Yallourn was a vibrant, spirited and enterprising town in the 1950’s. There were 1000 homes (approx) in the township and the SECV camps and married
quarters were fully occupied. Hernes Oak had grown to the point where a new school building was being considered and homes were under construction in
Yallourn North and Newborough.
Yallourn was a town in transition. As the power industry expanded and the region developed, Yallourn became the centre of that rapid transformation.
The population of Yallourn was 5000. There were 600 pupils enrolled at the High School and the Yallourn Technical School was drawing apprentices and
students interested in trades/engineering from across the ‘Valley.
The SECV’s Annual Report of 1952-53 cited the population figures for the district… Moe (8112), Yarragon (905), Trafalgar (1850), Yallourn/Yallourn
North/Newborough (11000), Traralgon (8400), Warragul (5500) and Morwell (9300).
How things have changed. Yallourn flourished in those years and consequently the football club and other sporting organizations prospered from the influx
of families into the area. In the 50’s Yallourn boasted outstanding facilities for a wide range of team sports. Yallourn Soccer Club was playing in State League First Division. Sports such as football, tennis, golf, rifle shooting, croquet, bowling, swimming, athletics, cycling, cricket and basketball were popular.
In this period junior sporting teams and clubs evolved. A letter from CGFL secretary Mr. S.R. Harris in April 1953 discussed the importance of a
regional Under:18 football competition. In 1954 a local Under: 16 football league was formed to provide an opportunity for the youngsters of the district to play Australian Rules football. The four teams were Hernes Oak, Yallourn North, Yallourn Golds and Yallourn Blues.
The scouts and guides were active and it is reported that the Yallourn Boys’ Club had more than 60 members. A further example of how the people of
Yallourn participated in sport is highlighted by the fact that in 1958, the Yallourn Tennis Club had about 200 members.
The residents of Yallourn took recreation seriously and the organization of sport and pastimes for all age groups was a priority.
Yallourn Football Club was affiliated with the Central Gippsland Football League in 1952. The YFC was a very competitive club and enjoyed extensive
support throughout the community. YFC was fortunate in the number and calibre of volunteers who stepped forward to oversee and administer the club in those days. Dynamic football clubs fully appreciate the age-old and well worn saying...“…the harder I work, the luckier I get.”
It is true that at every level of football, on-field success is rarely achieved by chance. The key to winning is collective effort. Since 1922, the
Yallourn Football Club had been built, maintained and strengthened by the energies of willing volunteers. The Minute Book of 1952 shows that 40 people held positions of responsibility in the club. It is an impressive document to read. Many modern suburban and country clubs would be envious of Yallourn Football Club’s organizational structure in that era.
In 1952, the YFC Office Bearers were listed as follows….
President: Frank. E. Gray.
Vice Presidents: Col Webster Les. J. Premier Vic Johns.
Secretary: Jack Huxtable.
Assistant Secretary: Colin Murdoch.
Treasurer: Tom Hayes.
General Committee Members: Fred Stott, Tom Mc Allister, Keith Barton, Bill White, Keith Denny, Alf White, Bob Ramage, George Wilkinson, Carl White, Arthur Cross, Claude Hayes, Andy Smith, Frank Melbourne, Ron Hughes, Gordon Bolton and Tim McCoy.
Time keepers: Harry O’Bern & Norm Bowler.
Goal Umpire: Ted Gannon.
Boundary Umpire: Ted Crookes.
Scoreboard: Jack Wilson.
First aid: Gerry Browitt.
Selection Committee: Claude Hayes & Col Webster.
Seconds Manager: Warwick Sagar.
Medical Officers/trainers: Bill Griffiths, Dick Jones, Toby Williams, Frank Menner, Bill Hill, Dick Marshall, Graham French & Charlie McWilliam.
Senior Coaches: Les Jones & Reg Baker.
Reserves Coaches: Frank Kelly & Bill Godfrey.
JACK HUXTABLE ~ YFC SECRETARY 1951-53.
