Harry Davie – The Sharpshooter Extraordinaire

May 29, 2020 by
Filed under: NSW Demons 

Nigel Dawe


Nigel’s latest story on Harry Davie which continues our NSW Demons series promoting and shining a light on the greatest and oldest footy team in the world!

Harry Davie **

It’s funny, in every field of human endeavour (except for our form of footy and numerous other sports like soccer and hockey) a ‘goal’ is something that is set as a departure point of sorts, something to keep your eye on, work towards – never an endpoint in itself as such.

I’ve often thought, it’s a wonder the pioneers of our game didn’t coin something like claims, aims, targets or objectives – even ‘gets’ or ‘jects’ for short, as opposed to ‘goal’ which almost leaves you hanging in some way with the feeling that something still remains to be done. Maybe it’s just a simple case where the goal is the overall goal of the goal of a goal.

I think it’s now very clear that I’ve been spending way too much time in Covid-isolation, to be pondering the meaning and semantics behind the scoring of ‘sausage rolls’; but that said, what compares to the response in a packed MCG to a well threaded six-pointer at a crucial turn in a match!?

Cast your mind back to that beautiful moment in the finals of 2018 when Nate Jones dobbed that ripper against Geelong, in that one instant all his pent-up agony and frustration (along with ours too) just evaporated into the night sky like released volcanic steam above the ‘G. Or remember that absolute howler by Garry Lyon from almost the exact same spot against the Crows in the finals of ‘98, a full twenty years prior.

There’s something about the interest and aura that surrounds the game’s sharpshooters. Think even of their nicknames – ‘the Wizard’ for example, now you don’t get a tag like that from your mates and fans unless you’re not half bad at what you do! It’s the explosive brilliance of forwards, they are the ‘spearheads’ and absolute focal points that are there to convert a whole team’s endeavour into scoreboard gold.

One of the most unheralded forward line aces in the Melbourne Football Club’s history is the 1920’s Harry Davie, a small diminutive player who weighed a meagre 60kg and looked more like a slick little kitchen hand – which was quite apt, seeing he absolutely cleaned up in the goal-square. His perceived weakness (in terms of a distinct lack of size and weight) became his absolute weapon when it came to opponents who underestimated either his ticker or tenacity.

No player in the red and blue has scored more goals on debut than the #24 wearing Davie – slotting a casual six straight ones against Richmond in Rd 16 – 1924; which was no mean feat seeing his opponent that day was Vic Thorp (the league’s most respected and feared backman of that time). And so, if you’re going to announce yourself in your first outing in the Big League, then why not make an absolute example of the best going around.

Another feather in Davie’s cap (and this one is not just a club record but an all-time league record, held alongside none other than Gordon Coventry and Bob Pratt – two of the game’s absolute goal-square immortals). Each of these men put through 8 majors in one quarter of football! The day Davie notched his two less than 10 in the last quarter was against Carlton at Princes Park in Rd 14 – 1925, he ended that afternoon with an overall bag of 13.5 (with 3 out of bounds), the most goals scored by anyone at that ground in history.

Not until Fred Fanning went to work with 18.1 goals against St. Kilda in the final round of 1947 would any Melbourne player score more in the one match. To this day these two absolute thunderbolt bags by Fanning and Davie, constitute the top two efforts in front of the sticks by an individual in the entire history of the club.

Sadly for Davie, he would miss the 1926 premiership winning decider because of injury, but he did feature in a 3-way development that year which has only ever happened twice in Melbourne’s history, whereby he, Harry Moyes and Bob Johnson Snr all kicked over 50 goals in the same season.

Such a star-aligning achievement would not occur again for the red and blue until Garry Lyon, Allen Jakovich and David Schwartz all achieved the same 50-plus feat in the free-flowing, Neil Balme inspired season of 1994.

Whilst Harry Davie only played the 49 games for Melbourne and left the club at the end of 1927 to play with Carlton and then finally with the Roy Cazaly-led Preston Bullants in the VFA, his dynamic exploits in front of goal will no doubt linger long in the record books of the MFC.

** Whilst the footy card has Harry Davie featured in a Preston strip, I haven’t ever seen anything pertaining to him in the form of a Melbourne related card, but the up-closeness and quality of the snap seeing it’s near on 90 years old is a ripper and very exciting!


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