Fred Burge

Date of Birth: 06/09/1923
Date of Death: 8/11/2018
Height: 174 cm ( 5-8 1/2 )
Weight: 75 kg ( 11-11 )
Guernsey: 8/10/30
Debut: 25/07/1942, Round 12, Footscray
Last Game: 26/08/1950, Round 18, Geelong

Seasons: 1942-50
Total Games: 118
Total Goals: 105

Honours: 1945 Leading Goalkicker - 55 goals.

Seasons: 1942-44, 1946 , 52
Total Games: 17 - 27
Total Goals: 10

In his first 15 games for Richmond, Burge played in 5 finals matches, including 2 losing grand finals (1942 and 1944). Living up in Castlemaine, he never trained with Richmond until the 1946 and 1950 season, only coming to Melbourne on match day and returning home that night.

Born in South Yarra, he moved around Campbells Creek, Castlemaine and Bealiba in his youth due to his father's employment at Federal Distilleries, a wine merchant, and the Bealiba Hotel. He did attend the 1937 Grand Final between Geelong and Collingwood, one of the very few matches he saw before he played League Football. His childhood idol was Bob Pratt.

He originally trained with Footscray at the start of 1942 as an 18 yr old, even playing in a practice match opposite Ambrose Palmer and Norm Ware. Footscray suggested he return home, but to sign a Form Four before he left. Burge refused.
In 1942, Castlemaine had disbanded due to the war and Burge was without a team. During the middle of that season, Richmond had coaxed Ray Alexander and Bert Harper both from Castlemaine to train/play with Richmond Seconds. Those two suggested to Maurie Fleming that Burge should get a trial with the Reserves. The club did so and he ended playing up to 8 Reserve games that year including kicking 5 goals in Rd 11, and playing in the first final.

He made his senior debut that same season as 19th man against Footscray, and he impressed in his second game of League football against Collingwood.
Hi 5th and 6th career games were the Semi Final and Grand Finals of 1942, meaning he played in both the final series for the Seniors and Reserves in his debut season.

Burge was working as an apprentice fitter and turner at the time, working 12 hour shifts, and had to work night shift on Fridays from 6pm til 2am on Saturday morning, then ride his bike to his aunt's house to sleep. On Saturday morning he would ride his bike to Castlemaine station, catch the 7.40am train and arrive in Melbourne around 10am at Spencer Street where Maurice Fleming would collect him in his coupe-Ford. After the game he would be driven back off to the station and he'd return home to Castlemaine on the 6pm train. The club gave him 12/6 for expenses and increased it to 15/0 after Ray Bower asked for more to cover dinner expenses.

In the 1942 losing Grand Final, Burge suffered a torn hip muscle in the first 10 minutes of the game, received a shot from Dr. Grogan that failed to dull the pain, and left the field in the first quarter.

His 1943 season was interrupted by tonsillitis and chicken pox and he only played the first three games of the season.
In 1944 he returned to Castlemaine and played a handful of games before returning to Richmond.

By 1945, the Sporting Globe praised his roving combination with ruckman Bill Morris, and his goal-sense and courage. That same year he participated in the North of the Yarra vs South of the Yarra charity match at Punt Road for the Royal Institute of the Blind. His opponents that day were Richards, Pannam, Findlay and Ruthven, and he was praised as one of the best rover-forwards in the game.

After his apprenticeship finished, he went to Port Augusta in 1946, when Maurie Fleming's brother got him a position at Shell in Spotswood and he rented, at a place Richmond organised, in Prahran.

Burge was a consistent player and dangerous near goal, who began his career as a ruck rover, until Max Oppy was moved into that role and Burge moved to back pocket for the last 5 years of his career.
He was voted Richmond’s best player in 1944 semi-final loss to Fitzroy.

He won the club Goalkicking award in 1945 as well as finishing third in the Best and Fairest award where he received a toaster.

For his performance in the 1947 semi final he jointly won a bag of sugar (there was a sugar ration at the time in Victoria), and a 3/3 trophy.

In the 1948 Best and Fairest he finished 4th. In that year Colac FC approached him to coach their club, but Richmond denied the clearance.
His highest individual goal tally was 7 against St.Kilda in Round 8 of 1945 and he kicked 5 goals or more on six occasions

In 1951 he did his knee in a practice march in April, and in 1952, with his pace diminished, he only played Reserve games. He was awarded Life Membership in 1951.

- by Rhett Bartlett

Campbells Creek Seniors 1937 (while still a teenager at Tech School)
Castlemaine Tech School 1937-38 (Inter-school matches against Bendigo, Daylesford, Geelong)
Midland District School Football Team 1938 Captain and Best and Fairest (formed from Bendigo, Castlemaine, Kyenton to play school teams in Melbourne including Vic U16 team)
Castlemaine United 1939-41, 44 - centre half forward. ( Premiership 1941 ).
Campbells Creek Seniors 1942 - 1 game (Bendigo League) (as per interview with Rhett Bartlett)

Daylesford 1952-53, Games 23, Goals 57.