In round figures 40,500 people passed through the turnstiles of the Melbourne Cricket-ground on Saturday to see the finish for the league football premiership between the Carlton and South Melbourne teams. Special trains were run from Bendigo, Ballarat, Geelong, and other centres, and, as very few club tickets would be unused on such a day, the crowd could not have numbered less than 45,000. The admission money amounted to £1,500. That unfortunate class of people who doubt the honesty of everything in sport felt quite assured that South Melbourne would be permitted to win, for the sake of repeating the big gate, and the fact that their croakings were contradicted in the result will not prevent them croaking upon any similar occasion in future. So many people have got accustomed to either robbing or being robbed that they rarely admit the possibility of a straight, clean contest.
The two semi-finals were one-sided and unsatisfactory, but Saturday's match was an exception, for neither team was able to get a commanding lead. The play was fast all through, at times desperately hard, and on a few occasions nasty. So close were the scores that one straight shot by South Melbourne at any time in the last ten minutes would have made the match a tie.
At the start Carlton appeared to have a strong advantage in the wind, and it would have proved a great advantage if the game had been played on the top of the lofty stands instead of under their shelter, so that the breeze made little difference. The game opened with a couple of resolute dashes upon Carlton's goal and a din of encouraging yells to the South Melbourne players. Exchanges between Strang, Kerr, and Mortimer gave the South first behind, and the second came from equally clever combination between Ricketts and Casey. Then for a time there was more roaring than scoring, till Jinks marked within his range and punted first goal for Carlton.
In the closer play two men were always conspicuous then—the ever-reliable Johnson for Carlton and Ricketts for South Melbourne. They settled down and warmed up at the same period, and the bumps were so sudden and fierce that a rough game was freely prophesied. And it would have been rough but that Tulloch never lost control of the players and penalising them freely for unnecessary charging, let them see that he intended to be ringmaster on that occasion.
There was a rousing cheer for South Melbourne when Callan, Mortimer, Kerr, and Casey in turn took possession of the ball, and Casey scored their first goal. It was one of a few occasions on which the brilliancy of the South Melbourne passing completely eclipsed anything on the Carlton side; but there dazzling patches were not frequent enough, and in between them Carlton's weight and forceful, headlong rushes told heavily.
Those who judged the influence of the wind from the fluttering flags above the crowded grand-stand thought that Carlton should have finished the first quarter with a better lead than a bare point.
The rucks at the start were Johnson, Hammond and Lang for Carlton, Cameron, Callan, and Ricketts for South Melbourne.
The dark blues for the second quarter tried Flynn, Jinks, and Gotz, while the South sent in Wilson, Belcher, and A. Kerr. The man who swung the balance in favour of Carlton's second ruck was Flynn, who, with the dash of a colt, the judgment of a veteran, played in a great emergency as he has rarely, if ever, played before.
The tone of the game fell off early in the quarter. Cameron, of South Melbourne, twice put his hand deliberately in an opponent's face; and later on Jinks, of Carlton, contrary to his usual custom, did one or two petty things that were deservedly hooted by the indignant crowd. There were too many impartial people on the ground to permit anything of this nature to pass without censure, and few players are so indifferent as not to be concerned about the censure of thirty thousand onlookers.
A nice play-out from Casey on the wing to Callan on the goal front gave a fine chance for goal, but Callan grubbed his shot, which even then almost bounced over the Carlton goalkeeper's head. Next Harris at the other end got an easy chance, and there was a roar of disappointment from thousands of Carlton throats as he missed it.
The crowd were fairly worked up by the quick changes of a strenuous and rather merciless game, and at one stage in front of Carlton's goal the merry game of nine-pins was being played in desperate earnest—charge and counter-charge, shock and fall, coming in quick succession. The South dashed in gamely from the wing, but the sturdy Clarke and Flynn drove them out again. Then a breach of rule gave Mortimer a free-kick, and a goal for South Melbourne; but in the next minute Carlton were attacking, and Topping, very active amongst Carlton's forwards, hit the goal-post.
Then Grace poised for what seemed to be a certain mark, and an equally certain goal, but Dolphin's rush apparently shook his nerve. He lost the ball, and both men went down. As the ball rolled slowly towards the Southern goal a half dozen men made a mad rush for it, but Lang, of Carlton got there first by a foot or so and tipped it through. In less than half a minute the ball was back again from the centre and Topping scored Carlton's third goal.
