The “three- card-trick”

A figure of language for a gullible or stupid person is that they fell for the “three-card-trick”. The “three-card-trick” is a con game/swindle/scam that has been fleecing the unwary for a couple of centuries, and shows no signs of disappearing.

The appearance of the game is simple. It is played between the Tosser (or dealer), who manipulates the cards and takes the bets, and the punter (or mark), a more or less gullible member of the public who places a bet on the game in the (unrealistic) hope of winning some money.

The Tosser has three cards, one of which is a Queen or an Ace. These cards are shown to the punter and then simultaneously thrown face-down on a table. The punter is invited to bet on which card is the Queen or Ace.  Normally the operators of the game work as a team:

  • The Tosser (dealer) is the sleight of hand man who mixes the cards and takes the bets
  • The Shills are accomplices who pose as punters making bets, to give real punters the impression that the game can be beaten
  • The Lookout watches for police and signals their approach so that the game can be “folded up” quickly
  • The Muscle Man takes care of anyone who decides to complain
  • The Roper seeks out likely punters and encourages them to join the game

The punter wins the first few deals, but afterwards won’t win a single one, because the Tosser uses the following trick. There are two cards in his right hand. The upper card is held between his thumb and his forefinger, and the lower card is held between his thumb and his middle finger, with a small gap (a few millimetres) between both cards. According to common sense, the Tosser should drop the lower card first, but his forefinger surreptitiously ejects the upper card first, which causes the punter to lose track of the right card. This is especially difficult to see if the “Tosser’s” hand makes a sweeping move from his left side to his right side while he drops the cards.Here is an excellent video showing in detail the Tosser’s drop trick.

There is a variation on the “drop” – the “bent corner”.  The corner of the correct card is “accidentally” bent up a bit, apparently unobserved by the Tosser. The cards are tossed again, the punter gleefully bets on the card with the bent corner and loses — it’s not the right card.

During the previous toss, the Tosser has not only performed the throw, but has also straightened the corner of one card and bent the corner of the other — all unobserved by the punter . It is not as difficult as it sounds, however, and a few weeks practice is sufficient for a Tosser to perfect the trick. Of course, the Shills are only too happy to point out to the punter (if they haven’t already noticed), that the winning card seems to have a tell-tale bend in the corner.

If the punter happen to bet on the right card, the Tosser may employ various tactics, such as accepting instead a wrong bet from a Shill and refusing the punter’s bet on the grounds that only one bet can be taken at a time, or swapping the cards while the punter’s attention is distracted, or simply arranging for the table to be knocked over and declaring the deal void, which usually occurs if the police make an appearance.

Here is a real-life example of the scam in operation – note how the “shills” encourage to the mark to take part, as well as distracting them when the dealer makes the “drop”.

This page at pagat.com was used for the creation of this blog post, along with this archive page from the New York Times.

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The strange disappearance of Private Gerry Irwin

I have always had an interest in UFO’s or Unidentified Flying Objects, and have read reports of some of the more famous sightings, as well as the claims that humans have been abducted by the beings on these craft before being returned to Earth. Unfortunately, despite all of the thousands of reported sightings and details of abduction encounters, physical evidence has always been lacking. Also, many of these encounters seem to take place in country locations in the middle of the night – if the aliens are so keen to make contact with us, why don’t they land one of their craft in the centre of a busy city in the middle of the day in front of multiple witnesses? Also, with the explosion of mobile phones and other personal recording devices, the amount of new, well-focused footage of possible sightings hasn’t exploded.

Despite my skepticism, I still like to read about such cases. One of the more unusual ones that I have just come across was the experience of US Army Private First Class Gerry Irwin on a winter’s night in Utah in the late 1950’s.

