Tom O'Halloran’s dedication and love for his club should be acknowledged and it is hoped that this story may stimulate new interest in the dynamic high flyer from Punt Road. Roger's article lets you see why Tom O’Halloran was introduced into the Richmond FC Hall of Fame in 2013.
Table of contents
- EARLY LIFE IN TIMARU
- TOM O’HALLORAN CAPTAINS THE BURNLEY STATE SCHOOL
- 1920 FOOTBALL AT WESLEY COLLEGE
- 1922-24 BURNLEY FC
- TOM O’HALLORAN ARRIVES AT PUNT ROAD
- TOM O’HALLORAN IS PART OF VFL HISTORY
- TOM O’HALLORAN WINS PRAISE
- 1925 THE O'HALLORAN AND COVENTRY COMBINATION
- TOM MAKES AN IMPACT IN INTERSTATE FOOTBALL
- 1925 : AN IMPORTANT AWARD FOR TOM O’HALLORAN
- THE CAMERAS FOCUS ON TOM O’HALLORAN
- 1928 A SUPERLATIVE PERFORMANCE AGAINST CARLTON
- TOM STANDS TALL AGAINST COLLINGWOOD
- BATTLES WITH THE BEHEMOTH
- TOM O’HALLORAN MEETS A TEENAGER NAMED JACK DYER
- TOM O'HALLORAN PLAYS HIS 100TH VFL GAME
- 1931 WEDDING BELLS
- STEADILY, STEADILY, INCH BY INCH - VICTORY IN 1932
- THE 1933 GRAND FINAL
- 1934 TOM THE TRUSTED TIGER
- TOM’S REMARKABLE STATISTICS IN THE 1934 GRAND FINAL
- 1934 TOM LEAVES THE BIG STAGE ON A HIGH NOTE
- 1935 TOM COACHES THE RICHMOND SECOND XVIII
- 1936- TOM O’ HALLORAN PLAYS WITH CAMBERWELL
- TOM LEADS CAMBERWELL INTO THE VFA FINALS
- SERVICE AWARDS & SALUTATIONS
- PART: THE NEW ZEALAND CONNECTION
- A TRIBUTE TO TOM WRIGHT
- TOM O’HALLORAN: JUST ONE OF MANY
- THE O’HALLORAN CONNECTION IN FOOTBALL
- A NAME OF WHICH TO BE PROUD
- A NOTE OF WARNING WHEN RESEARCHING THOMAS O’HALLORAN
- CLOSING WORDS REGARDING TOM
- Boyles Website Newsletter
- End Notes
INTRODUCTIONThomas O’Halloran was born on Christmas Eve in 1904 in New Zealand; and was another adept Kiwi who ‘crossed the ditch’ to win a handsome reputation on Australian soil. As a youngster, Tom O’Halloran took to Australian Rules football with zest and; in time, became one of Richmond’s best-ever footballers .
While Tom made his name as an exhilarating ‘spring-heel Jack’, there were other ways in which worked to strengthen the Richmond FC and aided the Tigers to become a major power in VFL football.
Tom O'Halloran’s dedication and love for his club should be acknowledged and it is hoped that this story may stimulate new interest in the dynamic high flyer from Punt Road…
EARLY LIFE IN TIMARUThanks to the wonders of modern technology and the foresight of Richmond Football Club, the following video link will allow readers to watch and listen to Tom O’Halloran’s grandson, Adam Allison, discuss (with RFC champion Kevin Bartlett) the life and times of Tom O’ Halloran.
The short film was shot at a special occasion to celebrate the induction of Tom O’Halloran into the Richmond FC Hall of Fame in 2013. Readers may like to follow this video link to see Kevin and Adam discussing, in a most animated and, at times, amusing manner, the remarkable deeds of Tom O’ Halloran, some ninety years ago…
In summary, Tom O’ Halloran was born at Timaru (on the Southern Island of New Zealand). As most readers will be aware, Timaru won fame as the rural town (now a city) where Phar Lap, the legendary Thoroughbred racehorse, was foaled in 1926.
As discussed in the above RFC video link, the O’Halloran family openly acknowledged their working class heritage; and took great pride in their work as slaughtermen and butchers.
It appears that the O’ Halloran family held little dread of hard physical work and, throughout his life, Tom seemed to fully appreciate the well-worn football adage: ‘ the harder I work, the luckier I get.’
Although the family details are a little patchy, it is known that Tom had several brothers (see later in this story) and a sister named Antoine. When Tom was a child, the family moved from Timaru to Australia and took up residence in Stawell Street, in Burnley (a neighbourhood of Richmond),
TOM O’HALLORAN CAPTAINS THE BURNLEY STATE SCHOOLTom was a student at the Burnley State School (S.S. 2853), on the corner of Stawell and Cherrill Streets in Burnley. It is known that Tom played with the school team and he also skippered the Burnley S. S. team for two years. It is apparent that Tom was a competent junior footballer who displayed certain leadership qualities at his local school.
There is no evidence to support the following idea but perhaps Tom, as youngster, also played with the Burnley Street Congregationals in the Metropolitan Junior Football Association. (See Footypedia Ref: 8658).
The Congregationals FC was established in 1906; and many boys from the suburbs of Cremorne and Burnley would have taken the opportunity to have a ‘kick with the locals.’ In those days, a neighbouring football club was a ‘sure place’ for a keen lads, such as Tom and his Stawell Street friends, to ‘get hold’ of a ‘real leather football.’
Younger readers may be interested to know that , in earlier times not all families could afford to purchase an expensive leather football, and, consequently, children often resorted to making footballs by wrapping newspapers into a large, tight wad
“As a kid kicking a paper footy around the backstreets of Collingwood and Abbotsford” …Lou Richards in his book: ‘The Kiss of Death’ Page: 1.
Tom continued his secondary education at Wesley College; and, as discussed by Kevin Bartlett and Adam Allison, Tom was the only O’ Halloran sibling to attend a private school; and that in itself is not without a degree interest regarding: (i) His parent’s priorities and (ii) Tom’s aptitude as a student.
1920 FOOTBALL AT WESLEY COLLEGEIt is known that Tom played football at Wesley College; but there is little record of Tom’s performances in college games; and only a modicum of information exists about his extra-curricular exploits at Wesley. The significance of playing football at Wesley cannot be underestimated in considering Tom’s development, as a footballer, in those formative years of his life.
Wesley College has a long tradition of producing ‘blue ribbon’ sportspeople. It wasn’t just the high quality facilities (e.g. courts, pitches and ovals) that spurred boys on to greater heights; but much was due to the level of coaching that the students received during training sessions. It is said, that in those days, the tutelage in sports and games at Wesley was ‘second to none’ compared to most other schools in Victoria in that era.
The following list of names lends strong support to the claim that the ‘playing fields of Wesley’ produced some of football’s greatest players…
- Peter Bennett (St Kilda),
- George Bickford (Melbourne),
- Peter Box ( Footscray)
- Frank Boynton, ( Melbourne/ Geelong/University),
- Harry Curtis (Collingwood/Carlton),
- Ross Oakley (St Kilda),
- Roy Park (Melbourne University),
- Arthur Pearce (St Kilda),
- Gordon Rattray (Fitzroy),
- Ivor Warne-Smith (Melbourne)
- Cyril Lilburne who played 74 games for Richmond.
