Recently our Library held a pilot Victorian Indigenous Research Workshop over two days. This included Library orientation sessions, and research discussions. One attendee, Bill Hunter, was researching his grandfather, Fred Hunter, a star footballer in the Healesville area for many years from the early 1900s.

Bill believes that it was Fred who perfected what is now known as the banana kick, a kick for goal from an impossible angle that screws at right angles. Fred’s father, Richard Rowan, developed the kick in the 1890s, [1] and Fred perfected it during his playing days to the point where fans exhorted the team to “Kick it to Hunter, the screw kick punter!”

The local Healesville Guardian football scribe, who wrote under the nom de plume of ‘Chips’, highlighted his remarkable goal kicking. “Hunter’s goal just as the bell rang was a beauty. He’s a bonzer on those screw kicks.[2]

On a day when Hunter “got another of his fancy screw goals” against Wandin, former Melbourne coach Alex ‘Joker’ Hall,  retired Carlton dual premiership player Jim Marchbank[3], and Leon Phillips (Footscray) were in attendance[4]. Bill believes they were there to watch Fred and to learn the secrets of his kicking prowess.

Fred Hunter turned out for Healesville Football Club for many years, winning best player awards[5] and playing in their 1920 premiership team. Fred also played games for the aboriginal Badger Creek team.

Aboriginals playing football at Coranderrk. Richard Rowan at far left, Fred Hunter, centre, with football at his feet.  H141273

His father Richard Rowan was  a notable sportsman, excelling at football and cricket, and even riding race horses. He played football for Coranderrk and was a member of combined Yarra Valley sides that took on VFA heavyweights such as Port Melbourne and Richmond.[6]

In fact in the early 1890s he was invited to try out for South Melbourne[7], a leading team in the VFA and one of the foundation teams when the VFL was established in 1897.  In an ugly example of institutional racism, Rowan was denied the opportunity to play for South Melbourne by the Aboriginal Protection Board[8].

The workshops were a great way for our Library to connect with indigenous Victorians from around the state. Research topics ranged from Aboriginal tribes of the Gunai and Taungurung; the cultural underlay for the Aboriginal Nation; Aboriginal women’s organisations; family history and footballing connections around the Coranderrk / Healesville area.

It may be impossible to definitively identify who first developed the screw/ banana kick, but Fred Hunter “the screw kick punter” certainly has a claim to having perfected the kick that originated amongst footballers at Coranderrk.

[1] ‘Queen’s Birthday sports’, Healesville Guardian , 25 May,1894, p.2. Article lists Richard Rowan placing in a boomerang throwing competition and Bill thinks Richard’s expertise with a boomerang inspired him to experiment with kicks that changed direction in midair, like a boomerang. In fact the banana kick was often referred to as a boomerang kick in the past.

[2] ChipsHealesville and Yarra Glen Guardian, 14 June 1919 p. 1

[3] Jim Marchbank is great uncle to current Carlton player Caleb Marchbank . See Tony De Bolfo  Caleb’s Carlton connection

[4] Chips.  Healesville and Yarra Glen Guardian,  28 June 1919 p. 1.

[5]  The spoils of the victors  Healesville and Yarra Glen Guardian 15 September 1911, p. 3  & Footballers social. A great success (1911, October 6). Healesville and Yarra Glen Guardian 6 October 1911,  p. 3 . In 1911 Fred Hunter was named best all-round player for Healesville Football Club; Healesville Football Club Healesville and Yarra Glen Guardian , 8 November 1919, p. 2. In 1919 Fred received a gold medal as most consistent player

[6]Richmond v. Lilydale Sportsman, 16 August 1892: 6. Lilydale v. Port Melbourne  Healesville Guardian, 10 August 1894: 3 .  The Lilydale side was augmented by a number of players from the Healesville, Yarra Glen and Coranderrk teams, including Richard Rowan.

[7]Snap shots Sportsman 6 June 1893, p. 6. see reference near bottom of  the first column

[8] Aborigines Protection Board.  The Argus, 4 May 1893, p. 9.

This article has 7 comments

  1. Patricia Smith

    Richard Rowan was my great grandfather

  2. Hi Patricia my name is Linda Atkinson and I was wondering if possible that you could be family
    So my thing is that my great great grandmothers name is Sarah Hunter and my nans name is Everlyn, so are we related through the Rowans.


  3. Richard Rowan is Fred Hunters father, Fred’s mother was Louse Hunter .We are related through Richard

  4. Fred Hunter was my great uncle His mother was Louse Hunter Fred’s father was Richard Rowan

  5. Simon Azzopardi

    I lived across the road from Bill Hunter aka Cyril Hunter. What a great man. The stories he use to tell about his Grandfather Fred and how he perfected what we all now know as the Banana kick. He would always come over just before a game started and just talk pure Footy. Sadly Bill passed away a few years ago. Hopefully his stories get passed on for many generations to come. R.I.P Old mate!

  6. Simon Azzopardi

    Hi Andrew,
    Indeed he was. Was great talking to someone who
    truely knew the game for what it was and is today. I lost count of the amount of times Bill mentioned you publishing a story about his Grandfather Fred and how the ‘Banana’ kick is still so important in todays game. Thank you for getting his story out there for others to read and marvel at.

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