School Sports & Physical Training Display – 7 December 1918

Just because the war had ended didn’t mean that the work of the local patriotic organisations was finished.

In all probability,  preparations for the Combined Schools Sports and Demonstration advertised in the Port Melbourne Standard newspaper on 30 November 1918 would have been well advanced before the Armistice was signed but even so there was good reason to hold the event and raise money.

A preview in the Standard that December morning stated that proceeds from the Port school sports day at the cricket ground would go to the local Repatriation Committee who would use the funds raised the moment it was found to be needed, in cases calling for immediate assistance.  Often serious illness attacking one or more members of a family can lead to crisis that can only be alleviated by immediate aid.  Help from the central authorities must go through certain processes and therefore takes a period of time to come through.  Hence the importance of having a local fund.  The article goes on to impress on the people of Port Melbourne, whose generosity has not been called upon previously in vain, to support this phase of providing aid for the relatives of soldiers.

Three thousand and five hundred people turned out at Port Melbourne Cricket Ground to witness the spectacle featuring pupils from Nott Street School, Graham Street School, St Joseph’s Catholic School and Lynton private school.   Cr O Sinclair took the starter’s flag for the races while Cr J P Crichton and other gentlemen, including masters of the schools, acted as stewards.  The ladies from the Patriotic Committee sold refreshments and operated novelty tables and the Port Melbourne Citizens’ Band provided musical selections.

Between the keenly contested races, picturesquely attired students presented a series of spectacular attractions such as maypole dances, folk dance, flag drills and other calisthenics.  In all there were five groups of maypole dances performing simultaneously.  The boys from St Joseph’s, under the direction of Mr Walter Lindsay, gave a fine display of, what the newspapers calls, physical culture.  In addition, the tug-of-war proved very popular with St Joseph’s accounting for Nott Street after a two minute tussle but ultimately failing against Graham Street who were crowned the overall victors.

The report in the 14 December edition of the Standard carries the results of all the races and other competitions.  There’s many familiar Port names among the winners, Dredge, Stuart, Keyhoe, May, Allport, Twomey and Stivey for example.

Besides the standard distance races and athletic events there were some more unusual events such as Throwing Cricket Ball for boys over 12 with a separate classification for boys under 12.  Kicking Football just for boys over 12 and Rolling Chase Ball for both categories.  For girls, there were Skipping races and Hoop races in several age groups.  The girls also had a Throwing Tennis Ball event and Rolling Ball Chase.

We’re intrigued by the Rolling Ball Chase which is a team event.  Graham Street won the boys over 12 event, while Nott Street took out the under 12 category and the Nott Street Team 1 won the Girls over 12 contest.

The day was a resounding success with nett proceeds totalling about £70.

Ticket for Grand School Sports and Physical Training Display by Port Melbourne Schools, Saturday 7 December 1918. PMHPS Collection.

Again, thanks to the cache of papers discovered in the recess of the Nott Street School “Old Boys” Memorial, the Port Melbourne Historical and Preservation Society has a ticket from the event.  The day appears to have been sponsored by Swallow & Ariell highlighting the company’s contribution to the war effort all the way through the conflict and beyond.

The Society has this ticket because it was used to convey the names of Nott Street School “Old Boys” to the committee compiling the school Roll of Honour.  In this case, the reverse side of the ticket bears three names – Ralph and David Monkhouse, brothers from Bay Street and their cousin Lieutenant Jack Monkhouse DCM from Nott Street.  All three were still overseas in December 1918.  Ralph and David retuned and were discharged in July 1919 while Jack wasn’t discharged until January 1920.

Reverse side of School Sports Day ticket 7 December 1918. PMHPS Collection.

References:

1918 ‘Advertising’, Port Melbourne Standard (Vic. : 1914 – 1920), 30 November, p. 2. , viewed 09 Jan 2019, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88368482

1918 ‘SCHOOL SPORTS TO-DAY.’, Port Melbourne Standard (Vic. : 1914 – 1920), 7 December, p. 2. , viewed 09 Jan 2019, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article8836727

1918 ‘SCHOOL SPORTS.’, Port Melbourne Standard (Vic. : 1914 – 1920), 14 December, p. 3. , viewed 09 Jan 2019, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88368984

 

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