Yallourn Football Club 1945-1965 YFC - Des Madden & Jimmy Shaw - Footnotes re Alister Thorpe & friends - by Roger Spaull


In 1958 the Yallourn Football Club’s Annual Presentation of Trophies was held on the 30th September at the Hernes Oak Hall. The highlight of the evening was the conferring of YFC Life Memberships upon Des Madden and Jimmy Shaw. Des and Jimmy had each played more than 200 games for Yallourn FC and both had been dominant players in the CGFL and the LVFL. ‘Champion’ is an often over-used term in sporting vernacular but there would be little argument that the title sits well with both. For more than a decade, Des and Jim had been loyal servants of the club and had always been resolute and uncompromising when wearing the Blues’ jumper.

‘Longevity, reliability and consistency’ are three important factors when ‘weighing up’ the worth of footballers to any club and Des and Jimmy passed ‘the test’ with flying colours. Both had shared the highs and lows of football. Des and Jimmy were team mates in the victorious 1948 YFC Premiership team. Five years later, they shared the bitter disappointment of being beaten by Morwell in the last-ever CGFL Grand Final.
Des won numerous trophies during his career including...
1. Best Backman ~ (1951).
2. Best Backman ~ (1952).
3. Special Player Award~ (1953).
4. Most Reliable Player ~(1954)

The Virtual Yallourn website has previously posted the remarkable performances of Jimmy Shaw. If the YFC had a ‘Hall of Fame’ then Jimmy would be granted ‘Legend Status’. Jimmy was the star rover of CGFL in that era and in 1953, he won the prestigious Rodda Medal. Over the years at the club, Jimmy won a host of awards and trophies including :
1. At least five YFC Best & Fairest~ (1946-47-51-53-55).
2. Most Consistent Player ~ (1944).
3. Most Consistent Player ~ (1948).
4. Most CGFL Umpires Votes for a YFC Player (1952).
5. Jimmy also represented the LVFL against the Gippsland FL at Maffra in 1954.
6. In 1949 Jimmy played three VFL games with Melbourne FC.

The 1958 LVFL Treasurer Mr O’Connell, a guest of the YFC that evening, referred to Des and Jimmy in his address to the club …
“Yallourn has always worthily upheld the highest traditions of the game …and (he) was particularly pleased to see the club reward such outstanding players as Des Madden and Jimmy Shaw.”

The 1958 YFC award winners were:
Best & Fairest. Kevin Gould
Runner-up Best & Fairest. Bill Jackson
Most Consistent Player. Alec Shaw
Most Determined. Barry Spurrier
Best Utility. Barney Sewell
Goal kicking Trophy. Roy Illingworth
Selectors’ Trophy. Kevin Gould
Youngest Player Award. Tony Radford
Best Clubman. John Henderson
Best & Fairest. Brian Bertoli
Runner- Up Best & Fairest. Alister Thorpe
Most consistent Player. John Fullwood
Most Improved Player. Ron Gale

During the evening, a special appreciation award was made to the YFC Ladies’ Committee for the outstanding contribution it had made to the club throughout the season. Mesdames Menner, Botten, Barton, Slatter, Sloan and Smith each received a presentation and the warm-hearted thanks of all in attendance.
In a thoughtful gesture, the club also officially recognised the sterling efforts of four young volunteers Maureen Sloan, John Norden, Andrew Smith and Robin Unwin for assisting YFC during the season.


1. Alister Thorpe first played for Yallourn in 1958. He came from Trafalgar FC where he had played 1st XVIII football from 1951-57.

2. According to the available records, Alister played 77 senior games for Trafalgar and kicked 51 goals. In the match reports of the early 1950’s, Alister was mentioned as being a centre man. Alister won the Senior XVIII Best & Fairest Trophy for Trafalgar in 1956.

3. Alister played 37 senior games for Yallourn between 1958 and 1963. In summary, Alister played 114 senior games in the CGFL & LVFL. He also played many reserve grade matches in his time at YFC.

4. As a full forward, Alister was a ‘shrewd sharpshooter’ because of uncanny ability to find space close to goal and convert the ‘half chances’ that came his way during the game.

5. Alister was one of the most thrilling aerialists to ever play for Yallourn FC in that era (1945-65). Despite all the changes introduced into football over the years, high marking is still the most attractive aspect of Australian Rules. Alistair rarely failed to give the spectators their ‘penny’s worth’ of aerial acrobatics each week. Not all football coaches like players who mark from behind; but in Alister’s case he was a ‘natural’, somewhat like Alex Jesaulenko (Carlton). One of the thrills for the local crowd was to see Alister use the opposition defender’s back as a ladder…step..…climb…hang …and then pluck the ball from above the pack. Yallourn supporters just waited and watched for his moment of ‘take off’ each Saturday. Alister’s ‘airborne antics’ were always talking points at school first thing on Monday morning for the youngsters of the town.

