A Telegram for Crapp?

Round 10, 1899, Fitzroy in 2nd position, would host Geelong, sitting a game behind in third, but with a superior percentage. With 4 rounds left, this game would go a long way towards one of the two teams cementing a top two finish. Another game in charge for Ivo Crapp, his 8th league game for the season, and the first since a break for a state game and another umpiring appointment in Bairnsdale. In a rather lopsided affair, Fitzroy were held goalless for the first half, only adding 3 behinds, while Geelong were able to run away with 3.5. Despite Fitzroy’s improved accuracy in the 2nd half, Geelong were also able to add majors and ran away 35 point winners. The one incident that stood out in this game, happened towards the end of the game, when a small boy appeared on the ground clutching a telegram. With all the daring and bravado of a 12 season veteran footballer, the young lad dodged in and out of the players, heading for the middle of the ground. Many in the crowd, and the players themselves quite bemused as to who he may have been looking for. Among those were Ivo Crapp, who the boy obviously appraised, but just as quickly dismissed. Then just as suddenly as he had appeared, the boy left the ground, still clutching the telegram. As play was about the resume, the lad entered the press box, where it was explained that he was on the field with a telegram for Mr JJ Trait, legendary umpire of the old VFA. He had mistaken Ivo for the umpire of yesteryear. In fact it was John Joseph Trait, who was considered the very first “Prince among Umpires” and who Ivo worked alongside in his early days in the role. Perhaps the telegram the boy carried was from JJ Trait, to Ivo, telling him that he was handing him the mantle of “Prince among Umpires”.

Crapp's Girl????

In the final sectional match between Melbourne and Collingwood in 1900, in the now infamous incident, Collingwood’s Dick Condon said to Ivo Crapp “Your girls a whore!” But just who was Ivo Crapp’s girl? From almost all reports since, it has been assumed that the reference was being made about Ivo Crapp’s young daughter. However this is not be the case. Henry Crapp was married in 1895 to Priscilla Hulley, also known as Prissie. Between them they had three children, Edward Henry, born the year after they wed, Thomas George born two years later in 1896, and finally May Alice, born in 1901. If we look at the dates for the infamous game involving Dick Condon, September 8th 1900, this is the year before May Alice was born. And looking deeper into May Alice Crapp’s life (Becoming May Alice Clairs in 1925), she passed away on May 27th 1994, according to the death notice, at the ripe old age of 92. Meaning her birthday lies in the 2nd half of 1901. Therefore at the time of the game, May Alice Crapp had most probably not even been conceived. Therefore, the whore that Dick Condon was referring to was Henry’s wife, Priscilla. 

A Crapp Excuse

In the first year of the VFL, the league had played a combined team from Ballarat, and were defeated by a stronger, team, albeit the VFL team was hastily put together. This match up was repeated in the following years, and so it came to the 1901 season. A combined VFL team traveled to Ballarat to take on the local combined side at Eastern Oval. The match was much looked forward to and talked about in the streets in the lead up to the game. The VFL team was said to be one of the strongest it had ever fielded. The umpire for the game was to be Henry “Ivo” Crapp.  However on the day of the match, he was unable to fulfill his duties, however there is some discrepancy as to why he was unable to umpire this match. The Ballarat Star claiming he had an attack of a sudden illness. The Herald of Melbourne elaborates on this in more detail, stating that Crapp was up in Ballarat ready to umpire and on the morning of the match he had gone for a run, but collapsed with a stabbing sensation in his side. He was taken to his hotel bed where former footballer, now doctor, Dr Cussen came and diagnosed a severe bout of pleurisy (Essentially an inflammation around the lungs). Former Essendon captain George Stuckey attended to him, before he was bought back to Melbourne on the Sunday, where he was said to be recovering quickly.

Markwell of the Australasian, claimed that Ivo Crapp had a previous business engagement that prevented him from leaving Melbourne.

