Australian Football Celebrating the history of the great Australian game


Key Facts

Full name
J Herbert Matthews Snr

Known as
Herbie Matthews

12 November 1913

8 June 1990 (aged 76)

Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 18y 170d
Last game: 31y 321d

Height and weight
Height: 177 cm
Weight: 76 kg

Senior clubs
South Melbourne; Oakleigh

Jumper numbers
South Melbourne: 2, 1

Recruited from
South Melbourne (1946)

State of origin

Family links
Herb Matthews (Father)Norm Matthews (Brother)Don Matthews (Son)Herbie Matthews Jnr (Son)

Herbie Matthews

ClubLeagueCareer spanGamesGoalsAvgWin %AKIAHBAMKBV
South MelbourneV/AFL1932-1945191170.0961%17.724.12117

Pre 1965 stats are for selected matches only

AFL: 3,880th player to appear, 740th most games played, 3,990th most goals kickedSouth Melbourne: 461st player to appear, 39th most games played, 348th most goals kicked

Recruited from Fairfield, Herbie Matthews made his South Melbourne debut in 1932 and went on to become one of the key members of the club's famous 'foreign legion' sides. Quick, tough and exquisitely skilled, he played mostly as a wingman during the early part of his career, but later excelled as a centreman, rover and half forward as well. Despite standing only 177 cm in height, he was a brilliant high mark. He played in South's winning Grand Final team of 1933 against Richmond, as well as in the losing teams of 1934-5-6. In the 1940 Brownlow Medal count he famously featured in a perfect tie for first place with Collingwood's Des Fothergill, as a result of which both players received cheap replica Medals, with the real one being retained by the league. Matthews polled well in the Brownlow on several other occasions, finishing second in 1937 and 1941, and third in 1936.

A five-time winner of the Bloods' best and fairest award, Matthews captained the side from 1938 to 1945. In 1939 he also served as coach. His 191-game, 17-goal VFL career came to an end with the famous 'Bloodbath Grand Final' of 1945, during which he was one of ten players reported. His offence? Throwing the ball away after a free kick was awarded against him, for which he received a reprimand. Much more distressingly, however, South Melbourne lost the match to Carlton by 28 points.

In 1946, Matthews was appointed captain-coach of VFA club Oakleigh. In his two seasons in the role he led the Purple and Golds to ninth and eighth place finishes in what was at the time a 12-team competition.

Nine years after leaving South, Herbie Matthews returned there as the club's senior coach, but in four years in charge he was never able to get the team above ninth place on the ladder.

When the official Sydney/South Melbourne 'Team of the Century' was announced in August 2003, Matthews was selected as a wingman.

Author - John Devaney


Full Points Footy Publications


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