South Melbourne (VFL)

Photos by Competition and Team


1950 Argus Badges
1950 Argus Badges

South Melbourne earned the nickname ‘the Swans’ because of the number of interstate, especially Western Australian, players in the 1933 Premiership team. It is ironic that the team with the foreigner’s nickname became the VFL’s first interstate team when the financially troubled South Melbourne found a new home and a renewed life in Sydney in 1982.
South Melbourne was a middle class suburb directly south of Melbourne’s CBD. From the 1950’s to 1970s, while Melbourne’s outer suburbs dramatically expanded, South Melbourne was one of the inner suburbs that experienced a decline. The area became home to a number of Housing commission projects. The 1980’s revival of the area came too late to affect the fortunes of the club.

Founded in the 1870’s, the South Melbourne ‘Bloods’ won VFA success (1881, 1885, 1888, 1889, 1890) and were one of the eight founding VFL clubs in 1897. Two early VFL premierships (1909, 1918) were followed in the 1920’s by years in the middle of the table.
Financial support and leadership from 1933 club president, local supermarket baron and Member of Parliament, Archie Crofts led to an interstate player buying spree. South Melbourne’s ‘Foreign Legion’ provided club success with finals appearances from 1932-1936 as well as the 1933 premiership and Grand final losses in 1934, 1935 and 1936. 1933 would be the clubs last Premiership for 72 years when in today’s AFL, the Sydney Swans won premierships in 2005 and 2012.

Between 1937 and 1969 the club had only two finals appearances, the last, in 1945, culminating with the team’s loss to Carlton in the famous ‘bloodbath’ Grand Final. During this lean period the club continued to win Brownlow medals with Ron Clegg (1949), Fred Goldsmith (1955) and Bob Skilton (1959, 1963 & 1968) winning medals during this period.

Team Name and Jumpers

Cgwil003 027 Sthmelb - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards
Cgwil003 027 Sthmelb - Source: Australian Rules Football Cards

1923 - 1931 White with Red Sash
1932 - 1986 White with Red V Neck

1982 - Team name changed from South Melbourne to "Sydney Swans"

Team Photos

Photos by Charles Boyles

Photos by Unknown/Other Photographers

South Melbourne Team Photos

Player Photos


South Melbourne
1933 Giant League and Association Colours

Reference_ South Melbourne Captains
Reference_South Melbourne Senior Team Coaches
Reference_ South Melbourne Best and Fairest
Reference_ South Melbourne Leading Goal Kicker
Reference_ South Melbourne Team of The Century
Reference_ South Melbourne Foreign Legion
Reference_ 1933 VFL Grand Final
Reference_ 1945 VFL Grand Final - The Bloodbath
Reference_ 1935 Richmond v South Melbourne - First Pre-season Night Game

Results during Charles Boyles Work Period 1925-63

For more extensive results (and source data for this table), see

Home Grounds

Lake Oval, Albert Park 1878-1982

Interesting News Stories

The 1932-33 Foreign Legion
FOOTBALL FLASHBACK: WHEN A GREAT FOREIGN LEGION CAME TO SOUTH. (1950, June 3). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956), p. 8 Supplement: Weekend Magazine. Retrieved October 8, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article22833165

Record Emerald Hill 13 Oct 1951 P1 Narrow Escape 600thumb
Record Emerald Hill 13 Oct 1951 P1 Narrow Escape 600thumb

Wikipedia - Sydney Swans

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