 However there was one more suggestion as to his absence, this one coming from the Referee in Sydney. This article suggesting that prior to the game, Henry had been enjoying sometime in the botanical gardens, in his time there he entered a maze, where he became unable to find a way out. In his endeavor to extricate himself from the maze he strained his back, and therefore unable to officiate.

Whatever the reason, Henry Ivo Crapp was unable to umpire this game, a local man named Umpire Fenton filled in, as Victoria won the game by 15 points.

Assaulting a Crapp

Round 10, 1904, Geelong sitting on the bottom of the ladder, hosted a much improved Carlton side who the previous year had qualified for finals for the first time, finishing the season 3rd, losing to Collingwood in the semi final. With the Geelong Advertiser describing the weather as ‘Cheerless”, a strong south easterly wind interfered with the game, as did several heavy showers that had an adverse effect on the game as a showcase. Much interest was taken in Carlton and Geelong matches in recent times, especially since the McShane boys had crossed to Carlton, after being exclusively Geelong names. The game ended in a draw, due in part to the wet conditions, but also, as The Age reports, due to the Geelong forwards missing several gettable shots, especially Frank Bowey who it the post from 20 yards (18m) out. As tempers get during tight games, some of the crowd were not particularly impressed with the umpiring of ‘Ivo’ Crapp. The Bendigo Advertiser tells it that following the bell, a number of juveniles made several uncomplimentary remarks against Crapp as he was passing through the reserve. Amos E Bradshaw, a hotelkeeper of the Royal Mail Hotel, Yarra street Geelong, knocked down Crapp, with a severe blow that left Ivo dazed. Police constable Gleeson was present at the incident, but refused to take Bradshaw in charge, as they knew each other. Seventeen days later in the Geelong Police Court there was much interested as Amos did plead guilty, but claimed that as Ivo approached, he believed he would be attacked, so hit out. In contrast, Ivo Crapp gave evidence that he never saw his attacker until he had been knocked down. Amos also stated he had apologised to Crapp and the apology had been accepted.  As a result Amos was fined 40s and ordered to pay £3/10/6 in costs. The chairman of the bench remarking that he had got off lightly, and if such conduct were to occur again against an umpire, then that person would be sent to gaol without the option of a fine. Mr Patterson P.M. stated that ‘If any man should be protected, it was an umpire, a man whose duties were most difficult’.

3 Cheers for a Crapp first year

Finishing the 1893 season playing for the Fitzroy Juniors, the team was confident going into the 1894 season, with ‘no less than eight players candidates for the first 20 in the coming season’. However the club also noted its regret that one H.Crapp had been injured during play and would recover to hopefully take the field. We are not yet sure what happened between this date in early March, and mid April, but it appears that Ivo Crapp would turn his attention instead to the art of the whistle. To start off he applied to umpire in the league he had been playing, the Victorian Junior Football Association, a junior league that ran from 1883 - 1928. The permit committee selected its umpires in mid-April of the year, with Crapp second on the list (it was alphabetical, but he was 1 of 21 umpires granted a permit).

His first match came as a practice game, in a match that pitted Carlton against a team of juniors, nicknamed the ‘Calithumpians’. The match ended in a win for the Calithumpians, 3 goals to 2, (points of course not being included back then). No mention was made of the umpiring. We can assume then that Ivo wasn’t bought in to umpire until round three of the season, his first match being two teams from the A section of the league, Camberwell and Ascot Vale, at the later’s ground. The following week, for whatever reason, Ivo did not umpire, however the week after, round he again umpired Ascot Vale as they played in a match against South Yarra. South Yarra getting the win and no mention being made if Ivo.

However the following week Ivo was appointed to umpire an extra game, not between VJFA teams, but between Healesville and Yarra Glenn at Yarra Glenn. This both teams second match in a the series to decide the winner of the Irvine Trophy (the name of the trophy won by the best team in a league of 4, consisting of Halsville, yarra Glenn, Coranderrk and Lilydale).

