September 6, 1873, is a significant date in history for the Melbourne Cricket Club.It is the foundation date of the Club’s heritage collections, with the donation of 13 bound volumes of the Australasian newspaper establishing a Library for Members’ enjoyment. Since then the collection has expanded with a presence in each of the Club’s four Members’ Pavilions.
After decades of care under honorary librarians it was professionalised in the late 1980s and has grown into the modern reference library that today’s MCC Members know and love. The Club’s heritage collections have expanded to include the MCC Museum and MCC Archives alongside the MCC Library.
To celebrate 150 years of the collection, the MCC will be highlighting 150 treasured items from the collection over the next 12 months.
Week 1: Items 1 - 8
The proprietor of the Australasian donated 13 bound volumes of this newspaper to the Club. It covered the period from 1866 to 1873 and was recorded in the minutes of the MCC Annual Meeting on September 6, 1873. This date is regarded as foundation date for the MCC Library.
The Australasian was launched in Melbourne as a weekly newspaper by the proprietors of the Argus in October 1864. However, it was restructured into a new edition in April 1866. It is the 13 volumes from this date that were donated in September 1873.
Published on Saturdays, the newspaper covered a variety of topics including a range of sports – cricket, football, racing, angling, shooting, and later other sports such as cycling. The Australasian was published up to 1946 when it transformed into the glossy and colourful Australasian Post magazine.
The MCC Library’s 1866 bound edition of the Australasian opened at the “Supplement” page of volume 1, number 1, Saturday April 7. From this and 12 other volumes the MCC Library grew. Facing the supplement are illustrated advertisements for “A.J. Smith’s Book and Stationery Warehouse in Swanston Street” and “H.T. Dwight’s Book Depot near Parliament Houses”. Evidence of an early and strong books culture in Melbourne in 1866.
[MCC Library collection Rec # 1161/1866-1]
MCC Annual Report 1872/73
Cover and page 11 of the 1872-73 Melbourne Cricket Club Annual Report. The “very handsome present” of 13 volumes of The Australasian seems included as an afterthought – but it marks of the foundation of the Club’s heritage collections and the establishment date for the MCC Library.
[MCC Library collection Rec # 60684/1872-72]
John Wisden's Rugby Football Amanack for 1923-24
With the 2023 Rugby World Cup starting today in France, we look at one of the library’s treasures about “the game they play in heaven”.
One hundred years ago, Wisden, the cricketer’s bible published their first edition of John Wisden’s Rugby Football Almanack for 1923-24. It contained a “Full Record of last season. International, county and club”. Including “The Game in South Africa, New Zealand and Australia”.
In their preface it was noted that:
“The first issue of Wisden’s Rugby Football Almanack is admittedly an experiment. It remains to be seen whether public support will justify product year by year. To bring out a book of such scope is, of necessity, a hazardous venture on the part of Messrs Wisden & Co., the cost of production, in these days, being so heavy. My hope is that a full record of the game, in all parts of the world where it is played, will appeal to the lovers of rugby – a very large and ever-increasing body.”
The publication would run for three issues, ceasing with the 1925-26 edition, with Wisden & Co. sticking to their cricket almanack.
The Australian game of football’s earliest annual was The Footballer.
It was established in 1875 and edited by Thomas Power, the Carlton Football Club’s secretary (1870-77) and treasurer (1870-79). Modelled on cricket annuals, each edition reviewed the past season with a listing of competing clubs & outstanding players and covered senior, school, junior and provincial clubs. It also contained player profiles, tips on playing the game, reminiscences, poetry and club directories.
In 1880, responsibility for the annual was handed to the Victorian Football Association (VFA) but it was published by the sports store Boyle and Scott. It ceased publication after 1881.
[MCC Library Record # 318-1880-01]
1858-1908 - Australasian Football Jubilee Invitation
Invitation card on which is written, "The Victorian Football League request the pleasure of Mr Albany G. Taggart [&] company at the celebration of the Jubilee of the Australasian Game".
It is written on a map of Australasia, which is boarded by a pink scroll with Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, New Zealand, New South Wales and Queensland written on it. To the left of this is a collection of Australian native plants, a Star of Federation, two Australian red ensigns, and two footballers in Victorian uniform.
