Some sporting teams struggle for decades to achieve a Premiership, let alone take their chances to accomplish a second. Proudly, the history of the Carlton Football Club is highlighted by our second premiership in the VFL / AFL in just our 11th year in the breakaway competition – a magnificent win in a magnificent game on Saturday 21st September, 1907 at the resplendent MCG. On the back of a series of great performances from the Coach, our players and Jim Flynn, our Captain, alike, the Blues would defeat South Melbourne by 5 points and take the 1907 Flag. But this would be no ordinary victory…
Blueseum logo for 1907 Premiership article

Carlton began 1907 as reigning VFL Premiers, having claimed the club’s first flag of any kind since 1887 with an emphatic 49 point victory over Fitzroy in 1906. Under the visionary, disciplined coaching of Jack Worrall, the Blues were as physically fit and well-drilled as any team in the competition, keeping in mind that at the time, Australian football was still considered to be an amateur sport.

After defeating Collingwood by nearly six goals in their Semi Final, South Melbourne had eased into equal favouritism for the premiership. Throughout 1907, the teams had played three times and South had won on 2 occasions; each time, the Blues were wildly inaccurate in front of goal. The Bloods entered the contest with confidence, as they had won the most recent encounter in Round 15 by 17 points in a tough and spiteful contest, but controversy would follow after the match. At a time when dirty play was becoming more and more prevalent, the VFL had pledged to act, so when complaints about the actions of both sides poured in after that game, the authorities decided to make a firm statement about their intention to clean up the game.

Carlton actually began proceedings by reporting South’s Bert Franks for striking several Blues players at various times throughout the game. South retaliated by accusing Jim Marchbank, Fred ‘Pompey’ Elliott and Martin Gotz of similar offences. The charge against Gotz was quickly dismissed, but the other two were found guilty and heavily penalised. Despite acknowledging that Jim’s record was ‘irreproachable as a man and a footballer’ the tribunal suspended him for twelve months, while Elliott was outed for the remainder of that season. The harsh treatment was compounded with both players – instrumental in our 1906 win – outed for the Grand Final rematch between the teams.

While Elliott and Marchbank were out through suspension, the Blues would also be without star centreman Rod McGregor, who had suffered a broken nose in the last minutes of our Semi Final demolition of St Kilda. Both sides of this Grand Final, however, would enter the game under full strength, with South Melbourne missing Franks, Goddard, Maine and Gent.

Overall, the team looked strong, and contained 14 Premiership Players from the year before. After missing the 1906 Premiership through injury, Martin Gotz would make up for his disappointment by playing this year, whilst Dick Harris, Alby Ingleman and Harvey Kelly were the new boys, replacing McGregor, Marchbank, Elliott and Ike Little from our 1906 team. The scene was set for a supreme contest.

The Herald of the time reported that:

“It was an inspiriting moment when the huge crowd greeted the teams with a shout of welcome. Carlton were the first out. In fact, they were so anxious to start that they came out before the schoolboys had finished their game.”

A mild wind would welcome the teams for the start of the game, with the Blues kicking with the gusts:

“The wind blew towards the Grand Stand goal. South kicked in the other direction and went off with a rush. South came to the goal again and Casey passing to Blacketts, the rover had a shot. Behind number two followed. It was fast and earnest football.”

South had started with a rush. But it would be the Blues who would score the first major:

“There was a bit of a lull until Johnson went down, tripped. Ingleman marked from him, and Jinks took a fine applause creating mark from the centreman. He fired at goal, and a cheer like the pattering of hail in a violent thunderstorm went up as the first goal of the day was registered.”

At quarter time the Blues were up by a single point; 1.4.10 to 1.3.9. But in the second quarter the Blues would gather momentum:

''“Jinks, in the centre, played out with consummate skill. Caine half-forwarded. Grace went for the mark, but fell. Lang ran in and gained the goal.”

“ Carlton set their teeth and Flynn forwarded with a stunning kick. Topping marked, and up went Carlton’s third goal, putting them in the lead by 6 points. The excitement ran high all round the ground, and the cheering was loud and long.”''
Blueseum logo for 1907 Premiership article

In a tight game, South were not to be outdone:

''“Seldom has there been such interest shown in a match. Lampe, A.Kerr and Ricketts beat off another Carltonian attack, and centred. Mortimer collared and with a running shot equalled the scores, 22 points all.”

“Carlton went forward and a bad throw-in opposite the pavilion gave Jinks a show. He tried to pass to Topping but the latter fell, then Woods with magnificent dash, relieved.”''

As the pressure intensified, the Blues pulled clear again through Topping:

''“Flynn returned, Atkins returned, Gotz collared and played to Jinks from whom Topping marked. He had no difficulty in punting fourth goal for the Blues.”

