It’s 11 June 1921. In Blenheim, New Zealand the anticipation mounts! Will Dick Arnst defend his world title against challenger Pat Hannan – a champion sculler for the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF)?
The race was big news and had been widely reported in local papers. In response a huge crowd gathered on the banks of the Wairau River, near Blenheim to witness Hannan’s challenge. Arnst had first won the world championship in 1908, then he lost it to Ernest Barry in 1912 and retired from sculling in 1915. But he was back on the scene in 1920. The world title reverted to Arnst by forfeit in 1921 and Hannan was the first to challenge. The papers picked a close race. The excitement was building.
Sadly, though, views of much of the action in this film clip of the race have been obliterated by nitrate decomposition. However, a surprising twist at the end of the film is clear – and well worth the wait!
Football clubs displayed their patriotism by publishing lists of players (past and present) who had enlisted, and by organising carnivals and events to raise funds for the war effort. This film shows a fundraising match between the 1915 VFL premiers Carlton and an Army Camp side at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. The Camp team, wearing the Collingwood strip, was made up of current and former AFL players who had enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force. The match, won by Carlton, raised 248 pounds for the Wounded Soldiers Fund and attracted 6000 spectators.