Fullerton, Ivanhoe AFC say no to Old Ivanhoe

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Nick Armistead

Rivalries can be built over years of intense competition or individual moments that spark heated exchanges, but for obvious reasons, Old Ivanhoe Grammarians had a foe in Ivanhoe Amateurs years before they’d even taken to the park.

One of OIG’s founders, Andy Harris, joined the ‘Clubs in Focus’ Podcast and spoke about the issues Old Ivanhoe faced when initially trying to gain admission to the VAFA – particularly with VAFA Secretary and power broker, Jack Fullerton.

“He wasn’t at all enthusiastic,” Harris said.

“Jack was very negative about it. He said nah, nah you can’t do that, that’d ruin Ivanhoe Amateurs.”

Due to the lack of an old boy’s club associated with the grammar school, Ivanhoe AFC historically had free reign to recruit players straight out of the school with a large chunk of their list from Ivanhoe Grammar.

Ivanhoe AFC experienced incredible success when they first joined the VAFA, winning three senior premierships in their first three years, all without dropping a single game. The Magpies won 60 matches in a row to secure the D Section premiership (1934), the C Section premiership (1935) and in 1936 they won the B Section flag to be crowned premiers and champion team in each of their first three seasons, a feat no other club has managed.

When Harris, fellow OIG legend Bill Lyon and Ray Carnie (pictured back row second from left) came asking for admission in 1961, Fullerton was apprehensive at the thought of two Amateur clubs in the same geographic area.

“We said well if we’re going to get in Jack, what have we got to do?” Harris said.

“He said I’ll have to talk to some people first to see if we’re willing to let you in because you know you can’t have two Amateur clubs on each other’s doorsteps like that.”

Fullerton put together a list of requirements that took Old Ivanhoe two and a half years to adhere to before finally getting the tick of approval in 1964.

“Ivanhoe Amateurs objected strongly to our admission to the Association for the obvious reasons because half the players at Ivanhoe Amateurs were Old Ivanhoe Grammarians,” Harris said.

“We weren’t allowed to take any players from Ivanhoe Amateurs in other words get clearances for existing Old Ivanhoe people at Ivanhoe Amateurs and we could understand that.”

Old Ivanhoe Grammarians played their first official game in F Grade on 24 April 1964, losing to St Pat’s Ballarat by 85 points at Herbert Onley Reserve. It was a strong start by the Hoers with John Dawson kicking the first goal of the day before St Pat’s piled on 12.19 (91) to zero thereafter.

Harris was the inaugural captain/coach of that first-ever OIG side, before he recruited former Ivanhoe AFC and Big V star Bruce Jeeves the following season.

The two sides would build upon their natural rivalry over the years, including a friendly wager in the 90’s between the two committees. Listen to Kevin McLean discuss that + a whole lot more from Andy Harris, John McKenzie, Nick Butler and Jarrod Geischen on this week’s podcast.

Feature photo: Ivanhoe Grammar 1934 Football Team (credit: Old Ivanhoe Grammarians Association)