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!