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Jack Baker


Victorian Football Association
Carlton Captain: 1884, 1885.
Vice Captain: 1883, 1886.
Champion of the Colony: 1883.
Games: 147 (approx)
Career: 1882-1888.

John/Jack Baker
Recruited from the North Geelong Football Club in 1882.

The Argus, August 01 1908, in an article on the 50 years of football.
In it, it had this to say;
"Take Jack Baker, for example. Where is the present dark blue warrior that can compare with him in his prime? And he was in his prime when he played with Coulthard. A graceful, breezy player, who carried the ball along with a rythm that moved like music. How smoothly he glided past opponents, and how surely did he pick his man and kick to him? Jack was the best player that ever came away from Geelong, where, as a junior he played with Charley Brownlow, the Geelong club's capable and popular secretary".

Jack Baker played at Carlton in the VFA between 1882 and 1888. He was both a captain and vice captain at the club and also led Victoria against Tasmania in 1887. He was the 1883 Champion of the Colony and always listed as one of the best players in the VFA and at Carlton. He was also listed as vice captain (from some reports) in Carlton's 1887 premiership side (note: no grand finals were played back then) and was twice Carlton leading goal scorer in 1883 and 1885. He scored at least 111 goals at Carlton without knowing his goals during 1884.

From “THE CARLTON STORY” by Hugh Buggy and Harry Bell (1958)

Page 55 Mentioned in the best players in an 1882 victory against a strong Essendon side. “But surprisingly, this scratch Carlton team -(made up of second Carlton 20 players and juniors and Jack Gardiner, MLA., who once again stripped to help his old club) “a thing of shreds and patches,” rose to the occasion in a magnificent way. It beat a strong Essendon team by 3-13 to 1-10 in one of the most sensational reversals of the year. Carlton’s best were Bloomfield, Martin, Baker, Slattery, Fitzgerald, Frayne and Coventry.” Leading Carlton players of 1883 were Jack Baker, the team's vice-captain, who could play equally well on the ball, on the forward line or in defence.

Page 57 Jack Baker led the Dark Blues in 1884, with George Smith as vice-captain.
Page 58 (1885) Jack Baker was again captain, and F. Johnson vice-captain. "Where would Carlton be without its leader, Jack Baker?" asked one writer. "It is about time some other lights of the team were bestirring themselves, and giving a little more time and attention to the requirements of the game."

Page 61 (1887) On May 21 Carlton vice-captain Jack Baker led the Victorian side onto the M.C.G. before 13,000 people to play the first inter-colonial match against Tasmania.

From the "CENTENARY SOUVENIR OF THE CARLTON FOOTBALL CLUB" by Colin Martyn and R. W. E. Wilmot published in 1934. (Colin Martyn was Carlton Captain in 1931-32 and Wilmot was "Old Boy" of "The Argus" and "The Australasian".)

Page 16 (1882). The team played 21 matches, winning 12, losing four and drawing five. The Goal-kickers were G. Coulthard 14 and Jack Baker 12. The best players were Harry Wilson ("a great follower"), Maloney, Dick Frayne, Conway, Bailey, G. Coulthard, and J. Baker.

(1883) Dick Frayne was captain and Jack Baker vice-captain.
It played 24 matches, won 14, lost seven and drew three. It kicked 91 goals and had 52 kicked against it. The leading players were Jack Baker ("back, following or forward and no where out of place, he is undoubtedly one of the best"), Sam. Bloomfield ("a good, honest, indefatigable follower"), Dick Frayne, Jack Donovan, the two Camerons, Smith, Clydesdale, Bailey, Moloney, Coventry, Heatley (afterwards president), Fitzgerald, Joyce ("Jack" from the "Britannia"), Shewood, Wilson, Whelan, M. Slattery, the two Richards, Martin and John 'Jack' Melville. Baker headed the goal-kickers with 19, Bailey and Heatley each kicked 10.

Page 17 (1884) J. Baker was captain and "Geordie" Smith vice-captain. Carlton slipped back to sixth place, playing 24 matches, winning 11, losing nine, and drawing four. The Club kicked 64 goals and had 65 kicked against it. Sam. Bloomfield headed the Carlton goal-kickers with 10. Jack Baker was regarded as one of the best players in the land. "His judgment," says "The Australasian," "was rarely at fault in the most trying circumstances."
(1885) Jack Baker was again captain, with F. Johnson vice-captain. Carlton moved up to fouth place. It played 22 matches, won 12, lost eight and drew two. It kicked 73 goals and had 61 kicked against it. Jack Baker was again regarded as one of the best players in Victoria, being bracketed with Peter Burns (South Melbourne), Charlie Pearson (Essendon) and Jack Worrall (Fitzroy). Jack Baker kicked 20 goals and Harry Wilson 10.

"Jack Baker, whom I first saw when he visited Hobart with the Carlton team a couple of decades ago, was one of the best. He was a rover of exceptional ability, possessing pace, a fine mark, and a splendid kick. These attributes, combined with a cool head, and an excellent knowledge of the fine points of the game, have made his name famous whenever the Australian-invented Winter pastime is played.
His way of beating an opponent who came at him from the front by hitting the ball over his head, dodging around, and catching it on the bounce, left an indelible impression on my mind. I have seen many perform this feat cleverly, but never one with the accuracy and speed of the old Carltonian.
Some writers state that he was a very graceful player, but he did not give me that impression. When at his top pace he moved nicely, but when "on the trot" his gait was somewhat ungainly. Baker could probably run as fast with the ball as without it, and he is entitled to rank amongst the best who have ever donned a jersey."
(Old Timer, The Referee, August 12 1908 p11)

1886 March 30
Jack Baker captained Yaughter vs Railway Surveyors in a match played at Yaughter in a paddock owned by a Mr. Wallace. 100 people attended. Yaughter which is in the Colac area won the match.

Page 18 (1886) Jack Baker was again captain and was presented with an illuminated testimonial. (dated 2nd April 1886) Carlton was third that year to Geelong and South Melbourne, playing 21 premiership games, winning 14, losing six and drawing one. Jack Baker was again one of the champions of the season, and Whelan and Berry (generally useful), Crapp and Bragge (backs), Tommy Leydin (forward) and Cook and "Dolly" Batters were singled out for special mention. During the season 131 goals were kicked and 80 lost. Tommy Leydin headed the goal-kicking with 22 goals, Jack Baker kicked 18, Harry Wilson and Berry 17 each. Sam. Bloomfield was captain and Jack Baker vice-captain.
(1887 Jubilee Premiership) That was a great year for Carlton, for the premiership, which had been held in 1877, was regained. The Club played 18 premiership games, winning 15, losing one and drawing two. In picking out the best players of the season "The Australasian" named Jack Baker, Berry, "Dolly" Batters, Sam. Bloomfield and Mick Whelan as all-rounders, Tommy Leydin (back), Billy Strickland for his brilliant and dashing wing play, and G. Cook ("one of the best men afield") as the pick of Victorian players. During the season 149 goals were kicked and 74 lost. The leading goal-kickers were: Green 28, Baker and Galletly 18 each, A. Coulson 17, and Berry 15.

Page 19 (1888) After the success of 1887, the result of the season was disappointing, the Club finished fourth, South Melbourne winning the premiership. The team played 19 premiership matches, won 11, lost five, and three games were drawn. In Jack Baker Carlton had the champion of the season. "This," said "The Australasian," "is not only attested by the marvellous form he exhibited all through, but by the fact that on all hands the opinion of those competent to form an unbiassed judgment is singularly unanimous on the point. Indeed, it is doubtful if at any time during the colony's existence another player has reached the high standard of Baker's unvarying excellence during the whole of the season." In the season, in premiership contests, 103 goals 74 behinds were kicked and 74 goals 76 behinds were lost. Green headed the goal-kicking with 42 goals, Baker kicked 24, and Galletly and Berry each kicked 14.


1887 J. Baker - Rover; one of the best all-round men in Victoria.
"J. Baker, the rover of the team, and is one of the best men in this department of the game that Victoria boasts at the present time. He is fast, and a good kick, but unlike some of our followers pays comparatively little attention to goal-kicking."

1887
"Baker is a fair daisy as a rover, and although he rested all the first half against the Hothams he showed conclusively later on that he has not earned the reputation of being the best rover of Victoria without great merit. He is second only to Jones, the centre man, in point of physique, and like him, he is as merciful as strong, confining his entire attention to the ball. Baker is one of those natural footballers who need little or no preparation for the sternest contests. In fact during all the years he has been a leading member of the Carlton club he never trained for the game. He works on his farm some distance out of Melbourne from year's end to year's end, and during the season takes the train for the city and enters the field as fit as the most carefully trained member of the club. He has once secured the medal as the chief goal kicker of the year, and has two or three times been the runner up. Last season he kicked 20 against the medallist's 23, and he notched 9 in the nine games he has played this season."
(South Australian Chronicle July 16 p15)

1889 A great loss at the beginning of the season was the return of Jack Baker to his native Geelong.

1889 May 11; Baker named in Carlton squad to play Melbourne at the M.C.G.

1889 May 17; Baker played for Geelong against Melbourne at Geelong.

1890 Jack Baker was running the Union Hotel in Moorabool Street Geelong.

1892 June 18; Baker announced his retirement from football prior to the Carlton vs Geelong game at the M.C.G.

1883 (Norm Snowdon)
Jack Baker (Carlton), star follower and defender, was selected as “Champion of the Colony”, followed by Charles Brownlow (Geelong), who led his side to the premiership, Dave Hickinbotham (Geelong), H. “Sonny” Elms (South Melbourne), Ned Powell (Essendon) and Tuckfield (Melbourne).
Snowdon also had him playing at Geelong between 1889-1891 and early part of 188(2?).

1885
Peter Burns, ex Ballarat and Geelong, was not only South’s best but was chosen as Champion of the Colony. He was followed by John Worall, the great Fitzroy rover, Jack Baker, utility player from Carlton, Charles “Commotion” Pearson of Essendon and Hugh McLean (Geelong).

