JOHNSON PARKER ANZAC DAY MEDAL
The concept of an ANZAC Day match in the Premier division of the EDFL was initiated by the Avondale Heights Football Club. As much as ANZAC Day football was not new to the EDFL, our club wanted to present an ANZAC Day event on an annual basis to pay tribute to the sacrifice of the servicemen and women of Australia and celebrate the ANZAC spirit. Our club invited the Aberfeldie Football Club to be the other participating club in this event. Both of our clubs have a high number of families and junior players who attend our games and by playing on ANZAC Day, we believe that we will promote the meaning on ANZAC Day to the younger generation. Our club wanted to name a best afield medal after a war veteran who may have had some things in common with current EDFL players. A player with a link to the local area, who played in the local football competition and who strived to play football at the highest level (VFL at the time). Following an exhaustive process which included research and consultation with RSL Victoria, we settled on naming the medal after two veterans. At the completion of this process, the name of the medal to be awarded to the best player afield for the ANZAC Day match each year was announced as the JOHNSON PARKER ANZAC DAY MEDAL, named after Len Johnson and Harold Parker. The information below and the background of the two men was forwarded all of our players, parents of junior players, supporters and League representatives.
The inaugural ANZAC Day match between the Avondale Heights Football Club and the Aberfeldie Football Club also included the presentation of the ANZAC Day Cup for the winning team. The winning team would hold the cup until the following season.
The JOHNSON PARKER ANZAC DAY MEDAL is awarded to the player in the match who best exemplifies the Anzac Spirit. Skill Courage Self-Sacrifice Teamwork Fair Play
Full Name: Harold Carlyle Parker
Date of birth: 26 September 1892
Place of birth: Elsternwick, Victoria
Rank: Second Lieutenant
Unit: 37th Battalion (Infantry)
Service: Australian Army
Date of death: 30 January 1917 (aged 24)
Place of death: France
Cemetery details: Rue-Petillon Military Cemetery, Fleurbaix, France
Original team: Essendon District
VFL Club: St Kilda
The son of Robert Grainger Parker and Eva Parker, he was born in Elsternwick, Victoria on 26 September 1892. He attended Essendon State School. He married Jessie Parker (she remarried after the war and became Mrs. Cumming). At the time of his enlistment, he gave his occupation as warehouseman.
Harold Parker’s original team was known as Essendon District. There is not much detail on this but it does show that he was a local person playing local football in our own community.
During the latter part of the 1911 season, the St. Kilda Football Club and its off-field operations, and its on-field performances were very seriously affected by a players' strike due to protracted disputes with the committee relating to its mismanagement of club affairs.
Due to the sudden decisions of various players not to play in a particular match, the club used a total of 62 players that season, the most ever used in a single season by a VFL club. This indicates that, given Parker only played towards the end of the season (rounds 9. 13, and 14), he may not have been selected at all if all of the regular players were available.
When measured on his enlistment in the army in 1915, he was 5 ft 9in tall, and weighed 13 stone.
Recruited from the Essendon District Football League, aged 18, Parker played his first senior VFL match for St Kilda, against Collingwood, at Victoria Park on 17 June 1911. He played his second, against Fitzroy, at the Junction Oval, on 15 July1911.
He played the last of his three VFL senior matches against Melbourne on 22 July, at the Junction Oval.
Harold Parker was a member of the Civil Service Rowing Club.
Prior to his enlistment on 11 October 1915, Parker had three and a half years of experience in the Citizen's Military Force. After enlisting, Parker was promoted to Second Lieutenant on 21 Feb 1916.
He was badly wounded in action with the 37th Infantry Battalion of the 3rd Division of the AIF, during a trench raid in France on the night of 29 January 1917, when he was struck in the groin by German machine gun fire. He was lying in a shell hole, and was too badly wounded to be carried back to the Australian lines. The entire stretcher party that had gone to retrieve him were shot down before they could reach the shell-hole and by the time a patrolling party could reach the site, Parker was no longer there.
He was taken prisoner by the Germans and was admitted to the Bavarian Field Hospital, Lambersart, Lille, France. He died of his wounds in the German hospital the next day.
Buried at the Rue-Petillon Military Cemetery, Fleurbaix, France, Parker is commemorated in a two-panel memorial window installed at St. Johns Uniting Church, at the corner of Mount Alexander Road and Buckley Street, Essendon ("In Loving Memory of Lieut Harold Carlyle Parker, 27th Battln, Died of wounds within the German Lines at Armentieres, 30th January 1917, aged 25 years. Thy Will be done".)
A group of officers of the 37th Battalion before the Battalion left for France in November 1916. Lt H C Parker is standing in the back row second from the left. Officers were encouraged wear gloves and to carry canes and whips as a signal of their status.
Full Name: Leslie Albert Johnson
Date of birth: 6 July 1908
Place of birth: Addison Street St Kilda
Unit: 4th Reserve Motor Transport Company
Service: Australian Army Serve Corps
Date of death: 24 January 1942 (aged 33)
Place of death: Malaya
Original team: Ascot Vale CYMS
VFL Club Essendon & North Melbourne
Johnson had to be resolute and tough to survive as one of eight children. Born to Albert and Margaret Johnson in 1908, his mother died when Len was ten years of age. He and brothers Eric and Patrick were sent to St Vincent de Paul Orphanage.