It is believed that Tom O'Halloran played in the Wesley College Senior XVIII in 1921
1922-24 BURNLEY FCIt must be remembered that that more than 90 years have elapsed since Tom went to Wesley College and written extracts, anecdotal evidence and other records are difficult to unearth and may no longer exist. Whatever is the truth of the matter, regarding Tom’s earliest incursions into football , it is definite, that, at some time in his late teens, after his stint at Wesley College, Tom O’Halloran played with Burnley Football Club…
“ Originally from Wesley College he ( i.e. Tom O’ Halloran ) went to Richmond via Burnley “ … Holmesby and Main Page: 647
Burnley FC has an absorbing history, which can be traced back to 1891. The club wore a yellow guernsey with a black monogram and…
“…played at Burnley Park where the Swan Street crosses over the railway line between Burnley and Hawthorn.” Footypedia Ref: 4526
Tom played with Burnley for several seasons and, according to an article in the ‘Sporting Globe’, he was captain of the team in 1924; it was also mentioned in the same article that Tom’s team was defeated by Hawksburn FC in the Semi- Final that year.
Archives indicate that Jack Titus, the noted Tiger full forward who played with Tom O’ Halloran, in that era of VFL football, also represented Burnley Football Club before signing with the Tigers .
Other Richmond footballers known to have played at Burnley FC ,at some time during their careers, include: Percy Bentley, Ray Bloodworth, Kevin Crohan, Wally Gray, Don Harris, Vic Hill, Keith Torpey, Frank ‘Checker’ Hughes, Ernest Taylor, Charlie Jordan and Ray McGaw.
Note: Leo Oprey (often spelt: Opray) played with Burnley Juniors in 1925 and later played with RFC Second XVIII (1928-30). A little known fact, about Leo, is that he played for Carlton against Richmond in the 1932 Grand Final. He lined up on Allan Geddes; and, in a losing team, Leo was listed among the Blues’ best players in that Grand Final.
The Burnley and Beverly clubs appear to have been rewarding ‘hunting grounds’ for Richmond over the years. Writing in ‘The Grand Finals’- Vol: 1, Paul Daffy stated …
In 1912 Richmond won the premiership…Almost all of the team were recruited from clubs in the Richmond area…Richmond Juniors, Burnley, Beverly and Balmain Church of Christ…” Page: 362.
TOM O’HALLORAN ARRIVES AT PUNT ROADIt was a small journey but a ‘big step’ when Tom crossed from Burnley FC to Punt Road in 1924. Tom’s name is listed in a trial match at Richmond in the ‘Sporting Globe’ on the 12th April 1924. The article confirmed that Tom had undertaken pre-season training under the watchful eye of Danny Minogue.
Danny was first appointed as the Richmond’s Senior XVIII coach in 1920; and had taken the club to a flag in that same year and followed up with another in 1921. As stated by Peter Hogan…
“Dan Minogue will always be remembered as the man who started Richmond on the road to Premiership success.” ‘The Tigers of Old’ Page: 147.
Richmond had a core of experienced and match- hardened players on its 1924 list including the legendary, Vic Thorpe. Others were Donald Don, Jimmy Smith, Norm McIntosh, Frank Harley and Ernie Taylor.
Records indicate, that Tom O’ Halloran spent the season in the Seconds in 1924; and was part of a reasonably successful side that year. The team won eleven games and finished fourth on the ladder. The side was coached by Tom Bayliss; and the skipper was a well-known, stalwart of Richmond Seconds, Jim Doran. Jim played 155 games with the RFC Second XVIII without appearing in one senior fixture.
It is hard to ascertain how many games Tom O'Halloran played in the Seconds that season. However, it is apparent that Tom undertook a productive and enterprising ‘apprenticeship’, which equipped him to win a place in the senior team the following year.
TOM O’HALLORAN IS PART OF VFL HISTORY
Tom O'Halloran was selected to make his VFL debut in Round: 1 of the 1925 season. The Tigers were drawn to play Hawthorn; and, consequently. Tom was part of an historic day in VFL history.
Hawthorn was one of three VFA clubs (the other two being Footscray and North Melbourne) that had gained entry in the VFL that season. In the Mayblooms’ inaugural outing in VFL football, the club was coached by *Alex Hall (see below); and the captain was listed on the team sheet as James Jackson. James had played with St Kilda and Collingwood prior to accepting the offer to skipper the Hawthorn that season. Richmond selected four recruits for that game…
“Richmond, who was led by Minogue, had new recruits in McCormack from Rochester; Robinson, a centre man, from Nathalia; Geddes, the Williamstown wing man, and O'Halloran, from the juniors…” ‘The Argus’ May 25th 1925 Page: 9
Note: In another intriguing twist in football, *Alex Hall, who coached Hawthorn in its inaugural VFL match, had coached Richmond Seniors in 1910. Alex was highly respected at Richmond; and a well-regarded coach in VFL and VFA ranks. Alex had also coached St Kilda (1906) and Melbourne in two stints. He worked with the ‘Sporting Globe’ in later years.
TOM O’HALLORAN WINS PRAISEHawthorn put up a very brave display and won plaudits from the sizeable crowd of 18,000; but, as expected, the Tigers proved too strong and ran out winners by 38 points. The switch from VFA to the VFL would cause Hawthorn’s small band of dedicated supporters some headaches and sleepless nights in the year to come; but the club’s first outing in the League was promising.
The final scores were : Richmond; 11.11.77 defeated Hawthorn: 5.9.39
Goal kickers for Richmond: Don 4 Morris 3 Hayes 2 Fraser and Barnett 1 each.
Goal kickers for Hawthorn: Yeomans 2 Woodford 2 and Elliman 1.
Best Players for Richmond: Hayes Thorpe Harrison McCormack McCaskill and Geddes.
Best players for Hawthorn: Hendrie Splatt Officer Finch and Yeomans.
Note: The above best players were not officially listed in the newspaper report but were gleaned from comments printed in the match review.
As for Tom O’Halloran, he caught the eye of ‘The Argus’ reporter that day with his ‘beautiful’ marking and kicking; and the comment about his brother is also of interest…
“…Of the forwards, Don with four goals, was clean and sure, and O'Halloran a tall lad from the juniors, marked and kicked beautifully. His brother played with Richmond 21 years ago. He is another recruit likely to prove an acquisition to the team. ” May 25th Page: 9.
Tom had made an encouraging start to his VFL career; and, in the weeks ahead, would prove that his performance at Glenferrie Oval that day was no ‘flash in the pan.’
1925 THE O'HALLORAN AND COVENTRY COMBINATIONIt is stated in several books, that Tom O'Halloran represented Victoria on two occasions (1925 and again in 1927). Tom’s initial selection for the Victorian: B team in 1925 was indeed meritorious as he had only played a handful of games of VFL football prior to being handed a Victorian jumper for the clash against NSW at the MCG.
