The Melbourne Rules : An Esoteric History compiled by Brian Membrey

1950 : Preston Technical School


FOOTBALL TEAM (from the Preston Technical School magazine, 1950, page 7)

Back Row. B. Pert, A. O'Brien, L. Henderson, C. Webber, F. Costello

2nd Back Row : J. Watt, M. Rowbottom, I. Lawson, R, Barassi, G. Walker. I Shearn

3rd Back Row : Mr. D. Holbrook, R. Jones, R. Wilson, N. Ward, L. Seymour, J. Tope, R. Charter, C. Rutherford, Mr, J. Banks (coach)

Front Row : H. Buckley, R. Stubbs, R. McBean (Capt), R. Walker (V-Capt), R. Jewell, M. Biddiscombe

The background to the photo was the new single-story Trades block on the souther side of the main St. George’s road building

(Added May, 2019 following a FB posting of the team and associated material by Robert Cockerell, a long-time stalwart of the Reservoir Football Club. We thank Robert for both the image and some of the information provided. The article is a companion piece to the page on Ray McBean, the captain of the 1950 Tech premiership team and a colourful character in his own right).

In 1939, the Preston Technical School F.C., in just its second year of existence, started a long tradition by winning the Technical and Trades School championship, a noteworthy achievement given the school only opened on 2 February, 1937.

This was the first year that zones had been defined for enrolments at technical schools : Preston's was established with the assigned area bounded on the west to Sydney-road to Victoria-street, thence across to junction of Arthurton-road and the Merri Creek, Arthurton-road, Separation-street to the Darebin Creek, thence on the east by the Darebin Creek.

The northern boundary was not specified, presumably limitless, but it was noted that whilst Heidelberg was nominally allocated to Collingwood Tech., pupils could attend Preston due to the better public transport facilities.

Little is known of this competition - whether it was the same as an organized Technical Schools competition which played mid-week with several of schools (particularly Collingwood Tech)playing arranged matches as curtain-raisers to V.F.L. matches on Saturdays is uncertain.

Regardless, in 1950, it was announced that Preston had won its first A Grade Technical Schools premiership by defeating Box Hill 8.5 to 5.10. Best : Preston : McBean, Walker, Charter, Pert, Barassi, Ward : Goals : Preston : Pert 2, Jewell 2, Watt 2, McBean 2.

Little is documented of the competition, but it is believed Preston lost just two first round games, both against the numerically stronger Collingwood to earn second place  on the final ladder and thus the coveted "double-chance", but were thrashed by Box Hill in the second semi-final, and the following week came from behind to defeat Brighton in the prelim.

The school magazine at the end of the year suggested the team had played "purposeful, intelligent football" which much of the credit for the victory accredited to the back line; it listed the positional line-up, a couple of which are obvious from the listed Best Players :up of premiership team which included a number of interesting names :

Backs : Ray Walker (v-c), Charter, Wilson

Half-backs : Jones, Biddiscombe, Ward

Centres : Costello, Shearn, Barassi

Half-forwards Gordon Walker, Rutherford, Lawson

Forwards : Buckley, Jewell, Watt

Rucks : McBean (c), Tope

Rover : Pert

19th : Stubbs

There was certainly some potential there – Ron Barassi (254 games Melbourne/Carlton), Brian Pert (125 games Fitzroy and also captain-coach of the Preston Cricket Club), Brian Buckley (116 games for Carlton and captain-coach of Port Melbourne when he threatened to take his team off the ground in a highly controversial Grand Final against Dandenong in 1967).  

As Robert's notes point out, fate would have it, Barassi would become Buckley's senior coach in 1965, the latter's final year at Carlton after Barassi shocked the football world by leaving his beloved Melbourne to take up the captain-coaching role at Princes Park.

The Preston Football Club also benefited, known senior players, Ray McBean, 52 games,  Jack Watt 48 games (both his father, Jack senior, 36 games, 1926-27), and son, John, 55, 1985-89) played with the club), Gordon Walker; 40 games (1951-54); Ray Walker (16, 1955-57) and Rex Jones 14 games in 1955-56. Ray and Gordon Walker do not appear to have been brothers, but Robert Cockerell has a vague recollection that Ray Walker may have lost a leg to cancer or an accident after he left Preston.

He also highlighted the career of one of Reservoir’s later champions, Neville Ward - Fitzroy and St. Kilda Reserves, senior level with Northcote, then at Rezza for 138 goals, leading goal-kicker 1957, ? goals, 1958 (62), 1959 (premiership year, 96).  Secretary 1978-79 and 1981 and Life Member.

Another player listed, Colin Rutherford had a successful athletics career in the long/triple jump, not Olympic standard but perhaps Commonwealth Games.

Ray McBean, the Technical School captain played for Preston in the ruck and centre half back and proved one of the club's most controversial players.

In addition to the Aussie Rules, Preston also won the Technical Schools knock-out soccer championship, defeating Brighton 3-0. Best : Hart, Jones, Clements, Stewart.  Goals : Stewart 2, Bretherton 1.

My initial year at the St. George’s Road school came in 1958 - actually second year at the Tech, year one was then at Gowerville Tech in Bell Street on the corner of Victoria Road prior to completion of the Jessie Street building.  By that time, Preston had grown so much and so dominated Technical Schools sports that the football and cricket teams (perhaps others) were split in two - “A” (surnames A to “M”) and “Z” (“N” to “Z’).

More often than not, they played off for premierships with “A” usually winning, not neccessarily through greater talent, but through a higher number to select from.

Just who came up with the “A” and “Z” split is unknown, but it was based on the fallacy that each represented 13 letters of the alphabet, but in reality, A to M represents 60 to 65 percent of the population - how many people do you know with a family name commencing with “X”, “Z” or even “Q” or its partner in crime, “U”?