Brighton Diggins

Brighton John Diggins (born Bryton John Diggins, 26 December 1906 – 14 July 1971) was an Australian rules footballer in the West Australian Football League (WAFL) and Victorian Football League (VFL).[1]

Brighton Diggins
Personal information
Full name Brighton John Diggins
Date of birth (1906-12-26)26 December 1906
Place of birth Victoria Park, Western Australia
Date of death 14 July 1971(1971-07-14) (aged 64)
Place of death Mount Eliza, Victoria
Height 183 cm (6 ft 0 in)
Weight 92 kg (203 lb)
Position(s) Key position, ruckman
Playing career1
Years Club Games (Goals)
1927–1931 Subiaco 87
1932–1937 South Melbourne 65 (21)
1938–1940 Carlton 31 0(6)
Coaching career3
Years Club Games (W–L–D)
1935 South Melbourne 2 0(2–0–0)
1938–1940 Carlton 56 (38–18–0)
Total 58 (40–18–0)
1 Playing statistics correct to the end of 1940.
3 Coaching statistics correct as of 1940.
Sources: AFL Tables,


The son of Arthur Oswald Diggins (1878-1933) and Lucy Dolphin "Dolly" Diggins (1886-1945), née Mountain,[2] Diggins was born on 26 December 1906. He married Amanda Eileen Murphy in 1928.[3] He died on 14 July 1971.


Diggins began his senior football career at the Subiaco Football Club in the West Australian Football League in 1927. A key position player and ruckman, Diggins was a strong mark and a fast runner,[4] and by 1930, he was considered to be the finest key position player in Australia.[5] He played with Subiaco from 1927 to 1931, and played 88 matches for the Lions.[6]

South Melbourne

In 1932, during the Great Depression, Diggins moved to Victoria to play for the South Melbourne Football Club in the VFL.

Diggins was one of several Subiaco players who joined South Melbourne in the early 1930s, including Johnny Leonard (who was coaching), Bill Faul and John Bowe, with the promise of immediate, long-term, secure, paid employment outside of football within the (137 store) grocery empire of the South Melbourne president, South Melbourne Lord Mayor, and Member of the Victorian Legislative Council, Archie Crofts.[7][8]

The influx of players from interstate became known as South Melbourne's "Foreign Legion",[9] and helped South's on-field performance significantly. Diggins won one premiership with South Melbourne in 1933, and played there until 1937.[4]


Having been denied the opportunity to coach at South Melbourne, Diggins reluctantly moved to the Carlton Football Club in 1938,[10] and was appointed captain-coach — he had been denied a transfer to Carlton a year earlier.[11]

He flourished at Carlton. In his first season, he led the team to the 1938 premiership. He played two more seasons with Carlton, He played his last senior game in round four (18 May 1940) against Melbourne,[4] when he suffered a serious injury to a knuckle.[12] Due to that injury, and number of illnesses, he did not play for Carlton again that year, on medical advice;[13] however he did continue as non-playing coach until the end of the 1940 season (round 18: 31 August 1940).[14]

Military service

Having earlier intimated an inclination to enlist in the R.A.A.F.,[15] once Carlton's 1940 VFL season had finished, Diggins enlisted in the Second AIF (in September 1940).[16]

"Diggins retired [from football] in order to join the armed forces. However, after just three months he was discharged on medical grounds when it was felt that his ankle, which he had injured in a match in 1934, would be unable to withstand the rigours of infantry training."[17]

He re-enlisted in 1942;[18] and, as Staff Sergeant Diggins, he took an active part in the training of commandos at the Army Physical and Recreational Training School (P. & R.T.) in Frankston.[19]


In 1947, he was appointed non-playing coach of Frankston Football Club.[20] In September 1947, when an injured player was unable to return to the field after half-time, he "took the field [and] received a great ovation from the Frankston supporters. Diggins is the biggest man seen in Peninsular football for a long time. "Football News" put his weight down at 17 stone [viz., 108kg]".[21] and, in the following season (1948), aged 41, he made another comeback, in which "he played inspiring football and was largely responsible for his side's two-goal win".[22] He coached Frankston for three seasons (1947-1949).