The attendance was approximately 12,000 and Umpire Scott was in ‘charge of affairs’ that afternoon. The captain of the Victorian team appears to have been Fitzroy’s champion, James Atkinson, while the ‘Geelong Advertiser’ proudly proclaimed that Cliff Rankin, the hero of Corio Bay, was the vice-captain.
Parts of the original manuscript were difficult to decipher but the Victorian line-up, as published in the ‘Geelong Advertiser’ ( July 6th 1925) included such names as:
Allan Hopkins ( Footscray), Bill Doolan ( Footscray), Laurie Murphy ( Collingwood/North Melbourne), Jim McCashney ( Hawthorn ), Dave Walsh ( Essendon /North Melbourne), Reynolds Webb ( Collingwood), Stan McKenzie (Collingwood/ Hawthorn ), Norm McDonald ( Footscray), Barney Carr ( St Kilda), Doug Hayes ( Richmond), Gordon Coventry ( Collingwood), Clem Splatt ( Collingwood/Hawthorn), Stan Wittman ( Melbourne) and Tom O'Halloran ( Richmond).
Victoria’s half-forward line of Hopkins, O’Halloran and Wittman provided plenty of chances for Gordon Coventry to show his ‘wares’ that day; and Gordon responded in fine style by booting seven goals.
In analyzing the match, Gordon was the dominant factor in Victoria’s convincing victory. The Welshmen played with courage but the odds were stacked against them and they went down by 41points. The final score that day was:
Victoria: 19.16. (130) defeated New South Wales 12.17.(89); and the best players for Victoria, as published in the ‘Sporting Globe’, were: Gordon Coventry, Allan Hopkins, Cliff Rankin, Reynolds Webb and Jim McCashney.
Tom O’Halloran was just 20 years of age when he took the field at the MCG that day; and , his selection at centre half-forward, in that clash against NSW, enhanced his reputation throughout VFL circles as a thrilling high-flying forward.
TOM MAKES AN IMPACT IN INTERSTATE FOOTBALLBefore leaving the topic of Tom’s representative games, it is known that he also played for Victoria in the 1927 Australian National Football game against NSW at the MCG. Research shows that Tom made a huge impression on the legendary coach of WAFL , Phil Matson. The following extract was part of an article, which appeared on the front page of the ‘Sporting Globe in 1931…
“Quite the most spectacular high mark in the game for a few years was Tom O'Halloran, of Richmond. The late Phil Matson saw O'Halloran mark gloriously for Victoria in a Carnival match on the M.C.G. against New South Wales in 1927, and he declared that the Richmond man was the best high mark that he had ever seen in action.” ‘Sporting Globe’ September 30th 1931 Page:1
Victoria won the 1927 Carnival. The final match of the carnival was the ‘decider’ as to which state who would ‘wear the crown’; and Victoria 11.19.85 defeated WA 10.12.72. A crowd of 49,454 people watched that game. Gordon Coventry kicked 27 goals in four games and was a foremost factor in Victoria’s domination in that series.
NOTE: Phil Matson ( 1884-1928) was inducted into the WAFL ‘Hall of Fame –Legends’ in 2011. His names alongside sits with Polly Farmer, Barry Cable, Denis Marshall and Haydn Bunton ( Jnr) as one of the giants of West Australian Football.
1925 : AN IMPORTANT AWARD FOR TOM O’HALLORANTom O'Halloran’s first season of VFL was out of the ordinary; and he stamped himself as an emerging star at Punt Road in rapid time. His efforts in 1925, mainly as a ruckman (185cm) and forward, were duly acknowledged when he was presented with the ‘Best All Round Player’ award that season.
In nearly every text or website, used in researching this story about Tom O’Halloran, it is written that he won the Best and Fairest Award in 1925. .
However, a serious review, regarding the truth of this matter, is currently taking place at Richmond Football Club. According to Rhett Bartlett, who is a highly respected historian at Richmond FC, the issue of the Best and Fairest award, in earlier years, has been closely scrutinized by the club’s historical group…
“ As result, this site ( i.e. Tigerland Archives) has removed 1911 Bill Mahoney, 1913 Charlie Ricketts, 1914 Sid Reeves, 1916 Arthur Bettles, 1917 Vic Thorp, 1918 Barney Herbert, 1919 Barney Herbert, 1920 Dan Minogue, 1922 Mel Morris, 1923 Hugh James, 1924 Vic Thorp, 1925 Tom O'Halloran, 1926 Alan Geddes, 1932 Jack Dyer, 1933 Maurie Hunter, 1936 Martin Bolger. Our table differs majorly from the Richmond Football Club's official table, which is located here. In 1964, the Best and Fairest Medal was named The Jack Dyer Medal. Currently, the runner-up medallions are named: Jack Titus Medal (2nd), Maurie Fleming Medal (3rd), Fred Swift Medal (4th), Kevin Bartlett Medal (5th). Source: ‘Tigerland Archive.org”’
As in all fields of study, the absence of rigour in historical research can lead to flawed conclusions; and RFC deserves credit for seeking the truth about this aspect of club history.
THE CAMERAS FOCUS ON TOM O’HALLORANTom O’ Halloran’s football progressed in ‘leaps and bounds’; and it was actually his gigantic leaps that caught the attention of football fans. Tom’s overhead marking was scintillating; and there is nothing more that can thrust a footballer into the spotlight than his ability to take spectacular high marks.
Most Saturdays in winter, Tom gave the fans something at which to gasp as he took off like ‘Rocket Man’ in aerial duels. Furthermore, as his reputation as an aerial acrobat spread, Tom became the subject of serious study for the photographers of various metropolitan newspapers.
On match days, cameramen would station themselves, at various vantage points, around the ground in the hope of ‘catching Tom O’ Halloran in full flight’…
“ O'Halloran's Wonderful High marking…Tom O'Halloran is a glorious high mark, and if there is any better in league football, would like to know his name. The Richmond boy brought down the house on Monday with his sky-scrapers. Time and time again he soared above the packs, and took the ball on his fingertips, O’ Halloran had much buffeting to do on the day and it was not his fault that the ! Tigers were beaten.” ‘Sporting Globe’ June 8th 1927 Page: 8
1928 A SUPERLATIVE PERFORMANCE AGAINST CARLTONBeing a butcher gave Tom an appreciation that some years were more productive than others. Tom knew the difference between ‘drought and abundance.’ Like all players, Tom experienced high and lows; but and it would seem that 1928 was his best season.
That year he played 17 games and booted his highest season tally of goals (27). !927 was marked by his sterling performance against Carlton at Punt Road in Round: 13. Tom kicked five goals and, along with Jack Baggott, tore the Carlton defence to shreds.
“ O'Halloran, with magnificent high marking and accurate long punt-kicking suddenly turned the trend of the game against the Blues,…O'Halloran, who is one of the finest marks in the land, treated the spectators to about a dozen of the highest marks in his career. Often, he towered head and shoulders above the packs, stopping the ball with safe hands, and ending the high mark with a peculiar whirling spin while In the air. His five goals were the result of the most accurate kicking of his career, and at the conclusion of the game he was congratulated on his fine play by scores of enthusiasts.” ‘The Age’ July 16th 1928. Page: 6.