As central umpire, Ivo earned praise from the Lilydale Express, spectators and payers alike for the ‘strict and impartial manner in which he discharged his duties’. Then several weeks later, after 2 more other umpire jobs in the VJFA, Ivo earned more respect at the Essendon Cricket Ground, where he umpired a game between Collingwood Juniors and Essendon Districts. In this game, though beaten, the Collingwood Juniors gave him a ‘hearty three cheers’ following the match. Sportsman believing that they consider Ivo Crapp the best umpire they have had all season’.

Ivo umpired the season out, finishing along with the teams in September. In his first year with the whistle he umpired 13 VJFA games, 2 Irvine Trophy games and 1 practice game for a total of 16 matches umpired.

Crapp and the Drunk!

Round six of the 1914 season saw Ivo Crapp at Fremantle Oval umpiring a game between South Fremantle and Subiaco. Both teams had started the season well, and were sitting with four wins and 1 loss heading into this game.  The opening of the game was a tight one with a free flowing first quarter, seeing 7 goals scored and then a tight second quarter in which South Fremantle scored 2 goals and Subiaco 1. The difference at the break was a solitary point. As the teams lined up to start the second half, a pleasant looking drunk, made his way onto the ground and headed towards the center of the ground. He made it all the way to Ivo Crapp in the middle, and gravely shook hands with him. He asked Ivo to have a look at the ball, and Ivo obliged, handing the ball over to the man who promptly examined it, then kicked it with all his might into the air. The drunk, being satisfied that the ball was genuine and the umpire was in good health, made his way back to the fence, tumbled over, and returned to his bottles. Subiaco would run out winners in a low scoring second half, adding only two goals themselves, while holding South Fremantle goal less. These two teams would be destined to meet again in the finals.

A Crapp First League Game

In preparation for the first ever league matches on May 8th 1897, the umpires were announced during the week. Those included Tom Kendall, Thomas McCoy, Samuel Hood and Henry ‘Ivo’ Crapp. The 4 central umpires, as well as goal umpires were all asked to meet with the umpire committee at Port Phillip Club Hotel on the eve of the season.  Ivo Crapp traveled to Geelong the following day to umpire the game at Geelong’s Corio Oval, between Geelong and Essendon.  Like many reports on a game of football, the opinions on the umpiring of the game differ. It is agreed that at the beginning of the game, as noted by The Sportsman, the players reverted to the old system of ‘little marking’, before they realized that the rules had changed. Markwell of the Australasian newspaper noted that throughout the game ‘Umpire Crapp often allowed marks of half, or less than half, the prescribed distance to pass unquestioned’.

However The Geelong Advertiser felt that Ivo Crapp did a great job, remarking that ‘Mr Crapp, the field umpire, had mastered the new rules, and he gave a very good interpretation to them. The privilege allowed of pushing a player, except when a player is standing or in the act of marking the hall, reintroduced some of the rough play which in former years was greatly condemned, and in many instances Saturday's exhibition was not what the general public desired to see’.

The game ended with a win to Essendon over the inexperienced Geelong team. Crapp would go on to umpire each of these teams 5 more times in the 1897 season, including the very first final played down in Geelong later in the season. Overall the inclusion of the new league rules was well received, with one exception, the push in the back rule. The push in the back rule was abolished to start the season pushing from behind was allowed when the pusher and the pushed are stationary.  However there was such an outcry raised by all the clubs following the opening of the season that prominent players in every team have taken a stand against the rule . A round of experience was enough to convince all delegates at a mid week meeting,  to another weak of the rule would be detrimental to the interests of the game. Umpires were at the meeting and were told to not go overboard with enforcing the rule.


Crapp Origin of Ivo

Not surprisingly, ‘Ivo” wasn’t his real name. Ivo Crapp was born in Victoria in 1872, the son 5th child of English immigrants Henry Crapp Snr and Emma Snell, who had come over from Cornwall, England in 1864. Ivo, was actually the second child Emma and Henry had, who bore the name Henry. His parents giving birth to a child in 1870, giving him the name Henry, but this little one was unlucky and passed away just a year later in 1871. So when Ivo was born in 1872 he was given the family name Henry. But why was he nicknamed Ivo? The nickname came from his older brother William Henry Crapp, who was 7 years older than Ivo.

