Sit yourself down in a cosy chair in front of the fire and transport yourself back to 1957 and experience the joys of an 11-year-old Geelong supporter and his statistical exercise book. Ted Hopkins never did it like this.
Table of contents
Statistician extraordinaire 1956-59 (Eat your heart out Ted Hopkins!)Part One of ‘Cats Stats and the Stats Revolution’ 1
BECOMING A CATIn 1957 I was eleven years old. That was the year I became an apprentice – an apprentice football statistician. My job was to record the statistics of Geelong footballers in the VFL. Of course I worked only for myself and I earned no pounds and shillings from it but my statistical records (and the exercise books in which they were kept) have stood the test of time.
The following autobiographical memoir of a fifties childhood is the story of how and why I became a precocious football statistician. Statisticians are not born – they are made. A lot of other things have to happen first. An eleven-year-old is still being formed in mind and body. A lot depends on what happens to you when you are six, seven, eight, nine and ten.
In 2011, Ted Hopkins, former Carlton footballer and founder of Champion Data, published an autobiographical memoir detailing his extraordinary journey as a path-breaking football statistician. The Hopkins account, which I have reviewed elsewhere, is almost entirely about the last fifty years. He has next to nothing about the fifties. My account, which goes back sixty years to an earlier phase in the ‘stats revolution’, therefore complements his. 2
Before I could collect Cats stats I had to first become a Cat. Before I could become a Cat I had to first become keen on football. It was not hard to notice football in the early fifties. It boomed out at us all the time from the wireless. Some of my earliest memories are of my father sitting glued to our wireless in the loungeroom and talking excitedly about someone called ‘John Coleman’. Eventually I began listening to the games myself. I clearly remember Norman Banks, Doug Heywood and ‘Polly’ Perkins on 3AW. 3 In the evenings there were the weekly footy shows – Kia Ora Sports Parade on 3KZ, Pelaco Inquest (with Phillip Gibbs) on 3KZ, and The London Stores Show on 3AW. Much of what I heard was completely incomprehensible to me, but I got the general idea – football was important. From about this time – 1952 – it began to seep into my blood.
Football also popped out at us from our Kornies breakfast cereal packets, or rather the footballers themselves did. I became hooked on Kornies football cards, which I first started to notice in 1950, and drove my mother mad with requests for another packet. At first it was the colour and the strange physical poses that intrigued me. I liked Oakleigh and Northcote the best, because of the purple and green. Before long however I was taking note of the players and the teams. 4
Because we lived in nearby Camberwell, my father took me to watch some Hawthorn matches at Glenferrie Oval in 1952. I saw the hapless Hawks play Carlton and Fitzroy, and again it was the spectacular colour that I took home with me. 5 1952 was a great year for any kid learning about football. The Argus newspaper published colourised photos of VFL teams in the Friday ‘Weekend Magazine’ and colourised action photos in the Monday edition. 6
Then, in September 1952, The Argus published Let’s Look at Football, a compilation of Hugh Buggy’s brilliantly-researched historical articles that had appeared daily in the newspaper that season. I was now old enough to read and I absorbed some of the history. I grasped the main point - football was important not only because of its colour but also because of its tradition.
It might seem odd that I decided to barrack for Geelong. There was no family connection with ‘Sleepy Hollow’ whatsoever. My father followed Essendon and my grandfather had supported South Melbourne since the nineteenth century. Geelong however had become the dominant VFL team, playing twenty-six consecutive matches without defeat in the course of 1952-53. I hopped on the bandwagon of the glamour team.
Reinforcing my opportunism was my mother’s friend Keith Everett, a long-time Geelong supporter. Keith visited frequently, talked knowingly about the Cats, and sprinkled his conversation with strange, intriguing names like ‘Woofa’, ‘Nipper’ and ‘Hooker’. 7 My father and I attended the 1953 Grand Final with the Everetts. It was the first time I had ever seen my team play – and they lost. I remember very little about the match and a lot more about the proliferation of pennants and other blue-and-white souvenirs selling outside the ground. 8
In 1954 and 1955 (and occasionally in 1956) I saw a lot of South Melbourne matches at the Lake Oval. ‘Nanny’ and ‘Papa’, who were both long-time South Melbourne members, took me up into the Members’ Stand to see the likes of Fred Goldsmith, Ron Clegg, Bill Gunn, Don Keyter, Jim Taylor, Ian Gillett, Mick Sibun and Eddie Lane go through their paces. 9 The Argus continued to churn out exciting football material – more colour action shots and team photos, and another five football books from 1953 through to 1956. 10 The Argus also entered the football card market in 1953 and 1954 and soon I was adding these cards to my existing Kornies collection. 11 The three series of glossy, high-quality cards produced by Coles Stores in 1954 and 1955 were another irresistible addition to the footy card market. There was a Coles store directly across the road from Camberwell Central School and we would ‘nick’ across at lunchtime to pore over the cards piled up at the counter. 12
BECOMING A CATS STATS MANMy loyalty to Geelong never wavered. However, because we lived in Camberwell and Burwood in the fifties, I attended few Geelong games. Consequently I formed the habit as early as 1954 of listening to 3GL’s broadcasts of Geelong games. Geelong supporters (unlike those of all other VFL clubs) were guaranteed a broadcast of their game every week.
3GL, the Geelong radio station, started broadcasting Geelong’s VFL matches in April 1932, although in the thirties the station only broadcast about half of them. The two commentators I first heard were Reg Gray and Ivor Grundy. Gray was a true veteran who had been calling Geelong games since 1932. Grundy too had been around for a long time, since 1939. Gray retired at the end of the 1955 season and was replaced by Leo O’Halloran, a former Geelong VFL footballer from the early fifties and winner of the 1952 Gardiner Medal (VFL Seconds). The older Grundy and the younger O’Halloran, often criticized by opposition fans for being obviously one-eyed, became very familiar voices. There were frequent advertisements for Heaths Motors, lots of homely ‘cheerios’ sent out at half-time, and praise for the brass band from Saint Augustine’s Orphanage.
Most Saturday afternoons in the 1956 season, I lay on my bedroom floor beside the wireless and switched the dial to 3GL. The wireless was a black Bakelite model with an art deco design. It had possibly been in our home even before I was born. The yellow dial had a host of stations on it – not just Melbourne stations but many others as well. 13 At the conclusion of the broadcast I wrote down the names of the players I believed were Geelong’s ‘best’. I awarded them ‘votes’ – and the ‘votes’ from each game were added up to determine Geelong’s ‘best player’ for the whole season. This habit of ‘voting’ was maintained in the 1957 season. 14 In 1957, however, I went a good deal further in my efforts to record the games. I kept a detailed record of Geelong’s on-field performances. In an appropriately-ruled exercise book I recorded the ‘kicks’ and ‘marks’ as called by Grundy and O’Halloran and transformed myself into a statistician - a football statistician extraordinaire. 15
My career as a football statistician extended to 1958 and 1959. Almost every Saturday afternoon in these three football seasons, if I was not actually in attendance at the match, I would settle on the floor beside my wireless set, switch the dial to 3GL, and strain to hear the voices of Grundy and O’Halloran as they described the football - while I recorded the ‘kicks’, the ‘marks’ (and in 1959 the ‘handpasses’) into the pre-prepared, ruled columns in front of me.
The football statistics produced in this manner were quite probably more reliable than the football statistics occasionally found in the newspapers of the day. The ‘objectivity’ of Grundy and O’Halloran, two passionate broadcasters each with only one blue and white eye, was always questionable but I still believe their descriptions were statistically accurate – as least with regard to which Geelong player had the ball. Grundy and O’Halloran knew their Geelong players. It hardly mattered if they stumbled over the players from the opposition team – I recorded only Cats stats anyway.
Recording the statistics allowed me a sense of participation and developed a keen capacity for imagination as I mentally pictured full forward Fred Wooller leading out to mark a glorious drop kick from Les Borrack in the centre. I would brook no interference until the game was over and the weary Cats players slumped off the field. The next task was to decide the ‘best’ three players on the ground (3-2-1) and the ‘best’ six Geelong players for my own self-styled voting system (6-5-4-3-2-1).
My exercise books covering Geelong’s 1957, 1958 and 1959 seasons have all survived the passage of time (almost sixty years) and many changes of address. For this entire period they have been carefully and lovingly preserved but rarely consulted. It has been a pleasure to archaeologically dive into all three of them for this article, and for my trilogy of articles on Geelong Football Club in the fifties. 16
I believe there must have been other kids doing stats off the radio, even if not many of them were eleven-year-olds. Most likely some of them were fellow Geelong barrackers living in Melbourne. In September 1989, just before Geelong’s first appearance in a Grand Final for twenty-two years, Latrobe University academic and prominent public intellectual Robert Manne wrote an article for The Herald in which he described how he had recorded Geelong statistics from 3GL broadcasts in the early sixties. I wonder now how many of those youthful statisticians have actually kept their original records. Let me know if you have.
Football was only one of my sporting interests as a kid. If I was pre-disposed towards keeping a record of football results this was largely because I had already become pre-disposed towards keeping a record of sports results in general. My parents encouraged my interest in sport. 17 The wireless was central to it. We followed the fortunes of Frank Sedgman and Ken McGregor (and later Ken Rosewall and Lew Hoad) in Davis Cup tennis tournaments (initially against the Americans Vic Seixas and Tony Trabert). 18 We listened to every ball of the 1954-55 ‘Ashes’ Test cricket series in Australia, relishing the smooth and cultured tones of Australians Alan McGilvray, Michael Charlton and Victor Richardson, and Englishman Arthur Gilligan. 19 No matter where we happened to be on Melbourne Cup Day we would have to stop and listen to the race. 20 In later years I even listened on Friday nights to Ron Casey of 3DB describe the boxing at Festival Hall, the old West Melbourne Stadium. 21 Attending sporting events made them even more real. My father and I saw Keith Miller create havoc in the pre-lunch session on the first day of the MCG Test Match (Friday, December 31, 1954). 22 We drove to Brenock Park in Ferntree Gully to watch the finish of the 1954 Sun Tour. 23 We drove to Rob Roy near Kangaroo Ground to watch the Australian Hill Climb Championship (won by Lex Davison). 24
The first things I ever read, after John and Betty and umpteen Little Golden Books (and the Education Department’s School Readers) were sporting books. 25 On the very same day (December 31, 1954) I saw my first Test match, Junior Argus printed my name as one of the winners of a cricket book - Denzil Batchelor’s magnificent ‘coffee-table’ book The Book of Cricket. 26 I won the prize because of my cricket knowledge. Some of this knowledge came from Sporting Life magazine, available at the newsagency in Camberwell Road. 27 Most of my cricket knowledge however came via The Argus. The Argus published a guide to the 1953 Australian Tour of England and a guide to the 1954-55 MCC tour of Australia. I inherited both. Undoubtedly some of my interest in statistics emanated from these. I watched with fascination as my father carefully entered the scores in the sheets provided and I committed to memory much of the information in the cricket records and statistics at the back of both publications.
