INTRODUCTION

“Time dims memories and people forget. Many a player is a hero one day and in oblivion the next.” Father Gerard Dowling 1997.

Victor (aka Vic) Lawrence (born: 1928) played more than 100 VFL games; and although a steadfast defender, club captain and Victorian representative, he appears to be another ‘forgotten man’ of VFL football. This story attempts to remind football followers of Vic’s achievements and the key role he played in rebuilding the NMFC during the 1950’s.

EARLY DAYS AT ARDEN STREET

It is known that Vic lived with his parents, brothers (Hector and Jack) and sister (name unknown) in North Melbourne; and during the years of the Great Depression, it is thought that Vic may have attended the Errol Street State School.

Sands N McDougall Map 1930s North Melbourne SLV Collection
Sands N McDougall Map 1930s North Melbourne SLV Collection


It must be remembered that Vic started school more than 80 years ago; and student enrolment records, for the 1930’s, are difficult to track down. Although *Laurie Shipp was able to give a lead of Hector’s education, some doubt exists regarding Vic’s early schooling and more research is required to substantiate this matter.

  • Note: Former star North ruckman Laurie Shipp, who often assists the Boyles Football Photos website, with historical information and anecdotes regarding the North Melbourne FC, actually attended primary school at Errol Street PS with Hector Lawrence.

Being a child of the inner-city suburbs meant that a VFL club was ‘just around the corner.’ ‘Kick to kick’ in the back streets near Flemington Road and the occasional inter-school match gave Vic and his friends a ‘taste for leather’ and ‘hunger’ for the great game of Australian rules football.

For most families, life during those years of economic downturn was austere and, in many cases, grim. However, football was a bright spot in the lives of youngsters and never failed to lift spirits and conjure up the dreams of becoming ‘local heroes.’

It wasn’t until Vic was in his teenage years, when playing for the local junior team North Colts, that he attracted attention as a footballer of some potential. During the Second World War few details were recorded about suburban junior competitions (as newspapers had other more important priorities); but it is known that the North Colts team was a strong breeding ground for senior footballers. Other well-known VFL footballers who graduated from the North Colts included:- Les Foote, Kevin Dynon, Keith McKenzie, Kevin McMahon and Gerald Eastmure.

Card 019 - Les Foote - 1948 Kornies Card Source:Australian Rules Football Cards
Card 019 - Les Foote - 1948 Kornies Card Source:Australian Rules Football Cards
Card 013 - Kevin Dynon - 1948 Kornies Card Source:Australian Rules Football Cards
Card 013 - Kevin Dynon - 1948 Kornies Card Source:Australian Rules Football Cards
Card 039 - Keith McKenzie - 1949 Kornies Card Source:Australian Football Cards
Card 039 - Keith McKenzie - 1949 Kornies Card Source:Australian Football Cards
Kevin McMahon - 1952 Kornies Footballers in Action - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Kevin McMahon - 1952 Kornies Footballers in Action - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Gerald Eastmure - 1958 Atlantic Picture Pageant - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards - Reproduced with the permission of Esso Australia
Gerald Eastmure - 1958 Atlantic Picture Pageant - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards - Reproduced with the permission of Esso Australia


THE START OF SOMETHING BIG

1946 was significant year in VFL football as it saw the introduction of the VFL Third Grade competition. It was also the year that young Vic Lawrence came under the tutelage of Wally Carter when he trained with the North Melbourne Third XVIII squad at the Arden Street Oval.

Wally, a highly regarded former player with NMFC, was a thoughtful and innovative coach and, as history shows, played an influential role in the revival of the North Melbourne FC in the post-war era.

Some readers may not be aware that the NMFC did not enter the VFL until 1925 and, in those early years, struggled to be competitive. Further, the NMFC did not play in a VFL final series until 1945; the Shinboners, as the club was known in earlier times, had experienced twenty years in the ‘football wilderness’ and the club’s future appeared to be problematic.

However, 1946 was a turning point in the history of the Northerners as Wally Carter and his young and spirited team took all before them and won the inaugural Third XVIII Grade premiership.

WALLY CARTER, VIC LAWRENCE AND FRIENDS MAKES HISTORY

Vic Lawrence was part of the triumphant team that won the pennant in 1946; and it was no accident or fluke that the team took out the honours…

“…the North Melbourne Football Club Under: 19 team for 1946 was brimming with confidence and it contained the names of many who were destined for greatness in the club’s senior ranks and lasting fame in VFL football. Jock Spencer, John Reeves, Vic Lawrence and Colin Thornton all played in that side; it also contained a future great of the cricket world, the late Dick Maddocks…” ‘The North Story’ by Gerard Dowling.

The 1946 Thirds Grand Final was played between North Melbourne and Carlton at Warringal Park in Heidelberg. North Melbourne won that day by 33points; and the final scores were: North Melbourne 11.9.75 defeated Carlton 5.12. 42.

Details of the victory are sketchy but North’s better players were listed as: John Reeves, Jock Spencer, Dick Maddocks and Williamson (possibly Brian).
It was the first piece of silverware that the club had collected since affiliating with the VFL; and several members of that Under:19 team would, in time, become the foundation stones for building a strong and sustainable club.

That victory, at Warringal Park in 1946, signalled a new and exciting era for North Melbourne in VFL football.

1947 ANOTHER PREMIERSHIP FOR THE SHINBONERS

Following the breakthrough in 1946, North Melbourne again revealed its burgeoning strength and won the 1947 VFL Reserves Grade premiership. The Grand Final was played against Richmond and North took the honours in a stirring contest by ten points. It is documented, that Wally Carter was the joint-coach of both the seconds and thirds teams that season.

The NMFC Seconds team, that won that premiership in 1947, had an array of skilled footballers including Gerald Marchesi, Ted Morcom, Pat Kelly, Frank Jeeves, Chris Carroll, Sel Murray, Neville Stibbard and ex- Red Cliff FC’s Alan Maas.

Although Vic Lawrence was not selected in the NMFC Seconds Grand Final line-up, it is known that he played with the team at various times throughout that season. A photo of the Second XVIII team, on this website, shows Vic sitting in the front row of the group.

North Melbourne's 1947 Reserves Team Celebrate Their Premiership NMFC Pic.twitter.comvg8N1LWAA4
North Melbourne's 1947 Reserves Team Celebrate Their Premiership NMFC Pic.twitter.comvg8N1LWAA4


1948 VIC PLAYS HIS FIRST SENIOR GAME

Vic Lawrence made steady progress in the minor grades of VFL football. Laurie Shipp, a highly energized and spectacular ruckman, who played with Vic at North Melbourne, recollected that…

“…Vic took some time to learn his football trade. He started at North when they had a very strong and established back half. Jock McCorkell at full back headed up a fearsome set of guys. Dodger Ryan, Pat Kelly, Teddy Jarrard , John Reeves and Les Reeves. They were like a battering ram. They were invincible, and Vic had little hope of gaining a place in the back half at that time. But Vic just steadily learned his trade, and as opportunities opened up, as they always do, he stepped up and grabbed his place.”