“Then a tremendous battle raged around goal. Clark defended splendidly and got his side out of a very tight corner.”

“The ball was kicked in and then the quarter ended. It was a hard fought half. The pace was hurricane like with magnificently sustained effort.”''

At half time, the Blues were up by 7 points with Topping the lead goal-scorer with 2. The Herald continued to report that given the intensity of the game, “the breathing interval was excusably lengthened to about 25 minutes.”

Despite the best efforts of South’s Strang in the third, the Blues would pull away:

''“A long kick-in the in centre was followed by smart half-forwarding work by Strang. Clark relieved, but South went into the charge in a body. Kennedy and Payne saved the situation. Moxham drove the ball in front and Strang snapped a goal.”

“Carlton replied with a rousing dash. Ingleman passed to Grace, from whom Kelly marked. A fine place-kick on the angle gave Carlton another goal.”

“Cheer upon cheer greeted the success. It stimulated the old Blues, who charged forward and Topping with fine, smart play notched sixth goal.”

“The Blues surged forward and some ill-temper was being displayed. Nevertheless, the struggle was a glorious one to witness. South were on the move forward when cease-firing was sounded.”''

At the last break, the Blues stood on the precipice of dual-premiership glory and only needed to maintain their momentum to take the flag. The Blues would, however, not score another goal:

''“On the bounce, South streaked forward like lightning, Woods playing the ball smartly on. A.Kerr took a snap shot, which went close. Gillespie ran the leather away to the right. Mortimer, with a magnificent kick, returned, but Johnson, with a sky-scraping mark, stopped progress. W.Kerr whipped the ball across to Strang, who gained a goal.”

“Woods played to W.Kerr and then Strang snapped another goal.”

“This was Strang’s third successive goal. It was grand. It was magnificent. It was football. South were finishing like heroes.”''

The goals were tied but Carlton maintained supremacy only through a greater behinds count. The scribes of the day were clearly enthused by this behind-fest, with simple missed shots deemed worthy of reporting as the minutes counted down to the final siren:

''“Carlton rallied in rare style, and Kelly from a penalty kick added a behind. Topping snapped another under difficulty. Kelly hoisted the 13th which should have been a goal.”

“Both sides were working hard. Carlton went forward and Flynn played to Topping who shot right across goal. On the throw-in, Gotz was awarded a free-kick, with which he struck the goal-post.”

“Again, Gillespie was at his place on guard and saved the goal. Strang shot the ball into striking distance and Mortimer snapped a behind.”''

But finally, the ending was upon us:

“The battle raged in the centre. Then Carlton dashed forward, and Caine’s kick sent the ball behind after the bell rang. It was a brilliant ending to a brilliant game.”

The Blues would win by 5, taking their second premiership in two years. Perhaps the Australasian newspaper would summarise the game best, in the language of the time:
Blueseum logo for 1907 Premiership article

''“It was in keeping with the eternal fitness of things that the representatives of the ancient dark Blues and their old time rivals of ‘The Hill’ should play off for the Premiership but it may be unhesitatingly affirmed that their encounter last Saturday furnished the best match of the year, and the finest final contest that has been played since the League was established.”

“From start to finish it was a fast, determined and extremely skilful game and it was so evenly fought out that right up to the final bell the outcome was in doubt.”''

Over time, various players have been mentioned as best on ground, many worthy of mention in this summary of the Grand Final. First and foremost is the performance of George “Mallee” Johnson who took on the responsibility of leading Carlton’s rucks in the absence of Elliott and Marchbank, despite only standing at 179cm in height. The barrel-chested workhorse from inner-suburban Richmond was said to have ‘worked to exhaustion’ against the taller Souths followers. His lion-hearted effort in his second Grand Final for the Blues ensured that he would be named The Australasian newspaper’s Player of the Season.

Vying with Mallee Johnson for Best on Ground was George Bruce, who dominated one wing for most of the match. He was recruited from West Adelaide and became a member of one of the greatest centrelines of any era when he teamed up with Rod McGregor and Ted Kennedy at Princes Park. His blistering pace (he was a finalist in the Stawell Gift) allied to his durability and tenacity, were vital factors in Carlton’s epic hat-trick of Premierships in 1906-07-08.

Alby Ingleman had played less than 20 games in three seasons at Carlton before coach Jack Worrall chose him as the replacement for Rod McGregor in the Grand Final team. Nicknamed ’Badger,’ Ingleman was a tough-as-teak, no frills centreman from neighbouring VFA club Brunswick. His courage and tenacity when it mattered most won him widespread acclaim on Grand Final day, and a fond niche in the history of the Blues.

