RIDDELL FOOTBALL CLUB
(1888 – 1969)
The Riddell Football Club has been in existence since 1888 making it one of the oldest Football clubs in Victoria. 124 years is a long time but especially so, when you are talking about the lifespan of a sporting club that represents a small country town at the foothills of the Macedon Ranges.
In the wonderful tradition of Australian sport, whole communities are galvanised by their local sporting teams and in particular the local Australian Rules Football team, which like no other, pulls together local residents in a tribal way to test their skill, bravery and resilience against other local towns and communities.
1888 - 1900
In their first year of existence in 1888, Riddell were joined by Lancefield, Romsey, Kilmore, Kyneton, Rose of Kilmore and Kyneton Trades Club competing for the title of “Champions of the District”. Matches were played on Wednesday afternoons and were usually very low scoring affairs. Riddell’s first ever competitive game was against Lancefield in which the Riddell boys had no answer for the strong Lancefield team. The “Champions” match was played at Lancefield between the Rose of Kilmore team and Lancefield. The game started at 2:30pm and was won by Lancefield 4-14 to 3-2.
In 1889 details are sketchy in regard to results as very few matches were played because it was an extremely wet winter, with 38 inches of rain being recorded for the year. Woodend captured the title with East Trentham runners-up.
In 1891 the Romsey District Football Association was formed in which Riddell was a foundation member. The first football kicking competition in the district was also held for a prize of 1 pound and was won by Shanahan of Lancefield with a 49 yard place kick. It was also at this time that some towns were able to field a junior team and competitive matches commenced. The result of one of Riddell Juniors first matches hardly had the scoreboard attendant in a fluster as the final score line was Sunbury Juniors 0-0 drew with Riddell Juniors 0-0.
Early matches contested in 1892 by the Riddell Senior team saw the best players include Howard, Shaw, Markham, Kilmartin, Murphy and Walsh with Riddell claiming a few wins along the way. The Grand Final was played at Gisborne “Island” between Sunbury and Woodend with Sunbury winning 3-16 to Woodend 2-6.
In 1894 the Lancefield District Football Association was formed with Riddell joining Woodend, Carlsruhe, Sunbury, Kyneton, Newham, Romsey, Lancefield, Trentham, Macedon and Rainbow in the competition. Riddell was able to win some of their matches and before an attendance of 200 excited spectators on a harrowed field at Hesket, Lancefield scored 3-5 to defeat Newham 1-6 to win the Grand Final.
In 1895, there was a major split in the competition with 2 Associations competing in the district. These 2 Associations were the newly formed Woodend District Association which comprised of teams from Woodend, Kyneton, Macedon and Rainbow. The Lancefield District Association continued on with the addition of Woodend Traders, Pyalong, Cobaw and Pastoria. Low scoring matches were the order of the day during this time as most of the “Football Grounds” were in fact local farmer’s paddocks which were given a quick harrowing before the commencement of play. One of the recorded scores from one of these matches showed Riddell 0-1 defeating Lancefield 0-0 in what must have been an easy day for the goal umpires and scoreboard attendant.
This year of 1895 was a significant year in the history of the Riddell Football Club as it marked the first occasion that the Riddell Football Club played in a Grand Final. Unfortunately the occasion might have been too much for the Riddell lads as they went down to Lancefield in a low scoring encounter 2-2 to 1-3 played at Lancefield Park. Lancefield president at the time Jas Lemon, remarked on the fine sportsmanship and skill displayed by the fine young men from Riddell.
1901 – 1914
From 1896 through to 1902 historical records are sketchy in regards to Riddell Football Club’s involvement in local competitions, however 1902 remains a very significant year in the history of the Riddell District Football League as this was the year that was first recognised as the commencement of the Riddell District Football competitions.
In 1904 there was another split in the competition due to the issue raised by some clubs of the distance required to be travelled to play games at Lancefield. As a result of this the Gisborne District Football Association was formed with clubs from Gisborne, Woodend, Hesket, Macedon, Macedon Ramblers, Sunbury and Riddell.
Riddell failed to make the finals however the Grand Final was played at Riddell before a massive crowd of 500 spectators between Woodend and Gisborne with Woodend the victors 3-7 to 2-1.
1904 was significant for another reason, it was the first year that an inter-association game was played between the Gisborne Association and the Kyneton Association in which the Kyneton Association were victorious 6-11 to 4-5. The Riddell Football Club was represented for the very first time in the combined team by the following players: C.Scheurer, G.Noonan and J.Connors who were the leading players of their time at the Riddell Football Club.