At that stage, for the first time in the match, one would have picked Carlton as the winning team. South Melbourne could get goals, but never a lead. Mortimer, for example, got out of a crowd smartly, spun off towards the wing and curving into position for a rather difficult shot, kicked South Melbourne's second goal, but the cheering had hardly died away when Topping marked right in front and got fourth goal for Carton. At half-time, however, they were only seven points ahead, and the match had yet to be won.
On commencing the third quarter, Wilson, Wade, and Moxham worked it up to Carlton's goal, but got nothing; and Carlton's chance came with regularity in succession which was a feature of the play. Kelly sent it forward, and Caine had time for a deliberate shot, but, taking it with unnecessary hurry, missed.
For a time Carlton were most aggressive, Hammond, Harris, Johnson, Bruce all playing finely, and giving Kelly the chance to get another behind with a long shot. In a great crush about the Carlton posts half-a-dozen men went up, a dozen arms had the ball and swept it forward straight to the waiting and expectant Strang, who snapped up the favour and scored the goal. Thus, to a tumultuous roar, one of the crises of the match was reached, for Carlton were only two points ahead, with scores 4-9 to 4-7.
The joy of South Melbourne turned just as suddenly to gloom, for Kelly, with a beautiful angle shot almost immediately scored Carlton's fifth goal. Within a minute or two the same man, with one of his long kicks, lodged it up with Topping, who marked and kicked the sixth goal. At the last change of ends Carlton were 15 points ahead, but even with goals hard to earn the game was not yet over.
The excitement of a great struggle reached its highest intensity in the third quarter, for, though both sides were tiring, and Carlton always glad to find respite in playing out to the boundary, most of the attacking was done then by South Melbourne. A. Kerr nearly succeeded in getting a goal for them, and Johnson opportunely marked a shot by Mortimer. Then some beautiful exchanges between the South Melbourne forwards gave Strang his chance and South Melbourne their fifth goal. With this encouragement they rallied in great form, Strang got their sixth goal, and still South Melbourne were pressing and Carlton taking all that the umpire allowed them in time. Their lead had shrunk to two points, and all over the ground the cry was, "South Melbourne wins." Thence on it was anybody's game—one straight kick meant saving or losing a great match—but Carlton stuck to their treasured few points most gamely. They played chiefly to Kelly, who missed two chances—one of them easy—and Carlton's lead crept up again to five points.
South Melbourne were eager, and naturally flurried. They had an easy chance to score, and missed it. Then Carlton once more dashed upon their backs, but Flynn failed in his attempt to pass it to Topping, and Gotz, getting a doubtful free kick, made the South Melbourne fellows gasp as he hit their goalpost.
South Melbourne's last effort was a great one and deserved success, for some of their men were almost falling through exhaustion. Only a fine effort by Beck prevented them forcing a goal, and last of all Mortimer missed the chance that might have made him Clarendon-street's idol for a week at least. It was the last chance for the red-and-white. Johnson, though nearly done, took it out on the wing, and the closing incident of a great game was Caine punting at goal as the bell rang.
So Carlton won their second successive premiership by five points only, but each point represented a shot that failed in a try for goal, and, however much one may have wished to see South Melbourne get another match, the feeling that the best team on the day and for the year had come out triumphant was generally held.
As soon as the final bell rang, and the premiership was won, the crowd broke loose. They had seen a magnificent struggle, and they wanted to cheer and chair their heroes. They swept over the iron palisade which encloses the playing space and rushed for the players. Some of the Carlton men, wise in their generation, reached the grand-stand gates first, but for those who were not near the grand-stand entrance there was no escape. For a moment they were lost in the crowd, and then they reappeared riding in triumph on the shoulders of delighted barrackers. There was a large force of police, but they were powerless to stop the cheering, enthusiastic throng.
It was a remarkable scene, and the playing space, which a few moments before had been reserved for 36 footballers, now had as many thousand barrackers on it, all anxious to do honour to the winners. The excitement soon subsided, and the crowd melted away, and ere long there was nothing left but the memory of a splendid game, and the knowledge that to-day will begin the preparation of the ground for the next great attraction, the test matches, England v. Australia.
