History 1890-1949

Despite the fact that football had been played on the North West Coast since 1881, with the formation of the Latrobe and Formby (Devonport) clubs, and spreading to neighbouring towns Burnie (Emu Bay) in 1884 and Ulverstone (Leven) in 1887, it was not until 21 June at the rear of Anthons Hotel (now Neptune Grand Hotel) against a team of Ulverstone seconds that the first game was played at Penguin. The match stimulated enough interest in the local lads that on 23 August, Penguin played Formby at Ulverstone and kicked 10.16 (76) to Formby 1.2 (8). Even though it was regarded as a winter sport, many matches were cancelled because of wet weather, or the lack of visiting players turning up for the match.
A meeting called for the formation of the club at Anthons in April saw Christian Theodore Anthon (dec. 1926), a Danish sea boat captain who immigrated to Australia and owner of Anthons Hotel, elected president with H.B. Pithouse as secretary. A.H. Poole was elected as captain with Albert Neal his deputy. The colours were red, gold and blue were adopted by the club. Matches were by invitation and Penguin played its first game on 6 June against Cam, winning 8.8 (44) to 1.5 (11). In the next game, Penguin were beaten by Ulverstone on 25 July, 3.9 to 2.7. It was not until a couple of years later with the formation of associations that football was played on a more regular basis.
The second annual meeting of the club was held on 19 April with both Christian Anthon and H.B. Pithouse being elected to their respective positions. A.H. Poole was again appointed captain and O. Taylor vice-captain. The club again adopted the red, gold and blue as its colours. Penguin played few matches with the most memorable against Ulverstone at Penguin where, for those days, the team kicked a mammoth 14.32 to Ulverstone 1.1.
The club suffered as small setback this year when, through lack of interest, the annual meeting was not held until 22 June. The newspaper of the day did not list the president, but Mr. W. Jones was appointed as secretary and O.C. Taylor club captain. There were no listings of any matches played during the season, so one can only assume that interest was lacking so much there were no games played.
This was a quiet time for the club, with no reports of any matches played. It can probably be put down to the fact that clubs west of Penguin joined the East Wellington Association. During this time, the club went into recess and it was not until 1899 that interest again began to pick up and a positive move was made to reform.
Over a hundred years ago, the sport was still in its infancy and it was a difficult time trying to get people interested and involved.  It seems former captain Mr. O.E. Taylor was anxious to see the club reform and at a meeting on 18 April, Dr. Stuart was elected president. Mr. Taylor accepted both mantles as secretary and treasurer, as well as the responsibility of captain trying to get a team back successfully into the competition. The East Wellington Association had gone into recess at this stage and a newly formed association, the Union Football Association, was formed with teams from Wynyard (which also formed in 1890), Burnie and Penguin. Penguin had great difficulty in fielding a team and its roster matches on 29 July and 5 August were abandoned. As a result, football in the town again took a back seat to farming and other factors when the club withdrew from the association. Wynyard and Burnie played the remaining two matches for the stake money of £20!
Like the good General MacArthur, the Blues came out of retirement again at the turn of the century after it was decided at the annual meeting to join the NWFA with Milton (Don), Mersey, Latrobe and Ulverstone. Dr. Stuart and O.E. Taylor were re-elected at the annual meeting. At the conclusion of the first round, Latrobe withdrew from the competition, with Ulverstone winning the premiership from Mersey. This was also the year in which boundary umpires were introduced for the first time on the Coast in the premiership match. Such were the changes that it was also the time the ‘little mark’ was introduced, whereby the mark was paid after the ball had travelled only five yards instead of the usual 10.
For reasons unknown, the club again went into recess. The break must had done it the world of good though, as it faced with the prospect of having its most successful season the following year in its relatively short, though sporadic, history.
This is the time when the club obviously decided to get serious about playing football. It did not go into recess again but moved to another league to try its luck. The newspaper of the day did not list the president, probably because they were just figureheads and did not become as involved as the office bearers. B. Johns was appointed secretary and Albert Neal captain. Penguin joined the newly formed Federal League, with Emu Bay and Ulverstone and the headquarters were based at Ulverstone. In the short season, Emu Bay became premier with Penguin runner-up. It was, to date, the club’s most successful year in competitive football.
No office bearers were listed this year, though E.J. Taylor was captain. It was another year of change, with Penguin becoming affiliated with reformed East Wellington Association, with Wynyard, Railway, Emu Bay, Stowport and Cam. The club enjoyed a comparatively good season, being a force to be reckoned with and earned the respect of other teams. Penguin finished third after being eliminated by Wynyard in the final. Wynyard went onto win the title, with Emu Bay being runner-up. However, the experience gained by Penguin over the season had boosted confidences and the next year was looked forward to with confidence.