The final scores were: Carlton 15. 15.(105) defeated 11.13. (79),
Goal kickers for Richmond: O'Halloran 5 Baggott 5 Lilburne 2 Goding Fincher and Bissett 1.
Note: It is interesting that Richmond’s stars that day were both born overseas. Tom was born in New Zealand; and Jack Baggott was born in Pietermarizburg, Natal, South Africa in 1906. Jack, recruited from Dimboola, played 129 games with Richmond, and later crossed to Essendon in 1936.
|Alan Geddes||Donald Don||Basil McCormack||Tom O'Halloran|
|Doug Hayes||Keith Millar||Jimmy Smith||Alan Geddes|
|Percy Bentley||Bill Benton||Jack Fincher||George Rudolph|
TOM STANDS TALL AGAINST COLLINGWOODRichmond won 14 games in 1928 and played a strong and entertaining brand of football under ‘Checker’ Hughes. The Tigers and Collingwood met each other in the VFL Grand Final; and Richmond made ‘heavy going’ of the contest from the opening bounce….
“ The Victorian football season closed on Saturday in a blaze of triumph for the Collingwood club. The form displayed, the dash, determination, skill, resource, and the unfailing team work of the winners were outstanding, and stamped them as the best combination of the season. It was a strong, vigorous game, full of thrilling passages, and at times bitter in its intensity, but at no stage did Richmond look like a winning side. The Collingwood men were always just a little too good, and surprised even their own supporters by their pace.” ‘The Argus’ October 1st 1928 Page: 12.
Collingwood led at each change; and with Gordon Coventry dominating proceedings with nine goals, the Magpies prevailed by 33 points.
The final scores were: Collingwood 13.18. (96) defeated Richmond 9.9.(63),
Gordon Coventry was the hero of the game, while Graham Atkinson listed Tom O'Halloran, Arthur ‘Joe’ Murdoch (ex-Burnley Church of Christ) and Carl Watson (ex-Latrobe- Tasmania) as Richmond’s best players.
Goal kickers for Collingwood : G. Coventry 9 L. Murphy 2 Harris Makeham.
Goal kickers for Richmond: Weidner 2 O'Halloran 2 Empey 2 Titus 2 Goding.
Best Players for Collingwood: A. Collier G. Coventry F. Murphy S. Coventry H. Collier Rumney Libbis and Rowe.
Best players For Richmond: O’ Halloran Murdoch Watson McCormack Harris Lilburne and Fincher.
Despite the disappointment of his team stumbling at the last hurdle, Tom O’Halloran had shown great temperament and nerve in the most important game of the season…
“… He (Tom) also won Best Player in the Finals in 1928 and was voted Richmond’s best player in the 1928 Grand Final.” ‘The Tigers Of Old’. Page 165.
BATTLES WITH THE BEHEMOTHIn the years 1927-1930 Collingwood, under the strict reign of Jock McHale, was virtually unstoppable. One writer described the Magpies as greatest team of all time. There have been thousands of words written about ‘McHale’s Magpie Machine’ and there is no doubt that the Collingwood was all-powerful and conquering in that Golden Era of club history.
In the period 1927-30, Collingwood lost only 12 games of the 82 that it had played and had won four VFL premierships. Its galaxy of stars included the league’s record breaking full forward (Gordon Coventry), and three Brownlow Medallists ( Syd Coventry-1927, Albert Collier-1929 and Harry Collier-1930).
Note: In those four seasons, Gordon Coventry kicked 429 goals; i.e. an average of 107 goals per year… ‘Bradmanesque’ to say the least!
Because Collingwood was such a phenomenal team, some historians and writers have concentrated on studying the Victoria Park juggernaut. Who can blame them? However, the impressive record of Richmond, in that era of VFL football, forgotten or, sadly, disregarded.
In the four year from period from 1927-1931, Richmond finished runners-up on four occasions and came third in 1930. Frank ‘Checker’ Hughes (Senior), who had taken over the role of coach from Mel Morris in 1927, had welded the Tigers into a tough and uncompromising combination.
‘Checker’ Hughes was a natural leader; and his coaching armoury included: (i) Superb oratory skills and (ii) An uncanny understanding of what made footballers ‘tick.’ As many coaches, at all levels of the game, have discovered through experience, timepieces are comparatively simple compared to the inner workings of some footballers’ minds. ‘Checker’ knew his players like the back of his hand.
TOM O’HALLORAN MEETS A TEENAGER NAMED JACK DYERWhile Collingwood was a star-studded line-up in that era, Richmond also had an embarrassment of riches. The RFC list included: Jack Bissett, Harry Weidner, Jack Titus, Joe Murdoch, Eric Zschech, Maurie Hunter , Stan Judkins, Kevin O'Neill, Alan Geddes, Basil McCormack , the Strang brothers and an emerging youngster from St Ignatius College ( Richmond Hill) named, John ‘Jack’ Raymond Dyer.
Jack played his first senior game against North Melbourne in Round:2 in 1931. He was only 17 years of age when ‘Checker’ gave the young Tiger tyro the nod to debut for RFC.
Jack was selected on the bench (as 19th man) ; and it was a day Jack Dyer would rather forget because he never took the field in that match against the Shinboners…
“ ‘Checker’ decided to leave Jack on the bench…” ‘Finding Jack Dyer’ by Tony Harding. Page: 55.
Tom O'Halloran was playing his 95th Senior VFL game when Jack Dyer donned his Number: 17 guernsey and ‘made ready’ to battle against the Northerners.
As is common knowledge, Jack Dyer’s swashbuckling style of football would ultimately lead him to become known as ‘Captain Blood’. He was indeed an iconic figure in Australian football in his heyday…
“ Jack Dyer has become the best known name in Australian football, arguably one of the three most talked about figures in Australian sport in the 1930’s , Don Bradman and Phar lap the others” ‘Finding Jack Dyer’ Page: 103.
TOM O'HALLORAN PLAYS HIS 100TH VFL GAMEIn the period 1927-31, Tom O'Halloran played 70 games and kicked 70 goals. He reached his 100 VFL milestone in 1931 at the Punt Road Oval in the Round: 8 clash against South Melbourne. Richmond won by 27 points with the Strang brothers booting eight of team’s twelve goals. Tom was 26 years of age when he took the field. Doug Strang was still a teenager ( 18 years) while Jack Bissett ( 30 years) was the eldest player in the line-up.
It is particularly interesting to note that only two players, in that team that day, had played one hundred games or more: Basil McCormack ( 108 games) and Tom O’ Halloran.
It is true that Tom played only eight games in 1931; but such troughs (i.e. loss of form) are a part of every footballer’s journey. At Round: 9 in 1931, it appeared, to many observers, that Tom’s career was waning. However, time would divulge that there was a lot of fight left in the ‘old Tiger.’
The O'Halloran clan was hardy and strong-willed; and Tom would prove to be instrumental in Richmond’s climb to the ‘top of the pile.’