As is often the case with big-framed footballers, Vic gradually found ‘required consistency’; and following several solid performances, with North Melbourne Seconds, Vic was selected to make his senior debut on May 15th 1948 against Melbourne at the MCG. The Shinboner’s team that day included some very experienced campaigners such as Les Foote, *Claude Curtain, ‘Dally’ O’Brien, Jock McCorkell, Keith McKenzie and Ted Jarrard. The team also had a sprinkling of talented youngsters such as Jock Spencer, Jack Hedley, *Dick Maddocks, John Reeves and Vic Lawrence(who was just 20 years of age) .

  • Note: Claude Curtain was the nephew of the former Australian Prime Minister, John Curtain; and Dick Maddocks was one of the famous cricketing brothers of that era.

VIC BATTLES FOR RECOGNITION

Vic’s senior debut wasn’t such a memorable outing as Melbourne won easily and he suffered a serious hand injury….

“… promising Vic Lawrence, who played his first game with the club against Melbourne, being the latest addition to the list (i.e the injury list)… Lawrence, whose hand is in plaster, has badly torn ligaments of the wrist, with a possible fracture. He will miss at least two matches.” ‘The Age’ 19th May 1948.

Vic missed the Round: 6 clash but returned to the team for the match against Fitzroy in Round: 7. In Round: 8, he kicked his first goal for North in a significant victory over Footscray. Vic only played four games of senior football in 1948; and battled to cement his place in the senior team. John Devaney, of the Australian Football website, explained…

“After working his way through the ranks at North Melbourne, Vic Lawrence made his senior debut in 1948. For three seasons or so he was only a fringe league player, but he eventually blossomed into a highly capable, adaptable footballer who gave the club some excellent service. “

Although Vic was struggling to ‘find his feet’ at VFL level, he was part of group of young players which would become the nucleus of NMFC senior team for the next four or five seasons.

1948 was a ‘fork in the road’ season for the Shinboners. Wally Carter, who had replaced Bob McCaskill as coach that year, backed his own judgement and put his faith in ‘young blood.’ His philosophy of coaching and the club’s youth policy began to pay dividends; and there was an air of excitement at Arden Street for the first time in many seasons.

The club finished eighth that season; and ‘Dally’ O’Brien won the club’s Best and Fairest award while stalwart Don Condon won the goal kicking trophy with 38 goals.

1949 North Melbourne Membership Ticket
1949 North Melbourne Membership Ticket
1951 North Melbourne Membership Ticket
1951 North Melbourne Membership Ticket
1952 North Melbourne Membership Ticket
1952 North Melbourne Membership Ticket
North Melbourne Membership Ticket
North Melbourne Membership Ticket


1949 : ONWARD AND UPWARD WITH WALLY CARTER

Things started to meld for North Melbourne’s brains trust in 1949 and, despite a couple of hiccups in the early rounds, the team gained confidence and played with flair, desire and system.

Wally Carter drove his men forward with a new sense of purpose and the Shinboners scaled the VFL Ladder. The keys to success in winning in football are consistency of effort, unity of purpose and responding to pressure. Under the inspirational leadership of Wally Carter (and the example set by skipper North’s champion Les Foote), North ‘crashed through’ and won fourteen matches in the home and away series to head the VFL table.

Players such as Les Foote, Jock Lineen, Gerald Marchesi, Jock Spencer, Kevin Dynon, Don Condon, Keith McKenzie, Jock McCorkell, Ted Jarrard, Frank Jeeves and Pat Kelly gave the Shinboners mental toughness, physical hardness and genuine ‘bite.’

Although going out of the finals in straight sets (to Carlton and then Essendon), North Melbourne had shown the sporting public that it had ‘turned the corner’ and had become a force in VFL football. The supporters were well-pleased with what the ‘master’ (Wally Carter) and his ‘apprentices’ had delivered that year.

During that season the Northerners used 36 players including new players such as Les Mogg (ex-St Pat’s Ballarat), Eric Parkes (ex-Yarraville), Kevin McMahon (ex-NMFC Thirds), Jim Bradford (ex-Collingwood), Roy Eliason ( ex-Shepparton) , Lindsay Baglin ( ex-Footscray), Bob Brooker ( ex-Mentone) and a prized recruit from Moe named * Laurie Shipp ( see above).

North Melbourne players polled well in the 1949 Brownlow Medal count; Les Foote and Kevin Dynon each recorded eleven votes and Frank Jeeves received eight votes.
Jock Spencer, who had given the Shinboners a reliable avenue to goal that season, kicked 64 goals (28% of the team’s tally); and it was a noteworthy performance by a forward of just twenty years of age.

1949 had been a disappointing, perhaps frustrating, year for Vic Lawrence, as he could only cobble together eight senior games; and he did not play in either the Second-Semi Final or Preliminary Final that season.

It is known that North Melbourne played an exhibition match against *Hobart at the North Hobart Oval in October 1949. From the team photograph taken that day, it appears as though Vic was not included in the starting line-up for that game.

  • Note: See Laurie Shipp’s article (on this website) for a report on that match against Hobart.

THE VIC LAWRENCE & THE LAURIE SHIPP CONNECTION


Around that time, an interesting coincidence occurred when Vic Lawrence gained employment, as a cutter, at a tailoring firm in the city. While working at that establishment, Vic met a young lady named Janis Wighton. In something like a tale from ‘Ripley’s Believe It Or Not’, some years later Janis married Vic’s team mate and great friend at Arden Street, Laurie Shipp. Laurie recalled …

“…The firm was commonly called Moon's. It was a large establishment located upstairs in a building on the south side of Collins Street between Swanston and Exhibition Streets. It was a rather high class establishment with a somewhat distinctive clientele, who obviously weren't short of a bob or two. My wife is Jan (officially Janis), nee Wighton. She was recruited as a trainee tailoress by Moon's together with some other girls from King Street State School in West Melbourne, provided with an intense course of training, and worked at tailoring with the firm for several years.” Laurie Shipp 2016.


1949 : ROUND: 6 THREE AMIGOS OF ARDEN STEET


There was another connection at Arden Street that would have some future significance. In Round: 6 (21st May) against Hawthorn in 1949, Vic Lawrence, *Gerald Marchesi and Laurie Shipp played together for the first time in their VFL careers with NMFC Senior XVIII.

Vic Lawrence was named in the back pocket, Laurie was selected as first ruck and Gerald, who had been recruited from Kensington YCW, started on the bench. North Melbourne looked a most accomplished combination that day and defeated the Hawks by twenty-two points. Laurie Shipp was mentioned in the best players along with Jock Spencer who kicked 5 goals for the winners.

Little did Vic, Gerald and Laurie know that, in later years, they were destined to play with the Yallourn Football Club in the Latrobe Valley Football League (see below).

Further, on that day in 1949, neither Vic nor Gerald had any idea that they would, one day, skipper NMFC.

  • Note: Gerald’s father Aubrey Valentine Marchesi) had also played VFL football; in 1922 he played 15 games for Geelong before joining Essendon in 1923 (8 senior games). It is known that Aubrey trained with North Melbourne in 1925.

1950 Argus Badges North Melbourne
1950 Argus Badges North Melbourne


1950 A CHANCE FOR GLORY

1950 was a highly significant year for North Melbourne for two reasons…
• The club adopted the sobriquet ‘Kangaroos’,
and
• NMFC won its way through to the club’s first-ever VFL Grand Final.