In 1952, Jack Huxtable was a committee member of YFC. This is his story and it tells of his term as the YFC Secretary.
Jack arrived in Yallourn from Malvern in 1939. It was a significant year on the town’s timeline. In January of that year the ‘Black Friday’ bush fires
raged throughout Victoria. A firestorm threatened Yallourn, the industrial areas and the mine. More than 1000 local residents rallied to save Yallourn
and the works area from devastation.
Later in the year (3rd September), Britain declared war with Germany. While the European and Pacific theatres of conflict seemed far away, life in
Yallourn was affected in various ways. For youngsters like Jack, it must have been interesting but somewhat foreboding to witness the town being placed on a ‘war footing’ in those times.
Prue Mc Goldrick’s account of Yallourn during World War II gives an explicit insight into life in those difficult years. The photographs of the bomb shelters, located at various points around the town are a stark reminder of how seriously the Government considered the possibility of enemy attack on the power production plant of Yallourn.
Life during World War II was generally austere, restrained and sombre. However, the ‘ad hoc’ Central Gippsland Wartime Football League was a welcome distraction which brought some relief from the constant anxiety caused by the grim news from abroad.
Historical note: While the CGFL went into recess in July 1940, informal matches were still arranged and played between neighbouring towns. In March
1944, it was decided that a war time competition was feasible. The teams that took part in the CGWTL were Yallourn, Trafalgar, Moe, Erica, Warragul
Patriotic FC, Mirboo North, Brown Coal Mine, Traralgon, Morwell and Yarragon (joined the league after the fourth round). The Central Gippsland Wartime
Football League existed for two years (1944 & ’45).
In the 1940’s soccer was the only organized winter sport for boys so young Jack Huxtable played soccer with YSC. He was a defender and enjoyed his
‘time on the park’. Jack’s initial involvement in local football can be traced back to his first administrative role as secretary of Yallourn Churches Junior Football Club in 1947. (See the photograph of Jack and the team posted with this story).
The Latrobe Valley Churches Junior Football League (LVCJFL) was the forerunner of the LVFL Third XVIII competition which evolved in 1954. Jack was young to hold such a responsible position in football but he took to his job like a ‘duck to water.’
In 1949 Jack was elected to the position of assistant secretary of YFC. The secretary in that period had been Keith Denny. Keith was an experienced club
official and Jack gained valuable lessons and insights into the importance of off-field team work and communication. Jack ‘learnt the ropes’ well and this grounding was to be to his advantage quicker than he realized.
Jack took over the position of treasurer in 1950. It was a critical position in the club in those days as money was ‘very tight’ and demands were ‘never-ending.’ Financial management in football clubs is a difficult ‘balancing act’ and ‘the bottom line’ really counts. The main sources of revenue were derived from membership fees, gate receipts, refreshment sales, raffles, social activities and special efforts such as the ‘silver circle annual effort’. In those days, local businesses were generous with awards and trophies. However, corporate sponsorship, such as in modern sport, was virtually unknown in country football.
In Jack’s era as secretary, the only paid player at YFC was the appointed coach. Players vied for weekly awards and the end of season trophies were
important but at YFC every player held ‘amateur status.’ Keith Denny stepped down as secretary in 1951 and the club looked to Jack to take over Keith’s role on the committee. Jack accepted the position and responded to the challenge with enthusiasm. Although he was a volunteer; his approach was friendly, business-like and professional. Some football clubs ‘totter and topple’ because of inept administration but Jack understood the importance of his work to the on-field success of the YFC.
Jack’s attitude explains his dedicated approach as the YFC secretary. He firmly believed that…“Committee officials needed to be dedicated to the cause…and always put the club above everything else.” He strongly believed that if a club could get the off-field administration right then the on-field success would naturally follow. He also appreciated that the key to off-ground success relied upon …
“…officials who could make sound judgements under pressure and had the common sense to act appropriately”.
