Captain Jack Graham kicked three goals in South's win over Geelong
With the Swans travelling to Geelong this week to play the Cats, Classic Matches looks at an historic game at Simonds Stadium.
Geelong v South Melbourne
Round 2, May 13, 1944
Although Geelong’s home ground now is known as Simonds Stadium, it was known for decades as Kardinia Park.
However, Geelong did not play at this venue until 1941 when its old Corio Oval was requisitioned for military use during World War II.
Corio Oval was regarded as one of the best grounds in the VFL, with a crowd capacity of more than 30,000, whereas Kardinia Park at that time was almost a makeshift venue with a capacity of just 15,000.
Geelong finished tenth in 1941 but then pulled out of the competition because of war-time restrictions and did not return to the VFL until 1944.
Even then, the Cats were divided over where to play their home games.
One faction wanted the club to return to Corio Oval but, when the Geelong council decided to upgrade Kardinia Park, the Cats decided to stick with its new home.
Geelong opened the 1944 season with a 58-point loss to Footscray at Yarraville (the Western Oval also was being used by the military) and was scheduled to play South Melbourne at Kardinia Park in round two.
The Swans had opened the season with a 27-point defeat of Carlton and was an unbackable favourite to defeat the Cats at Kardinia Park.
Geelong celebrated its first “home” game since returning to the competition with a gala lead-up to the clash with the Swans.
The Geelong Highland Band piped the opposing teams onto the ground, but the Cats’ best laid plans almost had to be abandoned when the train carrying the South team to Geelong broke down.
In fact, the Swans’ late arrival forced officials to postpone the first bounce for just over half an hour.
As expected under the circumstances, South took more than a quarter of football to settle into the job at hand.
The Cats led by 13 points at the first change, only for the Swans to hit top gear in the second quarter to lead by 24 points at the main break.
South went onto win by 19 points and although war-time paper restrictions meant The Argus was limited to a summary of the round rather than six match reports, it praised the Swans for their victory.
The single paragraph report noted: “South Melbourne, having to rush onto the ground at Geelong, did not settle down quickly, but they played much better after quarter-time.
“The defence was outstanding when Geelong, who played brilliantly in spots and look as if they will develop splendidly, attacked strongly. Richards, Kelly, Hacker, Cleary and King were most consistent for South.”
Although the Swans defeated St Kilda and Collingwood over the following fortnight to remain undefeated after four rounds, they eventually slid down the ladder to finish seventh. Geelong, on the other hand, won just one match – by 25 points against Hawthorn at Kardinia Park in round 15 – to collect the wooden spoon.
Of course, the Swans are the last team to defeat Geelong at Simonds Stadium, triumphing there by 13 points in round 23 in 2011. And, of course, the Swans are hoping that history repeats itself there in this year’s penultimate round.
SOUTH LINE-UP B: Brian Kelly, Jim Cleary, Alan Mullenger HB: Reg Richards, Don Grossman, Jack Williams C: Bill King, Herbie Matthews, Dave Engellenner HF: Vic Castles, Lisle Keighran, Archie Baxter F: Keith Smith, Jack Graham, Charlie Culph Foll: Alan Linden, Jack Hacker, Max Bulmfield 19th man: Stan Brown