Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Collingwood Played Diggers Rest in 1890: Its A Mystery - True or False?

For many years the locals of Diggers Rest believed that Collingwood played Diggers Rest in the 1890s.

Photograph Copies Hung On The Walls Of The Burra's Club and The Burned Out Hotel
The story goes, "The Collingwood Football Team came out to play Diggers Rest at the oval in 1890*. The Diggers Rest team won, sending the city boys back to the suburbs."

However, is there any evidence that this match actually occurred? We can not find any archive newspaper articles that mention the game in National Library of Australia Trove and no records can be found in the Collingwood Football Club history records.

The photograph contains a hint that those people may have been associated with another sport that was more important in society in the 1890s. The fellow at the bottom right is holding a dog. The Diggers Rest oval was a very prominent location for a sport called Coursing (later transformed into Greyhound Racing) during the 1890s. Many people crammed into train carriages from Melbourne to watch and bet on the dogs chasing hares around the oval (The oval gates are still erected next to the old Diggers Rest hotel.

Could the people in the photograph be in a Coursing team? Could "Coursing" be mistaken for "Collingwood" over time? Why aren't all of the fellows wearing football jumpers?

If the football game did happen then when was it played, what were the results and where was it played? Is there any documented evidence that there was such a game?

* Local yarns alter the year from 1890 to 1897.

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