However, if I were to try to pick the single most important source of inspiration for my 1957 decision to record ‘kicks’ and ‘marks’ I would have to nominate the statistical tables that appeared in The Argus during the 1956 VFL finals series. These tables included stats for the First Semi Final between Geelong and Footscray which I had attended. 28 I can imagine myself thinking – ‘if they can do it why can’t I’. Certainly statistical tables had appeared in The Sporting Globe over a number of finals series in the fifties but I may not have been aware of them. I would certainly have seen, and been influenced by, the stats in The Argus. 29
It was not just the stats from the 1956 Finals series however – other things that happened in 1956 encouraged me too. Of course, most historians now look back on 1956 and describe it as a year of momentous political events. A series of dramatic events shook the post-war world order, one after the other, and added to the tensions already created by the terrifying nuclear arms race between the superpowers. There was the ‘Suez Crisis’ where Egypt’s Colonel Nasser seized the Suez Canal and prompted an invasion by Britain and France. There were ructions in the Soviet bloc as it was rocked by two explosive events - firstly Nikita Krushchev’s ‘Secret Speech’ denouncing Stalin, and secondly the Soviet Union’s military invasion of Hungary. 30
These are things I know now. My head was not bothered by them then. For a sheltered little boy in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, living in a household where political issues were rarely discussed, what really mattered was what was happening on the sporting field. There was one exception. The following year, in 1957, the Russians managed to put a satellite into orbit – ‘Sputnik’. I can remember standing outside on the front porch one night and actually watching ‘Sputnik’ – an unmistakable little speck of light - as it made its way across the heavens. We already had an arms race. The fact that the Russians had beaten the Americans into space meant we also now had a space race.
No, 1956 was for me all about sport. Geelong appeared yet again in the VFL Finals – albeit briefly this time. My cricket ‘hero’, Ken ‘Slasher’ Mackay, was at last picked to represent Australia. We strained to listen to the distant voices of the BBC commentators as they described the remarkable spin bowling performances of Jim Laker, wrecker of the 1956 Australians in England. 1956 also seemed to be all about sport because so much of everyday life in Melbourne that year was geared towards preparing for the Olympic Games. For many Melbournians the whole of 1956 was one long preparation for the Games of the XV1 Olympiad scheduled to begin on November 22. The VFL football season was timed to finish earlier than normal in order to allow time for the makeover of the MCG. Frantic preparations were made at the MCG - the Main Stadium - to prepare it for the Opening Ceremony and the athletics events due to start on November 23. A new, bright red, cinder track was soon in place to replace the green turf where Melbourne and Collingwood had been battling it out in the Grand Final only a few weeks before. Further out, in the north-east of Melbourne, hordes of workmen rushed about busily in a pocket of West Heidelberg that had been set aside for the athletes’ ‘Olympic Village’.
In the mid-fifties the events that most captured the imagination of the sports-mad Melbourne public were the VFL Grand Final, the Melbourne Cup, an ‘Ashes’ Test Match at the MCG, the (tennis) Davis Cup, and anything to do with John Landy and his quest for the ‘Four Minute Mile’. Geelong-based Landy had already become a household name through his running feats in the early fifties. Landy was written off by many after failing to shine at the Helsinki Olympics but his scorching 4.02.1 effort at Melbourne’s Olympic Park on December 13, 1952 electrified the athletics world and sparked renewed interest in the four-minute barrier. Landy was elevated to national hero status when he finally cracked four-minutes in June 1954. 31 Suddenly foot-running events were popular in a way they had never been before. Dave Stephens, a milkman from Melbourne’s western suburbs and a member of the Williamstown club, earned the nickname ‘The Flying Milko’ after running some astonishing times in Australian long-distance events. Stephens had corresponded with the great Czech runner Emil Zatopek, winner of both the 5000 metres and 10,000 metres at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics. Now Stephens was being tipped to emulate his hero by taking Gold for Australia in Melbourne. A handful of champion Hungarian middle-distance runners - Sandor Iharos, Laszlo Tabori and Istvan Rozsavolgyi – were brought to Melbourne at the end of 1955 to race Australia’s best (including Stephens) and further whet our appetites for the Olympics.
Thousands travelled to Olympic Park in Batman Avenue to attend a series of night-time athletics carnivals from late 1955 through most of 1956. Nearly all of Australia’s top athletes competed. I can remember seeing middle-distance runners Alby Thomas, Merv Lincoln and Don MacMillan; and long-distance athletes Les Perry and Dave Power. I can picture the walker Ted Allsop from Williamstown rocking and swaying his way around the track. My favourite was the 3000 metres steeplechaser Ron Blackney – for no other reason than the fact he came from Geelong. Every person (including myself) who was there at Olympic Park on March 10, 1956 will never forget the incredible moment (surely one of the most dramatic moments in Australian sporting history) when John Landy actually stopped running to offer aid to his fallen rival Ron Clarke in the Australian mile championship. Needless to say Landy went on to win the race. Little wonder then that when the Mansells went to buy their tickets for the Olympics they asked almost exclusively for tickets to the Main Stadium where the athletics events were to be staged.
Australian athletes covered themselves in glory at the Main Stadium. Gold medals were won by the incomparable Betty Cuthbert (100 metres and 200 metres), the brilliant Shirley Strickland (80 metres hurdles), and the great womens’ 4 x 100 metres relay team (Cuthbert, Strickland, Norma Croker and Fleur Mellor). Silver medals were won by Charles ‘Chilla’ Porter in the High Jump, and by the mens’ 4 x 400 metres relay team (Kevan Gosper, Ross Parker, Leon Gregory and Graham Gipson). Hec Hogan (100 metres), Landy (1500 metres), Alan Lawrence (10,000 metres), Marlene Mathews (100 metres and 200 metres) and Norma Thrower (80 metres hurdles) all won Bronze.
I was truly privileged to witness first-hand some of these performances – Cuthbert’s exciting victories, Landy’s run in the 1500 metres, Hogan’s wonderful performance in the 100 metres final, and the domination of the extraordinary Soviet running machine Vladimir Kuts as he powered away in both the 5000 metres and 10,000 metres. One other athletics event stays with me. The High Jump came down to a thrilling two-man contest between Australian Charles ‘Chilla’ Porter and Charles Dumas of the U.S. The contest lasted well into the night as both men closed in on the seven-foot barrier. I can remember being glued nervously to our radio as the prospect of another Australian Gold Medal offered itself and then went begging.
Not even these moments stick in my memory with quite the same stark clarity as my memory of what happened one evening at the Olympic Pool. We had just taken our seats and my mother pointed out to me that Menzies Government Minister Harold Holt had taken his seat a few rows in front of us. (This was of course not the last time we had reason to associate Harold Holt with swimming). I soon forgot all about Harold Holt. The Water Polo contest between Hungary and the Soviet Union had been proceeding without apparent drama when suddenly we noticed there was blood on the water – lots of it. If we had been more aware of what had taken place in Budapest over the preceding months we might have been better prepared. For the next half-hour (or perhaps more) we were treated to the most astonishing spectacle. As they swam and thrashed about vigorously with their arms and legs, we could see that some of the players were viciously kicking other players under the water - although the Russians seemed to be mainly on the receiving end. No doubt this unfortunate water polo team was bearing the blood-stained brunt of their government’s decision to invade its Soviet-bloc partner.
The hatred on display at the Water Polo was the most obvious indicator of political tensions at the Games but if there were tensions within and between the competing national contingents we were blissfully unaware of them. 32 I can remember looking down from the MCG grandstand at the Opening Ceremony as the various national groups circled the arena and spying a tiny contingent from a strange country called ‘Vietnam’ that I had never heard of before. The Olympics then seemed to carry an aura of purity – firstly because of the strict enforcement of amateurism and secondly because of the apparent absence of performance-enhancing substances. The universally-acknowledged view was that Melbourne had done itself proud and we could all come down from the clouds with our chests puffed out and again take up whatever we were doing in our normal lives. It was hard to adjust to Life after the Olympics however. It was like coming back home from an exciting holiday and wanting to re-live every dream-like moment.
The Olympics lasted only seventeen days but at the time it seemed a lot longer than that. The summer school holidays started not long afterwards. Summer school holidays always seemed to last forever. Time passes slowly when you are a kid. I had been used to filling in hot January days with outdoor pursuits. There were family outings to the beach or the Dandenongs in our new Austin car that my grandparents had brought back from England. I had gone looking for caterpillars in the peppercorn trees that grew down the secluded lane near the corner of Bellett Street and Camberwell Road. I had played in the street with neighbours Robyn Trebilcock or Margaret Chandler and never imagined for a second how or why girls were any different. I had called in on Johnny Weston and Frank Carew who also lived in Bellett Street. I had spent time with George Forbes in Athelstan Road. I even played with Phillip Gleeson who lived in Nelson Road and remember being told he was somehow different because he was Catholic. The constant theme tune of summer was the loud and piercing din made by cicadas. My brother and I poured water down the cicada holes and searched for their cast-off shells near the back fence. We played cricket in our tiny Nelson Road backyard and took the utmost care never to hit the ball over the fence.
These were my sixth summer school holidays and I was starting to spend less time outdoors and more time indoors with cerebral pursuits. My first statistical record-keeping venture was not to do with football but to do with cricket. I had initially developed an interest in cricket statistics when my father gave me the publications produced by The Argus for the 1953 Australian tour of England and the 1954-55 English tour of Australia. These books were full of fascinating statistical details and over the next two seasons I memorized much of it. Sometime in November 1956 I bought myself a school exercise book and began filling it up with as much cricket information as I could lay my hands on. There was no Test Cricket that summer and so most of the data in the book is a record of the Sheffield Shield season and Melbourne’s District Cricket competition. Apart from the pasted-in newspaper clippings (mainly score sheets and batting/bowling averages) most of the contents are scores and results which were laboriously handwritten.
