The game that nearly created history
On the eve of the opening round of the AFL season, Old Paradian Barry Hynes recently put pen to paper, to recount the events leading up to and including a famous match between CBC Parade’s 1st XVIII and the all-conquering St Patrick’s College Ballarat outfit in 1949.
Parade, for whom the likes of Tony Ongarello and the late Peter Venier chased leather, went within a whisker of inflicting St Pat’s first loss at 1st XVIII level since 1900.
For whatever reason, Ongarello does not feature in this team photo, but Barry, considered a “tall, slim, effective ruck, persistent, able to give and take bumps” according to The Paradian, can be seen on the immediate left of the late captain Peter Venier. Also featured are Owen Abrahams and Brian Turner, who, like “Onga” and another absentee Kevin “Whacker” O’Brien, would later make their names at senior League level.
This is Barry’s recollection of the big game involving St Pat’s and Parade’s fabled ’49ers on the afternoon of Sunday, July 24, 1949.
The team assembled at 9.00am outside the Old Bluestone pile and were met by Brother (Boris) Murphy who counted heads as we boarded the bus.
We were 22 strong young 1st.XV111 footballers just itching to take on the pride of St.Patrick’s – a much-lauded team which had not been beaten in their competition for 49 years. Our expectations were high; after all we had gone through our home competition undefeated, only to fall short in the finals which were introduced that year for the first time.
As we prepared for the two and a half hour trip and the bus pulled away the boys started to sing the war cry and the sounds of Yarrangabee, Yarrangabee echoed along Victoria parade.
We made several stops along the way to exercise and keep ourselves switched on for the big match. Eventually we pulled into the large grounds of St. Patrick’s College. We were taken on a tour and then proceeded to the dining hall for lunch. On entering the hall we were assailed by the over-powering smell of boiled cabbage. Some of our lads felt this was a deliberate plan to put us off our game. Unfortunately boiled cabbage was part of the menu that day.
An hour and a half later with lunch far from our minds, the 1st XVIII hit the oval and it was game on. A very strong breeze blew across the ground and as the ball was bounced 36 players steeled themselves for the battle ahead.
Over the years the game has itself been reported upon many times. Suffice to say we lost by the narrowest of margins and could not pull off a history-making victory.
Several boys of this team went on to play League Football and cover themselves in glory on the big arena.
On our return journey home as we neared Victoria Parade, all the boys started singing “Old Bluestone Pile” followed once again by our war cry. We reflected on the game and concluded that although victory was not ours that day we should all be proud to have competed so nobly and contribute to the history of sport at the College.
In the history of Parade, I believe that 1st XV111 was arguably amongst the best ever.
The following is another critique of the big day, in this instance penned by an unnamed correspondent.
Match Report – The Paradian, August 1949
For some weeks, members of both our Senior and Under 15 football teams had been looking forward to the 24th of July, the Sunday where they were to go to Ballarat for the day. By 10.15 on that morning 15 cars had left our college to make the trip. The weather was fine, though a little foggy, but everything indicated a most enjoyable day.
On the way we made a detour to see the open-cut mines. The first of the cars to reach Ballarat arrived at the site of the Eureka Stockade at about 12 noon. From there, we set off to the Botanic Gardens, and after inspecting these the convoy cars proceeded to St. Patrick’s College where we were to be both guests and football opponents.
Lunch was supplied for the two teams, while the drivers dined at an hotel. After lunch the Under 15 team went out to play St Pat’s Under 15; but they did not show out very well, and were defeated by the better Ballarat side. The final scores of this match were: St. Pat’s 4-8-32, Parade, 2-6-18.
Immediately after this match, the two senior teams took the field. Parade got away to a good start, but were beginning to kick inaccurately. However, our backs managed to hold off the attacking St. Pat’s side and we had a handy lead of 19 pts. at the first change.
During the second quarter we played well all round, and managed to hold the fast St. Pat’s who were attacking with the strong breeze, and at half-time we were still four points ahead.
In the third quarter, Parade again attacked with the wind, and had built up an encouraging lead of five goals. During the first and third quarters, Parade had held St. Pat’s to 1 point and 2 points respectively; and when we were attacking against wind we had six scoring shots.
Parade began the last term confidently, but soon saw that our ideas of easy victory were ill-founded. St. Pat’s began with a terrific burst of long accurate passes from the centre to their forwards, who were now cleverly eluding their forwards and shooting accurately. Soon they had the scores level. But Parade had not faded all-together. They fought back vigorously; but could not stop St. Pat’s from gaining a 7 pt. lead. Then, a chain of excellent marking and kicking gave us a goal, and the scores were 1 pt. the difference. The shouting of the some hundreds of spectators was now deafening, and at times furious, as both sides surged on ruggedly. Parade were tired, but were just making another attack when the bell sounded another victory for St. Pat’s. this effort by a slightly weakened and travel tired Parade was highly creditable.
Our two best players for the day were undoubtedly Kevin O’Brien, who has been selected to captain the combined colleges’ team against Corpus Christi College, Werribee, and our inspiring captain, the brilliant Peter Venier. Final scores: St. Pat’s, 8.16; Parade 9.9.
After the match we went into the township for tea and had left Ballarat behind by 7.00 p.m. we stopped at Bacchus Marsh for a supper of pies which had been supplied and we were back in Melbourne by about 10.00 p.m. I don’t think anyone was glad to see the day end, as every minute had been thrilling and most enjoyable.
We would like to give our sincerest thanks to the drivers who so willingly gave their services for the day, and who were always so obliging. No-one would have missed the day for fortunes, and all said that the match was one of the best and most spectacular school football games ever witnessed.