Gerry Irwin was a Nike missile technician at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas. On February 28, 1959, he was driving back from Nampa, Idaho, where he had been on leave. At Cedar City, Utah, he turned southeast on to Route 14. About six miles from the turnoff, he spotted a glowing object that seemed to come to earth in a field just off the road. Thinking he had seen an airplane crash, or at least a forced landing, he stopped to see if he could give assistance. He wrote a note and placed it on the steering wheel of his car:

“Have gone to investigate possible plane crash. Please call law enforcement officers.”

Then, he wrote STOP in large letters on the side of his car.

About thirty minutes later, a fish and game inspector happened to being driving past, and stopped at Irwin’s car. He saw the note, and took it to the Cedar City Sheriff’s Office, where Sheriff Otto Pfief gathered a party of volunteers and returned to the site. When they searched, they found no trace of a plane crash, but they found Private Gerry Irwin unconscious in a field by the side of the road. . Ninety minutes had passed since he had first seen the glowing object.

Irwin was taken to the hospital in Cedar City, where a Dr. Broadbent could find nothing physically wrong with him. Irwin was merely asleep, and could not be awakened Dr. Broadbent could find no explanation for this, so his diagnosis was “hysteria”, meaning that his condition could not be attributed to any organic disease.

When Private Irwin eventually awoke, he felt perfectly well, but he was mystified by the glowing object he had seen. He was also confused by the fact that his jacket was missing. The sheriff’s search party stated that he was not wearing it when they found him.

Irwin was flown back to Fort Bliss and placed under observation at William Beaumont Army Hospital for several days, after which he was released as fit to return to duty.

The episode was not over yet, though. Some days later, Irwin fainted on base, and a few days after that he fainted while in the city of El Paso. He was taken to Southwest General Hospital where he was found once again to be asleep and unwakeable. About twenty four hours later, he awoke asking, “Were there any survivors?” He behaved as if he had lost all memory of the period between seeing the object on February 28th in Utah, and waking up on March 16th in El Paso.

Once again, he was taken to William Beaumont Army Hospital, where he was placed under observation by psychiatrists. After one month, extensive testing could find nothing wrong with him, so he was released on April 17. The next day, Irwin was seized by a powerful impulse that made him take a bus from El Paso to Cedar City, arriving on April 19. He then walked back to the field in which the Sheriff’s party had found him. He found his jacket on a bush. There was a pencil stuck in one of its buttonholes with a piece of paper wound tightly around it. Irwin burned the paper and then seemed to come out of some kind of trance. He could not recall the path back to the road or why he had come there. He made his way back to Cedar City and turned himself in to Sheriff Otto Pfief, who told Irwin about his first encounter on the 28th of February. Once again Irwin returned to Fort Bliss and was given psychological examinations. On July 10, he again entered William Beaumont Army Hospital. He was discharged again, but on August 1 he failed to report for duty, and one month later he was listed as a deserter. After this Private Gerry Irwin disappears from the public view, and his current (if he is still alive) whereabouts are unknown.  This case poses some interesting questions:

  • Irwin had been on leave in Nampa. Had he suffered some traumatic event while on leave, which caused him to have a hallucination or some other experience?
  • Was Irwin visiting family in Nampa? Wherever they lived, have they ever been located and contacted to help explain Irwin’s behaviour?
  • The US Army doesn’t usually let “deserters” just walk away. Did they ever locate him, and find out what actually happened?
  • What did Irwin mean when he said “Are there any survivors?” when he was in hospital?

The following books were used for this blog post:

Kevin D Randle, “The UFO Dossier: 100 Years of Government Secrets, Conspiracies and Cover-Ups”,  Visible Ink Press, 2015, pp 134-141

Richard M Dolan, “UFOs and the National Security State: Chronology of a Coverup, 1941-1973”, Hampton Roads Publishing, 2002, pp-312-313

Damon Wilson, “The World’s Greatest Unsolved Mysteries”, Barnes and Noble Publishing, 2004. pp. 34-36

Kelly D Bell, “A New Look at UFOs”, iUniverse Publishing, 2007, pp 63-64

 

The strange chess career of Nicolas Preo

One of the major issues in regard to cheating in correspondence chess is players using strong chess engines and databases to help them work out their next move. While various organising bodies have created rules banning the use of such software, it is virtually impossible to police and prove that someone is using software to help them with their games.

