Preston Football Club – Part 2

Team Photo – 1938

So, with my research on 1939 taken as far as I thought I was capable, the first part of my Preston Football Club challenge of putting names to faces, was almost ready to be put ‘out there’.

It was now time to begin the second part.

Back a year to 1938, (researched players can be found here) and now with a little more knowledge than I had prior to posting both photos to the VFA Footy The Halcyon Days Facebook site, the hope was that it would all be a little easier.

Yeah….., well that ended up being wishful thinking……

The photo always looked more daunting, with the number of faces looking back at me, as well as the fact that they all looked a bit smaller.

The other problem was that, while I actually knew the date when the 1939 photo was taken, and as such knew the names of the 19 players involved, I didn’t have that luxury with 1938.

All I knew was that it was taken at Preston, and that because there was a crowd there, that it was likely taken game day.

Possibly post game.

I had Grandpa; Alf Roach – middle row, third from right; along with the now familiar face of Frank Dowling – front row, second from left.

1938 Preston blog photos (boyles) copy

The 1938 photo, courtesy of Boyles.

With some initial help from Michael Riley after I posted them on the Halcyon Days site, as well as a bit of Googling myself, I had a couple of extra names like Wyn Murray and Bob Muir.

However, it was now time to go back to trying to find photos from other sites; the very process that proved so slow, laborious, frustrating, and more often than not, fruitless, when researching 1939.

But, as I found previously, there were some ‘hits’, that kept me interested.  Bob Muir and Wyn Murray were duly found and pretty much confirmed, along with Joe Beagley, who was quite possibly my most rewarding ‘find’, after I chased him around the internet.

But, like before, the ‘wins’ were the exception, rather than the rule.

It was, however, and just like the earlier researching, interesting to learn a little about these guys.

And not all of it was warm and fuzzy, with the story of Wyn Murray being one that I found rather sad.

He was a police officer who had become a detective, and in 1938 stood down as Preston Captain due to work commitments.  Bob Muir then took over the Captaincy, however Murray ended up playing out the rest of the season.

I then found that a few years after he retired from football, he went to the aid of a woman being attacked in a park, where he was stabbed by an allied soldier.  Despite being critically injured, he managed to survive.

Wyn Murray article blog copy

However, he was to only survive a few more years, as he was found dead in a boarding house, apparently due to alcohol poisoning, in December 1947.

He was just 39 years old.

The searching continued, as did the learning and discovering, as well as the battle to find out which home game the photo was actually taken at.

The home games of 1938 were Rounds 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 13, 14 and 16, and knowing that Grandpa didn’t play Round 2, reduced the possibility by one.

Not much, but better than nothing.

Then realising that Wyn Murray didn’t play Round 16, I was able to knock another one out.

While all this was happening, cursory glances were occasionally made to a 1937 team photo.  The thought crossed my mind more than once, that this particular photo may somehow help my 1938 challenge.

Perhaps not so much in that it might put someone in, but maybe more that it might eliminate someone.  And that could, ultimately, be just as beneficial.

I really didn’t want to take on a third, but that nagging thought remained with me.

And then there was that 1934 team photo, as well……

I pressed on, and once again, got to a point where I felt I could go no further.

1938 Preston blog photos (boyles) copy

1938 team photo.

Back Row: Unknown, Unknown, Unknown, Unknown, Norm Campbell, Unknown, Bob Muir, Bill Maslen#

Middle Row: Joe Beagley, Unknown (in both photos), Wyn Murray, Unknown, Alf Roach, Unknown, Unknown

Front Row: Unknown, Frank Dowling, Unknown, Unknown

 

# I originally had Maslen as Edwin Gilbert in both the 1938 and 1937 photos.  And for some reason, I was more than just a little confident about that. But that was before I went back to check the link that I was sure I had, just to confirm my thoughts, only to discover that I either no longer had the link, (did have a minor laptop issue around the same time) or never had a link in the first place.

Ridiculous amounts of time ensued over the next couple of days trying to find a photo of Edwin Gilbert, all to no avail.  And then, after two nights of both dreaming about the name Edwin Gilbert, as well as waking up and thinking of nothing but Edwin Gilbert, I went back to the photos, as well as my spreadsheet, to see if I could decipher some little nugget from the information I’d gathered, to solve my frustration.

