Footy in the Forties: Cyril’s Guides discovered

By Richard Jones

Back in 1949 Bendigo football was well on the way to recovery after the traumatic and devastating years of the second World War.

There were eight clubs in the BFL with weekly footy Guide editor Cyril Michelsen proudly proclaiming in one of his early season forewords (or editorials) how proud he and the league were of the four country clubs.

These were Castlemaine, Kyneton, Echuca and Rochester.

Early in the ’49 season Rochester and the Maine were in the Top Four with Kyneton’s Leo Maguire leading the RSL Player of the Year award.

It was noted in the Guide’s club notes that Tiger skipper Maguire had sunk a 70-yard goal (with a punt kick) in the win over South. Big kick, but the correspondent swore he was right.

By late July Maguire was in second spot on 18 votes, three short of leader Vin English (21) of Sandhurst.

Square’s Vin Lapsley, father of current State Emergency Services chief Craig Lapsley, was third on 14 in the RSL award.

Club notes and player performances were keenly recorded in the Guide of the time.

The Sandhurst script noted that the club had adopted “the VFL’s dressing gown fashion for the 19th and 20th men” and also maroon caps had been provided for the trainers.

The Square Script noted that coach Jack Cotter was still out with an injury but was due back for the away July 30th game versus Rochester.

Dan Burns got a great recommendation in the Kyneton Clippings. Burns had held gun South forward and the BFL’s leading sharpshooter Ken Connaughton to a single goal.

On a tragic note the Hawk Talk noted the death of Eric ‘Ted’ Hocking who’d played with Eaglehawk earlier in the season.

Hocking’s funeral had been held on the previous Saturday morning before the senior footy started with club officials and players – along with his workmates --- marching from Hocking’s home to his gravesite.


So what were the final results from those rounds of matches for which I have the Guide --- those contested on July 30th.

Well, in the Addy of Monday, August 1st ’49 the four winners were headlined as Echuca, Rochy, Kyneton and South.

And despite wet conditions, the worst encountered that season according to the BFL writer, large crowds turned out.

“Echuca gave a fine display to defeat Sandhurst, the top team on the premiership ladder by 10 points,” it was reported.

And after a weak start Kyneton defeated Castlemaine at the Camp Oval (not Reserve, back in the day) in a vital match for two of the clubs battling it out for fourth spot while Rochester was untroubled to record an eight-goal victory over Golden Square.

“South Bendigo was never in danger of defeat in their match against Eaglehawk,” the BFL writer added.

The Tigers had to erase a four-goal deficit early in the match at the Maine before passing the Magpies’ score to win by 11 points, the Addy writer noted.

That particular match was marred by an extremely heavy ground.

The gate takings were encouraging with £163 taken at the Upper Reserve, £128 at Castlemaine, £125 at Echuca but just £75 at Rochester.

After 15 rounds 69 years ago Sandhurst topped the table while Eaglehawk occupied the cellar.

The ladder was: Sandhurst 11 wins, 4 losses, 44 premiership points; Rochester 9-6, 36, 114%; South Bendigo 9-6, 36, 105%; Kyneton 8-7, 32.

Outside the Top Four: Echuca 7-8, 28, 100%; Castlemaine 7-8, 28, 94%; Golden Square 5-10, 20 and Eaglehawk 4-11, 16 prem. points.

Ken Connaughton had booted four Rd. 15 goals and was on top of the BFL goalkicking table. Following his four goals against the Hawks Connaughton had a lead of five.

Leaderboard after 15 rounds: K. Connaughton (SB), 4, 37; P. Scholes (Sh), 2, 32; J. Stanlake (Rochy), 0, 31; B. Chappel (Rochy) 2, 30 and G. Smith (Kyn), 0, 30.


In an earlier edition, the Guide’s editor noted down the final scores around the grounds in the BFL and quarter-by-quarter scores of the match he was writing up for Monday’s Advertiser.

And Michelsen also published a half-page in the Guide for footy followers to note the half-time and full-time scores in the VFL, or the ‘Melbourne League’ as the guide called it.

In May he’d pencilled in the full-time scores around the grounds.

These were: Essendon 11.18 def. Richmond 9.15, Fitzroy 14.21 def. Hawthorn 9.13 (at Glenferrie Oval), Geelong 15.13 def. St. Kilda 10.11, South Melbourne 10.8 def. Footscray 8.14 (at the Lakeside Oval), North Melbourne 6.12 def. Melbourne 5.16 (at the MCG) and Carlton 16.15 def. Collingwood 10.15.

The league comprised just the 12 clubs back in the day and all matches were played on Saturday afternoons.

Night footy had never been heard of and Sunday games were taboo because of people’s affiliations to their local church denominations with their Sunday services.

Country and regional scoreboards had spaces for the attendants to hang up the VFL scores, on their nails, for the footy public to read.

There were two full pages devoted to the city race meeting of the day. In the Guide where Michelsen had noted down BFL and VFL scores that Saturday’s meeting was held at Flemington.

And because winter had arrived the meeting had hurdle and steeplechase events.

I don’t recall my old mentor being a keen punter, but he’d noted down the placegetters for the entire seven-race programme with Forfar taking out the 2 mile, one furlong Hurdle and Bronze Laddie first past-the-post in the two mile Steeple.

As with progress VFL scores city race results were posted on the old manually operated scoreboards around country and regional Victoria, the BFL included.

When I first started covering BFL footy in 1977 the old QEO scoreboard in the Camp Hill pocket with its metal numbers dangling from pegs was well and truly in operation.

You needed scoreboard boys who could multiply by 6.

Same when we went down as a family to Kardinia Park: manual operations were all the go.


Going back to that late May round and full-time scores were: South Bendigo 14.9 def. Castlemaine 10.10 (at the Upper Reserve, or the QEO as we know it today), Kyneton 9.12 def. Echuca 8.10 (at Victoria Park, Echuca) and Rochester by one point over Sandhurst: 8.9 (57) to the Maroons 6.20 (56).

In the game he was covering Michelsen had the quarter-by-quarter scores written down. A straight-kicking Eaglehawk led Golden Square at each quarter break, posting 8.0 to Square’s 5.5 to lead at halftime by 13 points.

By the last change the home side led: 10.3 to 6.5. Full-time scores: Eaglehawk 12.4 def. G. Square 7.7.

The league was proposing to provide Saturday morning footy for “the younger boys who are unable to play in other teams.”

“It is proposed to organise a Saturday morning competition with arrangements in the hands of Ritchie Lee who has given yeoman service to more than one cub in this district,” the page 3 editorial announced.

The competition was to be restricted to boys under-16 years of age.

Michelsen noted also that a mid-week fixture was to be held later in 1949 with a Mr. Harvey Cox in charge of organising it.


As a footnote to the Addy’s August 1 report from 1949 two players had been reported -– W.D. Watts of the Hurst seniors and K. Cannan of the Eaglehawk Twos.

Field umpire Pound and boundary umpire Pell reported Watts on charges of allegedly striking No. 3 of South: N. Cowling.

Additionally, the umpires noted that Watts had charged South Bendigo’s T. Harrington.

Boundary umpire M. Owen also laid a charge against Watts. He alleged that Watts had struck Cowling.

Field umpire W. Saunders reported K. Cannan of Eaglehawk seconds for having struck Sandhurst’s C. Bourke in the early Upper Reserve clash.

In those days not all clubs had Seconds sides so the roster didn’t feature the same two clubs right through the curtain-raisers. Eaglehawk won the match: 6.5 to Sandhurst’s 3.8.

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