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Jim Main's Classic Matches - GF, 1933

Jim Main  July 24, 2013 2:14 PM

The 1933 South Melbourne premiership winning team

The 1933 South Melbourne premiership winning team

With the Sydney Swans playing Richmond at the SCG on Sunday, this week’s Classic Matches looks at the Swans’ most important victory over the Tigers.

South Melbourne v Richmond
September 30, 1933

The three-deck headline in the Argus on the Monday following the 1933 Grand Final said it all:


South defeated Richmond by 42 points in front of a record attendance of 75,754, with the result never in doubt.

The Swans had finished the season in second position behind Richmond, but then defeated the Tigers by 18 points in the second semi-final final.

Richmond reached the Grand Final by defeating Geelong by nine points in the preliminary final and although the Tigers looked convincing in this victory, even their own fans doubted a Richmond triumph in the Grand Final.

The Tigers had several injury problems (they were without Doug Strang, Maurie Hunter and David McConchie), while South had its own worries with full-back Ron Hills missing through a hip injury and star winger Austin Robertson on a professional athletics tour of the United States.

South started the big match with nerves as tight as piano wire and sprayed several chances for goal before breaking through for the match’s first goal, from West Australian Brighton Diggins.

Champion full-forward Bob Pratt kicked South’s second goal, and after centreman Len Thomas added a third just before quarter-time, the red and white led by 21 points.

Even then it was obvious South would march to victory and the Argus reported: “The quarter ended with unusually poor figures for Richmond, the scores being 3.5 to two points in South’s favour.”

However, the newspaper (which ceased publication in 1957), also reported that Richmond played with “more ginger” early in the second quarter.

The Tigers missed two shots for goal from free kicks before Peter Reville eased South’s concerns with a snap goal from the edge of a pack.

Richmond did not goal until halfway through the second quarter, through Horrie Farmer, but South regained control of the match through a Terry Brain goal.

South led by 27 points at half-time, but even though Richmond increased its intensity after the main break, it found South centre half-back Laurie Nash almost impassable.

Nash marked everything but the seagulls overhead as he continually thwarted the Tiger forwards and, when they did manage to move the ball close to goal, wasted their chances. Champion Tiger full-forward Jack Titus even kicked out of bounds on the full from a shot directly in front of goal.

Although Farmer kicked his second goal for the Tigers, Diggins responded for South.

The red and white led by 39 points at the final break and virtually had the premiership in its keeping.

As the Argus noted, the final quarter was “a formality”, even though the newspaper suggested that Richmond fought “doggedly” to the end.

The main interest over the final quarter was whether Pratt could break the 1933 goalkicking tally of 108 goals by Collingwood’s Gordon “Nuts” Coventry.

Pratt had gone into the Grand Final with 106 goals and when he kicked his third goal of the premiership decider he had bettered Coventry’s tally.

South’s 42-point victory under captain-coach Jack Bisset was the result of brilliant teamwork, with every player contributing to the triumph.

The Argus’  “Old Boy” reported: “Every man in South’s uniform gave of his best – Bisset had set himself the task of making every man pull his weight.”

The South players that night celebrated their victory at an official function at the South Melbourne Town Hall before rubbing salt into the Tigers’ wounds with a charabanc (a type of open-air bus) ride through the streets of Richmond.

Unfortunately, club president Archie Crofts suggested that the 1933 flag would be the first of many more to come and the Swans had to wait another 72 years to erase that curse.

SOUTH MELBOURNE   3.5     6.7     8.12     9.17 (71)
RICHMOND                    0.2     2.3     3.3       4.5 (29)

BEST: Nash, Diggins, Austin, Clarke, Bowe, Bisset.

B:     Jock Mckenzie, Hec McKay, Jack Austin
HB:   Bill Faul, Laurie Nash, Hugh McLaughlin
C:     Harry Clarke, Len Thomas, Johnny Bowe
HF:   Jim O’Meara, Brighton Diggins, Peter Reville
F:     Herb Matthews, Bob Pratt, Ossie Bertram
FOLL.:  Jack Bisset (capt.), Dinny Kelleher, Terry Brain
Res.: Gilbert Beard
COACH: Jack Bisset