William Henry bore a resemblance to a member of the First class English cricket member Ivo Blight (who would later become the 8th Earl of Darnley). The English cricket team toured Australia in 1882/83, the first English team to do so. For Ivo Bligh, this was not a nickname, but in fact his first name.

William Henry played with Carlton during the early 1890’s and then in 1893 his younger brother Henry joined the team. So when William Henry retired, it seems that Henry took up the mantle of “Ivo” Crapp, and it stuck.

Crapp And The First Report

1898, the second year of the league, no player had been reported the previous year, and the new rules were deemed a success. “Follower” commented, early in the 1898 season, that the 4 main rules bought in, had been positive, however in following the rules, umpires “must be strict, without needlessly hampering the players”, and “it is the duty of all who desire to play the game i a fair and manly spirit, give the umpire a fair chance to do his work properly”. So it was, in 1898, that Ivo Crapp was the first umpire to report a player.

It took until round 7 of the 1898 season for the league to get its first taste of the process, in a game between the 7th placed Carlton team and the winless team one rung below them on the ladder, StKilda, at Princes Park.  In this game, StKilda, winless since the VFL started, came as close as they had in any of their previous games to a win, losing by only 10 points. In fact under the old VFA rules, the game would have been a draw, with both clubs kicking 5 goals. It was only Carlton’s errant kicking that kept them in the game.

During the game StKilda ruckman, Bill Matthews, playing in his 51st game for Stkilda (VFA/VFL), and his 21st game of league football, used inappropriate language towards Ivo Crapp, the central umpire. What was said is not known, however, Bill Matthews, 22 at the time of his report, had to wait almost 2 weeks to learn of his fate. At a meeting of the league, the night before round 9, Mr Arthur Hewitt Shaw, league chairman, dealt it out in a strong dose to Matthews, telling him that “if he came before the league again for any offence, the lesson would not be a caution, but disqualification for life*”.  They decided for this indiscretion, he would receive a reprimand. Bill Matthews missed the two games following the round 7 indiscretion, waiting for the hearing, then coming back to play in the round 10 loss to Fitzroy. He would play another 62 games for StKilda, finishing at the club in 1902. He would forever hold the dubious title of ‘first VFL plyer reported, EVER!

Crapp Forgery

'Dear Sir,

I am very sorry to say that I will not be able to umpire' the' match on Saturday, as I am leaving this State for Melbourne as one of my, people is dying. I am very sorry. I cannot umpire this match. You will have to apologize for me as I am leaving this week. Hoping you will be able to secure a good central man.

 (Signed) H. Crapp.'

 This was the letter received by the secretary of the Western Australian National Football League Mr JJ Simons, on the eve of a big match between Perth and East Fremantle in 1906.

Having arrived in Perth earlier in the season, Ivo Crapp had proven to live up to his name as “Prince of Umpires”. Umpiring in every round of the WAFA during the season as well as the occasional Wednesday afternoon Mercantile Football Association game. With the season coming to a close East Fremantle and Perth were playing at Fremantle Oval to decide who would meet West Perth in the Grand Final the following week. Upon receiving the letter JJ Simons was immediately suspicious and telegraphed “Ivo” asking to meet him in Perth when the 8m train arrived from Fremantle. As soon as laying eyes on the letter, Crapp announced as just that, crap, it was obviously a forgery. Although disillusioned earlier in the year, after his failed move to Kalgoorlie, Henry “Ivo” Crapp was now happy in Perth and had no intention of heading back towards Melbourne. The sender of the letter was never discovered, however the assumption is that the writer was hoping a change in umpires might change the odds and thus the betting market in his favor. However, nothing of the sort happened, and the letter was handed over to the Criminal Investigations Department.