This Sunday afternoon we’ll see the Saints take on the Lions – this made us immediately turn our minds to 1913 when the Saints played Fitzroy in the Grand Final. The Argus declared that ‘The teams threw themselves into it with magnificent vim, and there were surprises which kept the great crowd simmering with expectation, and at times half crazy with excitement. It was a wonderful scene, and a wonderful game’. St Kilda got very close with 5 minutes to go, but alas for the Saints, Fitzroy ‘had more men playing at their top’ (29 September 1913, 12). Fitzroy won 7.14 (56) to the Saints 5.13 (43).
But we are not at Grand Final week just yet. So what happened according to the Round 3 Footy Record of 1913 you may ask. Here were (and still are) the big issues.
It just so happened – St Kilda played Fitzroy in Round 2 1913 and the report of the game focused on size. Apparently in athletics ‘A good, big man is better than a good little man … but there are some exceptions’ and ‘the best men’ for Fitzroy ‘were the little fellows’. While ‘It was a really good game, open and fast’ Fitzroy didn’t seem to be accurate kicking through the big sticks:
St Kilda was victorious 10.7 to 3.16. (p. 5)
We’ve seen some interesting conversations this week about what constitutes a genuine attempt to dispose of the ball when tackled. In 1913 the issue was also a live one. It was noted that one player ‘lay on [the ball] like a sitting hen’ and instead of having a free kick awarded against him it was ‘balled up’: ‘The umpires evidently need sharpening up on this point of the game’, the record implored. (p5)
Today, we might also suggest that umpires need to put some careful thought into understanding what being under pressure looks like. The Bulldog’s Liam Picken chasing one down near the goal square surely constitutes terrifying pressure and rushing a behind is really the only option … but Picken’s left foot goal that followed was a glorious sight to behold!
Turning to supporters – while getting through security at grounds can be a challenge today, in 1913 it was the tram to the ground that created the serious bottleneck to reach the game. There was ‘rushing and scrambling and fighting’ for places on the tram heading north to see Carlton play South Melbourne on the previous weekend. The writer noted that ‘the women of Melbourne can hold their own in a rough and tumble crowd’ with ‘the stronger [shepherding] the weaker – just like they had seen their football heroes shepherding comrades against opponents’. Everyone made it to the game ok but women were aided by their hat pins and apparently ‘Several men were punctured by these spears’. (p3)
Tip well, play well, and take care with your hat pins,
Jordy & Mary