A Last Minute Goal – or was it?

1925-08-17 Evening News p.1 (15 Aug match - NSW v VFL) thumbnailIt is August 1925 and you are sitting in a 10,000 strong crowd at the old Erskineville Oval (photo below), watching the second match of a bi-annual series between a NSW combination and a team representing the VFL.  This is the only surviving image taken in the game.

Only weeks before, 12,500 saw Victoria thump NSW at the MCG by over 40 points, which was pretty much the norm since the beginning of these matches in 1903. In that period, NSW had been victorious in only one of their twelve encounters that win was in Sydney.

After WWI the VFL and NSWAFL reached an agreement to play two representative games a year; one in Melbourne and the other in Sydney.

The only issue with this was that the VFL also played other representative games on the same day, normally against South Australia but on occasions against areas like Ballarat and Bendigo. Accordingly, their strongest team was chosen for the major interstate clash with South Australia. This was the situation with this game.

The side playing NSW included three players from St Kilda, two each from the then new clubs of Hawthorn (last), Footscray (second last), North Melbourne (third last), South Melbourne and Richmond together with one each from Geelong (eventually premiers), Essendon (runner-up) , Collingwood (fourth), Carlton, Fitzroy. So the level of talent was less than the best.

Nevertheless the game you watched was keenly fought with the lead changing over the course of the afternoon. You recognize the umpire as a former Richmond and Collingwood player, Len Gibb.

Excitement as the Vics go into the last quarter holding a narrow nine point lead then with six minutes to go, and with Victoria still in front 13-8 to 11-10 there was a sudden burst by NSW — and a successful one, too. Eventually South Sydney player, ‘Flop’ Flynn kicked a beautiful goal. This reduced the VFL’s lead to four points with just three minutes to go.1935 Erskineville Oval (old) 001 small

You hear the crowd’s teeth chatter in delight. Up, up, went the ball towards Victoria’s goal. Free kick! Cheers. It was NSW wingman Bill McKoy’s chance. He took it. Cheers again. He was within the distance. It was almost time for the bell. The crowd was frantic with excitement. A hush enveloped the ground; McKoy took aim. He kicked. Would it reach the distance? In a flash it seemed as nothing would get near to impede its flight but it dropped in elevation and looked as if the ball did not go through the posts. In fact it appeared to be touched. Then, a huge cheer as the umpire’s two flags went up and NSW were in front.

But there were still two minutes to go. Victoria dashed into their stride as the ball was bounced and before time was called, had a shot for goal, which brought only a point. The bell rang, leaving New South Wales victors of a great game by a bare point, 13-10 (88) to Victoria’s 13 9 (87).

But there were questions asked –

Was it a Goal?

The last goal by McKoy, a dual Phelan Medalist, was view with a good degree of conjecture. It was said that a Victorian player marked the ball fully a foot (300mm) inside the playing arena and that if recognized would have saved victory for the visiting side but for (as another said) “the undoubted mistake the goal umpire made just on time by awarding New South Wales a goal …”

Another commentator said:

“One point I wish to make. That last goal. No, it wasn’t, certainly it wasn’t. A Victorian player marked it a foot within the placing space. But it was such a lowly drop-kick, and it sailed so beautifully in the air that one could almost forgive the umpire’s indiscretion in making the wish father to the thought. McKoy is to be congratulated for his coolness during those few seconds when everything depended on the kick.”

However the result is on the board and today we look back 90 years to view a view result with as much pleasure as those who were there.

A final comment was made: “A thousand pities. The incident robbed the game of that little bit of glimmer that adds polish to a most delectable feast. For feast it was. Here were our boys not only holding their own with a picked team from the champion State of Australasia, but also whipping them. Congratulations to New South Wales.” (it doesn’t happen much)


Team 1st Qtr Half Time ¾ Time Fulltime
NSW 3-3 8-6 9-7 13-10 (88)
VFL 5-3 7-5 12-7 13-9 (87)
NSW Flynn 6, McKoy 2, Vockler 2, Keane, Little, Knott 1 ea
VFL Shelton 5, Hayes 3, Hopkins 3, Brushfield, McCashney 1 ea.
NSW Vockler, London, Keane, Little, Davies, Flynn, Cooper
VFL Splatt, Carr, Lewis, Murphy, Scanlon, Hayes, Hopkins


1919 Schoolboys Tour

Rupert BrowneWay back in 1919, only months after the Great War finished, Sydney school sports officials arranged with their Victorian counterparts for an interstate visit by a combined schools team after the finish of the season.  This was seen as the continuation of an interstate interchange in school football started between the two in 1905.

In July of 1919, the VFL agreed to pay forty pounds, estimated with inflation today at $2893.00, to assist with NSW costs.  The boys would be billeted with the number restricted to 20 and they not be over the age of 16 years.

The lads were selected from the following public schools: Ashfield, Burwood, Double Bay and Gardeners Road.  They left by Express train at Central on 28 August and at that stage were looking at spending up to two weeks in the Melbourne capital.

The group was under the management of Rupert Browne (pictured), sports master of the Gardeners Road School and a Mr Stutchbury from the Schools Amateur Athletics Association.

They played three games against combined Victorian State Schools and won the lot:




Schools Score


Schools Score


30 August

8-8 (56)

7-8  (50)

Amateur Sports Ground

6 Sept

3-5 (23)

1-10 (16)

Cricket Ground

9 Sept

5-7 (37)

5-6  (36)

Amateur Sports Ground


Following their first match the boys were taken to Punt Road Oval, where they saw the Richmond v St Kilda game.

In between their interstate contests, the NSW boys travelled to Geelong on 2 September where they played and were defeated by the Geelong High School side, 7-11 (53) to 7-4 (48).  And then, with not much rest, the following day the team played a game against Melbourne High School where they suffered their second defeat on tour, 6-12 (48) to 3-15 (33).

In between all this, on 4 September they were entertained by the Collingwood Football Club and the following day the VFL put on a picnic for the boys at Heidelburg.

After an exhaustive but very enjoyable time away the contingent returned to Sydney on 10 September.

But this did not finish their interstate commitments.

In late September 1919, the combined team of Victorian State Schoolboys travelled to Sydney to play a reciprocal match against their Sydney Metropolitan opponents.  The VFL paid their train fare.

Because it was late in the season a venue was very difficult to procure with officials searching near and far for a ground on which to play.  They eventually had to settle for the Sydney Domain (behind NSW Parliament House) but the Victorians fared no better in the match and were soundly beaten by NSW 10-18 (78) to 4-6 (30).

Those who represented the Metropolitan Schools included: Chipperfield, Kell, Armstrong, Curry, Lording and King (Ashfield PS), Sherwood, Rogers, Harris, Spencer and Martin (Burwood PS), George McCure (Double Bay PS), Orme, Paul Flynn, Burns, Walker, Les Stiff and Yates (Gardeners Road PS), Owen and Mackay were the reserves.

The only one of any note who went on in senior football was Paul Flynn.  He represented the state in 1925 and won Sydney’s goalkicking award in 1928 playing for South Sydney.