6. Over the years, Yallourn FC had some very exciting and spectacular ‘high fliers’ such as Peter Cook, Gary Hurle, Tom Garland, Laurie Shipp, Steve Szabo, Max Sullivan, Bruce Goode, Rick Belford, Kevin Fanning and Michael Smith, but Alister ranks with the best.

7. Alister was the YFC 2nd XVIII team captain of the side that played in the LVFL Grand Final against Traralgon in 1963.

8. Alister was held in high regard by all. In keeping with his free spirit and positive outlook on life, he won the YFC’s Most Unselfish Player Trophy that season. (Note: Alister’s daughter, Marji, is a keen member of Yallourn Old Girls’ Association and enjoys attending the Annual Reunions and the opportunity to meet up with her many friends from Yallourn High School days).

9.Vic Lawrence (ex- North Melbourne/Victoria) coached Yallourn in 1958 and 1959. Vic was chosen in the LVFL inter-league squad in 1959. There is a story posted regarding Vic on the Virtual Yallourn website.

10. See the Virtual Yallourn website for stories and footnotes regarding Jack Vinall, Ron Lee, Bruce Knight and Kevin Gould.

11. Alec Shaw (unrelated to Jimmy Shaw) joined Yallourn from Yinnar FC. Alec was an ‘in-under’ rover who lacked nothing in courage and stamina. Alec won the goal kicking award in 1957. Alec returned to Yinnar in later years and won Yinnar’s Best & Fairest Trophy (1961&65). Barney Sewell (see photograph) was a dependable and vigourous back pocket for Yallourn in that period. Barney was also cleared to Yinnar and in 1964 he coached Yinnar to a MGFL Premiership. He won two Best & Fairest awards for Yinnar (1966 & 67).

12. In the 1958 team photograph, Ray Kitney is shown next to Alec Shaw. Ray started his career with YFC in the early 1950’s and in 1952 won the Reserves Most Improved Player award. He played his first senior game with the club in 1953. Ray played in the LVFL Grand Final against Sale in 1955.
In 1956 ‘The Argus’ (March 6th) reported that… “Ray Kitney a wingman from Yallourn trained at Geelong FC.”
Ray won the club’s Most Consistent Player trophy in 1957. Ray’s other awards at YFC were the Most Unselfish Player (1959) and in 1960 he won a special club award entitled Best Attention to Training. Ray (or ‘Steak’ as he was known) played 123 senior games for YFC. A motor mechanic by trade, Ray was regarded as a loyal and dedicated member of YFC. He and his wife (Enid) currently live in W.A.

13. Bill Jackson was an outstanding midfielder and, like John Hutchinson, had played CGFL and LVFL football at a young age. Bill was a fierce competitor who never took a ‘short step in any contest’. His strength at ground level enabled Yallourn to win a ‘fair share’ of centre breaks. The Melbourne Football Club took considerable interest in Bill and he signed on with the Demons as a teenager. Bill broke into the news (‘The Argus’ May 1954) when his request to seek a transfer to another VFL club was refused by the VFL permit committee.
Bill’s other awards at YFC included…
1. Special YFC Trophy~1953.
2. Bud Williams Memorial Trophy~1953.
3. Most Serviceable player~1956.
Bill’s brother-in-law Jim Mitchell is pictured in the front row. Jim also played with Warragul (LVFL) for a short time.

14. Barry Spurrier was a popular and ‘lion-hearted’ player for the Blues in that period. Barry was a prominent player in the local under-age competition and he later forged a reputation as a tireless and spirited wingman in LVFL football.
Barry’s club awards and honours included…
1. Under 16 League Runner-up Best & Fairest.
1. Captain of YFC Third XVIII team ~1956.
1. Under 18 Best & Fairest Trophy ~ 1956.
2. Reserves Best & Fairest Trophy~ 1957.
3. Senior XVIII Most Determined Award in 1958.
As a point of interest, Barry remembers selling the ‘VFL Record’ for the ‘National Round Day’ which was held on June 14th 1952.The specially organized VFL fixture between Footscray and St Kilda was played at Yallourn Oval. Barry has never forgotten the large crowd (3500) which packed the ground to watch the game on that day. In wet and wintry conditions St Kilda 7.7. (49) defeated Footscray 5.4.(34).

15. Roy Illingworth, who won the Goal-kicking Trophy in 1958, played with Essendon Reserves in the early 1950’s. (Note: Roy played with the Bombers in the same era as John Coleman). Roy gained a high percentage of his possessions with clever leading and he was an extremely accurate ‘set shot’ for goal. In that season Max Donnelly (Moe) won the LVFL goal kicking award with 77 goals, Doug Gorgenson (Morwell) was runner-up with 75 goals and Laurie Stephenson (Sale) finished third on the table with 33.

