Warning: "continue" targeting switch is equivalent to "break". Did you mean to use "continue 2"? in /customers/9/1/2/thefullquid.com/httpd.www/wp-content/themes/hueman-pro/addons/pro/infinite/infinite-scroll/class_infinite.php on line 243 Ladders and Snakes - The Full Quid

Ladders and Snakes


As I was born in Melbourne my pagan religion, naturally, was footy (Aussie Rules). As a 13 year old I drew this wonky picture of the current state of affairs of Victorian football teams representing their position on the ladder in season 1965. My beloved Essendon Bombers, coached by club legend John Coleman, triumphed over the St. Kilda Saints, winning their 12th flag in a match attended by a crowd of nearly 105,000 at the MCG.

The 1965 season is remarkable for:

  • Melbourne’s 1964 Premiership captain, Ron Barassi, astounding the footy community by switching to become captain/coach of Carlton.
  • First use of a mouthguard (Geoff Gosper of Essendon).
  • St.Kilda, Richmond and North Melbourne all changed their home grounds.
  • Six-premiership Melbourne coach Norm Smith was sacked after Round 12, then reinstated before Round 14.
  • The flick  pass was outlawed. (Much more on the flick-pass here)
  • Essendon’s half-forward flanker John Somerville was felled behind play in first 10 minutes of the 1965 Preliminary Final by Collingwood’s Duncan Wright (Wright never played another VFL game, no report was made by the umpires and no-one, including the Police,  pressed charges)
  • In Round 2 Hawthorn forward Garry Young sustained a painful injury from a hard knock. Hawthorn captain Graham Arthur stood over him and said “Get up you weak bastard”, and Young returned to the play and did his best to continue. Eventually he left the ground and went to hospital where it was discovered that he had a perforated bowel and peritonitis, both life-threatening conditions. He never played again.

Here’s a few related newspaper reports from 1965…..


MELBOURNE, Monday —The deputy chief of the CIB, Chief Detective Inspector J. Matthews said today that Victorian League football was becoming “more and more brutal.” He said senior police officers were concerned at increasing violence in matches.

Although only two rounds have been played, already eight players have been reported and five have received broken bones, he said.

Insp. Matthews said police had power to take action if they thought a player was being unnecessarily rough.

There is a provision to charge a player with inflicting grievous bodily harm, or even murder. A Supreme Court judgment in 1961 could be applied, he said.

The judgment reads:

If a person of normal mentality strikes another a blow, knowing it will probably, or more than likely, cause death or grievous bodily injury to the victim and death results, the aggressor may be guilty of murder even though he was indifferent whether death or grievous bodily harm was caused, or even if he wished that it might not be caused.

Insp. Matthews said he did not know if police were likely to take action.

Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 – 1995), Tuesday 27 April 1965, page 17

Preliminary Final

Essendon outclassed a patched-up Collingwood side in the preliminary final of the Victorian Football league at the Cricket Ground yesterday and will now play St Kilda in next Saturday’s grand final. Collingwood did not appear likely to win at any stage of the encounter, which was held before a crowd of 95,386. The Dons were too fast, too systematic, won the high-marking duels and had control of the ruck as well its having a match-winning rover in John Birt.

There was a sensation shortly after the start of the preliminary final. Essendon half-forward flanker John Somerville dropped unconscious nine minutes after the start of the game. Collingwood half-back Duncan Wright was the only player near Somerville when the incident occurred. Thousands of people began to boo Wright and it was easily one of the noisiest demonstrations against an individual for years. Somerville was carried from the ground on the stretcher and was later admitted, suffering concussion, to hospital for observation.

Despite the impressive win, Essendon is likely to have selection worries for the grand final. Somerville will definitely be unable to play and veteran Jack Clarke has a strained ‘ hamstring muscle and must be considered doubtful.

Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 – 1995), Monday 20 September 1965, page 15

Pass outlawed by new ANFC definition


The Australian National Football Council today outlawed the flickpass, one of the most controversial issues in VFL football. The council redefined the handball rule to read,

Handball is clearly holding the ball with one hand and striking with the clenched fist of the other hand.

Previously the rule merely stated “striking with the other hand.” Last season the flickpass was a hot issue in football circles. In desperation the VFL finally called a meeting of the 12 club coaches, who decided on a gentleman’s agreement not to use the pass.

Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 – 1995), Tuesday 27 July 1965, page 24


….About 2.30 pm the game begins — usually with the National Anthem that is drowned before the first bars are completed — and the bandsmen scamper from the ground. The stands are packed, the ball is bounced and the pagans are in control.

For the MCG belongs to the pagans, the followers of Australian Rules Football who throng to the Grand Final to watch their favourite high priests with the fervour of the mobs of Rome. True, other cities have their great public occasions, but few with the exception of a bullfight, or the Army Navy gridiron game in the United States, hold an entire city captive.

People will die at the game, as three did at last week’s preliminary final; others will faint and many will bemoan the fact that people cannot find better ways of spending their time than watching 36 young men try to kill one another.

Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 – 1995), Saturday 25 September 1965, page 9

Few gave the Bombers a chance against a St Kilda side boasting Ian Stewart and Darrel Baldock.

My favourite Bomber player Hughie Mitchell recalled:

We were the underdogs, I know that for a fact. We came up against Collingwood in the Preliminary Final – no one gave us a chance – we won that by about six goals. They are treasured memories. Time has gone bloody quick


Fast forward to 1989. My son, aged 10, completed his version of the (now) AFL ladder in a season where the Geelong Cats lost the Grand Final to Hawthorn by 6 points. My son wasn’t born in Melbourne but he was infected with the same pagan footy religion by dint of parental brainwashing, poor bugger;  heavily applied from birth!

I think it was in the previous season that, when I asked what he wanted for his birthday, he shuffled his feet, then summoned enough courage to break his religious shackles and his father’s expectations to announce that he wanted a GEELONG jumper with Gary Ablett’s No.5 on the back. (Mr. Ablett is now known as the ‘son of God’ in footy circles – but that’s another story).

The 1989 season is remarkable for:

  • The wettest Melbourne winter since 1952 saw horrible conditions between Rounds 11 and 13 that produced several unusually low scores: e.g.. Fitzroy’s 1.8 (14). Brad Hardie kicked 3.4 (22)  of the Brisbane Bears total score of 3.8 (26), Round 13 Essendon and Footscray played the lowest scoring game since the 1927 Grand Final, with the teams combining for only 6.15 (51).
  • Geelong set a record for the most points scored in the home-and-away season (2916) and the also the highest losing score of all time: 25.13 (163) against Hawthorn in Round 6.
  • One of the most interesting and thrilling Grand Finals of all time.

The 1989 Grand Final is legendary and much has been written about it elsewhere. Suffice to say it started with a ‘payback’, deliberate and planned ‘shirtfront’ of Hawk star player Dermot Brereton in the first few minutes; causing vomiting and a lacerated kidney. Brereton played out the full game and kicked three goals. The son of god himself kicked 9 goals for the Cats in a losing side. Other Hawthorn players suffered concussion, broken bones and one a punctured lung (he also played on). I watched the whole thing on TV with a fairly new manager from work – he, a fanatical Hawthorn supporter who managed to smoke a whole packet of cigarettes in the last half as the Cats gradually whittled back a 40 point deficit to trail by just 6 at the end.

An International soccer player who observed the game said:

I wouldn’t play this game for a million dollars.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *