CoachSenior Coach : 1925
Games : 11 (4 wins, 7 losses)
Playing Career : South Melbourne 1909-19 (155 games, 34 goals)
Height : 173 cm (5 ft. 8 in.)
Weight : 67.5 kg (10 stone, 8 lbs.)
DOB : August 11, 1888
In the midst of a bleak era for the Blues, former South Melbourne champion Jim Caldwell took the reins as senior coach for the latter part of 1925, only to resign after one tempestuous season.
A brilliant, polished player from an early age, Caldwell first rose to prominence in 1907 when he starred on a wing for Williamstown in their VFA Grand Final victory over West Melbourne. Two years later he joined South Melbourne, and would have been part of the Bloods’ first VFL Premiership team, had he not been suspended for striking Carlton's George Bruce in the 1909 Preliminary Final.
Caldwell went on to play 155 games in the red and white guernsey. He was a regular Victorian representative, and captained South to the 1918 Premiership. After retiring in 1919, he returned to Williamstown as captain-coach for a couple of seasons, before heading across the continent to take charge of Perth in the WAFL. But his two years in WA were singularly unsuccessful, so by 1925 he was back in Melbourne when he was approached by Carlton and asked to step in as coach of the struggling Blues.
After finishing seventh on the VFL ladder under the coaching of Percy Parratt in 1924, Carlton’s committee had opted for more change, and appointed captain Paddy O'Brien as playing coach. A vigorous recruiting drive brought an influx of new players, but discontent was still simmering at Princes Park. This was obvious when South Melbourne and Essendon handed out heavy defeats to the Blues in the first two matches of 1925, and tensions spilled over.
Both Maurie Beasy and O’Brien – the Blues’ captain and coach respectively – resigned, and soon afterward O’Brien was cleared to Footscray. Ray Brew stepped in as caretaker captain-coach for four games, until Caldwell accepted the job for the second half of the year. Jim did all he could to lift the Blues, but the task proved to be beyond him, and by season’s end the club was languishing in ninth place on the 12-team ladder.
Although Carlton’s committee was prepared to offer Caldwell another year in charge, he accepted an attractive offer to coach country club Rutherglen instead. Then in 1929, South Melbourne lured him back and the Bloods were heading toward a mid-table finish when Jim collapsed and died suddenly on the 29th August, aged just 41.
Footnotes:The photo (above) of Jim, was from the 1918 premiership preview in the Weekly Times when Caldwell was the captain of South Melbourne .
Jim Caldwell’s older brother Arthur Caldwell also played VFL football with St Kilda. A defender, he managed 8 games and 1 goal for the Saints in 1909.
Six years later during World War 1, Arthur landed at Anzac Cove on April 25, 1915, and was badly wounded. Evacuated to Malta, he died three months later.
The Mirror (Perth) May 30, 1925, reported on Jim Caldwell's appointment replacing Paddy O'Brien.
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