Well, a little facial recognition, with nothing other than the eyes in my head, along with who should be in what photo, as well as who shouldn’t, and I had somewhat of a lightbulb moment.

Or, more to the point, I was of the belief that I was having a lightbulb moment…

And it was helped, along with the finding of a certain other photo that I will talk about later, as I knew Bill Maslen was in that as well.  Knowing that he was more than likely in both the 1937 and 1938 photos, I went back and re-visited Edwin Gilbert.  I then studied the ears, mouth, hair, and face shape, of the ‘shortish’ guy, who kind of stood out, in the middle of the back row of that ‘newly found’ photo.

The only photo I had of Bill Maslen was then looked at again; a photo that I had struggled with since I’d first seen it.  I just hadn’t been able to make a match with it, and it was something that had both frustrated and annoyed me.  I suspected part of my problem was when the photo was actually taken, which, judging by the jumper he was wearing, was quite a few years after the period I was looking at.  That damn aging process, thing….

But there, with the facial features re-visited, as well as some approximations on heights, and of course what my spreadsheet was telling me, as far as I’m concerned, I had finally found Bill Maslen.

As I’ve said before, I’m happy to be proven wrong, but until that happens, I’m pretty confident I know who is looking a little out of place in the middle of the back row in that new photo.

 

But before the whole Edwin Gilbert / Bill Maslen thing unfolded, and with 1938 essentially done, the bullet was, rather reluctantly, bitten, to deal with that nagging thought on the 1937 photo.

I didn’t really want to do it, but damn it, I sort of knew that I had to.

So, 1937 playing list retrieved, (here) photo opened, and the whole process started again.

No Grandpa in this one, but there was Frank Dowling, again.

1937 Preston blog photo (boyles) copy

The 1937 photo, courtesy of Boyles.

But that is actually a bit of a problem, as I can’t find a record of Frank playing at Preston in 1937.  Or anywhere else, for that matter.

There is, however, a Richard Dowling in 1936 and 1937, and while it’s feasible that it’s a brother, and hence looks like him, I can’t find a reference to a brother named Richard.

I then discovered that Richard is known as Dick, which is interesting, as Frank is known as ‘Dickie’.

And the fact that Frank spent 1931 to 1941 at Preston, missing 1936 and 1937, makes me have some doubts on whether there is actually a Frank and a Richard.  Throw in that they ‘both’ pretty much only ever played Wing, doesn’t help with my doubts.

Back to the photo, and even though there’s no grandstand behind the players, the photo, to me anyway, ‘looks’ like it’s taken at Preston.

And with the players wearing black shorts, it probably confirms it.

But was it taken on match day?

I can only make an assumption on that.

More names Googled, and I get to Fred Hughson.

It rings a very feint bell, but I’m not sure why.  Delving a little deeper, and it all becomes apparent.

Later becoming a member of their Team of the Century, it’s fair to say that he’s probably considered a bit of legend of the Fitzroy Football Club.

A positive of that, is there’s no real shortage of photos and information on him, and with him having a fairly distinctive appearance, he’s actually reasonably easy to pick in photos.

First off, was the 1934 Preston team photo, and then as it progressed, many more; mainly Fitzroy; were found along the journey.

1934 Preston blog photo (boyles)

The 1934 photo, courtesy of Boyles, with Fred Hughson, middle row, second from left.

Including, and this was by complete and utter accident, a photo that another aunty; my Dad’s sister, so the other side of the family; emailed to me after she learnt that I was doing a bit of football related research.

It was a 1932 team photo of the Sunnyside Football Club, which perhaps not surprisingly, I’d never heard of.

But that didn’t matter, as it was all about one of Sunnyside’s players in the photo.  It was my other Grandfather, Harold (Dink) Jones; my dad’s father.

While I actually have a football team photo (1925 Collingwood seconds team) with Grandpa Dink in it, I had never seen this one.

