While our focus is footy, it’s hard to miss what’s happening with ball tampering during the test against South Africa – we quite like the name #SandpaperGate for this latest disappointing effort by the Australian team. When the Australian captain Steve Smith initially said ‘I won’t be considering stepping down. I still think I’m the right person for the job’ – it gave us pause to think about footy captains of the past who have, in fact, offered to stand down when they thought they weren’t the right person for the job anymore.
If we head back to May 1932, we find Blues Captain Colin Martyn asking a club meeting to be relieved of his captaincy duties. Carlton had lost their two matches for the season and he was worried that ‘the responsibility of captaincy interfered with his own play’ (Herald 11 May 1932, p2). The committee, however, was unanimous that he carry on, and so he did.
In the Footy Record for round 2 of that year, which took place on 7 May, columnist ‘Chattterer’ [spelt with 3 ‘ts’ that week!] reported that the season had had a ‘A wonderful opening!’. ‘Football enthusiasts’ saw the game played in ‘brilliant sunshine’ and there was a record sum taken in ‘gate money’, ‘despite the depression’ which proved ‘that football is easily the King of Sport in Australia, and… a vital factor in the life of the people’ (p3).
Amongst the games reported on from round 1, it was noted that ‘Essendon’s overwhelming victory’ over the Tricolours (Footscray) was ‘[the] surprise of the day’. Footscray, Chatterer said, ‘can, and will, do better’ (p3). After the results in our round 1, current-day Footscray fans are saying the same thing! Collingwood won – which made them the only team to win their first match for the last seven years (p4) despite the Woodsmen ‘not [displaying] their usual smart teamwork’ (p21). Carlton (7.6) lost to Fitzroy (the Maroons – 7.16) (p4) and this win was declared ‘a credit to their youthful captain to gain this initial victory’ (p21). At 20, Haydn Bunton was the youngest player to be captain of a club eclipsing Bert Mills, at 22, who had been appointed Hawthorn’s captain (p24).
And we can’t end this post without reflecting on the alternate fortunes of the Brisbane and Bulldogs AFLW teams, with the Doggies rising dramatically up the ladder to claim a glorious victory while the Lions faced defeat two years in a row. And in tribute to the resonances of the past in the present, this was the second time that a Doggies captain had to be sacrificed to win a premiership. We can only hope that Katie Brennan’s trip to the Australian Human Rights Commission brings success! Because unlike the school principals of the Church of England Girls’ Grammar School (Merton Hall) and Methodist Ladies College (MLC) in 1921 who ‘strongly [disapproved] of women playing any game that is likely to bring them into the public eye’, we’re keen to embrace any move that gets more women on the field for longer!