowden, one of the best wing men the game has known. Ivo Lawson had taken over the captaincy and did his work well. Just then there came on the scene one of the finest players who ever wore the colours, Hughie James, and with him arrived Frank McCashney. Each year saw new "cubs" in the Tigers' lair, Vic Thorp, Percy Maybury. and Lou Wilson, Mick McGuire. I recall Percy Maybury's first game. It was against Melbourne and was sensational. Just then Syd Reeves was a brilliant man.
NO reference to Richmond would be complete without special mention of the wonderful ruck - Bernie Herbert, Dave Moffatt, and Clarrie Hall. The game had developed so that there was a shepherder in the ruck, and that unenviable task fell to the lot of Dave Moffatt, whose great strength and determination fitted him peculiarly for the task. His strenuous work made the task of Bernie Herbert, whom he protected, and Clarrie Hall, who did the scouting, comparatively easy. Not till recent years, when Percy Bentley, Jack Dyer, and Ray Martin formed the Richmond ruck, was Richmond so well represented.
AND SO we trace the growth of Richmond up to the first League premiership gained in 1920. "Checker" Hughes, now the Melbourne coach; "Son" Thomas, Billy Nolan, Arthur Bettles and Reg Hede, Arthur Danks, Alex Eason, George Bayliss, Frank Huggard, Max Hislop, Jimmy Smith. Donald Don, Bob Carew, and Bob Weatherill all come to my mind as I recall the men who played just before the Great War and after it, and led up to the first premiership in 1920. Dan Minogue, after six years' play with Collingwood and some time of war service, had become captain and coach, and associated with him, in addition to those I have mentioned, were Gerald Rush, Frank Harley, Snowy Mcintosh, from Western Australia; Stan Morris, Billy Mahoney, who had taken up the game again, and George Ogilvie, from Echuca. It was natural that such a strong team should carry on, and in 1921 the premier ship was retained. Mel Morris, now a well-known broadcaster, made his debut that year, and Norman Turnbull was also included for the first time.
TWO remarkable players came into the Tiger country in 1922 - George Rudolph, a match winner, and, it may be said, a match loser, and Doug Hayes, one of those pocket Hercules who work so hard; and still another was the country player, Alan Mclsaacs, but it was not until 1932 that the premiership was regained.
ONCE more we come on a period of failure, in which individuals shine out. Keith Millar, a most capable player on' his day, but not consistent; Bob McCaskell, Basil McConnack, a dashing half-back; Tom O'Halloran and AlanGeddes, one of the most scientific players, who never wasted a kick, came to the fore in that period. In 1925 Percy Bentley made his debut, and last Saturday, when he played his 250th game for Richmond, he was one of the best men on the ground. A year later saw Bert Boromeo, of Carlton; "Dooley" Lilburne, from Brighton; Jackie James, from St. Kilda; and Harry Weidner, from Warragul; and then came Jack Baggott, now coach at South Melbourne, who, after being a champion half-forward, became even a greater half-back, in which position he completely overshadowed "Mickey" Crisp, of Carlton, whenever they met. Joe Murdoch, Jack Fincher, Don Harris, Bill Benton, Jack Bissett, Stan Judkins, the Brownlow Medallist; Maurice Sheahan, the full back; Jack Titus, the evergreen, still playing; Bert Foster, Maurice Hunter, from Albury; Kevin O'Neill, Douglas and Gordon Strang, Eric Zschech, Jack Dyer, Martin Bolger, Ray Martin all led up to the premierships of 1932 and 1935. Some of them played in that team, and others laid the foundations. The club has reason to be grateful to its old players, who are always welcome at Punt road.
THIS has been a hurried survey of Richmond players in all its history. It will serve to remind you of great players who have worn the Tiger colours and worn them with credit. You will, perhaps, wish to compare them with the Tigers of to-day.
Title: Richmond's star players
Author: Old Boy
Publisher: The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic: 1864-1946)
Date: Saturday, 8 Jun 1940, p.14 (Article)