1931 WEDDING BELLSTom made the news again in 1931 when he married Eva Mitchell at the Presbyterian Church in Burnley. The wedding received the following coverage in the ‘Globe’; and, even in the social news of the day, Tom’s prowess in high marking was mentioned in the extract…
“ Wedding bells will ring for Tom O'Halloran the brilliant Richmond high mark, at the Presbyterian Church Burnley next Saturday when he will take Miss Vera Mitchell to the altar. O'Halloran is one of the most popular players of the Richmond; club, and Miss Mitchell is also a popular girl. The Richmond Football Club will make a presentation to O'Halloran on the occasion of his marriage. He has been a star in the Tiger ranks because of his superb high marking. In fact, no other man flies higher for the ball or takes more sensational high marks.” ‘Sporting Globe’ February 21st 1931. Page: 4.
STEADILY, STEADILY, INCH BY INCH - VICTORY IN 1932When reading how ‘Checker’ Hughes regrouped and primed his players for another assault on the VFL Premiership in 1932, one is reminded of poem, by Eliza Cook regarding, Robert the Bruce the medieval King of Scotland. Following another rout at the hands of the English; Bruce, battle-weary and despairing; and at the very moment of submission, gained the inspiration to ‘fight on’ from observing the actions of a spider trying to reach its web…
‘’…Steadily, steadily , inch by inch …
The spider up there defied despair. He conquered…
And Bruce of Scotland braced his mind ….
That he tried once more as he had before, and this time he did not fail”
…from ‘Bruce and the Spider’ by Eliza Cook 1818-1889.
The spider up there defied despair. He conquered…
And Bruce of Scotland braced his mind ….
That he tried once more as he had before, and this time he did not fail”
…from ‘Bruce and the Spider’ by Eliza Cook 1818-1889.
Both the Scottish King and ‘Checker’ Hughes conquered. History shows that Robert the Bruce was victorious at Bannockburn and ‘Checker’ Hughes persisted and finally triumphed in 1932.
In 1932, Richmond won 14 games (and drew against Geelong in Round: 8) to finish second on the VFL Ladder at the completion of the home and away series. Carlton headed the table with Collingwood and South Melbourne making up the Final Four.
Briefly, Richmond defeated Carlton in the Second Semi-Final on September 17th with Doug Strang (7 goals) and Maurie Hunter( 6 goals) excelling for the Tigers. Tom O’Halloran was one of seven Richmond players listed among the best that day.
Carlton bounced back hard by thrashing Collingwood by 70 points in the Preliminary Final. Harry Vallence was unstoppable in that match; and ran amok and booted eleven goals for the Blues.
The Grand Final between Carlton and Richmond was played before a record crowd of 69,724 people at the MCG. The Richmond line-up that day was:
|Backs||M Bolger||M Sheahan||K O’Neill|
|Half Backs||J Baggott||J Murdoch||B McCormack|
|Centres||S Judkins||E Zsechech||A Geddes|
|Half Forwards||J Twyford||G Strang||J Titus|
|Forwards||F Heifner||D Strang||Hunter|
|Ruck||P Bently||T O’Halloran|
As can be seen, Tom O’Halloran started in the ruck with Percy Bentley that day. The reserve was Jack Anderson (ex-Traralgon) and not be confused with Charlie Anderson from Rosedale. Jack played just nine games for RFC but his part in the 1932 is well documented at RFC.
In a game to remember, it that had everything for the fans as the gallant Tigers, held sway at each break. The final quarter was an absolute heart-stopper as both teams played desperate and uncompromising football.
It was a ‘fight to the death’ as the Blues rallied, surged and threatened to over-run the Tigers and in a captivating last stanza and the atmosphere in the stands was electric…
“ Excitement rose to white heat …tremendous cheering and excited screaming followed…women became hysterical…Paul Daffy in ‘Grand Finals’ Vol: 1 Page:367.
Tom O’Halloran kicked only one goal that day but his ‘six pointer’ was of immeasurable value for the Tigers’ cause…
“ a chain of possessions took the ball forward where O’ Halloran kicked and goaled” : ‘Grand Finals’ Vol:1 Page: 367.
As the clock ticked down, the tension was excruciating for the barrackers of each team. However, when Jack Titus marked and goaled the Richmond fans breathed a little easier; however, there was still some work to be done as Carlton made one last charge for glory.
Tom O’Halloran featured again, in the dying moments of that Grand Final, when he repulsed a menacing Carlton foray…
“Carlton fought it out magnificently but a great mark by O’Halloran stopped them…” ‘Grand Finals’ Vol:1 Page : 367.
The Tigers clung on desperately to win by 9 points; and the scenes of jubilation that followed that mighty victory were unfettered joy.
The prayers of the ‘black and yellow’ faithful had been answered; and ‘Checker’ Hughes had, at last, fulfilled his dream.
Quarter by quarter scores:
Richmond 3.3, 7.9. 8.12. 13.14 (92)
Carlton: 2.3 5.6 7.11 12.11 (83)
Goal kickers for Richmond: D. Strang 4 Titus 2 Hunter Heifner Martin G. Strang Anderson Bentley and O’ Halloran.
Goal kickers for Carlton: Vallance 5 Shea 2 Clarke 2 Bullen 2 and Crisp.
Best for Richmond: G.Strang McCormack O’Neill Baggott Bolger Titus and Martin.
Best for Carlton: Mackie Martyn Oprey Huxtable Johnson Egan and Crowe.
The Richmond FC website shows that Tom O’Halloran amassed 19 kicks and six handballs in that Grand Final; and, once again, his ‘sure hands’ had given the Tigers aerial supremacy across four quarters of tough and tense football.
THE 1933 GRAND FINALRichmond bathed in the glow of the 1933 victory during the summer months; but when the team assembled, for its first pre-season training session, ‘Checker’ Hughes was nowhere to be seen. His departure is a story in itself. The maestro of 1932 had he exited the stage and Louis William (aka Billy) Schmidt, who was known in Richmond circles, had over taken the ‘baton.’
Richmond was again competitive and played a winning brand of football; but it was South Melbourne’s ‘Foreign Legion’ which stole the limelight in 1933.
South Melbourne had recruited far and wide; and had assembled a squad of players which would have caused a degree of apprehension in the mind of Galahad let alone Billy Schmidt.
South Melbourne took Richmond to ‘the cleaners’ in the 1933 Grand Final and doubled Richmond’s score. It was a drubbing of the first order; and the wind had gone out of the ‘RFC sails’ by the last term.
The massive crowd of 75,754 witnessed a powerful (perhaps awesome) display as the ‘Foreign Legion’ (led by a former Tiger) put Richmond to the sword after half-time. Jack Bissett, who was the captain and coach of the Bloods that day, was a former player for Richmond in 1929 and 1931.
In the wash-up, South Melbourne 9.17. (71) defeated Richmond 4.5.(29).
Laurie Nash was described in one text as ‘fantastic’; and the Bloods had other convincing winners across all lines including: Brighton Diggins, Jack Austin, Herbie Matthews, Len Thomas, Johnny Bowe, Peter Reville, Harry Clarke and Jack Bissett.
