Team photos – update
Part 1, can be found here
Part 2, here
They’re easy to make.
As well as easy to justify.
But, that doesn’t mean you should make them.
You’ll see why later.
So, the photos were put out there, and as feared, but not terribly surprising, I didn’t get countless calls or emails telling me I was right, or wrong (which was both good and bad), or doing the work for me, by simply giving me the name of someone I had yet to identify.
Yep, not surprised, but at the same time, just a little disappointed.
But really, what did I expect?
It was 80 years ago when these photos were taken. The faces in those photos, are more than likely no longer with us. And their children, assuming they’re still around, are getting on a bit. And what number, who are still around, are playing on the internet spending time on the ‘VFA The Halcyon Days’ site, or coming across obscure sites like this one?
Yep, probably not many, and I’m guessing my real hope rests with Grandchildren and Great Grandchildren.
But really, what are the chances???
Anyway, disappointment put to one side, I decided I needed a bit of a break from internet ‘jigsaw puzzles’, and instead, just be happy with what I had found.
But it didn’t last long, and just a day or two later I was back in front of the laptop.
I was happy with what I’d found; obviously the chance to give faces some names, but also the opportunity to read some of their stories; but the urge to ‘meet’ more of Grandpa’s team mates, was just too strong.
My wife will likely say it’s an OCD thing, while I’d like to think of it as merely accepting a challenge.
But if I’m honest, then yeah, Lisa is probably right about the OCD thing.
So, it was back to roaming the internet.
With no terribly well thought out plans, it was more a case of punching in names, and then adding stuff like VFA, football, Preston, etc.
Most times it resulted in very little, but occasionally, when I wasn’t taken to some Preston soccer team in England, I did get some hits. Mostly snippets, but now and then a photo that I’d not seen.
And one of those photos, and a nice clear one at that, had a familiar name below it: W. Spokes.
Photo courtesy of Boyles Football Photos
I’d seen a couple of photos of him before, but neither were terribly good, and I just couldn’t make a match with the 1938 photo, which was the only photo he should (or could) be in.
And he should have been in it, as he’d only missed three home games; Rounds 1, 10 and 16.
I knew the photo wasn’t taken during Round 1, as Grandpa is in the photo and he didn’t play that round. I also knew that it wasn’t taken in Round 16, as Wyn Murray, who didn’t play Round 16, is also in the photo.
So, six other home games, and Bill Spokes played in five of them, missing only Round 10.
He must be in the photo!
Now equipped with my ‘better’ photo of Bill, I pored over the 1938 Preston photo, again.
Nothing stood out, regardless of how hard I tried to ‘falsely’ make a match. I couldn’t work out what I was missing, as I was adamant he was going to be there.
Although, actually not finding him there, was also going to be a big win. Because if he’s not in it, it means the photo was taken in Round 10.
So, it was probably win – win, regardless, but now there was this pressure to make sure I got it right.
I went back to studying the faces of 1938, and while now having a handful of identifications that I was able to eliminate, there still felt like there was a lot to look at.
Again, when you throw in trainers and committee people, it just makes the photo that little bit more cluttered, and thus, more confusing.
I pushed on, trying to ignore the clutter, and as hard as I tried – because I really was convinced he was there, I just couldn’t match a face with Bill Spokes.
Again, nothing wrong with that, but I just had this nagging doubt that I was wrong.
But then it happened, and while these moments are few and far between, when they do happen, well, saying it’s merely ‘good’, is seriously understating it.
Up the back, over on the far right, wearing a shirt and a jacket, and looking very much like a match day trainer or water carrier, was Bill Spokes.
I guess it pays to look at everyone, and not just those wearing football jumpers….
It truly was a ‘Wow’ moment.
Back to double check that he did in fact not play Round 10, and then a bit of a look at some scans of old newspapers to see if he gets a mention in team selection.
He does, with it being announced that he’ll be playing seconds.
Proof he wasn’t playing
Yep, I’m blown away.
Not just because I’ve found Bill Spokes, but also because I now know what round the photo was taken in.
It’s a great feeling, not least of all because my life has been made that little bit easier.
Yep, knowing the round it was taken in, means I now know exactly who the players are that were selected for that particular game.
