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1923 Our Fifth Flag
The development of the “Mosquito Fleet” in the early 1920’s saw the club winning the flag in 1923. The men who formed the “Mosquito Fleet” were Charlie Hardy (five feet one and a half inches – 156cm), Rowley Watt (five feet three inches- 160cm), George Shorten, aptly named, five feet five inches- 165cm), Jack Garden (five feet five inches- 165cm), Jim Sullivan (five feet six inches- 167.5cm), Vince Irwin (five feet six inches- 167.5cm) and Frank Maher (five feet six inches- 167.5cm).
To maintain the balance of the team, the club also had six six footers, the tallest being Tom Fitzmaurice at six feet two and a half inches (189cm).
Although Essendon finished on top of the ladder at the end of the home and away series, they were defeated by South Melbourne in the Second Semi Final by 17 points. As the club had finished on top of the ladder at the end of the home and away series, the club had the right to challenge Fitzroy who defeated South Melbourne in the Preliminary Final.
The Grand Final was postponed for a week as the MCG was under water which meant the Essendon had only played one game in five weeks leading up to the Grand Final.
Essendon created a major surprise when they selected thirty three year old George Rawle to play his first game for the club in the Grand Final.
Forty six thousand five hundred and sixty six people attended the game which remained tight all day, Essendon being behind by a point at half time then leading by 10 points at three quarter time. With only nine minutes to play, Fitzroy got to within 4 points before Essendon broke away kicking two goals to win by seventeen points, 8.15 (63) to Fitzroy 6.10 (46).
Best players on the day were Shorten, McCarthy, Fitzmaurice, Maher, Garden, May Watt and hardy.
The Premiership Team was:
Essendon had other reasons to celebrate the year as Greg Stockdale created a new VFL goal-kicking award with sixty eight goals for the season and Tom Fitzmaurice was named the League player of the year, the year before the Brownlow Medal was introduced.
Justin McCarthy, Clyde Donaldson, Jack Garden, Frank Maher, Norm Beckton, Roy Laing, Greg Stockdale, Harry Hunter and Tom Fitzmaurice all represented the State during the season.
Click Here to read an inspirational poem by Ken Fraser (played in the 1962 Team)
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