The year of 1905 was a historic year for the Riddell Football Club with the club winning it’s first ever premiership after being formed 17 years earlier. The first premiership of any sporting club is always a significantly momentous occasion and this was certainly the case with Riddell. After the end of the home and away season the final four showed Riddell on top from Woodend in second position, Macedon were in third position with Macedon Ramblers rounding out the top four. After a closely fought finals series Riddell were victorious in the Grand Final over Woodend, with the final score line reading Riddell 4-4 to Woodend 2-2. Apparently the celebrations that followed were of the magnitude never before seen in the township with the players who participated eternally etched into the history of the town. There is always something very special about the players who are part of any club’s first premiership and the Riddell Football Club owes the players, coaches and officials of the 1905 premiership team a great debt of gratitude for setting such a wonderful foundation for all future teams to follow down the years.
In 1906 the defending premiers finished the year in 4th position on the ladder after the end of the home and away season, however were unable to repeat their success of the previous year with Sunbury beating Woodend in the Grand Final, played at Riddell, in front of a crowd of 250 spectators. The final score line read Sunbury 6-5 to Woodend 2-2.
1907 saw Riddell finish in 3rd position on the ladder but were unable to improve their position during the finals series. The Grand Final was again played at the Riddell Football Ground with a crowd of 250 in attendance to see Macedon 5-6 defeat Sunbury 3-4.
1908 was another watershed year in the history of the Riddell Football Club with the election of Mr Dick Raftis (delegate for the Riddell Football Club) elected into the position of President of the Gisborne District Football Association. This was the first time a representative from the Riddell Football Club had been elected onto the executive of the controlling body of the local football competition. In his first year at the helm young Dick had to deal with a very controversial issue concerning the eligibility of players to compete. Woodend moved a motion that Sunbury be expelled from the competition for continually playing footballers recruited from outside the allowed radius of the Sunbury township, but the motion was lost on the casting vote of the President, Mr Dick Raftis.
Riddell finished 3rd on the ladder and unfortunately went down to Sunbury in the Grand Final 4-3 to 3-6 in front of a record crowd of 700 at Woodend. Records show that the best players for Riddell were McLean, Lamb, Dwyer and the Captain the aptly named Joe Riddell. The leading goal kicker for the association was the Riddell player Sexton with 13 goals for the season.
The 1909 and 1910 seasons saw Riddell not field a team in 1909 and withdraw after a few games in 1910 due to a player shortage. Despite this Mr Dick Raftis was again on the executive of the Romsey District Football Association and held the positions of Secretary and Treasurer.
1911 saw the reformation of the Gisborne District Football Association and teams included Riddell, Sunbury, Gisborne, Woodend and Macedon. Riddell finished 4th on the ladder, however it was Sunbury 4-5 defeating Macedon 3-5 in the grand final before a crowd of 500 spectators at Riddell.
In 1912 the Gisborne Football Association was renamed the Riddell District Football Association and there were only 3 teams that competed under the newly named association, these being Riddell, Sunbury and New Gisborne. This year also saw the first time that players wore numbers on their backs for identification purposes. The renaming of the Association must have had a positive impact on the Riddell team of the day as they were able to win the 2nd premiership ever by the Riddell Football Club. The grand final was played at Riddell and the home team reigned supreme in a close very low scoring game with a 1-2 to 0-3 score line. Records show the best players were Humphries, Werner and Madigan. The Office bearers for Riddell in this historic premiership year were President: J.J. Dixon, Vice President: Dick Raftis, Secretary: Pat Hannan.
The Riddell premiership side included the following players:
Bill “Weary” Dunlop
Otho Fitzgerald (son of Lord Charles Fitzgerald)
These players are enshrined in the wonderful history of the Riddell Football Club and carry the special title of “Premiership Player” with the Riddell Football Club.
1913 saw Riddell finish in 4th position on the ladder, however it was Sunbury who took premiership honours with a huge win over Gisborne 18-22 to 1-2 in the Grand Final played at Riddell.
1914 almost saw a 3rd premiership to the Riddell Football Club with Riddell making the Grand Final against Woodend which saw a draw in the first match 4-7 to 4-7. In the replay Woodend were able to win 5-2 to 4-5 with best players for Riddell being Werner, Amess, Howard, Gilchrist and Dwyer.
1915 – 1918 (War Years)
During this period of World War 1 there was no football played as was the case with most sporting bodies as the people of Australia focused their efforts on the War effort and supporting all the brave men and women who were away defending their Country.
It is appropriate at this time that we pay our respect to the players who lost their lives during World War 1 defending the Country they loved.
1919 – 1930
In 1919, the first season after the years of the War, the standard of football was poor with many players having their first games and player numbers low. Riddell ended up in 3rd position on the ladder but could not take it further in the finals.
