The South Purrumbete scoreboard, in south-west Victoria, hasn’t seen any action in a while. Probably 25 years or so. The Panthers (also known as The Beaters) were formed in the early 1900s and wore a black guernsey with a horizontal green band in the middle and green collars and cuffs. They played home games at South Purrumbete until the late 1980s. The club retained the ground as a training venue right up until folding after the 1999 season.
One of the club’s early champions was the modest skipper Jack McCowan. Here’s a report from the Camperdown Chronicle from Thursday 31 August 1905
The task of allotting the handsome and valuable silver cup given by Cr. P. T. Neylon as a trophy for the best all-round and most unselfish player in the South Purrumbete Football Club was under taken last week by a committee consisting of Messrs. R. Dalziel, South Purrumbete ; J. W. Kerr, Collect, and E. Upton, Camperdown. Each member of the committee awarded points to the different players, and upon comparing notes it was found that the captain, Mr. J. McCowan, had a large majority in his favor.
The South Purrumbete correspondent of the Cobden Times writes as follows regarding the decision :—” l am glad to be able to state that Cr. Neylon’s handsome trophy has now been awarded to Mr. J. McCowan. The verdict meets with unanimous approval; in fact, it is the only verdict that is reasonably possible. Many of the players did good work, but Jack McCowan was so consistently excellent, that, in regard to meritorious and unselfish work, he stands out prominently as deserving the award. He wished to be excluded from the trophy, owing to his being the captain of the team, but the trophy committee did not agree. Players of opposing teams readily picked him as the best player, and his own wish to be excluded is a strong mark of unselfishness. The committee will thus have the satisfaction of knowing that their verdict is not only unanimously supported here, but also has the approval of players of the teams who battled against us.”
South Purrumbete won at least two flags in the Colac competition, defeating Otway Rovers by 20 points in 1960 (9 12 66 to 6 10 46), and Lorne by two points in 1973 (6 7 43 to 6 5 41).
The above photo is courtesy of Andrew Fithall, whose brother Chris is second from right in the middle row. Luke Reynold’s step-dad, Max Castles, is second from the left in the front row. Note there are only 17 players. The photo was taken three days after the Grand Final. Perhaps the missing trio were still AWOL. Or busy on their farms.