INTRODUCTION

One of the prime objectives of this website is to re-kindle interest in former players of Australian Rules Football. Sadly, there have been thousands of footballers whose names and achievements have been lost in the ‘mists of time’. Hawthorn’s star centre man Stan Spinks is one such player.

With the resounding recent success of Hawthorn; and the current abundance of Hawks stars, many younger fans may be unaware of the rocky road that Hawthorn travelled in the early years of the club’s history. One of the heroes of Hawthorn during its darkest years was Stan Spinks…this is his story.

Stan Spinks No:176- 1933 Wills League Footballers - Larger Size Source:Australian Rules Football Cards
Stan Spinks No:176- 1933 Wills League Footballers - Larger Size Source:Australian Rules Football Cards
Stan Spinks - 1934 MacRobertsons 1/2d Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Stan Spinks - 1934 MacRobertsons 1/2d Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Stan Spinks - 1939 Allens Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Stan Spinks - 1939 Allens Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Stan Spinks - 1932 Hoadleys Victorian League Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Stan Spinks - 1932 Hoadleys Victorian League Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Stan Spinks - 1933 Godfrey Phillips Victorian Footballers - Set of 75 - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Stan Spinks - 1933 Godfrey Phillips Victorian Footballers - Set of 75 - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards


EARLY DAYS

An interesting aspect of the research into Stan Spinks’ early years was that, according to a snippet in the ‘Sporting Globe’, his father (Charles) was a founder of the Hawthorn Football Club…

”STAN SPINKS.—With Hawthorn since 1931; from Auburn, where born. At Camberwell S.S. Father (Charles) was one of Hawthorn F.C. founders…” ´Sporting Globe’ 29th June 1940.

The Hawthorn Football Club’s entry into the VFL in 1925 could be described as a ‘long and difficult birth’ as the origins of the club can be traced back to 1874 when the amalgamation of smaller local clubs transpired. The club moved to the site of the Glenferrie Oval in 1903 when it affiliated with the VFA. Further evidence of Charles Spinks’ involvement in the club in those formative years was difficult to unearth.

It seems that Stan was born (1912) and bred in Auburn and attended the Camberwell State School. As a youngster, he garnered a keen interest in playing the trumpet, gardening, football and cricket; and little did Charles know, in those early years, that his son would become one of the best football players in Australia.

State School Camberwell SLV H32492 4927
State School Camberwell SLV H32492 4927

Note: There is a passing suggestion that Stan may have represented Victoria in an Interstate Schools Carnival but details of when and where are extremely vague.

STAN LEAVES AUBURN FC

Stan James Spinks arrived at Hawthorn from neighbouring club Auburn FC at the end of the 1931 season.

Note: Other players who graduated from Auburn FC to VFL ranks include: Jack Bennett (Melbourne 1933-36), Bert Amey (Hawthorn 1944) and Robert Milgate ( Hawthorn 1948). It is hard to verify, but James Lawn, who played 35 games with Collingwood, may also have some link with the Auburn FC.

At that time, Hawthorn FC (aka the Mayblooms) was a problematic club in the VFL and struggled, for a variety of reasons, to be competitive. Having entered the VFL in 1925, Hawthorn had never risen above 10th position on the VFL ladder.

One explanation offered for the club’s lack of success can be traced back to earlier days when it was an affiliate of the VFA…

“Hawthorn was sometimes shocked by the undue roughness displayed by certain VFA teams…” ‘The Clubs’ Page: 208.

It was said by some that the players at Hawthorn were ‘nice guys’ and ‘thorough gentlemen’ who failed to ‘come to grips’ with the physical nature of football. Such a reason for Hawthorn’s plight may be little more than a snide comment. However, the legendary American football coach, Vince Lombardi, could be nearer to the truth in explaining Hawthorn’s poor win-loss ratio in those early years of VFL football. Vince once wrote…

“Winning is not a sometime thing; it’s an all-time thing. You don’t win once in a while, you don’t do things right once in a while, you do them right all the time. Winning is a habit. Unfortunately so is losing.”


STAN IS INTRODUCED TO JOHN HARRIS


In 1931 Hawthorn was coached by John Harris. John was a most interesting character in VFL football. Originally, a winger, from Brighton, he had played in Collingwood’s premiership teams in 1927 and 1928. He was shock omission from the 1929 Magpie team for Grand Final and, as a consequence, after 88 games for the Magpies he packed his bags and ‘crossed town’ to coach the Mayblooms.

Football Record 1928 Round 06 p21 J Harris Collingwood - Source State Library of Victoria
Football Record 1928 Round 06 p21 J Harris Collingwood - Source State Library of Victoria


Note: John had gained the nickname ‘Jiggy’ for the cruelest of reasons when he was small boy.

Despite struggling to win games, Hawthorn was not without some fine footballers in that era: e.g. Ted Poole, Bert Hyde, Jim Francis, Ernest Utting ( Ernest, ex-Collingwood, was the uncle of the Collingwood star Charlie Utting 1943-50) and Bert Mills.

Stan Spink’s arrival at Glenferrie Oval was greeted with ‘virtual silence’ by the press; and it was hard to uncover any evidence or comment regarding Stan’s signing with HFC. It is known, that the name ‘S. Spinks’ name appeared for Auburn FC in the published results of the local suburban league in 1931; so perhaps Stan had been ‘earmarked‘ as a possible recruit by Hawthorn officials during that season.

Note: It is recorded, in one source, that A. ‘Stan’ D. McKenzie*who had played VFL football with Collingwood and Hawthorn (1925) coached Auburn FC in that era. Stan McKenzie is said to have been the first-ever Hawthorn player to be chosen to represent Victoria. A.S.D. McKenzie is not to be confused with Stan McKenzie (ex-Launceston) who played with Carlton in 1914 and died at Gallipoli in 1915.

AN INAUSPICIOUS DEBUT AT GLENFERRIE OVAL


Stan’s debut in VFL football was in the last round of the 1931 against Essendon. He was named 19th man that day. It appears that Stan (18 years of age ) ‘sat out’ the entire game out on the bench as there is no existing record that he actually took to the field that day in September .

At three quarter time, the game appeared to be well within in Essendon’s ‘keeping’ but a late rally by Hawthorn nearly stole the match. Essendon hung on to win by three points.

Essendon: 9.12. (66) defeated Hawthorn: 8.15.(63) . According to the ‘Sporting Globe’, Hawthorn’s best players in the narrow loss were: Herb Carey, *Cliff Colling (see below) Ernest Utting, Albert Mills, Albert Chandler, George Bennett and Bert Hyde .

  • Note: That was the only game that Cliff Colling (formerly of Kew FC) ever played in VFL football. In April 1931 a certain ‘C.N. Collings’ (sic) was granted a permit from Kew to Hawthorn but little else is known about Cliff’s football career.


AFL record 1929 Round 12 p13 A Chandler
AFL record 1929 Round 12 p13 A Chandler
1926-28 VFL Suburban Premium - Ern Utting 1926-28 VFL Suburban Premium Issues - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
1926-28 VFL Suburban Premium - Ern Utting 1926-28 VFL Suburban Premium Issues - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Hawthorn finished 11th that season (three wins) and North Melbourne lost every game in 1931 to take the ‘wooden spoon.’

Jack Ryan b1907 (ex-Carnegie FC) booted 39 goals to win the goal kicking for HFC. One of the stars of VFL in that era, Bert Hyde, who had won the Hawthorn’s goal kicking award from 1926 until 1930, kicked 26 goals that year.

