Worrall, John (Jack)
45 First XI Games 1895/6-1902/3
Carlton Cap no - 169
Victorian Cap no- 164
Australian Test Cap No- 40
Jack Worrall footballer, cricketer, journalist, and raconteur was born on June 21, 1861 at Chinamans Flat, Maryborough, Victoria. He began his senior cricket career in Melbourne with the East Melbourne club in 1889/90 (4 games), before moving to Fitzroy from 1890/1 to 1894/5 (27 games).
However, Jack Worrall left Fitzroy in February 1895 after an imbroglio in January 1895. The Fitzroy club had refused leave for its caretaker and respected intercolonial umpire, Tom Flynn, to officiate at the Victoria-NSW match in Sydney. The somewhat cantankerous Worrall believed the appointment of Flynn would have brought ‘honour’ to the Fitzroy club and so led a nine-player revolt which resulted in his dismissal, and Flynn’s sacking.
In 1895/6 the Carlton Cricket Club was delighted to welcome the arrival of the famous John Worrall, who soon proved his value by scoring 417 not out – the highest score in Australia and the fourth highest in the world at that time. Worrall’s score also contributed to a world record score of 922 at that time. This was against University, who curiously enough had won the toss, and sent Carlton in? He easily won that season’s Batting Trophy with an average of 108.14 from Tommy Warne who had an average of 56.42.
He then won the Bowling Average in the next two seasons, 1896/7 and 1897/8 bowling his right-arm slow round-arm deliveries.
He previously shared a Club batting partnership record that stood until the 2011-12 season.
1st wicket 357 J Worrall (215) & TS Warne (130*) v N.Melb 1901/02;
In 1898 Worrall gained a place in the Australian eleven after good performances with Victoria as captain.
In 1901 Jack Worrall became secretary, but continued to monopolise the scoring with Tommy Warne.
His representative career totalled 142 first-class matches between 1883 and 1902, he scored 4,660 runs (including 7 centuries) at an average of 20.99, took 105 wickets at 23.10 (best performance 5/20), and held 101 catches.
During the 11th Australian Tour of England in 1902, Worrall’s representative career was to be cut short as a consequence of the revelation of some personal correspondence from Worrall to an English umpire friend that, in his view, Saunders and Noble were chuckers and should be no-balled out of every game in which they bowled. The English umpire friend who was considered a prospective appointment to a Test match, showed the letter to the Australian skipper, Joe Darling, seeking his opinion of the legality of their bowling actions. Darling wrote to the Victorian Cricketers’ Association who met and referred the matter to the delegates who took no action. However, in the following Australian domestic season of 1902/03, Warwick Armstrong and Jack Saunders refused to play for a Victorian XI with a player who had shown such disloyalty to former team mates. At 39 years of age, Worrall devoted himself to journalism and, using the pseudonym Felix, was soon being recognised as one of the country’s most distinguished sporting journalists.
He represented Victoria on 65 occasions, having 121 innings for 2,407 runs at 20.93 (H.S.109), capturing 74 wickets at 22.09 and captaining the colony/State in 16 games.
He played eleven Test matches against England (1884-99), touring twice (1888 and 1899), for figures of 478 runs at 25.15, one wicket for 127 runs, and 13 catches.
He was described as a right-handed opening bat whose belligerent drives could tear apart an attack, and who also showed great tenacity on sticky wickets. He was short and stocky, broad-shouldered and clean-shaven, tough and stubborn. Passionately fond of sport without the sideshows, he did not make friends easily. With little time for back-slappers, Jack counselled young players and did what he could to assist aspiring sports writers. He proved an inimitable raconteur about Dr WG Grace and the demon Spofforth; and while respecting Bradman, he remained convinced that Victor Trumper was Australia’s greatest batsman.
Jack Worrall was also an outstanding footballer who was recruited by the Fitzroy FC and played for the “Maroons” from 1884 to 1892. A nuggety and determined rover, he could soar for marks and kick accurately with either foot. He captained them for 7 seasons, and represented Victoria in intercolonial matches and was named ‘champion of the colony’ in 1887 and 1890.
He assisted in founding the Victorian Football League in 1896, became the first VFL coach when appointed by the Carlton FC in 1902. Previously unsuccessful, they made the finals in 1903/4/5, and were premiers in 1906/7/8. Following some intra-Club disunity and feuding, Worrall went to Essendon and proceeded to coach them to premiership flags in 1911/12.
When the Australian Football Council was formed in November 1905, Worrall was one of its two elected VFL delegates.
He was later made a life member of the AFC, the VFL, the Fitzroy FC and the Essendon FC - but never of Carlton? He was inducted into the AFL Hall of Fame in 1996, and into Carlton’s Hall of Fame in 2006.
Worrall died at Fairfield on November 17, 1937. His wife Agnes Mary, nee McCullum, whom he had married at Fitzroy with Victorian Free Church forms on August 22, 1893, survived him; there were no children.
Champions turned out at his funeral at Heidelberg cemetery and flags at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Princes Park, the Brunswick Street Oval, and Windy Hill flew at half-mast.