And, as an added bonus, with there being 19 players in the photo, it means that all 19 listed will be in it.
No missing 19th man, or no missing injured player.
And just to top it off, I have a 20th with Bill Spokes.
Yep, pretty happy about all that, and also just a little bit happy with myself that I was able to achieve it.
So, the game in question –
But as you can see, there’s only 18 players listed, and that resulted in a certain amount of concern, which was almost bordering on panic.
Back to the newspaper articles, of which I have a love hate relationship with; I find stuff hard to find, as well as a fair amount of difficulty reading some of them; and I manage to find this –
D. Whitechurch is the 19th man.
Panic subsides, and it was back to where I’d left off, with my initial beliefs, or findings, which was this –
Back Row: Unknown, Unknown, Unknown, Unknown, Norm Campbell, Unknown, Bob Muir, Bill Maslen
Middle Row: Joe Beagley, Unknown, Wyn Murray, Unknown, Alf Roach, Unknown, Unknown
Front Row: Unknown, Frank Dowling, Unknown, Unknown
With more unknowns than I’d like, there was a lot of work still to be done.
I’d emailed him a few weeks earlier with my initial findings, after we’d ‘spoken’ on the ‘VFA Footy The Halcyon Days’ Facebook site, and he’d helped with getting this whole thing moving.
Even though this identification exercise was never my intention.
He gave me a few tips about the way Boyles went about his photos, including one about when the photos were actually taken. Apparently, they were rarely, if ever, taken after the game. They were almost always taken during the game.
He then went on to mention that he was of the belief that he had found Bill Spokes in the 1938 photo.
And as it turned out, his belief was exactly the same as mine.
I was blown away when I found Bill the other day, and I was now just as blown away knowing that Michael was of the same opinion.
It was a kind of validation that I was actually doing something right. And believe me, I had spent a lot of time wondering if what I had been doing, was in fact the right way to be going about it.
Yep, I felt so much better.
So, with a spring in my step, or maybe the mouse just sliding around the mouse pad a little easier, I set about replacing some of those ‘unknowns’, with actual names.
Back to the photos; 1937, 1938, 1939, and 1940; along with copious amounts of time studying the spreadsheet, hoping it would possibly throw up a lightbulb moment or two, seeing as that I now knew which round the 1938 photo was taken.
Oh, and of course, all interspersed with more Googling of names, years, Clubs, and any other obscure thing that I thought might help.
While there was the occasional hit, they were far outweighed by the misses.
Frustration interspersed with, rare as they were, moments of excitement.
And it truly is excitement, which somewhat surprises me, especially seeing as this whole thing was never part of the original plan.
I guess the reason for the excitement is a combination of a couple of things, with one being the fact that it can be so difficult to find what you’re looking for.
But really, I think it’s perhaps a bit deeper than that. It’s more the fact that you’ve finally been able to put a name to a face, that has been anonymous for far too long. I’ve said before, I think these guys deserve some recognition, and if there’s a story found along the way, then that should be told, as well.
Regardless of the reasons, it’s a pretty special feeling when you get that match.
Over the next few weeks I was able to turn a couple more ‘unknowns’ into real people. Partly due to managing to find previously unfound stuff on the internet, but also due to that spreadsheet finally doing what I’d hoped it would do, when I set it up.
Now knowing the 19 names of the players that took part in each of the games of the 1937, 1938, 1939 and 1940 photos, the spreadsheet now told me which guys were in which photo, as well as how many, and which, photos they were in.
That, along with the fact that the number of ‘unknowns’ had diminished slightly, made the photos look a little less cluttered and confusing. Not a whole lot, but with less unknown faces looking back at me when I was trying to find a match for a new face I had found, it had become a little easier.
With ‘easier’ not being a terribly accurate word.
But, as had happened before, I got to the point where I was re-introduced to that brick wall that I had hit previously. As much as I wanted to keep finding stuff, the stuff that I was looking for, and needed, was no longer forthcoming.
Realisation made that I had perhaps reached the end, I began the lengthy, and rather boring, process of cleaning up the word docs I had been accumulating for each of the years, in readiness to send off to Michael Riley again.