Jack Ryan No:185- 1933 Wills League Footballers - Larger Size Source:Australian Rules Football Cards
Jack Ryan No:185- 1933 Wills League Footballers - Larger Size Source:Australian Rules Football Cards
Bert Hyde No:26- 1933 Wills League Footballers - Larger Size Source:Australian Football Cards
Bert Hyde No:26- 1933 Wills League Footballers - Larger Size Source:Australian Football Cards


STAN WINS THE CLUB BEST AND FAIREST IN 1932


In 1932 the club appointed Jim Jackson (ex- St Kilda/Collingwood/ Hawthorn) as the non-playing coach; and Bert Mills was named captain in an attempt to lift the club’s performances. Try as Jim and Bert may, nothing seemed to work; and the club languished at the bottom of the table once again.

The Sun 22-May-25 p15 Jackson Hawthorn-- Source: Trove
The Sun 22-May-25 p15 Jackson Hawthorn-- Source: Trove


However, in a season that delivered little reward for Hawthorn’s small supporter base, Stan Spinks emerged as one bright spot in the ‘darkness of dismal defeats’. He was described by ‘Holmesby and Main’ as ….

“…Sturdy, with great dash, determination and ability in the air, he was a wizard in the air…” Page: 809.

Stan’s impact in his first season of football was dramatic. He was not selected for senior football until Round: 5 (v Richmond at Punt Road) and played only 14 games that season. However, he had pricked the interest of the scribes with some superlative performances on the wing….
“Young Stan Spinks, Hawthorn's brilliant winger, who is the find of the season in League circles, will keep our chaps moving to-day. He has not been beaten this season, while his victims, include Joe Kelly, who until he met Spinks, was outclassing everybody along the line.” ‘Record’ (Emerald Hill) 27th August 1932.

The display of HFC in last game of the season against Essendon was described as ‘tame’ and Essendon: 11.15. (81) defeated Hawthorn: 4.10.(34) in a canter…
“Hawthorn’s outstanding man was Cameron, whose high marking and dashing play were in striking contrast to the general latitude shown by his colleagues. Carey and Murphy were fine in defence and Spinks as usual, gave an excellent account of himself.” ‘The Age’ September 5th 1932.

Stan won the club’s Best and Fairest award that season; and it underlined the manner in which he had ‘found his feet’ in VFL football. Winning the trophy also gave an indication of Stan’s competitive spirit against tough odds. It was the first year the committee rather than players decided the award and, consequently, Stan had written himself into Hawthorn’s history books for evermore.

It was a barren season for HFC as the club won only three games. At the end of the season, Hawthorn’s percentage was 64.2% which underlines the fact that that team had been on the receiving end of some heavy defeats that year.

Bill Carey - 1932 Hoadleys Victorian League Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Bill Carey - 1932 Hoadleys Victorian League Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Bill Carey
Allan Chandler - 1932 Hoadleys Victorian League Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Allan Chandler - 1932 Hoadleys Victorian League Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Allan Chandler
Bert Hyde - 1932 Hoadleys Victorian League Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Bert Hyde - 1932 Hoadleys Victorian League Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Bert Hyde
Clarrie Lonsdale - 1932 Hoadleys Victorian League Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Clarrie Lonsdale - 1932 Hoadleys Victorian League Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Clarrie Lonsdale
Bert Mills - 1932 Hoadleys Victorian League Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Bert Mills - 1932 Hoadleys Victorian League Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Bert Mills
Ted Poole - 1932 Hoadleys Victorian League Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Ted Poole - 1932 Hoadleys Victorian League Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Ted Poole
Jack Ryan b1907 - 1932 Hoadleys Victorian League Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Jack Ryan b1907 - 1932 Hoadleys Victorian League Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Jack Ryan b1907
Stan Spinks - 1932 Hoadleys Victorian League Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Stan Spinks - 1932 Hoadleys Victorian League Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Stan Spinks
Ern Utting - 1932 Hoadleys Victorian League Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Ern Utting - 1932 Hoadleys Victorian League Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Ern Utting


A TRAGIC TURN OF EVENTS AT HAWTHORN


As if things weren’t bad enough, Hawthorn again faced an enormous challenge with tragic loss of Fred Phillips in April 1933. Hawthorn had taken a bold step of appointing St Kida’s champion big man Fred Phillips (born: 1905) to replace Jim Jackson as club’s senior coach for that season. Fred had played 134 games with St Kilda , won the club’s Best and Fairest award in 1930 and had represented the VFL on five occasions .

Fred’s tragic death, brought about by blood poisoning, is recounted by Ken Piesse in his book ‘Guide to Australian Football’…..

“ St Kilda star Fred Phillips….was appointed Hawthorn’s coach at the end of the 1932 season . He died one week before the opening round of the opening round of the new season due to an infection believed to be caused by dye from a guernsey entering a boil on his arm.” Page: 269.

‘The Referee’ a well-known Sydney publication of that period carried a lengthy article about Fred’s sudden death; and also paid tribute to his wonderful football skills and fine character. The following is an extract from that news item…

“…Phillips was not well ….he did not train on the Tuesday evening because he was feeling the effects of an injury to a foot sustained in a practice match the previous day. This injury, and a slight chill, kept Phillips to his bed on Wednesday. On the following day, serious symptoms appeared and made alarming progress. Despite all that the best medical attention could do, Phillips failed to rally. The cause of death was pneumonia, on which septicaemia supervened.” April 26th 1933 Page: 13.


Fred Phillips - 1932 Godfrey Phillips Card - Source: Australian Football Cards
Fred Phillips - 1932 Godfrey Phillips Card - Source: Australian Football Cards


1933 THE CHANGING OF THE GUARD…AGAIN


Hawthorn was forced to act without delay following Fred Phillips’ sad death and appointed Bill Twomey (Snr) as the club’s coach for 1933. Bill, a former star for Collingwood, had also made a name for himself as a professional sprinter having won the Stawell Gift in 1924.

Table Talk 1 Jun 1933 P13 Bill Twomey
Table Talk 1 Jun 1933 P13 Bill Twomey

Bill had long departed company with the Magpies and had taken up coaching appointments at various country clubs including Ararat FC.

Bill played 10 games with Hawthorn but was unable to lift the club out of the doldrums. In 1933, Hawthorn won three games and was again in the bottom bracket on the league ladder.

Stan Spinks consolidated his place in the senior line -up and played 15 games that season and kicked his first VFL goal in an exciting nine point win at Windy Hill in Round: 8. It was an historic day as it was the club’s highest score since entering the VFL.

As a measure of Stan’s consistency he polled seven votes in the Brownlow Medal that season. Wilfred ‘Chicken’ Smallhorn won the medal that year with 18 votes and Essendon’s dashing half back flanker, Bill Lowenthal (17 votes) was runner-up.

Goals were hard to come by for Hawthorn and Ted Poole, a big hearted rover, won the club goal kicking award with just 27 goals. Stan was runner-up in the club’s Best & Fairest award in 1933.