Carlton played a strong rushing game, and their weight and height combined gave them the advantage. It was apparent in the high marking, and in a lesser degree, perhaps, when the ball was thrown in from bounds. The little men of the South Melbourne team were clever enough, but they were nearly always striving against taller and stronger players than themselves, and with a fine day and an open game Carlton got just the conditions that suited them.
For individual merit three men in Carlton colours were always prominent. I would place them in order of merit—Johnson, Flynn, and Hammond—giving preference to the two first-named because they were equally prominent in the ruck or in a place. Flynn's form for the day was well above his average, though he is always a useful player, but never better than this season. Hammond excelled generally in strong, straight rushes. Carlton had a fine little pair in Topping and Ingleman, and on his play in this game the wonder is that Ingleman has not been played more frequently. The fact that Carlton can afford to leave him out is the best proof of their general strength. Carlton's full-backs, Clarke, Beck and Gillespie, all played well; and Bruce, Gotz, Jinks, Lang, Payne, and Kelly were other notable performers.
On the South Melbourne side Callan was once again the pick of the ruck, and Ricketts their best rover. On the balance of merit South Melbourne suffered on the centre line, where Drane was perhaps their best man; but Woods played a fine game in defence, and was by a long way the pick of South Melbourne's backs. Wilson and Atkins also shaped well in that quarter, and Lampe at least kept a most effective guard over Caine, who did nothing in the match. Others who figured creditably for the losers were Strang, Belcher, Cameron Casey, and Mortimer.
The best individual performance of the day was, however, that of the umpire, Tulloch, and as he left the field after the match the people in the Melbourne Cricket-ground reserves cheered him heartily. Of course, he made mistakes—that is inevitable—but he realised early that he was in control of a game where bad temper might easily get the upper hand and he never let the teams get out of control. It was a first rate performance.
Interviews with Captains
Jim Flynn (Carlton)
Flynn, the Carlton captain, who came down from St. James for the semi-final and final matches, was quietly enthusiastic about his team's victory. On being congratulated, he said:—
"Yes, we won, but there was not much in it. They kept us going right to the end, didn't they? It must have been a grand game to watch. I know it was splendid to play in. When it was all over I felt I'd like liked to have had to congratulate South—they played such a fine, spirited game. It was a hard struggle, with plenty of bumps, but there was very little to complain about. South were out for keeps all right, and they kept their head well. The only mistake they made I think, was they tried too much low-passing. They rather overdid it. It confused our chaps for a while, but when it failed to come off it cost South a lot. South Melbourne surprised me on the form they showed.
We expected to beat them easily, but they had us all out. We were tested to our utmost all right. There was not much in it. Of course I think our team the best. You would not expect me to say I did not would you? I thought we had them settled at half-time, but they came at us again as fresh as ever. I think our weight had a good deal to do with our win. We average about 11½ stone, and that's pretty solid for 18 men. The real secret of our success is our manager, Jack Worrall. There is no doubt most of it is due to him. He's a grand judge of the game, and the youngsters that come up to the ground worship him; they'd do anything for him. They take no notice of anyone else. Besides that, we have a grand lot of fellows. There is no jealousy, no cliques, and they pulled together like clockwork.
The umpire, Tulloch should be congratulated on his display. It was really good work.
The crowd gave us a grand reception didn't they? I could not get away from a bunch of barrackers, and they carried in as many of us as they could lay hands on. It's all over now, and I am finished. I have my business at St. James to attend to. We've got the premier team up there, too. I've been playing senior football ten years now with Geelong and Carlton, and it's about time I gave it up."
Bill Dolphin (South Melbourne)
"At the end of the game they were five points ahead of us, but still think ours is the better team," said W. Dolphin, the South Melbourne captain, when asked his opinion of the comparative merits of the sides.
"We have met four times this season," he continued, "and we have each scored twice. All our fellows were pretty confident that we would make a good tussle of it, and I fancy we all thought we were going to win. There was just, one thing I was frightened of, and that one thing of course happened. Some of our forwards are youngsters, and I feared that in a crisis they might become flurried. My fears were only too well founded. In the last quarter two or three of the forwards, overwrought by anxiety, commenced to play the man instead of the ball. There can only be one conclusion to that sort of thing, and that is a 'licking.'
