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Kitchen’s vs Swallow’s King’s Birthday Football Match

by David Thompson

After so many years having a public holiday for the Queen’s Birthday, it felt a bit strange to have one for the King’s Birthday in 2023. The public holiday honouring the monarch’s official birthday, at least for football followers, means a blockbuster match between Melbourne and Collingwood at the MCG and the Neale Daniher-led Big Freeze event to fight Motor Neurone Disease (MND). For many years, though, on the King’s Birthday, there was an annual charity football match in Port Melbourne between local industrial giants of Swallow & Ariell Pty Ltd and J Kitchen & Sons Pty Ltd.

A Kitchen’s vs Swallow’s match on the King’s Birthday was first mentioned in the Record in June 1922.[1]

Prior to 1936*, the public holiday was declared by the Victorian Government for a Monday close to the current King’s or Queen’s actual birthday. The reigning monarch during the 1920s, George V, was born on 3 June 1865 [2] which in 1922 fell on a Saturday with the public holiday therefore on Monday 5 June.[3] The newspaper report of the match says it was played at the Port Melbourne Ground on the King’s Birthday but does not explicitly state whether this was the actual King’s birthday or the public holiday. Given that Port Melbourne played away against North Melbourne in the Victorian Football Association (VFA) on the Saturday[4] and then at home against Footscray on the Monday[5] we can surmise that the Swallow’s vs Kitchen’s match took place on Saturday 3 June 1922 when the ground was not required for a VFA match.

Whether the match was played on the Saturday or the Monday matters little. The newspaper reported that there was a large attendance and that “half-a-dozen of Swallow’s busy bee took up a collection on behalf of the Queen Victoria Hospital and realised the very decent sum of £6 14/”.[6] Swallow’s with “better system and straight kicking” won by a score of 63 to 34.[7]

By 1924, Advance – a journal of interest to all employees at J Kitchen & Sons Pty Ltd throughout Australia was published each quarter and the July issue of that year reported on the annual King’s Birthday football match.

The fourth annual match between our Port Melbourne team and one representing Swallow & Ariell, was played at Port Melbourne on Monday, 9th June (King’s Birthday).”[8] Kitchen’s won 12.11.83 to 6.3.39 with a collection of £4/16/2 gathered from the crowd of about 200 spectators in aid of the Alfred Hospital.  This report indicates the first match between the firms was played in 1921, a year before the one first reported in the Record.

J Kitchen & Sons Pty Ltd Football Team, Advance, Vol 1, No 3, July 1924, p 27.

The report of the 1925 King’s Birthday game in Advance showed the match was growing in popularity. Played on Monday 8 June in front of between 500 and 600 supporters Kitchen’s were again the victors 5.14.44 to 2.8.20. £5/14/11 was handed to Port Melbourne Town Clerk, Syd Anderson for the Port Melbourne Distress Fund.[9]

J Kitchen & Sons Pty Ltd Football Team, Advance, Vol 2, No 7, July 1925, p 33.

On Tuesday 18 May 1926 Council’s Cricket Ground Committee, among other things, made the ground “available under the usual conditions for the annual football match between Kitchen’s and Swallow’s on King’s Birthday Holiday morning[10]. Exactly what those conditions were is not reported but presumably given the charitable nature of the match, the ground was made available free of charge or at a nominal cost. 

The match was played at 10.00am on Monday 7 June 1926[11]. “A heavy fog made the ground very slippery, and until half-time it was found difficult to handle the ball at all, but from then on play was good.”[12] In the end, Kitchen’s won easily 13.12.90 to 5.8.38 with £7/3/9 collected for Port Melbourne charities.

Around 2,000 people attended the King’s Birthday match on Monday morning, 6 June 1927 at the Port Melbourne Football Ground with Kitchen’s 12.15.87 defeating Swallow’s 8.11.59. Bill Hegarty captained the Kitchen’s side and played well getting amongst the goalkickers: – Hegarty (2), McDermott (2), Drew (2), Bragg, Bowen, Cron, Walley, Jeffrey and Murphy. £7/5/8 collected from spectators to relieve local distress.[13]

Advance, Vol 4, No 15, August 1927, p 27.

As an aside, Stan Jones lost his wallet at the match containing cash and valuable papers. “The finder may keep the money but return the wallet and papers to Swallow & Ariell’s or the ‘Record’ office.[14]

The August 1927 issue of Advance also carried a short story about T Walley (right), motor driver from Kitchen’s Footscray works. Walley was something of a sharpshooter. Playing with Croydon in the Yarra Valley competition during 1926 he won the cup for the most goals during the season including 20 goals against Yarra Glen, 16 against Wandin, 7 out of 10 in the semi-final and 7 out of 9 in the final.[15]

In the 1927 season to date, with Coburg Juniors, he had kicked 47 goals in 7 matches including 12 against Brighton Juniors. “Mr Walley has been of great assistance to the J. K. & S. Football Team (Melbourne) in their annual matches against Swallow & Ariel’s [sic]”.[16]

Kitchen’s won again in the 1928 match. In what Advance described as “a severe blow at the unlucky 13 superstition” Kitchen’s scored 13.13.91 to Swallow’s 3.8.26. The best players for Kitchen’s were M Boyd (6 goals), A Ross, R Murphy, R Peachman, W Hegarty and H Bragg. £5/15/- was collected to aid the Mayor’s Fund for the poor of Port Melbourne. Both teams were afterwards entertained by the Social Clubs of both firms.[17]

After the game, a member of the Swallow’s team, the luckless Stan Jones, who had lost his wallet at the previous year’s match, had to seek medical attention for an injured wrist. “It was discovered he had broken a small bone, but fortunately he is now quite recovered.”[18]

For unknown reasons, Swallow & Ariell did not play against Kitchen’s on the King’s Birthday in 1929. Instead a scratch match between Kitchen’s Port Melbourne works and their Footscray works was played at the Port Melbourne Football Ground on 3 June. Port Melbourne 9.9.63 defeated Footscray 3.12.30. Frank Bowen for the Port Melbourne works was adjudged best-on-ground. £4/13/- was raised in aid of the distressed of Port Melbourne and forwarded to the Mayor’s June Self-denial Fund.[19]

Footy Crowd, Advance, Vol 6, No 23, August 1929, p 29.