Nothing known at the moment. More research to be done.
This was another year of small change for the club which saw once again no office bearers listed but the colours change to red. It is also a ‘shaded’ area of the club’s history, as there are no recorded facts in the paper of the day to say where the club played, if in fact it did. A junior league was formed in Burnie and Penguin did not appear to play in either league that league or the East Wellington Association, which comprised of only three teams, Burnie, Wynyard and Wanderers.
This would have to be the year which is held dear to so many people today, the year Penguin adopted the Two Blues as its official colours. Where would we be today without them? Mr. G.G. Pullen was voted in as president and C. Webster as secretary, with C. Hales as captain. The club applied for, and was granted, membership of the North West Football Association to make it virtually a coastal competition, with teams from Latrobe, Devonport, Mersey, Ulverstone, Penguin and Burnie. But the club must have been overawed by its admission to the competition, winning only one match for the season in a fairly poor showing. The premiership was won by one of the more powerful sides of the times, Latrobe, which beat Mersey.
Mr. G.G. Pullen was elected with W.C. Stuart his offsider. C. Hales was again club captain. It was a year which saw turmoil when the North West association changed its constitution to state that any club which wanted to play under its auspices had to be within a 15 mile radius of Devonport which, of course excluded Burnie and Penguin. So Penguin, Burnie and Wynyard reformed the East Wellington Association. The roster did not begin until mid-May and, after only two matches, Penguin again lost interest from players and was forced to withdraw.
Mr. J. McAuliffe was elected president with W.C. Stuart secretary. C. Hales again led the team. Following the problem which arose from the NWFA competition the previous year, Latrobe and Ulverstone joined forces with Penguin to form the North Western Football League. With only three teams, it seemed natural that began, though it continued for the majority of the season with Penguin finished second to Ulverstone.
A year to forget? Not necessarily, but the club had the dubious honour of being the first wooden spooner of the newly formed North Western Football Union. There were no changes in the club’s administration from the previous year, apart from Jack Kidd taking over the captaincy mid-season. The club joined the NWFU with Latrobe, Mersey and Ulverstone and failed to live up to its form, although reports did say the team performed gallantly in some matches.
The constitution of the newly formed NWFU provided that the headquarters would be rotated to each area with the club to provide both president and secretary. Penguin was chosen as the new base with W.C. Stuart and R.T. Pullen being nominated as the proposed officials for the year. Owing to lack of public interest in the town, the headquarters were moved to Devonport and new office bearers re-elected. Little is known of the whereabouts of the club at this time, as it did not play in either the NWFU or the Burnie League. It is assumed that Penguin either played in just social matches or in a localised competition.
The First world War and a flu epidemic ensured that no football was played.
The club was reformed when the war ended, with J. McAuliffe president, D.J. McCallum secretary and R. Hall was appointed captain. The club only played in the local competition. A.A. Payne took over as secretary.
In the topsy turvy world of football’s early days, Penguin again affiliated with the extended North West Union Football competition with Latrobe, Devonport, Ulverstone, Burnie and Yeoman to again give the coast one main competition. Although the club sometimes performed well on the field, it won only four games for the season and was presented with the wooden spoon. This year A.J. Croswell was secretary and local policeman, Jack Kidd, was captain.
With any football club, a level of consistency must be attained, even if results are not gained in other quarters. Such was the case with the club this year when it won only two matches against eventual premiers Ulverstone and league ladder leader, Latrobe. In many matches, Penguin was beaten only by small margins, but in others was being convincingly beaten. Consistency was something the club was yet to gain. Captain Jack Kidd and his deputy Tom McKenna tried hard at the helm, with other office bearers unchanged from the previous year.
A change of leadership was deemed necessary to lift the club up the ladder, but it was not to be. One positive aspect did eventuate though. At the annual meeting, the Rev. J. Mays was elected president, A. H. Davis secretary and Fred Odgers as captain coach. Despite the brilliant leadership of Odgers, the club could only manage two wins for the season to again finish on the bottom of the ladder. The season began on a bright note when the Two Blues beat Yeoman by a point, but then the slide began and it was not until the final roster match that it again sniffed victory, winning against second team Burnie, who finished only percentage behind ladder leader Latrobe. Odgers performance was notable in that he won the Union’s best and fairest award, the Cheel Medal. The medal had been presented to the Union by an Adelaide boot manufacturer, Mr. George Cheel, and a cash trophy of £5-5-0. In the roster game on 28 June, Penguin failed to score a goal against Burnie, kicking 0.5.
