The Bloods' triumph in 1933
Striking evidence of the appeal of Australian football was given at the Melbourne Cricket-ground on Saturday, when a record attendance of 75,754 people, who paid £4,070 for admittance, saw the League grand final match between South Melbourne and Richmond. So dense was the crowd that ambulance men were kept busy, and in more than one spot the fence around the arena was in danger of collapsing.
South Melbourne won the premiership decisively. It is the club's first pennant since 1918, and it was well earned. As a matter of hard fact, South virtually won the premiership by overwhelming Richmond in the semi-final of a fortnight earlier. Had Richmond succeeded then it would not have had to suffer the hard buffeting of the men from Geelong, it would not have lost players through injury and disqualification, and the team as a whole would doubtless have been more virile than it was on Saturday.
In the absence of Doug Strang, Hunter, and McConchie, Richmond's forward lines were ragged—the chief point of failure. But South Melbourne was the better team of the day—faster, more vigorous, more confident—in practically all parts of the field, and never once lost the lead gained early in the game. Richmond, however, fought stoutly to the end. It was a gallant finishing effort on the part of a brilliant body of footballers who, after setting a high standard for the other teams to live up to right throughout the season, had the worst of the luck at the wrong time.
Remembering how Richmond caught them napping in the early stages of the semi-final, South Melbourne players jumped away smartly at the beginning. After a long shot by Diggins had missed, four points were scored in quick succession, one from a quick snap by Brain, the next from a place shot by Reville, the third from a punt by Bertram and the fourth from a left foot snap by Brain. It was clear enough already that both sides were tensely keyed up—there was much scrambling play, the drop-kicking was poor, and the forwards were flurried.
One of O'Halloran's towering marks helped Titus to Richmond's first behind, and clever play on the part of Bowe enabled Pratt to snap another for South. O'Neill, dashing and resolute beat off a further Southern attack but a driving kick by Reville made position again and Diggins waiting outside a pack, snapped South's first goal with his left foot. The presence of Reville at centre half-forward meant much to South now—he was hampering Murdoch and doing something on his own account.
From Reville in a tussle near the centre the ball went to Brain and a poor kick was snapped up by Pratt for an easy second goal. In a quick Richmond rally Titus got his second point; but then the brisk left foot of Clarke became active and his centre colleague, Thomas, dashed down finely and drop-kicked South's third goal. The quarter ended with unusually poor figures for Richmond, the scores being 3.5 to 2 points in South's favour.
Fine marking, poor kicking
With just a little more "ginger" early in the second term Richmond might have wiped out the deficit. But both Martin and Foster failed with free kicks within range, and the strong South back line started the speedy Clarke off again. A heavy tussle in front followed, and Reville, shrewdly waiting on the edge of the crush, snapped South's fourth goal. The dashing Thomas, who was outpointing Zschech in the centre, ran on another behind, but then Dyer, McCormack, and Geddes broke away, and Farmer emphasised his return to Richmond's team by smartly snapping a much needed first goal.
South supporters groaned when the usually reliable Reville dropped a pass and let O'Neill break away, but they changed to cheers when at the other end, Nash flew over Gordon Strang for a beautiful one-handed mark. Strang, however, got his own back soon afterwards by beating Nash aloft, and getting Richmond's second goal with a splendid drop-kick—perhaps the best distance goal he has ever kicked. South responded promptly and with interest. Diggins adding a point and Brain snapping a smart fifth goal when Pratt was crowded. Beard caused further rejoicing among South supporters by marking over Strang, and when Bisset drove forward Pratt added sixth goal with one of his soaring punts.
In the last few minutes of the quarter two Richmond shots failed, Bentley kicking poorly for a point, and O'Halloran shooting wretchedly after a fine mark. Thus, South Melbourne was 28 points ahead at half time: 6.7 to 2.3.
Realising that the premiership was slipping from their grasp, Richmond players began the third quarter with a determination not far removed from desperation. But they could not get past the high-flying Nash in those attacks—he stopped no fewer than four in succession. It was due to the impetus of Nash, reinforced by Reville and O'Meara, that Diggins was able to snap South's seventh goal. Then Austin took a turn at monopolising the honours of South's back line—he, too beat off successive attacks chiefly led by Dyer—and Thomas and O'Meara helped Pratt to a further point. During the next few minutes, the shooting became poorer than ever. Kelleher and Pratt both failed badly, and at the other end Titus usually an accurate kick, drove the ball out of bounds from a shot in front.