It added another document, but one that was much easier to understand, or so I hoped. But it did contribute yet another thing to my ever growing ‘pile’ of documents, photos, copies of photos, and anything else that I thought might come in handy.
Damn being a hoarder, and I really need to work out a way to keep it all neat and tidy before it gets completely out of hand…..
Word docs sorted, and with fingers crossed that they were understandable, they were emailed to Michael.
Later that same day, I received a reply email.
He seemed to like it, which was good. Really good, in fact, as I still had these doubts in my head that I was doing it all wrong. Were my matches, even though they lined up with correct games / years, true matches? Or were they like ‘false positives’, which, after listening to the news about Corona virus tests every day for most of this year, had been heard almost as much as the term ‘social distancing’?
I really hoped not, but in truth, I didn’t know.
Anyway, he seemed to like what I had found, which did help with some of the doubts, and while that was good, it was what he included in the email that changed everything.
A link to a new photo on the Australian Sports Museum site, apparently from 1939 or 1940.
And one with Grandpa in it again.
A new discovery, courtesy of the Australian Sports Museum
But, a problem. It was taken at Preston; remember, the black shorts give it away; and as such, potentially not knowing the round meant that there was a fair amount of work to do.
So the positives of now having another photo of Grandpa, as well as the possibility that it could help with further identifications of the other photos, was tempered with a couple of negatives.
What if it helped prove that I was wrong on some of my earlier identifications? While I don’t mind being corrected, what if one error caused most of my ‘discoveries’ to also be incorrect? It could mean that I would have to start all over again.
And the other negative was the realisation that I likely now had a heap of research in front of me, to actually try and work out what round it was taken in.
It could be 1938 all over again….
While contemplating this new information, another email arrived.
And in it, another link to another photo, again from the Australian Sports Museum site.
But this time, no Grandpa. There were, however, lots of familiar faces, and the fact that it was one of the clearest photos I had seen, potentially made the identification process so much easier.
If only they were all like that….
A second, new discovery, courtesy of the Australian Sports Museum
But not only was it clear, it was also an away game. And even better than that, was the fact that I was convinced I knew the ground.
Yep, Port Melbourne again, and with there being no Grandpa, along with knowing that the VFA went into recess in 1942 due to the war, then the assumption was that it was likely 1941.
Off to The VFA Project site, and yep, there it was, Port Melbourne vs Preston, Round 5, 10 May, 1941.
A quick look at the faces I did know, and then a quick check to see if they were listed.
They were. It was a nice feeling.
So, while it was yet more work to do; with work not really being the most accurate word; a reasonable amount had already been done.
And now, once again, another opportunity, and hope, that it might just help with the other photos I’d already worked on.
Decision was made to start with the 1941 photo, with the only real reasons being that it was the clearest photo, and I knew when it was taken.
Yep, unashamedly cherry picking the easy stuff.
First observation, there’s 18 in the photo, which isn’t unusual. Means either the 19th man isn’t there, or a player who has been replaced during the game is missing.
A quick scan to see who was the 19th man, and it’s Frank Beaumont, who just happens to be in the photo.
Ahhh, earlier research paying off again….
Off to look at the post game newspaper articles from Trove, and it’s quickly discovered that Allan Everett was injured during the game.
It sometimes takes some hunting. And squinting….
Makes it easy, as for now, I don’t need to look for him.
Feeling a little pleased with myself that I was able to deduce all that rather quickly, a realisation, which was more of a potential concern, dawned on me.
There, up the back, was ‘Ingy Norman’, who also happened to be in the new 1939 photo. And the reason for that concern was that I was pretty sure Ingy didn’t play at Preston in 1941.
He’d arrived at Preston in 1939, after playing one game at Fitzroy in 1938. His brother, Jack, had also played one game at Fitzroy in 1938, but didn’t get to Preston until 1940. They then played together that year, but my belief was that Ingy had then moved on.
I’m not sure to where, but I always thought it was a little unusual, sad even, that they didn’t continue playing together. Especially seeing as Jack returned after the war to also play in 1945 and 46.
Regardless, it was now time to deal with my concern.
Back to my notes, as well as The VFA Project, and yep, Ingy had left at the end of 1940. My earlier assumption, based mainly on stated height, had come back to bite me.
