Explore the History of australian football

In1913 there were a number of noteworthy scientific and technological advances. Danish physicist Neils Bohr formulated the first cohesive model of the atomic nucleus, paving the way in the process for the new discipline of quantum mechanics. His English counterpart Henry Moseley was then responsible for building on Bohr’s work by justifying from physical laws the previous empirical and chemical concept of the atomic number. The model he developed remains in use today. Meanwhile in the USA, the Ford Motor Company introduced the first moving assembly line, thereby greatly increasing the speed of vehicle production.

Also in the United States, a limit on Japanese immigration was introduced. Moreover, Japanese people were excluded from acquiring citizenship. California then passed a law restricting Japanese immigrants from owning land. California's governor, Hiram Johnson said "We have prevented the Japanese from driving the root of their civilization deep into Californian soil.” Japan, not surprisingly, registered its indignation, regarding the American’s measures as tantamount to a racial slur. US Rear Admiral Bradley Fiske felt compelled to warn that a war with Japan was now "not only possible, but even probable”. His fatalistic prophecy did not come to pass, however.

South Africa introduces similar legislation with regard to blacks, who are prohibited from owning land or buying it from whites. The measure is one of several building blocks of apartheid.

In England Emily Davison, a British suffragette,[2] ran in front of the King's horse, Anmer, at the Epsom Derby. She was trampled on and died four days later in hospital, never having regained consciousness.

On 29th June the second Balkan war commenced when Bulgaria, dissatisfied with its share of the spoils of the First Balkan War, attacked its former allies Serbia and Greece. Bulgaria had previously forged a defence treaty with Austria. Montenegro entered the war on the side of Serbia. Romania then warned Bulgaria that it would not remain neutral, and indeed on 10th July it declared war with Bulgaria. The second Balkan war ended just a month later with the comprehensive defeat of Bulgaria which has been overwhelmed by the combined forces of Serbia, Greece and Romania. Considerable tensions remained in the region, however, and it would be in the Balkans that the touch paper igniting the conflagration of world war one would be lit.

The main political event in Australia during 1913 might be felt to have been the election which resulted in the Liberal Party, with a majority of one in the House of Representatives but was a minority in the Senate, forming a government led by Joseph Cook. It would last until June 1914 when the Labor majority in the Senate prevented the passage of a Bill. By the time elections took place in September Australia was at war.

In 1913, however, many still hoped that war might be avoided, and many minds were focused on what, in actuality, was the main political event of the year: a national referendum, orchestrated by Fisher’s Labor administration, and coinciding with the election. Voters were asked if they approved of power being given to the Commonwealth to control all (not just interstate) trade, industry and commerce. They were also asked to decide whether the Commonwealth ought to have the right to nationalise monopolies. The overall response was “no” to both questions, but in Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia a majority of voters replied “yes”. 

To many, Australian football was the national game, but in actual fact the code lacked any real national coordination. The Australasian Football Council ostensibly oversaw such things as the transfer of players from one club to another and the formulation and refinement of the game’s laws, but few people were under any illusion that it was really the VFL which pulled all the important strings. And the VFL was essentially a parochial, insular body, with little concern for the development of football in other parts of the country. Wealthier by far than any other league or association in the land it could have enabled the code to make significant strides in New South Wales and Queensland, perhaps even New Zealand, had it been willing to fund the promotion and development of the game in those areas. Instead, it spent its money on making its own competition stronger, a strategy which would serve it - but not the sport of Australian football as a whole - well for decades to come.

The conclusions of the VFL and VFA seasons, both of which were noteworthy in their own ways, are covered elsewhere in this section. Perhaps the most important, although at the time comparatively unheralded, occurrence in Victorian football in 1913 was the admission to the VFA of Hawthorn. The newcomers replaced Melbourne City, which had lost all 36 of its matches in two seasons in the competition. Hawthorn’s emergence as a football power would be very gradual, but nowadays it is arguably the greatest club in the game.

In the SAFL minor premier Port Adelaide won the flag without needing to invoke the right of challenge after overcoming Sturt by 19 points in a semi final and North Adelaide in the final by 14 points.

Subiaco won a second consecutive WAFL premiership when it outlasted Perth in a low scoring challenge final. Scores were Subiaco 6.7 (43) defeated Perth 4.7 (31).

Other premiers in 1913 were Cananore (TFL), Sydney (NSWAFL) and Valley (QFL).

In the interstate sphere New South Wales beat Queensland by 17 points in Brisbane while the VFL achieved comfortable victories over South Australia in both Adelaide and Melbourne.

A championship of Australia match was played in Adelaide between SAFL premier Port Adelaide and VFL premier Fitzroy. The match was won by Port by 63 points.


[1] Robert David Fitzgerald was a Sydney born poet who worked as a surveyor. Both of his parents were also published poets.

[1] The suffragettes were an organisation which, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, sought to acquire the vote for women in Great Britain.


by Robert D. Fitzgerald[1]

Knife's edge, moon's edge, water's edge,

graze the throat of the formed shape

that sense fills where shape vanishes:

air at the ground limit of steel,

the thin disk in the moon's curve,

land gliding out of no land.

The new image, the freed thought,

are carved from that inert bulk

where the known ends and the unknown

is cut down before it - at the mind's edge,

the knife-edge at the throat of darkness.

1913: Rumblings in the Balkans