16. John Henderson (1958~Best Clubman) played his first senior game for YFC in 1956. He was a dependable and effective centre half back for Yallourn in that era. John won the club’s ‘Most Serviceable Trophy’ in 1957. In 1960, John was cleared to Morwell FC and played in the 1960 Morwell FC Grand Final team. John retired from playing at the age of twenty three but returned later to Morwell FC in the role of selector (1979-82). John was then elected President of MFC in 1983 and ‘presided over matters of the club’ during one of the Tigers’ most successful eras until 1989. John’s grandsons Luke, Michael, Chris, Alex and Zac are currently involved with the Morwell Football & Netball Club.

17. A young and promising player in the above photograph is Keith Angove. Keith was a dour and disciplined defender who made his LVFL debut in 1957. He went on to play in excess of 100 senior games for YFC.

18. Another tenacious and hard-hitting back man in the photograph is Merv Crane. Merv (aka ‘Storky’) was powerfully built and courageous in tough pack situations. He played his first game for Yallourn in 1954 and played in excess of 70 senior matches. Merv was a member of the 1955 Grand Final team and in 1957 was awarded the Most Determined Player Trophy. Merv’s brother Ken also played with YFC as a forward. One of Ken’s greatest performances for the Blues was at Traralgon. In a memorable display at centre half forward, Ken nearly ‘stole the game’ from the star studded and highly fancied Traralgon team. Ken showed a ‘streak of brilliance’ that day. Gary Crane was a star at VFL level with Carlton FC. Gary played 148 games for Carlton (1964-76) and also represented Victoria. Although Gary played with YFC Third XVIII in 1961 he was recruited to Carlton from Yallourn North (MGFL) in 1964. He was chosen as a wingman in Carlton’s Team of the Century.

19. John Hutchinson was cleared to Fitzroy FC in 1958. John returned to play with YFC the following season. There is a story regarding John’s VFL and LVFL career posted on the Virtual Yallourn website.

20. Trafalgar defeated Traralgon by seven points to win the LVFL flag in 1958.Trafalgar was coached by Bill Milroy (ex-Carlton). Lester Ross (Moe FC) won the Rodda/Trood Medal in that season.

21. Yallourn FC won 8 games (lost 11 games ~ percentage of 78.55%) and finished 6th on the LVFL ladder in 1958. Vic Lawrence also coached the Blues the following season. In 1960 the club appointed Jim Dorgan (ex-Melbourne/ South Melbourne /Moe) to the coaching position.

Written for Virtual Yallourn by Roger Spaull~ May 2013.

For further stories, photographs and memorabilia regarding YFC… Click “Search”…type “Football” …press “Enter”.

Reference Photo: 

Vic Lawrence - North Melbourne Football Club 1954


Vic Lawrence in action during his playing days at North Melbourne. This photo of Vic was taken four years before he arrived to coach at YFC.

Yallourn Football Club YFC 1958


The Field of Dreams - Yallourn Football Ground 1950s



Thank you Roger Spaull and all those who contribute to this wonderful "Virtual Yallourn" site. I started going to Yallourn matches as a 6 yo, with my Father (Dave Handley). I would so look forward to Yallourn games on that famous No1 Oval and would never miss a match. I well remember that great 1955 side and the excitement build up around the grand-final. Even though I was personally very average (at being average) as a footballer (played for thirds in 1966/67), I loved the game and still do. As a resident of Geelong, I am a member and frequent attendee of Cats games at Kardinia Park. (a five-minute walk for me)
I hold very fond memories of growing up in Yallourn and was a rusted-on supporter of the YFC. As an aside, as secretary of the Newborough FC, I played a pivotal role in negotiation efforts in 1973, to amalgamate the Yallourn & Newborough Football Clubs. The executives of both clubs had agreed on terms of amalgamation and all that remained was for joint (Executive) recommendation to be ratified at a Special General Meetings (SGM) of both clubs. Yallourn agreed but sadly, proposal was defeated at Newborough SGM, because some could not accept the name Yallourn/Newborough FC, even though this "not negotiable" position had been accepted by general committee of Newborough from the onset. To this day, I regret not having foreseen and negated this opposition before this well organised opposition scuttled deal. Yallourn FC, subsequently amalgamated with the Yallourn North FC, hence the new George Bates Oval.
As a further aside, as a "filler" in my retirement, I have decided to write a Memoir and have referred to the Virtual Yallourn site many times to help fill in my memory blanks of those early years in Yallourn. This Memoir is arguably a tad pretentious, but I have kept a daily diary since first starting work at the SEC on 20th January 1964. My placement title is "1947" (year I was born) a philosophical memoir”. Whether it ever reaches fruition, is an open question, but it keeps my mind active and I am enjoying the nostalgic journey.