The Big Brawl of '36
The Big Brawl of '36
A film by Malcolm McKinnon
Football Stories from Country Victoria, An initiative of the Victorian Country Football League and the State Library of Victoria, 2007
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Malcolm McKinnon and State Library of Victoria, 2006.
A personal and humorous account of a game between Benambra and Swifts Creek in 1936, where tempers flared and even the umpire was disqualified in the aftermath.
Thank you to Swifts Creek Football Club, ABC Gippsland (Photography Gerard Callinan) and Gordon Bock.
My first game in 1936 we had to go to Benambra and apparently there were very, very hard feelings between Swifts Creek and Benambra. It came over from the Grand Final the year before, which Swifts Creek won. I came here in September ’35 and they’re still celebrating their win against Benambra and apparently Benambra weren’t happy about it. So, I thought next year, first game next year was out at Benambra and it was sort of an evening up job…
Got to nearly half time an’ developed into a general brawl. I was playing on the wing and I was lucky, my opponent he wasn’t too keen to go in and neither was I, so we looked on. And I thought “By Jesus, they play fair dinkum over ‘ere”. I think there were over ten blokes rubbed out and I think the umpire was alto rubbed out and scrubbed. He happened to be a local bloke here, an’ he’s a great mate of mine but I’d say is the worst umpire I ever seen in my life. He completely lost control of the game altogether. One bloke got rubbed out for life, he was reported for kicking the umpire, somebody kicked the umpire and quite candidly I think he needed kicking meself. And it was in the days of the Depression and there’s a lot of Sustenance workers, Susso’s we used to call ‘em, working on the roads and that’s probably why the standard of football was very good because we had a lot of people came out into the country, poor fellows you know, that were willing to work for their keep an’ their tucker and that sort of thing…an’ they had a big Sustenance worker camp out doing up the Corryong Road and this fellow that got rubbed out for life he was one of them.
But nowadays Benambra an’ the Creek are quite good mates, we get on very well I think, don’t we?
Swifts Creek had a little Rover and apparently he had an enemy at Benambra, he was also a Rover and he said, all of a sudden there’s this bloke he’s down, see, an’ he said I was just gunna race in and slip the boot in and some dirty bugger hit me from behind.