It was clear enough that the test temperament which is alleged to pervade the Melbourne Cricket Ground had eluded the forwards on both sides. However, in the next Richmond started by Martin and Zschech, Farmer got third goal with a splendid angle shot, and at the other end, Diggins went close enough to hit a post. Pratt failed again when he received a hand-pass two yards in front of goal—he delayed just long enough to allow his kick to be diverted—but Brain made no mistake when given a free kick a little further out.
Fighting on, Richmond battered against the Austin-Nash-Faul barrier, but again the attack failed through wretched kicking. Bentley’s shot going out of bounds. At the last change, therefore, Richmond were still further behind, the scores being: 8.12 to 3.3.
The last quarter was something of a formality, for the match and the premiership were virtually in South’s hands. Both the nature of the scores and the nature of the play indicated that. Nevertheless, Richmond battled doggedly, and the play was interesting if only as an exhibition of stamina and pluck. South’s chief desire at this stage, apart from the repressing of Richmond, was to help Pratt to beat Gordon Coventry’s record of 108 goals for the season. Pratt himself was strongly in favour of this ambition, but Sheahan kept him well in hand, and when he did break loose eagerness caused him usually to fall over or kick erratically.
Meanwhile, in a last desperate attempt to make good, Bentley had put O’Neil on as rover, and he helped Martin to Richmond’s fourth goal. Further Richmond attacks were turned by the beautiful marking of Nash and Thomas, and then Pratt scored successively a point and a goal. The secured with the second kick gave him the record and he was loudly cheered by the crowd and congratulated by players, notably his opponent, Sheahan. In the last few hectic minutes Matthews snapped a point, Reville struck a post (South’s third hit), and Pratt kicked the final behind that left Richmond 42 points in arrears.
Best players and Goal kickers
Once again South’s back line was a splendid barrier. Nash marked brilliantly all day, Austin was a good second, and Faul, McLaughlin (until Hurt), McKay, and McKenzie were all sound. Thomas was at his clever best to beat Zschech in the centre, and Bowe, Clarke, O’Meara, Diggins, Reville, Brain, Matthews and Bisset all played well.
Possibly the best men on the Richmond side were the tall Dyer (whether following or placed), the consistent O’Neil in a back pocket, Martin as rover, and McCormack and Murdoch at half-back. Strang and O’Halloran marked finely on many occasions, and Sheahan. Bolger, Zschech, and Geddes worked hard.
Goalkickers (South Melbourne): Pratt (3), Diggins (2), Brain (2), Thomas, Reville.
Goalkickers (Richmond): Farmer (2), Martin, Strang.
The central umpire, R. Scott, who did very well, was cheered as he left the field.
‘Old Boy’s’ Match summary
South Melbourne won the premiership of Victorian football by a decisive victory over Richmond on Saturday, on the Melbourne cricket ground, in a match in which every man in South's uniform gave of his best. Last season South Melbourne won its first 10 games and then failed before Collingwood. It just scraped into the final round and was defeated in the first semi-final, Collingwood again proving its undoing. Early in the season of 1932 the premiership seemed to be within the grasp of South Melbourne, and it was a great disappointment when the side broke down. This year it took a long time for the team to settle down and Mr Dick Mullally, the secretary, who had set his heart on gaining the flag, was in despair.
With the matches played there had been five defeats. They knew at South Melbourne that they had the material if only it could be used to the best advantage. Jack Bissett, the captain and coach, had set himself the task of making even man pull his weight. Gradually the links were welded into one complete chain, and as success after success followed, confidence was restored. South Melbourne players knew the ability of Richmond, and they realised that they must carry out their plan of campaign to the latter.
There was a slight setback when Richmond won the toss, and thus had first use of the breeze, which favoured the side attacking the goal nearest Punt road. But this only served as an extra incentive to South Melbourne and from the first bounce it was evident to the vast attendance that South was desperately in earnest. Its pace and determination were most convincing and though in its anxiety it wasted chances, the side made it patent that it was more than a match for Richmond. Whether the wind was as much in favour of the team defending the railway goal as the flags on the stands seemed to indicate I do not know, but 8 goals 16 behinds were scored at the windward end and only 5 goals 6 behinds at the other.