 

And as an added bonus, it also had his father in it, Fred Jones; my Dad’s Grandfather.  I’d never met him, and I’m not sure I’d even seen a photo of him, so that was a pleasant surprise.

Another pleasant surprise was that this photo had names attached, and while there were one or two that I had heard of, there was one that stood out more than the others.  Along with a very familiar face in the front row, far left.

Yep, Fred Hughson!

Hmmm, seems I may now have another football research project to do, when the dust settles on this one.  At least I’ve already got some names to begin with…..  

Sunnyside Football Club_1932 blog photo

1932 Sunnyside Football Club team photo.

Back row : Fred Armstrong, Tom Parnell, Fred Jones (President), Bert Nott (Vice President?), Neil McEachern, H Campbell

Middle row : Fred Smith, Bill Corlett, Dick Lee, Aurthur Mannion, Lou Pegram, Fred Williams, Keith Campbell, Bert Chambers

Front row : Fred Hughson, Bob Horsefield, Les Munro, Eric Tiernery, Harold Jones, Garnet Townsend, Don McHarg, Mark Hughson, Don Campbell

Front on floor : Ron Grierson, Bill Sayers          

 

Anyway, back to that Preston 1937 photo…..

If, as I believe, it was taken on match day all those years ago, and because Hughson only played 3 games that year, I deduced rather quickly that it was taken in either Round 2 or Round 4.

Which is funny, and slightly annoying, how that was so much easier than working out the 1938 one….

The researching continued, and once again, I reached a point where I thought I’d found as much as I could.

1937 Preston blog photo (boyles) copy

1937 Team Photo

Back row: Unknown, Unknown, Wyn Murray, Joe Beagley, Fred Hughson, Unknown, Unknown

Middle: Unknown, Ken Walker, Bert Hyde, Bob Muir, Bill Maslen, Unknown, Unknown

Front: Unknown, Frank Dowling*, Unknown, Unknown

*Believe it is Frank, but can’t find a record of Frank playing at Preston in 1937. (see above)

An excel spreadsheet was then set up, to hopefully shed some more light on possible matches, and the likelihood of who was in multiple photos.

It helped immensely, as it then gave me several groups:

– Those that I knew were in each photo, and where they were.  Or strongly believed I did.

– Those that I knew were in each photo, but didn’t know their position.

– Those that were either probably in each photo, or at the very least, possibly in them.

– And then finally, those that were unlikely, or even definitely not, in each photo.

It was a nice feeling, and I hoped it would all come together, and in some magical way, tell me everything I needed, and wanted, to know.

Unfortunately, it didn’t happen that way.

In the end, I was able to get around 6 or 7 matches in each photo, and it was time to start putting it ‘out there’, in the hope that others might be able to add some more pieces to the puzzle.

Starting with 1939, it soon became Part 1.  And because it ended up being so long; yep, probably no real surprises there…..; and because of the nature of things such as this; yes, lots of information, and the type of information that can become very confusing, very quickly; 1939 stood alone.

It was a nice to finally get it done, and I was really looking forward to doing Part 2, and finishing it all off, within the next week.

Then, the next day happened.  All because I Googled something.

And it was something that I had Googled before while doing this whole thing.  Likely several times, too.

‘Preston 1939’.  That was it.

And there, under images, was the 1939 Preston Team Photo.

But, while it looked the same as mine, as well as the one on Boyles website, something about it looked different.

On closer inspection, I discovered it was actually a different photo.  Yes, taken at the same time, however an actual second photograph of the one I knew about.

There’s a few differences in it, but probably the easiest to notice is Frank Dowling.  Smiling in the one I’ve always known, whereas not smiling in this new one.

1939 subsequent blog Preston team photo

Same, same, but different

1939 Preston blog photo (boyles) copy

The one I always knew about

It blew me away, but not as much as my next discovery.

On the same site, which happened to be the Australian Sports Museum (MCG) website, I discovered another team photo that I had never seen.

Yep, that ‘new’ photo I mentioned earlier.

It was the 1940 Preston team photo, and there, standing up the back on the far right, was Alf Roach.

Grandpa was in a third photo!

