October 2007
Edition 30
Jerrems Family Newsletter
It's Always Football Season...Somewhere!
Medal awarded to Anita's her great uncle Joe in 1897. Dear Donald,
The football season has drawn to a close in Australia, leaving Australians to muse over what had actually happened, and what might have been. In this edition we draw on football stories involving readers of the Jerrems Journal and their forbears, to fill the void left by the season's ending.
Anita Veale's AFL Heritage
Ray Jerrems, Family Historian   Who is Anita Veale, and what is "AFL"? 
The answer to the first question is easy.
Anita Veale

Anita's father was Arthur Ernest Jerrems, who in turn was the grandson of Robert Cane Jerrems, one of the family who migrated to Australia in the 1850s. Her husband is George Veale, and she is an avid reader of Jerrems Journal.

Coincidentally my daughter's maiden name was "Anita Jerrems" also, and my father's name was George.

The answer to the second question is that the term "AFL" means "Australian Football League", which is made up of Australian Rules Football clubs. For the uninitiated, Australian Rules Football is loosely a combination of Rugby Union/Gridiron and Gaelic Football. Uncouth Rugby Union followers have nicknamed it "aerial pingpong".

Anita's credentials as an AFL enthusiast go back a long way. Her great grandfather Robert Cane Jerrems played for Melbourne's Richmond Club in the 1870s, and was described in the publication "History of Australian Rules Football" as a leading player. Robert had obviously been successful in making the transition from being a "Pommie" migrant to a staunch Aussie.

The Richmond Club still fields a team in the national competition and the team is known as "The Tigers".

But Anita Veale has even stronger credentials from her mother's side of the family. Anita's maternal grandfather, James McShane, was one of six brothers who played Australian Rules Football at the most senior level for the Geelong Football Club ("The Cats") in the late 1800s. The six McShane brothers, household names in their day, were

John: A brilliant rover who always gave his all, and vice-captain of the 1886 championship team. Sadly he died from rheumatic fever in 1887 as a 23 year old. His death caused widespread sorrow at the time and 2000 people attended the funeral.

Phil: Also a member of the 1886 championship side, he was a brilliant goalkicker who established the club's all-time record of 58 in that year.

Tom: Another of the 1886 side who was the Victorian Football Association's leading goalkicker for 3 seasons.

Joe: Pictured 1895. Spent most of his career in the ruck. He captained the side in 1895, represented Victoria and went on to captain the Carlton Club for 1902-4. He was awarded the Geelong Club's Best and Fairest award in 1897 and went on to captain the Carlton Football Club in 1902-4. A portrait of Joe is displayed in pride of place at the Geelong Club.

Jim (Anita's grandfather): Could play almost anywhere and spent all but 2 seasons with the Cats between 1894 and 1901. In his finest performance he kicked a remarkable 11 goals in a game against St Kilda in 1899.

Henry: The "baby" of the family. A half-back flanker who first played for the Cats in 1893, playing 6 seasons with them before (like his brother Joe) joining Carlton Football Club.

Having six brothers playing for a senior football club is to my knowledge an Australian record and would probably rank near the top on the world stage. Anita and George challenge other Jerrems Journal readers to cap the McShane story. The Guinness Book of Records has not succeeded in doing so.

When the Geelong Club was formed in 1859 it was the second football club of any code throughout the world and still competes in the national competition. It is named after Geelong, a city a short distance to the west of Melbourne, Victoria.

McShane Joe McShane: Pictured 1895

Geelong Football Club Remembers the McShane Brothers
Ray Jerrems, Intenet Sleuth    Boys football team, circa 1860 - 1900
Several years ago Anita sent me a newspaper article. The occasion giving rise to the newspaper article was the unveiling of an imposing plaque (commissioned by the Geelong Club) at the McShane family's gravesite at Eastern Cemetery, Geelong. Anita unveiled the plaque in 1998 in a ceremony attended by Club representatives, family and friends. The unveiling was followed by lunch at the Club.

The Chairman of the club's History Committee paid tribute to the McShane family at the ceremony:

"This family is unsurpassed as far as Geelong Football Club is concerned. No family has contributed more to this club in terms of players".

I would call that an understatement!

In 2004 Anita and her husband George were guests of honour of the Club at an official function held at the sumptuous Crown Palladium. The Club presented her with the medal awarded to her great uncle Joe in 1897.

Interestingly, none of the next generation of McShanes produced any Australian Rules players of the same calibre, although it was not due to a lack of offspring. Jim had 12 children, including Anita's mother Therese!

Pictured: Boys football team, circa 1860 - 1900.

The Cats Finally Pounce
Ray Jerrems   The Chicago Cubs should be so Fortunate  Geelong Cats logo
At last, the Geelong Cats have won the Australian Football League premiership after a 44 year drought! Hurray!

After successfully testing their claws on the other teams during the 2007 season Geelong played an Adelaide team in the Grand Final on 29th September 2007. In front of almost 100,000 fans they produced a leonine performance and won by a record margin of 119 points, This was the first time in a century that a winning team has won by more than 100 points. The score was 163 to 44.

This was not a casual backyard cat spat, it was a mauling.

To add to this feat, one of the Cats players had been awarded the Brownlow Medal (the prestigious "best and fairest" award in the competition) and a record nine "All-Australian Team" selections were made from the team.

It was also fitting that the victory came less than a week after Anita and George had celebrated their 53rd wedding anniversary.

I must admit that I only watched the first part of the match on television, I listened to the rest on a transistor radio at a riverside park because my grand daughter Jessica insisted that I should put my time to better use. I received some funny looks as I helped her build sand castles, with the transistor up to my ear!

Hopefully the friendly tone of this article will help remove a degree of frostiness (just joking) between Melbourne and Sydney readers. You see, in 2005 the Sydney Swans won the National Premiership for the first time in about 70 years. To add to this indignity they knocked out Anita's beloved Cats in a semi-final. I rang Anita when the Cats were knocked out and she generously offered to barrack for the Swans.
Alexander Jerrems Strikes Gold in the United States
Ray Jerrems   Family Sports Legend
Meanwhile, in the same era as his Uncle Robert was playing football in Australia and the McShanes were rewriting the record books, Alexander Nicholl Jerrems was marking his mark in American Football (known in Australia as "Gridiron" because the many lines in the field of play resemble a gridiron).

Alexander, a son of Robert's brother William George Jerrems, was born in Australia in 1874. He played for Yale University from 1893 to 1896 and achieved fame in Yale's sporting annals because he was carried off on a stretcher in the memorable 1896 annual grudge match against Harvard. In his opening season for Yale in 1893 he played right half back, but in later years he seems to have shifted to full back. He was a good strategic kicker, gaining valuable yards in his matches.

At one stage the New York Times reported that "Thorne, Jerrems, and De Vitt are, taken together, stronger in their offensive play than any other three backs playing to-day."

A measure of the senior level of the competition was that the New York Times covered the matches in detail.

Alexander was also a good baseball player. In April 1896 he played a match for Yale in which "Hazen and Jerrems did the best work for Yale. Jerrems caught five hard flies, and did the hardest hitting."

In 1896 and 1897 he was college football head coach for the University of Minnesota, coaching the Minnesota Golden Gophers. His football career then recedes from view in the annals of American Football history, probably because his father William George Jerrems told him that at the ripe old age of 23 his energy could be put to better use in the family's tailoring empire. One is left to surmise what he might have achieved if he had continued playing at the senior level.

Do any readers have other football stories to tell us?

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