Sunday, 16 February 2014

Seasons Lacking Closure

In the course of researching the history of local competitive football, several black holes have emerged. Sporadic media coverage means we may never discover the answer to some puzzling questions, especially that whilst the papers often reported about match results and informed about upcoming tribunal meetings, the upshot of those meetings was rarely covered ins subsequent editions.

The Second Division of 1921 is a little murky. Published results do not give us a complete table, but newspaper reports tell us that Brunswick, Welsh United and Melbourne Thistle A all finished on 22 points. they would have finished in that order had goal difference been employed, but in those days it was not. So instead play offs were to be used to determine the champion.

On September 24, Welsh United defeated Brunswick 2-0 in what was listed as a "semi-final". A fortnight later, in what was labelled a "final" Welsh United drew 1-1 with Melbourne Thistle A. And that seems to have been that, with no more soccer appearing in the papers from that point on. Was the Championship ever resolved?

It may well not have been, and the answer may not be hidden in an old newspaper somewhere. The season was not always able to be completed before the grounds and players were lost to cricket. One such instance was the Dockerty Cup of 1920, in which the Final was never staged. The semi-finals were played on July 31, with Albert Park beating St Kilda 1-0, whilst Northumberland and Durham United defeated Footscray Thistle 3-2.

The drama in this one involves Northumberland and Durham United having fielded an ineligible player in that game, with the Council ordering the game to be replayed as a result. This was scheduled for Middle Park on August 21, but United failed to appear for the game. The following week they defeated Melbourne Thistle 1-0 in the semi-final of the League Championship play-offs, reaching the Final against St Kilda the following Saturday. The League Championship Grand Final was drawn, necessitating a replay. That may have been enough to have extended the season too far, or the problem may have been with resolving the matter of United refusing to replay the semi-final.

Old VSF Yearbooks contain the only documented history of the game we have, and for the 1920 Dockerty Cup they have listed the following: Finalists - Albert Park, Northumberland and Durham United (Game Abandoned).

Another unresolved issue was the District League Reserves Championship of 1928. The Southern Section was won by Naval Depot, who were to meet the Northern Section champions in a Grand Final. Only the Northern Section Championship required a play-off between Footscray Thistle and Williamstown. The two teams could not be split, with Thistle finally scraping a 1-0 win in the fifth replay of the tie. Having reached November, the plug was pulled on a clash with the Naval Depot for the overall title.

There's and even bigger head-scratcher with the 1928 season, but I'll save that for the next blog.

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