1940 Preston blog team photo copy

1940 team photo, courtesy of Australian Sports Museum

I was absolutely stunned, both because I had no idea it existed, as well as just not understanding why I had never come across it, during this whole process.

It took a few minutes to take it all in, and now, with a little more understanding of what’s required to ‘read’ a photo, I realised two things.

One, I knew it wasn’t taken at Preston, and two, I really needed to find out where it was actually taken.

I considered putting it up on the Halcyon Days site to get opinions from far greater VFA minds than mine, and while that was contemplated, I got up to make a coffee.  Even though I could have easily handled something stronger, at that point.

As it turned out, the coffee was enough.  The penny dropped before I’d even returned to the laptop, when I realised I recognised what was behind the players.

A phone call to my aunty, as well as emailing her the photo, and a request for her to tell me, so I didn’t influence her decision, as to where she thought it was taken.

She rang back a few minutes later and asked if I thought it was Port Melbourne?

I did, and that response made me almost as happy as when I’d first found the photo.

The VFA Project was once again visited, and sure enough, there was Preston’s away game at Port Melbourne in Round 10, on the 22 June, 1940.

A quick look at the players, (here) and while there were lots of familiar names, there were also a number of new ones.

Once again, there was a hope that it would somehow fill in lots of missing pieces, but going on past experiences, I suspected it would likely raise more questions than answers.

And that’s exactly what it did.

But, I did manage to get, what I believe to be, a few more matches, as well as finding a couple more team photos that I hadn’t seen before.

Spent a little time also looking at the 1945 photo, but that just made things more confusing.  Although I’m pretty sure I know where Bert Minney is – second back row, second from left – but the rest, probably because it’s now after the war, is just too hard.

Oh well, gotta draw the line somewhere…..

 

So what, as far as I’m concerned, was the final, for now, outcome?

1940 Preston blog team photo copy

1940 Team Photo

Back Row : Unknown, Alby Morrison, Ingy Norman?*, Bill Maslen, Unknown, Unknown, Alf Roach

Middle Row : Unknown, Bert Minney, Unknown, Unknown, Arthur Sleith, Fred Beaumont, Unknown

Front Row : Frank Dowling, Unknown, Unknown, Unknown

*Guess

 

So, there it all is.

It’s not finished, but it has reached a type of finished stage.  Hopefully, just for the time being.

Having said that, it may never be truly finished.  While that would be a little disappointing, I am happy with where I ended up.

Or, where I think I’ve ended up.

It’s been an interesting ride, and one that took far longer than I envisaged it would.

It was also far more difficult, involved, confusing, frustrating, and at times, terribly annoying, but it was also just so rewarding.

It’s put some faces out there, as well some names, and it’s kind of given these guys a bit of a voice.  Football has always been important to Melbourne, and Victoria, and while obviously not truly understanding what it was like 80 years ago, I get the feeling that a fair few of these footballers were household names back then.  Just like today’s proponents of the game, are.

And with that being the case, I think they probably deserve a bit more recognition than just being a face in a photo.

 

Cheers,

Scott

 

Footnote –

Funerals are something that I never look forward to attending, but, they come with the territory that is life, I guess.

However, apart from being given the opportunity to say goodbye, they often allow you to hear stories that you’ve never heard.  And sometimes, those stories touch you so much that you still remember them years later.

And that is what happened to me at Grandpa’s funeral, way back in late August 2012.

It was a story told by my cousin, Matt, who is far more a mate, than a relative, which probably makes it more surprising that I’d never heard it before.

Regardless, his words from that day still live with me –

 

Back in the early 2000’s, I was sitting in the grandstand at Cramer Street oval watching Preston play.

After a Preston player missed a set shot at goal from tight in the forward pocket, one of the older gents sitting in front of me; who I didn’t know; turned to his mate and said, “Alf Roach would have kicked that goal”.

It blew me away.

Here we were, some 60 years since he’d played, and with countless other Preston forwards since him, who had plied their trade out there on the ground, and the player that comes to the mind of this ‘old’ guy in front of me, is my Grandpa.

Yep, it’s fair to say that it made my day.

And perhaps also showed what a good player he must have been.

Matt Parsons

 

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