The final match for the League premiership, between Fitzroy and Collingwood, attracted about 28,000 people to the Melbourne ground on Saturday, special trains being run for the occasion on both the Bendigo and Ballarat lines. With a shilling charged for admission, the receipt at the gates amounted to £1,061. This is the largest sum ever taken at a football match in Victoria, though there has often been a greater number of people at a match.
Those who came from the country in the hope of seeing League football at its best must have been disappointed, for, except in the second quarter, the play was not at all as skillful or exciting as one would have expected with two such teams engaged. It often happens, however, that in these finals, where everything turns on one match, the play is inferior, the men being over-anxious, as a rule.
Both sides had strong teams, but the alterations in Collingwood suggested that, in the opinion of their selectors, they wanted weight, and places were found for two of their stoutest, in Proudfoot and Incoll, who have only played occasionally during the season.
The wind was blowing diagonally into the grand-stand goal, making it a decided advantage to kick that way. Fitzroy had the gain in the first quarter, yet made very little of it, for, every time the Collingwood backs turned an attack, they shot the ball out towards the pavilion, and from that wing it was a difficult thing to get into a good scoring position. Fitzroy had few chances to score in the quarter, and those few were ineffective, four behinds in all were got—three of them by Fitzroy.
Towards the end of the quarter Condon, who had been playing brilliantly for Collingwood, was so seriously hurt that he was of no further use to them. This would have been a severe handicap but that misfortune balanced matters, J. Sharpe, the stoutest of Fitzroy's defenders, getting a knock which practically made him useless, though he was able to stay on the field.
The few points scored was due to the fact that both sides were going their hardest, and both so eager that free kicks were rather plentiful, Crapp having evidently made up his mind to keep firm control of the game. It rarely happened that a man on either side found his road clear for any distance, and exceptional keenness was really the only merit in the quarter. Many good things were attempted, but nearly always spoiled by keen opponents. So far, it was a mar-plot match.
In the second quarter there was a great change for the better. The football then was some of the finest I have seen this season—entirely worthy of the teams and the occasion. It was very fast, but in no phase of the game was there such improvement as the short passing, which was remarkably quick and skilful.
Fitzroy were not so tactful as Collingwood in kicking in, Moriarty generally sending it straight up the field, whence it came promptly back again. Once Fitzroy made a series of beautiful exchanges without interference from a Collingwood player, but the play was generally in their ground. Collingwood failed from a snap shot and a deliberate try in quick succession, and then Nash, who had been moved forward from his usual place on the back line, scored first goal for Collingwood with a nice drop-kick.
Both sides were doing splendidly, and whenever Fitzroy looked like threatening Collingwood's end, Dummett could be trusted to bring the ball away. It was near the end of the quarter before a fine bit of play gave Fitzroy a chance to get even. From a free kick Johnson passed to Wilkinson, who quickly sent it on to Millis. He punted first goal for Fitzroy, and at half-time nothing had been done to spoil the expectations of an exciting game, the scores being even—1 goal 3 behinds to each side.
But, though the crowd hoped for something exceptional, they had seen the best of the football, for the play never afterwards reached the same high standards as in the second quarter. If one had to make a choice on the form of the first half, he would have said that Collingwood were likely to win.
The third quarter, however, put quite another complexion upon the forecast. Fitzroy started business at once. They had only been going a few minutes when Trotter snapped their second goal. Soon afterwards Fontaine had a shot. He kicked straight into the chest of the man standing to his mark, but cleverly getting the ball again when it rebounded, dashed forward and sent it through, but it was touched by Collingwood in the passage.
For about 15 minutes at this stage Fitzroy maintained a strong attack, and though they did not score often, it was felt that each goal would take some wiping off. Brosnan took a shot from the front of the grand stand, and his kick was either lucky or highly meritorious, for he scored third goal, while the fourth was rushed by Lou Barker immediately afterwards. It was close upon the end of the quarter when Peers, who had been playing in first-rate form for Collingwood, scored their second goal with a place-kick. At three quarter time Fitzroy were leading by 4 goals 6 behinds to 2 goals 4 behinds.
In the last quarter there was not much vim in Collingwood's attack. Their dashes were spasmodic, and giving all their energies to defence and defensive tactics, Fitzroy met every Collingwood advance with effect. They did not repeat their plan of kicking straight up the field, but de- pending on strategy rather than strength, went for the pavilion wing at every opportunity. The ball was frequently out of bounds there, and Fitzroy were penalised for putting it out a bit too obviously, though in this they were only bettering the example set by Collingwood in the opening quarter.
