FROM THE NEWSPAPERS - 1923 - A Gala Sports Day at Yallourn

The following news article was published in the ‘Morwell Advertiser’ more than 90 years ago; and reported on a specially arranged day of sporting contests for returned soldiers who lived in and beyond the Yallourn-Morwell area.
With the passage of time, the event has been long forgotten. However, its importance, at that time, for the ‘new’ town of Yallourn would have been considerable. Considering that World War: 1 had ended some four years earlier (November 1918), the day would have had special meaning for the diggers who travelled to participate in the Sports Carnival.
Bearing in mind that the event was so early in to the life of the township of Yallourn, it may be safe to presume that it was the most significant event in the town’s short history (i.e. up until that time).
Although the report mentions a ‘large and representative gathering’, the actual number of attendees is not given. It is not known how many ex-diggers and nurses of World War: I had travelled to Yallourn to take part in the sporting program that day.
A steam train had been arranged to assist the ex-diggers make the journey to Yallourn; and it seems as though a great deal of planning was undertaken in preparing for the day. (See the advertisement from the ‘Weekly Times’ above).
The venue selected for the ‘Soldiers Sports’ was the picturesque banks of the Latrobe River; and it must have made for a peaceful setting for the ‘grand occasion’.
Although not mentioned in the article, there is every possibility that the sports day at Yallourn in 1923, was another clever strategy of Sir John Monash to win the ‘hearts and minds’ of those doubters (and there were many) about the importance of the Yallourn project to Victoria’s future development.

Further, while it is often folly to speculate, perhaps the event and the gathering of returned soldiers at Yallourn, was yet another occasion when Sir John Monash tried to make life a little more bearable for ‘his troops’ following the horrors of Gallipoli and the Western Front. In Roland Perry’s educative story entitled ‘Monash: The Outsider Who Won A War’ he wrote …
“Monash’s post war life was not just a matter of scoring victories for the SEC…It was for many of those old soldiers too that he always made an effort.” Page 486

The listed events, as shown below, make for interesting reading,

Note: (i) Abbreviations in the article: The abbreviation ‘bhd’ in some events means behind. ‘Secs’ means seconds as in time. ‘Scr’ means scratch, ‘Yds’ means yards; ‘in’ means inches and ‘£’ mean pounds.
Note: (ii) Some words in this original press report had faded to the point of being virtually incomprehensible; and my apologies for any inaccuracies of times and family names and the recorded results for some events. (Roger).
Saturday last was quite a gala day at Yallourn, the occasion being the holding of R.S.A. sports in aid of Memorial Hall.
The weather was all that could be desired and as a result there was a large and representative gathering. A special train was run from Melbourne and was well patronised. Morwell and other places were also represented by goodly numbers.
The trysting ground was an excellent one on the banks of the Latrobe, close to weir, between the river and a miniature lake.
Interest centred mainly in the log chopping contests for which there were over sixty competitors. The handicapping was excellent and in nearly all the events scarcely a blow separated the placed men. The exhibition of axe-manship was of a very high standard, and the same might be said with regard to the sawing contest.
The various other events were all well contested, and watched with interest. Subjoined are results:
• 1. Open underhand handicap wood chop, 45in. logs (circumference): first £12, second. £2, third £1: Worsley 1, W. Good 2, E. Lawrence 3
• 2.-Open standing block handicap, 42 in. logs (circumference): first £8, second £2. A. Brown. 2 secs. bhd, 1, W1. Rees, 2 secs. bhd., 2.
• 3. Local underhand handicap wood chop: 25 inches radius; 40in logs (circumference): first £6, second £2. T. Gully, 7 secs. bhd, 1, B. Hitchins, 2 secs. bhd, 2
4-Open log sawing handicap. 48in. log (circumference); first £3, second £1 Richard Bros., scr. 1, Mulcare and Owens scr. 2
• 5.-Sheffield Handicap, 130yds; first £6, second £2, third £1. W. Stephens, 1.½ yds, 7, R. Tatterson 14 yds, 2, - Douglas, 12½ yds 3. Time : 12 3/5 secs.
• 6.-Open Youths' race.
• 100yds : Under 13 years; first £1 , second 10/6. Tatterson 1, T. Jones
• Open Tug-of-War. Teams of 6. First £7. second: £3/10s: Redpath and Brown's team
• 50yds Local Swimming Handicap: First trophy (??) second 10/6; H. Reville 1, L. Kaye 2, H. Wilson 3.
• Youths' Race: C.Corcoran 1 sec. bhd. 1, Sherman, 3 secs. bhd, 2.
• Boat Race: C. Lundmark
• Married Ladies' Race: Mrs Greer: 1 Mrs Taylor: 2
• Fancy Dress Parade: Geo. Stephens (Indian on horse) only entry.
• Youths' Race: C. Brown: 1
During the afternoon the Yallourn Brass Band rendered a number of inspiring selections in a most creditable manner, which added further pleasure to the day's outing. A word of praise is due to those who had the management of affairs, especially the energetic Secretary (Mr W. Foulsum) for the highly satisfactory manner in which all details were arranged and carried out.
As a termination to the day's fun, a successful concert and ball was held in No. 2 Mess Room, at Western Camp. There was a large attendance, and all present spent a very enjoyable time.