Poring over the book today, one obvious idiosyncrasy stands out, exposing the eccentricity of my eleven-year-old personality. The handwritten score sheets are nearly all from Queensland’s Shield matches. I had become besotted with the redoubtable Ken ‘Slasher’ Mackay – originally because of the similarity of his name and then from reading an article about him in Sporting Life. Mackay drove opposition teams – and most spectators - mad with his relentlessly dour batting technique, but he was my hero and so perversely I became a traitor to my home state and barracked for Queensland. This meant staying in doors and listening to their matches on ABC radio.
On some Saturdays I would wander down to the Camberwell Oval to watch the local Sub-District team go through its paces. George Forbes and I climbed the old scoreboard at the eastern end of the ground. I vaguely remember that we somehow managed to put up the score – manually hanging up and taking off the numbered steel squares on the nails provided. The physical effort and concentration required for the scoreboard meant the novelty soon wore off. I found that it was much more comfortable and interesting to sit in the little scorers’ box on the southern side of the ground and observe the scorers at work. Their precision and neatness as they entered the figures and the dots after every single ball fascinated me. We were also tolerated in the dressing room during the tea interval. I cannot imagine how we were able to justify our presence but there seemed to be no restrictions. I have quite vivid memories of some of the Camberwell players – legendary fast bowler John Birch of course with his customary tin of pineapple juice from the Esky, Ken Munro, Graham Moss, Robin Balfour, Les Crawley, Ian Birchall, Alan Parton, Bill Hay and Harry Schneider. If you wandered a little further into the clubrooms you entered what felt like a large cavernous dance hall, virtually empty except for the chairs around the walls and the magnificent framed (cricket and football) team photographs that adorned the walls – some of them no doubt displaying Camberwell’s two most legendary sporting figures: Roy Cazaly and Laurie Nash.
Most of the cricket information I crammed into my exercise book that summer would have come from The Argus newspaper. From as far back as I could remember we had woken every morning to The Argus. My father would retrieve the mysteriously-delivered newspaper from the front doorstep. The weekend ritual had been to snuggle together in my parents’ bed and pore over our respective bits of the paper. For me, initially, it was the comics - Brick Bradford, Ginger Meggs, and Radish. The colourised comics conditioned me to appreciate coloured productions and I was thrilled when The Argus began to produce colourised football photos (team photos and action photos from mid-1952 to mid-1955), footy cards (1953 and 1954) and footy books (1952-1956). In late 1954, around about the same time as my father and I attended the Test Match against England at the MCG, I won a prize (Denzil Batchelor’s The Book of Cricket) in a Junior Argus competition for correctly answering some cricket history questions. Junior Argus had even printed my name and suburb. In short, I had fallen in love with The Argus. The January 19, 1957 edition was a terrible shock. The newspaper sadly proclaimed its own demise. We eventually swung over to The Age, another longstanding Melbourne institution but more demure than the hoary old Argus and never loved as much.
My first playmates at 40 Bellett Street were the Ferrari boys - John and Alan. The Ferraris shared the same Bellett Street address because they lived in the adjoining flat. Unfortunately the Ferraris moved around 1955 and the new people who moved in were, to put it politely, a cultural challenge. My parents hated the loud music that burst through their bedroom wall. They therefore spent most of the 1956-57 school holidays looking for a new place for us to live. Finally they forked out $7,500 and bought a house in Burwood, roughly five miles to the east of where we lived in Camberwell. Our new abode was a cream brick-veneer place on the corner of Meyer Road and Park Avenue. Park Avenue ran off Warrigal Road, not far from the corner of Warrigal Road and Highbury Roads and directly opposite Burwood Oval. Burwood was then an outer suburb. There was very little development to the east and one could look across from Warrigal Road at the vast expanse of market gardens. We moved in on March 15, 1957. The house had been built sometime in the early fifties (and then temporarily lived in) by a local builder called John Mold. It was a vast improvement on our cramped little flat in Camberwell. The backyard was much more spacious and you could whack a cricket ball without having to worry about the proverbial neighbour – or so we initially thought until we discovered our new neighbour – a gentleman we christened ‘Pembo’ – was even more hostile to the flying cricket ball than our previous one. There was a brick double garage for my father to work in, and a little outhouse (christened ‘The Caboose’) for my brother and I to play in – which I realized many years later was actually built from asbestos sheets! Inside there was a sunroom, a room which my father used for his office, and two bedrooms, the smaller of which I shared with my brother.
Some time not long before we moved to Burwood we were given a lovely black and white kitten called ‘Gus’. The original owners had called the kitten ‘Gus’ after the painter Augustus John. Later they discovered the poor little thing was a female. There was no need to change her name however – they told us there was a possible female namesake for the cat: Gussie Moran, the tennis player. Only a few months before we moved a new family called ‘Hobbs’ moved into the huge old mansion (No. 32 Bellett Street) at the back of our place. Mrs Roddick, the elderly widow who had lived there for years, had let the garden go. It had become a veritable jungle. The Hobbs’s spent their weekends energetically clearing the thick and almost impenetrable undergrowth. There were still some very tall pine trees in their garden. One evening Graeme Hobbs, a boy roughly my age who attended Wesley College, arrived panting at our front door to tell us that Gus had climbed to the top of one of the tallest pine trees and was resisting all entreaties to return to the ground. My recollection is that we eventually had to call in the Fire Brigade. No-one else was game enough to climb up after the cat. Gus was rescued and she moved with us to Burwood. She lived a long happy life. But the episode of the tree was a very bad omen for the forthcoming football season. If I’d known then that my beloved Cats were destined to finish bottom of the ladder I might have suggested we leave little Gus with her original owners.
1957 CATS STATSAlthough only vicariously enjoyed for the most part, Geelong Football Club took pride of place in my imaginary world as a child – at least in winter. The players in their blue and white hooped guernseys were my heroes. From the start of the 1957 season through to the very end of the fifties Geelong lost almost every Saturday but this did not jolt my profound loyalty. ‘Woofa’, ‘Nipper’ and ‘Sago’ and all the other players whose nicknames I was not aware of were real flesh and blood figures, but I could not see them. 33 I could only imagine a player rising for a mark or darting out of a pack. As I lay on the floor in front of the wireless set hearing their names I was aware of my fragile connection. The images I formed of them were entirely mediated by the 3GL commentary. Perhaps the only way to establish a more secure connection with my heroes was to document their efforts by placing little marks beside their names in an exercise book. My career as a football statistician was born.
My ‘Vana’ school exercise book statistically recording Geelong’s 1957 season (along with those I created to statistically record Geelong’s 1958 and 1959 seasons) has survived the passage of time (almost sixty years), and many changes of address, and is the subject of the following paragraphs.
I saw the Geelong footballers rarely, although when I did I made the most of it. At the start of the 1957 football season I travelled to Geelong with the Everetts (Keith, Jean, Geoff and Rob) to watch Geelong’s third pre-season practice match. I collected lots of autographs, most of which have also miraculously survived.34
Senior players: Les Borrack, Clive Brown, Ken Cameron, Max Hetherington, Peter Barran, Harry Herbert, Max Sutcliffe.
Senior players: Ray Harrip, Bob Gazzard, Ron Hovey, Ken Beardsley, Reg Fisher, John Haygarth, Eric Nicholls.
The Cats had been finalists seven years in a row and another exciting finals series beckoned. Little did we suspect the forthcoming season held disaster in store.
I could hardly contain my excitement as Round One approached. Geelong was scheduled to play Footscray at Kardinia Park on Easter Monday (April 22) in a replay of the 1956 first semi-final. On the Sunday night (April 21) I ruled up my ‘Vana’ exercise book (for ‘kicks’ and ‘marks’- quarter by quarter) in readiness for my first attempt to record match day statistics from the call of the 3GL commentators.
The following morning the front page of The Age carried the following invitation:
‘For the holiday maker not interested in sport there will be a floral festival in the Dandenong Ranges township of Kalorama….The weather bureau predicts cool but mainly fine weather with temperatures in the mid-sixties’.
Imagine my disgust when my parents decided to accept the invitation and drive to Kalorama – taking me with them. None of my emotional entreaties were accepted. Consumed by anger, bitterness and resentment, I sat in the back of the car seething, and moped sullenly around the nurseries. 35 There was no car radio to listen to either. I missed out on a lot – the match was a drawn game, and the exciting and tense last quarter was televised live by GTV9. It was only the second VFL match ever to be televised. 36 The experience took me a while to get over. I can remember feeling at the time this was my first real act of rebellion, the first time I had ever seriously questioned my parents’ judgement. You could even say, for me personally, it was - in its own way - a ‘stats revolution’. Maybe this is why I remember it so well.
My debut statistical effort was therefore the Round Two game against North Melbourne at Arden Street on April 27. I recorded ‘kicks’ quarter by quarter. There were columns ruled up for ‘marks’ quarter by quarter but these for some reason were not entered. Despite this omission the slick professionalism of the production is immediately evident. The statistics were done in dazzling red ink. The script could pass for the disciplined and polished work of a mediaeval monk when in fact it was the work of a kid trained only to dip his nib into a primary school ink well. Imagine what he could have done with a computer.
This was a serious business – the bedroom door shut tight and no interruptions allowed until the game was over. Only by putting my ears very close to the wireless, and mustering all my powers of concentration, could I be certain of hearing every word, every ‘kick’ and ‘mark’. Evidently I did not care about handpasses, possibly because in those days handpasses were few and far between. The Argus stats had not included ‘handpasses’ which is another possible reason why I did not record them initially. It is also possible the commentators did not bother to differentiate the hand pass from the kick pass – ‘Trezise passes to Pianto’ they might have said. We will never know. Anyway, not having to worry about ‘handpasses’ made the job a bit easier. ‘Hard-Ball Gets’ and ‘Loose-Ball Gets’, and all the other terminological paraphernalia of the digital age, were thankfully still a lifetime away and all I needed was a pencil and a page, and a thick skin to cope with the inevitable Geelong defeat. It was as if no other person in the known universe, and certainly not the leading Melbourne newspapers, had launched into the recording of statistics for every home and away match. So,Ted Hopkins, eat your heart out! Here, recorded for posterity and dedicated to the dynamic duo of Ivor and Leo, is the work of the eleven-year-old statistician extraordinaire and his indispensable contribution to The Stats Revolution.
