Jim Caldwell (footballer)

James McIlwrick "Ginger" Caldwell (11 August 1888 – 20 August 1929) was an Australian rules footballer who played with South Melbourne in the Victorian Football League (VFL).

Jim Caldwell
Caldwell during his South Melbourne career
Personal information
Full name James McIlwrick Caldwell
Nickname(s) Ginger
Date of birth (1888-08-11)11 August 1888
Place of birth Williamstown, Victoria
Date of death 20 August 1929(1929-08-20) (aged 41)
Place of death East Melbourne, Victoria
Height 173 cm (5 ft 8 in)
Weight 66 kg (146 lb)
Position(s) Rover
Playing career1
Years Club Games (Goals)
1907–08, 1920–22 Williamstown (VFA) 070
1909–19 South Melbourne 155 (34)
1920 Footscray Football Club (VFA)
1923–24 Perth 013
Coaching career3
Years Club Games (W–L–D)
1923–24 Perth 28 (4–23–1)
1925 Carlton 11 (4–7–0)
1929 South Melbourne 4 (1–3–0)
1 Playing statistics correct to the end of 1924.
3 Coaching statistics correct as of 1929.
Career highlights
Sources: AFL Tables, AustralianFootball.com


The son of Thomas Caldwell and Agnes Caldwell (1854-1907), née Smith,[1] he was born at Williamstown, Victoria, on 11 August 1888.

He married Clarissa Ann Hayes (1891-1967), the daughter of Richard and Elizabeth Hayes on 7 August 1912.[2][3] They had two children, Edna May Caldwell (1913),[4] and John Arthur Caldwell (1917-1987).[5] He was also the brother-in-law of former Williamstown footballer "Jack" May,[6] who married Clarissa's sister in 1917.[7]


He had nine brothers and sisters, including:

  • Robert John Caldwell (1876-1927): Williamstown footballer.[8]
  • Thomas Campbell Caldwell (1879-1960): served in the First AIF, and was awarded the Military Medal in 1917.[9]
  • Arthur Edward Caldwell (1886–1915): St Kilda and Williamstown footballer, served in the First AIF; died of wounds sustained in action.
  • Joseph Albury Caldwell (1893-1966): served in the First AIF.[10]



Caldwell played through the centre and was a premiership player with Victorian Football Association (VFA) club Williamstown in 1907-1908.

South Melbourne

In his debut season (1909), South Melbourne reached the Grand Final but Caldwell missed playing due to a nine-week suspension for striking Carlton's George Bruce in the Preliminary Final.[11] Almost a decade later, in 1918, as captain-coach, he led the club to victory in the 1918. By then, Caldwell was playing as a rover and had become a regular Victorian interstate representative.


Cleared from South Melbourne on 12 May 1920,[12] he played three matches for Footscray in the VFA — on 15 May,[13] 22 May,[14] and 29 May[15] — before resigning as a player and moving on to coach "Footscray Diggers", in the Victorian Junior Association;[16] and, at least, by 31 July 1920, he was serving as captain-coach of Camperdown in the Corangamite Football Association.[17][18]


In 1921, Caldwell captain-coached Williamstown to a premiership.[19]


Cleared from Williamstown on 25 April 1923,[20] he captain-coached the Perth team in 1923 and 1924 "without much success";[21] and, in the second half of the 1923 season, "was disqualified for the [remainder of] the season for abusing a field-umpire".[22]


On the resignation of Carlton's captain-coach Paddy O'Brien — who (later) went to play with Footscray in its first VFL season — Ray Brew acted as coach for four matches. Caldwell (then in Perth) was appointed coached of Carlton for the remainder of the 1925 VFL season.[23]


Although offered another year at Carlton in 1926, Caldwell took up a more lucrative offer,[24] and was appointed captain-coach of the Rutherglen Football Club in the Ovens and Murray Football League.[25] Due to financial considerations, the Rutherglen club not only decided not to appoint a playing coach for the 1927 season, but also decided not to appoint a paid coach at all.[26]

South Melbourne

Caldwell was appointed South Melbourne coach for the 1929 VFL season;[27] yet, despite the team's (unexpected) victory against Richmond on 1 June 1929, much dissatisfaction was expressed about Caldwell's coaching,[28]and Caldwell was invited to resign, which he did, on the following Tuesday (4 June 1929).[29]


Admitted to the Melbourne Hospital with "internal trouble", Jim Caldwell died of peritonitis some three weeks later, on 20 August 1929.[30][31][32]

