Old, vintage, historical book archives at the Morwell Historical Society

Sport from the 1880s

A Journey in Time – A Resource for Local History

Sport from the 1880s

Horse Racing

In the 1880s the Annual Race Meeting at Morwell was conducted on Boxing Day. 

In about 1890, the date and name of this annual event were changed, and for more than 40 years the Annual St. Patrick’s Day Races were held in March. The race course was on the west side of Driffield Road with the main entrance being from Driffield Road, approximately where Langford Street runs into Driffield Road.


Local athletic meetings at country centres may have been a development of the annual picnics held at most places. It seems that our athletic meetings in the 1890s were conducted at Easter time. Perhaps our most successful local champion was Robert Porter (born in 1870), a son of Robert Porter. The family still holds a gold medal won by Robert Porter in Melbourne in 1901.

J.C. Horsfall, a son of the Shire Secretary and Engineer, F. A. Horsfall, 1931 – 1944, as well as being an outstanding student, was the sprint champion of Victoria and of Melbourne University, also of Cambridge University, England.

Winsome Cripps, who represented Australia in the Olympic Games in 1952, lived in Morwell as a school girl, 1939 – 1942, when her parents were the proprietors of the Central Caf, Morwell.


Morwell’s first swimming pool was constructed in 1925 on the strip of land in Commercial Road, beside the railway line and opposite the State School. It seems that this convenient though narrow open area was called “Alexandra Park”, no doubt so named after Queen Alexandra, consort of King Edward VII.

The Olympic swimming pool in Sir Norman Brookes Park was built in 1956.


The Morwell Bowling Club was formed in 1913, and a green was constructed in Alexandra Park in that year.It was a narrow green of only three rinks and allowing play only in the east-west directions. The move to the present site in Hazelwood Road was made at the beginning of the 1948-1949 season. The Morwell Bowling Green in Helen Street was opened in 1969.


In September 1908, Dr. J. S. McLean convened a meeting at which it was decided to form the Morwell Golf Club. A course was laid out in Kleine’s Paddock which was off Commercial Road. After a few years a change was made to the other side of the line on Buckley’s Hill. When this land was acquired for the development of housing projects in the 1940s, the club had to close down. The present Golf Club, beyond Crinigan Road began in 1976.


In the 1890s there was a cricket competition between Morwell, Moe, Traralgon and Boolarra, but it was not until we reach the 1920s that we can find any individual cricketer much above the average. In the years 1921 to 1924, a Methodist Minister, Rev. David Beyer had a similarly good record as a batsman.

However, Morwell’s heyday in cricket seems to have been the 1940s and 1950s, the consistent and outstanding performers being Albert Cardwell, N.W. Baldy (who was the Shire Secretary, 1944-1948) J. Rutherford, C. Mahony and H. Baddeley.

We cannot take the history of cricket any further than that, except to mention the outstanding work still being done by Albert Cardwell as a cricket administrator for the area, and as a country representative on the V.C.A.


A Morwell Tennis Club was formed in 1888, and competition matches played against other towns. By 1893 there were two club courts at the corner of Helen Street and Latrobe Road – opposite the present Anglican vicarage. In 1940, the move was made to the Recreation Ground off Hazelwood Road, where four asphalt courts were constructed.

A third move was in 1958-1959 to the present site in Sir Norman Brookes Park, where six en-tout-cas courts were laid down. Four additional courts were ready by August 1966.

In 1975, a two story clubroom complex was built, and officially opened by Neale Fraser, on Sunday, 13th April 1975.

Murray French has been the Club Champion for 12 successive years- 1967-78. Stan Firmin, Club Champion 1956-60 was secretary of the club for sixteen years, 1952-67.

Perhaps we should also mention an interesting family of champion players, Darrell White, Men’s Champion in 1965, Glenda White, Ladies Champion in 1962 & 1966 and Elaine White, Ladies’ Champion in 1971, 1972, 1974, 1976 and 1977.


We can subdivide our century of football into four periods.

  1. 1879-1919: Forty years of minor competitive football.
  2. 1920-1931: The Morwell-Mirboo Association consisting of Morwell, Mirboo, Boolarra, Coal Mine and Hazelwood.
  3. 1932-1953: The Central Gippsland League consisting of Morwell, Warragul, Yarragon, Drouin, Thorpdale and Trafalgar.
  4. 1954 onwards: The Latrobe Valley League, comprising in 1979. Morwell, Warragul, Moe, Traralgon, Sale, Bairnsdale, Yallourn, Heyfield, Leongatha and Newborough.

Period 1: 1879-1919: Some of our best players during this long, uneventful period were Vines (Captain in 1912), Billingsley, Len and Col Davey, Clarke, H. Vary, Mills, Davis, W. Milligan, Hume, Rintoull, Hall, Lamont, Bryden, Mulcare and Brinsmead

Period 2: 1920-1931: Morwell won its first premiership in 1922, the winning team consisting of “Rimmer” Richardson (Captain), “Sec” Billingsley, G. Briggs, C. Crawley, J. Crozier, Col Davey, Les Davey, Reg Davey, Rev. A.G. day, A. Hutton, D. McGrath, “Snowy” Maxfield, F. Rooney, A. Stubbins, “Nugget” Turton, H. Walsh, Joe Warnett and Rob Watson.

Period 3: 1932-1953: One of our most successful periods was from 1932 to 1940, in which we won two premierships, 1933 and 1937, were second on three occasions, and figured in the final series in eight of the nine years. The hard luck story was in 1940, when we won every match except the last, the Grand Final. The members of the premiership side in 1933 were, Vic Bond (Captain), George Rust (Vice-Captain), Claude Amiet, Harold Amiet, Tom Bawden, Harry Bond, Lou Bond, Tom Bond, Greg Campbell, Chapple, Chessum, Les Davey (9 goals), Norm Davey, Hart, Herrick, Higgins, Sillcock and Stone. The Second World War interrupted this competition for the four years 1941 to 19544 inclusive. At the end of this period there was another burst of success for Morwell which won the premiership in three of the last four years, 1950, 1951 and 1953. Denis Quinn was the coach during the last years.

Period 4: 1954 onwards: Morwell won the premiership in 1961, 1966, 1983, 1985, 1993, 2013, 2014