I soon settled down to a regular pattern of recording ‘kicks’ quarter by quarter and ‘marks’ quarter by quarter. Twelve of the eighteen matches conformed to this pattern and I reproduce three of them (Rounds 3, 4, and 7) here. 37
Round Seven .
The pages for Rounds Five and Eight were also ruled up for ‘kicks’ quarter by quarter and ‘marks’ quarter by quarter but not entered. I actually attended these matches – the win against Hawthorn at Geelong on May 18 and the loss against Essendon at Essendon. 38 For the Round Eighteen match against Fitzroy I went to the trouble of recording ‘kicks’ quarter by quarter, ‘marks’ quarter by quarter PLUS ‘free kicks’ quarter by quarter.
The stats for the Round Sixteen match against Hawthorn at Glenferrie are interesting. I recorded the ‘kicks’ quarter by quarter and the ‘marks’ quarter by quarter – but only for the first three quarters. There was a very good reason for this. The last quarter of the match was televised live and I was in our loungeroom watching it. Even an extraordinary statistician is entitled to some time off.
Geelong were up against it because Bob Davis and Peter Pianto were out injured and the Hawks were on the cusp of playing in their first ever VFL finals series. A crowd of 12,000 witnessed a game played in atrocious conditions. Glenferrie Oval was a waterlogged quagmire which became stickier and muddier the further the game progressed. Handling the conditions better than the visitors, Hawthorn moved to an early lead (eleven points at quarter time and 23 points at half-time). The Age newspaper later described Geelong as ‘disjointed’ and ‘spiritless’. 39 Geelong supporters would have held out some hope at three quarter time as the Cats had reduced the lead slightly by the last change to 21 points (7-6 to 9-15). With the television cameras scrutinizing the play in the last quarter many of these same Geelong supporters would have been horrified to see on their screens the meekness with which their football team allowed Hawthorn to dominate the play in the final term. Hawthorn kicked 5-4 to Geelong’s 1-1 to run out easy winners by 48 points (14-19 to 8-7).
I have documentary evidence I was one of these aforementioned Geelong supporters watching the horror on television. The ‘kicks’ and ‘marks’ table dutifully maintained for three-quarters of the game is blank in the fourth quarter. I had abandoned the wireless and rushed to the lounge room, hope surging in my breast. Nowadays footage from that particularly sad last quarter is included in football history documentaries. It shows players of both teams splashing around in the water and mud. The normally light-footed Bernie Smith for instance, in what would prove to be one of his last games for the Cats, appears bogged down as if he had concrete in his boots. We see him taking a chest mark and then kicking poorly downfield. Noel Rayson, another stalwart from the premiership era who left the Cats at the start of the 1958 season, is seen snapping Geelong’s only goal for the quarter. 40 Televised coverage of the football was definitely one of the highlights of our viewing experience that year, even if, at the same time, it promised to play havoc with my statistical ambitions.
The Round Sixteen match against Hawthorn was nowhere near as bad as the Round Eighteen match against Fitzroy at Brunswick Street. Geelong had to win in order to avoid the wooden spoon. Courtesy of their drawn game in Round One the Cats were two points ahead of Fitzroy before the match and they had a marginally better percentage. Despite this incentive, the mighty Cats went down by four goals and trudged off the ground with a wooden spoon with which to eat their humble pie. 41
The curtain thus finally came down on Geelong’s disastrous season and I started to contemplate another cricket exercise book. There was only one last statistical effort required to round off the football season. I added up the Geelong players’ total ‘kicks’ and ‘marks’ for the season – or more correctly for 14 matches plus three quarters. Neil Trezise was a narrow winner, with Peter Pianto coming in second:
Trezise 305-27; Pianto 300-18; Davis 257-66; Haygarth 247-40; B.Smith 232-57; O’Neill 203-36; Williams 176-32; Long 175-38; Brown 167-29; Ferrari 165-49; Borrack 136-35; Rice 131-15; Wooller 114-31; Byron 100-21; Herbert 97-35; M.Goggin 82-8; Gazzard 80-23; Rayson 75-20; Hetherington 64-19; Hovey 64-10; O’Connell 63-6; Le Deux 62-15; Barton 58-10; Crowe 51-15; Sharp 50-0; Nicholls 41-7; Harrip 38-3; Bullen 36-15; O’Halloran 36-1; Ryan 30-3; Barren 26-8; Helmer 26-5; Laird 22-7; James 22-3; Bartle 18-7; R. Smith 10-2; West 9-1; Bourke 8-4; Fisher 8-3; Worland 1-0.
Television had arrived in Melbourne just in time for the Olympics and people travelled into the City to watch the events on a television set in Myers Bourke Street window. Like many other families we acquired our first television set sometime in the course of 1957. It was difficult to wrench oneself away from this amazing new device. There were three channels in Melbourne – Nine (GTV9), Seven (HSV7) and Two (the ABC). We were thrilled to SEE for the first time – albeit in black and white only – some of the personalities that we had only previously been able to HEAR on radio. A host of home-grown Australian TV celebrities was eventually spawned: Bob Horsfall, Eric Pearce, Jack Davey, Bob Dyer, Geoff Corke, ‘Happy’ Hammond, Zig and Zag, Graham Kennedy, ‘Panda’, Toni Lamond, Bert Newton, Phillip Brady and Ernie Sigley. Tony Charlton, Michael Charlton, Ron Casey, Doug Elliott, Phillip Gibbs and Jack Little were some of the leading TV sports commentators. In the beginning, however, it seemed as if the majority of the programs available had been imported from the United States. There was homely and seemingly harmless fare such as ‘The Mickey Mouse Club’, ‘Leave It To Beaver’,‘Father Knows Best’ and ‘The Nelsons’ but every second or third program was a ‘Western’. One could watch ‘The Cisco Kid’, ‘Gunsmoke’, ‘Lawman’, ‘Rawhide’, ‘Wyatt Earp’, ‘Have Gun Will Travel’ (and later ‘Wagon Train’ and ‘Bonanza’). We had of course previously seen lots of gun violence at the ‘picture theatre’, or heard simulated gunshots in radio shows like ‘Smoky Dawson’, but having all that visual shootin’ and killin’ in one’s own loungeroom was a new experience. In fact the loungeroom organized around the television set was a new experience. At Camberwell our evenings and nights were often spent listening to the radio. In winter, as we listened, we huddled close to a roaring open fire. At Burwood TV replaced the wireless at night and the warmth afforded by a new-fangled gas heater meant we could disperse, no longer quite so intimate, to different points of the loungeroom. TV also meant, for many families, fewer visits to the local ‘picture theatre’ and fewer opportunities for us kids to roll jaffas down the aisle. 42
Not long after we arrived to live in Burwood we began attending the Burwood Methodist Church, not far from the Burwood tram terminus in Warrigal Road. I cannot remember much at all about my experiences at our previous Church – the Church of Christ in Camberwell – and this seems strange to me now given I started at the Sunday School there when I was three. The one memory I do retain from the Church of Christ is a memory of Christ – specifically a blonde, blue-eyed, long-haired Jesus staring down at us from his position on the Sunday School wall. If he was the Son of God then it was logical to presume God looked somewhat similar, except for his grey hair and long beard. He had been around for a lot longer. God kept me under control, watching me every second of every day. The theological bent at Burwood ‘Meths’ was slightly more sophisticated. My first Sunday School teacher there was Harold Bartlett, a good-natured, balding, self-employed electrician who had been involved for a considerable period with the Burwood United (Churches) Football Club. Also in Harold’s class were Trevor Rush and Russell Dawe (both of whom attended Scotch College), Stephen Hill and Dick Coughlin.
Earlier in the post-war period the older generations worried about the supposed prevalence of ‘juvenile delinquency’ among a sub-class of working-class youth, their fears prompting the invention of derogatory terms like ‘bodgie’ and ‘widgie’. Now, in the mid-fifties, they were gnashing their teeth over a whole generation of affluent, independent and assertive ‘teenagers’. Even churchgoing youth were swept up in the new styles. The Burwood Methodist Church ran a thriving Youth Club. My mother and I attended one of its concerts sometime in 1957. About four or five male teenagers – I clearly remember the beanpoles Peter Coughlin and Murray ‘Muzza’ Morris, and the stubby John Hackwell – appeared on stage with glary shirts and greasy ‘rocker’ haircuts and mimed a succession of Elvis Presley hits: Presley’s rock version of Bill Monroe’s bluegrass number ‘Blue Moon of Kentucky’ plus ‘Heartbreak Hotel’, ‘Jailhouse Rock’ and ‘I Just Want To Be Your Teddy Bear’.
Probably because I had never really fallen in love with anyone, the ‘june-moon-croon’ lyrics of pop songs did not do much for me. I judged songs on their melodies. I was never particularly attracted to fifties rock ‘n’ roll (or ‘rhythm and blues’ as it is more properly called) probably because it seemed to be all about rhythm rather than melody. I heard a good deal of rock ‘n’ roll on the radio, even while we were still at Camberwell. The Australian concerts of visiting American rock performers Little Richard, Gene Vincent and Jerry Lee Lewis were broadcast. We did not possess a record player and I hungered to hear my favourites on the radio. This was the era before the arrival of the portable transistor radio, or at least before most kids had one. It was also before radio stations had hastened to cater for the expanding youth market by initiating a ‘Top 40’ program of hit-tunes. The weekly ‘Hit Parade’ then only played eight songs, starting with Number Eight and working up to Number One. In 1957 therefore one had to listen to the radio for most of the day and night (usually in the bedroom or kitchen) to catch some of one’s favourite songs. Of course, with only the very rare exception, all the songs and tunes played on commercial radio at this time were American, products of Tin Pan Alley and Nashville. I knew all the tunes and learned the words off by heart. Nowadays people rubbish fifties pop music. Well, I reckon it was great, and I’ll stick my neck out and say it was even better than the stuff that followed in the sixties. Some of my favourites were also songs I liked to sing. I had discovered very early on in our new house that the bathroom – probably because it had a tiled floor and tiles around the bath - was a wonderful place to sing. The acoustics were vastly superior to the sound available at Bellett Street. I got into the habit of regularly spending time in the bathroom – sometimes an hour or even two hours – trying out some of the songs. I preferred ones with a challenging melody that would test my vocal range and delivery. That was the thing about rock n’ roll numbers – they were great to dance to but not so good to sing, at least not without musical (guitar) accompaniment.
