The late 1930’s saw the rise of the Young Christian Workers (YCW) movement as the overarching body for youth activism (ages 14-25) in the Catholic Church. By 1941 Archbishop Daniel Mannix decreed that the existing Catholic Boys Legion should be transformed into the YCW.1 This new organisation had a stronger religious zeal than the more established Christian Young Men’s Association (CYMS) who were seen by the YCW as too focused on just sport.2 Although the new YCW organisation envisaged taking over from the CYMS, but lack of agreement over objectives meant that the organisations continued to act separately.

This tension at the top of the Catholic Youth movements is likely to have gone un-noticed by young Flemington CYMS player Thomas Quinlan.

Flemington CYMS

Flemington CYMS played their first football game at least as far back as 1895.3 By the 1930's the CYMS had established competitions across Melbourne and before the WW2, the CYMS competition also played combined matches against rival interstate teams.4

Some of the best information about Thomas's Flemington team comes from the VFL Record, as in 1942, Flemington (North Section Premiers) played off against Glen Iris – East Malvern (South Section Premiers for the CYMS championship. This final was played as the curtain raiser to one of the biggest games of the year, the VFL premiers Essendon v the Combined Services Team (full of VFL stars)....oh and Essendon won on the day. The Football Record for the game provided an overview of the Flemington team:

Playing in the final, grand final and championship matches is nothing new to Flemington. They have won pennants and have been champions on occasions. This team is the Collingwood of the C.Y.M.S. as there are very few occasions they have missed the final four.” - VFL record 1942 Essendon v Combined Services 26-Sep-1942 p16

Flemington wore Blue with a gold sash, the Williamstown Colours and the old VFA representative team colours.

The Record reported that recent League players from the C.Y.M.S Ranks included
Player VFL Club CYMS Club
Leo Merrett Richmond Glen Iris
Ray Brew Carlton West Melbourne
Ted Leehane Essendon Brunswick
Maurie Hearn Fitzroy Flemington
Claude Curtin Fitzroy North Brunswick
Phil Ryan Hawthorn Kew
Bob Green Carlton Ascot Vale
Jack Wrout Carlton Ascot Vale
Bill Unwin Collingwood Fairfield
Phonse Orger St Kilda West St Kilda
Jack Gibby Footscray Kew
Jim Bohan Hawthorn Hawthorn
Terry O'Brien St Kilda West St Kilda
Ray Barker Essendon Northcote
(Alf?) Hurley Hawthorn Port Melbourne
Leo Murphy Hawthorn Heidelberg
Kevin Wade Collingwood Northcote

One of these highlighted players was Maurie Hearn who was recruited from Thomas's club, Flemington CYMS, in 1932, Hearn played 136 VFL Games and kicked 91 Goals playing a short stint with South Melbourne, but then the majority of his career at Fitzroy.

Also note that the above list only includes a few of the names recruited from CYMS teams. For example, other players from Flemington included Ted Thomas (North Melbourne), Ray Martini (Essendon/Carlton) and Brian Paine (Essendon).


The first photo from 1944 indicates that Tom played in the Young Christian Workers (YCW) competition, probably a junior competition. The CYMS competition did include a number of YCW teams in 1944 but the evidence makes it unlikely that this 1944 team played in the CYMS competition. (The Age 10-Jul-1944 p4)

In the 1944 photo, Tom appears to be wearing the same Flemington colours as in the following years, but the 1947 CYMS Premiership photo does not mention 1944 as one of the their Premierships, records also show that Flemington CYMS was defeated in the 1944 North Section Semi-final by Brunswick on 9-Sep-1944 (Argus 11-Sep-1944 p9). This points to the 1944 photo being from a more junior competition that was unrecorded by the contemporary Age and Argus newspapers.

1944 premiers YCW - Back Row of players - Tom is 3 from the left, his mate Clem is beside him, 4th from left
1944 premiers YCW - Back Row of players - Tom is 3 from the left, his mate Clem is beside him, 4th from left

Tom at Fairburn Park
Tom at Fairburn Park

Tom (left) and Clem (right)
Tom (left) and Clem (right)

Thomas Quinlan and Unknown in Flemington Colours 1944
Thomas Quinlan and Unknown in Flemington Colours 1944


The 1945 Flemington CYMS team was a strong one.

A report of a loss against Werribee in July indicated that this was the first defeat for the season for the team.5 Unfortunately, the team went down in the Semi-final, where Fairfield, 8-5, d Flemington, 5-7.6 But they came back and defeated Brunswick in the Northern district Grand Final, Flemington, 16-17. d Brunswick. 5-11.7

But it is unclear if Tom lined up for the team in 1945. The only photo of Thomas from 1945 is titled Warrandyte 7.7.1945 where he appears in different colours.