Jim Francis No:56- 1933 Wills League Footballers - Larger Size Source:Australian Rules Football Cards
Jim Francis No:56- 1933 Wills League Footballers - Larger Size Source:Australian Rules Football Cards

Jim Francis
Bert Hyde No:26- 1933 Wills League Footballers - Larger Size Source:Australian Rules Football Cards
Bert Hyde No:26- 1933 Wills League Footballers - Larger Size Source:Australian Rules Football Cards

Bert Hyde
Bert Mills No:44- 1933 Wills League Footballers - Larger Size Source:Australian Rules Football Cards
Bert Mills No:44- 1933 Wills League Footballers - Larger Size Source:Australian Rules Football Cards

Bert Mills
Ted Poole No:46- 1933 Wills League Footballers - Larger Size Source:Australian Rules Football Cards
Ted Poole No:46- 1933 Wills League Footballers - Larger Size Source:Australian Rules Football Cards

Ted Poole
Jack Ryan No:185- 1933 Wills League Footballers - Larger Size Source:Australian Rules Football Cards
Jack Ryan No:185- 1933 Wills League Footballers - Larger Size Source:Australian Rules Football Cards

Jack Ryan
Stan Spinks No:176- 1933 Wills League Footballers - Larger Size Source:Australian Rules Football Cards
Stan Spinks No:176- 1933 Wills League Footballers - Larger Size Source:Australian Rules Football Cards

Stan Spinks
Stuart Stewart No:31- 1933 Wills League Footballers - Larger Size Source:Australian Rules Football Cards
Stuart Stewart No:31- 1933 Wills League Footballers - Larger Size Source:Australian Rules Football Cards

Stuart Stewart
Walter Ware No:163- 1933 Wills League Footballers - Larger Size Source:Australian Rules Football Cards
Walter Ware No:163- 1933 Wills League Footballers - Larger Size Source:Australian Rules Football Cards

Walter Ware


THE DEATH OF NORM COLLINS

The 1933 season finished on dreadful note at Glenferrie as *Norm Collins (see above) , who had played with Fitzroy and Carlton, before crossing to Hawthorn in 1931, died in the worst of circumstances. Norm (born: 1904, brother of Fitzroy’s illustrious follower Goldsmith ‘Goldie’ Collins) is said to have led a troubled life and his problems were exacerbated by severe injury in 1933.
Norm Collins captained Hawthorn in several matches match during his short stay at Glenferrie but he must have been a man at the lowest ebb in life. According to AFL records, Norm played 92 games and would best be described as utility player…
“…his short life was plagued by psychological problems…However, injury ended his career prematurely after Round: 10, 1933, and he had only recently taken up a position as assistant secretary at Glenferrie Oval when sadly, he took his own life on August 28 of that year.” ‘Blueseum.’ Website

The circumstances of Norm’s death are/were disturbing; ‘The Argus’ (August 30th 1933) carried a comprehensive report regarding the details of Norm’s passing. Norm Collins was the second team mate of Stan Spinks’ to die in that year; Norm had played just 31 games with the Mayblooms.

Note: It is often overlooked that Norm had another brother, named Harold, who played six games with Fitzroy in the period 1912-1915. Harold, who had risen to the rank of Lieutenant, was killed in action at Villers- Bretonneux , France during the war in 1918. (Harold was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for Bravery in September 1917). Perhaps, Harold’s death was a problem that ‘ate away’ at Norm throughout his life; it is known that sibling death(s)…

“…can be a devastating experience, especially for children. It is normal for a sibling's death to effect children psychologically.” Sierra Koester.


 Norm Collins- 1929 Griffiths Black Crow Footballers- Source:Australian Rules Football Cards
Norm Collins- 1929 Griffiths Black Crow Footballers- Source:Australian Rules Football Cards


Note: In 1933, the HFC committee decided upon a change to the club guernseys and reversed the colour design. The ‘brown vee on a yellow field’ led to the club becoming often referred to as the ‘Mustard Pots’

Bert Hyde - 1933 Godfrey Phillips Victorian Footballers - Set of 75 - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Bert Hyde - 1933 Godfrey Phillips Victorian Footballers - Set of 75 - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Bert Hyde
Bert Mills - 1933 Godfrey Phillips Victorian Footballers - Set of 75 - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Bert Mills - 1933 Godfrey Phillips Victorian Footballers - Set of 75 - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Bert Mills
Fred Phillips - 1933 Godfrey Phillips Victorian Footballers - Set of 75 - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Fred Phillips - 1933 Godfrey Phillips Victorian Footballers - Set of 75 - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Fred Phillips
Ted Poole - 1933 Godfrey Phillips Victorian Footballers - Set of 75 - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Ted Poole - 1933 Godfrey Phillips Victorian Footballers - Set of 75 - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Ted Poole
Stan Spinks - 1933 Godfrey Phillips Victorian Footballers - Set of 75 - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Stan Spinks - 1933 Godfrey Phillips Victorian Footballers - Set of 75 - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Stan Spinks
Stuart Stewart - 1933 Godfrey Phillips Victorian Footballers - Set of 75 - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Stuart Stewart - 1933 Godfrey Phillips Victorian Footballers - Set of 75 - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Stuart Stewart


George Bennett - 1933 Hoadleys Victorian Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
George Bennett - 1933 Hoadleys Victorian Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

George Bennett
Jim Francis - 1933 Hoadleys Victorian Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Jim Francis - 1933 Hoadleys Victorian Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Jim Francis
Bert Hyde - 1933 Hoadleys Victorian Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Bert Hyde - 1933 Hoadleys Victorian Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Bert Hyde
Bert Mills - 1933 Hoadleys Victorian Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Bert Mills - 1933 Hoadleys Victorian Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Bert Mills
Fred Phillips - 1933 Hoadleys Victorian Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Fred Phillips - 1933 Hoadleys Victorian Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Fred Phillips
Ted Poole - 1933 Hoadleys Victorian Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Ted Poole - 1933 Hoadleys Victorian Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Ted Poole
Jack Ryan b1907 - 1933 Hoadleys Victorian Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Jack Ryan b1907 - 1933 Hoadleys Victorian Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Jack Ryan b1907
Stuart Stewart - 1933 Hoadleys Victorian Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Stuart Stewart - 1933 Hoadleys Victorian Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Stuart Stewart


1934 SELECTION FOR VICTORIA


Stan Spinks quickly gained a reputation as a classy midfielder and, in June 1934, he was selected on the wing to play against South Australia in Adelaide. At that stage of his VFL career, Stan had played 35 senior games with Hawthorn; and it was an indication of the high regard in which Stan was held in football circles.

The Victorian team was loaded with some of the game’s most famous luminaries such Haydn Bunton, Jack Regan, Bob Pratt, Albert Collier, Jack Wrout, Eric Zschech and Wilfred Smallhorn. A crowd of 26, 000 attended the match and witnessed a wonderful exhibition of football which South Australia won in a free-flowing and high scoring contest…

“ For once in a long while South Australia joined issue wholeheartedly, and the result was one of the most brilliant football spectacles seen in Adelaide for years. Rarely have Adelaide football followers seen such prolonged bursts of non-stop action; such brilliant thrust and counter thrust. It was a striking example of the efficacy of what by common usage is termed the "go through" style…” ‘News’ ( Adelaide) June 18th 1934 .


Ken Farmer led the way for South Australia with seven goals while Victoria’s rovers Keith Forbes (Essendon) and Haydn Bunton booted nine goals between them.