From "The Footballer," in the seven years of publication issued by the VFA for the 1881 season?
North Geelong - J. Baker (Capt.). A really fine player, possesses all the qualities requisite to make good captain; a universal favourite. (In 1882 Jack Baker was at Carlton.)

In 1893 V.F.A. Umpire J. J. Tait was asked what he considered was the finest game he had umpired.
(It was the Carlton-Norwood match in Adelaide, July 12 1887)

"The game was open and superb - or what they call wide over there - and the kicking, high marking and running sensational.
Jack Baker covered himself in glory that day and showed what a good footballer can do even when disabled. He was badly injured during the game, and was sent forward with G. Coombe, then one of the best backs in South Australia alongside him.
Jack kicked three goals, and got the ball each time simply by keeping his cool and bluffing his opponent into thinking that he was not trying for it.
Carlton won, but had Baker gone off the field when first disabled they would have been easily beaten."

(The Argus July 27 1893 p6)

1891 The Sportsman section of The Australasian in response to a question from
"Inquirer" (Gelantipy)
"Baker played for Geelong before joining Carlton." (actually Jack played for North Geelong)

TASSIE OLD TIMER REMEMBERS BAKER

"Jack Baker, whom I first saw when he visited Hobart with the Carlton team a couple of decades ago, was one of the best. He was a rover of exceptional ability, possessing pace, a fine mark, and a splendid kick. These attributes, combined with a cool head and an excellent knowledge of the fine points of the game, have made his name famous wherever the Australian-invented Winter pastime is played. His way of beating an opponent who came at him from the front by hitting the ball over his head, dodging round, and catching it on the bounce, left an indelible impression on my mind. I have seen many perform this feat cleverly, but never one with the accuracy and speed of the old Carltonian.
Some writers state that he was a very graceful player, but he did not give me that impression. When at his top pace he move nicely, but when "on the trot" his gait was somewhat ungainly. Baker could probably run as fast with the ball as without it, and he is certainly entitled to rank among the best who have ever donned a jersey."
(Trove: Referee August 12 1908 p11)

INVENTOR OF HANDBALL

"One does not get the same chance in football as in cricket to see old-timers at a match. One is the question of two hours, the other of days. But Jack Baker came from his farm at Gheringhap to see his old love, Carlton. There are some names one always reveres, and Jack Baker is one of them. I have alluded before in these columns to his wonderful and manly play, so will not repeat it.
He was not only a great player but a pioneer in some respects. He is given the credit of being the originator of handball, and there was no doubt about the fairness of his methods. He was also an unconscious reformer in what is called bouncing the ball. The law states that the ball shall be struck on the ground at least once every 10 yards. But from what I can gather it did not mention the ground at all.
Many years ago when Carlton were playing Richmond on a shocking day, when bouncing the ball was out of the question, the resourcefulness of the champion came to his aid. On one occasion during the game he ran 50 yards, bouncing the ball in the air the while. There was no law to stop it; the umpire allowed it, and there was quite an argument over the incident, which resulted in the framing of the present law.
Mr. Baker is an expert on red polled cattle, being a judge of the breed at the show."
(Trove: By "J.W" (Jack Worrall) Australasian September 30 1922, p30)

1924 September 24

THE OLD BRIGADE

A Football Reunion

The Argus' football journalist "Observer" writing about the forthcoming old timers football on the M.C.G. talks about some the former players taking part in the three matches.
He writes about Jack Baker and John Gardiner.
To read click here> http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2038495

1932 September 03
Jack Worrall writing in the Australasian;
"Jack Baker was a beautiful player to watch. He was not a great mark in a bunch, though a good one, nevertheless, and could handle the ball artistically. He was an accurate goal kick up to 40 yards, and for conduct on the field and all round excellence was a man to be admired. In running with the ball he had the knack of turning what may be termed the wrong way, a most disconcerting habit, and was the first man to exploit the value of hand passing.

Image
Image: Trove; Argus September 27 1924 (p29)


Three, possibly four former Pre VFL Carlton players pictured at the M.C.G. in September 1924 at an old players match.
Former Carlton captains Jack Baker (1882-88) and John Gardiner (1872-79) shaking hands, and above is W.'Billy' Hannaysee (1884) who became the first captain of Port Melbourne, and possibly J. Muir (1881), who later went to Fitzroy.
John/Jack Gardiner was nearly 76 years old!

Image
Jack is pictured the a team photograph taken in 1924 at an old players match on the M.C.G.

1930 February 22
The Argus article, Old Football Days - Some Geelong Gallants.
This includes a write up on Jack Baker.
To read click here> http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article4070491

1932 September 03
Jack Worrall writing in the Australasian;
"Jack Baker was a beautiful player to watch. He was not a great mark in a bunch, though a good one, nevertheless, and could handle the ball artistically. he was an accurate goal kick up to 40 yards, and for conduct on the field and all-round excellence was a man to be admired. In running with the ball he had the knack of turning what may be termed the wrong way, a most disconcerting habit, and was the first man to exploit the value of hand passing."

Footnote

Jack's son, also named Jack Baker (born 9 Dec. 1891) played for Geelong in 1913-15 and 1917, he played 55 games and kicked 17 goals.

Articles: Carlton v England | A Great Football Match

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