Victoria Park (Home)
SOME HEAVY SCORING.
There will be twenty thousand regrets next Saturday that the first game of the season between Fitzroy and Collingwood will be played on the Association-ground, Sydney, for both teams are in splendid form. Even after their excellent game against Essendon, St. Kilda did not, I dare say, hope to hold their own against Collingwood; but they did hope to make a fight of it. As a matter of hard fact, when they met at Victoria-park on Saturday, they were not in the same class. One side played with dash, sureness and purpose; the other played hard, but by comparison crudely.
Collingwood‘s tactics quite overwhelmed, their opponents and, when following up the plan that has so often served them-and was upset only when Fitzroy, as a counter cheek, last season, picked their men, and stuck to them-they played the ball out from the centre to the wings, it almost always found a Collingwood man unguarded, and the consequent bolts down the wings quite destroyed St. Kilda’s chances. Collingwood led from the outset, and held the mastery all through save for a brief few moments in the last quarter, when St. Kilda did not disappoint their followers. Collingwood were much superior in high-marking, quicker in their dashes, and very sure to keep the ball once they touched it. Indeed, it seemed to stick to their fingers, while the other side fumbled for it.
But what served Collingwood best of all was the marvellous quickness with which they picked their own men, and the certainty in passing to each other. In half-kicking their length was nearly always perfect, and it was particularly noticeable that, when they saw one of their own men unguarded, they played to him with a low, quick, skimming kick, which got there promptly. St. Kilda, in trying the same thing, kicked too high, and, if their man stood alone, a Collingwood player had a chance to get to him before the ball arrived.
St. Kilda played in dashes; Collingwood played all the time, and when one further explains that the whole team were playing on one side and only part of it on the other, there is sufficient explanation as to how Collingwood‘s points ran into three figures. St. Kilda might have done a little better, for they twice hit the post.
A few players on either side missed no opportunities of giving each other a sly dig in a tricky, objectionable way, and in one or two instances an open fight looked imminent. This was the chief blot on a game that, in spite of Collingwood’s superiority, was never uninteresting. Thus Collingwood’s best player was also their worst, and it will take even greater energy than their executive exercised on Saturday to save him if his misconduct is repeated.
Collingwood have, in their new man Wilmott, a smart young player, who looks to me like becoming a star. He is quick and cool, and his kicking in this game was admirable. It was a quality, indeed in which Collingwood men shone all round. Rowell, who seems to be a player with a full sense of his own importance, scored five goals, while the cool, undemonstrative Lockwood got four, and Arthur Leach, who is playing excellent football, three. Fred Leach was marking finely, and he is a player who never spares his man in a charge, but plays fairly all the same. Pannam was, as usual, clever; but he is rather a freelance now than a going man and was all over the ground at times, but generally in the right spot. There are few men of his own size whom he cannot beat in getting the ball in the air, but he is tricky, in more ways than one, and it is singular with what regularity he gets to logger-heads with his opponents without attracting the umpire’s attention. It is a very common, but not at all a desirable, art.
Other men on the winning side whose play I liked were Rush, Tulloch, and Monahan-the latter, as usual, irresistible in his marking-a gift that neither age can wither nor custom stale. And what a fine fair player he is always. I would place him on a par with Hogan, of St. Kilda, as footballers who are quite as much admired by their opponents as their friends.
On Saturday Hogan was playing finely for his side, but he bumped heads accidentally with a Collingwood man, and the latter appeared to have the harder head of the two. Cumberland also played a good game, but the man who showed the best football on the side was Outen , in the centre, and his drop-kicking, like that of Rowell, was beautiful. I hope Sydney people will see much of the drop-kicking next Saturday. Both the Smiths played excellently. Howard Smith being particularly active, and M ‘Kay did a tremendous amount of hard work, and sometimes did it well. Morgan is improving into a useful man, and Stanlake, Balme, Rickards, and Merkellie were all very good.
1903 ‘FOOTBALL.’, The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), 18 May, p. 8, viewed 31 July, 2015, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article9816923