The history of a sporting club can mean a number of things -the manner of its original formation and its progress over the years; a compilation of a list of its officers over the years; a compilation of a list of the successes achieved by teams representing the club and the exploits of individuals as representatives of the club in Victorian Lacrosse, in Interstate matches; as representatives of Australia in International matches; the winning of the best and fairest awards; the naming of particular individuals who have brought honour to the club as players, coaches or administrators over a long period. The list goes on.
During Frank Lansbury’s time as Honorary Secretary, the stage was reached on a number of occasions when players became blaze about winning premierships, and when the taking of photographs of teams was not accepted with any enthusiasm. This accounts for the very small proportion of the total premierships won by the club being represented by photographs. The photographs around the walls of the clubrooms are all that is available of the premiership teams.
Minute books have been kept on the club since its formation in 1903. They are now in the hands of the historian for the Victorian Lacrosse Association, Mr. Doug Fox. The years 1916 to 1930 were never passed on to Mr. Athol Evans (the Secretary of the time) in 1933 and their whereabouts have never been determined. During both World Wars lacrosse was limited and so the periods 1916 -1918 and 1939 -1945 would have little to record in regard to the competition played.
The early minute book discloses that a meeting of the Malvern Lacrosse Club was held in a room at the Malvern Town Hall on Wednesday, 15th February, 1904. It appears it was well attended by members and intending members; this statement tends to support the fact that the club played in 1903 and this was its first annual meeting. The chair was occupied by Mr. Ed. Edwards (whose son Les Edwards lived in Glen Waverley -at least in 1972 -and was interested in the activities of the club), and the object of the meeting was explained. The members present formed themselves into a committee to consider a code of rules drawn up by a select committee.
This code, with minor alterations, was accepted by the Committee of the time, and consequently became the rules of the club. These rules remained unchanged until 1963 and governed the conduct of the club for approximately sixty years. The rules were again changed in 1986 when the club became incorporated to protect the committee members from litigation, should any arise, showing a sad state of affairs in the age in which we now live. At the first meeting Mr. Ed. Edwards was elected President, a number of gentlemen were elected as Patrons and Vice-Presidents and all other offices were filled.
The Honorary Secretary elected was Mr. J. W. Schafe, who is believed to have been one of the guiding forces behind the formation of the club. He came from the St. Kilda Lacrosse Club and was vitally interested in professional athletics; a number of the original members of the Malvern club were professional runners. Mr. Schafe continued his interest in the club during his lifetime and lived to the age of 82. Frank knew Mr. Schafe well and remembered listening with interest, on many occasions, to his stories of happenings in lacrosse and professional athletics. Apparently Mr. Schafe was regarded as somewhat of a “wild man” in his younger days. He attended the club functions and arranged the printing required by the club from time to time as he owned and operated a large printing firm, then located in Lonsdale Street, Melbourne.
The next Annual General Meeting, according to the minute book, was held at the Malvern Town Hall on Wednesday, 5th April, 1905. The President elected on this occasion was Dr. Hugh Murray, with Mr. Schafe again as Secretary. Mr. Jim Barrie, who returned as a supporter of the club many years later was elected to the General Committee on this occasion. A list showing approximately forty names appears in the minute book, those concerned being club members of that time. A number of these persons were also known to Frank Lansbury and were still associated with the club in 1920 when he first became a member. Amongst the members were Jack and Mel Beattie (killed in the first World War), the Ellis family, one of whom (Jack), played cricket for Australia as a wicket keeper, members of the Page family whose original shop was still running as “Nurserymans” in High Street in 1972, Mr. R. Fripp and his brother Sam who donated the photograph of teams in the early 1900’s that hang in the club rooms and Vince Healy who was subsequently President of the club for many years.
The third annual meeting of the club was held in the Malvern Town Hall on 11th April, 1907. On this occasion a Mr. P.R. Joske was elected as President, Mr. Schafe again being elected Secretary. It is interesting to note that in those days many influential people, including a number of gentlemen with Knighthoods, were either Patrons or Vice-Presidents of the club. Mr. W.B. House was elected President at the annual meeting of 19th March, 1908, Mr. Schafe being re-elected as Secretary. Frank remembered Mr. House, who died in 1941, as an elderly gentleman with a beard such as was worn by the male sex in 1973. His initials were
W.B. and he was aptly known as “Weather Board” House. At the meeting held in 1909 reference is made to the increase in membership and a suggestion that sticks be obtained to be given to juniors from the local state schools (Spring Road and Tooronga Road). The sixth annual meeting was held in the Malvern Town Hall on 2nd March, 1910, when Mr. House was elected President and Mr. Schafe again secretary. One item of note in the minutes of this meeting reads “The D Team commenced splendidly but unfortunately dissent arose in their ranks and spoiled whatever chance they might otherwise have had in the Premiership”. (Apparently things were no better in those days!) Annual general meetings continued to be held each year (27th March, 1911; 16th April, 1912; 10th April, 1913; 16th April, 1914; 31st March, 1915) but as previously mentioned, records from 1916 to 1930 are missing. Details of all annual meetings from 1931 to date are available in the respective minute books. In 1931 the meeting was held in the Pavilion at the Malvern Cricket Ground (where the club still runs to-day) on Wednesday, 11th March. Mr. V. P. Healy was President and occupied the chair; there being thirty-one members, including Frank Lansbury, present. Mr. Healy was elected President for the ensuing season and Mr. Fred Smith as Honorary Secretary. Also at this meeting Mr. Healy was elected as a Life Member and presented with a gold medal. Mr. Healy presented the photograph of the 1929 teams, which hangs in the clubrooms, to the club. Mr. Vern Waring retired as Honorary Treasurer and Mr. Ron Heywood was elected to this position for season 1931.