Jack was a man who practised what he preached. In the winter months his workload would often run to thirty hours per week ensuring ‘all was done.’ He was a diligent, thorough and earnest secretary who regularly ‘burnt the midnight oil’ in completing his official duties. It should be remembered that it was a time when phones were limited in number, typewriters were a luxury item and office equipment was rudimentary. Jack’s greatest asset as secretary was his trusty fountain pen!
In Jack’s era it was ‘shoulder to the wheel’ on match day, training & selection nights, tribunal nights, YFC committee and CGFL delegates meetings. On Sundays he was also active in recording results, tying up ‘loose ends’ and preparing for the next round of football.
Jack’s responsibilities in those years as YFC secretary included:
• Administering CGFL inward and outward clearances and permits.
• Arranging team transport for away fixtures throughout the season.
• Liaisoning with CGFL officials on a wide range of club and league matters.
• Assisting VFL umpire panel members who had been appointed to officiate at matches at the Yallourn Oval.
• Keeping minutes, preparing and filing documents, writing letters, completing registration details and taking action on the resolutions that
had been passed at meetings.
• Preparing the YFC Annual Report for the AGM.
• Acting as the Players’ Representative at the CGFL tribunal hearings.
• Coordinating and organizing social functions and club events such as the presentation of trophies evening and league gatherings.
• A myriad of minor but essential tasks to maintain club harmony, build camaraderie and promote the club in the town. These were the ‘unseen
and unheralded’ duties that strengthened the ties with the wider community.
During Jack’s three year term as YFC secretary, he served two presidents (Frank Gray and Vic Johns). He left ‘no stone unturned’ in supporting their
requests, enacting their instructions and implementing the collective decisions of the club.
Jack was in the ‘thick of things’ in 1953 when the ‘stormy’ issue regarding the formation of a new league, based on the ‘main rail line towns’, was proposed. It was a tumultuous time in Gippsland football and, as mentioned previously in the Virtual Yallourn stories, the debate was passionate,
divisive, and sometimes bitter as the CGFL clubs ‘voiced their opinions and adopted their standpoints’ on the future of local football.
As a YFC delegate to the CGFL, Jack has never forgotten the meeting that day at Trafalgar …“It was a very traumatic and emotional issue at the time. The final meeting of the CGFL when Korumburra, Mirboo North and Leongatha (aka ‘the over the hills clubs’) were expelled was an emotionally charged meeting. It was one which I will remember to this day because of its significance to the football community throughout the region.”
The LVFL ‘kicked off’ on April 24th 1954. The eight ‘main line’ clubs that formed the league that year were Yallourn, Warragul, Yarragon, Trafalgar, Moe, Morwell, Traralgon and Sale (formerly in the Gippsland FL).
The three things that Jack would remember all his life about being an official of the YFC were:
1. The ability of the club to stage the ‘big events’ during the season. The ‘VFL National Day’ (Round: 8 ~1952) when Footscray played St Kilda at
Yallourn was a perfect example where the cooperative spirit and managerial capability of the YFC ‘shone through’. On that day, 3500 people packed the
Yallourn Oval to witness the match. Despite the logistics involved, the club did ‘not miss a beat’ in making the day a resounding success for VFL players, officials and the spectators. YFC always had a ‘strong sense of occasion ‘and the organisation that was good enough to cope with heavy downpour that took place during the match. (Jack remembers that the star of the match was a young Bulldog named Teddy Whitten who seemed to thrive in the wet conditions).
2. The reputation of the YFC in local and Victorian football circles. The fact that the VFL had entrusted the YFC with such a game was further evidence of the high esteem in which the club was held in those days. The newspaper reports of the 1950’s also point to the YFC being seen by others as an ‘organizational model’ for local football clubs.
3. The magnificent playing surface of the Yallourn Oval. Even after the heaviest of deluges (and the occasional opening of the flood gates at the Open Cut), the ground always provided safe and stable playing conditions for the players.
