This article originally appeared in the Argus Weekend Magazine Argus 3-Jun-1950 p6-7

League Footballers of 1950 – The Men In The Centre By Percy Taylor

Headings have been added to this article

Fred Stafford

FRED STAFFORD, who is doing such fine work in the pivot for Carlton, has probably been interested in Carlton all his life, as he lived close to the ground. Mr. Harry Bell, honorary secretary, asked him to train with the team when he was only 16. He had a ran or two and then went back to join his mates in a junior team. After a period of development with Northcote, Fred was cleared back to Carlton, and his first senior game was against Melbourne in 1947. He is not likely to forget that game, as he was pitted against Wally Lock, and had a very lean time

From then he "kicked on" splendidly and played in all 21 games. The premiership was won in that year with the final kick. Fred is not likely to forget it, as it was he who picked up the ball out of a crush, and kicked a goal just before the bell sounded!

In 1948 he was leading in the voting for the club's best and fairest player award, when he broke his wrist. It was in plaster for six months, and when he returned to the game he lacked confidence. Now, however, he is going "great guns."

Fred's great assets are his clever ball handling and ball control, and his real ability in the air. It is probably those assets that make him one of the best basketball players in Victoria, and a regular State player. He is engaged to be married, and is an electrician employed in the Melbourne Electric Supply.

Charlie Utting

"A GRAND player for Collingwood and a potential coach somewhere," is the summing up of CHARLIE UTTING, who, after playing in most positions on the field, is now starring in the centre.
His first experience in that position was in 1949, and he has never looked back. He is quick off the mark-- that is almost the first requirement of a centreman-- has excellent judgment, is a good mark for his size, which is 5ft. 9in., places the ball to advantage either with a stab kick or a long driving drop, and is most tenacious.

Charlie's first experience of football was at St. Joseph's College. From there he went to the Collingwood Juniors, playing in the V.J.F.L. There he was a centre man. A season with the Collingwood seconds led to his promotion to the senior side in 1943. He was first a wing man, then a half forward, a half-back flanker, forward pocket, rover, and then back pocket. He remained in defence for some time, but he ran into a bad patch in 1948. Now, however, he is "on top of the world" again.

There are few better club men, and he spends his Sundays as a special coach of the Magpie Socials, which won the premiership of the Sunday Amateur competition last year. Charlie is renowned for his "pep" talks to the boys, and interested people go into the room just to hear his speeches. He knows the game backwards, and some big club will be lucky one day to secure him as a coach.
Charlie is a dealer and is going into partnership with his uncle as a motor wrecker. He is related to "Tich" Utting, who was formerly a star with Collingwood and Hawthorn. He is single, and lives with his mother in Collingwood.

Argus 3 Jun 1950 P6 Charles Utting
Argus 3 Jun 1950 P6 Charles Utting

Bob Miller

BRILLIANT in his first year, BOB MILLER, after an operation, is only just beginning to regain that form, and it looks as if he will be Fitzroy's permanent centre man
He was playing with East Brunswick in the League Sub-districts when he sought a residential clearance to Hawthorn. That was the first Fitzroy had heard of him. Not being prepared to clear a player without seeing him, they asked Bob to train with the club. He pleased the critics, and was persuaded to stay. He quickly settled clown to be one of the best players in his first year.
Bob's rugged type of play is of value in his position, although a little more finesse might be of even more value. His ball disposal cannot be faulted, and he marks well.

In business for himself as a painter and decorator, Bob probably found the climb up and down ladders has helped to strengthen his knee. He is married, with two children, and lives in Nicholson street, East Brunswick. He plays a little cricket in the summer time, but prefers to concentrate on football.

Jack Collins

A NEW player with football in his blood is the present holder of the pivot position at Foots- cray. He is Jack Collins, younger brother of Allan, who was one of the cleverest players Footscray has had, and son of Jim, former Yarraville, Footscray, and Essendon player.

Allan, who had his first game in 1939, had played 98 games with Footscray up to 1947, when he was cleared to Berrigan (N.S.W), as coach. He was 5ft. 6in. and a stockily built 12-stoner, whose best work was done at wing half forward. Jack is of a different build. He is 6ft. and 12st and seems a natural centre half for- ward. After playing a grand game at Geelong in that position, he was placed in the centre next game, and seems likely to remain there.

Jack is a nice mover, but, unlike most centre men, he concentrates more on long punts and drop kicks than on stab kicks. He is the adapt- able type, however, and is likely to learn the value of the stab kick pass. To quote a keen supporter, "Jack has everything," and Footscray are in luck to find a ready-made player who is only 20 years, and obviously has the real temperament for the game.

Bernie Smith

BERNIE SMITH, who has been shining in the centre for Geelong, is a South Australian, first seen by Geelong officials who attended the 1947 carnival in Tasmania. There they saw Bernie, beat Fred Flanagan pointless when the two States met.

Instead of being a half back flanker, as he was in the State side, Bernie has played most of his games for Geelong in the centre, although he is occasionally swung into the defence when there is a troublesome opponent to subdue. Although mainly the defensive type of centre man, he is a nice ball handler, and an exceptionally good mark.