The further the game proceeded the more evident it became that South Melbourne was the master side, and even had Richmond been at full strength it is doubtful whether it could have held the flying southerners. All over the field there were star performers, and although such men as O'Neill and Martin played at their very top they could not stem the tide. It was apparent that South Melbourne was well worthy of the premiership.
There may be those who will say that that great Carlton team which won the premiership in 1906-7-8, or the Collingwood heroes of 1927 to 1930, or even going farther back to the Geelong teams between 1878 and 1884, or the South Melbourne teams of 1888 to 1890, or the Essendon sides of 1891 to 1894, with three premierships and one championship were better than the South Melbourne team of 1933, but the form of South Melbourne in the last three months has been of a very high standard and when in the future teams are being compared, Bissett and his men must be given a high place. Sheer merit won the game against Richmond a fortnight ago and gave South Melbourne the victory and the premiership on Saturday.
Richmond seems fated to fill second place. Six times in the last 10 years it has been the runner-up and only once has it won the premiership in that period. If ever its supporters were justified in hoping for the pennant it was this year when, at the end of the home and home matches it was at the head of the list. South Melbourne, however, had been coming along, swinging into a definite system. Adding to the skill of individuals a combination which bound the side into one complete unit, and developing extraordinary pace, combined with sound stamina, South Melbourne became a force to be recognised and—for Richmond—to be feared. Geelong too seemed to come to its best in the second round and went close to reaching the grand final but Richmond, rising to a great occasion snatched the final game from the fire and earned the right to meet South Melbourne on Saturday.
The victory of Richmond over Geelong was dearly bought, for Douglas Strang, one of the men who had made that success possible, was disqualified, and another the ever-adroit Maurice Hunter, was injured, and with another of its sturdy followers, Fritz Heifner also under disqualification, the side was much weakened. It was Hunter that the team missed most. Without him, the side lacked that extra bit of experience and cleverness just outside the packs, and that quick snap shooting which was absent from Saturday. Hunter has an uncanny knack of finding Jack Titus who given the opportunity is a match winner. On Saturday there was no one to feed him and although young Farmer was brought into the team as substitute for Hunter he lacked the experience of a grand final, and had not played for many weeks. He played well but the task was too great.
The Richmond selectors, realising the weakness in their team in front of the centre, in desperation made alterations in the disposition of their forces. They brought Jack Baggott from defence to the half-forward line and the change proved the undoing of the side. Baggott used to play half-forward but brilliant footballer as he undoubtedly is he was upset by the move and when at the end of the first quarter he was sent back to his old position he had been thrown out of his stride. Foster, who had been out of action for some weeks owing to injury was short of match practice and could not pace it with his faster rivals, and in the end Kevin O’Neil had to be brought into the pack and this move further reduced the efficiency of the defence. Richmond players still bore the marks of their great struggle against Geelong, and from the first were out paced, out bumped, and out generallled by South Melbourne, which playing magnificent football, triumphed at all points and won very easily.
Mr R. Mullally, the South Melbourne secretary, was the players’ representative on the committee in 1918 when South won its last premiership, and he has been a constant supporter. Mr L. H. O’Brien, now secretary of the league, was also on that committee. Among those in the South Melbourne room on Saturday was Bill Daly, now the club’s timekeeper, who was a member of the team of 1918. He had with him his premiership cap, and before the match placed it on Jack Bissett’s head for luck. Another member of the team of 1918 present was Artie Wood who came from Horsham especially for the match. Of the others, two who have never wavered in support of the club, Messrs L. M. Thompson and Les Naylor, were among the most delighted. Then there was Jack Marshall, who has been trainer ever since 1886 and has had through his hands every premiership team at South Melbourne for 50 years.
The South Melbourne team went straight from the Melbourne Cricket Ground in two char-a-bancs to the South Melbourne Town Hall, where the players and officials were congratulated on behalf of the citizens by Councillor Parry, acting for the mayor (Councillor Wallace), who is in hospital.