Yep, you should never assume stuff….
So, I now had a problem; who was the guy previously considered to be ‘Ingy Norman’?
Fortunately, while all this was happening, Michael had been able to ascertain when this second 1939 photo had been taken. Turns out it was Round 9, 10 June.
I had been saved considerable time, for which I was extremely thankful.
Off to my notes again, and then to the now updated spreadsheet, which while more than useful over the journey, hadn’t really been the saviour that I’d hoped it would be.
But now, with the extra 1939 photo, as well as this 1941 photo, and even though there were now far more ‘yes’ and ‘no’ boxes, it actually started to become clearer.
So, with Ingy Norman now not Ingy Norman, the question that needed answering was – Who played in both 1939 games, as well as the 1940, and 1941 game?
There were actually five possibilities, but four of them had all played in either the 1937 or 1938 game, or both.
There was only one who had only played in the four games I was looking at; Bill Seedsman!
My spreadsheet had finally come good, and that was a really nice feeling.
It was, however, tinged with some disappointment, as I’d now lost Ingy. And I still don’t know for sure which one he is, although I do have some suspicion.
But that would involve making an assumption, and I’m not ready to do that again…..
So the researching of the names I’d not heard of before continued, and as previously, there were plenty of misses, along with the occasional hit.
Not that I was expecting it to be any different.
Each hit was still filled with that same excitement of earlier finds, and while each one is memorable in their own way, sometimes there’s a story attached that just makes it that little bit more special.
And one of those was J.T ‘Jack’ Lynch.
As always, I had fairly low expectations of finding much as I began. Experience had confirmed it was better to be that way, and then be pleasantly surprised, as opposed to being confident of finding heaps, only to then be disappointed.
Off to The VFA Project site, and yep, confidence is not high: 1941 was the only season he played at Preston.
And the fact that he is ‘Jack Lynch’, as in there’s nothing too distinctive about his name, didn’t give me great hope of Googling success.
But, there on The VFA Project site, is a link to a Wikipedia page, which is always a nice sign. There’s also mention of him kicking 132 goals in his 21 games in 1941, which, as it should, really stands out.
Maybe there is some hope…..
Off to Wikipedia, and yep, hopes are rising, as it seems he played at Geelong. Twenty five games across 1939 and 1940, along with 39 goals.
Hmmm, handy footballer…..
But then the thing that really stood out; his date, and cause, of death.
8 September, 1944, killed in an accident while on active service during World War 2. Aged, just 26.
Jolt back to reality, and confirmation that it really was a vastly different world back then.
The hunt then began for a photo, and with him having played a few games at Geelong, I was reasonably confident of finding what I was looking for.
It didn’t, however, take long for that confidence to wane.
While there was no photo forthcoming, I did find a few mentions here and there. Including a newspaper report of the fateful accident.
Yep, he was married, and he left behind two young girls, aged 2 and 4 years old.
Very sad, and something that made me more determined to try and identify him in my photo.
I kept looking, all to no avail, before trying a different tactic: Facebook.
Yeah, Facebook, the very thing that had set this whole thing in motion, and had ultimately got me to the position I now found myself in.
A post was found commemorating Geelong footballers who had died while on active service, so I followed it in the hope that, by some miracle, there might be a photo of Jack.
There wasn’t, but what I did find was something that was just as incredible as if I had found a photo.
First, it was a post by Jack Lynch’s Great Granddaughter, and then further on, another one by his Granddaughter.
Yep, I was absolutely stunned.
I sat on it for a few weeks, in the hope I could confirm where he was in the photo, as well as thinking about whether I should contact the family to let them know of the photo.
In the end it didn’t take long to deal with that decision, with the attitude being that I would definitely want to know.
In the meantime, the searching continued on the other yet to be identified players, in both these two new photos, along with much looking back to the other photos.
A few more identifications ticked off, and the whole thing had now become significantly easier. Not in the sense of finding things, but in regards to no longer having to look at the remaining 10 or 12 faces to make a comparison. Now just having 3, 4, or 5 to have to look at in each photo, had made a huge difference.
But, and not for the first time on this journey, I soon arrived at that brick wall again.