It was also was a better year for Vic Lawrence as he ‘found the tempo’ of senior football, gained valuable experience and won regular selection. Vic played in twenty games that season including three finals matches. Laurie Shipp never doubted Vic’s ability; and he was convinced that Vic would eventually ‘cut the mustard’. Laurie’s assessment was ‘spot on’ because Vic persisted and eventually cemented his place in the North team…

“I reckon Vic was the typical successful tradesman in his craft. At the start he didn't have outstanding football skills, but he had the required physique, and the determination to succeed in football. He demonstrated that determination and hard work will get the required results.” Laurie Shipp 2016.

At the end of the home and away series, Essendon, North Melbourne, Melbourne and Geelong comprised the Final Four. North met the highly fancied Essendon in the Second Semi-Final and, in a match dogged by heavy conditions, North went down by three points.

The following Saturday, the Northerners rebounded strongly to topple the Cats in the Preliminary Final; and, consequently, secured the right to face Essendon for the battle of the premiership cup.

Little mention is made of Vic Lawrence in any of the finals reviews, but the important thing was that he had ‘made his mark’ in defence. When the Grand Final team was announced, Vic Lawrence was rewarded for his consistent endeavour by being selected as the 19th man for the Grand Final. Jack Hedley (ex-YCW) was the 20th man. Vic was part of NMFC history as it was the club’s first appearance in the ‘game of games.’

Age 15 May 1950 p12 J.Ross StKilda Aand Vic Lawrence NM
Age 15 May 1950 p12 J.Ross StKilda Aand Vic Lawrence NM
Argus 10 Jul 1950 Bill Morris Rich. and Vic Lawrence NM
Argus 10 Jul 1950 Bill Morris Rich. and Vic Lawrence NM


VIC LAWRENCE PLAYS IN THE KANGAROOS FIRST GRAND FINAL


North Melbourne supporters were ‘cock-a-hoop’ about participating in the Grand Final; and during the week the excitement around Arden Street was feverish as the ‘big day’ approached. On that Saturday, the gates of the MCG opened at 9.30am and by the *time of the first bounce 87,000 spectators had crammed into the MCG.

  • Note: The entry gates were locked prior to the start of the game because of grave concerns for crowd safety. Such lock-outs would, in time, pave the way to an ‘orderly’ system of ticketing.

Argus 26 May 1950 p.20 Plan Against The Premiers
Argus 26 May 1950 p.20 Plan Against The Premiers


Dick Reynolds led his Bombers with distinction during that game and, despite a plucky exhibition early in the game by North, Essendon held the Kangaroos goal-less in the second half to win by 38 points.

Les Foote was outstanding that day for North Melbourne; and he was ably assisted by Tim Robb, Kevin Dynon, Ted Jarrard, Bob Brooker and Jock McCorkell. Unfortunately for the supporters, the ‘weight of numbers’ told and the Kangaroos ran ‘ragged’ in the second half and limped home well beaten by a vastly superior team.

One respected journalist suggested that North’s stamina ‘gave out’. Perhaps there was an element of truth in the idea. It is known that ‘pressurised’ and gruelling finals can take a huge toll on players. We will never really know but perhaps ‘finals fatigue was a genuine factor for North’s second-half capitulation in 1950.

According to the limited statistics available that day, Essendon dominated the air with 80 marks including 22 in the final quarter. Jock Spencer kicked three goals; while John Coleman registered four for Essendon to bring his season tally to 120 goals.

Vic Lawrence replaced Colin Thornton (strained a leg muscle) during the last quarter and made quite an impact in the closing stages of the game. Vic won an important possession close to gaol and, authoritative football writer, Alf Brown reported…

“Refusing to give up North attacked again and Lawrence accepted a pass from Condon but he scored a behind from a simple shot when goals were needed.”


Argus 25 Sep 1950 P3 Grand Final'
Argus 25 Sep 1950 P3 Grand Final'


Later in Alf’s comprehensive match review, Vic received praised for his endeavour…

“Lawrence (N.M) who has replaced Thornton was playing strongly and sent a long kick out to Marchesi on the flank….”

In the ‘wash-up’, Essendon 13.14.(92) easily accounted for North 7.12. (54); but Percy Beames, of ‘The Age’, put the efforts of Wally Carter and his team into some perspective when he wrote …

“North can take solace from the fact that it is now one of the real powers in League football. It was no disgrace to be beaten by a side such as Essendon.” September 25th 1950.


North Melbourne Grand Finalists 1950 North Melbourne Annual Report 1950
North Melbourne Grand Finalists 1950 North Melbourne Annual Report 1950


VIC BECOMES A KEY DEFENDER

Vic consolidated his place in the team and, in time, proved to be an integral part of the NMFC line-up. He won his ‘spurs’ in defence but it is known Vic could ruck with the best of them. His burly frame (188 cm 85 kg) and his strong hands gave him an advantage in aerial contests. He brought up his 50th VFL with an impressive performance at centre half back against Fitzroy in Round: 18 in 1951…

“…the Maroons also fell down at half-forward, where Lawrence outpointed, in turn, Simpson and Lourey. Kelly and Les Reeves were too fast and aggressive for Don Hart and Gervasonl. ‘The Age’ September 3rd 1951
.

Argus 16 Apr 1951 P12 Vic Lawrence Defence
Argus 16 Apr 1951 P12 Vic Lawrence Defence


North Melbourne (11.15.81) defeated Fitzroy ( 8.13. 61) and that occasion was a most memorable milestone for Vic. During the next phase of his VFL career, he rarely missed a game. With the departure of the ever-reliable Jock McCorkell in 1953, Vic became the number one defender at Arden Street.
Note: Jock McCorkell had played 167 games with NMFC and was a brilliant backman …

“He was a tough player who led the hardest backline in League history …”

Vic Lawrence had ‘big boots’ to fill but was undaunted and, in his own inimitable style, he began to carve out a reputation as a resolute defender. Vic played on some of the finest VFL forwards of that era including *John Coleman (Essendon), Jack Collins (Footscray), Ray Poulter (Richmond), George Goninon (Geelong), Noel Clarke (Melbourne) and Bill Gunn (South Melbourne).
  • Note: The iconic photograph of John Coleman marking high over Vic Lawrence at the North Melbourne Oval in June 1953 still stands as one of the greatest all-time action- photographs of VFL football.

Sporting Globe 3 Jun 1953 P2 Coleman Marking Over Lawrence
Sporting Globe 3 Jun 1953 P2 Coleman Marking Over Lawrence


Age 1 Jun 1953 P16 Coleman's Mark
Age 1 Jun 1953 P16 Coleman's Mark
John Coleman Mark HeraldSun Collection
John Coleman Mark HeraldSun Collection


As footballers gradually realize, time in the game brings ‘know-how’ and some ‘tricks of the trade’; and by 1954, Vic Lawrence was a hardened defender who gave ‘no quarter’ and expected none in his battles against the ‘best in the business.’

