In 1921, one of the most talented footballers ever to play in Sydney was transferred in his job from Melbourne.
His name was Tom Fitzmaurice and he was a bank teller.
He stood 192cm and weighed in at 96kgs playing mainly in the ruck.
Tom was 19 when he first stripped for Essendon in 1918 and when he moved to Sydney he had already played 36 games with the Dons.
A giant of a man for those days, you know, one of those players who turns up announced and is “six foot four and fourteen stone”. He slotted perfectly into North Shore’s lineup in their first year back in the competition after a forced hibernation during WWI. Fortuitously for North he was joined by quite a number of ex-VFL and Association players which turned the team into a formidable combination that year.
Tom captained the NSW team which played Victoria in the mud on the MCG on 6 August. He was judged best player on the ground.
A Game in Albury
Upon their return trip the team stopped off at Albury to participate in a pre-arranged game against the Albury and Border Association, a precursor to the O & M League.
The match was played on a Wednesday before a crowd estimated at 500. The NSW team towled up the locals 13-15 (93) to 7-10 (52). They lifted their foot off the accelerator in the last term when they only kicked 3 points to Albury’s 4 goals.
Fitzmaurice was again named best on ground in this game which saw him kick 5 goals from centre half forward. We mention this match because it is another that has never been recorded in the NSW representative list. The details are being posted on our website under Historical Search. (just need a little more data on the players).
Such was his talent that when he returned to Melbourne in 1922 he went straight into the Essendon side as vice captain, then in 1925 he transferred to Geelong where he ran the Phoenix Hotel. He played 49 games at Geelong coaching them in 1928 before moving to Yarraville in the VFA where he played under Charlie Milburn who would go on to play with Newtown in 1936.
Tom played there until 1932 when he was recruited by North Melbourne. He took over as captain midway through 1933 then captain-coach of the club in 1934. Of the eight games he is credited as coaching, they lost the lot. Tom played 54 games for North and kicked a mammoth 196 goals but always had trouble with his knees.
Fitzmaurice was named in Essendon’s Team of the Century and inducted into the AFL’s Hall of Fame in 1996.