Dinny McKay

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Dinny McKay
Personal information
Full name Denis McKay
Date of birth (1867-11-23)23 November 1867
Place of birth Ballarat
Date of death 17 August 1897(1897-08-17) (aged 29)
Place of death Melbourne
Original team(s) South Ballarat
Height 178 cm (5 ft 10 in)
Playing career1
Years Club Games (Goals)
1886 South Ballarat 003 00(1)
1892–1893 Richmond 031 0(20)
1886–1891, 1894–1896 South Melbourne (VFA) 157 (125)
1897 South Melbourne (VFL) 014 0(14)
Total 205 (160)
1 Playing statistics correct to the end of 1897.
Sources: AFL Tables, AustralianFootball.com

Denis "Dinny" McKay (23 November 1867 – 17 August 1897) was an Australian rules footballer who played with South Melbourne in the Victorian Football Association (VFA) and Victorian Football League (VFL).[1] He played briefly with Richmond, in 1892 and 1893, but otherwise was with South Melbourne until their final VFA season in 1896. His sudden death during the 1897 VFL season was considered a severe loss to football.[2]


VFA years[edit]

Born in 1867, McKay played originally for the South Ballarat Football Club.[3]

He began at South Melbourne in 1886 and became a leading member of the team.[4] Regarded as one of the best all-round players in the colony, McKay was a regular Victorian representative in intercolonial matches.[4]

A forward, he was the competition's leading goal-kicker in the 1888 VFA season, credited with either 49 or 50 goals depending on the source.[5] South Melbourne were premiers that season, the first of three successive premierships McKay was part of.[5]

In 1892 he went over to Richmond, but returned to South Melbourne after two seasons.[6][7]

Dinny McKay preparing to kick

In the 1896 VFA season he played in the premiership play-off against Collingwood, which is retrospectively treated as Victoria's first grand final. Collingwood won by one goal, and McKay with two goals was the game's only multiple goal-kicker.[8]

1897 VFL season[edit]

The following year, South Melbourne were a foundation club in the inaugural VFL season.[9]

McKay has the distinction of kicking South Melbourne's first VFL goal, which came late in the second quarter of their opening round loss to Melbourne at Lake Oval, with a snap shot at goal that bounced through.[3] In round seven, against Fitzroy, he kicked two goals in a game which finished in the VFL's first ever draw.[10] His 14 goals in 1897 included three on both matches against Carlton, and were enough to be South Melbourne's leading goal-kicker.[11]

As South Melbourne failed the make the finals, McKay's season ended in round 14, a one-point win over Fitzroy at Lake Oval on 7 August, which was his 14th VFL appearance, having not missed a game all year.[3]


On 17 August 1897, at the age of 29, McKay died at Melbourne Hospital, where he had gone with an internal complaint.[4] He had suffered a burst appendix and died from peritonitis.[3] His death was not, as was believed for many years, the result of an on-field injury.[12]

His funeral was one of the largest to have been held in the South Melbourne area, attended by representatives from all of the league, VFA and leading junior clubs.[13] Nearly 150 vehicles were in the cortege and it was written that the funeral took close to 30 minutes to pass any given point.[13][14]

He had been married with two children, the eldest three and a half years old, the youngest 18 months.[15]


  1. ^ Holmesby, Russell; Main, Jim (2007). The Encyclopedia Of AFL Footballers. BAS Publishing. ISBN 9781920910785.
  2. ^ "Football Notes". The Australasian. Melbourne. 21 August 1897. p. 19.
  3. ^ a b c d Main, Jim. In The Blood: South Melbourne – Sydney Swans Football Club. Seaford, Victoria: Bas Publishing. ISBN 9781921496011.
  4. ^ a b c "Death of Well-Known Footballer". The Age. Melbourne. 19 August 1897. p. 5. Retrieved 6 June 2015.
  5. ^ a b Fiddian, Marc (2013). The VFA – A History of the Victorian Football Association 1877 – 1995. Melbourne Sports Books.
  6. ^ "Richmond—Tigers By Name and Nature". The Argus Week-End Magazine. Melbourne: National Library of Australia. 6 August 1949. p. 2. Retrieved 6 June 2015.
  7. ^ "Football". Record (Emerald Hill). Vic.: National Library of Australia. 5 May 1894. p. 3. Retrieved 6 June 2015.
  8. ^ "A new football power emerges – 1896 VFA Premiership Play-Off: Collingwood vs. South Melbourne". Australian Football. Retrieved 6 June 2015.
  9. ^ Ross, John, ed. (1996). 100 Years of Australian Football 1897–1996: The Complete Story of the AFL. Ringwood: Viking. p. 96. ISBN 0-670-86814-0.
  10. ^ "A Drawn Game". The Argus. Melbourne: National Library of Australia. 23 June 1897. p. 4. Retrieved 6 June 2015.
  11. ^ Lovett, Michael (2004). AFL 2004 – The Official Statistical History Of The AFL. AFL Publishing. ISBN 0-9580300-5-7.
  12. ^ Main, Jim. "Medical Advances: The Witto tragedy". AFL Record. Round 4, 2010.
  13. ^ a b "Denis M'Kay's Funeral". Record (Emerald Hill). Vic.: National Library of Australia. 28 August 1897. p. 2. Retrieved 6 June 2015.
  14. ^ "A Footballer's Funeral". The Argus. Melbourne: National Library of Australia. 23 August 1897. p. 5. Retrieved 6 June 2015.
  15. ^ "The Record". Record (Emerald Hill). Vic.: National Library of Australia. 21 August 1897. p. 2. Retrieved 6 June 2015.

External links[edit]