1920 saw a resurgence in local football with Lancefield and Romsey rejoining the Riddell District Football Association. This also coincided with the appointment to the Association Executive of J.W.B. Amess of “Bolinda Park”, Riddell’s Creek as President and his son Stewart Amess as Vice President. Interest in football had snowballed and matches were watched by large crowds. All finals were played at Riddell however the home team never made the finals series. The Grand Final between Romsey and Sunbury drew a record 2000 spectators to the Riddell ground to watch Romsey beat Sunbury by 2 points 3-6 to 3-4.
In 1921 J.W.B. Amess of “Bolinda Park”, Riddell’s Creek again presided as President and his son Stewart Amess as Vice President. Riddell failed to make the finals and finished just outside the final four. Over the next few years up to and including 1924 the Amess family presided in the President’s position on the League Executive and enhanced the reputation of the Riddell Football Club with their excellent organisational and administration skills.
1926 saw the Riddell team win their way into the Grand Final against Romsey played at Lancefield after finishing in 4th position after completion of the home and away season. A hard finals series resulted in the boys from Riddell being defeated by Romsey 17-11 to 5-11. Records show the best players for Riddell were Moran, Ryan and Howard.
The 1927 and 1929 seasons saw Riddell make the finals but were unable to progress further in their finals campaigns.
The 1930 season saw the Riddell team finish outside the final four to end this successful decade in the history of the Club.
1931 to 1940
1931 saw Riddell finish on top of the ladder at the end of the home and away season but were unable to capitalise on this position and were beaten in both finals to exit the premiership race.
The years from 1932 to 1934 were seasons where Riddell finished outside finals contention and did not experience finals action.
The 1935 and 1936 seasons saw Riddell finish in 3rd position on the ladder after the home and away season on both occasions however were unable to take it any further during their finals campaign.
In 1938 Riddell made the finals after finishing in 4th position on the ladder. In the first semi final Riddell drew with Lancefield 10-11 to 10-11, however were beaten in the replay 6-8 to 4-12. The Grand Final was again played at Riddell with a draw the result in the first match between Romsey and Woodend (5-12 to 5-12). The replay was won by Romsey 11-5 to 7-8 with gate takings exceeding 53 pounds.
The 1939 season was one of the most controversial in the history of the Riddell Football Club with 12 premiership points being deducted from Riddell’s tally due to playing 3 players from Sunbury who lived ¼ mile outside the 8 mile residential radius. This resulted in Riddell dropping from 3rd on the ladder to second last and ending any finals action chances.
The 1940 season was the last season before the disbanding of the competition due to World War 2 and Riddell finished outside of the finals action.
1941 – 1945 (War Years)
During this period of World War 2 there was no football played as was the case with most sporting bodies as the people of Australia focused their efforts on the War effort and supporting all the brave men and women who were away defending their Country.
It is appropriate at this time that we pay our respect to the players who lost their lives during World War 2 defending the Country they loved.
(Rest in Peace)
1946 – 1950
The first years after the War were among the most successful in the Club’s history, both team wise and in terms if individual awards. In 1946 and 1947 under the guidance of Frank Hudson (President), Cecil Humpries (Vice-President) and Jack Daly (Secretary) the Riddell team enjoyed a successful era that resulted in the Club winning it’s third premiership. In 1946 Riddell finished outside the final four but celebrated a win in the Bowen Medal by Jack Howard for the Best and Fairest player in the competition. Jack won the medal on 22 votes and capped off a stellar season for the ex Sunshine Player who learnt his trade in the VFA, which was one of the toughest competitions in Victoria. The Grand Final was again played at Riddell between Lancefield (10-13) and Romsey (7-7).
1947 saw Riddell assemble a team that was considered by club insiders as a team capable of winning the premiership. Riddell finished the home and away season in 4th position on the ladder and were considered only a rough chance of taking out the flag by those outside the club. After winning their way into the Grand Final, Riddell played magnificent football to defeat Sunbury 14-10 to 9-9 sparking wild celebrations that continued for several days. Records show the goal kickers for Riddell : J.Howard 9, T. Wellington 2, N. McLaren, C. Colville, P. Colville and the best players: J. Howard, T. Wellington, P. Harris.
The premiership team was:
Jack Howard (Capt/Coach)
During this period of the 1940’s players of the ilk of Jack Howard, Cec Humphries, George Nolan, Neil McLaren, Doug McLaren, Jack Tobin, Big Tom Wellington, Ron Weigbrecht and Perc Harris were outstanding players and deserve to be rated amongst the best to have played for the Riddell Football Club. Probably the standout player was Jack Howard, a clever and tough rover who learnt his trade at Sunshine in the VFA and proved his championship qualities by kicking 9 goals as a rover and captain in the premiership win.
