Charlie Fincher

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Charlie Fincher
Charles Fincher (1892–1915).jpg
Personal information
Full name Charles Fincher
Date of birth (1892-01-23)23 January 1892
Place of birth Footscray, Victoria
Date of death 25 April 1915(1915-04-25) (aged 23)
Place of death Gallipoli, Turkey
Original team(s) Malmsbury and Scarsdale
Playing career1
Years Club Games (Goals)
1913 South Melbourne 9 (5)
1 Playing statistics correct to the end of 1913.
Sources: AFL Tables,

Charles "Charlie" Fincher (23 January 1892 — 25 April 1915) was an Australian rules footballer who played with South Melbourne in the Victorian Football League (VFL), and with Essendon Town Football Club in the Victorian Football Association (VFA).

A private in the First AIF, he was killed in action, shot by a bullet, as he reached the beach, during the very first landings at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915.[1][2]


Second eldest of the nine children (six boys and three girls) of George Francis Fincher and Margaret Fincher, née Nicoll, he was born in Footscray, Victoria on 23 January 1892. The family moved to Lauriston, near Kyneton, Victoria. He attended Lauriston State School.


One of his young brothers, John Alexander "Jack" Fincher (1904-1970) was also a talented footballer, playing senior VFL football with Richmond (1927-1930) and with Footscray (1931-1933).

Country Footballer[edit]

Charlie Fincher was an exceptionally talented young footballer, playing with the senior Lauriston team when just 15, transferring to the side from Malmsbury, Victoria that played in the Kyneton District Association, and then, in 1911, he played the first of his two seasons with the Ballarat club Scarsdale.[3] In his second year with Scarsdale he represented the Ballarat League in matches against Geelong,[4] a combined Broken Hill side,[5] and a combined VFL team.[6]

South Melbourne[edit]

His form in the representative matches impressed the South Melbourne Football Club, and Finscher was invited to Melbourne to train with the team. Granted a clearance on 25 April 1913 (exactly two years before his death),[7] he played his first senior VFL match with South Melbourne, against St Kilda, at the Lake Oval, on Saturday, 26 April 1913 (round one), as a rover. He played well and kicked one goal.[8]

The next Saturday, he played in a tough match in very wet conditions against Carlton, at Princes Park,[9] which South Melbourne drew with Carlton despite having five less scoring shots.[10]

He missed the next two matches, then played well in South Melbourne's 14 point round five win over Geelong, scoring two goals,[11] In round six, he played against Melbourne,[12] then against Fitzroy and University.

He did not play for two weeks, then played again in rounds eleven, twelve, and thirteen. In his last match on 19 July 1913 (round thirteen), against Essendon, South Melbourne unexpectedly lost by 20 points (South Melbourne did not scoring a goal until the last quarter).[13]

Essendon Town Football Club[edit]

On 29 April, he was granted a clearance from South Melbourne to the Essendon Town Football Club, also known as Essendon 'A',[14] and was given a permit to play with them.[15]

He played his first match for Essendon 'A', against Brighton, on Saturday, 2 May 1914 (round four); he played well in a team that beat Brighton by 89 points.[16]

He played consistently well for the team in the remaining games of the season, playing his last VFA game in the 31 point, 8.10 (58) to 13.11 (89), Semi-Final loss to North Melbourne (the eventual premiers in 1914).[17]


At the time of his enlistment (18 August 1914), he was living in Albert Park, and was employed as an engine-driver with the Metropolitan Gas Company. Two of his brothers, Lieutenant George Francis Fincher (3729),[18] and Lieutenant James Francis Fincher (3730),[19] also served in the First AIF; and each of his brothers was Mentioned in Despatches.

He embarked from Melbourne on the HMAT Orvieto on 21 October 1914, bound for Egypt and the Dardanelles. Mid-way across the Indian Ocean, their ship encountered, and took on board, survivors from the German raider, the SMS Emden, that had been defeated by HMAS Sydney.[20]


He was killed in action, shot by a bullet, as he was about to make the beach, during the very first landings at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915.


His remains were never recovered; and he has no known Grave. His name is recorded on the Lone Pine Memorial at Gallipoli, Turkey; it is also located at panel 3 in the Commemorative Area at the Australian War Memorial, and it appears on the side of the pedestal of the War Memorial at Kyneton, Victoria.

On Saturday evening, 21 August 1915, the Essendon Town Football Club conducted a farewell function for seven of its members who had enlisted. There were many patriotic speeches given, and presentations were made to each of the enlisted men. As a mark of respect, one place was kept vacant throughout the evening; it had the name of Charlie Fincher attached to it.[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lane, Daniel, "ANZAC hero Ted Larkin: The greatest sacrifice of all", The Sydney Morning Herald, (18 April 2015).
  2. ^ Despite various suggestions given over time, related to particular individuals, it is clear that, because, at least, six former VFL footballers were killed during the chaos of the landing at Anzac CoveRupert Balfe (University, Alan Cordner (Geelong and Collingwood), Claude Crowl (St Kilda), Charlie Fincher (South Melbourne), Fen McDonald (Carlton and Melbourne), and Joe Pearce (Melbourne) — it can never be definitively argued that one of these men was "the first VFL footballer killed in the First World War".
  3. ^ The Essendon Gazette and Keilor, Bulla and Broadmeadows Reporter, 1 July 1915.
  4. ^ Country Matches: Ballarat, The Argus, (Monday, 8 July 1912), p.4; Matches in the Country: Geelong v. Ballarat, The Age, (Monday, 8 July 1912), p.7.
  5. ^ Football: The Brokens on Tour, The Barrier Miner, (Wednesday, 24 July 1912), p.5.
  6. ^ League Team at Ballarat, The Argus, (Monday 12 August 1912), p.10; League v. Ballarat, The Age, (Monday 12 August 1912), p.7.
  7. ^ The Argus, 26 April 1913.
  8. ^ An Interesting Game: South Melbourne Beat St. Kilda, The Argus, (Monday, 28 April 1913), p.10.
  9. ^ Football: Teams, The Argus, (Saturday 3 May 1913), p.17.
  10. ^ Observer, "A Rare Struggle: Carlton V. South Melbourne: Points and Honour Equal", The Argus, (Monday 5 May 1913), p.12.
  11. ^ South's System Wins: Geelong's Lost Chances, The Argus, (Monday, 26 May 1913), p.10.
  12. ^ The Melbourne team included Joe Pearce, who would also die at Anzac Cove on 25 April 1915.
  13. ^ Saturday's Surprise: Essendon Defeat South Melbourne, The Argus, (Monday, 21 July 1913), p.10.
  14. ^ "The League", The Argus, 30 April 1914.
  15. ^ "The Association", The Argus, 30 April 1914.
  16. ^ Essendon (18.16) Beat Brighton (6.9): Essendon Strike Form, The Age, (Monday, 4 May 1914), p.7; [Right Wing, "Football: Essendon v. Brighton", The Essendon Gazette and Keilor, Bulla and Broadmeadows Reporter, (Thursday, 7 May 1914), p.3.]
  17. ^ North Melbourne Beat Essendon, The Age, (Monday, 10 August 1914), p.4.
  18. ^ World War I Service record: James Francis Fincher (3729).
  19. ^ World War I Service record: James Francis Fincher (3730).
  20. ^ Main and Allen (2002), p.63.
  21. ^ Rambler, "Sporting Echoes", The Essendon Gazette and Keilor, Bulla and Broadmeadows Reporter, (Thursday, 26 August 1915), p.6.