The Argus

In 1950, he became a football reporter for The Argus.[23]

Subiaco Team of the Century

Diggins was named as the centre half-back in the Subiaco Team of the Century.[4]


  1. Given that the official notices of his engagement to Amanda Eileen Murphy on 23 June 1928, the W.A. Registry's record of his marriage (in 1928, registration no.1747), his two service records (VX38178 and V147355), and the Victorian Registry's record of his death (in 1971, registration no.16085) all identify him as Brighton John Diggins; and, further, given the explanation given at of his decision to prefer "Brighton" to his birth name of "Bryton", it seems certain that his name was "Brighton/Bryton John Diggins", rather than the "John Brighton/Bryton Diggins" suggested at
  2. Silver Wedding, The Western Mail, (Thursday, 22 December 1927), p.40; Deaths: Diggins, The West Australian, (Tuesday, 27 June, 1933), p.1; Deaths: Diggins, The West Australian, (Monday, 25 June 1945), p.1.
  3. Goldfields Gossip, The (Perth) Sunday Times, (Sunday, 1 July 1928), p.2; Engagements, The Western Mail, (Thursday, 5 July 1928), p.20; Deaths: Diggins. The West Australian, (Friday, 11 October 1929), p.1; Births: Diggins, The West Australian, (Tuesday, 15 July 1930), p.1; Births: Diggins, (Thursday, 9 June 1932, p.51.
  4. "Brighton Diggins". Blueseum. 26 March 2010. Retrieved 13 October 2011.
  5. Wishart, Ted. "History Timeline". Subiaco Football Club.
  6. Davenport, Jaclyn. "Subiaco Team of the Century". Subiaco Football Club. Retrieved 13 October 2011.
  7. Faul Championed, The (Perth) Mirror, (Saturday, 9 April 1932), p.5; Manzie, F.K. (Illustrated by Dick Ovenden), "Round the Training Rooms No.4: South Melbourne", Table Talk, Thursday, 22 June 1933), pp.10, 36.
  8. Men Behind the Team: Cr. A. Crofts' Tangible Interest, The (Emerald Hill) Record, (Saturday, 23 April 1932), p.1.
  9. The caricature at the foot of page 10 of Table Talk (22 June 1933) was created by Richard "Dick" Ovenden (1897-1972). It shows Diggins at the head of the South Melbourne "Foreign Legion". From left to right those represented are: Jack Bisset, the team’s captain; Dick Mullaly, the club’s secretary; Brighton Diggins, from Subiaco (WAFL); Bert Beard, from South Fremantle (WAFL); Bill Faul, from Subiaco (WAFL); Jim O'Meara, from East Perth (WAFL); Frank Davies, from City (NTFA); Laurie Nash, from City (NTFA); John Bowe, from Subiaco (WAFL); Jack Wade, from Port Adelaide (SANFL); Ossie Bertram, from West Torrens (SANFL); and Wilbur Harris, from West Torrens (SANFL).
  10. South Man Wanted as Coach for 1953, The (Emerald Hill) Record, (Friday, 5 September 1952), p.3.
  11. 'Forward', Interstate Struggle of a Player's Services", The Age, (Wednesday, 26 May 1937), p.20.
  12. Carlton without Diggins, The Age, (Friday, 24 May 1940), p.6.
  13. Carlton Wins Again, The Argus, (Monday, 8 July 1940), p.9; Diggins Enlists, The (Perth) Sunday Times, (Sunday, 28 July 1940), p.1.
  14. Around League Clubs, The Argus, (Friday, 21 June 1940), p.15; Another of South's Premier Players Enlists, The (Emerald Hill) Record, (Saturday, 22 June 1940), p.1; Carlton Full of Confidence, The Argus, (Friday, 12 July 1940), p.16.
  15. More Enlistments from South, The (Emerald Hll) Record, (Saturday, 20 July 1940), p.1.
  16. Service Record (VX38178).
  17. Devaney, n.d.
  18. Service Record (V147355).
  19. Weston, M., "Toughening Methods Used in Army, The Argus (Friday, 17 July 1942), p.2; Taylor, P., "Stories of Sportsman on Service", The Australasian, (Saturday, 19 September 1942), p.12; Dexter, F., "“I Became a Fifth Columnist”: Eerie Night Experiences with Tough Combat Patrols", The Australasian, (Saturday, 28 September 1942), p.6; P T School Excels in Life-Saving, The Argus, (Thursday, 7 January 1943), p5; Frankston P.T. School: Removal a Loss to Community, The (Frankston) Standard, (Thursday, 25 May 1944), p.1.
  20. B. Diggins to coach Frankston, The (Emerald Hill) Record, (Saturday, 5 April 1947), p.3; Frankston Football Coach, The (Frankston) Standard, (Thursday, 27 March 1947), p.1.
  21. , The (Frankston) Standard, (Thursday, 11 September 1947), p.6.
  22. B. Diggins makes a Comeback, The Argus, (Monday, 23 August 1948), p.6.
  23. Star Team to Write for "Argus", The Argus, (Wednesday, 19 April 1950), p.32.


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