See also


  1. Deaths: Caldwell, The Leader, (Saturday, 28 December 1907), p.51.
  2. Wedding Bells: Caldwell—Hayes, The Williamstown Chronicle, (Saturday, 17 August 1912), p.3.
  3. Personal Pars, The (Emerald Hill) Record, (Saturday, 9 December 1933), p.6; Mrs. Jim Caldwell Returns to South, The (Emerald Hill) Record, (Saturday, 9 October 1937), p.3.
  4. Births: Caldwell, The Argus, (Saturday, 25 October 1913), p.11.
  5. Births: Caldwell, The Argus, (Saturday, 8 December 1917), p.11.
  6. John May, The VFA Project; World War One Service Record: Private John Robert May (3125), National Archives of Australia.
  7. Marriage: May—Hayes, The Williamstown Advertiser, (Saturday, 10 February 1917), p.2; On the Wing and Off It, The Frankston and Sommerville Standard, (Wednesday, 16 May 1923), p.4;
  8. Robert John Caldwell, The VFA Project; Deaths: Caldwell, The Age, (Monday, 8 August 1927), p.1.
  9. World War One Service Record: Private Thomas Campbell Caldwell (1684), National Archives of Australia.
  10. World War One Service Record: Private Joseph Albury Caldwell (1786), National Archives of Australia.
  11. Furious Football: Last Saturday's Match: South Melbourne Player Disqualified, The Age, (Thursday, 30 September 1909), p.8; Rough Football: South Melbourne v. Carlton: A. Caldwell Disqualified, The Argus, (Thursday, 30 September 1909), p.7.
  12. Sporting: Football: Permits Granted, The Argus, (Thursday, 13 May 1920), p.5.
  13. Pt. Melb. v. Footscray, The Herald, (Saturday, 15 May 1920), p.2; Footscray's Third Win, The Argus, (Monday, 17 May 1920), p.5; Merricks, C., "Athletics", The Advocate, (Thursday, 20 May 1920), p.25.
  14. Footsc'y v. Nth. Melb., The Herald, (Saturday, 22 May 1920), p.2.
  15. Hawthorn v. Footsc'y, The Herald, (Saturday, 29 May 1920), p.1.
  16. Association, The Herald, (Friday, 2 July 1920) p.3.
  17. Football Notes, The Camperdown Chronicle, (Tuesday, 3 August 1920), p.2; Football, The Camperdown Chronicle, (Tuesday, 3 August 1920), p.4.
  18. Football: Terang Wins Premiership, The Camperdown Chronicle, (Tuesday, 31 August 1920), p.4; Local and General News: Presentation, The Camperdown Chronicle, (Tuesday, 31 August 1920), p.2.
  19. Fiddian, Marc (2013). The VFA – A History of the Victorian Football Association 1877 – 1995. Melbourne Sports Books. p. 47.
  20. Football: Association Clearances, The Argus, (Thursday, 26 April 1923), p.4.
  21. Fellows We Know, The (Perth) Call, (Friday, 12 April 1929), p.7.
  22. Metropolitan Football, The Geraldton Guardian, (Tuesday, 28 August 1923), p.3.
  23. Carlton's Coach, The Sporting Globe, (Saturday, 30 May 1925), p.2; Jim Caldwell to Coach Carlton, The (Perth) Call, (Friday, 5 June 1925), p.8; Football Clearances Granted, The Sporting Globe, (Saturday, 6 June May 1925), p.3; O'Brien Seeks Clearance, The Argus, (Thursday, 25 June 1925), p.5.
  24. Caldwell to coach Rutherglen, The Argus, (Saturday, 1 May 1926), p.26.
  25. Rutherglen Club, The Albury Banner and Wodonga Express, (Friday, 30 April 1926), p.18; Ovens and Murray, The Weekly Times, (Saturday, 8 May 1926), p.90.
  26. Football, The Corowa Free Press, (Tuesday, 22 February 1927), p.3; Football Notes, The Corowa Free Press, (Friday, 4 March 1927), p.2.
  27. Appointment of Coach: J. Caldwell Chosen: Given Wide Powers, The (Emerald Hill) Record, (Saturday. 19 January 1929), p.1; Fast and Evenly Balanced Team: Jim Caldwell Will Exercise Firm Control, The Sporting Globe, (Saturday, 20 April 1929), p.6.
  28. Caldwell's Position, The Sporting Globe, (Wednesday, 5 June 1929), p.8.
  29. South's Coaching: Caldwell Puts His Case, The Herald, (Friday, 7 June 1929), p.15.
  30. Deaths: Caldwell, (Wednesday, 21 August 1929), p.1; Death of Jim Caldwell, The (Emerald Hill) Record, (Saturday, 24 August 1929), p.2; Deaths: Caldwell, The Age, (Wednesday, 21 August 1929), p.1.
  31. Jim Caldwell Dead: Former South Melbourne Footballer, The (Melbourne) Herald, (Tuesday, 20 August 1929), p.1.; League Notes: Death of J. Caldwell (South Melbourne), The Age, (Wednesday, 21 August 19129), p.15; Footballer's Death, The (Launceston) Examiner, (Wednesday, 21 August 1929), p.2.
  32. South Melbourne Appeal for Mrs. Caldwell, The (Emerald Hill) Record, (Saturday, 5 October 1929), p.3.


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