Another form of cheating is for a player to assume a false identity to compete in a tournament. This occurred back in the late 1980’s in England, when a Leigh Strange entered and won the 1986 English Women’s correspondence chess championship. It was later discovered that “Leigh Strange” was in fact a promising young male junior named Nick Down, who received a two-year ban for his dishonesty.

And then there is the case of Nicolas Preo. Born in Russia on the 26th of March 1902, Preo spent some time studying in Harbin, Manchuria, emigrating to the United States in 1923. He took up correspondence chess in 1949 and won the Golden Knights tournament organised by the United States Chess Federation in 1952. Preo started to play internationally under the auspices of the International Correspondence Chess Federation in 1958. He was awarded the International Master title in 1967. He played with distinction on various American teams in international tournaments, and was the only player to feature in all four of the first North American invitational championships. Preo was still an active player in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, according to the ICCF rating database.

In 2002, ICCF tournament director Carlos Flores Gutierrez received news that Preo, a competitor in one of his tournaments, had died. Although it was unusual for a player to continue playing at Master strength into his nineties, this was not unprecedented; fellow American Walter Muir had an even longer career.

When Gutierrez announced Preo’s death, some awkward questions started to arise. Why did the local newspaper, the “Santa Cruz Sentinel”, report that Preo had died of a heart attack at age 72, when the CC world believed he was in his late-nineties? Why was he described as an accountant when all previous articles about Preo had talked about his long working career with the Owens Illinois Glass Company? Why was the second initial in the obituary “N”, and not “A”? Were there two different Nicolas Preos?

After some digging by CC officials, fellow players and family members, it was discovered that the obituary in the “Sentinel” was for Nicolas Preo, Jnr, – Preo’s son.

Preo Jnr was born on the 26th of April 1929, and had learned chess from his father, but he had always used the full surname “Preobrajensky”, which his father had shortened to “Preo”. His second name was “Nikolaevich (son of Nicolas), thus explaining the middle initial of “N” rather than “A”. Preo Jnr was an accountant with a degree in Business Administration of from the University of California in Berkeley. His other chief interest was singing, which he did with various local choirs and operatic societies.

Father and son shared a house in Santa Cruz along with daughter Vera, who was blind. Poor eyesight was feature of the Preo family, and it appears that from the early 1980’s onwards Preo Jnr started helping his father with the games that he was playing, due to his father’s eye issues. This was back in the era of ‘snail mail’ transmission of moves, when Preo Snr needed to write out his moves as well as the postal address of his opponent. Also the rules of CC allow players to consult opening books, so maybe Preo Snr was unable to read properly any of those books, and thus asked his son to help play though opening variations that he might play in his games. So at this point Preo Jnr was just helping with the clerical side of CC.

When Preo Snr died on the 9th of January 1988, aged 86, his son didn’t inform his opponents or the ICCF of his father’s death, but instead just continued playing the games. His opponents had no idea that they were now playing a game with a totally different person making the moves for the other side.

At the time of his death, Preo Snr was playing in one of the semi-finals of the 16th ICCF World Correspondence Chess Championship tournament . After two years of play, Preo Snr had scored 5.5/6 – a very good result for an 85 year old man. He then passed away. What should have happened is that opponents would have stopped receiving moves from Preo Snr, who would have repeated their move, and getting no reply, would have informed the tournament director or the ICCF directly. They would have determined that Preo Snr had died, and all of his uncompleted games would have been adjudicated, or all of his games could be annulled or all of his opponents would be awarded a win.

Preo Jnr now faced a dilemma – should he report his father’s death and begin competition under his own name, or should he just carry on? As mentioned earlier, he decided to carry on, By the time of his father’s death, the outstanding games had taken shape, and he thought that he was as good an analyst/player as his father. The semi-final dragged slowly on, and Preo Jnr dropped out of contention, losing five more games and winning three, to finish with a score of 8.5/14.