The newspaper report said that the high standard of football played that day would be a fillip for the national game. As for Stan Spinks…In that particular game he was opposed to Jack Dermody; and, in one part of the match review, it was said that he had ‘shaded Dermody.’ Unfortunately, it is hard to a gauge Stan’s performance at the Adelaide Oval that day. The details were:-

South Australia 21.15. (141) defeated Victoria 18.22. (130)

Goals for SA: Farmer 7, Pontifex 5, Parry 3, Hender 2, Murdy 2, Hooper, Johnston.
Goals for Victoria: Forbes 5, Bunton 4, Pratt 4, Shea 3, Evans, Wrout
Best Players for South Australia: Mackay, Burton, Johnston, Hender, Fisher, Pontifex, Sallis.
Best players for Victoria: Forbes, Collier, Bunton, Huxtable, Davis, McKay, Shea

There were few highlights for Hawthorn during that season and only 4000 fans turned out to see the last match between Hawthorn and Richmond at Glenferrie Oval. The turnstiles weren’t clicking at Glenferrie and neither were the Mayblooms as they struggled to find a way forward in that desolate winter of 1934.

Chronicle Adelaide 21 Jun 1934 P31 Victorian Team
Chronicle Adelaide 21 Jun 1934 P31 Victorian Team


Hawthorn Senior Team 1934 (Stan Spinks (third from left in middle row) - Source: Hawks Museum Collection - Photographer Charles Boyles
Hawthorn Senior Team 1934 (Stan Spinks (third from left in middle row) - Source: Hawks Museum Collection - Photographer Charles Boyles


1934 Allen's Flags - Stuart Stewart - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
1934 Allen's Flags - Stuart Stewart - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Stuart Stewart
1934 Allen's Flags - Ted Poole - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
1934 Allen's Flags - Ted Poole - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Ted Poole
1934 Allen's Flags - Bert Mills - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
1934 Allen's Flags - Bert Mills - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Bert Mills
1934 Allen's Flags - Jim Francis - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
1934 Allen's Flags - Jim Francis - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Jim Francis
1934 Allen's Flags - Bert Hyde - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
1934 Allen's Flags - Bert Hyde - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Bert Hyde
Bert Hyde - 1934 Hoadleys Victorian Footballers - Source: GoldnPawn Pty
Bert Hyde - 1934 Hoadleys Victorian Footballers - Source: GoldnPawn Pty

Bert Hyde
Stuart Stewart - 1934 Hoadleys Victorian Footballers - Source: GoldnPawn Pty
Stuart Stewart - 1934 Hoadleys Victorian Footballers - Source: GoldnPawn Pty

Stuart Stewart
|

Steve Bravo - 1934 MacRobertsons 1/2d Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Steve Bravo - 1934 MacRobertsons 1/2d Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Steve Bravo
Lachlan Cameron - 1934 MacRobertsons 1/2d Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Lachlan Cameron - 1934 MacRobertsons 1/2d Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Lachlan Cameron
Bert Chandler - 1934 MacRobertsons 1/2d Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Bert Chandler - 1934 MacRobertsons 1/2d Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Bert Chandler
George Dower - 1934 MacRobertsons 1/2d Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
George Dower - 1934 MacRobertsons 1/2d Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

George Dower
Jim Francis - 1934 MacRobertsons 1/2d Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Jim Francis - 1934 MacRobertsons 1/2d Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Jim Francis
Norm Hillard - 1934 MacRobertsons 1/2d Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Norm Hillard - 1934 MacRobertsons 1/2d Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Norm Hillard
Bert Hyde - 1934 MacRobertsons 1/2d Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Bert Hyde - 1934 MacRobertsons 1/2d Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Bert Hyde
Alex Lee - 1934 MacRobertsons 1/2d Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Alex Lee - 1934 MacRobertsons 1/2d Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Alex Lee
Clarrie Lonsdale - 1934 MacRobertsons 1/2d Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Clarrie Lonsdale - 1934 MacRobertsons 1/2d Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Clarrie Lonsdale
Ernie Loveless - 1934 MacRobertsons 1/2d Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Ernie Loveless - 1934 MacRobertsons 1/2d Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Ernie Loveless
Bert Mills - 1934 MacRobertsons 1/2d Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Bert Mills - 1934 MacRobertsons 1/2d Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Bert Mills
Leo Murphy - 1934 MacRobertsons 1/2d Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Leo Murphy - 1934 MacRobertsons 1/2d Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Leo Murphy
Ted Poole - 1934 MacRobertsons 1/2d Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Ted Poole - 1934 MacRobertsons 1/2d Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Ted Poole
Roy Rodda - 1934 MacRobertsons 1/2d Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Roy Rodda - 1934 MacRobertsons 1/2d Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Roy Rodda
Jack Ryan b1907 - 1934 MacRobertsons 1/2d Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Jack Ryan b1907 - 1934 MacRobertsons 1/2d Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Jack Ryan b1907
Fred Sayer - 1934 MacRobertsons 1/2d Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Fred Sayer - 1934 MacRobertsons 1/2d Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Fred Sayer
Stan Spinks - 1934 MacRobertsons 1/2d Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Stan Spinks - 1934 MacRobertsons 1/2d Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Stan Spinks
Stuart Stewart - 1934 MacRobertsons 1/2d Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Stuart Stewart - 1934 MacRobertsons 1/2d Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Stuart Stewart
Bill Twomey b1899 - 1934 MacRobertsons 1/2d Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Bill Twomey b1899 - 1934 MacRobertsons 1/2d Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Bill Twomey b1899
Jack White b1900 - 1934 MacRobertsons 1/2d Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Jack White b1900 - 1934 MacRobertsons 1/2d Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Jack White b1900
Jack Zander - 1934 MacRobertsons 1/2d Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Jack Zander - 1934 MacRobertsons 1/2d Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Jack Zander



1935 STAN SPINKS TRAINS AT CAMBERWELL IN PRE-SEASON


After just two frustrating seasons at Glenferrie, Bill Twomey moved on and Hawthorn turned to Ivan McAlpine as the senior coach. Ivan was a highly experienced and skilled midfielder who had played 112 games for Footscray between 1927 and 1933. His list of honours included being captain of Footscray in 1933 and he had won the club’s best player award in 1927. Ivan had also represented Victoria; and his appointment to the coaching job at Hawthorn was greeted with some hope and expectation.

One of the biggest news scoops at the beginning of the 1935 VFL Season was that Stan Spinks had trained with Camberwell (VFA)…

“…Surprise was expressed at Hawthorn last night when officials of the football club learned that two of its leading players, Stan Spinks and Bert Chandler, had rained with Camberwell during the afternoon. Spectators at Camberwell commented upon the presence of the League men, but when the secretary of the Hawthorn club (Mr. A.William) was questioned he said, "That’s the first I have heard. Apparently, Spinks and Chandler have said little of their intentions. Spinks was a dashing centre wing player and Chandler was generally on the half-back line last season…” ‘The Argus’ March 20th 1935.


Note: The Great Depression had made life extremely difficult for most Australian families; and those young men, blessed with football skills, had a chance to earn some extra money and perhaps break the ‘poverty cycle.’ This factor should always be remembered in reading about money matters, clearance wrangles and transfers in that period of VFL football.

Both Stan Spinks and Bert Chandler took their places in the line for Hawthorn’s first game of the 1935 season against North Melbourne but the above story was a portent to the future and would prove indeed prophetic.

Stan Spinks brought up his 50th game against Essendon in Round: 5 that season and, although 1935 was another year of disappointment, there was a ‘dim light flickering’ at the end of a long dark tunnel for the Mayblooms. Hawthorn won the last three games of the season and finished the year on a high note.