Hugh Wadsworth first appeared on the scene in 1931 being appointed trainer for this season. Several members of the club (including Messrs Fisher, Jenkins and Chambers) were cleared by the club to assist with the formation of the Glen Iris Lacrosse Club (which later became Camberwell/Glen Iris or C.G.I. and is now Camberwell Lacrosse Club) during the season, all of them being resident in Glen Iris, which at the time was a new suburb. The details of every annual general meeting could be included but these formative ones seem appropriate here.
Box lacrosse was played at the Wattle Park Palais, St. Kilda in 1932 and Malvern’s senior team of Messrs R. Brierley, W.J. Edwards, H. Wood, C. Foster, G. Knowles, H. Beattie and R. Lamont was successful in winning the premierships covering the series of matches that were played. Box lacrosse continued for a further few seasons but was abandoned because of the injuries to players as a result of playing on wooden floors with no protective equipment. An interesting item here is that in season 1932 relations between Malvern and Williamstown clubs were far from friendly and a complaint was made to the Association by Malvern regarding a match at Williamstown on 2nd July, 1932, when six members of the Malvern A Team were alleged to have received serious injuries because of the roughness of the game.
Mr. Ord Glenn, who had served as Secretary of Malvern for several seasons commenced lacrosse at Ballarat in 1932, and annual visits were made to that city by members of Malvern to play against Ballarat. Malvern is credited with having assisted in the formation of lacrosse in that city. The game became very popular in Ballarat but unfortunately, World War II led to its demise. A team from Ballarat played in the Melbourne B Section competition in 1932 and performed very well. This must have been very difficult for the players as Ballarat would have been at least a half-day trip by train during this period.
Many happy times were enjoyed by club members who made the club visits to Ballarat at the end of the various seasons and many strong friendships were cemented between the players of both bodies.
A gala dinner was held by the club in the Malvern Town Hall on 3rd October, 1932, and the souvenir programme produced for this occasion forms the basis for the listing of the names of members of winning teams over the years. It is also interesting to note that although formed in 1903, it was 1917 before the club was successful in winning a premiership and certainly at that time there was no indication of the fantastic successes that were to follow the winning of this first A Grade premiership. The cost of this celebration dinner, by the way, was 2 shillings and sixpence (about 25¢) and no alcohol was allowed.
It should be also noted that the honour board hanging in the club rooms, which contains details of the premierships won from 1918 onwards, was made and donated to the club by Mr. P. J. (Mick) Remeeus, an ex-player and strong supporter of the club at that time (1932).
The “Joel Fox” shield donated to the Association by a supporter and administrator of the Malvern Club was won on three consecutive occasions and became our permanent property. It was donated back to the Association by the club for perpetual competition in A Grade and has been known as the Joel Fox Memorial Shield since that time.
Several players from Malvern (including Mr. Alf Evans) sought and were granted transfers to the Camberwell Club (at the time Glen Iris and Camberwell were separate clubs) in 1933 mainly because of residence in the area. It should be remembered that cars were not the normal mode of transport at the time and playing for a team close to home could have been advantageous.
In 1935 steps were taken to again introduce the game to local state schools and a Mr. Frank Baxter, a prominent player with the club at that time, took over coaching of Spring Road, Gardiner and Tooronga Schools. At the time he was lessee of a milk bar at the then new picture theatre in Glenferrie Road (Embassy). A substantial number of players were recruited to the club in 1936 following the successful introduction of the game into the schools and included such notables as Noel Jeffrey, Gordon Anderson, Jack and Herb Addison, Don Drummond, Jock Liddell, Bob Leslie, etc.
In 1937 an invitation was received from the East Torrens team in South Australia to send a Malvern team to play a social match in Adelaide at the end of season 1937. This invitation was the first of the Malvern -East Torrens visits that continued except for World War II until the mid 1980’s, a period in excess of forty years.
Also in 1937 the club was perturbed about playing of a final against Williamstown at Williamstown and sought to have the game played on neutral ground. Following several special meetings, it was finally left to the members of the team to decide whether to take the field or not and the match was eventually played and won at Williamstown. It is regarded as one of the roughest matches ever played in Victorian lacrosse and resulted in many spiteful incidents, including an attack on players and supporters after the game had concluded. Police were called in to break up the melee that followed.
World War II, which broke out in 1939, made deep inroads into the ranks of lacrosse players and there were a number of clubs that did not resume at the end of the War. Senior lacrosse was suspended in 1941 and 1942 and only junior age teams functioned during those years. The Malvern Club, with the help of players from other clubs that were not able to field teams, continued to function during the war period when games were played on friendly or limited competition basis. Perhaps it was fortunate that several of the more interested people were still about to see the club did not disappear out of existence. At the end of the war many of our good players returned to the game and continued as players for some years after.