His next tournament was the Anglo-Pacific Tournament Championship, which began in August 1994. Preo Jnr only scored 6.5/14, maybe due to the fact that he had to start all his games from scratch without Preo Snr’s analysis. He entered several further tournaments, and had scored 1/5 in one of them when he died on the 9th of February 2002. His opponents thought that some of his behaviour a bit odd; he did not seem to understand the time limits for moves, which is something that his father would have been very familiar with. He also rarely resigned in hopeless positions, instead forcing his opponent to checkmate him, as well as writing “By Air Mail” on the cards that he used to transmit his moves, when this is usually printed on such cards. They obviously had no idea that they were playing Preo Jnr instead of Preo Snr.

Preo Jnr’s involvement with his father’s games was confirmed in two ways:

  1. The printed existing scores of Preo Snr’s games are written in the handwriting of Preo Jnr.
  2. The game scores are written in the now-abandoned descriptive notation, which was still widely used in the United States when Preo Jnr was learning how to play chess. In Russia, Preo Snr would have learned algebraic notation, and would have found descriptive notation confusing.

Analysis by CC player and author Tim Harding suggests that Preo Jnr started playing some of his father’s games in the early 1980’s. It appears that he lacked strategic knowledge, and was also prone to launching premature attacks. Yet if he could survive the opening and reach an unclear middle game, he became a wily tactician and could score victories against quite strong opponents – just like his father.

This blog post was based on Tim Harding’s article “The strange CC career of Nicholas Preo”,  in his book “The Write Move”, Chess Mail Ltd, Dublin, Ireland, 2005, pp. 142-149.

Christmas wishes

I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of the followers of my blog a safe and peaceful Christmas, and hope that 2017 will be a good year for all of you.

I am humbled that there are 271 people who follow my blog – I had no idea that what I publish would be of interest to so many people. I also want to thank everyone who has taken the time to post a comment about the stories that I have posted.

I look forward to your contributions in 2017!

 

 

aussie-christmas

Poperinghe execution cells and shooting post

One of the lesser-known facts of the First World War was that 320 men of the British and Imperial Forces  were executed between August 1914 and November 1918 – 308 for military offences such as desertion and cowardice, and 12 for murder. No Australians serving with the AIF never met this fate, although two Australians who were serving with the New Zealand Expeditionary Force were executed.

One of the major places where these executions were carried out was in the small Belgian town of Poperinghe, located seven miles due west of Ypres. 70 executions – 50 British and 20 French were executed in the area.

During the First World War Poperinghe was the centre of a large concentration of troops, and there were many camps in the countryside around it. There was generally at least one Division billeted in the town, and it was described in a very early battlefield guide as “a [wartime] centre for recreation, for shopping and for rest”. The population before the War was about 12,000, but in 1917 there were as many as 250,000 soldiers billeted in the area. The imposing Town Hall, built in 1911, can be found on the main square. It was used as a Divisional Headquarters during the War.

Within the town hall are execution cells where some of the British soldiers condemned to execution during the Great War were kept awaiting their fate – to be shot at dawn. There were originally four cells, which were used by the police here before the war. Two of these small rooms have been restored; one with a simple pallisade bed and a lavatory bucket.

popcell1_thumb
Exterior view of Poperinghe execution cell.

Although the exact number of men shot here at the Town Hall is unknown, there is firm evidence for five. There are photographs of some of those executed on the wall, part of an artwork located here. The two small rooms have small barred windows and are very dark, even on a bright sunny day.

popcell2_thumb
Interior of Poperinghe execution cell.

The cells have brick floors, and many people have left wreaths here. On the walls are graffiti, scratched into the surface, much of which dates back to the Great War. The cells were used to hold many men who were taken into custody for a number of reasons, such as drunkeness, as well as to hold some of those awaiting execution.