Changes took place in administration with A.J. Lee president and A.G. Phillips appointed secretary. Fred Odgers continued as captain-coach and his leadership qualities began to rub off on the rest of the team. Penguin showed a marked improvement, winning the first tow roster games and continued on winning seven of its fifteen matches to finish fourth, making the Union finals for the first time in its history. But the euphoria surrounding its performance soon vanished when Penguin was beaten by eventual premier Ulverstone on 29 August in the first semi-final.
This year again saw a complete change in leadership with G.P. Mulligan taking over as president, K. Wyatt as secretary and H.O. Smith taking over from Fred Odgers as captain-coach. C.C. Scott, the original appointee, had declined to to take over on the field. It was a disastrous year with the club winning only one game for the season and on three occasions only scoring one goal for the game. Smith proved to be a great leader and player but unfortunately did not have the support from the rest of the team when it counted. After their better showing in 1925, it was a bitter pill for players to swallow. Only the brightest spot was R. Stott winning the Union best and fairest.
H.E. Whittle took over as president and H.O. Smith began his second year as on-field leader. His playing ability was again outstanding and his efforts were rewarded with selection in the Tasmanian carnival side which played in Melbourne. He also won the Cheel Medal to become the third Penguin player in only a short period of time to achieve the feat. Just maybe things were beginning to look better. Penguin’s performance for the season was mediocre, but it did manage to make the four, a long way behind Devonport, Burnie and Ulverstone. The club drew minor premier Devonport in the second semi which did not give it a second chance, so it was vital the team needed a good showing. This was not to be with Devonport winning convincingly 14.19 to 7.9.
It proved to be another disappointing year for the club with the administration positions unchanged. S. Organ took over as captain-coach. the club finished bottom of the ladder, winning only four of the 15 games played. Burnie proved to be the outstanding team in the competition and went on to win the premiership. After a hot debate at the Union’s annual meeting, before the beginning of the season, Penguin gained the first semi-final on its home ground. the match was between Devonport and Latrobe and was the first time a final had been played at Penguin since it joined the NWFU. Most clubs were feeling the effects of the depression and coupled with the fact that the season was one of the wettest on record did not help club or Union finances. At the end of the season, all clubs were levied to meet the costs on the Union.
Penguin’s Union president, H.E. Thomas, was elected president at the annual meeting, with K.S. Symonds secretary. Local school teacher Alan Thorne was appointed captain-coach but had to relinquish the position  mid-season and was replace by Ken Weilly. Before the first match, the North West received the worst floods in history, with 10 inches of rain recorded in 48 hours over April 5-6. with many bridges washed away or damaged, both road and rail, and clubs finances at rock bottom, Latrobe and Devonport withdrew from the competition, leaving Ulverstone, Penguin, Burnie and Wynyard to fight it out. Circular Head was admitted to the finals at the expense of the bottom team Wynyard and went on to win the flag. Penguin’s on-field performance was a big improvement and it finished third on the ladder. After an even game, Penguin was beaten by Burnie 14.10 to 11.14
The Union split into two divisions this ear with the eventual premier of each section to play off for the NWFU premiership. Penguin with J.C. Langmaid at the helm and J. Eastall secretary, was assured of a place in the finals. Another year of disappointment eventuated after a promising start. Being beaten in the first match by two points, winning the next two and then failing to win another match, the club finished bottom of the ladder. Still, because of the cut-up of the divisions, the club still played in the finals beating Wynyard 7.8 to 6.10 in the first semi-final at Burnie. Penguin met Ulverstone in the pre-final and surprisingly won 8.19 to 6.10 and, for the first time, had the opportunity to play in the grand final. The Blues met Burnie, a minor premier, at West Park, and after a valiant effort failed to make the grade and was beaten by 17 points. The finals experience, however place the club on a footing it was not used to and would be invaluable in later seasons if players could be kept together, something that was difficult to do in times of economic hardship.
Because of hard times, the Union continued in two divisions, with D.H. Brooks taking over as president for Penguin and J. Eastall continuing as secretary. Jack Kidd again took over as coach of the side, which won more than half its roster matches. Penguin met Wynyard in the first semi-final at West Park and recorded a comfortable 33 point victory. The side then played Ulverstone in the pre-final at Wynyard and won by 23 points. Ulverstone, as minor premier, had the right to challenge Penguin at Ulverstone, which it did reversing the result, 10.15 to 7.16. In the Coastal pre-final the following week, Penguin met Eastern Division premier Latrobe but was easily beaten, 15.15 to 7.8. Latrobe then went onto beat Ulverstone for the coastal title. Len Leo won the club’s best and fairest and Roy Plapp won the Wright Medal, the Western Division best and fairest award. Most clubs had to battle this year, with Union income the worst in history and most clubs found it hard to continue.
