MELBOURNE V. RICHMOND.
The fashions are scarcely more arbitrary than the out-door amusements indulged in by the muscular Christians of this good city of Mel- bourne and its vicinity. But a month ago, and there was not a reserve in the neighbourhood which, on any fine afternoon, was not resonant with the stroke of the cricket-bat and the calls of " Over." Then, the short, sharp, and decisive " How's that, umpire ?" startled one at every turn in the Richmond Paddock ; and the only apology given for a half-broken shin was " Thank you, Sir ; ball." The shrill chorus of boyish cheers as some difficult wicket was disposed of is no longer heard. Wickets are now laid away in dusty corners, and the favourite bat hybernates in its coat of green baize and waistcoat of oil, till the spring, with its nightly practice and weekly matches, comes back again. " Le roi est mort. Vive le roi !" Cricket is defunct for the season being, and football reigns in its stead. Football — game possessing greater excitement to all engaged, besides that extra spice of danger so delighted in by the Anglo- Saxon mind, whether youthful or adoles- cent. At least, it was a dangerous game in our young days ; "mais nous avons change tout cela." Though still a manly, it has become a decorous, and to a certain extent tame pastime. Under the humane legislation of the Melbourne Foot- ball Club tripping has been tabooed, and "hack- ing" renders a member liable to excommunica- tion. These rare old "bullies," so famous, at one time at least, at Winchester, Eton, and Harrow, have no place in Victoria, and in vain do we in these degenerate days anticipate the spectacle of a dozen players rolling on the ground together. But if sore shins and aching shoulders are less common, and the ex- citement be less intense, we make up in some measure by increased good humour and the absence of severe accidents. So that perhaps, after all, football under the rules of the " Humane Society" is preferable to the horse-play we so much gloried in as schoolboys, when our heb- domadal bruises were deemed trophies of pluck, and a good limp or a black eye a thing to talk about and be proud of. Besides, fully a moiety of the football players here are grown men, and
don't take a kick so kindly as they would a
dozen years ago. Black eyes don't look well in Collins-street, and Melbourne business is to a great extent transacted sub Jove; on
'Change, and not in office chairs. Again, it was found that under the old regime when boys played with men the juvenile element almost invariably got the worst of the encounter. One or two youngsters were hurt rather seriously when trip- ping was permitted; parents of course cried out, and the obnoxious licence was cancelled by a revision of the M. F. C. rules in July last. " Pushing" is now the one destructive element remaining in the game, which in other respects might without impropriety or danger, be part of the calisthenic course of a young ladies' seminary - that is, if they played entirely amongst themselves. So much for the ethics of football, as it is both in Melbourne and at the Pivot ; for the Geelongese, too, have a club or clubs of their own, and last year adopted the metropolitan rules. This season let us hope they will venture on a trial of strength with the Melbourne or Richmond club, and not let their modesty stand in the way, as it did
And now for the match of Saturday between the last-mentioned clubs, which had for some weeks been looked forward to with considerable interest. The Melbourne players have been slightly the favourites, it being considered on the one hand that all who would be chosen on that side were adepts at the sport, while the other ranks must be supplemented by recruits of more or less rawness. Such as affected Richmond, on the contrary, argued that, with Wills as captain (a host in himself), and such powerful auxiliaries as Harrison, Bruce, Wardell, and others, their
favourite team would make a capital fight of it, even if it did not prove victorious. Part of the latter supposition has proved true already, for, although at first the Melbourne side had a decided advantage, the greater prevalence of youth and good condition amongst the Richmond players told its inevitable tale in the end; and instead of the ball being as a rule at the end of the " reds," things took a turn, and a goal apíece had been obtained when time was called. Some afternoon during the week the match is, we beliove, to be con- cluded, but nothing has yet been definitely ar- ranged.
The numerous vicissitudes of the game we can- not undertake to chronicle, nor yet to relate who made the best " drop-kicks", who was boldest and most successful in "charging," how often the ball was out of bounds, or how frequently the rules were infringed. That the ball was so much out of bounds may be accounted for par- tially by the sloping character of the ground, but not altogether. A little knot, consisting of some half-dozen players, seemed to take a special de- light in obstructing the game in this way, thereby earning for themselves the unenviable title of "The Corner." Another drawback to an otherwise almost perfect afternoon's enjoyment was the objectionable shape of the ball, which was oval, and is said to have gained the prize at the Great Exhibition, besides being of the kind now in use at Rugby School. This class of ball may fly further than a round one, but assuredly, in nine cases out of ten, does not fulfil the expectations of the propeller, more particularly if there be any wind. Considerable dissatisfaction was expressed when the game began at the Richmond cap- tain's maintaining his right to the choice of ball, and a great deal more after the play was
over. Next year we may expect to have patent octagonal or parallelopipedal cricket balls, or some geometrical monstrosity equally inapplicable to the required purposes. There can be no ob- jection to a man playing football in thigh boots or in pumps, if he has a weakness that way, for no one else suffers ; but the ball is, as it were, common property, and any abnormal condition
in it affects all alike.
The two goals made on Saturday were kicked, for Melbourne by Mr. Baker, and for Richmond by Mr. Nicholls. It were almost invidious to single out any players for special mention, when nearly all exerted themselves to the utmost. No one, however, can feel slighted if we bestow a passing word of praise upon the consummate dexterity displayed by Mr. Wills, who alternately " raged in the van," and defended his post against all comers with almost unvarying success. " The young blood," too, played like men, and frequently put their elders to the blush; for years, town habits, and infrequent exercise make even the best of the veterans fain to cry, with the tinker in the play, " Let the world wag ; we shall ne'er grow younger."