In the courtyard outside stands a very grim reminder of the Great War – the post to which at least one soldier was tied before he was executed.  The execution post stands next to a large silvered panel on which a few words from a Kipling poem (The Coward) are inscribed – including the words ‘blindfold and alone’.

poppost1_thumb
Poperinghe execution post.

The executions of British soldiers during the Great War is a subject on which emotions run high. There are many viewpoints; often today the men are seen as those who simply could not cope with the horrors of warfare and were victims. However amongst those executed were murderers, and also some who had deserted many times and been given many previous chances. It is also true that some of those executed were men who deserved another chance, or who perhaps should not have been at war at all. But it is easy to judge this by the standards of our own times and forget that this was a time when the country was quite literally fighting for its future, and even in peacetime at that period the laws and punishments seem harsh to us today.

The nearby Poperinghe New British Military Cemetery has the graves of 18 executed soldiers – more than any of the many other British military cemeteries that are located along the site of the Western Front.

The book “Guide to Australian Battlefields of the Western Front – 1916-1918” by John Laffin, Kangaroo Press, Sydney, 1999, p. 196 was used as the source for this blog post.

The “Timeless” Test match

In the southern summer of 1938/39, the England cricket team toured South Africa, to play five Test matches as well as games against various provincial teams.

timelesstestengsquad
The England party that toured South Africa during the summer of 1938/39.

The 1st Test in Johannesburg in late December was drawn, as was the 2nd Test in Cape Town in late December-early January. England won the 3rd Test at Durban in late January by an innings and 13 runs, while the 4th Test in Johannesburg in late February was drawn, leaving England 1-0 up in the series with one Test left to play. As there was a chance of South Africa winning the 5th Test and drawing the series 1-1, it was decided that the match would not be restricted to five days play, and instead would be played to a result, thus becoming a ‘Timeless” match.

timelesstestsateam
The South African team for the “Timeless” Test at Durban in March 1939.

The match started at the Kingsmead Ground at Durban on Friday, the 3rd of March. South Africa won the coin toss, and decided to bat first. At the end of the first day, they were 229 runs for the loss of two wickets. Peter van der Bijl was 105 not out, taking nearly all day to score his century, which included a 45 minute session where he didn’t score a run at all.

vanderbijl
Peter van der Bijl plays a rare attacking shot during his century in the first South African innings.

William Pollock, a writer for the “Daily Express”, wasn’t impressed by South Africa’s slow play:

“The South Africans have got this timeless Test all wrong. Evidently they think that the big idea is to stay in as long as you can and score as slowly as you like. They have not though enough about it. The thing is to get as many runs as possible, preferably as soon as possible. Runs count, not how long the team batted…..There is no reason why England should not make 1,000 runs….Anyhow the boat still sails on March 17.” We will hear more about the boat later in this post.

Only 17 runs were added in the first hour on day 2, and then van der Bijl was dismissed for 125 , which took over 7 hours. The scoring increased when Dalton and Nourse were at the wicket, and South Africa finished the day at 432 runs for the loss of six wickets.

Sunday was a rest day, and there was rain, which freshened the pitch and made it still perfect for batting. South Africa were dismissed late on day 3 for 530, and England had scored 35 runs for the loss of one wicket when play ended early due to rain and poor light. Daily Mail correspondent and former South African player Bob Crisp though that England at this early stage had no chance of winning, writing:

“England are still holding out, but their fall is imminent. Even allowing for all the traditional uncertainties of cricket it seems impossible that they can extricate themselves from their difficult position.”

timelesstestpitchpreparation
Ground staff prepare the Kingsmead pitch prior to the start of play.

On day 4, scoring was especially slow, with England ending at 268 runs scored for the loss of seven wickets. The England innings finished early on Day 5 for 316, giving South Africa a lead of 214. As they were over 200 hundred runs in front, they could have asked England to follow-on and bat again, but due to there being no time restrictions, instead they decided to build their lead and tire the England players out by having them field. South Africa finished the day scoring 193 runs for the loss of three wickets. Amazingly, in a match where batting conditions were perfect, all three South African wickets fell when the score was 191.

