Preston Football Club – Part 4

1941 Photo – A realisation

I’ve talked about light bulb moments before.  They’re both surprising and exciting.

But sometimes they can be disappointing, as well as just a little scary.

And such was the case with a photo I found, that I wasn’t even looking for.

It was this one, from the State Library Victoria collection –

Coburg ground_team photo_1941blog(copy)

The photo that changed everything.  Courtesy of State Library Victoria

The photo, or more to the point, the ground, looked familiar.

It looked like Port Melbourne, of which, I had two photos that had been taken there.  Or so I thought.

Or is that assumed?

But something didn’t look right, as the players were wearing a dark jumper with a sash. You know, a bit like Coburg.  And with black shorts, which really had me thinking.  Or maybe worrying.

I looked at my 1940 photo again.

1940 Preston team photo_feature image


The 1940 photo, courtesy of Australian Sports Museum

Yep, definitely Port Melbourne.

And then the 1941 photo.

1941 Preston team photo_feature image

The 1941 photo, courtesy of Australian Sports Museum

Kind of looks the same.  But not exactly.

And while I’d actually always known that, I’d convinced myself that it was all about the angle the photo was taken from.

I went back to this new found photo, which is titled ‘Unidentified Football Club’.

Sometimes there’s User Comments at the bottom.  Could there be a user comment on this one?

I scrolled down, and there is.  It’s from Ken Mansell, of Boyles Football Photos fame, which is comforting.  And yep, Ken seems pretty sure it was taken at Coburg.

A closer inspection of both the Coburg and 1941 photo side by side, and it’s pretty obvious they were taken at the same ground.

Grandstand signs help tremendously.

That excitement thing builds, but there’s also a heap of concern at who may have played that game, compared with the Round 5 game at Port Melbourne, that I originally thought it was.

How many of my identifications now seem to be ‘made up’?

Off to The VFA Project to see when Preston played Coburg, at Coburg.

There are two possibilities.  Of course….

Round 20, the last home and away game –

As well as the semi-final the following week –

The good news is that both teams are very similar to the Round 5 game, although there are a couple of differences.  As is the case between the Round 20 game and the semi final.

It’s not immediately obvious as to which game it is, but with a little comparing of names and known faces, I’m pretty sure it’s Round 20.

Decision is made to start there.

So, the now, ‘outs’ from Round 5….

Phil Dunstone

This isn’t actually a bad thing.  He has looked pretty much the same in every previous photo I’ve looked at, but the guy I had him down as has a very different hairstyle.  But a few other similar features, along with running out of unidentified players, sort of forced me to make a match.

Jim Calvert

Having no Calvert did worry me a little, as the photo from Yarraville had convinced me it was him.  I now had to find someone else that looks like him.  Well, in my eyes, anyway.

Bob Taylor

This didn’t concern me.  In fact, I looked at it as an opportunity to make an identification.  I couldn’t confirm, nor ‘find’, Taylor, and all I really had was an educated (used very loosely when mentioned in the same sentence as me) guess, based on heights and who was left.

Les Harry

Again, like Taylor, I couldn’t pick him.  Best scenario was a guess, and I don’t really like making them.

Alan Everett

I never considered him when I had my earlier belief, as he had been replaced by Beaumont after getting injured.  Now that he was still not in the photo, it was kind of nice to have that confirmed.

Hey, gotta take a positive when I can….

Now, to the ‘ins’ –

Colin Boyd

Preston 1941, 1945. Brunswick 1934-41. Follower.

Seeing Colin Boyd’s name listed was good.  Real good, in fact!  After having ‘spoken’ to his son through the VFA Footy, The Halcyon Days Facebook site, I actually knew a little bit about him.

A bit of Googling, and I was soon looking at a couple of Brunswick team photos that Colin was either definitely in, or probably in.  Comparing those with this photo, and I was pretty sure I knew where he was sitting.  My old Jim Calvert was now Colin Boyd.

But rather than settle with my own personal beliefs on that, I decided to ask his son through Facebook.

He quickly responded, confirming what I thought.

It was a very good feeling.

Jack Connelly

4-8-1918 – 10-8-2006. 179cms. Preston 1941, 1945-49. St Kilda 1942-44 (28). Carlton seconds 1940.

Being at Carlton is good.  The information they have on the history of their Club, and its players, is comprehensive and thorough.  It instils confidence in me when a person I’m looking for has been linked to Carlton at some point.  There are a few other clubs with a similar dedication to their histories, but there are also many that are not.  It’s disappointing.

