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FOOTBALL.

THE SECOND HALF-SEASON.

By OLD BOY.

The Victorian Football League clubs have finished their first, round of, matches, and to-day the return games will commence. Until August 15 there will be a regular succession of premiership matches, and then there will be a break of a fort- night, while the Australian Jubilee Football Car- nival is celebrated. The Victorian League, as the   centre of the Australasian Football Council, has a busy time ahead of it, and from all appearances the carnival will be a great success. The victory of South Australia over the Victorian team, chosen from the association clubs, last Saturday, will lend additional interest to the visit of the South Aus- tralians. It may be mentioned that the leading

team in Adelaide-the Norwood-had not a repre- sentative in the South Australian team last week, on account of that club being in Sydney. The game in Victoria has developed so much during the last two or three years that the visitors from the other states will need to be at their best. If the Jubilee Carnival is to be the great success anticipated, in the matter of developing the game, the Victorian League might well consider the advisability of in- sisting upon a more strict interpretation of the rules, regarding the holding of the ball by a man who has been caught. Almost the only blot on the game, as played in Melbourne now, is the advantage given to the man with the ball. As this rule is interpreted by umpires nowadays the strong man, who can tear his way through, is given too much latitude. League delegates seem to realise that this is so, but they have so far failed to devise any remedy. The great pace at which the game in placed, the lightning exchanges, and the systematic passing, make the sport delightful as a spectacle, but I feel sure that this defect in the umpiring is responsible for a deal of the rough play of which complaint is made.

With half the season gone, the following tables, showing not only the number of premiership points won and lost by each team, but the actual points scored for and against them on the field, will be interesting. It will be seen that Essendon (as- sociation) have scored more points than any other   team, while Carlton have had the least number scored against them. The association clubs, how- ever, have played one more match than the league. On averages Essendon (association) has scored 70.2 points per match, while Carlton has scored 67.5 per match. Northcote enjoys the doubtful honour of having had 773 points scored against them, with an average of 77.3 per match, Richmond coming next with 696, or an average of 77.33 per match, a difference of only a decimal point in Northcote's favour. The narrow margin of some of Brighton's defeats is shown by the fact that, though they have lost six matches out of 10, they have scored as many points as have been kicked against them. Preston are almost in the same position. The

tables are:-  

LEAGUE CLUBS. .

, Matches.

Carlton .. ,., ,, lïssendon .... , St. Kilda,.

South Melbourne ... 5 .'. '4 Pitxroy. University ',. . Collingwood .. . Melbourne. Richmond .. .. Geelong ...... .

' l 'ASSOCIATION' CLUBS, Footscray ..

Essendon .. .. Williamstown.. Prahran .. ..

Brunswick.. ... Bilghtou i.

Korth Melbourne Port Melbourne ,, Northcote.

410 012 10 305 773 S

The matches to be played to-day are:-

LEAGUE CLUBS.

Carlton v. St. Kilda, at St. Kilda.

Essendon v. University, at East Melbourne.

South Melbourne v. Fitzroy, at South Melbourne. Melbourne v. Richmond, at Melbourne. Collingwood v. Geelong, at Victoria-park.    

ASSOCIATION CLUBS.

Footscray v. North Melbourne, at North Mel-

bourne.

Essendon v. Port Melbourne, at Port Mel-

bourne.

Williamstown v. Preston, at Preston.  

Prahran v. Brunswick, at Brunswick. Brighton v. Northcote, at Brighton.

The heavy rains of the earlier part of this week will have made the grounds very soft, and it will be interesting to note how teams which up to now have had it hard and dry under foot will fare in the mud. S0 far, the football has been strenuous and remarkably fast. The questions be- ing asked by all footballers just now are. Will Carlton maintain their unbeaten record? Will St. Kilda, now that their house has been set in order, play up to the expectations of their supporters? Can the University get into the first four? Will Footscray be able to hold their place at the head of the Association list? These are questions which time alone, can answer, and will provide material for much argument.