 

On the sixth day, South Africa took their score to 481 all out. By this stage, fatigue had started to take its toll on the England team. Wicketkeeper Les Ames was replaced behind the stumps by Paul Gibb for the final session, so that he could have a break from having to concentrate on every ball bowled. England finished the day having scored no runs and lost no wickets after facing only one ball of their 2nd innings, and the 4th of the match. England needed to score the huge figure of 696 runs to win the game. In normal circumstances this would have been impossible, but the pitch had played perfectly for the whole of the match, and there was no time limit on how long England could take to score those runs.

England went about their task with determination. Paul Gibb played the “anchor” at one end, scoring 78, while Len Hutton (55) and Bill Edrich (107 not out) also scored well. Edrich had never scored more than 29 runs before in an innings for England, and his previous scores in the series had been 4, 10, 0 & 6 batting down the order. England captain Wally Hammond promoted him up the order, and the move paid off, with England scoring 253 runs for the loss of just one wicket.

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Bill Edrich cuts a delivery through the slips cordon during his innings of 219.

On the eighth day, the 11th of March, rain washed out the entire day’s play. There were now signs that the England party could be pressed for time. William Pollock’s article mentioned that the boat would be leaving on the 17th of March. This was the SS Athlone Castle, which would return the England team back home. It was a two-day train trip from Durban to Cape Town, so England would need to catch a train on the evening of the 14th of March in order to make it back to catch the boat. The three England players who had not been chosen for the match had already left for Cape Town. If the England party missed the boat, then they would have to wait a fortnight for the next boat to arrive.

athlonecastle-03
The Athlone Castle, which played an unexpected part in the conclusion of the match.

The next day was a scheduled rest day, with the match recommencing on Monday, the 13th of March. Edrich and Gibb took their partnership to 280 runs before Gibb was dismissed for 120, scored in 9 hours and over 5 separate days. Edrich continued on until he was dismissed for 219, and now there was a distinct possibility that England could pull off a remarkable victory. At the end of the ninth day, England had scored 496 runs for the loss of only three wickets, needing a further 200 runs to win.

Wally Hammond, 58 not out overnight, played atttractively in the morning session of the tenth day. South Africa’s attempts to slow the scoring were not working – Jack Gage in the “Daily Tribune” said that “it was like a small boy trying frantically to stop the water from gushing out of a tap after he had mischievously unscrewed by the washer.”

Eddie Paynter scored (75) before being dismissed with the score at 611. A couple of brief rain delays interrupted Hammond’s concentration, and he was dismissed for 140, with the score at 650 –only 47 more runs required to win. At the tea break, England were only 42 runs short of their target, when it rained again- except this time the rain was prolonged and didn’t stop.

timelesstestscoreboard
The Kingsmead scoreboard, showing how close England were to an improbable victory before the match was abandoned.

The South African Board of Control meet with the two captains (Hammond and Alan Melville) and issued the following statement:

“The South African Cricket Association Control Board, in consultation with the captains, agreed that the match should be abandoned, the Board recognising that the England party would otherwise not have the requisite number of hours in Cape Town before sailing home.”

So the match that was designed to produce a result ended up producing no result, being abandoned as a draw. England were incredibly disappointed to have been so close to an improbable victory, but were unable to win due to circumstances that were not considered a possibility prior to the match starting. This was the last “Timeless” Test match played – since World War 2 all Test matches have a time limit of five days play.

Here is the full scorecard of this extraordinary match:

timelesstest

The following books were used for this blog post:

Andrew Ward, “Cricket’s Strangest Matches – Extraordinary but true stories from 150 years of cricket”, Robson Books, London, 2000, pp. 126-129

Peter Hayter, “Great Tests Recalled”, Bloomsbury Publishing, London, 1990, pp. 56-75.