1953 was a most challenging season for Yallourn FC. Simon Shaw’s tragic death in January was the lowest and saddest point of the year. Simon’s passing was felt by many for such a long time in the town and district. (See the Virtual Yallourn website for Simon’s story). The year ended on a disappointing note when Yallourn was defeated by Morwell in the Grand Final Replay. In what was dubbed as a ‘high class exhibition’ by ‘The Advertiser’, the Blues went down by five points. It was the last-ever fixture of the CGFL.
Jack has never forgotten …
“…how the boys gave their all for Yallourn jumper that day and how the curtain came down on the CGFL.”
It was the end of an era and great change was upon Gippsland football. Jack stepped down as secretary at the end of the 1953 season. He will always
be remembered as a gentlemen and loyal servant of the club who clearly understood that the success of YFC depended upon sacrifice, cooperation and
JACK HUXTABLE ~ OAM
1. Jack’s love of football and his diligence as an administrator were widely recognised in football circles and he was elected to the VCFL in later years.
2. The VCFL is the governing body of football throughout country Victoria. The VCFL is responsible for administering and promoting the game and has the
utmost authority in all matters over country leagues and clubs. Jack represented the Latrobe Valley Football League at VCFL meetings. (Note: The VCFL is now called AFLVicCountry ~November 2012).
3. Jack was elected President of the VCFL in 1991 and 1992. In this role he continued to influence the policies, decisions and direction of country football leagues (and in turn the affiliated clubs) throughout the State.
4. Jack received Life Membership of the VCFL in 1992.
5. In 2000 Jack was presented with the Australian Sports Medal.
6. On Australia Day in 2012, Jack received an OAM (Order of Australia) for his services to football and the community. In his typically modest and unassuming manner, Jack described his receipt the OAM in these words…
“…the service you give to the community is the rent you pay for being a member of society.”
7. After fifty years of dedicated involvement in football, there is no doubt that Jack deserved the honour and recognition for his hard work. What is more he fully deserved the thanks of the Victorian football community for contribution to the ‘great game’. This is a brief summary of Jack’s record and involvement as an administrator in Victorian country football:-
• 1947 - 1948 Secretary - Yallourn Churches Junior Football Club.
• 1948 Secretary - Latrobe Valley Junior Football League.
• 1949 Assistant Secretary- Yallourn Football Club.
• 1950 Treasurer -Yallourn Football Club.
• 1951 – 1953 Secretary- Yallourn Football Club.
• In 1954 Jack was appointed Assistant Secretary of the Richmond Football Club with the possibility of assuming the position of Secretary further ‘down the track’ as the circumstances at RFC changed. There is no doubt, Jack had the credentials and skills to be an administrator at VFL level, however after due consideration, he decided to continue his career with the SECV in the Latrobe Valley.
• 1969 – 1971 Treasurer-Yallourn Football Club.
• 1972 – 1973 President-Yallourn Football Club.
• 1974 – 1978 Delegate and Senior Vice-President Latrobe Valley FL.
• 1978 – 1982 President-Latrobe Valley Football League.
• 1983 – 1990 Regional Director, Latrobe Valley Region, Victorian Country Football League.
• 1991 – 1992 Regional Director , Latrobe Valley Region and President, Victorian Country FL.
• 1993 – 2000 Director of the Board of Football Victoria.
• Life Member of the Yallourn FC.
• Life member of the LVFL.
• Jack is also a Life Member of the VCFL.
• In 1993 Jack was one of three appointees nominated by the Australian Football League to become a Director of the newly constituted Board of Football Victoria.
• In 1993, on the nomination of the Australian Football League, Jack was presented with the National Australian Football Councils Award of Merit
for outstanding contribution in the management and administration at the highest level of the sport of Australian Rules Football.
• In the year 2000 the ‘Australian Sports Medal’ was instituted to recognise Australian sporting achievements and Jack was awarded a medal by the Governor General for his service to the sport of Australian Rules Football.
