The delivery may be different but the score’s still on the board

By JARROD POTTER

THE Journal’s sport section has come a long way in 150 years.
Initially just strip columns as part of the ongoing sea of typeface and column inches, sport was once nestled in the pages and had to be searched out with a magnifying glass.
Pictures were a rarity and individual reports stood out as a true luxury.
Peering back into history as far as we could – with the first surviving edition of the South Bourke and Mornington Journal dated 10 January 1877 – shows that sport remained a massive part of the town’s history throughout the entire 150 year history of this publication.
Our oldest inkling was a horse racing snippet – fitting for this paper as we continue to get out to Sandown Racecourse to support the finest galloping down the straight.
“The weather lately has been anything but suited to the sport-seeing public, nor yet quite a success for the promoters and managers of sports,” it said.
“But better luck next time. The Bass races were held on the 1st and were very poorly attended.”
Short, sharp and to the point. The eloquent waxing and flagellation of sports reports that – I’ll admit has become part and parcel of my repertoire – is completely absent from the old reports.
Just the facts – there wasn’t room for much else in these jam-packed pages.
For football we can gaze back to May that same year with the condition of the ground and hospitality of the Dandenong team more important than the score, best on ground or any match highlights.
“A team from St Kilda met a Dandenong team to indulge in a game of football on Thursday last,” the article read.
“The visitors were too much for the locals. After the game the visitors were treated like princes at Dunbar’s hotel and left well pleased with the manner in which they were received.
“A large portion of the game was played either in or through water and there is no doubt of the pluck displayed on both sides.”
Notice the “Thursday last” in particular. Everything up until very recently was done retrospectively as ladders, scores and fixtures took their sweet time to reach the Journal.
A correspondent’s report from 1877 suggested the Dandenong footballers should refine their techniques on the field, but later highlighted “Smith, E Swords, Brocklebank, Crosie and Dobson” who “did good service”.
“It may not be out of place to mention that the Dandenongites would do well with more practice in the park instead of kicking in the street,” the correspondent wrote.
We’ve focused our gaze to just the Greater Dandenong area, and expanded our coverage to shift with the times in the sports section.
It’s amazing to know that this glimpse into our history shows that where we’ve come from and where we’re going isn’t all that different – the readers wanted their sport and the Journal always delivered.

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