As the town hall was crowded the speeches were made from the steps and there was a crowd of 5,000 in the street. Then the players were entertained at dinner at the Queen’s Bridge Hotel, where the president (Councillor Archie Crofts) congratulated them. The captain (Jack Bissett) thanked the president and said that when the team reached the final four he had been confident of winning the premiership. Every man had done his share, but Laurie Nash had been a match winner.
Councillor R. Nuzum and Councillor H. Layfield congratulated the officials and trainers on whose behalf Messrs J. Rohan and J. Howard responded. After dinner the players went to the Tivoli Theatre and were presented to the audience from the stage. The next move was to tour Richmond and then the party returned to the training rooms which were thronged, while 3,000 to 4,000 persons waited in the park.
Yesterday morning the celebrations were renewed at the South Melbourne cricket ground. There were representatives of Richmond, Carlton, Collingwood, Fitzroy, North Melbourne and Hawthorn, and dozens of speeches were made.
Councillor Crofts (the South Melbourne president) has invited the players and officials to a smoke social in the supper room of the South Melbourne Town Hall on Thursday evening. Owing to limited accommodation the invitation list had to be curtailed, and only invited guests will be admitted.
Richmond had prepared an evening of jollification but it fell somewhat flat. The players were entertained at dinner at the Port Phillip Club Hotel where speeches were made and the team received sympathy in its defeat. After dinner a dance was held in the pavilion and at 11 p m a special gala performance was given at the Globe Theatre Church street. Afterwards, the players were entertained by Mr A. Beckerley who presented each player and trainer with an engraved souvenir ashtray.
Brownlow medal presented
During the half time interval at the premiership match on Saturday Wilfred Smallhorn, the Fitzroy wing player, was presented by the president of the League (Dr W.C. McClelland) with the Brownlow medal for 1933. The ceremony took place in the centre of the arena with South Melbourne and Richmond players forming an interested triangle. Dr McClelland referred to the services rendered to the game by the late Charles Brownlow, in whose memory the medal was struck and he cordially congratulated Smallhorn on the sound play and sound sportsmanship that had gained him the medal. Smallhorn smiled his appreciation and the assembled players cheered him.
Attendance and receipts
The attendance was a record for any football or cricket ground in Australia, the turnstiles registering 75,734 admittances while the receipts were £4,070/1/5. It is remarkable that the count on such an occasion should have been so prompt and so accurate, and the staff at the Melbourne Cricket Club is to be congratulated. The previous record attendance was on the Sydney Cricket ground where on June 6 1932, 70,204 persons attended a Rugby Test match between England and Australia. The receipts at that match amounted to more than £6,000 but the prices were 4/ and 2/ and there were no free tickets.
The comparative figures for Melbourne are:
Many residents of the country travelled in special football trains to Melbourne on Saturday. Those who travelled from Dimboola left long before dawn on Saturday and arrived back at their homes about four hours after dawn on Sunday. From stations between Wangaratta and Seymour, there were 250 passengers; from Picola, Mangalore and Cobram district stations there were 390; from Warrnambool and intermediate stations there were 300; from stations between Dimboola and Ballarat 450; from Wonthaggi 180, from Sale and intermediate stations 350, and from Daylesford 200.
Final round figures
The record attendance and receipts on Saturday improved the figures for the final and semifinal matches. The comparative showing that there were 6030 more people than on the corresponding day last year and the receipts were £437/1/5 more than 1932. The figures for the four matches this year and last are -
The gates on Saturday were opened at 11.15am and 3,684 people took advantage of the early door system, paying a shilling extra for the privilege.
The Victorian team that won the carnival in Sydney will play the Victorian team that won in Adelaide in a charity match on the Melbourne ground next Saturday. The players will practice on the Melbourne ground on Thursday.
Title: South's premiership
Author: A. H. Chisholm
Publisher: The Argus (Melbourne, Victoria, 1848-1957)
Date: Monday, 2 October 1933, p.9 (Article)
Title: South Melbourne wins. Richmond easily defeated
Author: ‘Old Boy’
Publisher: The Argus (Melbourne, Victoria, 1848-1957)
Date: Monday, 2 October 1933, p.13 (Article)