From memory I had a ‘top ten’. There were the songs I had learned the year before, in 1956: Guy Mitchell’s classic ‘Singing the Blues’, Frankie Laine’s glorious ‘Moonlight Gambler’, Eddie Fisher’s resounding ‘Cindy Oh Cindy’, and the magnificent Platters song ‘(Oh yes I’m) The Great Pretender’. 43 Then there were six songs that appeared in the charts in 1957: Johnny Ray ‘s ‘Just a-Walkin’ in the Rain’, Pat Boone’s ‘Love Letters in the Sand’, Harry Belafonte’s ‘Jamaica Farewell’, the Marty Robbins classic ‘A White Sports Coat, Tony Bennett’s ‘In the Middle of an Island’, and Cogi Grant’s ‘The Wayward Wind’. 44 More great songs were heard in 1958. The Kingston Trio’s ‘Tom Dooley’, which struck me even then as different in some way to the usual fare, understandably inspired a new wave of urban folk music devotees. There was Stonewall Jackson’s ‘Waterloo’, the Everly Brothers classic ‘Bird Dog’, Duane Eddy’s ‘Rebel Rouser’, ‘Big Man’ by The Four Preps, Robin Luke’s ‘Susie Darlin’, Ricky Nelson’s ‘Poor Little Fool’, ‘Lollipop’ by The Chordettes, and Dean Martin’s ‘Volare’. The song that inspired countless intellectual discussions in the schoolyard as we booted the footy around was the unforgettable Sheb Woolley classic – ‘Purple People Eater’. We could never agree as to whether the subject of the song was purple and ate people, or a monster that ate purple people. I represented the latter view.
Kicking the footy around was always my favourite activity at school – from 1951 at Camberwell Central right through to 1963 at Ashwood High. After a while you got quite good at it, although you imagined yourself a lot better than you really were - kicks which then might have seemed like ‘boomers’ possibly only travelled twenty yards. At Camberwell our kick-to-kick activity took place in the park next to the school, just behind St Johns. At either end, and over many years, the grass in this treeless area had been completely worn away by scampering schoolboy shoes. The inevitable roll in the dust after taking the odd ‘screamer’ at lunch time meant one would return to the classroom in a filthy state. Camberwell Central had two football teams – the seniors (years 7-8) and juniors (years 1-6). Both teams wore the same red and white jumpers. I played for both, consecutively. I remember absolutely nothing about the junior team and very little about the senior side, other than the fact we played our ‘home’ games at Camberwell Oval and participated in a schools’ lightning premiership at Glenferrie Oval. (We must have also played ‘house’ games down at ‘Frog Hollow’ near Willison station but I don’t remember that either). Kicking the footy at lunchtime was not enough for me in 1957. As soon as I got home to Meyer Road I would put my footy boots on and rush over to the Burwood Oval for more kick-to-kick, this time with my new Sunday School associates Trevor Rush and Dick Coughlin. 45
One definite highlight of the 1957 school year was the arrival of a Physical Education trainee called Brendan Edwards. Edwards was from Bendigo and made a name for himself as a kick-gathering centreman for Hawthorn. Edwards later pioneered new physical fitness training regimes for athletes and footballers. His entrepreneurial nous resulted eventually in a chain of fitness centres, the very first of which he established just over the road from the Camberwell school. In 1957 Edwards was probably a bit green and got into a shouting match one afternoon (in the aforementioned park near the huge old gum tree) with my class mate Ron Peck, nephew of Edwards’s Hawthorn team mate John Peck and never one to take a step sideways.
Our move to Burwood in March 1957 did not mean I switched schools. I spent another three years at Camberwell Central, travelling to and from school on the Burwood tram. I soldiered on in Year Six, still not enjoying my packed lunches of mushy vegemite and tomato sandwiches. Our teacher Mr Wood was the dour type, quite different from the charismatic Grade Five teacher Mrs Cuthill. George Forbes, my best friend in Year Five (1956), must have left because my best friend in 1957 was a new arrival – Colin Shugg. Shugg was quite awkward when it came to ball sports but his ample build made him a strong swimmer and he would later turn out to be one of Australia’s top competitive surfers. 46 He barracked fanatically for Richmond in the football and placed knowledgeable bets on the horses. He lived in Marlborough Avenue in the old ‘Golf Links Estate’ and after school we would regularly walk to his place or my tram stop mimicking (in an exaggerated ‘strine’ voice) the football commentaries of 3DB’s Ron Casey. On Wednesdays we would stop off at the newsagency in Camberwell Road and excitedly buy The Sporting Globe. The death of The Argus in January had increased my attachment to the ‘Pink Bible’ and for years the Saturday night journey to the Toorak Road newsagency became an automatic ritual. 47
The Sporting Globe had no trouble finding things to write about. This was the heyday of Australian sport. The country seemed to be breeding young champions en masse. Lorraine Crapp, Dawn Fraser, Murray Rose and the Konrads kids (John and Ilsa) were Olympic swimming champions; Ashley Cooper, Neale Fraser and Mal Anderson took over the mantle of Lew Hoad and Ken Rosewall and won the Davis Cup (December 1957); Frank Phillips and Peter Thomson were on top of the golfing world; Merv Lincoln joined John Landy as a four-minute miler; Stuart McKenzie was world champion in the single sculls. 48 Two new champion colts -Tulloch and Todman - were scorching the Australian turf. 49 St. Kilda’s Brian Gleeson won the Brownlow Medal, and cyclist Russell Mockridge won the Sun Tour with a superhuman ride through the Dandenongs. 50 As summer approached I again turned my attention to cricket and ruled up another school exercise book in preparation for more record-keeping. As a twelve-year-old I was also about to play my first season in the local Burwood under-16 cricket competition. 51 New South Wales batsman Ian Craig, only 22, was chosen as captain of the Australian team to tour South Africa. I was elevated when Ken Mackay topped the Australian Test batting averages. Burwood’s Lindsay Kline returned home to a hero’s welcome after his hat-trick performance and showed slides of the trip in the Methodist hall.
1958 at Camberwell Central started with all the Year Seven (Form One) classes taking on new arrivals from local state schools, mainly Canterbury, Auburn and South Camberwell. Frank Yourn, Michael Knoche and Stephen Taussig (all from South Camberwell) were three of the newcomers in my class. 52 Another, Nicholas Smit, from a Dutch migrant family who passed on some of his knowledge of chess, became my best friend for a period after Colin Shugg left the school. Every Wednesday morning we boys would trudge across Camberwell Road to the Sloyd (Woodwork) Centre in Butler Street. I hardly knew the difference between a chisel and a screwdriver and, because all my ‘creations’ were disasters, developed a terrible phobia about the teacher Mr Cadd. I was also clumsy in my relations with girls and ran a mile when one ever showed an interest in me. Throughout most of primary school I had felt some sort of strange subliminal interest in pretty Helen Vaughan but acting on this was simply beyond my mental scope. I was still only twelve and yet to experience the feelings (and temptations) that normally only arise from hormonal changes. I was not in the slightest bit interested in sex. The ‘dirty’ jokes told in the schoolyard confused and embarrassed me. Until a ‘father-sons’ night was held at Camberwell Town Hall one night in the late fifties, I was completely ignorant about the anatomical characteristics of the human female – except for the most obvious ones. Even I could not fail to notice some of the more physically advanced boys spending time with the more physically advanced girls.
1958 CATS STATSThe 1958 football season approached and once again I prepared to assume my extraordinary role as a statistician – with a little bit of help from radio station 3GL. The 1958 season saw underdogs Collingwood triumph over Melbourne in the Grand Final and thwart the Demons’ quest for a fourth consecutive premiership. 1958 will also be remembered as the ‘Centenary of Australian football’ and the occasion of the fourteenth ANFC Championships (held in Melbourne and won by Victoria). For me, however, it was all about Geelong’s fight to stay off the bottom of the VFL ladder.
My 1958 exercise book of statistical information about Geelong (which somewhat miraculously survives in good condition to this day) differed from both my 1957 and 1959 books in that it contained no weekly two-page match reports, and no detailed match-by-match, quarter-by-quarter statistical information (always kicks and marks and sometimes handpasses) presented in neatly ruled columns. Only the total match statistics for each player were recorded, and then for only twelve games. I cannot now explain why this was so. One possible clue is that, after apparently attending at least the first three Geelong matches of the season, I simply lost interest in recording the statistics in the old way. 53 The 1958 book also differs from the other two in that it contains some material that I cannot decipher. The following image will convey my point I am sure. I don’t know what these hieroglyphics represent. There are three pages of these strange figures and fifty-eight years later I haven’t a clue what they mean! And I’m sure Billy Goggin doesn’t either.
My 1958 Geelong exercise book has three pages detailing the kicks and marks of Geelong players in twelve of the season’s matches.
Kicks and Marks by Geelong players 1958 (player by player - twelve matches only).
There is no explanation as to why only twelve matches were covered, although the most likely explanation is that I actually attended six Geelong matches in season 1958. Presumably the figures shown in the three images here are the final form in which I presented the statistics notated while listening to 3GL’s weekly broadcasts. (These figures could not have come from newspaper statistics because there weren’t any). Also, the kicks and marks recorded in the course of the 1958 broadcasts must have been jotted down on some other sheet of paper or notebook – before being totalled up for the exercise book. I cannot recall what happened to this other written record but there must have been one. One can easily pick out the more prolific kick-getters: Trezise, Davis, Haygarth, Hovey, Falconer, and O’Neill. If the figures for marks taken can be believed, and I think they can be, the two most exceptional performances were the fourteen marks taken by Bruce Ferrari (most probably in Round Three against Carlton) and the eleven marks taken by second-gamer Peter Campbell in Round Five against Richmond. I clearly remember listening to this game and being blown away by Campbell’s amazing performance.
