Harold Robert Pratt
31 August 1912
Place of birth
Mitcham, VIC (3132)
6 January 2001 (aged 88)
Place of death
Frankston, VIC (3199)
Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 17y 245d
Last game: 33y 234d
Height and weight
Height: 180 cm
Weight: 76 kg
South Melbourne: 11, 23, 10
State of origin
Bob Pratt Jnr (Son)
|Club||League||Career span||Games||Goals||Avg||Win %||AKI||AHB||AMK||BV|
|South Melbourne||V/AFL||1930-1939, 1946||158||681||4.31||61%||13.50||—||5.62||35|
Pre 1965 stats are for selected matches only
Few names in football resonate so compellingly down the decades as that of Bob Pratt. His VFL record tally of 150 goals kicked in 1934 (later equalled by Hawthorn's Peter Hudson, albeit from more matches played) remains one of the most iconic achievements in the game.
Originally from Mitcham, Pratt made his VFL debut with South Melbourne as a 17-year-old in 1930, and went on to play 158 games for the club between then and 1939 and in 1946, kicking 681 goals. He was South's leading goal kicker in a season in 1932 (71 goals), 1933 (109), 1934 (150), 1935 (103), 1936 (64) and 1938 (72). He topped the league's goal kicking list from 1933 to 1935. His best effort in a single game was 15 goals against Essendon in 1934. He also managed bags of 12 (once), 11 (three times), 10 (three times), nine (four times) and eight (six times).
Best remembered for his shoulder-scraping marks Pratt would have been a thoroughgoing sensation had he played during the videotape era. Other VFL and VFA goalsneaks of the time - Titus, Mohr, Vallence, and Todd, for instance - may have kicked more goals than Pratt, but no one equalled his strike rate, and it is at least arguable to suggest that no one rivalled him as an all round player. He was a vital member of South Melbourne's 1933 premiership team, and it is arguable that his injury on the eve of the 1935 Grand Final, which forced him out of the game, cost the club another flag.
In 1939, Pratt crossed to VFA club Coburg where, two years later, he established an Association record by kicking 183 goals for the season. (The record was later eclipsed by another former VFL star, Ron Todd, who had moved from Collingwood to Williamstown.) In a game against Sandringham in 1941, Pratt booted 22.4 out of Coburg's tally of 33.14 (212). However, on Grand Final day he was restricted to just four goals by Port Melbourne full back Lance Dobson as the Borough caused a boilover with their first win against Coburg since 1929.
Bob Pratt returned to South Melbourne in 1946, but after booting two goals in his comeback match against Carlton he was seriously injured, and never played again. Erstwhile team mate Laurie Nash summed up the incomparable Pratt style by saying, "He was the greatest high mark I have ever seen. How he didn't kill himself in some of his marking efforts I will never know".¹
Hardly surprisingly, Bob Pratt features in both the Sydney/South Melbourne and Coburg 'Teams of the Century'.
Author - John Devaney