Age 23 Apr 1951 p.14 EJarrard Marking Over V.Lawrence
Age 23 Apr 1951 p.14 EJarrard Marking Over V.Lawrence


Kevin Dynon - 1951 Kornies Footballers in Action - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Kevin Dynon - 1951 Kornies Footballers in Action - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Kevin Dynon
Les Foote - 1951 Kornies Footballers in Action - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Les Foote - 1951 Kornies Footballers in Action - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Les Foote
Ted Jarrard - 1951 Kornies Footballers in Action - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Ted Jarrard - 1951 Kornies Footballers in Action - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Ted Jarrard
Jock Spencer - 1951 Kornies Footballers in Action - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Jock Spencer - 1951 Kornies Footballers in Action - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Jock Spencer


VIC PLAYS IN ALBURY

June 14th 1952 was designated, by the ANFC, as National Day; and the twelve VFL clubs played, for premiership points, at various venues throughout Australia.

While an interstate match (Victoria v West Australia) was played at the MCG, other club games were scheduled in Sydney, Euroa, Yallourn, Brisbane and Hobart. North Melbourne was drawn to play South Melbourne at Albury; and 15,000 fans flocked to the eagerly anticipated event.

Vic Lawrence started in the back pocket that day; and the contest provided the record crowd with a classical exhibition of skills and an enthralling spectacle …
“The handball was much superior to what is seen in country football. The positional play was outstanding. There was some magnificent long kicking.” ‘Daily Advertiser’ (Wagga Wagga) June 16th 1952.

South Melbourne won by 22 points; and according to ‘The Argus’ the best players for the Northerners were: Kevin Dynon, John Brady, Jock McCorkell, Peter Hamilton (ex- Brunswick Amateurs), Frank Jeeves and Noel Alford (University HS).

Note: Noel Alford was the first-ever NMFC player to win the Morrish Medal (1950); and he later became a star of LVFL football when he played with Traralgon FC.

IN PRAISE OF VIC LAWRENCE

One of the best-ever compliments given to Vic Lawrence was written by Percy Beames in April 1954. Percy was an astute judge of a football; and his pen-sketch of Vic was glowing and would have carried great weight with the readers…

“Vic Lawrence, for North Melbourne, has been displaying splendid form at full back. He is a fighter who plays with strong intensity of purpose against all opponents, irrespective of side or reputation.” ‘The Age’ April 24th 1954.


Later in his career, Vic Lawrence was given the unenviable task of playing on Footscray super-star Jack Collins; and it must have been a tussle worth travelling a long way to see. Although Jack kicked six goals; and Footscray won by 38 points, Vic Lawrence received accolades for his fighting spirit against the odds that day …
“Although Collins scored six goals, two from free kicks and four from marks, ' he was out-marked and out manoeuvred by Vic. Lawrence many times. The fact that Lawrence was North's best player was a sound indication of the standard of North's game.” ‘The Age’ 17th May 1954.

The newspaper journalists, of that time, often referred to Vic Lawrence in their match previews and reviews; and, in most cases, it seems that Vic was usually pitted against the best forward of the opposition team. It is safe to say, that Vic rarely ‘lowered his colours’; and he played with commendable grit in his years at NMFC.
There is no evidence of Vic ever being reported by an umpire and it says much about his self-control and ‘cool head’ under pressure and provocation.

Weekly Times 13 Aug 1952 p.67 Roy Wright Rich. and Vic Lawrence
Weekly Times 13 Aug 1952 p.67 Roy Wright Rich. and Vic Lawrence
Age 11 Jun 1952 P8 Vic Lawrence at Training
Age 11 Jun 1952 P8 Vic Lawrence at Training


Pat Kelly - 1952 Kornies Footballers in Action - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Pat Kelly - 1952 Kornies Footballers in Action - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Pat Kelly
Vic Lawrence - 1952 Kornies Footballers in Action - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Vic Lawrence - 1952 Kornies Footballers in Action - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Vic Lawrence
Keith McKenzie - 1952 Kornies Footballers in Action - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Keith McKenzie - 1952 Kornies Footballers in Action - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Keith McKenzie
Kevin McMahon - 1952 Kornies Footballers in Action - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Kevin McMahon - 1952 Kornies Footballers in Action - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Kevin McMahon


VIC LAWRENCE REPRESENTS VICTORIA

A measure of Vic’s rapid development, as a key player and his growing stature in VFL ranks, was that he selected to play for Victoria against South Australia at the Adelaide Oval in July 1952.

Age 9 Jul 1952 P8 Spencer And Lawrence Selected For Victoria
Age 9 Jul 1952 P8 Spencer And Lawrence Selected For Victoria


The ‘Adelaide News’ published the probable Victorian team for the big clash; and Vic and Jock Spencer were named in the starting eighteen. In the lead-up to the game, Jock’s inclusion, ahead of John Coleman, ruffled quite a few feathers and there were howls of derision from certain quarters of the football public.

The team, as published, was…
• Backs: W. Stephen (Fitzroy) B. Morrison (Geelong) R. Wright (Richmond)
• Half-backs: G. Collins (Melbourne) J. Collins (Footscray) N. McDonald (Essendon)
• Centres: T. Merrett (Collingwood) H. Bray (St. Kilda) N. Jarvis (Fitzroy)
• Half-forwards: W. Gunn (South Melbourne) P. Flanagan (Captain-Geelong) R. Rose (Collingwood)
• Forwards: W. Wilson (Richmond) J. Spencer (North Melbourne) J. Taylor (South Melbourne)
• Followers: J. Howell (Carlton) J. Kennedy (Hawthorn)
• Rover: W. Hutchison (Vice-captain-Essendon)
• Reserves: V. Lawrence (North Melbourne) and L .Kerr (Carlton) Emergency: N. McMahon (Melbourne).

Although the VFL was a strong and skilful combination, the South Australians played a superb brand of football and ‘embarrassed’ the visitors in front of a partisan crowd of 45,000. As the ‘Old Timer’ reported in the ‘Southern Cross’ on the 25th July…

“The South Australian team exhibited excellent combined play and looked superior after the first quarter.”

Another newspaper, ‘The Examiner’, said that the South Australian team was…

“Brilliant clean football and proved their willingness to ‘take on’ the Victorian big men.”

The final scores were:
South Australia 12.8.(80) defeated Victoria 8.15.(63) .
Goals for Victoria: Spencer 2 Wilson 2 Hutchison Jarvie Rose and Gunn.
Best for Victoria: Flanagan Hutchison Morrison Stephen Wilson Bray and McMahen.

1952 was Vic Lawrence’s best year for gathering umpires’ votes in the Brownlow Medal because, in that season, he polled five of his career tally of nine votes.

VIC LAWRENCE AS A FORWARD

Footballers can often be stereotyped and sometimes hasty judgements are made as to where a player is best suited in the make-up of the team; and it appears that Vic may have suffered a little through such type-casting.

It is true, that Vic was a robust defender and was the cornerstone of the Kangaroo defence in later years. However, there were times when he was ‘thrown forward’ and surprised onlookers with his ability to thread a ‘goal or two or even three.’