Once again, as a passionate non-participant wanting to maintain some sense of vicarious participation in the fortunes of the Cats, I established a voting system for season 1958. I have no idea, at this considerable distance of fifty-eight years, what this system was based upon. Presumably it was based, to at least some extent, on my own recorded statistics, but given that votes were decided even for matches where I was not lying beside the wireless taking down the stats, my voting system must also have drawn on newspaper ‘best players’. No votes were cast for Round 18, possibly because I had by then ‘given up’ in disgust. 54
At any rate here are the figures of the leading players in my 1958 award:
|Neil Trezise||1153 votes.|
|Bob Davis||1101 votes.|
|Ron Hovey||723 votes.|
|John Haygarth||655 votes.|
|John O’Neill||606 votes.|
|Neville Martin||410 votes.|
The Ken Mansell (3GL listener) voting award (non-official) for the best Geelong player of season 1958
If there were class photos taken at Camberwell Central in 1958 and 1959 and handed around to us, I must have misplaced them or lost them. Not having these invaluable historical mementoes as an aid to memory has made it very difficult to recall the faces and names of my classmates, and to a lesser extent the faces and names of my teachers. I can only recall the names of three of the teachers in 1958 and 1959: there was Mr Toscano, our Maths teacher and sports master in 1958, Miss Harriot (French and English), and Mr Enterkin. 55 Mr Enterkin, a new arrival in 1959, took over as sports master and carried out his duties with feverish and nervous enthusiasm. He was a genuinely likeable person but some of his gloss wore off when the senior boys were dragooned into what seemed like endless Tunnel Ball practice. Bending almost double and shoving a big heavy leather ball between my legs over and over again did not appeal to my sense of adventure. The perfection of these repetitive and mindless skills was tedious and hateful. It was forced upon us because the school felt obliged to participate in the MCG spectacular for Princess Alexandra, the Queen’s cousin. Arriving in Australia in August 1959, the Princess was on her way to Brisbane to adorn the Queensland Centenary Celebrations.
Fortunately however I have retained two football photos from Camberwell Central. The first photo shows the Camberwell Central School football team (First Eighteen). The photo is not dated but I suspect this is 1958, because of the presence of Mr Toscano (suit and tie) in the group. The only boys in the photo who had been in my Year Six (1957) class at Camberwell Central are Ron Peck (second from left in top row), myself (second from right in front row), and possibly Kevin Perkins (fifth from left in top row). Some of the other Year Seven boys in the photo had only arrived at Camberwell Central from local state schools at the start of 1958. The student third from left in the top row is Bryan Smith, a tall and curly-haired boy from Perth who had arrived at the start of 1958. Bryan, a very good footballer, barracked for East Perth, then the dominant team in the WAFL. 56 Bryan waxed lyrical about East Perth’s star ruckman Graham Farmer. Farmer starred in the 1958 ANFC Carnival held in Melbourne so I already knew a fair bit about him. After Geelong’s three years in the doldrums I scarcely imagined this same Graham ‘Polly’ Farmer would lead the Cats to their 1963 VFL premiership.
Top row – R.Hobbs, R.Peck, B.Smith, J.Kimber, K.Perkins, M.King, M.Porteous, B.Whan. Middle row – J.Oriander, A.Vivian, R.Petch, M.Cox (captain), R.Ralph, B.Woolley, M.Walsh. Front row – G.Day, G.Taylor, B.Drake, S.Klein, R.Shepherd, K.Mansell, K.Moore.
The second photo – an action shot - shows ‘Yours Truly’ hurtling down the wing (or perhaps just taking my kick) in a match against Hawthorn West Central at St. James Park (West Hawthorn) in 1958 (or perhaps 1959). I played on the wing in the Camberwell Central football team.
Meanwhile the commercial radio stations bombarded our teenage brains with endlessly repeated lyrics of love. Dion and The Belmonts sang A Teenager in Love; Conway Twitty warbled Mona Lisa; Emile Ford and the Checkmates performed What do you want to make those eyes at me for?; Roy Orbison thrilled us with Only the Lonely and Guy Mitchell sang Heartaches by the Number. Not to mention The Platters with the glorious Smoke Gets in your Eyes, Connie Francis with Lipstick on your Collar, and Carl Dobkins junior with My Heart is an Open Book. 57 I sang the tunes, but all this ‘love’ stuff had little effect on me. If I ever looked twice at a member of the opposite gender in 1959, I certainly don’t remember it. The sort of physical activity that interested me was the activity that took place between the goalposts and the stumps. Australia was back on top in the cricket, thanks to Richie Benaud and his team; John Konrads, Dawn Fraser, Betty Cuthbert and Jack Brabham were superstars; Rod Laver, Bruce Devlin and Kel Nagle were also household names. The year finished with Bob Skilton winning the first of his three Brownlows, Peter Panton winning the Sun Tour, and Pat Glennon winning the Melbourne Cup on Macdougall.
The 1959 school year ended sadly for me. Not long before the start of the summer school holidays our class assembled in the school library expecting to hear confirmation that ALL of us would transfer in the new year to Third Form at Camberwell High School. I was told however I was not geographically eligible to attend Camberwell High. This came as a great shock because I had naively assumed I would stay with the old mob. My heart was broken, even when there was no girlfriend involved. I was cast off and bound for the strange new environment of Ashwood High. What happened there is another story.
1959 CATS STATS
My 1959 ‘Geelong’ exercise book has also miraculously survived in good condition to this day. The information contained in the book was based on two main sources: 3GL’s football broadcasts in the first instance, and newspaper accounts. Unlike the match reports in my 1957 and 1958 Geelong exercise books, the match reports in the 1959 book included my own descriptive comment (most often quarter-by-quarter) about each game. It should be kept in mind my comment in 1959 was written by a 13-year-old Form Two student attending Camberwell Central School who understandably occasionally lapsed into the ungrammatical - for example ‘Geelong were’ (instead of the correct ‘Geelong was’).
Only thirteen of Geelong’s eighteen matches were covered statistically in 1959. This is because I attended four matches - Rounds 2 (Hawthorn), 3 (Richmond), 11 (South Melbourne) and 17 (Melbourne) - and was on holiday and being driven around the Victorian Alps when Geelong played Essendon in Round 5. 58
Looking through my statistical records of the 1959 home-and-away season (or, more correctly, thirteen matches) one is struck by the variability of the format. The most complicated and detailed format was the one used for the Round 8 game against Carlton (at Geelong):
Kicks quarter by quarter, marks quarter by quarter, frees quarter by quarter, no mention of handpasses
For some reason, possibly because it was too demanding, I did not use this set-up again. The most common format, used for six matches (Rounds 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15), was the following:
Kicks quarter by quarter, marks in single column, free kicks in single column, no mention of handpasses
This was the format used towards the end of the season. 59
It would appear that I had started to settle into some sort of regular pattern. Note that ‘handpasses’ were not mentioned. The fact that ‘handpasses’ were apparently not recorded for these six matches might seem strange, given that in six earlier Rounds (Rounds 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7) I had ruled up my pages to account for ‘handpasses’, albeit as part of a broader category – ‘kicks and handpasses’:
The format for Rounds 1, 4 and 6 was the following:
Kicks and handpasses in same four columns (quarter by quarter), marks in single column
The stats for Round 7 followed the same pattern but with the addition of a column for free kicks:
Kicks and handpasses in same four columns (quarter by quarter), marks in single column, frees in single column 60
I suspect the explanation for the lack of any specific mention of the ‘handpass’ category in the latter half of the season is that I had made a decision to incorporate ‘handpasses’ into the ‘kicks’ category. This may have been because there were too few ‘handpasses’ to bother with, or it may have been because the 3GL commentators were not sufficiently clear in distinguishing between the two forms of disposal. One could therefore interpret my ‘kicks’ category in the second half of the season as equivalent to overall disposals (that is, both kicks and handpasses). The format I used for Geelong’s Round 18 match against Collingwood – which included the new terminology ‘kicks and passes’- does tend to support this interpretation:
‘Kicks and passes’ quarter by quarter, marks in single column, no mention of frees
It is therefore almost certain I had been recording total disposals in each of the thirteen matches covered.
All that remained for me to tie up as I packed away my 1959 Geelong exercise book at the conclusion of another disappointing season was to announce the winner of the Ken Mansell (3GL Listener) Voting Award (non-official) for the ‘Best’ Geelong player of season 1959. The award was based on my own weekly 6-5-4-3-2-1 voting system (calculated according to my own individual response to the 3GL commentary). Previous winners of the award had been Bernie Smith (1956), Peter Pianto (1957), and Neil Trezise (1958). The well-deserved recipient of the award for 1959 was third-year player Colin Rice. The full and final result was thus:
Colin Rice 59, Ron Hovey 45, Neil Trezise 40, Les Borrack 40, John Yeates 33, Doug Long 32, George McGrath 32, Matt Goggin 27, Clive Brown 23, Bill Goggin 20, Bill Cook 20, John Helmer 16, John O’Neill 16, John Thomas 15, Fred Wooller 14, John Haygarth 13, Bob Gazzard 11, Barry Cougle 6, Bruce Ferrari 5, Eric Nicholls 5, Paul Vinar 5, Ken Goodland 4, Stan Harrison 3, Frank Pomeroy 2, Hugh Routley 2, Cliff Palmer 2, Greg Major 1, Bruce Bartle 1, Ron Smith 1.
Points Awards and Injured Players - week by week.
AFTERMATHIt would seem I retired as a statistician before the start of the 1960 football season. I have no statistical records for Geelong in 1960. This was unfortunate because the Cats began their slow climb up the VFL ladder, finishing ninth that year. In retrospect, they were only three years away from winning another premiership.
I suspect after 1959 I concentrated on playing football rather than listening to it. Believe it or not, I still kept statistics, but this time not by lying on the bedroom floor glued to 3GL. So imbued with the stats habit was I still that I kept a statistical count in my head of my own kicks, marks and free kicks as a player! In 1961, while still only 15, I played on the wing for the Burwood United (Churches) Football Club in the Eastern Suburban Churches Football Association. My 1961 diary, perfectly preserved and very informative, records my 18 kicks, three marks and two ‘frees’ in the match on May 20, and my 22 kicks, seven marks and two ‘frees’ in the match on July 22. ‘Impossible’, you say. Well, I’m in good company here. Yes, you guessed it – Ted Hopkins. The stats guru did exactly the same thing, as he explains in his autobiography –
‘……as a player I counted my touches and my opponent’s……..each time I disposed of the ball I would keep a mental track of its subsequent outcomes.’ 61
In 1964 I played VFL football for Melbourne and we won the premiership. Melbourne Thirds, that is. I only played one match. I had no trouble memorizing the number of times I ‘touched’ the ball because I didn’t touch it. Not once. So endeth my career as a statistician extraordinaire.
