On the 3rd of September 1931, a small group of journalists from The Sporting Globe organised a sports carnival for charity.
The afternoon commenced with a Cobb & Co carriage procession followed by the competing jockeys and veterans as they wound their way through the streets of Melbourne to the MCG. In front of a delighted crowd of 20,000 people, the sports carnival began with a football match involving Victorian jockeys – Flemington verses Caulfield, where Flemington came out as the victors.
This was followed by a football game of old Veterans’ representing the North and the South of the Yarra. Any retired players from World War One onwards were encouraged to put their name forward with a call out through The Sporting Globe. North of the Yarra were the clear winners of the Veterans’ match, 10: 6 to South’s 6: 7.
During the intervals The Sporting Globe journalist Dave McNamara, who also held the record for long distance football kicking, gave an exhibition of drop kicking and a fancy dress sprint event was also included as part of the Carnival program. A total of 427 pounds was raised to support the Alfred Hospital Appeal.
By July 1932, The Sporting Globe reported that every football enthusiast was asking if the Veterans’ and Jockey’s football match was to be held again, following the huge success the previous year.
Two of the organisers, Dave McNamara and George Sparrow decided to hold another Carnival on Friday 26 August in aid of the Children’s Hospital. The Sporting Globe journalist and event organiser, W.S Sharland noted in his 23 July 1932 article, “An old footballer said the other day – Every kiddy is entitled to get a fair start in this world, and that is why I think thousands will patronise the carnival this year” and so they did.
Who were the founders of the Appeal?
Wallace Sharland was an Australian rules football player, journalist and commentator. He wrote sporting columns for The Sporting Globe before becoming a broadcaster for the ABC.
Dave McNamara, footballer for St Kilda and Essendon and held the long distance football kicking record of just over 85 metres in 1923.
JJ Maher, cycling and athletics editor of The Sporting Globe and the first Chairman of the Children’s Appeal Charity organising committee.
George Sparrow, well known football player for South Melbourne and St Kilda before becoming a coach for St Kilda and led the team to their first Grand Final in 1913.
Thanks to the huge success of the 1931 and 1932 Carnivals, the plans for the third Veterans Carnival started to take shape by mid-1933.
The beneficiary was decided as the Children’s Hospital until during an interview with committee member Mr H Barrett from the Children’s Hospital, he agreed to share the proceeds with St Vincent’s.
The 3rd annual Veterans’ Carnival held on Thursday 7 September and raised a total of 300 pounds which was shared between the two charities.
In 1934 an official organising committee chaired by The Sporting Globe’s Mr JJ Maher bought fresh ideas and funds raised were dedicated to the ‘crippled’ section of the Children’s Hospital.
Thanks to the support of The Sporting Globe and the direction of the organising committee, the Veterans’ Carnival moved from an afternoon to an evening event and also moved from the Melbourne Cricket Ground to Olympic Park and later to the Showgrounds.
The program continued to be enormously popular with attendances of up 35,000 recorded.
It was at the beginning of the Second World War when the evening carnival was swapped back to an afternoon event due to the ban on night lighting.
In 1942, journalist and Carnival organiser Jim Blake suggested to the Herald and Weekly Time Managing Director that the Appeal joins forces with HWT radio station, 3DB. This partnership enabled the first all day broadcast held on Good Friday, raising 8310 pounds ($16,620) for the Children’s Hospital.
In 1946 the very first collection tin was placed on the counter of a Victorian business, the George Hotel in South Melbourne. “This idea grew like bush fire. Generous patrons and publicans have since contributed many hundreds of pounds to the fund.” Havilah Uren, proprietor of the George Hotel, reported in The Sporting Globe 14 December 1946.
Following the success of the George Hotel collection tins were placed in the Tanti Hotel, Mornington and Tintara Wines raising 28 pounds and 24 pounds in their first collection. Today the Good Friday Appeal has tens of thousands of collection tins across Victoria.
Directors of the Good Friday Appeal
The first Good Friday Appeal Director, retired racing reporter, Jack Rohan was appointed by the Herald and Weekly Times in 1953. Jack Rohan oversaw the new partnership with Channel 7 in 1957, when the all-day Appeal was broadcast on television into Victorian homes for the first time.
Three years later retired boxer Merv Williams took over as Director followed by cricketer, Ian Meckiff who held the position between 1965 – 1968, followed by Entrepreneur Ron Cooke until 1974.
Starting in 1974, Ex VFL Umpire Jeff Crouch steered the Appeal for 20 years until 1994. Ex 3BD John Hall was appointed Director between 1995 – 1997 after being the Appeal’s Deputy under Jeff Crouch.
Christine Unsworth moved from The Royal Children’s Hospital to take up the Director’s position in 1997 and led the Appeal for 16 years. Deborah Hallmark commenced in 2012, under her Directorship, the Appeal incorporated as a public company limited by guarantee.
Anne Randall commenced as Director in 2014 and led the community in celebrating the milestone of 85 years of giving in 2016, as well as a record-breaking total each year, including under challenging circumstances in 2020.
The current Director, Rebecca Cowan, commenced in 2020.
With your support we can help the children at The Royal Children’s Hospital