John Elks

Football’s Ten Commandments

WESTERN Australian football’s “Ten Commandments” – tongue in cheek, of course – has just been unearthed following the discovery of a near-90-year-old programme for the first full international clash between the WA State team and England.
Some research by a Hall of Fame Committee member ended in the discovery of the so-called “Commandments” as laid down by the match referee – Reginald Pepworth who also moonlighted as a newspaper columnist – but meant solely for light relief during the Fremantle Oval clash between WA and an England FA X1 on May 9, 1925.

The contest, which attracted a near-record crowd of 10,000, was the first involving an official England team. WA had taken on sides from the Old Dart before, but they were always English Cricket X1s who liked to mix the activities of hitting a ball and kicking a much bigger ball when on tour.
This time the FA team included full England internationals John Davison (Sheffield Wednesday), Charles Spencer (Newcastle), John Elkes (Tottenham), Len Graham (Millwall) and Ernie Simms (Stockport County). So, it was not surprising that they romped to a 7-0 win.
It didn’t help that WA had lost goalkeeper Harry Bowland with a broken leg in the 70th minute. There were no luxuries such as substitutes in those days and the 10-man locals folded in the last 20 minutes.
The Australia tour ended the career of one England player, Arsenal wing-half TJ ‘Tom’ Whittaker, who broke his knee cap in a later match in Wollongong and was forced to retire from the game altogether. But he went on to manage Arsenal, leading them to two league titles and an FA Cup triumph.
The WA side in 1925 included Harold Boys, Wally Gardner and Jimmy Gordon, who were many decades later inducted into the Hall of Fame WA’s Hall of Champions, and was captained by Fremantle Caledonians defender Richard Utting, whose nephew of the same name was to become Mayor of Fremantle in the late 1990s.
The “Ten Commandments” were set out in the match-day programme, priced 3d, and stated:
1 – Thou shalt not have too much to say during the match.
2 – Thou shalt not think thyself possessed of all the knowledge of the game, or that thou art the best player in thy team; nor that the game will stop if thou absenteth thyself therefrom.
3 – Thou shalt not take the name of the poor old Referee in vain, for the Council will not hold him guitless that taketh to the Referee profane.
4 – Remember that thou keep knocked in the nails of thy boots; six times thou mayst look at them and find them OK, but the next time the Referee may look and, finding some exposed, will send thee off the field.
5 – Honour thy opponents and their supporters that thy name may be spoken well of by the lads that playeth both for and against thee.
6 – Thou shalt do no swearing.
7 – Thou shalt not handle man or ball without permission.
8 – Thou shalt not push, kick, strike, hold, trip or jump at thy opponents; nor do anything which thou wouldst object to them doing unto thee.
9 – Thou shalt not make false appeals against thy opponents.
10 – Thou shalt not covet nor desire other teams’ players, nor the medals which their skill hath won.
This bit of ‘nonsense’ was concocted by PSR, which was the pseudonym for The West Australian’s part-time football writer of the day, RS Pepworth, who was also one of WA’s leading referees. He was back on international duty when China played WA at Cottesloe Oval in 1927.

Top Pic: England’s John Elkes fires goalwards in the 1925 contest. WA players (from left) Tom Boyle, Richard Utting and Harold Boys. Photo courtesy: Richard Kreider.
*Maybe the 11th Commandment should be: Do not eat a football – as evidenced by the humourous picture of the overweight goalkeeper (given to HoF Committee member Bob Brown as a birthday card). It in no way reflects the goalkeepers involved in the 1925 game – but England did have a large keeper known as William “Fatty” Foulke.
He played for Sheffield United and Chelsea (who made him captain) and turned out once for England in 1897. He was 6ft 4in and weighted 24 stone. The cartoon is of Foulke in his Sheffield United days.

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