Len Johnson was a fine left-footed full-forward and centre man from Ascot Vale CYMS. He was very fast and a good mark. He was recruited by Essendon in 1929 and was Essendon's equal top goal scorer that year with 40 goals, including nine goals in an eight point win over Footscray in Round 2. This was a fine effort as Johnson broke his arm late in that year, missing the last five games. He was a deadly accurate kick.
Johnson eventually gravitated to the half forward flank and shared roving duties with Keith Forbes. It appears that Johnson could not get enough football as he also represented the Fire Brigade in a mid-week competition and occasionally played some Saturday morning industrial matches.
Johnson, a marvellously accurate left footer, left Essendon during the 1933 season to play five games for North Melbourne. Johnson then went on to be captain coach of Nhill Football Club in the Mid Wimmera Football League then at New South Wales club Griffith before acquiring an identical position with Tasmanian club Longford in 1938 where he stayed until 1940.
Len Johnson was a fine athlete at the orphanage and look up professional running in 1930 and won a half mile handicap at the Showgrounds from a field which included world champion Jack Fitt. From there, Johnson became a regular competitor at Stawell Gift meetings, finishing third in the 440 yards final in 1931 and being placed in other events up to 1936. His biggest athletics purse was 13 pounds for finishing second in a 440 yards event – the Pleasant Creek Handicap in 1932.
Johnson and his brother Eric, inseparable from the time that they were at the orphanage, enlisted together and were sent to Malaya because of the threat of a Japanese invasion north of Australia.
They were near Singapore on 24 January 1942, when sergeant told men from his platoon that they had to demolish a warehouse and, to show them what had to be done, jumped into a truck and demolished a wall. Tragically, Len Johnson was on the other side of the wall and was killed. Eric, who was devastated by the accidental death of his brother, was later captured by the Japanese and spent three years in the notorious Changi Prison.
Because of the Japanese invasion of Malaya and occupation of Singapore soon after his death, Private Leslie Albert Johnson has no known grave although his name is engraved at the Singapore Memorial at the Kranji War Cemetery, 22 kilometres north of the city of Singapore. His name is also listed on the Honour Board at the Essendon Football Club, as well as the St Vincent de Paul Orphanage Honour Board.
ANZAC DAY CLASH 2012
The first ANZAC Day event was a tremendous success. All three games were played in great spirit. Despite inclement weather, a large crowd attended to watch what will become one of the biggest days on the EDFL Calendar. After a close match in the senior game, Aberfeldie broke away in the final quarter to record a 25 point win. The final score was 14.13. 97 to 11.06.72. Michael O’Loughlin kicked five goals for the Heights but it was not enough the defeat a strong Aberfeldie team. The inaugural winner of the Johnson Parker medal was a tie. The medal is voted for by two representatives of each club as well as an EDFL representative. The five persons on the voting panel voted using the 3,2,1 system with all votes tallied and a count back system then used. Even with the count back system, Tom Hislop from Aberfeldie and Sam Keenan from Avondale Heights could not be separated, each polling 9 votes (2 x 3 votes, 1 x 2 votes and 1 x 1 vote) Luckily, there were two medals at hand so both players were able to be awarded their medal.
As the winning team, Aberfeldie also took home the ANZAC Day Cup.
It was terrific to have Trevor Sinclair from the Keilor East RSL as part of the official ceremony of reading the ODE and congratulations to bugle player Joshua Romeo and for the presentation of the Last Post and Lauren Prout who sang the Australian National Anthem so well.
A special thanks to all of the Avondale Heights Committee and volunteers who went out of their way to make the event such a success.
Players, Officials and supporter assemble prior to the commencement of the senior game for the reading of the ODE, the bugle playing of the last post and the singing of the national anthem.
ANZAC DAY CLASH 2012
The First ANZAC Day event was held at Canning Reserve.
Aberfeldie 14.13. 97 defeated Avondale Heights 11.06.72
Parker Johnson Medal joint winners T. Hislop (Aberfeldie) and S Keenan (Avondale Heights)
ANZAC DAY CLASH 2013
The second ANZAC Day event was held at Clifton Reserve Aberfeldie.
Aberfeldie 22.05.137 defeated Avondale Heights 16.09.105
Parker Johnson Medal winner D.Castellano (Aberfeldie)
ANZAC DAY CLASH 2014
The third ANZAC Day event was held at Canning Reserve Avondale Heights.
Avondale Heights 15.16.106 defeated Aberfeldie 6.12.48
Parker Johnson Medal joint winners Luke Cartelli and Rhys Magin (both Avondale Heights)
ANZAC DAY CLASH 2015
The fourth ANZAC Day event was held at Clifton Reserve Aberfeldie.
Aberfeldie 13.12.90 defeated Avondale Heights 7.11.53
Parker Johnson Medal winner Mark Lynch (Aberfeldie)
ANZAC DAY CLASH 2016
The fifth ANZAC Day event was held at Canning Reserve Avondale Heights.
Aberfeldie 18.10.118 defeated Avondale Heights 9.7.61
Parker Johnson Medal winner Joshua Cubillo (Aberfeldie)