Well readers, we come to the end of the season. Given your two centre square historians are supporters of teams firmly entrenched in the bottom half of the ladder, we consider that footy ends this weekend!
Not truly of course – and we’ll have some special treats for you over the coming Finals period – but things are definitely coming to the end for all of us, and we send a particular shout-out to the other supporters of teams whose seasons are ending this weekend. We hope you enjoy your final 2018 game. And we hope that this little pocket of the internet can provide some respite from #libspill #auspol #clusterfuck! (But if you’re interested in thinking more about leadership, you could do worse than reflect back on our ponderings of footy’s leaders.)
We began our coverage of season 2018, the 122nd season of the VFL/AFL, with a step back 100 years into the past. Let’s end the same way.
In the 1918 season, 59 matches were played in total. Ern Cowley, playing in his debut season for Carlton (having played previously for Brunswick), kicked the most goals that year: 35. He would go on to only play one more year before returning to the VFA and playing for Prahran. Essendon were the wooden spooners, and South Melbourne ended the season at the top of the ladder. South Melbourne, Collingwood, Carlton and St Kilda contested the finals, with the Bloods going on to win the premiership (defeating Collingwood in the Grand Final, 62 to 57) in front of 39,168 spectators at the MCG.
There were fourteen rounds for the season (each team played every other team twice – take note those who are trying to stifle the AFLW!), and in the final round for the year our old friend “Chatterer” began his column in The Football Record by telling readers that “Fitzroy has failed”: they had not won the games they required to enter the finals (p. 3). The exact make-up of the finals teams was still in doubt, and with regard to St Kilda’s position, Chatterer noted that “it is quite possible that they will be in the grand final in a few weeks again. You can never tell. On the other hand they may be knocked kite-high in the first battle. Again you never can tell” (p. 3).
Crowds that season had improved – as evidenced by the gate takings of 177 pounds at the Collingwood/Fitzroy match the previous Saturday: “Club managements,” it was noted, “are wearing a much happier look than has been seen for a long time” (p. 3). But all had not been smooth for the players that round – four Carlton players (including Cowley) had travelled to their match in Geelong by car instead of train, and their car had promptly broken down. After changing their clothes in the car, “the passengers were waving like men shipwrecked in an open boat.” Luckily, “they were seen in time, and were rescued for the game” (p. 3).
Chatterer also provided some vivid descriptions of passages of play from round 13: in the Collingwood/Fitzroy game, played at Brunswick St oval, Fitzroy’s Bert Lenne “met” the ball “like a greyhound after a hare… and then set sail on a defensive run along the right wing. [Chris] Lethbridge was his aide-de-camp to begin with, and convoyed him safely away to the half-back. No submarines were met in that zone, and Lethbridge handed control over to Norris, who zig-zagged between the full back in full flight and any magpies who were trying to nab the tall man with the ball” (p. 4).
In the St Kilda/Richmond game of that round, St Kilda’s Dave McNamara “marked in something like his old form, and kicked two goals – one a snap over his head and the other a place shot from fully 70 yards – a real ‘boshter,’ which earned generous applause” (p. 10). In this game, a certain Dangerfield was a “most valuable assistant” in the Saints team. Wonder how the current Dangerfield will serve his team this weekend?
Unlike our final round, which spreads from Friday to Sunday nights, Round 14 matches in 1918 were all held at 3pm on August 10, at Princes Park, Victoria Park, Corio Oval, and Punt Road. Carlton, Collingwood, Geelong and South Melbourne emerged victorious, leading into an exciting set of Semi finals and then the Grand Final a fortnight later.
We will, of course, have to wait a little longer to find out who this year’s Premiership winner is than our comrades did 100 years ago, but in the meantime, we hope you all have a boshter of a round 23!