Champion of the Colony

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The Champion of the Colony Award refers to a list that was compiled in the 1940s and 1950s by Australian rules football historian C. C. (Cecil Clarence) Mullen (1895-1983) for Mullen's Footballers' Australian Almanac in 1950[1] and 1951, and a History of Australian Rules Football he wrote in 1958.[2]

According to Mullen's 1950 almanac, the Champion of the Colony was an annual award was originally based on votes by club captains and later by Melbourne's leading football journalists, which was the accepted historical interpretation of the title for many decades.

More recent research has failed to uncover any contemporary evidence of such an award having existed, and it is now believed that the list was compiled entirely by Mullen, based off newspaper reports that he had collected over many years.[3][4]

The final year for each list used by Mullen varies throughout his works: the 1950 Almanac finishes in 1949, the 1951 Almanac finishes in 1950, and the 1958 history book in 1940.

A fourth list that is claimed to be based on Mullen's work finishing in 1945 has been used since 2003 in official Australian Football League (AFL) publications, with the 2017 AFL Season Guide noting the newspapers that Mullen used in compiling his list. It should be noted that the list as compiled by Mullen contained factual errors, and the different versions of the list contain anomalies.

List of Champions of the Colony[edit]

Year Player Team
1856 Tom Wills 1 Corio Bay
1857 Tom Wills Corio Bay
1858 G.S. Bruce Richmond Cricketers
1859 Tom Wills Geelong
1860 H.W. Bryant Melbourne
1861 George O'Mullane South Yarra
1862 Henry C. Harrison Melbourne
1863 Henry C. Harrison Melbourne
1864 A.M. Greenfield Ballarat
1865 Tom Wills Melbourne
1866 Henry C. Harrison Melbourne
1867 Henry C. Harrison Melbourne
1868 Jack Conway Carlton
1869 Henry C. Harrison Melbourne
1870 T.W.C. Riddell South Yarra
1871 B.J. Goldsmith Melbourne
1872 Tom Wills Geelong
1873 J.C. Donovan Carlton
1874 W.N. Lacey Carlton
1875 George Robertson Carlton
1876 George Coulthard Carlton
1877 George Coulthard Carlton
1878 H.P. Douglass Geelong
1879 George Coulthard Carlton
1880 James Wilson Geelong
1881 James Wilson Geelong
1882 James Wilson Geelong
1883 John Baker Carlton
1884 Jack Kerley Geelong
1885 Peter Burns South Melbourne
1886 Charlie Pearson Essendon
1887 John Worrall Fitzroy
1888 Dinny McKay 2 South Melbourne
1889 Bill Hannaysee Port Melbourne
1890 John Worrall Fitzroy
1891 Peter Burns South Melbourne
1892 Charlie Forbes Essendon
1893 Albert Thurgood Essendon
1894 Albert Thurgood Essendon
1895 George Vautin Essendon
1896 Bill Strickland Collingwood
1897 Fred McGinis Melbourne
1898 Dick Condon Collingwood
1899 Mick Grace Fitzroy
1900 Fred Leach Collingwood
1901 Albert Thurgood Essendon
1902 E.M. 'Ted' Rowell Collingwood
1903 Hugh Gavin 3 Essendon
1904 Vic Cumberland St Kilda
1905 Percy Trotter Fitzroy
1906 Jack McKenzie Essendon
1907 Dave McNamara St Kilda
1908 Bill Busbridge Essendon
1909 Bill Busbridge Essendon
1910 Dick Lee Collingwood
1911 Bruce Sloss South Melbourne
1912 Ernie Cameron Essendon
1913 Vic Cumberland St Kilda
1914 Dave McNamara St Kilda
1915 Dick Lee Collingwood
1916 Vic Thorp Richmond
1917 Paddy O'Brien Carlton
1918 Jack P. Howell South Melbourne
1919 Vic Thorp Richmond
1920 Roy Cazaly South Melbourne
1921 Horrie Clover Carlton
1922 Goldie Collins Fitzroy
1923 Tom Fitzmaurice Essendon
1924 Tom Fitzmaurice Essendon
1925 Colin Watson* St Kilda
1926 Ivor Warne-Smith* Melbourne
1927 Syd Coventry* Collingwood
1928 Ivor Warne-Smith* Melbourne
1929 Syd Coventry Collingwood
1930 Allan Hopkins* Footscray
1931 G.J. 'Jocka' Todd Geelong
1932 Haydn Bunton, Sr.* Fitzroy
1933 Gordon Coventry Collingwood
1934 Laurie Nash South Melbourne
1935 Laurie Nash South Melbourne
1936 Harry Collier Collingwood
1937 Dick Reynolds* Essendon
1938 Jack Regan Collingwood
1939 Dick Reynolds Essendon
1940 Jack Dyer Richmond
1941 Ted Cordner 4 Melbourne
1942 Jack Dyer 4 Richmond
1943 Jack Dyer Richmond
1944 Norm Smith Melbourne
1945 Jack Graham South Melbourne
1946 Des Fothergill Collingwood
1947 Don Cordner Melbourne
1948 Ollie Grieve Carlton
1949 Les Foote North Melbourne
1950 Bill Hutchison Essendon

* Player also won the Brownlow Medal that year.
1 While Tom Wills is listed as champion in 1856, he did not arrive back in Victoria until 23 December 1856,[5][6] having spent the last seven years in England and Ireland.
2 The lists ending in 1940, 1949 and 1950 have the 1888 winner as Denis "Dinny" Mckay of South Melbourne, but the list ending in 1945 has his teammate Peter Burns as the 1888 winner.
3 While Hugh Gavin of Essendon is listed as champion in 1903, he did not play for Essendon that year, but for Boulder City in the Goldfields of Western Australia.[7]
4 The lists ending in 1940, 1949 and 1950 have the 1941 winner as Ted Cordner of Melbourne and the 1942 winner as Jack Dyer of Richmond, but the list ending in 1945 has Wally Buttsworth of Essendon as the 1941 winner and Ted Cordner as the 1942 winner.

See also[edit]

Australian rules football - Early years in Victoria


  1. ^ The Almanac 1950
  2. ^
  3. ^ The Champion Of The Colony never existed
  4. ^ The Champions That Never Were
  5. ^ Wills arrived in Melbourne on board the Oneida which had departed from Southampton
  6. ^ "The Argus.". The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848–1954). Melbourne, Vic.: National Library of Australia. 24 December 1856. p. 4. Retrieved 7 May 2011. 
  7. ^ "FOOTBALL.". The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848–1954). Melbourne, Vic.: National Library of Australia. 12 May 1904. p. 7. Retrieved 7 May 2011.