In his lengthy VFL career, Vic kicked 21 goals. His ‘best bag’ was three goals against Hawthorn in Round: 16 in 1951. Playing at Arden Street, the Hawks had clearly outplayed North for three quarters; and at the final break North trailed by 20 points. The results indicate that Vic Lawrence kicked three goals and rescued North that day. The Kangaroos clambered over the line to win by 12 points in a tough last quarter.

The scores that day were:
North Melbourne 10.11.71 defeated Hawthorn 8.11.59.
Goal kickers for North Melbourne: Lawrence 3 McMahon 2 Smith 2 Dynon Brooker and Mogg.

Best players for North Melbourne: Kelly Mogg Foote Lawrence Smith McMahon.
VFL records also reveal that Vic kicked three goals against Fitzroy in Round: 4 1953. That day, Vic kicked three of North’s ten goals; but It wasn’t enough as Fitzroy, led by Joe Hickey (8 goals), snatched a well-deserved victory by 11 points.

On another occasion in 1952, Vic ‘steadied the ship’ with a timely goal against Melbourne to assist the Northerners to a slim victory. Well known sportswriter of that era, Jack Dunn wrote…

“A goal by Vic Lawrence steadied North early in the last quarter and Spencer clinched the match with a beautiful goal from the half forward line…”

Anecdotal evidence also supports the notion that Vic was a most effective forward during his coaching stint at Yallourn FC. Vic’s ability to win the ball, bring flankers into the action and create scoring opportunities when playing at centre half forward was impressive.


1953 DOUBLE HEADER AT SUBIACO

On the same weekend that the 1953 ANFC Carnival was taking place, North Melbourne travelled to Western Australia to participate in a ‘double-header’ competition with Western Australian combined teams. It was an unusual and physically demanding type of tournament; as the Kangaroos had to play two matches, in a truncated program, which gave the players virtually no recovery time.

The Northerners won the first contest and, in the match preview leading up to the second match, Vic Lawrence was paid a compliment by a Perth scribe known as ‘Forward’…

“…North Melbourne has chosen Victor Lawrence to play at full-back and oppose Ron Tucker in the second match against a W.A. second team at Subiaco Oval today. Lawrence is one of the team's fastest and biggest men. He has played as a follower and full-back….Tucker, who was playing at centre-forward, completely upset North Melbourne's calculations on Saturday when he kicked 11 goals. Neither J. Edwards nor J. Lineen, both of whom were tried on Tucker, was able to check him….”

The Kangaroos lost the second match by a solitary point in a thrilling and high standard battle. In the match review, the Kangaroos’ ‘Three L’s’ (Lawrence-Larsen-Lineen ) received plaudits for their fine performance across the backline…

“North Melbourne's outstanding players were the defenders, Larsen, Lineen and Lawrence. Larsen always seemed to be in the thick of the play. He gave the team most of its drive and frequently turned W.A. attacks. The tall Lineen at centre half-back was too good for Higgins and pleased club officials with his return to form. Lawrence did well to hold Tucker-who had the edge in pace-down to three goals.” ‘The West Australian.’ July 14th 1953.

Overall, it had been a magnificent few days of Australian Rules football; and the people of Perth responded in a most positive manner to the series and the wholehearted efforts of the visitors. Although it was a most exhausting few days for the twenty-eight NMFC players, who had crossed the Nullarbor, the outcome had tangible benefits for the development of the national game.

Age 24 Aug 1953 p.12 John Coleman and Vic Lawrence
Age 24 Aug 1953 p.12 John Coleman and Vic Lawrence
Argus 1 May 1953 p.8 Vic Lawrence
Argus 1 May 1953 p.8 Vic Lawrence


Gerald Marchesi - 1953 Kornies Footballers in Action - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Gerald Marchesi - 1953 Kornies Footballers in Action - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Gerald Marchesi
Jock McCorkell - 1953 Kornies Footballers in Action - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Jock McCorkell - 1953 Kornies Footballers in Action - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Jock McCorkell
John Reeves - 1953 Kornies Footballers in Action - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
John Reeves - 1953 Kornies Footballers in Action - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

John Reeves
Les Reeves - 1953 Kornies Footballers in Action - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Les Reeves - 1953 Kornies Footballers in Action - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Les Reeves


John Brady - 1953 Argus Football Portraits - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
John Brady - 1953 Argus Football Portraits - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

John Brady
Kevin Dynon - 1953 Argus Football Portraits - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Kevin Dynon - 1953 Argus Football Portraits - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Kevin Dynon
Vic Lawrence - 1953 Argus Football Portraits - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Vic Lawrence - 1953 Argus Football Portraits - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Vic Lawrence
Gerald Marchesi - 1953 Argus Football Portraits - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Gerald Marchesi - 1953 Argus Football Portraits - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Gerald Marchesi
Eric Parkes - 1953 Argus Football Portraits - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Eric Parkes - 1953 Argus Football Portraits - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Eric Parkes
Jock Spencer - 1953 Argus Football Portraits - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Jock Spencer - 1953 Argus Football Portraits - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Jock Spencer


1954 FINALS

Seasons 1951-52-53 brought only ‘lean pickings’ for North as the club failed to rise above seventh position on the ladder. However, in 1954, under the leadership of stalwart Jock McCorkell, the Kangaroos rebounded and finished the home and away series on the third rung on the ladder.

The club won eleven matches and tied against Footscray (the eventual premiers that year).The Bulldogs, Geelong and Norm Smith’s rapidly improving Demons made up the Final Four.

Gerald Marchesi was skipper of the Kangaroos that season; and the team had the necessary blend of experienced players such as: Vic Lawrence, Kevin Dynon, Pat Kelly, Jock Spencer, Ted Larsen, Les Mogg and Bob Brooker plus the emerging talent of John Brady (ex-Benalla), Len Templar (ex-Redan), Gerald Eastmure (North Colts), Allan Aylett (University HS) and a talented midfielder, from Happy Valley Amateurs, FC named Neil Doolan.

Argus 16Jul1954 P17 North Melbourne Private Collection
Argus 16Jul1954 P17 North Melbourne Private Collection


John Brady - 1954 Kornies Champion Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
John Brady - 1954 Kornies Champion Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

John Brady
Kevin Dynon - 1954 Kornies Champion Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Kevin Dynon - 1954 Kornies Champion Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Kevin Dynon
Gerald Marchesi - 1954 Kornies Champion Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Gerald Marchesi - 1954 Kornies Champion Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Gerald Marchesi
Jack O'Halloran - 1954 Kornies Champion Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Jack O'Halloran - 1954 Kornies Champion Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Jack O'Halloran


Allen Aylett - 1954 Argus Football Swap Cards Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Allen Aylett - 1954 Argus Football Swap Cards Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Allen Aylett
John Brady - 1954 Argus Football Swap Cards Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
John Brady - 1954 Argus Football Swap Cards Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

