SOUTH MELBOURNE BEATEN.
NOTES BY OBSERVER.
A typical midsummer day – almost uncomfortably warm for a fast and fierce game of football – and the final semi-final between Collingwood and South Melbourne drew another great crowd to the Melbourne Cricket ground on Saturday afternoon.
The gate was £1,520 – slightly in excels of that for the previous Saturday – and representing an attendance of about 43,000 people. There was no mistaking the bent of public sympathy and favour on Saturday. South Melbourne have been prejudiced by events of the past week the feeling was all for the black and white. It was hard on the South Melbourne fellows to find their best efforts wring so little applause, while the thunder of the mass marked every turn of the game in Collingwood’s favour. Possibly it made them resentful, at any rate, with few to cheer them on beyond their ever-faithful followers from “The Hill,” they played a great game – and on the merits of the match should not have lost.
There was only one alteration to note in the sides, Cameron stood out from the South as he was suffering from rheumatism, and they brought one of their old players, Wade, all the way from Bairnsdale to fill the vacancy
The Collingwood men as they came on to the ground had a cheering welcome. They had incentive – and a not inconsiderable one – in the feeling that the crowd would be gratified in their victory. The South came on quietly. The contrast in receptions was so marked that one could not overlook it.
The wind, strong enough to be of assistance to one side without very seriouslyhampering the other, blew into the south-eastern quarter, and favoured approach to the railways goal by the Richmond wing. South Melbourne played that way in the opening quarter, and from the first kick determination that almost amounted to recklessness was a feature of the match.
Going strongly, yet with fine concert, the South, through the endeavours of Sloss and Prince but particularly by the little wingman approached by the eastern wing, and were checked for a moment, by a free kick to Collingwood. After a lot of ineffective struggling opposite the Harrison stand. Wade, Prince and Belcher brought the ball within range of the enemy’s posts, and kept it there for some time the best efforts of Seaddan, Norris and Howell in turn being requited to save the side. A free kick to McHale was a turning epoch. Collingwood rushed it up the field, and Ryan got the ball within distance, but, though making a nice shot scored only the single point, the first break in a hot six minutes of football.
Soon afterwards Dolphin fairly outwitted Collingwood-who had massed down the wing for the kick off. The Southern backpacked up the ball, whipped it along the grand-stand wing, and it fairly raced to Hiskins, who made a first rate mark, kicked just as finely, yet scored only the behind. While this attack was still being pressed Mortimer was slung light in front of goal, and Collingwood paid for the indiscretion. The red and white getting then first goal after ten minutes hard play.
South Melbourne were playing beautifully together, judging their exchanges with the nicest accuracy, rarely, if ever, helping then rivals with a mistake while Collingwood, perhaps though over-anxiety, blundered too frequently. Again Hiskins and Deas had them in danger till Rowell once more came out of goal with a dazzling rush and spoiled it. The recoil went the whole length of the ground, and the finish of it was a pass from Wilson to Angus, and first goal for Collingwood.
Immediately on the bounce there was mother forcing rush of pies players, closing this time with a long pass from Angus to Lee, a mark in front, and second goal to Collingwood – the cheering being inspiring to one side at least. In silence, but with grim pertinacity, the South played on, and in the closing struggles of the quarter Wide, Grimshaw, Prince, Kerr, and Deas all did fine things for them, while McHale, Gibb, and McIvor were the battlers for Collingwood. At the first rest Collingwood were in front by 5 points, but the South had been mainly the attacking side-theirs was the bigger share of merit.
Commencing the second phase with the usual turmoil in the centre, Ryan snapped the ball out of the crush, and passed straight out to the wing, where Angus dashed it on. His kick was nicely judged to reach the vigilant Lee, who promptly scored Collingwood’s third goal. Another dash by the same side, in which Saddler, Shorton, and McHale excelled, enabled Gilchrist to take a difficult mark, but to back it with the poorest kind of a shot. The youngster was disappointing just then and seemed to hold out of it.
The fault with Collingwood was that they never could agree is to which of them should soar for a mark. The consequence was that no one soared, and the South took many marks without serious interruption. For the five minutes that followed there was no one on the field so often cheered as Prince. His cleverness, his pace and coolness were for a first season player, quite remarkable, though he had against him in turn two such clippers as Oliver and Gibb. It was chiefly through Prince’s valuable efforts that South Melbourne worked the ball north where Deas, with a quick pick up after the throw in, kicked their second goal. After a break away by Saddler it was again clever little Prince who brought the ball back and an equally cool and clever little man in Kerr, who very nearly scored the goal for the South. They were attacking persistently just then, and I thought the game was swinging strongly in then favour when Kerr, from a very difficult angle, hit the goal post. He made a sad mistake for his side though, a minute afterwards in dropping an easy mark right in front of Collingwood s goal.
At times South Melbourne fairly forced the admiration of the crowd by the accuracy and wisdom of their play. When Hiskins with a beautiful shot scored another goal for them, a good many thought that they could foresee. On the other side a twisting run by McHale give Collingwood a show, but again young Gilchrist failed them. And whenever South were menaced it was their staunch pair of backmen. Grimshaw and Thomas who slopped and turned Collingwood’s ruches, more noticeable generally for then vigour than their skill. One minute saw Hiskins just missing Collingwood’s goal by a couple of feet.
In the next, Thomas was fighting hard and successfully in defence. On the other side it was chiefly Shorten’s strong, determined rushes that saved Collingwood from harm. After one such dash McHale got it in the centre, and kicked on to Lee, who, though he had to fight against two opponents, took his mark and kicked the goal, putting his side in the lead again by a couple of points. Collingwood were coming on once more, when Punshon checked them and the last incident of the quarter was a wing duel between Gibb and Prince, in which the Collingwood man for once, had the better of it and a running shot for goal by Gilchrist, who got the point. At half time Collingwood were five points ahead, a behind kicked after the bell rang being credited in error to South Melbourne. All things considered they had proved themselves thusfar rather the better team.