Hawthorn Senior Team 1935 (Original Frame) - Stan Spinks (Front Row far left)- Source:Hawks Museum
Hawthorn Senior Team 1935 (Original Frame) - Stan Spinks (Front Row far left)- Source:Hawks Museum


HAYDN BUNTON LAUDS STAN SPINKS


In 1935 Haydn Bunton Snr (Fitzroy) won his third Brownlow Medal (the others were in 1931 and 1932). As midfielders and on-ballers the paths of Hayden and Stan Spinks would have crossed on numerous occasions in matches; and according to ‘Holmesby and Main’ Haydn had once stated …

“ …that Spinks handed out one of only two thrashings (he) Bunton received. ” P: 809.


It was extremely difficult to locate the original source of Haydn’s statement but in the match against Fitzroy in September 1935, Stan Spinks gave a superlative exhibition in the midfield and was a driving force in Hawthorn overcoming Fitzroy and completing a hat trick of victories ( see above)…

“ Spinks, the Hawthorn centreman, was very active, and kept his side constantly on the offensive, being ably supported on a wing by Randall…For purposeful play Spinks in the centre, where he gave a clean and polished exhibition, was Hawthorn's most consistent and effective player.” ‘The Age’ September 9th 1935.


On that day, Hawthorn 14.26. (110) defeated Fitzroy 15.6 (96); Haydn Bunton kicked two goals for Fitzroy but was… “… not as sharp or as dangerous as usual..” It is stated on the HFC website that…
“After playing a magnificent game against Bunton at Fitzroy, the HFC supporters took up a collection and presented Spinks with 11 pounds, a rare acknowledgement.”


Note: £11.0.0 (eleven pounds) would be equivalent to $1018 (dollars) today…so it was a considerable sum of money during those grim days of economic downturn.

There was no argument that Stan was in rare form during that season and was runner- up in HFC’s Best and Fairest award


1935 STAN SPINKS REPRESENTS VICTORIA IN BENDIGO


Stan Spinks was selected as the 19th man for the clash between the VFL and a Combined Bendigo XVIII; the match was played at the Upper Reserve, Bendigo in August 1935…

“Bendigo Saturday…The Victorian League team registered its ninth victory against a Bendigo League combination…today when the Interleague Matches were resumed after a lapse of five years.” ‘The Age’ August 5th 1935.


Note: The Upper Reserve is now known at the Queen Elizabeth Oval

The team was captained by Cresswell 'aka Mickey' Crisp of Carlton. Stan’s team mates from Hawthorn, Clarrie Lonsdale, Ted Poole and Tom Byrne also made the ‘northern sojourn.’

Other well-known VFL players named in the team were: Gordon Coventry, Len Metherell (Geelong), Wally Carter (North Melbourne), Jack Perkins (St Kilda), Horrie Dawson (Fitzroy), Harold Comte (St Kilda), and Maurie Johnson (Carlton).

Clarrie Lonsdale was the best player on the ground that day in Bendigo; and with Gordon Coventry (7 goals), Harold Comte (3 goals), Wally Carter and Jim Francis dominating the proceedings, the VFL team ran out comfortable winners by 33 points. It is recorded that Stan Spinks took the field as a replacement for Ted Pool in the last quarter of the game.

Note: Harold (aka Henry) Comte is another forgotten star of VFL football. Harry was recruited to St Kilda FC from Echuca; and he played 104 games and won St Kilda’s Best and Fairest award in 1933. Sadly, Harry died as a result of being wounded in the Battle of Tarakan (Borneo) in May 1945. Harold is buried at a cemetery on the island of Labuan in Brunei Bay.

A SPARK OF HOPE IN 1936



In 1936 Hawthorn defeated Footscray (twice) Geelong, Fitzroy, Richmond and North Melbourne. Geelong and Richmond were prized scalps. The two point victory over Richmond in Round: 16 at the Glenferrie Oval, in front of 9000 fans, was a thriller; and the Hawthorn supporters were described as ‘delirious with enthusiasm’ in ‘The Argus’ review…

“ Every man in the Hawthorn team did his share magnificently. The clever and elusive play, neat passing and effective cooperation between Spinks and Randall across the centre and the leading out and accurate position play of Pool rover) were important factors in the win. ‘The Argus’ August 24th 1936.

HAWTHORN FC TRAVEL TO LEETON


During that season (1936) Hawthorn participated in the Australian Rules Carnival in New South Wales in September. On that occasion, Hawthorn and Footscray agreed to stage an exhibition match at the Leeton Cricket Ground as part of a festival of football.

It is documented that a massive crowd attended the match (gate receipts were in excess of £211 i.e. pounds); and the spectators were enthralled with the speed of the game and the skills of the visitors. The details of the game, as published in ‘The Murrumbidgee Irrigator’, were:-

Footscray: 13.18. (96) defeated Hawthorn: 11.20. (86)
Goal kickers for Footscray: Eason 4, Morrison 3, MacCrae 2, Lamprell, McMillan, O'Brien, Zimmermann.
Goalkickers for Hawthorn: Byrne 2, Oakes 2, Poole, McAlpine 2, Elliott, Green, Mitchell.
Best players for Footscray: Eason, MacCrae, Hallahan, Bennett, McDonagh, Morrison,
Best players for Hawthorn: Pool, Abikhair, McAlpine, Neeson, Mitchell, *Akers

  • Note: Perhaps Akers mentioned in the best players for Hawthorn that day may have been intended to read ‘Ayers’…Fred Ayers played 8 games with Carlton in 1937.

Note: It is hard to find evidence that Stan Spinks actually took the field in this match at Leeton.

The game was not played for ‘VFL match points’ as Hawthorn’s season had come to an end the previous weekend. Note: In the last round of the season (5th September), Geelong thrashed Hawthorn by 79 points at the Corio Oval.

NSW Railways Map 1933
NSW Railways Map 1933

Daily Advertiser Wagga Wagga 9 Sep 1936 P8 Leeton
Daily Advertiser Wagga Wagga 9 Sep 1936 P8 Leeton



In summary, 1936 had seen some improvement in the fortunes of Hawthorn. The club won six games and finished in ninth position on the VFL Ladder. Ivan McAlpine had elevated the club to its highest position on the ladder since the club’s entry into the VFL in 1925. It may not have seemed much of a lift but Atlas (the legendary Titan) would have complimented Ivan on his effort.


1938- SPINKS PLAYS SECOND FIDDLE TO THE MAESTRO


‘Hope springs eternal’ and in 1937 Ivan McAlpine seemed to have the formula to take the Mayblooms further than ever before in the club’s history.

When the Mayblooms defeated North Melbourne in the opening round of the season by two points at Arden Street the club appeared to have ‘fired on all cylinders.’ Unfortunately, the early promise dissipated; and Hawthorn won only seven games and finished in eighth rung on the ladder. For Stan Spinks it was a difficult season and he only played 12 senior games.

Hawthorn Senior Team 1938 (Wall version with names) - Stan Spinks (Middle Row far left) - Source:Hawks Museum
Hawthorn Senior Team 1938 (Wall version with names) - Stan Spinks (Middle Row far left) - Source:Hawks Museum


However, in 1938 despite the club hitting the proverbial ‘brick wall’ and finishing eleventh; Stan Spinks wrote his name into the history books when her finished one vote behind the legendary Dick Reynolds in the coveted Brownlow medal.

