Australian Football Celebrating the history of the great Australian game


Key Facts

Full name
Bruce Moses Farquhar Sloss

Known as
Bruce Sloss

21 January 1889

Place of birth
Malvern East, VIC (3145)

4 January 1917 (aged 27)

Place of death
France (Armentières)

Maintenance engineer

Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 18y 103d
Last game: 25y 248d

Height and weight
Height: 180 cm
Weight: 76 kg

Senior clubs
Essendon; South Melbourne

Jumper numbers
South Melbourne: 18, 21

Recruited from
Brighton (1910)

State of origin

Bruce Sloss

ClubLeagueCareer spanGamesGoalsAvgWin %AKIAHBAMKBV
South MelbourneV/AFL1910-191481440.5470%0
V/AFL1907-1908, 1910-191484440.5270%0
Total1907-1908, 1910-191484440.5270%0

AFL: 1,270th player to appear, 2,833rd most games played, 2,209th most goals kickedEssendon: 159th player to appear, 938th most games played, 918th most goals kickedSouth Melbourne: 232nd player to appear, 184th most games played, 170th most goals kicked

On 28 October 1916 Lieutenant Bruce Sloss captained a side representing the Australian International Force's Third Division to a narrow victory over a Combined Training Units team in a special exhibition match held at the Queen's Club, London, a venue more commonly associated with tennis. Among the crowd, which was variously estimated at between 3,000 and 4,000, were the future King Edward VIII (then Prince of Wales), and King Manuel of Portugal. The match received a great deal of publicity, and was arguably the most important game of Australian football played outside Australia up to that point. Just nine weeks after the match, Lieutenant Sloss was killed by a shell while on active service in Armentieres, northern France, 17 days before his 28th birthday.

Just under 10 years earlier, Sloss had played his first game of league football for Essendon. Despite seemingly possessing all the attributes necessary to succeed at the top level - a superb physique, tremendous stamina, and excellent all round skills - he managed just three games in almost two seasons with the Same Old and found himself consigned to the virtual football scrapheap with VFA under-achiever Brighton. 

In 1910, however, South Melbourne offered him a second chance at league level, and this time he made the most of it. Indeed, by his second season with the southerners he was being widely touted as one of the finest followers in the game. By the time he enlisted in the AIF he had played a total of 81 VFL games for South, and booted 44 goals. His last league game was the 1914 Grand Final, in which he was one of his side's best players in a six-point loss to Carlton. Two years earlier, Sloss had played against Essendon in another losing Grand Final. He was also a VFL carnival representative at Sydney in 1914.

Bruce Sloss was widely known as an impassioned patriot, and was once described as a footballer who would make an excellent soldier; after he had paid the ultimate soldier's price, his death was given, if anything, even greater poignancy - which the press at home was quick to extract mileage from - when his comrades found a small Australian flag tucked away in his clothing.

Author - John Devaney


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* Behinds calculated from the 1965 season on.
+ Score at the end of extra time.