The goalpost Grand Final of 1967

Grand Finals of any code of football code in Australia usually provide suspense and excitement, but few of them could match the drama and chaos that occurred at the end of the 1967 Tasmanian State Championship game.

Despite being the smallest state in Australia with the smallest population, Tasmania has never had a truly statewide Australian rules football competition. This is due to the way that the population is spread – based on the State capital, Hobart in the south and on Launceston and other towns in the north. Thus there were three major football competitions – the Tasmanian Football League (TFL), based around Hobart, and two competitions based in the north of the state – the Northern Tasmanian Football Association (NTFA), based around Launceston,  and the North West Football Union (NTFU), based on the towns on Tasmania’s north coast.

map_of_tasmania
Map of Tasmania – the TFL based in the south, the NTFA in the north and the NTFU on the north-west coast.

To determine which team was the best in the state, a play-off between the premiers of each league was held at the end of the year. In 1967, it was the turn of the NWFU to host the final, so the NWFU premiers, the Wynyard Cats qualified directly for the championship game. In the Preliminary Final, TFL premiers North Hobart defeated NTFA premiers East Launceston to qualify as Wynyard’s opponents. The State Championship match was scheduled to be played at West Park Oval, home ground of the Burnie Dockers, on the 30th of September 1967.

With the aid of a strong breeze, North Hobart established a 19 point lead at quarter time – 3.8 (26) to 1.1 (7). Now kicking with the breeze in the second quarter, Wynyard dominated, and turned the 19 point deficit into a 20 point lead – 9.7 (61) to 5.11 (41).

Once again kicking with the breeze, it was North Hobart’s turn to dominate, and they had established a 14 point lead at three-quarter time – 11.17 (83) to 10.9 (69). 122 of the match total of 152 points had been kicked to the eastern end of the ground, but just prior to the start of the final quarter, the breeze died down, giving neither team an advantage. Wynyard scored two early goals to close the gap to a couple of points, and with only behinds being kicked from then on, Wynyard lead 13.14 (92) to 12.19 (91) with the final siren about to sound. The stage was now set for one of the most incredible and bizarre finishes to a major Grand Final in Australian football history.

After being awarded a free kick, North Hobart player-coach John Devine kicked into the goal square, where a mark was taken by North Hobart full-forward David Collins. Just after Collins took the mark, the final siren sounded, but as Collins had taken the mark prior to the siren, he was allowed to take his kick. Being only 10-20 yards from goal, and on a slight angle, it looked certain that Collins would kick the goal and win the match and the State Championship title for North Hobart.

But before Collins could take his kick, thousands of Wynyard supporters invaded the field, and to make sure that Collins couldn’t take his kick, proceeded to remove the goalposts. With the police unable to get the spectators off the ground, and with the goalposts no longer being in place, umpire Jack Pilgrim abandoned the game, and left the field. Collins stayed on the field, with the ball tucked under his jumper, for another ten minutes, in the vain hope that he would somehow be allowed to take his kick.

On Monday, the 2nd of October, the Standing Committee of the TFL met to decide on a course of action. A full replay was suggested – Wynyard agreed, but North Hobart said that a full replay would vindicate the actions of the Wynyard supporters who invaded the pitch. Another option discarded was for the match to be restarted at the point where it was abandoned, with Collins ready to kick for goal. Instead the TFL recommended that no replay should be held, and that the 1967 State Premiership title should not be awarded.

To this day, this is still the only major Grand Final of any football code in Australia that was abandoned and never replayed. Collins took the ball home with him. I believe a few years later he was invited back to West Park Oval to have his kick. He scored a goal, but unfortunately it had no bearing on the result (or non-result) of the game.

Here is a video showing the pitch invasion after Collin’s mark, as well as recollections from several players and umpires:

 

The source for this blog post was “The 3AW Book of Footy Records” by Graeme Atkinson and Michael Halon, Magistra Publishing, Melbourne, 1989, p. 10.