Stan stood ‘head and shoulders’ above the pack that season; and to have finished so close in the medal count to ‘King Richard’ is probably the best yardstick to measure Stan’s brilliance as a midfielder in that era of VFL football.

Card 003 - Dick Reynolds - 1948 Kornies Card Source:Australian Rules Football Cards
Card 003 - Dick Reynolds - 1948 Kornies Card Source:Australian Rules Football Cards
Dick Reynolds - 1939 Allens Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Dick Reynolds - 1939 Allens Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards


The Brownlow Medal voting that season was as follows:-
• 18 Votes: Dick Reynolds
• 17 votes: Stan Spinks
• 15 Votes: Marcus Boyall (Collingwood) Wilfred Smallhorn (Fitzroy) Alby Morrison (Footscray)
• 14 votes: Jock Cordner (North Melbourne)
• 13 Votes: Norm Ware (Footscray) Jack Collins (Geelong).
Stan won the club’s Best and Fairest award for the second time; and in a memorable season he brought up his 100th VFL game that season…
“ Ted Pool and Stan Spinks, playing their 200th and 100th games respectively were congratulated by officials and players before going out to play well for Hawthorn at Geelong on Saturday. Each received several telegrams. With Murphy and Mills, who also have long service with the club, they will receive club presentations.” ‘The Argus’ June 20th 1938.

Note: Col Austen was the first Hawthorn player to win the Brownlow Medal. Although he tied for the medal in 1949 (with Ron Clegg of South Melbourne) he was not presented with the actual medallion until 8th August 1989 at the Southern Cross Hotel. (See this website regarding the change of rules in relation to the Brownlow Medal).

A WEDDING GIFT

1938 was a memorable year for Stan in several ways. In November 1938, Stan married Bonnie Carroll. ‘The Argus’ mentioned Stan’s wedding and acknowledged his service to the Mayblooms…
“ A presentation of a silver tea and coffee set will be made by members of the Hawthorn club to-night to Stan Spinks, vice-captain of the Hawthorn Football team and interstate centre man. Spinks, who was married last Saturday to Miss Bonnie Carroll, of Moreland…” November 26th 1938.

Age 24 May 1938 P20 Hawthorn Team
Age 24 May 1938 P20 Hawthorn Team


TALK OF NORTHCOTE AND SANDRINGHAM

There was considerable talk of Stan crossing to Northcote in February 1939. Pre-season gossip is nothing new in football… but there was ‘something going on’ according to Jim Blake of ‘The Sporting Globe.’ Stan was one of numerous VFL footballers mentioned as possible recruits to the VFA.

It was always in the interest of the VFA to talk up the possibility of VFL stars making ‘the move’ because it assisted marketing, increased membership sales and, most of all, promoted supporters’ interest in the Association. Sometimes such babble was simply fanciful and nothing more than wishful thinking…
Jim Blake’s pre-season whispers in 1938 included:-
“STAN SPINKS, Hawthorns crack centre man… in negotiation with Northcote. BILLY FAUL, who gave South a brilliant season at the pivot, coach at Prahran…HERBIE MATTHEWS, Victoria's best wing man, in negotiation with Brighton and Coburg. JACK DAVIS…BILLY MOHR, St. Kilda, one of the best forwards at the State, sought by Brighton and Northcote. DOUG RAYMENT St. Kilda mentioned at Sandringham… The futures of other League players in the melting pot…The Association clubs have certainly not been idle since their 1938 season closed.” ‘Sporting Globe’ February 8th 1939.

In another news scoop ‘The Argus’ reported a few weeks later that Stan had declined an offer from Sandringham FC ( VFA ) to coach club that season…
“ …Stan Spinks, runner-up for the Brownlow Medal last year, intends to remain at Hawthorn. At the week-end he informed Sandringham officials that he was unable to accept their offer to coach the Association club. The reasons for Spinks' decision to remain at Hawthorn were not disclosed last night, but Sandringham officials expressed annoyance at the attitude of the Hawthorn club regarding his transfer.” March 1930.

ANOTHER COACH AT HAWTHORN ~LEN THOMAS

With all the ‘goings-on’ about Stan’s possible departure from the HFC, the Maybloom officials must have been perplexed (perhaps desperate) to find a formula for stability and success.

In February 1939, the Hawthorn committee appointed the South Melbourne champion Len Thomas to the coaching position for the 1939 season. Len was a dynamic centreman and one of the most highly esteemed players in VFL football …

“Hawthorn officials were delighted last night when informed that South Melbourne had granted a clearance to Len Thomas as coach of Hawthorn for the coming season. They paid a warm tribute to South Melbourne for its sporting action. Thomas will make his first appearance at the ground to-night at the community singing arranged by the social committee. He will also attend the dance in the pavilion on Saturday night. Going to South Melbourne in 1927 from the seconds, Thomas has played 175 games for South Melbourne. He missed the 1935 season, when he was coach of Horsham…” ‘The Argus’ February 9th 1939.


Len Thomas - 1934 MacRobertsons 1/2d Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Len Thomas - 1934 MacRobertsons 1/2d Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards


Len Thomas hit the ‘ground running’ and it looked as if the Messiah had arrived at Glenferrie Oval. Hawthorn’s early success that season engendered great optimism; and the ‘The Age’ newspaper told the story…
“HAWTHORN IN THE FOUR-SURPRISE FOR CARLTON….Hawthorn badly upset the calculations of Carlton at Glenferrie in the most exciting game seen at Hawthorn for years. The lead changed eight times in the second quarter, and Carlton nearly snatched a last-minute win. HAWTHORN'S richly deserved win at the expense of Carlton was the first occasion in the club's history that the Carlton colours had been lowered. The win was received with delight by officials, especially as it placed Hawthorn in the four.” May 22nd 1939.

The win not only lifted the Mayblooms from the previous depths of despair but buoyed the supporters like never before. It was a magnificent victory and the club celebrated with gusto. Hawthorn’s best players, as listed in ‘The Sporting Globe, were: Len Thomas, George Dower, Howard Day, Jack Blackman, Bill Deague, Stan Spinks, George Carter. Bert Mills and the Albiston brothers

A FALL FROM A GREAT HEIGHT

What happened next poleaxed the club. Hawthorn won only two of the next 13 games and crashed back to 10th place on the ladder. The early rounds of 1939 had been a ‘false dawn’ and it must have broken the hearts of the loyal and patient Mayblooms supporters.

Stan Spinks played only twelve games in 1939 but still gathered 12 votes in the Brownlow Medal; and that was five more than the next best placed Hawthorn player (Alec Albiston).

After a short burst of sunlight, dark clouds again gathered over Hawthorn as Len Thomas applied for a clearance to coach North Melbourne. What a predicament for the struggling Mayblooms; and the ‘poisoned chalice’ was handed to stalwart Bert Mills for the 1940 season.

Note: Len Thomas coached North Melbourne for only six games before enlisting for military service in that same year. The football world was rocked when it was announced that Len had died at Salamaua (New Guinea) on active service in August 1943.