There was a good attendance of supporters, who, with the players, became quite excited over the game, and passed across a few hints both for players and selectors.”[20]

Swallow’s were back as the opposition team for the match played on King’s Birthday morning 1930. Kitchen’s “won rather easily” 10.19.79 to 1.4.10. A collection at the gates raised £6 for the Mayor’s Distress Relief Fund.[21]

J Kitchen & Sons Pty Ltd Football Team, Advance, Vol 7, No 26, October 1930, p 28.

With no further issues of Advance covering June 1931 and beyond there is no record of any match played that year. On the King’s Birthday in 1932, however, Kitchen’s played a football match against the Clan Social Club for the Mayor’s appeal. Clan Socials won 9.5.59 to 8.10.58 and £6/8/- was raised for the Mayor’s appeal.[22] It seems likely this arrangement was repeated in 1933 with both the Clan Social Club and Kitchen’s applying to Council’s Grounds Management Committee for use of the ground to play a charitable football match.[23]

At this point the trail goes decidedly cold but then in June 1948 the Record reports that Kitchen’s and Swallow’s played their annual match on King’s Birthday at Lagoon Reserve. Swallow’s won 9.9.63 to 8.10.58 with the proceeds from a collection going to the Melbourne Hospital Appeal.[24]

So perhaps the tradition continued uninterrupted, or was revived after the war, not at Port Melbourne Football Ground but at Lagoon Reserve. In any case, it is interesting to note that there is a long-standing connection between sport for charitable purposes and the King’s or Queen’s Birthday public holiday particularly with Kitchen’s vs Swallow’s in Port Melbourne.

* In Victoria, from 1936, the public holiday for the King’s or Queen’s birthday was set as the second Monday of June.

[1] 1922 ‘INTERESTING INDUSTRIAL MATCH. ‘, Record (Emerald Hill, Vic. : 1881 – 1954), 10 June, p. 2. , viewed 12 Jun 2023,

[2] ‘George V (r. 1910-1936 ‘, The Royal Family , viewed 12 Jun 2023,

[3] 1922 ‘KING’S BIRTHDAY.’, The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954), 5 June, p. 7. , viewed 12 Jun 2023,

[4] 1922 ‘NORTH V. PORT TO-DAY.’, Record (Emerald Hill, Vic. : 1881 – 1954), 3 June, p. 2. , viewed 12 Jun 2023,

[5] 1922 ‘A BRILLIANT WIN.’, Record (Emerald Hill, Vic. : 1881 – 1954), 10 June, p. 2. , viewed 12 Jun 2023,

[6] 1922 ‘INTERESTING INDUSTRIAL MATCH. ‘, Record (Emerald Hill, Vic. : 1881 – 1954), 10 June, p. 2. , viewed 12 Jun 2023,

[7] Ibid

[8] 1924 ‘Melbourne Football’,  Advance, Vol 1, No 3, July, p. 27. 

[9] 1925 untitled,  Advance, Vol 2, No 7, July, p. 33. 

[10] 1926 ‘Port Cricket Ground’, Record (Emerald Hill, Vic. : 1881 – 1954), 22 May, p. 3. , viewed 12 Jun 2023,

[11] 1926 ‘METROPOLITAN JUNIORS.’, Record (Emerald Hill, Vic. : 1881 – 1954), 5 June, p. 2. , viewed 12 Jun 2023,

[12] 1926 ‘J.K.S. Play Swallow & Ariell’s’,  Advance, Vol 3, No 11, July, p. 16.

[13] 1927 ‘King’s Birthday Football Match’,  Advance, Vol 4, No 15, August, p. 27.

[14] 1927 ‘SWALLOWS v. KITCHENS.’, Record (Emerald Hill, Vic. : 1881 – 1954), 11 June, p. 2. , viewed 12 Jun 2023,

[15] 1927 ‘Outstanding Goal-kicking’,  Advance, Vol 4, No 15, August, p. 27.

[16] Ibid

[17] 1928 ‘Kitchen’s Defeat Football Rivals in Mlebourne’,  Advance, Vol 5, No 19, August, p. 15.

[18] Ibid

[19] 1929 ‘PORT MELBOURNE AND FOOTSCRAY MEET AT FOOTBALL ON KING’S BIRTHDAY’,  Advance, Vol 6, No 23, August, p. 29.

[20] Ibid

[21] 1930 ‘J. K. & S. TEAM PLAYS FOR CHARITY’,  Advance, Vol 7, No 26, October, p. 29.

[22] 1932 ‘KING’S BIRTHDAY FOOTBALL.’, Record (Emerald Hill, Vic. : 1881 – 1954), 11 June, p. 3. , viewed 12 Jun 2023,

[23] 1933 ‘Port Melb. Council’, Record (Emerald Hill, Vic. : 1881 – 1954), 13 May, p. 7. , viewed 12 Jun 2023,

[24] 1948 ‘JUNIOR FOOTBALL’, Record (Emerald Hill, Vic. : 1881 – 1954), 19 June, p. 5. , viewed 12 Jun 2023,

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