Grand Final Posters
Featured prominently in the Club museum were copies of the much sought after (by Crows supporters at least) 1997 and 1998 Grand Final commemorative, indeed iconic, posters produced by Melbourne’s HERALD SUN newspaper. They were also to be found in the head trainer’s and various other staff offices. Similarly themed but uniquely different posters appeared for and in local papers The Advertiser and The Sunday Mail.
In 1954 the then the Herald’s cartoonist William Ellis Green, who signed all his work and was universally known as “WEG”, produced a cartoon to celebrate Footscray’s first VFL Premiership win. It proved such a popular feature that he was asked to “do it again” the following year. The tradition had begun and each year about 100,000 copies were printed. WEG drew not only posters to celebrate a team’s win but also the day before the big game he provided an illustration of the paper’s respected football scribe’s (Alf Brown) predicted winner.
As each poster had to be available almost immediately post game and certainly for the morning papers, WEG was required to prepare two versions of the poster for that year prior to the game with one for each participating team. Those depicting the losing teams became collector targets in their own right with the majority of the 100,000 having been destroyed as soon as the result was known.
Somewhat iconic, several of WEG’s posters have become eagerly sought after collectors’ items attracting bids ranging from many hundreds to thousands of dollars, more if carrying verified autographs. Collections such as the Richmond and Carlton examples below command even more!
So popular was the initiative that collectors bemoaned the fact that there had been none produced prior to 1954. Not to worry; WEG undertook to retrospectively complete a full set of VFL (Victorian Football League) premiership posters back from 1953 to 1897. Some of these are seen in the two composite collections above and others in more detail below.
One of WEG’s biographers sums his work’s appeal and breadth of distribution well in that “WEG’s footy posters are remembered because they are in so many homes and football clubs and on office walls”. But he goes on to add “But families have at least two million reasons to remember William Ellis Green”. This refers to the fact that proceeds from the sales of the posters were donated to Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital. Not surprisingly WEG’s 2008 poster depicting Hawthorn’s Grand Final Win has become somewhat a specific collector’s target in that it was his last. William Ellis Green died in December of that year aged 85. WEG was more than a creator of Grand Final posters. His voluminous portfolio included thousands of cartoons and caricatures of football players, coaches, administrators and incidents. Quite appropriately amongst the various awards he received was one from the AFL in ‘recognition of an outstanding contribution to the game of Australian football’. But his background, professional life and achievements is much more than football.
The Tradition Continues:
In 2009 Herald Sun cartoonist Mark Knight assumed the responsibility of producing the Grand Final Posters and created history himself in 2017 by producing the first such poster for the AFLW inaugural Grand Final won by Adelaide Crows. The second Crows AFLW success was recognised in the .Advertiser with a similar styled cartoon by resident cartoonist, Jos Valdman.
Not surprisingly caricatures of the Crows, coaches and personalities and the crow symbol itself – have been used repeatedly in posters, advertisements, paintings, cartoons and the like and it was a representative collage of these that appeared in the Club’s museum adjacent the 1997 Premiership museum display.