In August 2015 Gary McKitterick Gillett contacted the Club stating that he had come across a medallion that belonged to his late grandfather from when he played with Eltham in 1922. It was a small badge like medallion awarded to D. Gillett, (David Gillett) best utility or words to that effect and asking if the club be interested in receiving this as a donation to our clubs memorabilia collection. The badge was in possession of his father at Gippsland, who was happy to see it go to the club.
We are extremely pleased to say that not only has the Eltham Football Club obtained the medallion, the oldest item we now have, but we were able to supply Gary some photo’s of his grandfather and his brothers that we had obtained from another family line. We understand Gary’s father was delighted to see these.
During AFL Grand Final week we were lucky enough to meet up with Gary and his partner at Southbank where Gary presented the medal and case to the football club secretary Mal Brown.
The medal is inscribed:
ELTHAM FOOTBALL CLUB
Pres. by Mr. L. Fitzsimons
Best all around player
The case says Stokes & Sons, Badge Makers and Medalists, Melbourne. Stokes & Son’s at that time were at Caledonian Lane, Melbourne. Stokes Badges continue to this day based in Ringwood.
A Footballers Tie and Apron Dance was held at the Eltham Hall on Saturday 17 March 1923 to celebrate the coming of the 1923 football season.
The Hurstbridge Advertiser 23 Mar 1923 stated that during the night a medal presented by Mr L. Fitzsimons to be awarded to the best all-round player for last season was balloted for (the ladies present voting) and resulted in a win for Mr D. Gillett.
Leo Fitzsimons was Vice President of EFC in 1923 and auditor in 1924. He played cricket for ECC.
David Edward (called Mick) Gillett and his brother Dennis Gordon (called Gordon) Gillett were both outstanding footballers. Their parents had moved to a farm in Eltham around 1913, and between 1919-1924 lived at “Culla Hill”, the former home of one of Eltham’s first settlers Thomas Sweeney. They also lived in John Street before building their home on Main Road. Joseph was a builder and built many shops and houses in Eltham, One of these was the Blue Gum Cafe, opposite the railway station in 1922. Their father Joseph (Pop) Gillett was a passionate follower of the Eltham Football Club
(Dennis) Gordon Gillett was a member of Eltham’s 1920 side that joined the Heidelberg District Football League before Eltham became a founding club of the Diamond Valley Football League in 1922. Gordon was EFC captain in 1922 and our captain/coach in 1925. In 1925 Gordon was judged best individual player.
(David) Mick Gillett appears to have joined Eltham in 1921 and the term ‘Gillett Bros.” would be a constant in the names of the best players for years.
‘Mick’ was certainly one of the best players in the local league and showed his commitment to the team when he played at full forward just after his arm was out of a sling in 1923 to make up the numbers. He was voted best all round player in 1925 to go with his 1922 medal (we have no information who won best player in 1923 or 1924). We do know that the Collingwood Football Club wrote to ‘Mick’ in 1924 asking him train there.
“Mick’ served on the committee during the 1924 & 1925 seasons.
‘Mick’ also played cricket for the Eltham Cricket Club 1922 23, 24 25, 30 & 31 also serving on the club committee and was vice captain for the 1924-1925 and Captain for the 1925-26 season.
In 1925 he was poached by Dimboola Football Club, when he was offered employment on the condition that he played football with them. The Hurstbridge Advertiser 9 Apr 1925 stated ‘Mr D. (Mick) Gillett, well known amongst the sporting fraternity as a good, footballer and cricketer of no mean powers, has taken his departure to Dimboola, where he has been offered remunerative employment and other concessions upon his joining the football eighteen in that town. He captained the cricket club this season, and was fairly successful with the bat, and was the wicket keeper of the side at football he has been a tower of strength to the local side; and his presence will be greatly missed. However, as he is leaving for his own betterment his friends wish him the greatest success in his new sphere.’
He did play cricket for Eltham during the 1925/26 season and also returned to play in the 1930/31 season.
“Mick’ and his family later moved to a farm in Dollar, Gippsland, then retired in Kyabram to be nearer to his children.
He is a Life Member of Meeniyan Dumbalk United Football Netball Club. He served in WW2 in Victoria however was discharged as being a dairy farmer & carpenter he occupation was required to provide essential services.
Gordon & Mick’s parents also brought up the Newton boys, after their mother died of TB. Jack Newton played in Eltham’s first grand final appearance in 1928 and was a member of Eltham’s 1930 & 1932 premiership sides. He stated in 1927 as a 15 year old and played for around 10 years. The local paper stated that the 15 year old half forward was a ‘revelation’. He was runner up in the DVFL best and Fairest with fellow Elthamite Jack Twyford, who would later play in Richmond’s 1932 Premiership side and was considered the most outstanding player in the DVFL of his era. In 1930 Jack Newton bagged 8 goals against Montmorency, following that up with 12 goals in the next 3 games. Gordon & Tom Newton also played football for Eltham. All the Newton boys also played cricket for sides in the Eltham area.
The medal etc will be on display at the Central Park Clubrooms shortly.
Many thanks to Gary McKitterick Gillett and his father for the kind donation, which at present is the oldest piece of memorabilia EFC has in its possession. Also thanks to Jo Howard of the ‘Newton’ side of the family for the photograph of David ‘Mick’ Gillett.