Monday, 23 June 2014

The Dockerty Cup Finals of 1931

It is a misconception that Australia is lacking in football history, the issue is more the lack of establishing and maintaining the folklore of the game over the years. With the revival of the Dockerty Cup in recent years, it's opportune to look back and seek to find what should be celebrated as the "famous" epics of the past. One of which must surely be the triumph of the Wonthaggi Magpies in 1931.

Not competing in the Melbourne Metropolitan League, the Magpies began making an impact in Victorian football through their Dockerty Cup runs in the 1920's. A Wonthaggi team reached the Third Round in 1923, though the papers do not discern whether it was the Magpies or the local rivals Wonthaggi Caledonians/Thistle.

The Third Round was reached by the Magpies in 1927, before an appearance in the Cup Final of 1928. A replay was required to eliminate Heidelberg in the Second Round, before a convincing 3-0 defeat of Footscray in the Third Round. The Final was reached with an emphatic 6-0 win over Brighton in the Semi-Final. It was the same scoreline by which they where defeated by the Naval Depot in the showpiece at the Motordrome.

The 1928 Finalists met in the Second Round the following season, with Naval Depot getting through with a 2-1 win in a replay following a 2-2 draw in their first clash. In 1930 Albert Park prevented Wonthaggi from progressing beyond the Second Round.

Goals from P.Spooner and J.Gibson saw the Magpies defeat Hakoah 2-0 in the First Round of the 1931 competition. Hakoah were on their way to taking out the Championship of the Third Division. In the Second Round there was an easy 5-0 win to dismiss eventual Second Division Runner's-Up South Yarra.

The Third Round ended in controversy in terrible conditions in Wonthaggi. Racing to a 3-0 lead over Melbourne Thistle, heavy rain caused a delay to the start of the second half. Thistle pulled a goal back as the referee Mr.Hadlington dismissed appeals to abandon the game until he called a half to proceedings with three minutes remaining.

In the Semi-Final against Footscray Thistle, J.Spooner opening the scoring in the first minute at the Exhibition Oval before a second half equaliser brought about a replay. In the replay it was J.Spooner on the scoresheet again, his goal sending the Magpies into the Final with a 1-0 win.

On Saturday September 12, Wonthaggi Magpies took on Brunswick in the Dockerty Cup Final at the Exhibition Oval. Brunswick were seeking a League and Cup double, having been undefeated in taking out the First Division Championship. With both clubs having black and white colours, it was Wonthaggi who were allowed to wear their regular kit whilst Brunswick had to use their alternate. Neither side was able to find the back of the net, the 0-0 draw ensuring a replay the following week.

In the Replay the action moved to the Brunswick Oval. Once again, despite the use of extra-time on this occasion, the teams could not be split with another 0-0 draw recorded. This necessitated a Second Replay, held the following Saturday in Wonthaggi. A crowd of 3000 turned up to see the Magpies finally secure the Cup with a 1-0 victory. The match report and record of subsequent festivities from The Powlett Express of Friday October 2nd is featured in the picture below (click to enlarge) as it appeared in the paper:

It was an achievement which had all the hallmarks of every great underdog story. A country town, with it's roots in the harsh mining industry, prevailing over the city slickers. A team full of brothers taking on the wider world. It contains a romantic element that has gone missing from the game, which hopefully will be brought back by the return of the Dockerty Cup and initiation of the FFA Cup.


  1. Is the Brunswick Oval now called Gillon Oval?

    1. It's a question best put to an expert like Les Street.....

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