"Rough? Well no, I don't think the game was any rougher than such a match has to be, when two teams of fairly equal merit, anxious to win in the final effort of the season, play off for the premiership in the presence of 45,000 spectators. For our part, I know that all though all of us were tuned right up to win, not one entered the field feeling any but the best spirit towards the other eighteen. I suppose the Carlton men could say the same thing.
"The man of our side? That's not easy; so many of them played up to their best form. Perhaps the pride of place should be awarded to Woods, who at half-back played one of the greatest games I ever expect to see.
"What Carlton man did we most fear? Well, I'm not sure that we 'feared' any of them, but I can promise you there were three or four of them reserved for special care and attention.
"About our plan of action there is not a great deal to say. Critics say that we lack staying power. For all that we were fairly confident we could outlast our opponents, and with that end in view we didn't get rid of all our energy in the first half. Instead, we kept ourselves for a fast finish. You know the result. Had it not been for the forwards getting tangled in the last 10 minutes the five points margin might have been in our favour.
"I have only one fault to find with the way the game was umpired, and that fault was a serious one. In the last few minutes Callan was awarded a free kick. By a clever bit of play he broke away from his mark, and with a clear 30 yards run ahead of him he might easily have added six points to our tally. Unfortunately, and I think improperly, the whistle brought him back to kick over his mark. Had we not been deprived of the services of Maine, who was hurt when we were playing Collingwood, we might have done better. Another thing I regret is that our fellows had not some older and wiser head than mine to lead them in so keen a game. This is my first season as captain, and, of course, I could not do as much for them as an older man would have done.
"Exciting and hard-fought as it was, I don't think the game can be compared as an exhibition of football with the game we played with Carlton on the Prince of Wales' Birthday last year. Then we were beaten by four points; this time by five. Better luck next time. The only trouble is that we will have to wait a year for that 'next time.' "
Title: Carlton premiers. Exciting match. Tremendous enthusiasm. 45,000 people present. Author: Observer Publisher: The Argus (Melbourne, Victoria, 1848-1957) Date: Monday 23 September 1907 p 4 Article Web: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article10160371
|Beck, Les||0||21y 259d||23||3|
|Bruce, George||0||28y 47d||78||10|
|Caine, Frank||0||26y 55d||51||94|
|Clark, Norm||0||28y 313d||42||0|
|Flynn, Jim||0||36y 184d||145||31|
|Gillespie, Doug||0||19y 282d||34||0|
|Gotz, Martin||0||24y 207d||23||1|
|Grace, Mick||0||33y 59d||151||188|
|Hammond, Charlie||0||21y 186d||53||14|
|Harris, Dick||0||21y 342d||25||17|
|Ingleman, Alby||0||21y 135d||8||0|
|Jinks, Fred||1||26y 301d||29||13|
|Johnson, George 'Mallee'||0||28y 113d||53||20|
|Kelly, Harvey||1||24y 181d||20||24|
|Kennedy, Ted||0||30y 14d||115||9|
|Lang, Alex||1||19y 193d||37||22|
|Payne, Billy||0||25y 270d||55||0|
|Topping, George||3||26y 25d||82||80|
|South Melbourne||Match Stats||Career|
|Anderson, George||0||20y 301d||25||0|
|Atkins, Bert||0||22y 247d||17||0|
|Belcher, Vic||0||19y 28d||19||7|
|Callan, Hughie||0||25y 269d||49||21|
|Cameron, Jim||0||25y 333d||54||22|
|Dolphin, Bill||0||25y 320d||52||0|
|Drane, Horrie||0||26y 218d||48||11|
|Kerr, Alex||0||26y 312d||9||15|
|Kerr, Bill||0||25y 20d||16||8|
|Lampe, Harry||0||33y 7d||135||57|
|Mortimer, Len||2||21y 150d||35||61|
|Moxham, Billy||0||21y 153d||13||1|
|Ricketts, Charlie||0||22y 80d||26||15|
|Strang, Bill||3||23y 349d||54||51|
|Wade, Ted||0||22y 273d||35||2|
|Wilson, Harry||0||22y 67d||8||2|
|Wood, Phonse||0||22y 362d||13||0|
‡ Approximate age