In 1948 the reigning premiers finished in 4th position on the ladder but were unable to repeat their success of the previous year. Riddell’s Best and Fairest was won by Neil McLaren and the “Belle of Belles” was won by the young Riddell lass, Jean Faulkner.
1949 saw Riddell finish mid-way on the ladder and the highlight being back to back Best and Fairest awards for Neil McLaren which also saw him finish 3rd in the Bowen Medal for the Best and Fairest player in the competition.
The 1950 season saw Riddell finish in 4th position on the ladder but unable to progress further in their finals campaign.
1951 – 1960
Throughout the Fifties Riddell struggled for success and finals appearances were few and far between. The Committees during this period were made up of outstanding clubmen of the ilk of J. Skillecorn, N. Gillespie, P. Guy, B. Brady, C. Littlejohn, D. Reed, J. Daly, M. Dureau and P. Harris.
Notable players of this era included W. Bolitho (Jnr) who was runner-up in the Bowen medal for the best and Fairest player in the competition in 1955, Ray Jordan, Jack Gray (as tough as they come), Laurie Williams, Ken McGill (One of Riddell’s best fullbacks), Reg “Pascoe” Fawkner, Keith “Springer” Faulkner.
Although finals appearances were rare, the players of this era still showed the skill, determination and toughness that players who represent the Riddell Football club are renowned for.
1961 – 1969
Throughout the Sixties the Riddell Football Club went through it’s toughest period in history. It was during this period that Riddell accumulated a record that is not the envy of any football team to have played the game. They lost a record 71 matches in a row that extended from June 2, 1962 until they beat Hesket by 2 points on June 18, 1966. Reports from people who were around the club at the time said celebrations would rival those of any premiership win in the history of the club.
The Committees during this period were made up of outstanding clubmen of the ilk of Norm Price, Jack Skillecorn, M. Stephenson, J. Maskell, Perc Harris. Notable players of this decade included Dave Hobell who was runner-up in the Bowen medal for the Best and Fairest player in the competition, played in the centre and roved and was rarely beaten and always gave 100%effort against tough opposition. Ian Trantor (fullback) was a Rock of Gibraltar and could kick either foot to the centre, his rebounding style and close checking made him a feared opponent. Brian Webster in the early sixties was a solid backman whose spectacular high marking and awkward but effective kicking style showed out during this period. Other players of note included “Darby” Munroe roving to Lawrie Holland and Max Gray (“Elbows” as many called him), Mal McInness who was a centreman and a very handy player. The legendary “Methusalam” Tex Baldston who played for over 20 years and over 400 games on a half back flank was another tremendous clubman of this era. One of the best players during this era was Arthur McCarthy who was a versatile key position player and was a delight for supporters to watch. His strong marking at both ends of the ground was equally effective and was rated by some as the best player at Riddell during his short time at the club. His brother Russell was an active contributor as well as his father Arthur Snr. as coach.
The Skillicorn family were real stalwarts of the club during this period with father Jack on the executive committee and sons John, Des and Noel playing hundreds of games between them. Big “Gentleman” John played with a heart as big as a horse, always rucking and defying the odds. Brother Noel (Scales) the perfect half back/full back would give as good as he got plus more, his exploits as an enforcer in defence are legendary. Brother Des whose ability and responsibility was to hold the backline together. His encouragement, personal endeavour and determination is well remembered.
The shining light during this era was the Under 16 Premiership win by the 3rd Eighteen coached by local stalwart Laurie Cordell. The Riddell boys finished on top of the ladder and despite inaccurate kicking in the Grand Final were able to bring home the flag against Sunbury 10-29 to 10-4. Best Players were: G. Bourke, G. Harris, R. Smith. Goalkickers were: C. Bourke 4, H. Stevenson 3, N. Poulton, J. Nemeth, W. Richardson.
One of the most important changes in the history of the Riddell Football Club also occurred during 1967 with the signing of Ron Howard as coach. Ron had a stellar career at Footscray in the VFL and later with Sunshine in the VFA and his signing heralded a complete change in mindset for the Riddell Football Club with his knowledge, professionalism and enthusiasm just what the club needed after a long period without success.
The strength of any club is how they handle times of adversity and sustained periods without success. If this is true then the Riddell Football Club owes the committee, players and supporters of this era a great debt of gratitude for the way they were able to continue on against the odds and set the foundations for what was to become one of the most successful in the club’s history.
1970 – 1979
This era of the club’s history is one of the most successful and exiting due to the fact that the playing group during this period were as skilful and exiting as any to have pulled on a Riddell jumper. To be a successful club you need to have a successful committee and this was certainly the case with Riddell during this time.
“To be continued”