Journalist Hugh Buggy wrote on the origins of Australian national Football Carnivals on page 8 of the Argus on Tuesday June 17, 1952:
1908 - The Birth of carnival football
OUR Australian game may be said to have reached its maturity both in technique and prestige by 1908, when the first Australasian Football Jubilee Carnival was staged in Melbourne. This gathering of footballers from all six States and New Zealand was held to mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of the game in 1858. Victoria easily won the first and only Australasian championship. No other side could get within eight goals of the Victorians.
[MCC Library Record # 34951-01]
Monotone Sporting Record, and Monotone Football Record
In 1913 Monotone Art Printers was established in Hobart, Tasmania, by a Victorian, Archibald Warne.
Its Monotone Sporting Record was first published in April 1914 as, “a weekly journal devoted to sport”, a pocket-sized magazine with a heavy emphasis on football. Its distinctively striped covers were printed in a different colour each week. It also published news on various Tasmanian sporting events including horse racing, boxing, cricket, lacrosse and athletics.
Although independent of the Hobart-based Tasmanian Football League (TFL), the June 2, 1923, issue (pictured) published TFL team lists and numbers with the “approval of the Tasmanian Football League” and claimed “copyright” of them. In 1924 it issued its own program for the Fifth Australasian Football Carnival in Hobart, although the “official programme” for the tournament was published by the Hobart Mercury.
In the 1920s a portion of the weekly profits from the sale of the program was presented to the TFL for injured players. The program also provided the TFL’s premiership pennant from the 1930s to the 1950s. The original Monotone Sporting Record was A5-sized but by the late 1950s it was a tabloid-sized newspaper having been retitled the Monotone Football Record in 1935. It was succeeded by the Tasmanian Football Record which was first published in 1958. Although Monotone Art Printers still operates, the company no longer prints football programs.
Neither publication is listed on Trove, nor held by the National Library of Australia. The State Library of Tasmania list holdings for the Monotone Sporting Record, but not the Monotone Football Record. Our holding of the latter came as part of the AJ (Jack) Donnelly collection in the late 1990s. Jack was a sporting editor with the Examiner in Launceston for 35 years. His collection was split between the Queen Victoria Museum & Gallery in Launceston, and the MCC Library. Our holdings of the Monotone Sporting Record, were acquired on field trips to Hobart by library staff.
[MCC Library Records # 17962 & #38838]
Waverley: A Permanent Home at Last for Australia's National Game
VFL Park 1960s Stadium Master Plan, published by Alfred Heintz for the Victorian Football League, 1964. Glorious 1960s graphic design for a propaganda publication on the VFL’s future home.
The Looks at history of the game, why a home is needed, how it happened, the complete sporting centre, how other sports will benefit, how to get there & how it will be administered.
A vintage 1960s booklet detailing the master plan for VFL Park, a massive 157,000 stadium planned for the outskirts of Melbourne, Australia. Superb modernist layout design by Swiss-Australian artist Heinz Grunwald. VFL Park was built, but only to half the scale.
Metropolitan (Wednesday) Football League Souvenir Record
The Metropolitan (Wednesday) Football League was established in Melbourne in 1920.
As its colloquial name suggests it played on Wednesdays and comprised teams that were aligned to occupations that worked weekends, such as the Police, Air Force, Postal, Red and Checker Cab football clubs, and so on.
The league’s Souvenir Record was published by T.J. Moyle & Co. for the 1927 grand final between Railways and Waterside Workers (the “Wharfies”) at the MCG. The program included a history of the league, a detailed preview of the grand final and reviews of the past season as well as team lists. The Wednesday league teams often fielded players from the Victorian Football League (VFL – now AFL) clubs who played on Saturdays.
Two of football’s most iconic names, Roy Cazaly (Waterside Workers, 1920s) and Jack Dyer (Yellow Cabs, 1930s) played in the Wednesday competition. The VFL even appointed umpires for the Wednesday league.
However, the league was beset with issues relating to violence and gambling and as the Great Depression set in the workplace clubs found fielding teams a struggle. It disbanded after the 1934 season.