Bernie is married with one boy, and is living in West Geelong, where the club found a house for him-no mean feat in

Gordon Bowman

IN its period of re organising, Hawthorn has had few settled players, but it seems likely that GORDON BOWMAN, recently cleared by Melbourne, will be the regular centre man. Bowman came to Melbourne from East Malvern, and had had 41 games up to the end of last season, so he should be able to bring some football experience into his new job He is a determined type of player - his auburn hair does not belie him-and is quick off the mark. He has already established himself among his team-mates, and should have an enjoyable time with a club that has a fine spirit, despite its misfortunes.

George Bickford

OVER the years there have been few better centre men than GEORGE BICKFORD, of Melbourne. He has a good grounding, as he was at Wesley College, where the science of the game is taught. He was 19 when he had his first senior game in 1946, and has been a regular player ever since. His tally was 70 games to the end of last season.

George is unusually tall for a centre man, as he is 6ft. and 12st. Thus he has a natural advantage over most opponents, particularly as he shows great judgment in the air. Added to this, however, is a nice turn of speed, and the ability to pass the ball to the right place.

In the summer George plays cricket ' with Old Wesley in the M,C.C. inter club competition as a fast bowler. ' He is a salesman, is single, and lives in Balwyn.

Argus 3 Jun 1950 P7 George Bickford
Argus 3 Jun 1950 P7 George Bickford

Stan Radloff

STAN RADLOFF is the normal centre man at North Melbourne, though Kevin Dynon has been filling that position in some games.

It is strange that Radloff did not play and had no interest in football before the war. While in uniform he began to get interested, and 'showed much natural ability. A Fitzroy sup- porter who saw him play recommended him to that club, but he was residentially bound to North Melbourne. He was persuaded to train, with happy results all round.

For his height, which is 5ft. 7in., Stan is an excellent mark, and is a fine kick. He covers the ground well and is most elusive. He had his first game in 1946, and completed his 50th game in the preliminary final last year.

Before the war Stan had concentrated on bicycle riding, and had a few successes' He is a plasterer, is married, and lives in North Melbourne. During the summer he plays junior cricket, and has a lot of ability.

Ray Stokes

RAY STOKES, a Tasmanian, has done a grand job for Richmond since he came from the north-west of Tasmania for his first game in 1946.

Stokes was immediately placed on the senior list, because his form was known, and he is one of the best players to come from Tasmania. He is particularly good in the wet probably because he has had so much experience of it in Tasmania. He is adept at the short punt pass, which he learnt from Jack Dyer, and is also a good drop kick. In training, he runs backwards, sideways, and baulks all of which he learnt from Jack Broadstock, the former South Australian.

Ray is an amateur boxer of note, and still boxes at a city gymnasium for exercise. After football training he does ten minutes or so of ball punching. He is also a good cricketer, and has played senior cricket, but he found that it clashes with football so cricket is out, except for games ' with the juniors.

Argus 3 Jun 1950 P7 Ray Stokes
Argus 3 Jun 1950 P7 Ray Stokes

Harold Bray

HAROLD BRAY, whose prowess is indicated by the fact that he has been chosen in that position for Victoria, "has been a great performer and club man for St. Kilda.

Harold played as a forward pocket and rover in two games for Prahran, and then declared that he wanted a clearance. His friend, Alan Killigrew, took him to St. Kilda. He played with the seniors in the "lightning premier- ship," which St. Kilda won-"our first premiership," as they said at St. Kilda.
From that point Harold has been a regular senior player, and rarely plays a bad game. His record to the end of 1949 was 108 games. The virtue of his play is in his pace-those first five yards that make all the difference-his excellent marking, his evasion, and, most particularly, his good disposal of the ball. All these (Illegible) are the hall marks of a real centre man.

In the summer Harold plays a little cricket with the Richmond Brewery team-he is employed there as a salesman-and he also does a little swimming. He is married, has a daughter, and lives in Albert street, Windsor, which is just a short stroll from the ground.

Argus 3 Jun 1950 P6 Harold Bray
Argus 3 Jun 1950 P6 Harold Bray

Arthur Fox

ARTHUR FOX, who is now accepted as South Melbourne's centre man, is a Red Cliffs boy who returns home at the end of each season. It is almost a case of South shooting at a rabbit and hitting a fox, because Hec. Lingwood Smith, their club secretary, and Jack Graham, who came from the same town to South, went after another player and saw Fox in action. They had no hesitation in bringing him down, and their judgment was not at fault.'

In that season Arthur was runner up to Ralph Shalless (now at Brighton), for best and fairest player in Mildura-Red Cliffs. He played his first senior game in 1948, and up to the end of last season had played in 24 games. Most of his games have been on the wing, and it was as a wing man that he gained selection in the Victorian team.

In the second game of this. season he was sent to the centre after half time, and did such a fine job that it was decided to keep him there. He has fine pace and dash, and his ball control is admirable. –
At home Arthur is a motor mechanic, but during the winter he drives a truck. He is single.

Argus 3 Jun 1950 P6 Arthur Fox
Argus 3 Jun 1950 P6 Arthur Fox

Bill Snell

ESSENDON are lucky to find a new player capable of filling the centre job. That player is BILL SNELL who carne from Mirboo North. He has had city experience, as he played for Essendon seconds about three years ago. Bill, a 6-footer, first played at centre half-forward, but when another player was needed for the centre, he was given that job. There his height has been a great asset. In addition, his long stride, topped off by a long low drop kick with cither foot, gives forwards many opportunities. He is a single man, engaged in the refrigerating business.


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