Very soon the whole of the players were massed at one end of the ground, and, as generally happens in such a case, it became a strenuous struggle rather than a skilful game. Collingwood had only one chance to score in a free kick given to Drohan. He got a behind, and that proved to be the only point scored in the quarter. Fitzroy's tactics enabled them to keep their lead, and in a low-scoring game to win with a substantial margin in their favour.
But the last half of it was poor football, and I have rarely known a great crowd on a great occasion to be so quiet towards the end of a match. As an onlooker said, "These teams, I understand, are packed with stars, but none of them seem to be showing." The finish was satisfactory only in the sense that whichever side won could claim to be the best team of the season. In winning the match Fitzroy got two points more than any other club for the season. Had Collingwood won, they would have had six points more than any other club.
Turning to individual play, Bailes, of Fitzroy, I think, did more than any other man in their colours to win the match. He was one of the few players engaged who was really above his average form, and his wing play was very fine indeed. He was vigorously checked, but never stopped during the day, for he kicked well, and always to his own men. In the centre, Beecham was also in fine form, and these two doing so well made the Fitzroy centre line a difficult one to cross. In the latter stages of the match it was really a half back line.
On their true half back line Jenkins was a solid player. Moriarty was always vigorous in his defence, and Barker picked up a good deal of his old determination, whether defending or following. Fontaine was a very reliable half forward, and the men who did the best work in Fitzroy's ruck were Milne and Walker, with Millis roving. Neither Johnson nor Trotter were up to their form in recent games, though Trotter rallied towards the finish.
After Condon was hurt Peers became the most conspicuous man on the Collingwood side. He is a most persistent player, and, though his style suggests rather determination than brilliancy, there have been very few better players on the field this season. Dummett was the best of their backs, and, like Peers, consistency is his strong point. Nash was put forward to hold Sharpe in check, and was fairly successful in doing until the task was made easy to him, owing to his opponent's accident.
Two other men who stood out prominently for Collingwood were Angus and Strahan, the last named being one of their best men, certainly their best follower. Green, Gibbs, and Rush all did useful work for the side, but Monahan was not so conspicuous as usual.
Crapp umpired the game with sound judgement.
Title: The league premiership: Fitzroy wins. Author: Observer Publisher: The Argus (Melbourne, Victoria, 1848-1957) Date: Monday, 2 October 1905, p.7 (Article) Web: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article10042489
|Bailes, Barclay||0||22y 52d||15||7|
|Barker, Gilbert||0||23y 62d||27||2|
|Barker, Lou||1||29y 127d||105||58|
|Beauchamp, Tammy||0||27y 49d||83||4|
|Brosnan, Gerald||1||28y 47d||99||130|
|Fontaine, Fred||0||27y 243d||84||19|
|Jenkins, Ernie||0||25y 361d||136||14|
|Johnson, Joe||0||22y 254d||38||6|
|McDonough, Jack||0||26y 66d||50||9|
|Millis, Les||1||24y 104d||54||27|
|Milne, Herbert ' Boxer'||0||21y 234d||49||32|
|Moriarty, Geoff||0||33y 337d||90||0|
|Naismith, Wally||0||24y 122d||72||12|
|Sharp, Jim||0||23y 136d||90||17|
|Sheehan, Percy||0||22y 87d||29||11|
|Trotter, Percy||1||22y 29d||90||117|
|Walker, Bill||0||22y 128d||48||8|
|Wilkinson, Alf||0||23y 273d||71||67|
|Angus, George||0||30y 168d||59||19|
|Condon, Dick||0||29y 195d||134||89|
|Drohan, Eddie||0||29y 75d||126||32|
|Dummett, Alf||0||24y 296d||80||0|
|Fell, Matthew||0||30y 38d||116||21|
|Fraser, Don||0||23y 21d||27||0|
|Gibb, Percy||0||23y 298d||19||1|
|Green, George||0||23y 56d||46||14|
|Incoll, Jack||0||26y 228d||61||41|
|Leach, Arthur||0||29y 212d||138||73|
|McHale, James 'Jock'||0||22y 292d||51||1|
|Monohan, Jack||0||32y 40d||158||7|
|Nash, Bob||1||21y 161d||27||11|
|Pannam, Charlie||0||30y 363d||160||86|
|Pears, Harry||1||28y 64d||64||56|
|Proudfoot, Bill||0||37y 111d||107||0|
|Rush, Bob||0||24y 356d||112||1|
|Strachan, Bob||0||19y 132d||24||14|