John Brady
Kevin Dynon - 1954 Argus Football Swap Cards Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Kevin Dynon - 1954 Argus Football Swap Cards Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Kevin Dynon
Peter Hamilton - 1954 Argus Football Swap Cards Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Peter Hamilton - 1954 Argus Football Swap Cards Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Peter Hamilton
Brian Johnson - 1954 Argus Football Swap Cards Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Brian Johnson - 1954 Argus Football Swap Cards Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Brian Johnson
Pat Kelly - 1954 Argus Football Swap Cards Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Pat Kelly - 1954 Argus Football Swap Cards Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Pat Kelly
Ted Larsen - 1954 Argus Football Swap Cards Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Ted Larsen - 1954 Argus Football Swap Cards Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Ted Larsen
Vic Lawrence - 1954 Argus Football Swap Cards Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Vic Lawrence - 1954 Argus Football Swap Cards Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Vic Lawrence
Gerald Marchesi - 1954 Argus Football Swap Cards Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Gerald Marchesi - 1954 Argus Football Swap Cards Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Gerald Marchesi
Bryan Martyn - 1954 Argus Football Swap Cards Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Bryan Martyn - 1954 Argus Football Swap Cards Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Bryan Martyn
Kevin McMahon - 1954 Argus Football Swap Cards Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Kevin McMahon - 1954 Argus Football Swap Cards Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Kevin McMahon
Jack O'Halloran - 1954 Argus Football Swap Cards Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Jack O'Halloran - 1954 Argus Football Swap Cards Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Jack O'Halloran


John Brady - 1954 Coles Victorian Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
John Brady - 1954 Coles Victorian Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

John Brady
Kevin Dynon - 1954 Coles Victorian Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Kevin Dynon - 1954 Coles Victorian Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Kevin Dynon
Gerald Marchesi - 1954 Coles Victorian Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Gerald Marchesi - 1954 Coles Victorian Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Gerald Marchesi
John Reeves - 1954 Coles Victorian Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
John Reeves - 1954 Coles Victorian Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

John Reeves
Jock Spencer - 1954 Coles Victorian Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Jock Spencer - 1954 Coles Victorian Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Jock Spencer
Bob Brooker - 1954 Coles Victorian Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Bob Brooker - 1954 Coles Victorian Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Bob Brooker
Mick Grambeau - 1954 Coles Victorian Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Mick Grambeau - 1954 Coles Victorian Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Mick Grambeau
Bryan Martyn - 1954 Coles Victorian Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Bryan Martyn - 1954 Coles Victorian Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Bryan Martyn
Les Mogg - 1954 Coles Victorian Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Les Mogg - 1954 Coles Victorian Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Les Mogg
Jack O'Halloran - 1954 Coles Victorian Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Jack O'Halloran - 1954 Coles Victorian Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Jack O'Halloran


North was expected to be very competitive against Melbourne in the First Semi- Final but the ‘wheels fell off’ that day; and, in a lack-lustre second-half performance, the Kangaroos yielded, faltered and then crashed to be beaten by a ‘well-oiled’ and spirited Melbourne,

Press reports indicate that the contest was a bruising affair; one newspaper report even used the word ‘vicious’; and, is often the case, the standard of the play suffered because of the spiteful incidents which resulted in flare-ups around the ground.

Five players were reported during the course of the game: Bob Brooker, Laurie Icke and Percy Johnson (all from North Melbourne); while umpire Barbour also cited Melbourne’s Bob McKenzie and Peter Marquis.

The Demons held sway in the second half. Noel Clarke kicked six goals in a superlative exhibition, Geoff McGivern dominated in defence and with other strong contributions from Geoff Case, Don Williams and John Beckwith, the ‘Redlegs’ ran out easy winners. In his summary of the game, Graeme Atkinson wrote …

“…Melbourne smashed through time and time again for five goals in the third and seven in the final quarter to record a convincing victory.” ‘Courage Book of VFL Finals’ Page: 175.

The final scores that day were:
Melbourne: 1.4 4.7 9.11. 16.14. (110)
North Melbourne: 3.4 5.7 7.12 11.14. (80)

Goals for Melbourne: Clarke 6 Case 3 Albiston 3 McKenzie Johnson Collins Barassi .
Goals for North Melbourne: Templar 5 Aylett 3 Spencer Grambeau Brooker.
Best for Melbourne: McGivern Clarke Case Williams Marquis Beckwith Arnold Barassi.
Best for North Melbourne: Brady Marchesi Lawrence Templar Brooker.

According to the ‘Sporting Globe’, Vic Lawrence started in the back pocket that day and it seems that he was given the task to ‘man-up’ on Melbourne’s giant ruckman Bob Johnson (198cm). Judging from the above match details, as listed in Graeme Atkinson’s book, Vic had performed his role well in keeping Melbourne’s ‘Goliath’ to a solitary major.

Despite Gerald Marchesi’s outstanding performance for North in that final, it would prove to be his ‘swansong’ as he retired from VFL football after 92 senior games and went coaching in the bush (see below).

Age 17 Apr 1954 P9 New Mascot
Age 17 Apr 1954 P9 New Mascot
Age 10 May 1954 P16 AWoodley Haw And VLawrence NM 600thumb
Age 10 May 1954 P16 AWoodley Haw And VLawrence NM 600thumb


Age 7 Jun 1954 Coleman Ess Centre With VLawrence NM Left And PKelly Right
Age 7 Jun 1954 Coleman Ess Centre With VLawrence NM Left And PKelly Right
Weekly Times 30 Jun 1954 P76 Eric Parkes And Vic Lawrence
Weekly Times 30 Jun 1954 P76 Eric Parkes And Vic Lawrence


Age 19 Jul 1954 P15 VLarence NM And GGoninon Geel
Age 19 Jul 1954 P15 VLarence NM And GGoninon Geel


Age 27 Aug 1954 P11 Vic Lawrence And Reg Grant At Practice
Age 27 Aug 1954 P11 Vic Lawrence And Reg Grant At Practice


Age 30 Aug 1954 P18 VLawrence NM And JMcDonald StKilda
Age 30 Aug 1954 P18 VLawrence NM And JMcDonald StKilda


Sporting Globe 8 Dec 1954 P2 Full Back Again
Sporting Globe 8 Dec 1954 P2 Full Back Again


1955: VIC LAWRENCE STAYS ON AT NORTH AS CAPTAIN

In December 1954 Gerald Marchesi, who had captained NMFC in 1954, Les Mogg and Vic Lawrence applied for clearances to country football clubs…

“The North Melbourne Football Club committee last night considered applications by Gerald Marches and Les Mogg for clearances to take up coaching appointments at Yallourn and Cobram respectively. It decided to recommend to the incoming committee that both clearances be granted. Vic Lawrence had also applied-for a clearance to take up a coaching appointment at Cobden. The committee recommended that this application be refused as Lawrence's services were required in the coming season. ‘The Argus’ December 8th 1953.

As history shows, Vic Lawrence stayed on at Arden Street and, when Gerald left to take up work (as a butcher) and coaching at Yallourn, Vic was appointed skipper of NMFC for the 1955 season.

A little known fact about Vic Lawrence is that he actually took over the responsibility of vice-captaincy when Jack O’Halloran suffered a serious injury (and then a ‘loss of form’) at Round: 6 in 1954. Vic’s selection as captain in 1955 was a just reward for his dedicated service to NMFC…

John Richardson of ‘The Age’ reported…
“North Melbourne last night appointed full-back Vic Lawrence captain for the 1955 season. Centre half forward John Brady was appointed vice-captain. Lawrence who has played 102 games with North, mainly as a defender, acted as vice-captain last year when Jack O’Halloran lost form and played with the seconds. Last year’s captain Gerald Marchesi has been cleared to Yallourn. Lawrence and Brady have both represented Victoria in inter-state matches.” ‘The Age’ March 30th 1955

Vic Lawrence was the sixth player to captain NMFC from the end of World War: II. The club captains in the period 1945-55 were: Henry Dalziel & ‘Dally’ O’Brien ( 1945), Fred Fairweather ( 1946), Kevin Dynon ( 1947, 1952 & 1953), Les Foote ( 1948-51), Gerald Marchesi ( 1954) and Vic Lawrence in 1955.