So, Connelly’s time there in 1940?

There’s actually a team photo, which he is likely in, but the quality is so poor it’s too hard to make a match.  It’s unlikely Carlton’s fault…

Carlton 1940 team photo –

St Kilda for three years, including possibly playing in their second’s Premiership in 1942 –

And then subsequently playing 28 games in the seniors.

Yep, confidence levels rising; but not for long.  There are photos around, however a lack of quality, along with scarce information like the actual year, has meant I have found nothing.  He is also likely in a couple of post-war Preston photos that I’ve looked at, but having not done much work on that era yet, it’s not helping me much at the moment.

Will hopefully get there eventually….

Update 7 September, 2021 –

I was lucky enough to ‘find’ Ron Leishman’s daughter on Facebook, and she confirmed that Ron is not actually in the 1941 Preston photo, above.

This means that the person I believed to be Ron Leishman, is in fact likely to be Jack Connelly (see Bill Spokes below). And re-looking at that 1940 Carlton seconds photo, there is a possible match in there. Again, the quality of the photo is impacting a more definitive identification, but with who is left, I’m prepared to make the call on where Connelly is seated.

Clarrie Curyer

11-12-1912 – 29-6-2003. 177cms. Preston 1941. St Kilda 1935-41. Norwood 1932-33.

It didn’t take long to find him, and perhaps a little surprisingly, it was Norwood who saved the day –

The St Kilda bit once again worried me, however I eventually came across a photo from 1940 –

It was a nice, and welcome, surprise.

Stan Dawson

12-8-1917 – 25-12-1973. 179cms. Preston 1941, 1945(1). Collingwood 1938-41. Fitzroy 1943-46. (inc 1944 premiership)

Wikipedia got me excited.  Not only was he at Collingwood for a few years; another Club that documents its history extremely well; but he also played 57 games at Fitzroy.  Including the 1944 Premiership.

Yep, excited!

Collingwood –

Fitzroy 1945 –

Fitzroy 1944 –


So, five ‘outs’, but only four ‘ins’, and only 18 listed as playing on The VFA Project site.

Off to Trove to see if the 19th can be found, as well as see who may, or may not, have been replaced during the game.

While it wasn’t overly difficult, it took longer than it probably should have.  And in the end, I was only partly successful.

Interestingly, a name popped up that I wasn’t expecting.  And it was a name that I felt like I had a connection to, after spending a fair bit of time researching him, when this whole journey first began.

It was Bill Spokes.,_W._’Bill’.php

Even though it states that the last game he played in 1941 was Round 10, it appears he was actually 19th man in Round 19 –

The pre-game team for Round 20 then lists Calvert and Everett in, with emergencies of Spokes, Stewart and Leishman –

Followed by the post-match report, naming a ‘Stokes’, which must surely be Spokes, and Leishman as 19th man –

Confident that both Calvert and Everett are not in the photo, while also being pretty sure that Charlie Stewart is, along with who I believe to be Leishman, it left me with either Spokes or Connelly as the only remaining unidentified player.

And just to confirm that Spokes, and not some new mystery player by the name of ‘Stokes’, did in fact play Round 20, the pre-game team for the following week’s semi-final says that Spokes has been replaced –

So, I now believe I have my 19 players, but I’ve not been able to find who, if anyone, was replaced by the 19th man.  If Leishman was in fact the 19th, and if I am correct in my identification of him (along with the rest of them), then the guy in the back row, second from left, is either Spokes or Connelly*.

*Update 7 September 2021 – I now believe it is Spokes up the back, and not Connelly. See Jack Connelly above.

Not knowing what Jack Connelly looks like, makes it just a touch difficult for me to name him as the unidentified guy up in the back row.

But, for the time being, I’m okay with that.

For I now have several photos of Bill Spokes, some of which I have found since first researching the 1938 photo, that I am more than content to use to make the identification here.

1943 Fitzroy Senior Group team photo, and 1944 Fitzroy Seconds team photo –

As always, I’m happy to be corrected.

And who knows, perhaps one day a newspaper clipping will reveal who was replaced during the game, thus either confirming, or shattering, my belief.

Or, heaven forbid, a clearer copy of the above 1940 photo surfaces.

We can but live in hope….




Note – The updated 1941 Preston photo, with all the new identifications, can be found here.


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