At Carlton there is no talk of adding to the forces already at the command of the committee. In fact, there is rather an embarrassment of riches, and when two or three of the regulars are not in the team there are plenty of reserves to draw upon. The narrow escapes from defeat at the hands of South Melbourne and University have steadied last year's premiers, and they are keen to if possible make this jubilee year one of a Carlton champion- ship. The coaching of Mr. John Worrall, who was one of the best players who ever stripped, has been no small factor in the Carlton success, and with good material to work on the secretary and coach has built up a magnificent side. Their meet- ing with St. Kilda to-day, at St. Kilda, should provide a splendid game.

St. Kilda, the much-talked-of team, is deter-   mined to stop the victorious march of Carlton, and, with the exception of their captain, Wells, who is still in the hospital, and Scott, whose leg opened up again on Thursday, they will put their strongest team into the field. The recent troubles have all been settled, and all seems forgiven and   forgotten. Mr. M. S. Cooper, who was elected one of the vice-presidents of the club at the an- nual meeting, and resigned immediately after-   wards, has been re-elected to a vacancy among   the vice-presidents. The return to the managing   board of this most enthusiastic supporter has given great satisfaction to the players. The great improvement in combination in the team during the last fortnight has encouraged the club's sup-   porters in the belief that Carlton will meet its Waterloo this afternoon. Feehan and Lever, who have been ill, will resume their places in the team to-day.      

Essendon, despite the absence of Busbridge, Belcher, Martin, and Cameron, have been playing wonderful football. The "same old" has been noted for its pace in all its history, but it is doubtful if it ever had to many fliers as at pre- sent. Busbridge may not be able to play for two or three weeks yet, but his ankle is improv- ing rapidly, and the team looks forward to his re- turn. Cameron, who has been on the injured list, may reappear to-morrow against the University, but the committee may decide to let him rest for another week. Belcher and Martin will not be   available for another fortnight, but they are in training, and will take their places in the team all the better for a spell.

The Richmond team will for the rest of the season be weakened by the absence of their big follower, W. Ling, who, having signed a contract to entertain (or be entertained by) Messrs. Burns and Squires in the contests for the world's boxing championships, has temporarily given up the game. T. Heaney, who has been in the hospital suffering from pleurisy and pneumonia, is about again, and has visited the ground, but it will be some little time before he will be able to re- sume his place in the team. Condon, who re- ceived an injury to his eye last week, will pro- bably stand down to-morrow, and it is probable that some of the reserves will be given a chance in the match against Melbourne to-morrow, on the Melbourne Cricket-ground.

Melbourne, who seem to have acquired the knack of having men hurt, will have their captain, Hugh Purse, back in the team again to-morrow. He has been away in Tasmania on a business tour, and has been keeping in good training. The return of his brother has strengthened the side, and, with their old champion, J. Strong, once more playing in good form, Melbourne supporters look forward to the team doing bettor in the second round than they did in the first.  

Collingwood, weakened at the beginning of the year by the retirement of various players, suffered a loss when Green went to the Essendon (associa- tion) team, and now they are mourning the loss of their crack forward (Lee), who is hobbling     about on slicks. Lee has, been a most successful goal-kicker, and the magpies cannot afford to lose him.

Amongst the association clubs, the game for to-morrow attracting most attention is that between Port Melbourne and Essendon. Their records are strongly contrasted. Essendon began well, and

have been doing badly, while Port Melbourne began like juniors, but last Saturday lowered the colours of Williamstown-last year-'s premiers. Es- sendon have been strengthening their ranks at the expense of some league teams, and on Wednesday   obtained permits for A. Gosling, their old half- back, and for G. M'Cart, late of West Melbourne. It is said that further permit application will be made next Wednesday. Maine, who was hurt last Saturday, will not be able to play for some weeks to come.

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