Kennington’s controversial drawn game in 1949
By Richard Jones
It’s not often these days that the final scores in a major footy game are decided by the timekeepers’ scorecards.
But that’s what happened in late July 1949 when Kennington and YCW played out a Bendigo Football Association 44-44 draw.
The goal umpires failed to agree on the final tallies although the scoreboard signified an even result: YCW 5.14 (44) to Kennington’s 6.8 (44).
One goalie had Kennington in front by a solitary point while the other’s card agreed with the end tallies on the scoreboard.
But Bendigo Football Association investigations revealed that the two timekeepers agreed with the scoreboard and one of the two goalies so the final drawn result stood.
The end mix-up might have happened because of a late goal-umpiring blunder.
A Keets’ kick into attack fell just wide of the point post but the goal umpire stationed at that end signalled a behind.
However, the central ordered the ball be thrown in from the boundary line right beside the point post so in actuality no score had been kicked.
That particular goal umpire had his hands full as play remained in that end of the oval until the eventual final bell.
YCW had led by seven points --- 4.9 to 4.2 --- at half-time and by five points at the last change: 5.10 to 5.5.
The Keets’ Alan Nalder was the only goalkicker in the tense final stanza with YCW able to register four behinds only.
Minor Kennington scores to Alan Purdon and Bill Boucher levelled up the scores again and that’s how it remained until he final bell.
Later that season Kennington scored a vital victory over Provincial after leading by 15 points at three-quarter time.
Four goals to two in the final term sealed the Keets’ win with Alan Nalder and Ron Gray topping the goalkicking tally with three apiece.
The win left Kennington in fourth spot on the BFA ladder. YCW (42 prem. points) was on top followed by Nthn. United (40), White Hills and Kennington (both 38) and Kangaroo Flat (32).
So 1949 was a pretty good year for the Parakeets.
Alan Nalder drew with two other players for the Association’s Betheridge fairest and best medal.
Muir of White Hills and Jebb of Northern United were the players who tied with Nalder.
Kennington won the semi-final replay against White Hills after the drawn first game (a trend for the Keets in 1949, drawn matches) getting home by five points.
But Northern United was too good in the preliminary final winning by 11 points, although it was still the Keets’ best result since reforming in 1946 after World War Two.
They’d made the finals three times since the competition re-start and in 1949 the Twos won the BFA flag for the third, successive season downing YCW by a point: 7.9 (51) to the Eagles 8.2 (50).
Fred Woolley nailed three goals while in Kennington’s best were Paddy Hopley, Ron Nalder Ken Mannix and Jack Lowe (two goals).
Onwards into the Fifties and Kennington was to record a historic premiership: the 1956 flag in the Melbourne Olympics year.
The club finished third in the BFA Top Four with a seven-point win over Harcourt in the final home-and-away round cementing third spot on the ladder.
Kennington won 11.15 (81) to 11.8 (74) to end season ’56 level with Chewton on premiership points.
The 1956 BFA ladder: North Bendigo 56, YCW 52, Kennington 48 and Chewton 48: all finals-bound.
Making up the rest of the table were Kangaroo Flat 44, Harcourt 28, Northern United 20, Provincial 20 and White Hills 8.
Jack Hargreaves was the Association’s top goalkicker with 57 majors.
The Keets sneaked home over a very game and tenacious Chewton by a goal in the first semi-final --- ironically played at Kennington’s home ground in Neale Street.
The home side led by 14 points at the main break (7.6 to 5.4) and then by the narrow margin of eight points at the last change
Hargreaves was the difference between the two clubs as he nailed four Kennington goals. Final scores: 10.11 (71) to Chewton 9.11 (65).
On to the preliminary where North Bendigo was to be the opponent.
The Green and Golds had won the midweek lead-up lightning premiership at Kangaroo Flat, defeating BFL club Sandhurst by two points: 4.2 (26) to the Maroons 3.6 (24).
So on prelim. final day North Bendigo was feted to bow out in straight sets with Kennington winning the prelim by a single goal again, this time after pegging back a 14-point deficit midway through the final stanza.
The Keets scored a number of points in the final, tense term – five to be precise --- but clutch majors to Kevin Boucher and Hargreaves gave Kennington a narrow lead.
A Hargreaves shot in the final 60 seconds was marked right on the goal-line by North’s Fred Kirk but the Green and Golds had done enough to earn a grand final berth.
Hargreaves drilled six of Kennington’s nine goals with another top player Ron Nalder who was stationed in the back pocket.
Final scores: Kennington 9.12 (66) def. North Bendigo 8.12 (60).
And so onwards to the 1956 grand final with YCW the opponent.
Ironically back-in-the-day Kennington and YCW both used the Neale Street Oval as their home ground, with the QEO used for grand finals.
The Parakeets had come out on top in two out of the three home-and-away matches in 1956 between the two clubs:
YCW had won the low-scoring central game in mid-July, 7.2 to 5.2. Kennington were the victors in the other two: 10.12 to 4.12 early season, in May, and 10.16 (76) to YCW’s 3.4 (22) on 1st of September.
Onto grand final day in the first week of October with Kennington victorious over YCW by 17 points.
It was the Keets first BFA premiership and came 19 years since the club was first founded.
It was also Kennington’s first grand final win in their fourth attempt.
The QEO wasn’t in great shape. Water lay all over the deck and intermittent showers interrupted the afternoon.
YCW led by a point at half-time (4.3 to 4.2) yet Kennington outscored YCW five goals to two after the long break.
The last quarter was notable for a lean 20-minute stretch when neither side scored anything.
Finally, YCW’s Keating missed an easy set shot from straight in front yet when the ball was cleared to the other end of the field Kennington’s Hargreaves landed his fifth goal, soccering it through as he lay outstretched on the deck.
Mulqueen just missed for YCW as they surged into attack. Then Stan Ross marked and goaled from an acute angle to hand Kennington a match-winning 23-point advantage.
YCW captain-coach Chalkley marked in the forward line as the final bell sounded. His resulting goal only served to reduce the margin to 17 points as the Kennington players were chaired off the QEO shoulder-high to their dressing rooms.
Final scores: Kennington 9.7 (61) def. YCW 6.8 (44). Gate takings: a record 354 pounds (two decades before decimal currency started).
So, how to celebrate a first grand final victory? Off to the boozer for a prolonged stretch on the beers?
Well, no, because six o’clock closing was still well and truly the law in the mid-Fifties.
A premiership social was held in the Kennington Hall where BFA president Mr. S.A Doyle congratulated the club, making special mention of captain-coach Alan Nalder and full-forward Jack Hargreaves.
In his reply Nalder thanked Mr. Doyle, Kennington president Mr. Wally Geisler and other club officials and then introduced each premiership player --- one by one --- onto the stage to rapturous applause.
Later on, a grand final victory weekend went ahead in mid-October in Deniliquin, of all places, with every player wearing his club jacket to celebrations in the NSW town.
A premiership reunion was staged three decades later in 1986 at the Strathdale Community Centre.
By then three flag-winning players had passed away. They were Peter Floyd, John Hammill and Alan ‘Dummy’ Nalder.
But nonetheless the reunion was a huge success and although they didn’t know it at the time the then Kennington Saints had just seven years of existence left.
They folded at the end of 1993 so were not around when footy kicked off in 1994.
With assistance from Kennington-Strathdale official historian, Peter Harrick. He also served the BFNL in the compilation of the 1986 and 1996 Hall of Fame booklets: the first two of the league’s five induction publications.