Obviously, the past couple of years had rubbed off on the club and players and the experience that had been gleaned from playing in the finals was about to see the club reach its pinnacle for the first time in history. Mr. C. Langmaid took over as president with Jack Eastall continuing on as secretary. Jack Kidd coached the side in a non-playing capacity and E. (Tom) Hales was appointed captain. Devonport had withdrawn from the competition at the end of the 1930 season, which meant the Union went back to one competition with four teams, Latrobe, Ulverstone, Penguin and Wynyard. Wynyard was forced out of the comp after 16 July leaving only three teams to fight out top honours. Penguin won nine matches to finish a clear leader. Latrobe beat Ulverstone in the first semi at Penguin and met the Blues in the final at Devonport, beating Penguin 12.10 to 10.9. As minor premier, Penguin had the right to challenge at Penguin and on 3 September the club at last fulfilled its dream by winning the title. The grand final was broadcast over local Ulverstone radio station 7UV and it was the first football match to be broadcast on the Coast.

Though obviously delighted with the performance of the previous season, it was only a three team competition, so the Union annual meeting (which lasted only an hour), decided to invite NWFA club forth into the competition to eliminate the bye. It was Penguin’s year to supply the Union with a president and secretary, and it was R.S. Thorne and E.J. Eastall who took the positions respectively, while J.T. Stubbs and G. Gower were appointed club president and secretary. The season began with only three teams again with Forth declining to join the competition, however the Burnie Association applied to play a combined team which was accepted. The side played as Burnie and boundaries were declared to allow players living outside the four municipalities to play with Union teams. C.A. Bickford took over as captain-coach and Penguin again enjoyed a good season, finished second to Latrobe. The Blues met Latrobe in the second semi at Ulverstone, as all finals were now played under the Paye System. Latrobe beat Penguin 17.18 to 12.12 and the Blues then had to face Ulverstone in the pre-final at West Park. After a close fought game, Penguin ran out winner by 13 points. This gave the club the right to meet Latrobe in the grand final on 9 September at Ulverstone, but again it was no match for the strong side from the east, going down 14.13 to 6.18. Union finances improved slightly and each club received a dividend of £5. Jack Kidd was honoured with life membership, the club’s first.
Mr. D. Brooks was elected president at the annual meeting, with G. Gower continuing as secretary. Ken Weily was appointed captain and N. Lomer coach. Devonport returned after winning the NWFA premiership the previous season to give the Union a five team competition, but again creating a bye. At the end of the roster season and after winning seven games, Penguin finished fourth to qualify for the finals. with accurate kicking in the first semi, Penguin beat Latrobe 16.7 to 12.16 and advanced to the pre-final against Burnie. Playing in windy conditions, in which poor kicking dominated, Burnie won by only a point, 7.24 to 8.17.
At long last consistency had clawed its way into the team and the club could well justify its status in the Union, which was financially better off thanks to a good economic outlook. D. Brooks was elected president and H.L. Hall his offsider, Jack Gower was captain-coach. Open boundaries continued to operate in the competition and as Penguin and Ulverstone were in the middle of the Union territory, they were both disadvantaged when it came to recruiting. Once again the club made the final four, finishing one game ahead of Burnie. The Blues met Latrobe in the first semi at Ulverstone, going down by 16 points, 13.15 to 12.5.
What a season this proved to be! The club put in a most indifferent season, winning only its last roster match against Devonport which could only field 13 players. In the roster match against Burnie at West Park on 15 August, at the eight minute mark of the last quarter, a hurricane struck the ground, throwing players to the ground, bowing away fences and generally creating havoc. It was feared the rooves over the grandstands would be blown away. Many players from both teams left the ground and refused to play in the atrocious conditions.  Burnie finished the match with only 10 players, and Penguin 6. The season was a bitter disappointment to everyone connected with the club after their good showing the previous six years. H.E. Whittle was president, P. Sheehan secretary and B. Taylor coach after mid-June, replacing Jim Lade.

