|Venue: MCG||Date: Saturday 25 September 1909|
|Result: Win by 22 points||Umpire: J.Elder||Crowd: 42,418|
|Goalkickers: F.Caine 4, J.Marchbank 2, G.Topping 1, J.Baquie 1, A.Lang 1, F.Elliott 1.|
|Best: R.McGregor, F.Jinks, B.Payne, A.Ford, A.Lang, J.Marchbank, C.Hammond.|
The first week of the 1909 finals proved what had been obvious for most of the year – that South Melbourne and Carlton were the best two sides in the competition. Easy Semi Final wins over Collingwood and Essendon respectively brought the Bloods and the Blues together on the MCG for this match, with two possible outcomes. If South won, they would claim a VFL Premiership pennant for the first time. On the other hand, if Carlton won, the Bloods were entitled to challenge their conquerors to a Grand Final – which they would automatically do.
With so much at stake, a huge crowd of 45,000 packed into the MCG on a cool spring day, and the two sides ran out onto the field at almost full-strength. Star defender Norman Clark was missing for Carlton – replaced by Les Beck - while South surprised by omitting their regular centre half-forward Bob Deas in favour of recruit Dave Barry.
In a nervous opening quarter there were mistakes aplenty as the Southerners kicked with the wind, but failed to take full advantage. They squandered two or three real opportunities to kick goals, before Carlton swept the ball the length of the field to Lang, who drew a free-kick and brought up full points for the Blues. Then Charlie Hammond chipped a pass across field to Jack Baquie, and his set shot brought Carlton’s second.
That seemed to rouse the Bloods, and led by their lively rover Caldwell, they began hitting targets with their passes and cutting through Carlton’s defence. Follower Vic Belcher posted South’s first major, followed by another to their full-forward Mortimer. Barry was presenting well for the Bloods, and his cleverness got the ball to Gough, who won a free-kick and brought up South’s third. Casey should have immediately kicked another, but he missed from straight in front. At quarter time, the Bloods were clearly on top, and in front by 9 points.
The second quarter was much like the first. With the wind at their backs, Carlton snatched back the initiative, but squandered scoring opportunities with indirect play. Rovers Lang and Caldwell continued to flash into the play for their respective sides, and it was the former who set up a Carlton resurgence with a long kick to the goal-square. The ball cleared the pack and fell into the arms of George Topping, who popped it through from just a metre out. South’s hard-headed ruckman Bert Franks replied for his team, before his direct opponent Jim Marchbank sent a long pass to Frank Caine, and he added full points for the Blues with a long place-kick from deep on the flank.
The battle for ruck supremacy was a feature, and the efficiency of both team’s small men was magnified when they were given first use of the ball – as was shown late in the term. At a throw-in on centre wing, ‘Mallee’ Johnson palmed the ball to Lang, who kicked long to Marchbank. Big Jim wheeled around and found Caine on the lead, and ‘Silver’ steered through his second goal from a similar position as his first. At half-time, Carlton had snatched back the advantage by 8 points, and the game was living up to every expectation
The third quarter was highlighted by a lift in intensity, as the Bloods tried to maximise their wind advantage, and Carlton steeled themselves in all-out defence. The Blues’ brilliant centre line of Bruce, McGregor and Kennedy started to get on top, while the long kick-ins of respective full-backs Doug Gillespie and Bill Dolphin brought roars from the crowd. Emotion played a part too. Punches were thrown, and elbows lifted after South’s Alf Gough kicked his team’s fifth, but umpire Jack Elder retained control. At full-forward for Carlton, Caine and Dolphin were engaged in a classic duel. ‘Silver’s’ fourth goal came from a lucky free-kick hotly disputed, and in the aftermath South’s Caldwell was reported by Elder for striking George Bruce. The three-quarter time bell rang out with Carlton nine points up, and finishing on the breeze.
The followers of both sides stood out in a torrid last quarter, with Franks and Ricketts in the thick of it for South, while Marchbank and Baquie stood out for Carlton. Resting forward, Marchbank took a couple of telling marks midway through the term, and added goals from both to stretch the Blues advantage beyond 18 points. When Carlton’s captain-coach Fred Elliott kicked the sealer with five minutes remaining, South knew they were done and the final margin in favour of the Blues was 22 points.
Ahead now lay a priceless opportunity for the Navy Blues to claim an unprecedented fourth successive VFL flag, against a team of real quality that nevertheless had already been defeated twice in three games. In its summary after the game, The Argus newspaper was eerily accurate when it summed up South Melbourne’s Grand Final prospects this way; “On a bright dry windless day, with all their machinery oiled, I should like to see them matching stamina, dash, and their wonderfully accurate passing against Carlton's strong rushes and superior weight. For in that direct challenge to the pace that kills, lies South Melbourne's hope for winning the pennant”.
|B:||Les Beck||Doug Gillespie||Jim Marchbank|
|HB:||Martin Gotz||Billy Payne||Arthur Ford|
|C:||Ted Kennedy||Rod McGregor||George Bruce|
|HF:||Frank Caine||Harvey Kelly||Jack Baquie|
|F:||Fred Jinks (vc)||George Topping||Fred Elliott (cc)|
|Ruck:||George Johnson||Charlie Hammond||Alex Lang|
Score Records: This is the last of 8 consecutive wins in Finals Football by Carlton, a club record winning streak in the 'business end' of the season.
Semi Final | Grand Final