Monday, 13 April 2015

The Puzzle of 1915

When I started researching the history of organised football in Melbourne, it quickly became apparent that I was attempting to complete a jigsaw puzzle in which some of the pieces were missing. Sure, some were hidden, and could be found by having another look under the couch. It was the ones long since swallowed up by the vacuum cleaner that are gone for good which mean it may be a case of completing the puzzle as best you can and hoping it still looks reasonable.

The 1915 season was one with crucial pieces missing, at least in terms of the Second Division standings. The First Division was covered well enough by the media of the day, especially the multi-sport newspaper The Winner. Division One, split into Section A and Section B, had final, completed league tables published. With most scorers listed, it appears Kilty of Northumberland and Durham United who top scored in Section A with 11 goals. In Section B it was Forbes of Burns who led the way with 6 goals, which may be short-changing him as there is one game in which they scored they goals which are unaccredited.

Division Two, which contained some reserves ("A") teams of Division One clubs, was less well covered. It's only by checking Friday evening editions of The Herald and the reports from "Spectator" that we can get some clarity. They contained fixtures and refereeing appointments for the next day's games, as well as the previous week's results. Being nearly a week after the games were played, it is safe to assume if a result was not listed the game was not played. It's an assumption you can't make with results published on a Saturday evening or even a Monday in an era before telecommunications as we know them today were not commonplace. "Spectator" was clearly a nom de plume of a V.A.B.F.A. official, also including information about and from council meetings.

A few weeks after Windsor defeated Brunswick United 2- on May 29, "Spectator" noted the game would have to be replayed after a protest was upheld over Windsor fielding an ineligible man. It's these notes that become more vital as the number of players enlisting for military service in World War I continued to rise. On July 30th he informed Cambrian United and Northumberland and Durham United A were abandoning their remaining fixtures because they had run out of players. On August 13th he announced Sandringham and Brunswick United were also forced to do the same.

It has allowed me to compile a disorderly looking table. Season summaries announced that Spotswood A were Second Division Champions, and the table agrees which is good. All that remains now is how to deal with the abandoned fixtures, once what they were is figured out (the abandoned games were not listed in the Friday night fixtures). It is not stated how they were handled, but with Sandringham being in Division One we can see theirs were dealt with as forfeits, which at the time saw their opponents being awarded the two points and goal difference being unaltered. Maybe I will just leave them as they lie, which is as shown below (click on image to enlarge):


  1. The fixtures abandoned by Cambrian United would have been:
    July 31 v St Kilda A (A)
    August 14 v Spotswood A (H)
    August 21 v Brunswick United (H)

    The fixtures abandoned by Northumberland and Durham United A could have been:
    July 31 v Hawthorn (H)
    August 14 v Thistle A (H)
    August 21 v Windsor (A)

    Brunswick United's abandonments would have:
    August 14 v St Kilda A (A)
    August 21 v Cambrian United (A)
    August 28 v Thistle A (H)

    This means there is one case of two teams abandoning their season still having a game against each other, Cambrian United v Brunswick United on August 21. If forfeits were awarded, would Brunswick United have already gained the points as Cambrian abandoned on July 30 as opposed to Brunswick on August 13?

    Feedback on how to deal with this is welcomed.

  2. I've added a picture of the table how it would look if the known abandoned games were treated as forfeits. Pleasingly, it means two teams get to 14 games, a complete season, and brings everyone up to at least 11 games.

    What it does mean is further investigation now has to be undertaken. With one result each missing, Thistle A are still capable of catching Spotswood A, which means the missing results were either forfeits or the games were played.

    So somehow I need to find a result for Northumberland and Durham A v Spotswood A from July 10, and the Thistle A v St Kilda A clash before I can declare the table as Final.