There was a complete change of leadership after the previous season’s poor showing, with M. Butler president, L. Hall secretary and a new coach, Tom Fitzmaurice, who was 34 years old. Fitzmaurice was a big man, standing 6′ 4″ (193cms) and weighed 14+ stone (96kg) and had played with VFL clubs Essendon (winning two premierships 1922-23), Geelong (1925 premiership) and North Melbourne. He was also somewhat of a character, so much so, the Sporting Globe wrote an article on him on 6 September 1941 (read the article HERE). Fitzmaurice was inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame in 1996.At the Union annual meeting, moves were made to drop the club from the competition, therefore eliminating the bye. Both the Burnie and Devonport clubs favoured seeing Penguin go, but Latrobe and Ulverstone wanted to retain Penguin as the club had remained loyal to the Union during hard times while Burnie and Devonport had withdrawn when finances were low. The Blues finished the wooden spooner, winning only four games, but they had played better football during the season.

The competition bye again was to the forefront at the start of the season and the Union annual meeting, which was held over two nights, tried to devise a way of eliminating the bye. Efforts were made to entice NWFA team Old Devonians to the competition, but the idea was opposed strongly by Devonport, which argued it would be affected by having two teams from the same municipality in the competition. Old Devonians declined the offer and the writing was on the wall for Penguin. The best arguments were put forward by Penguin delegates not to have the team dropped, but it lost in a vote, 12-3. The Blues applied for and were granted affiliation in the newly formed Darwin Football Association, which had original been the Burnie Football Association. Together with Wynyard, Cooee and City, it was a good, strong competition. Penguin won eight games to finish in second spot to Wynyard, which won 13 games to be odds on favourite for the flag. The teams met in the second semi and Penguin caused the upset, winning by four points. Wynyard beat Cooee in the pre-final and met Penguin in the grand final. Wynyard, still smarting after its earlier loss, came out in fine style and won the premiership and the Tommy Summers Memorial Cup.There was a complete change of leadership this year in the club administration, with C. Ritchie being president, John Owens secretary and George Barr captain-coach, replacing Tom Fitzmaurice who returned to the Mainland.
Former captain, Ken Weilly, who led the club on the field in 1929-30, took over as president at the annual meeting, with R. Bond becoming secretary. bond was also captain-coach and the club again affiliated with the Darwin association. The year was not as successful and with a four team competition it was natural to make the four. Penguin met Cooee in the first semi and was beaten 11.17 to 10.9.
With the outbreak of the Second World War, the Penguin went into recess, although the Darwin association continued for another two years. Any matches played during the war were mainly social, with proceeds going to charity.
With the war turning in favour of the allies, thoughts of football had now returned and the NWFU was reformed in two divisions; four teams in the Eastern Division and six in the Western Division. former Darwin players and clubs were eager to join the Union and Wynyard, Cooee, Railway, Yeoman, APPM and Penguin applied for, and were accepted, as the Western teams. Wilf Barker was elected president of the reformed Penguin club. F. Kingsford was secretary but was forced to relinquish the position, and Henry Thomas took over for the remainder of the season. R. Horton and Jim Lade shared the honours of captain-coach. Penguin failed to win a match during the season and in the last game of the roster, Wynyard kicked a massive 31.25 to Penguin 13.9. It was the highest score recorded in Union football and the first time that a side had kicked over 200 points in the competition.
Wilf Barker was re-elected president and Col Smith took over as secretary. Jim Lade continued in capacity as captain-coach. The club failed to show any improvement although it managed to win one match. In the second last roster game on 31 August, Penguin again came up against Wynyard and had to suffer the humiliation of having another record score kicked against them. Wynyard booted 37.23 to Penguin’s 8.9 which was a record that stood for many years. The club was full of enthusiastic players, but as the game against Wynyard showed, enthusiasm was no match for talent and experience. The club’s best and fairest award was re-introduced and R. McGlone was the first winner. Mr. A.W. Fielding was honoured with life membership.
Wilf Barker became the first president to hold three consecutive teams at the helm. T. Harrington was appointed as secretary and former North Melbourne ruckman Álan ‘Champ’ Crawford was appointed captain-coach. The club only won one match but for the majority of the season was a worthy contender and not the chopping block of other clubs. K. Woodcock won the club’s best and fairest.
The superiorority shown by Wynyard over the Blues was again evident this season when the Cats kicked 31.31 to Penguin’s 11.7, the third time they had kicked over 200 points against Penguin. The club, with Wilf Barker and P. Hales in charge and Earn Lette as coach, failed to win a match to take the ‘honours’ of the wooden spoon. G. Thomas was best and fairest winner.
There were no changes to the leadership, with everyone being re-elected at the annual meeting. The Union dispensed with the two divisions to make the competition 10 teams. It was another disappointment for the club, winning only one match against Ulverstone and scoring only one goal against Devonport on 6 August. Despite the fact that it was getting beaten each Saturday, enthusiasm was always to the fore. E. Hayes was the best and fairest winner.