Earlier this week, to mark the birth of French artist Heni Rousseau, the Guggenheim tweeted his 1908 painting ‘The Football Players’. This got us thinking of Australian football art and Sidney Nolan’s ‘Footballer’ came to mind. We took this as our cue to head to 1946, the year Nolan painted this, to see the state of play in the Round 10 Football Record, 22 June 1946.
‘Chatterer’ reported on the previous matches where the ‘Tigers’ Amazing Recovery’ against South Melbourne failed, but would ‘long be remembered by all those who saw this remarkable game’ (3-4). Footscray was on top of the ladder, and they beat Fitzroy in yet ‘another close shave’ which caused people to query their form. The Demons ‘always looked the winners’ against St Kilda; and Carlton ‘unleashed a rattling good third quarter’ to defeat Geelong. Hawthorn ‘created a minor surprise … comfortably defeating North Melbourne’ (4). Collingwood ‘paced it with the mighty Dons for three quarters’ but Essendon had an easy victory in the end after they ‘clapped on the pace’ (4). Last weekend the Pies had an exciting victory, but Pies’ fans were in despair early on when they had only scored 1 behind in the first quarter to Hawthorn’s 6 goals 1 behind. In contrast, in 1946, ‘Chatterer’ said that the Pies ‘flattered their supporters into believing they’d win the day’ (4).
Coaches met with ‘the umpires’ advisor and the chairman of the permit committee’ and coaches submitted questions about the rules of the game. It was reported that ‘holding the man/and or the ball’ rule, the ‘old bug bear’, ‘caused more discussion than any other’ (14). Seven aspects of the holding rule were restated in the record, with the editor’s comments, including the belief that if umpires ‘fearlessly’ followed point 7, that ‘The spirit of the rule is to keep the ball in motion’, then ‘everybody will be more satisfied’ (15). Coaches also reported that ‘umpires intimidated players in the dressing rooms and on the arena prior to the commencement of play’ (15). What times!