Richmond’s best were: Kevin O'Neill, Jack Dyer, ((Ray Martin|John (aka Ray) Martin)), Eric Zschech and Allan Geddes. As for Tom O’Halloran, it was a ‘tough day at the office’ as he had lined up at centre half-forward on Laurie Nash. However, Tom was far from disgraced as he took 12 marks in that Grand Final.
Following that shellacking, it was a dismal night in and around the suburb of Richmond as the hapless RFC fans licked their wounds and imagined ‘what may have been.’
As is often the case in football clubs, Billy Schmidt paid the full price for that defeat and he was sacked (the word used by Tony Hardy’ in his biography of Jack Dyer). The RFC committee didn’t need to look far for the Billy’s successor as the successor ( Percy Bentley ) was in their midst…
“ Aged 18, Percy made his debut for the Tigers in 1925. When he was appointed captain seven years later, he was regarded as one of the most accomplished ruckmen in the game. Although only 183 cm tall and 87 kg, he was fearless, durable and tenacious – qualities very much on display when he led Richmond to victory over Carlton in the 1932 Grand Final.” ‘Blueseum’ Website.
Horrie Farmer b1909
1934 TOM THE TRUSTED TIGERWoodrow Wilson once said that: “Loyalty means nothing unless it has at its heart the absolute principle of self-sacrifice.” It is certain that President Wilson wasn’t talking about VFL footballers when he said that in 1916, but men, of Tom O’Halloran’s ilk, understood the meaning of the word ‘loyalty.’
‘The Age’ (14th June, 1934) carried a story about St Kilda and Fitzroy sounding out the possibilities of gaining Tom O’ Halloran’s services. Such notions may have emanated from the fact that Tom was playing with the Richmond Second XVIII at that juncture of the season; and he would have been just what the ‘doctor ordered’ for those two clubs to build their aerial strength.
However, Tom didn’t waste time in putting the idea ‘to bed’; as, within twenty four hours, he had responded, in a most straightforward way…
“To Finish Football With Old Club…T. O’Halloran, of Richmond, stated yesterday that he did not wish to transfer to either St. Kilda or Fitzroy, though those clubs had sought his services. "I have been with Richmond, for many years now," he said yesterday, "and I Intend to finish my football with the old club. Take no notice of anything said to the contrary." ‘The Age’ June 15th 1934, page.
TOM’S REMARKABLE STATISTICS IN THE 1934 GRAND FINALBy 1934, the Depression had bitten hard into most families; and life was a struggle and many fell by the ‘wayside’ through the effects of dire poverty and deprivation. Work was scarce and needs were ‘never ending’…
“ The Depression years created what Dyer called desperate men..” ‘Grand Finals’ Vol: I Page: 360.
Football was way out of the ‘mire’ for young sportsmen; and this fact has much to do with the emergence of so many talented and determined footballers in that era of VFL football. Richmond was one club with an abundance of gifted players; and, while much praise was bestowed upon the 1932 Richmond team, it is written that the 1934 team was supreme…
“ Richmond people believed it to be the club’s greatest team. ‘Grand Finals’ Vol: 1 Page: 387.
Percy Bentley was the ‘Man for the Moment’ and his creative tactics had much to do with Richmond ‘turning the tables’ on South Melbourne in the 1934 Grand Final.
As the archives indicate, Richmond led by its impenetrable back line of Sheehan , Bolger, O’Neill Baggott, Strang and McCormack took revenge upon the ‘Foreign Legion’ in the most merciless fashion in that Grand Final…
“….Brilliant marking, clever manoeuvring, and the kicking of six goals made Titus the best man on the Richmond side. It was his finest for the season. In the early part of the match O'Neill and Baggott produced their dashing top form, and from time to time all the other back men —Bolger, McCormack, Sheahan, and Strang—gave excellent service. Martin roved smartly, Geddes played his usual clever game on the centre wing, O'Halloran marked brilliantly and Dyer, Harris, and Bentley were very sound. ‘The Argus’ October 15th 1934. Page: 9
In a succinct summary, the ‘Sporting Globe’ bestowed great praise on the Tigers’ backline. Many of the best coaches, throughout the history of the game, have stated that premiership teams are built about defence; and Richmond’s six back men added weight to that theory…
“ …they ( Richmond) matched them in pace, beat them in the air and foiled their attacks with one of the most defences seen in League in the last 25 years…” ‘Sporting Globe’
In a brilliant display, Jack Titus kicked six goals while Tom O’ Halloran and Dick Harris kicked three goals. Tom’s goals were imperative, in the context of the match, and his statistics for that game are worthy of consideration.
Note: For the sake of veracity, Tom O'Halloran’s statistics were checked via two reliable sources for this story. For example the RFC website: www.richmondfc.com.au/news/2013.../hof-inductee-tom-ohalloran-
In that Grand Final, Tom was credited, by the statistician, to have gained: 29 kicks and 13 marks.
No other player Richmond player could match such figures on that day; and the ‘raw numbers’ again underline Tom’s contribution to the Tiger triumph in that Grand Final…
“ Tom O'Halloran, too, stands out among Richmond's great high marks of all time.” ‘ Sporting Globe’ May 22nd 1935 Page: 10.
1934 TOM LEAVES THE BIG STAGE ON A HIGH NOTEFollowing Richmond’s stunning victory in the Grand Final, Tom made the decision to retire from VFL football. He was 29 year of age when he played his last game; and his career had stretched from 1924, with the Richmond Seconds, until 1934. In that time, he had played 142 senior games and kicked 120 goals.
Tom’s participation in finals was something that most other players could only dream about in VFL football. He had played in seven Grand Finals teams and had been a part of the two premiership teams in 1932 and 1934.
Tom had represented Victoria on two occasions and had won several prestigious player awards in his time at Punt Road. On Thursday 25th April 1935, ‘The Age’ ran a story entitled: ‘Tribute to T. Halloran’ which included these words….
“The President on behalf of the executive of the club… convey to T. O'Halloran every good wish…as coach of the second eighteen. O’Halloran…had decided to retire while at the pinnacle of his football career. He had been an ornament, not only to Richmond, but to the game, and while sorry to lose his service as a player, Richmond was glad it was to retain him as coach of its young players, to whom his long experience in senior football would be invaluable.” Page: 4.
Note: The original extract in ‘The Age’ was extremely difficult to interpret and my apologies for any errors in the above translation (Roger).
NOTE: From the AFL statistics, it seem that Tom wore the number : 18 Richmond guernsey in every senior game of football. When he stepped down from senior VFL football, his number was handed to Bill Hearne from South Ballarat FC. Bill played six VFL games with Richmond before being cleared to Minyip FC in 1936.
Tom’s famous number is currently ( 2017) being worn by another brilliant and steadfast Richmond champion- Alex Rance.
1935 TOM COACHES THE RICHMOND SECOND XVIIIAs alluded to in the above tribute, Tom O’ Halloran he was appointed captain and coach of the Richmond Seconds in 1935. The Tiger cubs won 10 games and finished 6th of the Ladder. It is known, that Norman Dickson (ex-Northcote High School) performed creditably in attack and kicked 70 goals for RFC Seconds that season. Norman was a skilled footballer and cricketer and his story, as a sportsman, makes interesting reading.
