Footy and Rabbits.

For many years, the number of students at the Victorian School of Forestry (VSF) at Creswick was too small to field its own competitive football team.

In 1942 there were only about 17 students, but in 1944 the annual intake increased, with the result that by 1946 the number in residence had more than doubled to 36.

The 1946 intake was also unique because it included four ex-servicemen that came to the school under the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme. They were also about two years older than their fellow VSF students with some experience of the “rough-n-tumble” in the outside world.

The ex-servicemen were Jeff Brisbane (RAN), Trevor Arthur (RAAF), Bill Middleton (2 AIF) and Derrick Rolland (RAAF), three of whom were very good footballers.

Early in 1946, Tom Evans, Secretary of the Clunes League football competition (and later an MLA) visited the School and suggested that it enter a team. The Principal, E J Semmens was a strong supporter.

But setting up a new football team would be expensive. Funds would be required for team guernseys (forest green being the natural colour of choice), plus footballs, bus hire for away matches, and many other overhead expenses.

The School had no sports fund, and the students received no cash allowance. Moreover, Creswick township already had a football team, so the VSF students couldn’t expect much local financial support for a rival team.

So, the students decided to fund the new team themselves and held weekend rabbit drives in the heavily infested paddocks around Newlyn. They also cut firewood in the school bush to support their fledgling club’s modest budget.

The VSF team went well and played in the 1946 grand final, only to be defeated by Smeaton.

The forestry school fielded a team for several years and many students also played successfully in other local teams. The Captain, Jeff Brisbane, had an invitation to play at a senior level with Geelong.

Photos: Mike Hall, FCRPA Collection

Photograph taken in 1947 : VSF Football Team competing in the Clunes League

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