Note: With Vic Lawrence opting to play with North Melbourne in 1955, Cobden FC (affiliated with the Hampden FL) was forced to look elsewhere for a senior coach. ‘The Argus’ (23rd of March) reported that Cobden had appointed former Carlton/ Footscray utility player, Tom Jones, to lead the club in the upcoming season.

Tom Jones, originally from Altona FC, played 7 games with Carlton (1951-52); and then played 13 games with Footscray in 1953 and 1954. According to Kellie Pekin, Secretary of Cobden Football & Netball Club, Tom coached for two seasons (1955-56).

BROTHER JACK

Vic’s younger brother, Jack (born: 1934), was also a footballer of some note. No doubt encouraged by Vic, Jack crossed to North Melbourne from the local club North United in 1955. Jack made his debut for North Melbourne in Round: 1 in 1955 against Carlton. Vic and Jack played together at Princes Park that day; and, the following week, Jack Lawrence kicked three goals against Collingwood at Arden Street.

Unfortunately, cruel injury struck and Jack did not play again after Round: 4 that year. Jack Lawrence appears to have been dogged with injury and his VFL career never quite ‘took off’ …

“ Then Jack Lawrence, brother of Vic …(who has gone to Stanhope as coach) - has thrown off the effects- of a cartilage operation that kept him out most of last season; and is back again full of vim and vigour.” ‘The Argus ‘ February 28th 1956.

Jack did not play one senior game in 1956 but scrapped together a further five matches in another broken season in 1957.

Jack Lawrence’s last game was against the Magpies at Victoria Park in Round: 17 (1957). In three seasons, Jack had managed 9 games and he was just 23 years of age when he retired from VFL football…

“As a football player, you just deal with injuries. It's all part of the football game…” American NFL footballer Troy Polamula of the Pittsburgh Steelers ( 2003-14).

The quote is shallow; and fails to appreciate that sometimes comebacks from injury are virtually impossible. Jack Lawrence was one of many footballers who left the game hurt and broken hearted. Note: There is no available evidence to suggest that the Lawrence brothers were related to Robert Lawrence who played with South Melbourne and Melbourne in the period 1921- 26.

Argus 4 Feb 1955 P7 Vic Lawrence At Training
Argus 4 Feb 1955 P7 Vic Lawrence At Training
Argus 11 May 1955 P7 North's Skipper Treads On Air
Argus 11 May 1955 P7 North's Skipper Treads On Air


VIC LAWRENCE’S LAST GAME OF VFL FOOTBALL

Vic was 27 years of age when he assumed the mantle of skipper; and 1955 was to prove a testing and vexing season for Vic and the Kangaroos. Although North had finished fourth in 1954 (under Jock McCorkell), the club plummeted to the depths of despair in 1955; and could only muster three victories. The club sat at eleventh rung on the table with only St Kilda, with one win, below the hapless Kangaroos.

Vic Lawrence played his last VFL game at Arden Street against Footscray on the August 20th 1955; and records show that 20, 000 fans watched on as Footscray ripped the Kangaroos to shreds. The Bulldogs finished the season on a high note and won, in a canter, by ten goals. North could only manage five goals that day; Jock Spencer kicked two goals to bring his season total to 68 goals; while Jack Collins, the Footscray’s champion spearhead, booted eight majors.

Other players listed on the NMFC team sheet in that game included: - Mick Grambeau, Jack Edwards, Albert Mantello, Bryan Martin, Allen Aylett, Len Templar Laurie Icke and, of course, Jock Spencer. Vic and Jock had been teammates since their days with NMFC Thirds; and both had experienced the ‘roller coaster ride’ of the club in that period.

The youngest players in the team that day were Gerald Eastmure (ex- North Colts) and Max Ritchie who had been recruited from Culcairn.

Bryan Martin - 1958 Atlantic Picture Pageant - Source: GoldnPawn - Reproduced with the permission of Esso Australia
Bryan Martin - 1958 Atlantic Picture Pageant - Source: GoldnPawn - Reproduced with the permission of Esso Australia

Bryan Martin
Jack Edwards - 1958 Atlantic Picture Pageant - Source: GoldnPawn - Reproduced with the permission of Esso Australia
Jack Edwards - 1958 Atlantic Picture Pageant - Source: GoldnPawn - Reproduced with the permission of Esso Australia

Jack Edwards
Allen Aylett - 1958 Atlantic Picture Pageant - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards - Reproduced with the permission of Esso Australia
Allen Aylett - 1958 Atlantic Picture Pageant - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards - Reproduced with the permission of Esso Australia

Allen Aylett
Gerald Eastmure - 1958 Atlantic Picture Pageant - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards - Reproduced with the permission of Esso Australia
Gerald Eastmure - 1958 Atlantic Picture Pageant - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards - Reproduced with the permission of Esso Australia

Gerald Eastmure
Albert Mantello - 1958 Atlantic Picture Pageant - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards - Reproduced with the permission of Esso Australia
Albert Mantello - 1958 Atlantic Picture Pageant - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards - Reproduced with the permission of Esso Australia

Albert Mantello


After 121 games, Vic’s career at VFL level came to an end; and he turned to playing and coaching in the ‘backblocks’ of country Victoria.

One statistic that conveys a great deal about Vic’s resilience and mental fortitude was that, in the period 1950-55, he played in 109 (including four VFL finals) out of a possible total of 113 VFL games. Players of such calibre are worth their ‘weight in gold’ to any football club.

It would be interesting to know what Vic felt as he packed his bag, for the last time, in the Arden Street rooms that evening in 1955. Were other players and officials aware that Vic was ‘moving on’? He was 27 years of age and was still at the ‘top’ of his game. Although Vic had played with NMFC since 1946, there is no evidence, in the history book of NMFC (‘The North Story’ by Gerard Dowling), that the club officially farewelled Vic on his departure.

As James Allen once said… “No duty is more important than that of returning thanks.”

It is hoped that someone at Arden Street wished Vic Lawrence well on his exit from Arden Street.

LIFE AFTER VFL FOOTBALL

Author’s note: Some parts of the following information, regarding Vic Lawrence’s period as playing coach of the Yallourn Football Club, were originally published on the Virtual Yallourn website; it was written by the same author ( as above) and was first posted in 2012.

The entire article and accompanying photographs of Vic and his team can be found at: Virtualyallourn.com
Following Vic Lawrence’s retirement from VFL football in 1955, there is some controversy about his move to country Victoria. According to ‘The Argus’, Vic was appointed as coach of Stanhope/Girgarre FC in February 1956…

“Lawrence will coach Stanhope… North Melbourne captain Vic Lawrence was yesterday appointed captain-coach of Stanhope Girgarre for the 1956 season. He is certain to get a clearance because he is 27 and has played 119* games with the League side.” ‘The Argus’ November 1st 1955.