In his eleven years with Richmond FC , Tom O’Halloran played a total of 31 Seconds games and, according to Peter Hogan, kicked 32 goals. It is believed that Tom’s brother Jim played with Richmond Seconds during Tom’s term as coach.
1936- TOM O’ HALLORAN PLAYS WITH CAMBERWELLAfter his stint of coaching the Seconds at Punt Road, Tom O’ Halloran crossed to coach Camberwell FC in 1936. In terms of VFA football, Camberwell was a ‘new kid on the block’ and had only been affiliated with the Association for a decade. It is documented that up until 1925, Camberwell FC was affiliated with the Box Hill Reporter DFL ( Footypedia Ref: 281).
The club’s colours were red white and blue; and, throughout its history, Camberwell was known the Tricolours ( as was Footscray at one stage ) and then later acquired the more threatening sobriquet : ‘Cobras.’
It is documented that ‘Horrie’ Mason, who had coached Camberwell in 1928, was the captain in 1936. ‘Horrie’ made his name for himself in football circles as adroit wingman with St Kilda where he had played 137 games . He had also been a Victorian representative on six occasions. One of Tom O’ Halloran’s former team mates at Punt Road, Maurie Hunter, who had played 81 senior games of VFL football had been cleared to Camberwell in 1934.
There were several newspaper comments about Tom playing in VFA ranks. and when his brother arrived at Camberwell, sometime in mid-year that year, it made the news and caused a spark of interest …
“ Despite the large number ' of injuries this season. Camberwell expects to field side capable of defeating any association team…Officials learned yesterday that Jim O'Halloran, a brother of Tom O’Halloran, had been granted a clearance to Camberwell by the Richmond committee…” ‘The Argus’ June 3rd 1936.
TOM LEADS CAMBERWELL INTO THE VFA FINALSAccording to the available documentation, Camberwell performed strongly in 1936 and won 12 games and won the right to play Northcote in the First Semi –Final . Camberwell was no match for Northcote and the final scores: were:
Northcote 18.15.123 defeated Camberwell 8.16.64. ( Source: Wal Williams at the website address: http://www.elitetograssroots.net/vfa/).
Tom O'Halloran kicked two goals for Camberwell that day; and finished the season with a tally of 42 goals from nineteen games at an average 2.2 goals per game. Patient research revealed that Tom kicked ‘a bag of four goals’ on five occasions throughout that season.
Note: Northcote defeated Prahran in the Grand Final to win the 1936 title.
Camberwell FC seemed to have the knack of attracting VFL stars to the club. Perhaps it was a club that ‘paid well’ during those years of economic downturn years or perhaps it was an inner suburban club that ‘required little travel.’
Since 1926 some of VFL footballers who had played or coached at Camberwell FC were: Laurie Nash, ‘Horrie’ Mason, Jim Bohan, Ken Ross, Frank Stubbs, Bill Luff, Marcus Boyall, Maurie Hunter, Roy Cazaly, Harry and Albert Collier, Colin Campbell, Des Healy, Mike Delanty, Peter Brenchley, Colin Judd and, of course Tom O’Halloran.
SERVICE AWARDS & SALUTATIONSTom O’ Halloran gave sterling service to Richmond as a player, coach and a committee man. Tom served as Vice President of RFC in two stints ( 1936 and 1940); and, of course, as a loyal clubman there were things that Tom would have done in the interest of Richmond that were not recorded .
Tom was a faithful servant; and his endeavours were rewarded with being granted Life Membership in 1934 and, as explained above ,he was inducted into the RFC’s prestigious ‘Hall of Fame’.
Note: Royce Hart was selected at centre half-forward in Richmond’s Team Of the Century. Players from the 1932 and 34 premiership sides and Tom’s team mates who were chosen in that team were: Basil McCormack, Gordon Strang, and Jack Titus.
Note: Vic Thorp , who was in the Richmond team when Tom O'Halloran made his VFL debut against Hawthorn in 1925, was chosen at full back in the Team Of the Century.
Perhaps one of the greatest compliments ever paid to Tom O'Halloran was his standing within the ranks of past Tigers champions. In ‘The Tigers Of Old’, Tom is described as a…
“…a hard but fair player, he was one of the best high marks of his era often leaping head and shoulders above a pack of player to mark.” Page: 165.
PART: THE NEW ZEALAND CONNECTIONNew Zealanders love sport and thrive on competition; and for such a small country it ‘punches well above its weight’ in so many international individual and team sports. Australians and New Zealanders have much in common; and, as nations ‘tucked away’ at the ‘bottom of the globe’, sport defines and drives each nation in many obvious (and some hidden ways) .
It is impossible to talk about the development of Australian football, in the ‘Land of the Long White Cloud’, without referring to the fundamental role of the St Kilda and Melbourne hero, Vic Cumberland, in fostering the game of Australian rules in New Zealand.
Vic was a unique individual, superb footballer and a wanderer; and his football and military service took him ‘everywhere’. Often Vic’s reputation preceded him; and he was given heroic status in some accounts sent from the battlefields of France during the Great War.
It is known that that in 1905-1906, Vic played with Auckland Imperials Football Club . The Auckland League was formed in 1904; and a player of such renown as Vic Cumberland would have stimulated interest and hastened the expansion of Australian Rules.
It is said, but could not be verified, that by 1900 there were 115 Australian Rules football clubs in New Zealand. Other players who were instrumental in shaping the future of New Zealand football in that era were : Hugh Webb ( Geelong), Albert Sanford ( St Kilda), Hugh Callan ( Essendon/South Melbourne) and Collingwood’s spirited and venerated Tom Wright.
A TRIBUTE TO TOM WRIGHT
Tom Wright’s involvement in advancing Australian Rules in New Zealand has been somewhat overlooked in several texts. Tom was not only an able player but a key organizer and promoter of the game in New Zealand…
“ It says much for Wright’s determination that he was able to convince so many Kiwis to play Australian Football as Rugby already had won the hearts of Kiwis.” ‘Fallen’ by Jim Main and David Allen Page: 198.
Sadly, it has been forgotten by most, that Tom Wright captained the New Zealand team, at Jubilee of Australasian Football Carnival, which was held in Melbourne in August, 1908.
At that carnival, New Zealand wore a black jumper with a gold fern leaf motif; and the team tasted a degree of success in ‘Section: B’ of the championship.
In the first match, New Zealand defeated New South Wales by a solitary point; and then overcame Queensland by 13points. In the final game of the series, Tasmania 11.18.(84) defeated the New Zealand 1.12.(180).
New Zealand’s better players, in the Jubilee Carnival, were listed, by dedicated historian, John Devaney ( Australian Football ), as : Darby, Elvidge, Wilkins, George and Wright ( probably Tom).
Tom Wright died in France during World War: I at the Battle of Le Transloy in 1916…
“ On 12th December 1916, another popular former player Tom Wright was killed by a German shell in France .” ‘In Black and White’ by Michael Roberts & Glenn McFarlane.
Corporal Tom Wright was buried at Delville Wood Cemetery, Longueval.