1. In those days, the acronym, R.S.A, meant Returned Soldiers’ Association and referred to the R.S.S.A.I.L.A (Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen Imperial League of Australia) as shown on the accompanying advertisement regarding the event.
2. The word ‘trysting’ is used in the third paragraph…it means ‘a meeting.’
3. The Yallourn Brass Band (mentioned above) was formed sometime in 1922 and, in time, became one of the most successful bands at state-wide competitions. The Yallourn Brass Band played a central part in the events and celebrations of Yallourn (and often beyond); and the sports day would have been another opportunity for the band to show its collective musical brilliance.
4. A story about Bill Fleming and the Yallourn Band can be found on this website at :
5. The prizes offered for the winners and place-getters of the events were substantial. As a guide for the reader, £10 pounds in those days is equivalent to about $750 today.
6. Unfortunately, it is not possible to determine how many of the names, mentioned in the above report, were residents of Yallourn and district.
7. H. Reville, mentioned in the swimming event, may have been one of the Reville family from the Brown Coal Mine settlement. Peter Reville was local footballer who went on to become a champion with South Melbourne in the VFL. A story about Peter Reville, entitled ‘ The Champion of the Brown Coal Mine’, can be found at:
8. A search of the available World War Embarkation records show that on the 9th October 1914, William Charles Foulsom (mentioned above) was stationed at the Victoria Barracks. William (Service Record No: 211) was a member of the Field Company Engineers Unit at that time (1914) and he was 22 years of age. A wider search reveals that W.C. Foulsom rose to the rank of Lieutenant during his years of active service overseas.
9. Herbert Foulsom (Service No: 726) was also a member of the same unit. It appears probable that Herbert and William were brothers as both nominated the same ‘next of kin’ from Mount Lawley W.A on their enlistment papers.
10. Readers may be interested to know about the newspapers of that period. The advertisement, which accompanies this story, was found in the ‘Weekly Times’. It was published on Saturday, 17th February 1923. The ‘Morwell Advertiser’ was first published in 1888; and was the main source of local news for the workers and families of Yallourn in those early days. Yallourn’s first newspaper, the ‘Live Wire’, was published in September 1925; and about a year later the ‘Electric Spark’ hit the streets of Yallourn. According to Prue McGoldrick’s research, the ‘Electric Spark’ had only a ‘short life’ and ‘closed down’ on March 1st 1928.

The above story is part of an on-going project regarding the history of Yallourn. The story was researched and written by Roger Spaull and presented and posted by Julie George for the Virtual Yallourn website in January 2019.

The above article from the ‘Morwell Advertiser’ has been faithfully reproduced. The only amendments to the original copy are the font style, font size and spacing, so as to enhance the article for purposes of posting on the Virtual Yallourn website.