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1. See also Part Two (‘Footy Stats – A Short History’) and Part Three (‘Ted Hopkins – ‘The Stats Revolution’: a review’). All three parts are available to read on Boylesfootballphotos.
2. See Ted Hopkins,The Stats Revolution – the life, loves and passion of football’s futurist, Melbourne, Slattery Media Group, 2011. For my review of Hopkins, see my Ted Hopkins – ‘The Stats Revolution’: a review (Boylesfootballphotos). See also my ‘Footy Stats - A Short History’ (Boylesfootballphotos).
3. The 3AW broadcast was sponsored alternatively by Heinz Soups and White Crow tomato sauce. Norman Banks began calling matches on 3KZ in 1931. By the mid-fifties there were seven Melbourne radio stations broadcasting VFL games every Saturday. See Garrie Hutchinson, ‘Growing up with Football’ (pp. 1-3) and ‘Before the Box’ (pp. 4-5) in Michael Roberts (ed.), Heart of the Game – 45 Years of Football on Television, Melbourne, Hardie Grant Books, 2001.
4. Kornies football cards appeared in 1948-54, 1957, 1959. For my reflections on the role of football cards in my childhood, see K.Mansell, ‘The Footy Swap Cards that never got Swapped’ (Boyesfootballphotos).
5. For my memories of standing behind the outer goals, and sitting on the railway wing, at Hawthorn, see my memoir ‘The Footy Swap Cards that never got Swapped’ (Boylesfootballphotos). I also have a very definite, but vague, memory of being in the outer grandstand at the MCG and hearing my father say ‘There’s Jack Dyer’. Dyer retired as a player in 1949.
6. The Argus had first used colour for photos of VFL (and VFA) teams in 1949 and this exciting development continued through to the 1955 season. The first match to become the subject of a colourised action photo in The Argus was the Round 14 match of 1952 between Collingwood and Fitzroy. For another memoir fondly recalling the appearance of colour in The Argus, see Bruce Kennedy and Michael Rogers, Classic Cats – the story of Geelong’s premiership years 1951-52, 2012, pp. 121-129,136.
7. The nicknames of Geelong players Bob Davis, Neil Trezise and Russell Renfrey. The late Keith Everett was born in Geelong. His cousin David Pescott was Geelong Football Club secretary in 1956-57. Keith was friendly with Geoff Williams, Geelong’s 1952 ‘best-and-fairest’. I can remember Geoff Williams being pointed out to me in Keith’s Mitchell Building (Elizabeth Street) office as we waited for the appearance of the Queen and Duke on the day they drove through the City in 1954.
8. I attended all the VFL Grand Finals from 1953 to 1959. I was also in attendance at the Hawthorn-Footscray Grand Final of 1961. In those days it was a lot easier to get in than it is today.
9. We usually arrived just before the start of the Third Eighteens match. At half-time ‘Nana’ brought out the ham sandwiches and mugs of tea and we watched hundreds of kids on the oval kicking their paper footies. I was in attendance the day in 1956 when Bob Skilton, possibly South Melbourne’s greatest-ever player, made his debut for the Swans. The Southerners had very little success in the day competition in those years but they did take off the first (1956) Night Football Premiership contested by the eight clubs who missed the 1956 VFL Finals. I spent most Saturday afternoons in 1956 listening to 3GL’s descriptions of Geelong matches. Very occasionally I would wander down to the Camberwell Oval to watch an Association game, possibly with school friend George Forbes.
10. I was particularly impressed by an article about the great Fitzroy rover (and triple Brownlow medallist) Haydn Bunton which appeared in Football Headlines, the 1955 Argus publication. The article was ‘That ‘’Quicksilver Man’’ Called Haydn Bunton’. Forty-four years later I penned a song about Bunton and in 2003 the song was made into a CD recording. See K.Mansell, The Ballad of Haydn Bunton (Boylesfootballphotos).
11. For the 1956 football season The Argus produced a board game called ‘Fireside Football’. There were twenty-four postage stamp-sized player cards for each of the twelve VFL clubs. Apart from laying out the cards of two teams in their respective positions on the ‘field’ and throwing the dice I cannot recall exactly how the game was played. I do remember lying on the floor on cold winter nights with the cards laid out on the board and willing the dice to roll Geelong’s way. The strangest thing about these cards was that ten of them (all Geelong players) survived (stuck down in my 1959 Geelong statistics exercise book) when every other card in my sizeable fifties collection was thrown away.
12. I started at Camberwell Central School, located in Camberwell Road not far from Camberwell Junction, in 1951. The first class in those days was dubbed ‘The Bubs’, not ‘Grade One’. ‘Grade One’ followed - in 1952. The collection of footy cards was our latest hobby, preceded by Cowboys and Indians, and Marbles. It was not long before we were swamped by the biggest craze of all - for Yo Yo’s.
13. The Melbourne radio stations at this time were (in order around the dial – right to left): 3AR, 3LO, 3UZ, 3DB, 3KZ, 3AW, 3XY, and 3AK. 3GL was buried somewhere near 3XY and one had to strain to listen to its relatively weak signal.
14. It would appear that I developed three concurrent ‘voting’ systems for the 1957 season – based on my impressions from listening to 3GL’s broadcasts and with possible input from newspaper reports. It is simply not possible to fathom or explain – from a distance of 59 years – the criteria used to assess player performances in these voting systems. I have no written record of my reasoning.
15. I do however bow in deference to the sixteen-year-old maestro Ken Casellas who began recording the statistics of Claremont footballers in 1953. Casellas initially did this work privately as a hobby. The Claremont club became aware of his activity and thereafter utilized the young man’s statistical services. Casellas later became a household name in Western Australia as a sports statistician and sports broadcaster. See Ken Mansell, Footy Stats – A Short History (Boylesfootballphotos).
16. See Ken Mansell, Geelong in the Fifties - A Cats Trilogy (Catapult – On Top and Loving It 1950-56; Catastrophe – Winning the Wooden Spoon 1957-58; Catacomb – Struggling along in the Gloom 1959). The three articles are all available on Boylesfootballphotos.
17. My grandparents also encouraged me. I inherited from them a pile of South Melbourne Cricket Club annual reports and membership medallions.
18. We also watched tennis at Kooyong. I can remember making way on the stairs for two young tennis players at the bottom of an aisle on centre court. ‘That’s Hoad and Rosewall’, my mother said. Somewhat later I took my autograph book to Kooyong and I still have some of the signatures.
19. Coles Stores followed up their 1954 football cards with cricket cards for the 1954-55 Test series.
20. We were in Warburton for Dalray’s win in 1952, and in Frankston for Wodalla’s win in 1953. Rising Fast, the Cup winner in 1954, became a ‘hero’ of mine, as did its jockey – poker-faced Bill Williamson. In later years I bought myself a copy or two of Millers Annual to pore over the details of previous Melbourne Cups.
21. The one fight I can definitely remember listening to was the July 1958 Australian Lightweight title bout between George Bracken (my favourite) and Max Carlos. Casey’s colleague was either Eric Welch, the pioneer of the Friday night boxing broadcasts, or Merv Williams.
22. Miller was backed up by the unforgettably rhythmic Ray Lindwall and promising Ron Archer. The Englishmen eventually reached a total of 191 thanks to a fine debut century by young Colin Cowdrey. Australia lost the match after being skittled in the second innings by Frank ‘Typhoon’ Tyson who took 7 for 27.
23. The stage finish at Brenock Park was won by Roger Arnold but the overall race was a triumph for Hec Sutherland. I can remember my father pointing out Eddie Smith to me. Smith had clearly been the outstanding professional road cyclist in 1954. I followed subsequent Sun Tours with great interest and kept scrapbooks of the 1957 and 1958 Sun Tours (won by Russell Mockridge and John Young respectively).
24. I saw a few car races towards the end of the fifties (at Albert Park and Sandown) when my father became a fan of Jack Brabham.
25. My parents had bought or inherited the volumes of Arthur Mee’s Encyclopedia for Children (enclosed in a dark-coloured wooden case) and a copy of Coles Funny Picture Book but there was little reading material in the house. No music either, apart from what was heard on the wireless.
26. I also received cricket books as birthday presents. The first two were Ray Robinson’s Green Sprigs (Collins, Sydney, 1955) and Cricketers in the Making (by Trevor Bailey and D.R.Wilcox), London, Hutchinson, 1956.
27. I was enthralled when the magazine printed a story about my ‘hero’ Ken ‘Slasher’ Mackay – accompanied by a full-page, colour cartoon of him by Tony Rafty.
28. For my treatment of the 1956 VFL first semi final, see K.Mansell, Geelong -1956 (Boylesfootballphotos).
29. See Ken Mansell, Footy Stats – A Short History (Boylesfootballphotos).
30. My parents rarely commented on the politics of the day, although I do remember my mother talking admiringly about Prime Minister Robert Menzies. As a youngster, I nevertheless still inadvertently absorbed the mood of the times. I was aware of the pervasive Cold War atmosphere even if I failed to comprehend its causes. I remember the screaming newspaper headlines during the so-called ‘Petrov Affair ‘of 1954 but, along with most other kids in conservative Camberwell, I was safely insulated from the effects of post-war anti-communist hysteria.
31. John Landy was not the first to break four minutes. The first athlete in the world to run under four minutes for the mile was Landy’s great rival, the Englishman Roger Bannister, who recorded a time of 3.59.4 at the Oxford University track on May 6, 1954. The competition between the two to decide who would first break four minutes had held the sporting world spell-bound. Bannister was only just recovering from the excitement and adulation that followed his triumph when he received news that Landy had gone one better and broken Bannister’s world record. Racing at Turku in Finland on June 21, 1954, Landy recorded the amazing time of 3.58.0.
