Connections across time through sporting prowess

Four of the school’s most intricate and beautiful sports trophies are linked by an Australian Prime Minister and an Olympian.

The Tulloch Memorial Cup, presented by the Old Melburnians Society from 1926 to 1972 to the winner of the annual inter-House rowing competition, remembered Eric

Tulloch (OM 1900). He was shot and killed in a burglary early on the morning of the Head of the River race on 8 May 1926. Up until that fateful day, he had coached the Melbourne Grammar crew to two Head of the River victories in 1921 and 1923. A new school boat was named in his honour in 1923. While at school he had played football, and rowed in the historic first eight-oared race for schools in 1899 on Albert Park Lake against Geelong Grammar School. Soon afterwards he rowed for Victoria. After serving in WWI, he was one of the coaches of the Australian Imperial Force crew that won the first King’s Cup in London in 1919 at the Royal Peace Regatta.

One of Eric Tulloch’s teammates in the first eight-oared race for schools in 1899 was Stanley Melbourne Bruce (OM 1901). He served in WWI. He became Prime Minister of Australia (1923–29), the High Commissioner for Australia in London (1933–45), and the first Chancellor of the Australian National University. While at Melbourne Grammar, Stanley Bruce was twice School Captain, a cadet, and represented the school in Firsts teams for cricket, football and rowing. He won the Champion Challenge Cup for the Best General Athlete of the Year (aka the Champion Athletic Cup) an extraordinary three times – in 1899, 1900 and 1901.

Five students of remarkable athletic prowess won this trophy twice in its 25 years of being awarded (1885– 1909). The other four were John Mouritz (OM 1887), Edgar Anderson (OM 1895), Mark Gardner (OM 1903) and William Ronald (OM 1905).

Mark Gardner, Captain of the School in 1903, also won one of the six Army and Bar Trophies given to the School that year. He represented the School in cricket, football and tennis, became an ophthalmologist, and served in WWI. Mark Gardner’s Army and Bar trophy was for football.

Another of the five Army and Bar trophies awarded that year, also for football, was won by Edward Cordner (OM 1905). School Captain in his final year, Cordner later played football for the Melbourne Football Club, became a surgeon, and served in WWI. He won the Champion Athletic Cup in 1905.

Of the remaining four Army and Bar trophies, two recognised outstanding cricketeers, and two were given to boys who excelled in sport from the Preparatory School.At a special ceremony at school on 11 November 1903, these fancy trophies were presented to the winners by distinguished professional soldier Colonel John Hoad, representing the army, and prominent barrister and Queen’s Counsel James Purves, representing the legal profession. James Purves’ ties to Melbourne Grammar were strong, for he had attended the Melbourne Diocesan Grammar School in the early 1850s.

Mark Gardner’s eldest brother, Eric Gardner (OM 1899), was Head (Dux) of the School in his final year as well as serving as the Captain of the First Cricket XI and Vice-Captain of the Football First XX. In 1897 Eric and his brother, Corrie Gardner (OM 1898) tied for the Handicap Cup – a trophy relating to performances at the Annual Athletics Sports – having both received 9 points. However, Corrie conceded in favour of his brother, so Eric is recorded as receiving that trophy in that year. An outstanding scholar, Eric died aged just 24.

Corrie, the middle Gardner brother and a Captain of the School like Mark, won the Champion Athletic Cup in 1897. A high-performing all-rounder, he excelled in all sporting contests, and was selected for First teams in cricket, football, tennis and rifle shooting. For several years he held the title as champion hurdler in Victoria, and represented Australia in 1904 at the Olympic Games in St Louis. After he returned, and during his working life, he served on the Old Melburnians Council for almost 50 years (1905–53).

These trophy winners served their school and country with distinction and a considerable degree of prominence. Their stories are a sample of the many which can be traced through the school’s outstanding collection of trophies.


Pictured above:
From left to right: Tulloch Memorial Cup, Champion Challenge Cup for the Best General Athlete of the Year, Army and Bar Trophy, Handicap Cup

Related topics