Round 9, 2017


Football game with dog on the ground [ca. 1914-1916] Image H2002.198/57State Library of Victoria

We cast our eyes to the bottom of the AFL ladder and see the Lions languishing there – this sent us to thinking about happier times for Fitzroy supporters. We were drawn to 1916, the year only 4 teams contested the season and Fitzroy, who finished bottom of the ladder, went on to win the premiership. We’re not sure if this is an equal feat to winning the premiership from 7th as the Bulldogs did last year, but it’s impressive nonetheless!Turning to the footy record for round 9 of 1916 – the week prior no games were played and in that absence the columnist ‘Wideawake’ lamented that ‘you saw crowds mooning about town like lost sheep’. (3)

In 1916, as today with our even competition, ‘there [was] no spotting the winners before the matches start’. (3) At this point in the season Fitzroy had lost to Richmond twice that year, and the Tigers were said to have ‘advanced to the class of opponent marked dangerous’. (3)

And just as there are discussions of attractive football today, in this earlier wartime it was said that ‘football … should be made as attractive as possible’. There was a call for standards to be maintained because ‘[footy] is a national game, and is infinitely more popular than cricket’. (14) No footnote was included here to cite relevant supporting information on that call.

Internal politics of footy clubs featured too: a rumor was reported ‘that matters are not running smoothly in one of the clubs, but, of course, the rumour is officially denied’. Public intrigue around football was noted: someone had broken in and stole a punching ball and some footballs from ball maker Syd Sherrin’s home. At the time Sherrin was the Collingwood Football club’s vice-president and ‘so high is his popularity that if any of the boys come across the thief they will use him as a football and punching bag combined’. (13)

Enjoy the footy

Jordy and Mary


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