Commencing the third quarter Collingwood were instantly being pressed so hard that Shorten took the dangerous alternative of carrying the ball right across his own goal front. Success justified it, for Gibb carried it on, and Ryan had a lofty and useless punt within reach of goal. The South’s high marking was superior, and thus Grimshaw and Bower in turn spoiled Collingwood assaults. Their next rush got home but only for a point. It was Baxtor, McHale, and Wilson who brought the ball within range, and Baxter who got fairly close with the subsequent try. After McIvor had checked them, the Southerners came surging in. Prince, who had worked forward from the centre line had a shot, and for the second time the South hit the goal-post, while a little later on Rowell had to tip the ball against his own goal-post and give away a point in preference to risking the loss of a half dozen. Davkin, Wilson (who was going with great dash), and Hughes all shone out for the magpies, and the finish of the rally was a mark, to Angus and a shot, which scored fifth goal. A little later Daykin was favoured with a free kick, but his shot although not a bad one was a little outside the post. Another point by Baxter gave Collingwood a two goal lead and after being helped to the try by Saddler and McHale, Gilchrist might have increased it, but spoiled the opportunity. Thence on to the end of the quarter South Melbourne had the better of it, and in a fast game never once lost their precision. Their high marking, too, was very fine a good specimen of it being shown when Hiskins soared across in opponent, took the mark, and – with a great place-kick, scored fourth goal for the South, who, at the last spell were only five points to the bad.
The game had reached a most exciting phase, the teams being splendidly matched but it was nearly always Collingwood men who made the mistakes, and their splendid tenacity alone redeemed them.The last phase opened with a fine dash by McIvor who tore down the centre, anddrove the ball home, only to see it marked in goal by the reliable Dolphin. McIvor and Shorten, both playing the same strong, rushing, unscientific kind of football, came to the assault again, and this time it was Punshon who got the South out of the difficulty, and Prince, who, after a remarkably clever mark, forced it into Collingwood ground.
At this stage there was no one playing better than Vernon, whose spare, wiry frame seemed capable of any strain. It was he who gave Baxter a chance shot and a behind. Then a series of dazzling rushes by Collingwood, each ending in a goal, gave a complete turn to a game in which hither to every point almost had been won by sheer battling. The first of these meteoric dashes closed with a pass from McHale to Gilchrist, and sixth goal to Collingwood. Afterwards they had almost bungled a good opportunity, when a free kick to Lee saved them. Instead of trying to force a long shot he coolly passed it over the head of an opponent to Angus, who took the mark and kicked seventh goal. Another rush, in which McHale and Gibb shone, closed with a mark to Gilchrist a few yards in front, and the colt saved his reputation by kicking their eighth goal. Thus in a few dazzling minutes Collingwood had won their way to a lead of 23 points, but undismayed by their desperate position the South played up valiantly. Barry had a try – a very difficult one – right on the boundary line, and missed it; then Pentland had to do his best to keep Vernon from scoring. One of those fine Southern rushes, with perfectly judged exchanges, enabled Sloss to pass the ball to Deas, who scored their fifth coil and a rush that commenced from Dolphin, on the back line, was carried on through Prince, and ended with Hiskins, was responsible for South Melbourne’s sixth goal.
The Collingwood men were getting anxious again and longing for time. Ten thousand watches perhaps were being held in hands that trembled with excitement, you could see the watches out everywhere as South Melbourne struggled pluckily, but hopelessly. The closing incident was a Collingwood rush in which Lee tried hard to screw round for a fair shot at goal, and finding only a difficult one, missed his try.
They were struggling on the wing when the bell rang and excited cheers greeted Collingwood as the winners by 11 points.
But for that one dazzling burst in the last quarter, and at a stage when it seemed as if even a single goal meant victory, Collingwood were never really the better side. One missed the speed at the finish of their football against Essendon, and when consideration is further given to the fact that each side had the same number of tries, and that South Melbourne twice hit the goal-post, it will he seen that the match was keenly fought and narrowly won. It was through sheet determination alone that Collingwood managed to get in front; but then victory, however won, was unmistakably popular.
Amongst their backs the victors had three great workers in Shorten, Mclvor and Saddler. M’cale though a bit off at first, recovered his fine form as the game went on, and Vernon seemed to be at his best when others were tiring. Angus set his team a first rate example for he played well everywhere and shared forward honours with Lee, each of them getting three goals. Gibb being beaten in the first half, recovered towards the finish. Wilson made some line fast dashes and was a sticker, while Hughes was always solidly useful. Oliver only occasionally showed us his dazzling rushes and the three men who failed to realise expectations were Scaddan, Baxter and Ryan.
South Melbourne had four very fine defenders in Thomas, Grimshaw, Dolphin, andPunshon, but no one on the side did so much really clever work as Prince, and no man on either side made fewer mistakes. I saw rather less than usual of Belcher; but in proportion as he declined Hiskins came on, and, apart from his general value, his three goals were features of the match. Mortimer played really good football, but excited the determined animosity of a couple of the men opposed to him, and was being threatened at times with obliteration. He got two goals and though he used some ingenuity at times in working for free kicks, was not often successful. Bower maintained his reputation in the centre, Wade put in some good dashes and Barry was going hard at the finish. Kerr, as usual, was of the realest a value to the team, and Deas, although not very successful about goal, did good work further out. The umpire, Elder put up another good record and was loudly cheered at the finish.
1910 ‘THE LAST EFFORT.’, The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), 26 September, p. 6, viewed 12 August, 2015, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article10463936