1939 STAN REPRESENTS VICTORIA IN PERTH

In June 1939, the Victorian team travelled, by the Westland Express across the Nullarbor to play two matches against the combined might of the WAFL. The VFL had two representatives from each club and was captained by Dick Reynolds. ‘The West Australian’ newspaper gave a run down on the Victorian representatives in its edition on June 21st …
“The team consists of the following: Essendon: R. Reynolds (captain, rover and forward) and R Torney (half-forward and follower). Collingwood: J. Regan (full back) and R. Todd (full forward and the leading goal kicker in Victoria).
Carlton: J. Hale (back pocket player and rover) and C. Crisp (centre or half-forward). Melbourne:- R. Fischer (follower and half-back), and H. Baggott (centre-half forward).
Geelong: A. Muller (forward or wing player) and J. Grant (half-back). St. Kilda: S. Lloyd (back) and J. Kelly (wing).
South Melbourne: J. Graham (half-back and follower) and H. Matthews (centre or wing).
Footscray: N. Ware (follower and half back) and J. Ryan (rover and forward). Richmond: J. Dyer (follower and forward) and H. Harris (rover and forward).
North Melbourne: J. Adamson (back) and J. Cordner (centre). Hawthorn: L. Thomas (utility, specialising in back or forward play) and S. Spinks (centre or wing). Fitzroy: A. Hall (half-back or follower) and B. Treweek (back pocket player)…”


The Victorians won the first clash by 20 points; and in the return match (on Monday), Western Australia: 11.21. (87) defeated Victoria: 10.15.(75) in an enthralling contest.

Stan Spinks was selected in the centre for that match and gathered 12 kicks. Ron Todd booted five goals for Victoria and was included in Victoria’s best players along with Jack Regan, Jack Dyer, Mickey Crisp, Ron Fisher and Jack Graham.

Ron Todd - 1939 Allens Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Ron Todd - 1939 Allens Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Jack Regan - Source:Collingwood Football Club 1892-1948 by Percy Taylor - State Library of Victoria Collection
Jack Regan - Source:Collingwood Football Club 1892-1948 by Percy Taylor - State Library of Victoria Collection
Card 012 - Jack Dyer - 1948 Kornies Card Source:Australian Rules Football Cards
Card 012 - Jack Dyer - 1948 Kornies Card Source:Australian Rules Football Cards
Sporting Globe 16-Aug-39 p10 - Creswell Crisp Carlton - Photographer Unknown
Sporting Globe 16-Aug-39 p10 - Creswell Crisp Carlton - Photographer Unknown
Ron Fisher - 1938 St.Kilda Personalities Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Ron Fisher - 1938 St.Kilda Personalities Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Card 021 - Jack Graham - 1948 Kornies Card Source:Australian Football Cards
Card 021 - Jack Graham - 1948 Kornies Card Source:Australian Football Cards


Victoria also played against South Australia on two occasions in July that year. The VFL won both matches; however it appears that Stan Spinks was overlooked at the selection table. Len Thomas was the only player from Hawthorn to be included in the VFL squad.

1939- THE MUDLARK


One the best-ever tributes regarding Stan Spinks’ dexterity was carried in ‘The Weekly Times’ in 1939. A small photo of Stan accompanied the article….

“ STAN SPINKS, the Hawthorn centre man and Victorian representative player, is a real mudlark. The centre of the Glenferrie Oval on Saturday was as sticky as a gluepot, but that did not prevent Stan from giving a brilliant exhibition. St. Kilda tried first Sawley and then Sharpe against him but Spinks continued to dominate the centre.” June 15th 1939.


What made the ‘Weekly Times’ extract so interesting is that St Kilda actually won that match by 23 points. St Kilda kicked five goals in the last term to finish all over the faltering Mayblooms that day. The match review in ‘The Argus’ supported the above description about Stan’s performance in the mud that day…
“Spinks for his speed dash and courage was the best man on the field. His ground play was perfect his marking and disposal were always safe and he covered more ground than any other player.” July 10th 1939.

Note: Albert Sawley was recruited to St Kilda from Norwood (SANFL) and Bill Sharp later played with North Melbourne.

Tom Byrne - 1939 Allens Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Tom Byrne - 1939 Allens Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Tom Byrne
Bert Mills - 1939 Allens Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Bert Mills - 1939 Allens Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Bert Mills
Stan Spinks - 1939 Allens Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Stan Spinks - 1939 Allens Footballers - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

Stan Spinks


Age 22 May 1939 P6 Cartoon Panels
Age 22 May 1939 P6 Cartoon Panels


Age 3 Mar 1939 P4 Stan Spinks
Age 3 Mar 1939 P4 Stan Spinks



1940 IN THE SHADOW OF WAR


The Second World War had a profound effect on everyone and everything in Australia. Football continued to be played but it had lost:
(i) Its strong appeal.
(ii) A sense of importance.
(iii) Many star players who had enlisted in the armed forces.

As in World War: I, a great debate raged about young men continuing to ‘kick leather’ while others were at the frontline doing their ‘duty for King and Country.’

‘The Record’ naturally supported the decision of the VFL to ‘play on’ despite the Hitler’s goosestep across Europe…

“Another football season kicks off. And sport carries on….Despite the grim shadow of wa , football will continue to entertain the public and relieve, if only for one brief afternoon each week, the strain and anxiety imposed on all by the desperate waged at home and abroad against the savage hordes of barbarism.” ( Round: 11 edition).


Hawthorn had battles of its own with which to cope and could only muster two wins in the first nine rounds.

Thankfully, HFC finished the season well with significant victories against Carlton, St Kilda, South Melbourne, Richmond and Fitzroy. The improvement in the second half of the season was a just reward for the tireless efforts of Hawthorn’s resolute and devoted Bert Mills.

At the end of that season (1940), Bert had played 177 games with Hawthorn and, as captain and coach, was the epitome of a loyal and selfless club man…

“Mills came from Bethanga via Wangaratta and was Hawthorn’s backbone for years. He was a fitness fanatic and skippered the team in 1932, part of 1933, 34, 38 and 1940-41. In the last two years he was also coach. He won the best and fairest in 1933, 1935 and 1939 and played for Victoria 11 times.” ‘Holmesby and Main’ Page: 592.


Stan Spinks, who was the vice-captain in 1940, was runner-up in the club’s Best and Fairest award to Andrew Angwin (ex-Port Melbourne); and, in eighteen games, Stan polled 12 votes in the Brownlow Medal. Once again Stan was the leading HFC player in the prestigious award while defender Jack Barker polled ten votes.

Note: Andrew Angwin recorded just two votes in the medal which again illustrates the vagaries of voting in the Brownlow Medal.

During his VFL career, Stan had polled a total 78 votes in the Brownlow Medal which was an average of approx. 0.55 votes per game or one vote every two games. The mathematics of Stan’s football career pointed to ‘consistent and skilled endeavour.’

In August 1940 the ‘Sporting Globe’ carried an absorbing feature article written by Hec De Lacy entitled ‘The 1940 League Champions.’ In the story, Stan Spinks was rated as one of the leading centre men of the VFL that season and he was in the very best of company as Marcus Whelan (Collingwood), Allan LaFontaine ( Melbourne), Herb Matthews (South Melbourne), Harry Hickey (Footscray) Mick Hughson (Fitzroy) and Jock Cordner (North Melbourne) were also listed in Hec’s bracket of midfield champions.

Hawthorn Team 1940 Hawthorn F.C. Museum
Hawthorn Team 1940 Hawthorn F.C. Museum


STAN SPINKS PLAYS HIS LAST SENIOR GAME FOR THE MAYBLOOMS


As has been recently illustrated (in AFL Season 2016), the careers of some footballers end in controversial and unhappy circumstances ; and the manner in which Stan Spinks left Glenferrie Oval was an utter travesty of justice.

