Bruce Sloss

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Bruce Sloss
Personal information
Full name Bruce Moses Farquhar Sloss
Date of birth 21 January 1889
Place of birth Malvern East, Victoria
Date of death 4 January 1917(1917-01-04) (aged 27)
Place of death Armentières, France
Debut 4 May 1907, Essendon
vs. Melbourne, at Melbourne Cricket Ground
Height / weight 180 cm / 76 kg
Playing career1
Years Club Games (Goals)
1907–1908 Essendon 03 0(0)
1910–1914 South Melbourne 81 (44)
Total 84 (44)
1 Playing statistics correct to the end of 1914.
Sources: AFL Tables,

Bruce Moses Farquhar Sloss (21 January 1889 – 4 January 1917) was an Australian rules footballer who played as a follower with Essendon and South Melbourne in the Victorian Football League (VFL), and with Brighton in the Victorian Football Association (VFA).

Early life[edit]

Bruce Sloss, the youngest son of James Davis and Christina Sloss, was born in East Malvern on 21 January 1889.[1]

As he grew up, he was a keen footballer and cricketer, and he taught Bible classes at the Malvern Presbyterian Church — where his name appears on its Roll of Honour.[2] He was handsome, stood tall, and had a wonderful tenor voice.[3]


When just 18, Sloss was invited to train with Essendon. He played his first match in round 2 of the 1907 season against Melbourne.[4] He played one more senior match for Essendon that year, against Geelong, in round 8; and he played his third and last senior game for Essendon in round 2 of the 1908 season.[5]


Having realized that he would not gain regular selection with Essendon, he left Essendon after that second round match and went to the VFA Club, Brighton.[6]

He played for Brighton for the remainder of the 1908 season, the entire 1909 season, and the first half of the 1910 season.

In 1909, he played for the VFA team that was beaten by 19 points by the South Australian Football League (SAFL), 7.8 (50) to 4.7 (31).[7] He was one of the best on the ground for the VFA team.[3]

South Melbourne[edit]

South Melbourne took some time to obtain a VFL clearance permit for him to play with them.[3]

He was not able to play his first match for South Melbourne until the round 10 match of the 1910 season against Richmond.[8]

Playing as a follower, he was tallish for his era and somewhat lightly framed; he was, however, renowned for his speed and agility, and for his high marking ability, and the accuracy of his long kicking.[3]

He played a number of representative games for Victoria, including in the 1914 Sydney Carnival.

In his last VFL match, the 1914 Grand Final against Carlton — which Carlton won 6.9 (45) to an inaccurate South Melbourne's 4.15 (39)[9] — Sloss ran himself into the ground, and nearly won the game off his own boot; and, despite South Melbourne losing, many considered Sloss to be the best player on the ground.[3]

The eminent sporting journalist Jack Worrall — the former Australian Test cricketer and Fitzroy footballer, and the former Carlton coach and incumbent Essendon coach — writing in The Australasian, had this to say of Sloss's performance:

Sloss had no superior on the ground, his glorious efforts in the last quarter stamping him as a great footballer. He possesses all the qualities, but is apt to attempt the impossible on occasions. He marked, kicked, and ran like a champion, and almost pulled the match out of the fire by his brilliant efforts.[3]


Sloss was employed as a maintenance engineer at a jam factory. He invented (and patented) a method for cutting melons into cubes that involved revolving circular wheels (instead of fixed knife blades) which prevented the fruit being reduced to a pulp. An article in The Recorder reported that his invention had "revolutionised the jam-making industry".[10]


Sloss enlisted in 1915, and was trained as a machine-gun officer. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant on 17 January 1916, and was assigned to the 10th Machine Gun Company, First A.I.F. (the unit in which his oldest brother Roy also served). The Unit arrived in England in July 1916. Whilst the Unit was in camp (on 3 September), Sloss was promoted to Lieutenant.

Soldier and footballer[edit]

On Saturday 28 October 1916, an Australian Rules football match was held between two teams of Australian servicemen in aid of the British and French Red Cross at Queen's Club, West Kensington.

Sloss was the captain of the victorious Third Australian Divisional Team which beat the Australian Training Units team 6.16 (52) to 4.12 (36) (see The VFL during the World Wars#.22Pioneer Exhibition Game.22 in London .281916.29).

Death and burial[edit]

Sloss died instantly, behind the lines near Armentières, when a German shell landed near him, exploded and showered him with white-hot shrapnel on 4 January 1917. He was 27. He is buried at the Cité Bonjean Military Cemetery, Armentières, in Northern France.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ He was the youngest of eight: Roy, who served in the First A.I.F. and was wounded in France, Biddy, Jock (John Stewart Sloss), who fought in France, James, who served at Mesopotamia, spent three years as a prisoner of the Turks, and was awarded a Meritorious Service Medal (Honours and awards: James Mackenzie Sloss), Christina, Mary May, Hector, and Bruce. (Main & Allen, (2002), p.179. First World War Nominal Roll (Sloper, Frederick Charles — Sly, Eric Alfred)
  2. ^ Main & Allen, (2002), p.179.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Main & Allen, D., (2002), p.180.
  4. ^ Maplestone, (1996), p.450; AFL Player Statistics (Round by Round): Essendon Football Club 1907 Archived 6 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine..
  5. ^ Maplestone, (1996), p.451; AFL Player Statistics (Round by Round): Essendon Football Club 1908 Archived 6 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine..
  6. ^ The Brighton Football Club, along with the Northcote Football Club, were admitted to the VFA in 1908, to compensate for the defection of the Richmond Football Club and the Melbourne University Football Club to the VFL at the end of the 1907 season.
  7. ^ Full Points Footy: Intercolonial And Interstate Match Results 1899 to 1914
  8. ^ AFL Player Statistics (Round by Round): South Melbourne Football Club 1910 Archived 6 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine..
  9. ^ Blueseum: Grand Final, 1914.
  10. ^ Main & Allen, (2002), pp.180-181.


  • Main, J. & Allen, D., "Sloss, Bruce", pp. 179–183 in Main, J. & Allen, D., Fallen — The Ultimate Heroes: Footballers Who Never Returned From War, Crown Content, (Melbourne), 2002. ISBN 1-74095-010-0
  • Maplestone, M., Flying Higher: History of the Essendon Football Club 1872-1996, Essendon Football Club, (Melbourne), 1996. ISBN 0-9591740-2-8
  • Ross, J. (ed), 100 Years of Australian Football 1897-1996: The Complete Story of the AFL, All the Big Stories, All the Great Pictures, All the Champions, Every AFL Season Reported, Viking, (Ringwood), 1996. ISBN 0-670-86814-0

External links[edit]