Unbeknown to many at the time, the Dockerty Cup Final of 1914 was to be the end of a brief and exciting era in Melbourne soccer. It concluded eight years of rapid growth in the game in terms of both quality and public interest.
The final, played at Middle Park, was probably the last full-strength and meaningful competitive soccer fixture in Melbourne until after the conclusion of the First World War. While the Dockerty Cup was held in 1915, it was considered to be a degraded competition because of the number of players lost to enlistment. Perhaps it is fitting then that the 1914 final was played over a gruelling and scoreless four hours – including extra time, the replay and further extra time – a stalemate to foreshadow the mind-numbingly futile military campaigns to come.
Played between the then emerging strength of Northumberland & Durhams and the dominant Premiers, Melbourne Thistle, the game included many of the stars of Melbourne soccer at that time, some who had represented Victoria in interstate games – Thistle’s Guthrie and Raitt – as well as those who had played in the ‘internationals’ between Scotland and England – N&D’s Robison and Thistle’s Goodson among others. After the indecisive replay, it was decided in something of an anti-climax to allow the clubs to be joint holders.
Of the 22 photographed players who took the field, at least 12 enlisted in the AIF, eight from N&D. At least two, Arthur Goodson and Brodie from Thistle were killed at the front. (It is unclear which of the two Brodies is in the photograph. Both played for Thistle and both were killed.)
These were massive losses for both clubs. The same kind of losses were felt across all clubs in Victoria. Many clubs had occasion to mourn the death of one or more of their own and all lost substantial numbers to enlistment.
This is the sixth part of Ian Syson’s We Shall Remember Them series. Funding for this series was provided by Football Federation Victoria.