Les Beck was recruited from Carlton Juniors and played just his seventh game of senior VFL football as a late inclusion in Carlton’s fabled 1906 Premiership team. By the time the Blues defended their flag against South Melbourne in the 1907 Grand Final, Beck was considered one of the elite defenders of the competition. His sure marking, and long clearing kicks from the last line of defence on Grand Final day were a decisive factor in Carlton’s narrow win. Overall in his short but successful career at Princes Park, Beck played in a remarkable 53 wins in his 60 games, including the 1906, ’07 and ‘08 Premiership treble.

Last, but never least, James ‘Jim’ Flynn was worthy of mention as Captain of the Blues. In 1903, Jack Worrall has convinced 31 year-old ruckman Jim Flynn to leave the Geelong Pivotonians and join the Blues. Worrall wanted more experience and leadership in his football team, and he believed that Flynn could supply it. Geelong didn’t object greatly, because they believed that after seven seasons and 72 games, Flynn’s career as a senior VFL player was almost over. How wrong they were.

Flynn blossomed at Carlton, relishing the extra responsibility handed to him. Although he was just 179 cm tall, he was a gifted athlete with a good spring and sure hands. He was made vice-captain in his second season at Princes Park, and took over the captaincy in 1905. He led the rucks in our first Premiership triumph in 1906, but by 1907 Flynn’s private business interests began to impact on his football commitments. He approached Worrall with an offer to relinquish the captaincy, but the coach would not agree. He did however allow Flynn time off late in the season before recalling him for the finals. By the Grand Final, Flynn was 35 years old, and playing some of the best football of his career. His leadership in the last quarter of the Grand Final was inspirational.

After the game, Flynn provided this quote to the Herald in summary of the game:

“Yes, we won, but there was not much in it. They kept us going right to the end, didn’t they? It must have been a grand game to watch. I know it was splendid to play in. When it was all over I felt I’d have liked to have had to congratulate South – they played such a fine, spirited game. It was a hard struggle, with plenty of bumps, but there was very little to complain about. South were out for keeps all right, and they kept their heads well. The only mistake they made, I think, was they tried too much low-passing. They rather overdid it. It confused our chaps for a while, but when it failed to come off it cost South a lot. South Melbourne surprised me on the form they showed. We expected to beat them easily, but they had us all out. We were tested to out utmost all right. There was not much in it.

Of course, I think our team the best. You would not expect to me to say I did not, would you? I thought we had them settled at half-time, but they came at us again as fresh as ever. I think our weight had a good deal to do with our win. We average about 11 ½ stone, and that’s pretty solid for 18 men. The real secret of our success is our manager, Jack Worrall. There is no doubt most of it is due to him. He’s a grand judge of the game, and the youngsters that come up to the ground worship him; they’d do anything for him. They take no notice of anyone else. Besides that, we have a grand lot of fellows. There is no jealousy, no cliques, and they pulled together like clockwork. The umpire, Tulloch, should be congratulated on his display. It was really good work. The crowd gave us a grand reception, didn’t they? I could not get away from a bunch of barrackers, and they carried in as many of us as they could lay hands on. It’s all over now and I am finished. I have my business at St. James to attend to. We’ve got the premier team up there too. I’ve been playing senior football 10 years now with Geelong and Carlton and it’s about time I gave it up”.

NB. St James is near Yarrawonga, in country Victoria

The Carlton Annual Report for the year would summarise the win with the comment “For the second year in succession your Club has succeeded in obtaining the blue ribbon of the football world, after the grandest contest ever witnessed in a final game.” The Blues had won their second VFL / AFL Premiership, and now, some 100 years later, we still have the words of the players and reporters of the era to celebrate it by.

Final Scores:
Carlton 1.4.10 4.6.30 6.10.46 6.14.50
South 1.3.9 3.5.23 4.7.31 6.9.45
Goalkickers (Carlton): Topping 3, Lang, Jinks, Kelly
Best (Carlton): Johnson, Flynn, Gotz, Kelly, Ingleman, Bruce

In order to complete the story, the Blueseum thought an extract from the 1907 Annual Report would be worthwhile:

1907 Annual Report

Carlton Football Club - Forty Third Annual Report

To the Members of the Carlton Football Club,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Your Committee has the honour to present to you their Annual Report and Balance Sheet for season 1907, together with a record of the team’s performances.

For the second year in succession your Club has succeeded in obtaining the blue ribbon of the football world, after the grandest contest ever witnessed in a final game. Of the nineteen matches played, fifteen were won and four lost. The season’s record – considering the playing strength of the opposing clubs – is an excellent one. Carlton’s success was extremely popular, congratulatory messages being received from all over Australia.

We offer our old friends and rivals of the South Melbourne Football Club our heartiest congratulations upon the gallant manner in which their chosen representatives fought for premiership honours on that fateful 21st of September. In conjunction with your players, they deserve well of all lovers of football for the magnificent exposition given of the national game.