• In January, 2012, Jack was awarded a Medal in the General Division of the Order of Australia by the Governor General. (See details above)
8. Other Yallourn identities whose contributions to country football have been recognised by the VCFL include Jack Crameri (Life Member), Keith Denny,
Howard Beulke and Jack Sambell.
9. Les Jones (born 1922) coached Yallourn FC in 1950, 1951 and 1952. He started his football at Chelsea and went on to play VFL football for Richmond FC (in two stints) between 1944 and 1949.
Les played 59 senior VFL games and kicked 23 goals. He also played 28 games for the Richmond Reserves. Les (183cm) played as a ruckman in an era when the Tigers’ following division included Jack Dyer, Bill Morris and a young ‘star on the rise’ named Roy Wright (Brownlow Medal winner in 1952 & 1954).
10. Les was a member of Richmond’s 1944 Grand Final team although it is said he almost missed the match because of military commitments. An interesting photograph of Les and Jack Dyer (standing outside Jack’s shop in 1944) can be found on the internet. (Note: Les enlisted in the Australian Army in 1942 and served until his discharge in April 1945).
11. Les won Richmond’s Most Determined Player Trophy in 1946 and finished a commendable third in the club’s Best & Fairest Trophy in 1947.
12. Les is the brother of Denis Jones, who played 62 games with Melbourne (1956-62). Denis also coached in the SANFL and then coached Melbourne FC in 1968.
13. According to ‘The Argus’ Les applied for the coaching position at Inverloch FC in 1953 but accepted an appointment at Welshpool FC a short time later. Les coached Welshpool for three seasons. He also coached at Toora and Edithvale-Aspendale.
14. Les died in 1989.
15. Reg Baker (born 1899) was appointed assistant (non-playing) coach of YFC in 1952. However ‘The Argus’ (July 11th 1952) reported that …
“At Yallourn, Reg Baker has resigned as non-playing coach owing to ill-health, and Frank Kelly has been appointed.”
16. It is said that Reg was originally recruited from Wonthaggi to Collingwood. He played his first game for Collingwood against Carlton in 1922 and played a total of 70 games for Collingwood and Richmond. He played in two VFL Grand Finals and also represented Victoria against SA in 1926 where he kicked 2 goals and was listed among the ‘best players’. His last league game was against Geelong in 1928.
17. Reg is one of three Baker brothers to play with Collingwood. Ted played with four VFL clubs (142 games) and was captain of the 1931 Geelong
premiership team. Selwyn Baker played a total of 37 VFL games with Collingwood and North Melbourne.
18. Reg’s record in country football is meritorious. He coached in South Gippsland with great success. In a five year stint at Wonthaggi FC he succeeded in winning three premierships. He also led Leongatha FC to two flags and skippered the South Gippsland team that played against the Mornington Peninsula FL in July 1931.
Reg was appointed as the non-playing coach of Morwell FC in 1947 and 1948. 'The Morwell Advertiser’ (January 22nd 1948) reported that the Morwell FC
committee had voted to forward an honorarium of £10.10s to Reg Baker for his coaching services. A newspaper article in 1953 suggests that he may have
been an involved (in some capacity~perhaps as an assistant coach) at the Yinnar FC.
18. Reg Baker died in 1977.
19. See other Virtual Yallourn stories for information regarding Frank Kelly and Bill Godfrey.
Written by Roger Spaull for Virtual Yallourn ~ February 2013.
For further stories, photographs and memorabilia regarding YFC…click “Search”…..type “Football”…press “Enter.”
Yallourn Football Club YFC - VFL St Kilda vs Footscray played at Yallourn No 1 Oval in 1952
Source: Original source not known but posted on the St Kilda Football Club website
Yallourn No 1 Oval…it was dreadful day with a deluge and heavy, muddy conditions. St Kilda defeated Footscray by 15 points.
For more info on this VFL game at Yallourn see Jack Huxtable’s story in our football stories.