Ivor Warne-Smith

Ivor Warne-Smith (29 October 1897 – 4 March 1960), was an Australian footballer, who played for the Melbourne Football Club in the Victorian Football League and for the Latrobe Football Club in the North-Western Football Union in Tasmania. During his time with Melbourne he won dual Brownlow Medals, played in their 1926 premiership side, was captain-coach of the club and represented Victoria on numerous occasions. Warne-Smith remained heavily involved with the club for the remainder of his life and was named in the Melbourne Football Club Team of the Century and was also named in the Tasmanian Team of the Century. During his life Warne-Smith also fought in both World War I and World War II.

Ivor Warne-Smith
Personal information
Full name Ivor Phillip Scharrer Warne-Smith
Date of birth (1897-10-29)29 October 1897
Place of birth Sydney, Australia
Date of death 4 March 1960(1960-03-04) (aged 62)
Place of death Newport, Victoria
Original team(s) Wesley College, Melbourne
Height 182 cm (6 ft 0 in)
Weight 86 kg (190 lb)
Playing career1
Years Club Games (Goals)
1919 Melbourne 008 0(2)
1920–1924 Latrobe (NWFU) 075
1925–1932 Melbourne 138 (108)
Representative team honours
Years Team Games (Goals)
1926–1929 Victoria 6 (0)
Coaching career
Years Club Games (W–L–D)
1922–1924 Latrobe (NWFU)
1928–1932 Melbourne 92 (48–42–2)
1 Playing statistics correct to the end of 1932.
Career highlights
Sources: AFL Tables, AustralianFootball.com

Early life

Warne-Smith was born in Sydney, but his family moved to Melbourne when he was a child, and he was educated at Wesley College, where was noted both as a footballer and cricketer.[1] In 1914 he received "triple honour colours" at Wesley, for showing "exceptional commitment to the team and an outstanding level of skill in the specific sport" in three separate sports.[2] As a teenager he played for Collegians in the Metropolitan Amateur Football Association.


His career was interrupted by World War I: he enlisted in 1915 (he was below enlistment age but pretended to be 18, as many Australians did) and served at Gallipoli and on the Western Front. Two of his three brothers were killed in the war.

Football career

Victorian Football League

On returning to Melbourne in 1919 Warne-Smith joined the Melbourne Football Club, in the VFL and played eight games at centre halfback in that season.

North-Western Football Union

In 1920, however, he moved to Latrobe in Tasmania, where he became an orchardist. From 1920 to 1924 he played with the Latrobe club (the Diehards) in the Tasmanian North-Western Football Union (NWFU), and was captain-coach from 1922 onwards. Latrobe were premiers in 1922 and 1924 and runners up in 1923. In 1923 and 1924 he was runner-up in the NWFU's Cheel Medal for the best and fairest player. He was captain of the NWFU representative team in statewide competition, and was selected to play for Tasmania in the 1924 national carnival, although he was unable to make the journey.

Back to the VFL

By 1924 Warne-Smith had such a reputation that Victorian teams were keen to bring him back to Melbourne, despite the fact that he was already 27. In 1925 he returned to the Melbourne club, where he played a further 146 games, usually in the backline. But he was also a talented ruckman and could play in the centre or forward line in required. Under his leadership Melbourne won the premiership in 1926, the club's first since 1900, and during 1926 Warne-Smith also won his first Brownlow Medal. From 1928 (the year he won his second Brownlow) to 1931 he was both captain and coach. He also played for Victoria against other state sides from 1926 to 1929, and was captain of the state team in 1928 and 1929. He officially retired from the playing at the end of 1931, but coached the club in 1932, and played in several games that season when other players were unavailable.

Life after football

After retiring from football Warne-Smith became a regular football writer for the Melbourne Argus newspaper and worked as an executive with the Vacuum Oil Company (later absorbed by Mobil).


On the outbreak of World War II, he rejoined the Army (having been initially rejected on the grounds that he was too old at 43). He served with the Royal Australian Army Service Corps, in charge of fuel supplies, in the Middle East, the Northern Territory, New Guinea and Borneo. For his leadership during the Borneo operations, he was mentioned in dispatches. He was demobilised in October 1945.

Chairman of selectors

In 1949 Warne-Smith became chairman of selectors for the Melbourne Football Club, a post he held until his death. He was also elected to the committee of the Melbourne Cricket Club, which at this time controlled the Melbourne Football Club. These were greatest years in Melbourne's history: under coach Norm Smith Melbourne won premierships in 1955, 1956, 1957 and 1959. Warne-Smith was Smith's closest advisor and was regarded as the club's elder statesman, becoming a life member in 1952. He retired due to ill health in 1959.


Warne-Smith died of heart disease in 1960.


Warne-Smith won the Brownlow Medal twice: in 1926, and again in 1928. He was the first player to win the medal twice, and one of eleven to have won the Brownlow in the same year that his team won the premiership.[3]

In June 2000 Warne-Smith was named to the position of centre half-forward in the Melbourne Football Club's Team of the Century, in a ceremony attended by his four grandsons. In 2004 he was named in the official Tasmanian Team of the Century. He was also made a member of the Australian Football Hall of Fame in 1996.

"Ivor Warne-Smith, quiet and unassuming, was nonetheless energetic and enthusiastic in his endeavours to keep the Team up to the mark. The Club is fortunate indeed in having such a brilliant and versatile player as Coach and leader. Old and new Players alike treat his advice and instructions with the utmost respect."[4]

"For solid, effective brilliance, Ivor Warne-Smith will always rank as one of the best players the game has known. He can play anywhere. The ruck, defence, attack, or centre positions all come alike to this brainy, sterling footballer. Warne-Smith is an astute leader, who makes some daring moves and inspires his players by his own brilliance."[5]

See also


  1. Australian Dictionary of Biography, available online here
  2. "A Brief History of Wesley College Sport" Archived 3 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine Wesley College. Retrieved 9 August 2010.
  3. The Age, 27 September 2006, sport 2
  4. Melbourne Football Club Annual Report, 1929
  5. Sporting Globe Football Book, 1930
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