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Bendigo FNLThe Archive | Founded in 1893, South Bendigo celebrates its 125th anniversary this season so let’s look back at the Bloods’ inaugural games in the then Bendigo District Football Association.

Permits for various players were granted at the Association meeting on May 1st ’93 with nine new South players accredited to give them the right to play with earlier sanctioned teammates.

So the stage was set for the Bloods, who wore a white guernsey with a red stripe similar to South Melbourne’s colours (although South later wore a red V), to play their first game.
It was against power club Bendigo on May 3rd. Amazingly the game started at 4 pm, an extremely late start considering the 2.20 pm opening siren we’re used to in the 21st century.
The Showgrounds was the venue --- we know it these days as the Tom Flood Sports centre --– and in those extremely low-scoring matches of yesteryear Bendigo had the game in their keeping by the first change. At quarter time Bendigo led 4.1 to one behind.
The Bloods’ very first goal in their inaugural season was kicked by Roberts “to the sound of loud cheering from the new club’s supporters who had mustered strongly,” the Monday Advertiser reported.

ROBERTS’ goal came midway through the second quarter and was followed with another from skipper Sampson following the awarding of a free kick. Nonetheless Bendigo led at half-time: 4 goals 3 behinds to 2.4. Bendigo went further ahead when Joe Griffiths and best afield Burtonclay landed the ball with Holton. Holton nailed Bendigo’s fifth goal.
So by three-quarter time Bendigo led solidly -- 5.6 to 2.5 -- and the Advertiser noted as the fourth term got underway “darkness was coming on when the ball was bounced for the start of the last quarter.” And there were no floodlights in 1893!

Not surprising that sentence about the darkness, considering it was late autumn (May), and the first bounce wasn’t until 4 pm. South controlled the first part of the last stanza but inaccuracy plagued the Bloods. Dower, Carlick (2) and Williams were all off-line before Bulger finally found the big sticks for the Bloods’ third and final major.
Bendigo held on although remaining scoreless for the final quarter with the Advertiser reporter stating “after quarter-time the Souths more than held their own and will be rated hard to beat by the other teams in the Bendigo competition.”
Final scores: Bendigo 5 goals 6 behinds to South’s 3 goals 10 behinds.

MATCH 2 was against Sandhurst on May 10th 1893 at the Upper Reserve, or the QEO as we know it today.
There’d been a bit of a kerfuffle a day earlier when South applied to the BDFA for a permit for Bendigo’s Kershaw to play for the Bloods.
“No clearance was produced and delegates were told Kershaw intended to play still for Bendigo,” the Addy reported. Sandhurst’s Jack Michelsen told fellow delegates South Bendigo’s actions amounted to ‘touting’ and Kershaw’s application was dismissed.

Rain had fallen earlier on match day and the Upper Reserve surface condition wasn’t great. The Cardinals controlled play throughout the first half and by the main break held a solid lead: 3 goals 3 behinds to South’s 0 goals 3 behinds. The Bloods managed their one and only goal for the day in the third quarter before Sandhurst added three more of their own to run out easy winners: 6 goals 6 behinds to South’s 1 goal 4 behinds.
Goalkickers – Sandhurst: Neale 2, McDonough 2, Lehman, Matthews. South Bendigo: Mollard.
Best – Sandhurst: Conn, Goyne, Leaney (capt.), Culmace, Neale. South: Luke, Williams, S. Sampson (capt.), Bulger, Roberts.

AT THE completion of two rounds Eaglehawk and Sandhurst topped the six-club table with two wins apiece.
North Bendigo (which played between 1888 and 1897) was third with a one win-one loss record while Bendigo (1881-1906) on one win also was placed in fourth position.
South Bendigo and North Sandhurst filled the bottom two rugs on the ladder before North Sandhurst abruptly went into recess, unable to field a team for the coming Round 3.
North Sandhurst was a member cub of the BDFA only between 1887-1893. They hadn’t turned up for their Wednesday Rd. 2 fixture against Eaglehawk.
That was the end forever for that particular club.

So South Bendigo was ready for their Round 3 game against North Bendigo. Sampson again captained South with H. Trewhella the skipper of North.
“The play, as a whole, was not of a very scientific description although at times some really smart work was put in,” the Advertiser reported.
“From the outset Souths went in with evident determination to win, if possible. And during the first quarter Sharp raised the spirits of the red and whites by putting up first goal for his side,” the match report noted.

“In the second quarter the North boys put on a bit of a spurt and had several shots for goal but only five behinds resulted.
“After the interval Bogle succeeded in equalising the goal score by kicking the first six-pointer for the yellow and black (North’s 19th century colours),” the report continued.

AND the old problem about late starts resulted in the gloom descending on the third round match’s final quarter.
“The game was very exciting but owning to the darkness coming on we could not distinguish many players out on the field,” the writer noted.
“But just before the call of time Williams secured the ball and by a well-directed kick put it between the big posts and scored the second goal for Souths.”
So the Red and Whites earned their first premiership points in Bendigo footy.
The match was drawn meaning South and North Bendigo received two premiership points each.
Final scores: South Bendigo two goals three behinds drew with North Bendigo one goal nine behinds.

Even though final tallies weren’t in vogue 125 years ago that meant both clubs had racked up 15 points despite just three goals having been scored for the afternoon: South 2.3 (15), North 1.9 (15).

Another interesting sidelight comes with the Advertiser commenting on the efforts of the central umpire.
“Mr. F. Dickason acted as central umpire and gave general satisfaction,” it noted.
“Owing to the game being roughly contested Mr. Dickason’s duties were more than ordinarily arduous.
“There were about 20 free kicks allowed and one of the South players – Slater – struck a member of the North team.

“The umpire will doubtless bring the Slater matter under the notice of the association at their next meeting.”

ONE of South’s early players had a colourful history. He was E. Williams who captained the club in 1894 when the Bloods finished runners-up. He’d played in the inaugural season under Sampson although that hadn’t been his first foray into Bendigo footy.

The Addy noted Williams had been “rung in” by Bendigo for a match out at Eaglehawk a few years earlier and “astonished the Borough boys by the matter-of-fact way in which he kicked goals from near the centre of the oval.”

Williams had played for then VFA club North Melbourne for five seasons from 1886 and later for Williamston in 1891.“He went over to South Australia playing with Norwood in 1892 before coming to Bendigo at the time of the formation of the South Bendigo club and playing with the Red and Whites in 1893,” the Addy noted.

AND in their 125-year history it’s important to remember the Bloods hold two significant BFNL records: the highest senior score ever kicked and the biggest-ever winning margin recorded.

Both feats were nailed in the same 1990 fixture: South Bendigo 49.28 (322) def. Kennington-Strathdale 3.3 (21).
A winning margin of a lazy 301 points. After starting the afternoon at CHB, David McMurray snagged 13 goals, Steve Allender landed nine while Martin Harrington snared eight.

South’s percentage soared from 176.0% to a stellar 245.7% that particular Saturday evening!
Current Bloods president Rick Townsend, a Kennington lad back in the day, isn’t overkeen to hear those scores from 28 years ago dwelt on too much these days.

By Richard Jones