Victorian Football League President badge, 1919-1925.

Sir Walter Baldwin Spencer was the third president of the Victorian Football League from 1919-1926, a position he took up in the same year that he retired as emeritus professor from the University of Melbourne. His presidency followed a two-year caretaker administration by Charles Brownlow, who continued on in various official capacities until his death in 1924. Under the leadership of Spencer and in honour of Brownlow, the committee decided to establish a best and fairest award in Brownlow's name, and it was as President of the VFL that Spencer awarded the first ever Brownlow award to Edward 'Carji' Greeves of Geelong in 1924. This VFL President's badge which belonged to Spencer bears a date (1923-1924) that is commensurate with the period in which the Brownlow medal was established. Its association to the foundation of the award that is the most important and respected annual sporting award in Australia, makes this an iconic piece of Australia's sporting heritage. A man of science, art and culture this badge represents yet another aspect of the multifaceted life of Sir Walter Baldwin Spencer.

Physical Description

18 carat gold oval hoop encrusted in navy enamel with the word Victorian Football League embedded in 18ct gold. Within the hoop is a gold VFL insignia. On the reverse, 'PRESIDENT' is engraved at the top of the hoop. At the top of the badge, an ornate filigree loop acts as its attachment to a brass chain link.

Obverse Description

In centre, the initials 'VFL'; around, 'VICTORIAN FOOTBALL LEAGUE'.

Reverse Description



The period of Walter Baldwin Spencer's presidency of the VFL was a tumultuous one in football. During the First World War, internal divisions over whether to continue the game for the duration had caused significant drops in numbers of players, teams and spectator attendance, as well as a leadership vacuum. Charles Brownlow stepped into the breach until a permanent new president could be found. Spencer took up the position at a time when football was only just beginning to recover from the effects of war, and was therefore in the role of president during its reestablishment as the most popular and important winter sport in Melbourne. The period from which the badge dates (1923-1924), which also saw the establishment of the Brownlow, can therefore be seen to be a culmination or turning point in firmly establishing and institutionalising the sport for posterity, and the beginning of its next phase.

The badge was created by C. Bentley, a Melbourne-based jeweller/badge-maker who was responsible for the creation of Melbourne Cricket Club badges from at least 1911 onwards (and continuing into the 1930s as Bentley & Son). This piece combines the VFL President badge with a Melbourne Cricket Club badge. Bentley also created other badges, such as a Melbourne Eight Hours Committee badge (1915) and a WWI period Patriots Pledge enamelled badge bearing the words "Never again will I buy German goods".

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