  • Note: According the official VFL statistics Vic had actually played 121 VFL games.
However, things in relation to Vic’s coaching in the bush were far from settled; and, on the 7th March 1956, ‘The Age’ reported that…
“The committee (NMFC) last night confirmed the clearance of last year’s captain Vic Lawrence to * Tongala and of Ted Larsen to coach Mornington.”

  • Note: In 2012 Kellie Brennan, Secretary of Tongala Football Club, researched the above events but could shed no further light on the intriguing matter.

1958 VIC LAWRENCE IS APPOINTED AS THE COACH OF YALLOURN FC


Perhaps it was no accident that three prominent North Melbourne footballers played with Yallourn in the 1950’s. It may have been good luck; but it could have been the result of astute recruiting that ruckman Laurie Shipp (1954-56), centre man Gerald Marchesi (1955-56) and Vic Lawrence (1958-59) were lured to the club. All had been team mates and good friends at North Melbourne FC in earlier years. *(See above).

YALLOURN FOOTBALL CLUB 1958 VIC LAWRENCE
YALLOURN FOOTBALL CLUB 1958 VIC LAWRENCE


Although Laurie Shipp had been forced into early football retirement (because of the pressure of his work, in the expanding power industry in the Latrobe Valley) he remembers Vic’s arrival in Yallourn very clearly…

“…then when Vic came to coach Yallourn he worked in Yallourn Power Station while I was on the staff there. During that time, we renewed our friendship…” Laurie Shipp 2016.

THE YALLOURN FOOTBALL OVAL Rose Sterographics SLV
THE YALLOURN FOOTBALL OVAL Rose Sterographics SLV


Vic’s appointment as the coach of Yallourn FC was greeted by the town with great anticipation. The Blues had a promising mix of ‘hard’, experienced footballers and a sprinkling of talented but ‘raw’ youngsters. Yallourn’s playing list in 1958 included… Ron Lee, Ray Kitney, Merv Crane, Bruce Knight, Bill Jackson, Jock McGregor, Keith Gibson, Jack Vinall, John Henderson, Barney Sewell, Brian Bertoli, Barry Spurrier, Kevin Gould, Keith Angove and Alec Shaw. * (See photograph)

John Hutchinson, who had played with Fitzroy in 1957, returned ‘home’ to play with Yallourn; and Ricky Belford (later to win the Trood/Rodda Medallist in 1961) was recruited to Yallourn in that period. A brilliant young player from Yinnar, Ted Heesom, attracted attention from Melbourne FC with his shock of blonde hair and his courageous play in that period. Ted would later become one of the greatest defenders in the history of Sale FC.

Vic Lawrence proved to be an outstanding player for Yallourn. Few, if any, players in the LVFL could outmark Vic. His big frame, strong hands and ability to read the play gave him a great advantage in overhead marking contests. He played mainly in defence for Yallourn but was a first-class follower and sometimes, as mentioned above, went to CHF to lift the team in attack.

One of Yallourn’s memorable wins, in which Vic starred, was at Morwell in 1959. 'The Live Wire' (Yallourn’s newspaper) carried a comprehensive report of the match, including a photograph of Vic in full flight soaring for a high mark. The article refers to Vic’s strong marking as a major factor in the Blues fighting win that day.
The final scores were: Yallourn 9.15. (69) defeated Morwell 8.8. (56).

Goal kickers for Yallourn: Hutchinson 2; Belford 2; Heesom 2; Vinall, Lawrence and Edmondson
Best players for Yallourn: Belford, Lawrence, Thorpe, Gale, Crane and Bennett.


YALLOURN FOOTBALL CLUB CAR STICKER
YALLOURN FOOTBALL CLUB CAR STICKER
YALOURN FOOTBALL CLUB BLAZER POCKER EMBLEM
YALOURN FOOTBALL CLUB BLAZER POCKER EMBLEM


Yallourn Jumper
Yallourn Jumper


VIC’S LEGACY TO COUNTRY FOOTBALL

In 1959, Ricky Belford and Vic were selected in the LVFL inter-league squad.

Although the Blues failed to make the finals in 1958-59, Vic’s legacy was apparent and his influence was on-going. Several youngsters such as Kevin Gould, Brian Bertoli, Keith Angove, Alec Shaw and Barry Spurrier had taken the next step in their football development; while the progress of ruckman Steve Szabo was simply astonishing.

During Vic’s last year of coaching the Blues, *Steve Szabo, a former Yallourn Soccer Club goal keeper, swapped codes and began playing Australian rules. He took to the game like a ‘duck to water’ and quickly became a leading ruckman in the LVFL.

  • Note: Steve Szabo won the Trood/Rodda Medal in 1960 after about only 30 games of senior football. He also won the medal again in 1965 when he played with Morwell FC.
An outstanding feature of Vic’s football (with Yallourn) was the high number of marks that he took during the course of any game. The club statistician at that time (Harry O’Bern) would often record more than a dozen marks in games for Vic; and it is fair to say that Vic was probably the finest high mark in the LVFL during that era.

A TRIBUTE TO VIC LAWRENCE

Sadly, Vic Lawrence passed away on April 1st 1986 (aged 58); and not long after his death, the following tribute was published in ‘Latrobe Valley Express’ newspaper…

“…I was saddened to hear of the passing of former North Melbourne and Yallourn football player Vic Lawrence. As a keen follower of the Yallourn Football Club, I have many pleasant memories of the club….Many talented players come to mind….particularly the prowess of Vic Lawrence as a playing coach. Vic was a competent coach, forceful orator, friendly to youngsters of the town and a magnificent player. His influence on young players was considerable ….

Football never fails to produce lively debate on the merits of individual players; however I doubt whether our club had ever seen a better high mark than Vic. My most vivid memory of Vic Lawrence was on a cold and wet wintry afternoon when he took some 30 marks against the Warragul club…I shall always remember Vic Lawrence as a remarkable player, positive coach and a modest champion.”


THE END

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS AND APPRECIATION

Boyles Football Photos would like to sincerely thank the following people for their assistance with this story about Vic Lawrence:-
  • Once again, sincere thanks to Laurie Shipp, former NMFC, Yallourn and LVFL ruckman, for his enthusiastic support of this website, great love of football and his willingness to place his memories on record for others to enjoy. A comprehensive story about Laurie Shipp was posted on this website in March 2014.
  • Julie George of the ‘Virtual Yallourn’ website for her permission to use photos from the VY website. Stories and photographs regarding the Yallourn Football Club ( 1945-65) can be found on the website: www.virtualyallourn.com
  • Kellie Pekin, Secretary of Cobden FNFC.
  • Michael Farrow, Hampden FNL.
  • Kellie Brennan, Secretary Tongala Football Club.
  • Barb Cullen, VFL-AFL historian.
  • Col Hutchinson, AFL Statistics & History Consultant.
  • Rohan Bounds~ Yallourn-Yallourn North Football Club.
  • ‘Latrobe Valley Express’ 1986.




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End Notes