Warrandyte 7.7.1945. - Tom in the back row 2nd from left.
Warrandyte 7.7.1945. - Tom in the back row 2nd from left.

Thomas’s photo collection includes a Charles Boyles photo from 1945, this one of the North Melbourne Team against Melbourne at Punt Road (June 2). Whether he had the photo because he was friends with one of the players, or whether he purchased the photo while watching North Melbourne at a later game is not clear.

North Melbourne Senior Team 1945 R07 - Photographer Charles Boyles - Source: Veronica Poynton
North Melbourne Senior Team 1945 R07 - Photographer Charles Boyles - Source: Veronica Poynton

For Names and details see North Melbourne Senior Team 1945 R07 (VP)

There are a few connections between Thomas and the photo:

At least one player, E. (Ted) Thomas transferred from Flemington CYMS to North Melbourne in 1944.8

Jim Malone (Second From Right in the front Row) was at Thomas’s funeral and is another connection to the photo.

Kevin Dynon was another North Melbourne player who knew Tom.

In the 40s and until TV came in the mid 50s nearly every Catholic Church would have a dance on a Sunday night. Mainly as a fund raiser for the church. There were two dances in that area, St Brendan’s in Flemington and Holy Rosary in Kensington, they were only about 1 km apart and they were packed out each week. It seems that the Flemington CYMS ran a dance on Sunday nights (Which is where Kevin first met his future wife). This meant that even though Flemington was zoned to Essendon, a connection with North Melbourne developed.

Tom was also friends with the McCullouch boys as well (Davey, a future Carlton player, was a close mate).


Reverend P Lynch (a former Navel Chaplin) was appointed as the new parish priest at St Brendan’s in Flemington in early 1947.9 Part of this role was as president of the local CYMS football team and he would have been happy with the efforts of the team in his first year.

Indeed, on Sep 8th 1947, Flemington 11.9 defeated Moonee Ponds 8.12 for the A Section Premiership. (Age 6-Sep-1947 p8)

During 1944 and 1945 the CYMS had played in Divisions of North, South, East and West. In 1947 this was ‘A’ and ‘B’ Divisions.

CYMFSA -CMY Champions 1947 -Tom in the back row 4th from left.
CYMFSA -CMY Champions 1947 -Tom in the back row 4th from left.

Notice the ‘47’ patched onto the Champion’s sign, it is a good indication of the domestic shortages just after the war. The team had been champions in 1938 and this was possibly a rebadged 1938 sign.

Same photo with frame and names at bottom
Same photo with frame and names at bottom

For their end of season trip, the champions visited Echuca and were hosted by the local St Mary’s club.10 Echuca, the closest Murray River Port to Melbourne, was a popular destination for end of season trips. Teams would often travel just for the weekend, playing a game against the locals and enjoying themselves.

During WW2 Echuca had suffered a long drought and the football ground looks dry and dusty.

Echuca 47
Echuca 47

Echuca 47
Echuca 47

Echuca 47
Echuca 47


Today the CYMS teams have faded from the scene, only a few remain, such as Williamston CYMS playing in the VAFA. But Thomas's photos provide a great visual insight into an era when there were many workplace, church and all other sorts of footballl competitions thriving across Melbourne and Australia.

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End Notes

3. C.Y.M.S. (1895, June 28). North Melbourne Gazette (Vic. : 1894 - 1901), p. 3. Retrieved March 11, 2014, from
4. INTERSTATE C.Y.M.S. FOOTBALL. (1938, August 20). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 16. Retrieved March 11, 2014, from
5. C.Y.M.S. WEEKLY MEETING. (1945, July 5). Werribee Shire Banner (Vic. : 1911 - 1952), p. 3. Retrieved March 11, 2014, from
6. JUNIOR GAMES. (1945, August 27). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 12. Retrieved March 11, 2014, from
7. OTHER GAMES. (1945, September 10). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 11. Retrieved March 11, 2014, from
8. LEAGUE GRANTS 85 FOOTBALL PERMITS. (1944, May 4). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 13. Retrieved March 14, 2014, from
9. New Appointments. (1947, February 15). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 15. Retrieved March 12, 2014, from
10. St. Mary's Social Club Entertains Visitors. (1947, September 20). Riverine Herald (Echuca, Vic. : Moama, NSW : 1869 - 1954), p. 2. Retrieved March 11, 2014, from