TOM O’HALLORAN: JUST ONE OF MANY
Over the last 100 years the game of football in New Zealand has grown to a point of being quite popular and very well organized ; however, it may require a miracle of Biblical proportions if Australian Rules is to ever challenge rugby as the number one football code in New Zealand.
Tom O’ Halloran was just one of many who ‘crossed the ditch’ to play AFL football. The impressive list of such players includes; Percival Wood ( Melbourne), Harry Haughton (Carlton ), Wayne Schwass ( North/South Melbourne ), Arthur Gilligan (Fitzroy), Warren Jones ( Carlton/St Kilda ), Trent Coad ( Hawthorn/Fremantle), Adam Campbell ( Fremantle), Dan McAlister ( Essendon) and Joe Sellwood (Geelong).
THE O’HALLORAN CONNECTION IN FOOTBALL
The origin of the name: ‘O’Halloran’ can be traced back to early times in Ireland; and it is believed to have been the surname of two Gaelic families in County Clare and Galway. The name is said to mean: ‘overseas stranger ‘ and the Surname Data Base stated that it can also mean ‘pirate.’
‘O’Halloran’ is a common name and there are many branches and off-shoots on the family tree. It is documented that main families of O’ Halloran who settled New Zealand in the 18th Century were: L. O’ Halloran who arrived aboard the ship ‘Wild Duck” in 1864; and Michael and Margaret O’ Halloran who both disembarked in Auckland in 1876.
( Note: the name of the ship is recorded as the ‘Salisbury.’ Michael was 22 years of aged and his occupation was listed as a farmer.
Tom O’Halloran had one sister (Antoine- assumed spelling ); and it is believed that he had a one older brother who played with Richmond in the period when RCF was affiliated with the VFA.
On May 4th 1925 , ‘The Argus’ newspaper stated that ..
“…Of the forwards, Don with four goals, was clean and sure,
and O'Halloran a tall lad from the juniors, marked and kicked beautifully. His brother played with Richmond 21 years ago. He is another recruit likely to prove an acquisition to the team.” Page : 9
and O'Halloran a tall lad from the juniors, marked and kicked beautifully. His brother played with Richmond 21 years ago. He is another recruit likely to prove an acquisition to the team.” Page : 9
It is only guess work but perhaps Tom’s brother, as referred to in the above extract , was John.
Furthermore, Tom also had a brother named James (aka Jim) who also played with Richmond Second XVIII. Jim later played with Camberwell ( VFA ) in 1936. (i.e. the same year that Tom was appointed as coach of Camberwell FC ).
According to Rhett Bartlett’s investigations, Tom had a younger brother, Neil, who trained with Richmond in 1941. In support of Rhett’s findings, a newspaper article ( which broke the news about Percy Bentley crossing to Carlton ) also mentioned Tom’s younger brother…
“…Other new men who trained last night were Keith Brooks half forward wing player from Brighton, Neil O’Halloran who is a brother of Tom O Halloran the former Richmond champion…” Argus 14 March 14th 1941, Page: 14
However, Neil’s playing history at Punt Road is elusive and needs further research. In 1963 a certain ‘Geoff O’Halloran’ trained with Richmond but it is yet to be confirmed if Geoff is related to Tom.
Another O’Halloran who played VFL football and may have been a close or distant relative to Thomas was ‘another’ John who played one game with Hawthorn in 1929. Unfortunately, with such a limited AFL playing history, any available records may be unable to connect him with Tom’s family.
At the induction of Tom O’ Halloran, into the Richmond Football Club’s Hall of Fame, Adam Allison made a passing reference to the fact that the former fearless Hawthorn defender, David O’Halloran ( ex-Ivanhoe Grammar School ) was also a relation of Tom.
David played 160 games for Hawthorn. He was a member of the Hawks premiership teams in 1978 and 1973. David represented Victoria in interstate football. Regrettably he died at the age of 57 years following a heart attack in April 2013.
A NAME OF WHICH TO BE PROUD
As a final word regarding Tom O’ Halloran’s kinfolk, there are least twelve footballers named O’Halloran who played AFL football; and a long list of notable namesakes who found success in other fields of endeavor within Australia and New Zealand.
‘O’Halloran’ is a name of some repute in Australian history; and Tom (the Richmond footballer) adds to its distinction. There are probably other relations, of Tom, who have played Australian Rules at metropolitan, country and junior level but such a claim needs to be further tested.
Like that other national treasure from Timaru, New Zealand, (i.e. the Thoroughbred champion), Tom o’ Halloran had a strong bloodline, a heart as big as ‘Texas’ and he never pulled-up short in any contest.
A NOTE OF WARNING WHEN RESEARCHING THOMAS O’HALLORAN
While researching Tom O’Halloran’s football career with Richmond, it is important not to confuse him with another fine footballer named Tom O’ Halloran; ( ex- Williamston) who played 62 games with South Melbourne between 1918-21. It is not difficult to be led astray, in research, as both were outstanding players for their clubs and are often mentioned in newspaper articles.
CLOSING WORDS REGARDING TOMTom O’Halloran died on March 31st 1956; and, as his grandson explained to Kevin Bartlett ( see above), it was a result of contracting lymphoma. (Lymphoma is cancer of the lymphatic system).
In concluding this story about Tom , it is said that ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ and the available photos of Tom O’Halloran leaping skyward to mark the ball , show that he was a thrilling and spectacular high mark.
In recent times, Gary Ablett (Senior) and Jeremy Howe (Melbourne/ Collingwood) are two, of a select group of footballers, who have regularly grabbed the attention and imagination of the public with their exciting aerial exploits. Tom O’Halloran’s high marking deeds probably stirred football followers in much the same fashion as Gary and Jeremy.
An article written, in 1930, by W.S. Sharland says it all about Tom O’Halloran; and it is a perfect note upon which to conclude this story for Boyles Football Photos…
“ A Brilliant High Mark …Wherever football is discussed , controversial questions always crop up and enthusiasts seldom agree. One of the most contentious subjects is the comparison of the abilities of the greatest high marks in the game. Each state has its particular champion but Victoria probably leads the way in this respect. Most people will agree that Thomas O’Halloran of Richmond is without peer in Victoria as regards high marking…In recent seasons there is no questioning the fact the he has been an outstanding aerialist. Like Nelson of old, fear is unknown to O’Halloran…” ‘Sporting Globe Football Book’ 1930 Page: 70.
THANK YOU & ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
• Sincere thanks are expressed to Rhett Bartlett, Richmond Football Club History Researcher, for his assistance with aspects of Tom O’Halloran’s early life and the O’Halloran family tree.Rhett’s website is: https://www.tigerlandarchive.org/
• Mr. Ron Hunter- Life Member of Dromana FC for his reference material re: Richmond Football Club.
• Rosebud Public Library.
Texts and sources used in writing this story included:
• ‘Courage Book of VFL Finals.’ by Graeme Atkinson.
• Grand Finals Volume : 1 (Geoff Slattery & various authors)
• ‘Finding Jack Dyer’ by Tony Hardy –Slattery Media Group. 2013
• ‘The Tigers of Old’ by Peter Hogan.
• Richmond- ‘Fighting Fury’ AFL-DVD.