The players are to be warmly congratulated for their fine consistent play throughout the season. They attended to their training regularly, and played with great heart and dash. Two of our older players in Messrs. A. Ford and C. Roland have returned to the fold, and there is no apparent reason why your representatives should not make another great effort for the leading position in the coming season. The members can rest assured that no legitimate effort will be spared towards attaining the laudable object.

The Club, however, will suffer a great loss in the retirement from the game of Mr. J. Flynn. He has led the team twice to premiership honours, and his position will be most difficult to fill. In the semi-final and final matches, the team was handled perfectly, and it is not too much to say that his exceptional skill as a leader, combined with his rare ability as a footballer, was a great factor in the success of the side.

Great credit is due to Mr. F Elliott for his leadership during the temporary retirement of the captain. He set the team a fine example, and was the personification of strength and determination.

The membership of the Club has beaten all records – a distinct compliment to the management. Ever since the Club has emerged from its obscurity, the advance all round- in playing ability, management and increase of membership – has been simply phenomenal. The list is as follows: - Members, 2991; Ladies, 443; the total being 3,523 – and increase of 712 members from last year. The above is an easy record so far as the Club is concerned, and conclusively proves that the popularity of the Club is increasing every year.

The finances of the Club are eminently satisfactory, especially when it is taken into consideration that the Ground Committee received the large amount of P428/6/1, and that the players were given a trip as well as numerous social entertainments. There is a credit balance of 188P/14/11.

After the premiership had been decided, the players were given a trip to Adelaide, where they met Norwood, the premiers of the sister State. Notwithstanding that the day was quite warm, the match was well attended, your team suffering defeat. The display of football given by the Norwood men was exceptionally brilliant. We congratulate them upon their fine victory. The players, after seeing all the signs and renewing old acquaintances, thoroughly enjoyed themselves. The South Australian Football League welcomed the team on arrival, the Chairman (Mr. Anderson) congratulating Carlton upon their success. The executive of the Norwood (comprising the Hon. Sec. Mr. J.J. Woods, Messrs A. Grayson, G. Searcy, H. Blinman, W. Griffiths, C. Hobbs and others) excelled themselves by their kindness, courtesy and hospitality. Mr. Roger Sullivan, the Secretary of the South Australian Football League, was also most attentive. The team was under the management of your Secretary, Mr. John Worrall, who was the recipient of a handsome gold set of studs from the players and others of the party, for the efficient a manner in which the team was looked after during the trip.

The President (Mr. John Urquhart) entertained the executive and players at a Theatre Party during the season. A most enjoyable evening was spent. Upon the termination of the season the President also gave the members of committee and payers a dinner at the Melbourne Coffee palace. Everything passed off pleasantly.

The Ladies Tea Committee (Mesdames A. Urquhart, Elliott, Quick and Worrall, and Misses Croft, Madden, Norris and Methven) tendered their Annual Ball to the players and executive. The hall was tastefully decorated with the colours of the Club, and the business ability and feast of the ladies was favourable commented on. A very pleasant wind-up to a successful season was thus provided.

Mr. James Marchbank, one of your deservedly most popular players, gave the team a Motor Picnic to Warrandyte. It was a grand outing, the hospitality of the host being greatly enjoyed. The players donned miners’ garb and descended the shaft of the Caledonia mine. Mr. Till, the Manager, was most courteous to the visitors.

Testimonials for long services will be presented to Messrs. E. Kennedy, W. Payne and J. Marchbank. The following players worthily upheld the honour of the Club in representative League matches, viz. : - Messrs McGregor, Kennedy, Gillespie, Lang, Jinks, Caine, Beck, Payne and Topping.
Our donors, by their generosity, are deserving of the members’ thanks.
The trainers performed their duties in an able and efficient manner, turning the men out in proper condition.
Messrs F. Elliott and J. Marchbank were the recipient from the Committee and players of a handsome clocks and satin scroll, as a mark of respect.
Mr. F Jinks was presented with a cheque upon entering into the holy bonds of matrimony.
Mr. J Willshire, your time-keeper, performed his duties in a courteous and able manner.
A musical programme, under the able management of Mr. S Quirk, will be provided by popular performers.
Messrs John. Urquhart and John Worrall were the representatives on the League, and the thanks for the Club are due to these gentlemen for the efficient manager in which they safeguarded the interest of the Club and the game in general.
Mr. J Chapman represented the Club on the League during the first half of the season, but owing to private reasons he was reluctantly compelled to resign his position as a member of committee. He is also deserving of the thanks for the members for good work rendered during his term of office.

The Committee wishes to place on record the efficient manger in which your Hon. Treasurer (MR. Reg J Blay) performed his duties.
And this Committee also wishes to express its satisfaction with the able manner in which the Secretary (Mr. John Worrall) performed his secretarial duties throughout the year, and also for the satisfactory manner in which he coached the team.