In 1941, Stan saddled up for his eleventh season of VFL football but he played only three games that season. Stan’s last senior game for Hawthorn was against Richmond at the Punt Road Oval on the 7th June 1941. It proved to be another gloomy day for the Mayblooms’ cheer squad as Richmond dominated the second half of the match to win in emphatic style.

Richmond’s wizard in attack Jack Titus booted 10 goals that day. Richmond 17.15.(117) defeated Hawthorn 8.14.(62) .

Hawthorn’s best players, in that one-sided affair, were listed by Cyril Nott ( ‘Sporting Globe’ ) as: Bert Mills, Jack King , Andrew Angwin, Jim Bohan, Alec Albiston, Bob Williams and Stan Spinks.

Stan had played well against the Tigers; and what happened next week to Stan Spinks created a ‘storm’ of substantial proportions.

A BITTER END TO A BRILLIANT CAREER

The following week Hawthorn ‘dropped a bombshell’ when Stan Spinks was omitted from the team for the important clash against South Melbourne.

The Hawthorn Football Club website , stated the following about Stan Spink’s omission from the team that week…

“ He was dropped to the reserves for disciplinary reasons, where he played outstanding football but was continually overlooked. Without getting another chance with the seniors, he left disillusioned to play with Camberwell in the VFA…” HFC Website.


The exact disciplinary reasons given for the exclusion of Stan from the Mayblooms senior team are difficult to ascertain; and the truth of the matter has been lost in the ‘miasma’ during the past 75 years.

A recent explanation, by an anonymous scribe, as to why the club disciplined Stan so harshly, appears to be nothing more than scuttlebutt and does not deserve further airing.

However, Hawthorn FC historians, Harry and Michael Gordon took greater care in recounting the facts that led to Stan’s decision to leave Hawthorn. In their splendid book ‘One for All-The Story of the Hawthorn Football Club’, Harry and Michael give two lengthy paragraphs (on pages 55 and 56 in Chapter: 5 ) about the above circumstances.

Further, in another article for ‘The Age’ newspaper, Chris Lines mentioned the fact that Stan was prepared to travel ‘down the road’ to Victoria Park and play with Collingwood. …
“When dropped from the Hawthorn seniors, Spinks signed with Jock McHale's powerful Collingwood but was suspended by the VFL for switching clubs without a clearance.” October 26th 2003.

The idea of Stan transferring to another VFL club may have merit and is worthy of further investigation. The trick to establishing if Stan had entertained any real thoughts of playing under Jock McHale is to find a primary source. Unfortunately, there are few surviving football followers, from that era, who could recall the truth of the matter.

It is known that Stan played in the Hawthorn Seconds XVIII during 1941 but his axing appeared to a ‘one way street’ and there was no way back into senior football at HFC. By July that year Stan made his decision to quit Glenferrie Oval …

“Spinks for Camberwell… Stan Spinks Hawthorn’s crack centre player assured Camberwell officials last night that he would cross without a League clearance and will obtain an Association permit on Wednesday to play in his first game against Prahran. Notification was lodged. He telephoned Hawthorn from Camberwell’s committee room last night advising his decision.” ‘The Argus’ July 4th 1941.

The upshot of the issue was that Stan sat out the reminder of the season and never returned to VFL ranks. The illustrious career Hawthorn’s best centre man for a decade ended in animosity and controversy.

Note: According to the World War:II Nominal Roll, there are 124 people with the surname ‘Spinks’ listed in the rolls for military service; none of the names seem to match Stan’s date of birth ( 16th October 1912).

NEVER SAY DIE


There is no doubt, that if the above events had transpired in peace time then the newspapers would have been ‘all over the story’; and an interview with Stan Spinks would have been central to the coverage of such a dramatic sporting story.

Stan’s departure from Glenferrie was a ‘huge hit’ to the Mayblooms but it was a bigger loss for the VFL as he was a respected personality of the highest order. He was only 28 years of age when he ‘packed his bag’ for the final time at Glenferrie.

In a brilliant career between 1931 and 1941, Stan Spinks played 143 games for Hawthorn and kicked 19 goals. He had represented Hawthorn when the club was knocked ‘from pillar to post’ and at a time when wins were as ‘scarce as hens’ teeth’. Stan played in only 40 winning teams (which represents as a win-loss ratio of only 28.3%).

In that decade, Hawthorn was rarely above ninth position on the VFL ladder. Stan never played in a VFL final series; but had played against the finest footballers in the land (who often tried to use the weaker teams as ‘chopping blocks’).

Hawthorn Ladder Position 1925 - 1941
Hawthorn Ladder Position 1925 - 1941

During his time at Hawthorn, Stan Spinks had seen seven coaches ‘come and go’ and he had played under five different club captains. HFC was a revolving door for coaches and, as is well known, stability and success go ‘hand in hand’. Unfortunately, it took the administrators, at Glenferrie Oval, an inordinate amount of time to fully understand that maxim in football.

HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS


In an ironic twist, Stan received his Life Membership medallion for his service to Hawthorn in the same year that the HFC selectors discarded him in such an undignified manner.

There appears to be a lot more to Stan’s sad demise in VFL football than meets the eye. ‘Home is where the heart is’ and despite the tumult of 1941, Stan returned to Glenferrie to coach the Third XVIII team in 1946.

His off-field involvement in HFC was substantial as he later became an active committeeman (1947-1951-55); and he served as a club selector for more than a decade.

In 2007, Stan was inducted into the HFC Hall of Fame. Other inductees who had played alongside Stan Spinks during the period (1931-41) were: Bert Mills, Ted Pool, Ernest Utting, Bert Hyde and Alec Albiston.


A FINAL TRIBUTE TO STAN SPINKS


When the Hawthorn FC selected its ‘Team of the Century’, Jim Bohan (1938- 46) was the preferred centreman and Stan Spinks was left out of the line-up. It must have been a difficult choice to make between Stan and Jim as both were magnificent footballers; and each had served the club with distinction and courage through bleak and testing times.

Stan Spinks stood up to the ‘strongest and best’ in VFL football and it was not in his DNA to concede, wilt or surrender. He was in every sense a true champion of Australian football; and it is surprising that Stan was not listed on the inter-change bench for the HFC’s ‘Team of the Century.’

It is hard to comprehend that he was completely overlooked in selection because, in the minds of many supporters, Stan deserved to be part of the best-ever team at Hawthorn.

Perhaps Stan’s non-selection was simply because:
• He was no longer fashionable in the colourful world of modern- celebrity football;
or
• Maybe, with the passage of time, Stan’s Spinks indomitable spirit against all odds had simply been under-valued and not fully appreciated…

“If a player can be gauged against the greatness of his rivals; Spinks was in exalted company when measured against two of the greatest players in history. Spinks was runner-up to Dick Reynolds in the 1938 Brownlow Medal - just one vote behind - as the Essendon legend took out his third award. Another triple Brownlow Medallist Haydn Bunton said he was only beaten by two opponents in his career and Spinks was one of them.” ‘The Age’ October 26th 2003.

Stan Spinks died in October 2003 at his home in Broadbeach (Queensland) at the age of 91. ‘The Age’ newspaper stated that Stan had been ill for a brief time before his passing.

Stan Spinks Hawthorn F.C. Museum
Stan Spinks Hawthorn F.C. Museum


END





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