The process, once again, of cleaning up my notes then began, while also making new word docs to send to Michael, with my new found information.
And while doing that, I decided it was time to contact Jack Lynch’s Great Granddaughter.
Sending her a link to the photo, and trying really hard to not sound like some creepy internet troll person, I introduced myself through Facebook.
She replied within minutes, which was heartening, and she seemed really appreciative of what I’d sent.
While I had a suspicion of where I thought Jack was in the photo, thanks to his stated height, as well as an old grainy newspaper photo that Michael had found, I didn’t tell her in the hope that she would be able to tell me.
As it turned out, she couldn’t, but she did pass the photo on to her mother. Her mother, while not being completely sure, did pick out the same guy that I had picked, based on the fact, apparently, that he looks like her brother.
I’m more than happy with that, but I live in hope that a long lost photo of him from his Geelong days, pops up at some stage.
So, with brick wall again hit, but hopefully just temporarily, what was the end result of the discovery of these two new photos?
Well, a fair bit, actually.
And far more than I ever expected to find, when this journey first began. A journey that I never envisaged I’d be making, but one I am very, very pleased to have been pushed to take.
Yeah, funny how stuff pans out….
1937 Team Photo, courtesy of Boyles Football Photos
Back row: Edwin Gilbert* (poss), Thomas Jones* (poss), Wyn Murray, Joe Beagley, Fred Hughson, Unknown, Claude Cannaway
Middle: Unknown, Ken Walker, Bert Hyde, Bob Muir, Bill Maslen, Unknown, Les Main
Front: Unknown, Frank Dowling, Edwin Latham# (poss), Unknown
More details / explanations for 1937 can be found here.
1938 Team Photo, courtesy of Boyles Football Photos
Back Row: Rex Job, Edwin Gilbert* (poss), Thomas Jones* (poss), Unknown, Norm Campbell, Unknown, Bob Muir, Bill Maslen, (Bill Spokes – not playing)
Middle Row: Joe Beagley, Jack Clarke, Wyn Murray, Unknown, Alf Roach, Unknown, George Colbane
Front Row: Les Ross, Frank Dowling, Unknown, Phil Dunstone
More details / explanations for 1938 can be found here.
1939 Team Photo (taken at Preston), courtesy of Australian Sports Museum
Back row: Bill Seedsman, Rex Job, Ken Watkins*, Joe Beagley, Alf Roach, Jack Clarke, Unknown, Jack Robertson*, Unknown
Middle row: Wally Gray, Unknown, Frank Dowling, Alby Morrison, Ernie Dunham*, Arthur Sleith, Bill Lowenthal
Front row: Les Ross, Wally Miller, Phil Dunstone
More details / explanations for 1939 (Preston) can be found here.
1939 Team Photo (taken at Prahran), courtesy of Boyles Football Photos
Back Row: Rex Job, Joe Beagley, Alf Roach, Bill Seedsman, Arthur Sleith, Bill Lowenthal
Middle Row: Jack Robertson*, Jack Clarke, Unknown, Alby Morrison (c), Unknown, Unknown
Front Row: Ernie Dunham*, Les Ross, Wally Miller, Frank Dowling, George Colbane, Phil Dunstone
More details / explanations for 1939 (Prahran) can be found here.
1940 Team Photo, courtesy of Australian Sports Museum
Back Row: Unknown, Alby Morrison, Bill Seedsman, Bill Maslen, Jack Norman, Unknown, Alf Roach
Middle Row: Unknown, Bert Minney, Unknown, Jack Clarke, Arthur Sleith, Fred Beaumont, Ken Watkins*
Front Row: Frank Dowling, Unknown, Les Ross, Phil Dunstone
More details / explanations for 1940 can be found here.
1941 Team Photo, courtesy of Australian Sports Museum
Back Row: Jack Clarke, Phil Dunstone*, Bill Lowenthal, Bill Seedsman, Unknown, Jack Norman, Jack Lynch, Fred Beaumont
Middle Row: Bert Minney, Jim Calvert, Frank Dowling, Bill Maslen, Norm Matthews, Ron Leishman*
Front Row: Bert Deacon, Charlie Stewart, Les Ross, Unknown
More details / explanations for 1941 can be found here.