32. In the first draft of this article, in this exact spot, I wrote the following – ‘A black American boxer by the name of Cassius Clay fought in Melbourne and impressed lovers of the pugilistic art but there was as yet little sign of the thunderous personality he would later become’. I then checked and realized I had made a mistake. Cassius Clay did not fight in Melbourne. He won a boxing gold medal at the 1960 Rome Olympics, aged 18. I probably just wanted to believe he had boxed in Melbourne.
33. ‘Woofa’, ‘Nipper’ and ‘Sago’ were the nicknames of Bob Davis, Neil Trezise and Colin Rice.
34. The autographs that are mentioned in my 1957 exercise book (with 2016 survivals in bold) are: Ferrari, McGrath, Sharp, Hovey (2), Gazzard (2), Trezise, B.Smith, Beardsley (2), Herbert (2), Wooller, Sutcliffe (2), Borrack (2), Renfrey, Wiltshire, Hickey, Davis, Williams, Pianto, O’Neill, Cameron, Brown, Haygarth, Rayson, Byron, M.Bourke, Barren, Hetherington, Harrip, Fisher. I also have Nicholls.
35. The Age of Tuesday April 23, 1957 lamented eight people had been killed on the roads in Victoria over Easter.
36. The first match (albeit last quarter only) ever to be televised was the 1957 Round One (Saturday, April 20) match between Collingwood and Essendon at Victoria Park. All three TV stations – Seven, Nine and Two – provided a live broadcast of the last quarter. The last quarter of the Geelong-Footscray match on Easter Monday was broadcast by Channel Nine only. All three TV stations continued to be involved in broadcasting live the last quarter of VFL matches throughout the remainder of the 1957 VFL season. For the impact of television on VFL football, see Michael Roberts (ed.), Heart of the Game – 45 Years of Football on Television, Melbourne, Hardie Grant Books, 2001.
37. The twelve Rounds were Rounds 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17.
38. The Essendon full-forward Fred Gallagher kicked twelve goals in this match. I attended with the Everett’s. The Geelong full-back Max Hetherington was playing his first VFL match and struggling to contain the rampant Gallagher. At one particular point late in the match when I could no longer contain my frustration with him, I yelled out ‘You’re hopeless Hetherington’. I was a sensitive lad, never one to be cruel.
39. Richard Allsop and Peter Haby, Mud Muscle and Blood – the story of the 1957 Hawks, Hawthorn Football Club, 2008, p. 48. Allsop and Haby mention the ‘treacherous conditions’ - ‘bare patches had become mud heaps’.
40. My statistical record of this match is somewhat truncated. My ‘best players’ for Geelong (with kicks and marks recorded to three-quarter time) were Haygarth (23-1), Smith (14-4), Williams (12-0), Laird (12-3), Hetherington (11-1), Trezise (20-2) and Rice (18-0). The ‘marks’ and ‘free kicks’ figures in my book, no doubt copied from The Sporting Globe, are indicative of a game where, as you would expect, marking was difficult. Only 84 marks were taken over the four quarters (each team taking 42). An extraordinarily low number of free kicks were paid (Hawthorn 14, Geelong 12) suggesting the umpire let the game flow.
41. Geelong finished the season 5-12-1 (88.2%) and Fitzroy finished 6-12 (84.1%).
42. There were three ‘picture theatres’ in Camberwell in those days – ‘The Regent’, ‘The Rivoli’ (at Camberwell ‘junction’), and ‘The Broadway’ near Camberwell station. We attended all three at various times. Our first matinee outings involved watching kids’ cartoons like ‘Tom and Jerry’, ‘Sylvester the Cat’, ‘Mickey Mouse’, ‘Donald Duck’, ‘Felix the Cat’, and the magnificent ‘Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd’. We then graduated to Disney epics like ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ before moving on to ‘Laurel and Hardy’, ‘Abbott and Costello’, and Jerry Lewis (and Dean Martin). ‘Westerns’ were a dime-a-dozen but I only remember seeing one – ‘Laramie’. Sometimes we accompanied our parents to films like ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’ or ‘musicals’ like ‘Oklahoma’, ‘South Pacific’, and ‘High Society’. The Saturday afternoon matinee was a big deal. The husband (Alf Lawrence) of a long-time friend of my mother (Agnes Lawrence) was employed as the projectionist at ‘The ‘Regent’ theatre in Hartwell. He dreaded the arrival of TV and feared for his job.
43. Other songs that tickled my fancy in 1956 were Elvis Presley’s ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ and ‘Love Me Tender’; Tennessee Ernie Ford’s version of Merle Travis’s ‘Sixteen Tons’; and Fess Parker’s ‘Ballad of Davy Crockett’.
44. For the record, other numbers from the ‘Hit Parade’ of 1957 which tickled my fancy were: Everly Brothers – Bye Bye Love, Wake Up Little Susie; Elvis Presley – Jailhouse Rock; Johnny Ray – Yes Tonight Josephine; Guy Mitchell – Rockabilly; Pat Boone – Remember Your Mine, April Love; Buddy Holly and The Crickets – That’ll be the Day; Harry Belafonte – Banana Boat Song; Jimmie Rodgers – Honeycomb, Kisses Sweeter than Wine; Frankie Laine – Love is a Golden Ring; Debbie Reynolds – Tammy; Tab Hunter – Young Love; Nat ‘King’ Cole – Fascination; Johnny Mathis – Wonderful Wonderful; Bing Crosby – Around the World; Jerry Lee Lewis – Whole lotta shakin’ going on; Andy Williams – Butterfly; Bobby Helms – My Special Angel.
45. Using the Burwood Oval on the same nights as the Burwood United Churches Football Club proved to be tricky and we would eventually have to make way or risk getting bowled over. Being glued to the radio on Saturdays meant I only saw these players on their training nights.
46. Whereas Shugg excelled in school swimming sports at the Camberwell Municipal Pool, I never enjoyed our aquatic excursions to Riversdale. I was hopeless in the water and could never work out how to get my socks back on.
47. Two Sporting Globe highlights for me in 1957-58 were the series of Saturday night previews by Stan Mullany of track cycling at Olympic Velodrome, and the serialization of They’re a Weird Mob, John O’Grady’s 1957 novel starring Italian migrant ‘Nino Culotta’ (published by Ure Smith).
48. Running at Melbourne University athletics field on March 23, 1957, Lincoln recorded 3 minutes 59 seconds for the mile.
49. Tulloch won both the Caulfield Cup and Victoria Derby in 1957. The Melbourne Cup in 1957 was won by Straight Draw.
50. One of the few blots on an amazing sporting year was the death of champion swimmer John Marshall in January 1957.
51. Captain of Burwood Methodists’ under-16 side in 1957-58 was Graham Brown who later opened the batting for Melbourne Cricket Club and Victoria.
52. Knoche and Taussig, who were from Jewish families, completed their time at Camberwell Central without being subjected to obvious discrimination. Taussig teamed up with Ron Peck and the likeable Knoche became an avid Fitzroy barracker. Accommodating arrivals from post-war migrant families was something we had become used to at school. There had been a German (Michael Herman), a Latvian (John Tilmanis), a Hungarian, a Cypriot, an American (Robert Weiss), and Elijah Moshinsky. The treatment of Herman was something we could all feel ashamed of. See my other article containing memories of Camberwell - ‘The Footy Swap Cards That Never Got Swapped’(Boylesfootballphotos).
53. One particular page in the 1958 book lists the autographs collected at the first three matches: Geelong identities Doug Long, Frank Fitzpatrick, Bruce Peake, Colin Rice, Reg Hickey, Colin Barton, John Thomas, Fred Le Deux, Fred Wooller, Neville Martin, Bill Cook, George Finegan and Bill Goggin; and eight Melbourne players - Brian Dixon, Ian Ridley, Clyde Laidlaw, Colin Wilson, Geoff Case, Geoff Tunbridge, Ian Thorogood and Terry Gleeson.
54. It also appears I maintained, for the first five 1958 matches only, two other parallel voting systems – a weekly 6,5,4,3,2,1 system, and a weekly 3, 2, 1 system. In the former system, the six votes were awarded to O’Neill, Haygarth, Ferrari (fourteen marks in Round Three), Long and Campbell (eleven marks in Round Five). In the latter system, the three votes were awarded to the same five players and in the same order. I have no idea why these systems were discontinued after Round Five. There is also a page in the exercise book in which the various players have 6-5-4-3-2-1 figures (presumably votes) beside their names. I have no idea what this means, but for the record the leading ‘votegetters’ were Davis 52, Trezise 48, Falconer 37, Hovey 31, O’Neill 29, Williams 28, Haygarth 27, McGrath 17, Martin 12
55. I’m not sure about two others – I can picture a Science teacher called Miss Freeman, but was she Camberwell or Ashwood? I can also picture our female Geography teacher whose name was something like ‘Bosanova’.
56. East Perth contested six successive WAFL Grand Finals in this era, winning the premierships of 1956, 1958 and 1959, and finishing runners-up in 1957, 1960 and 1961.
57. Other hits from 1959 worth mentioning were Buddy Holly’s Heartbeat and It Doesn’t Matter Anymore, The Coasters song Charlie Brown, Wilbert Harrison’s Kansas City, Duane Eddy’s Peter Gunn, Ivo Robic’s Morgen, Chris Barber’s Petite Fleur, and the Frankie Laine classic Rawhide.
58. My statistics pages were however ruled up appropriately for each of these matches, except for the Round 11 match against South Melbourne at Lake Oval. No doubt I knew well in advance my grandparents would as usual take me to the Geelong-South Melbourne game.
59. It was also the format I intended to use for Geelong’s Round 17 match against Melbourne at the MCG. The page was ruled up for kicks quarter by quarter, marks in single column, free kicks in single column. I attended this match. The format used for the Round 16 match against Essendon (at Geelong), which I did not attend, was similar - kicks quarter by quarter, marks quarter by quarter, free kicks in single column, no mention of handpasses.
60. The stats pages for the Round 2 match against Hawthorn and the Round 3 match against Richmond were similarly ruled up for kicks and handpasses quarter by quarter, and marks (single column) but I actually attended these matches. No stats were recorded for Geelong’s Round 5 match against Essendon (at Essendon) either - because of our family drive to Myrtleford and Mt Hotham in the May school holidays.
61. Hopkins, op.cit, p. 66.