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Dodge, Ettie (1885–1973)

by Anne-Marie Gaudry

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (MUP), 1996

Ettie Dodge (1885-1973), vigoro administrator, was born on 29 September 1885 in South Melbourne, fifth of six children of Joseph Terrill Crowl, a Victorian-born bank clerk, and his wife Matilda Orr, née Forbes, from Ireland. Ettie attended schools at Geelong and Jung where her father worked for the National Bank of Australasia. On 25 April 1905 at the National Bank, Geelong, she married with Congregational forms Leonard William Dodge (d.1960), a clerk fourteen years her senior who mixed in cricketing circles.

Moving to Sydney, by 1909 Leonard was probably a partner in Victor Trumper's sports store; from 1911 the firm traded as Victor Trumper & Dodge Ltd at 317 George Street. In 1914 L. W. Dodge & Co., Sydney Sports Stores, opened in Hunter Street. The business succumbed during the Depression. Ettie joined W. S. Friend & Co., wholesale hardware merchants, as a bookkeeper and remained with that company until the mid-1940s.

She devoted her leisure to promoting vigoro, a game invented by John George Grant whom her husband had met in England. Similar to cricket and played with eleven in a team, vigoro uses paddle-shaped bats and two different coloured balls which are bowled alternately. When the game was introduced to New South Wales schools in the 1920s, Dodge & Co. began selling vigoro equipment. Grant died in 1927 and bequeathed the trademark and copyright of the game to Ettie.

President (1919-66) of the New South Wales Women's Vigoro Association and foundation president (1932-66) of the All Australian [Vigoro] Association, Ettie organized State competitions and interstate carnivals each year. She took a special interest in instructing and encouraging junior players, and in the mid-1950s guided the formation of the Australian [Vigoro] Umpires' Association. On her retirement in March 1966, she was appointed patron and a life member of the N.S.W.W.V.A. Like other women's team sports, such as hockey, basketball and cricko, vigoro enjoyed great popularity in the 1920s and 1930s, particularly in Queensland, New South Wales and Tasmania. Played in a competitive spirit, the game provided thousands of girls with a sport at school and gave women a break from domestic responsibilities. Teams trained to improve their batting, bowling and fielding skills.

An able speaker and conscientious administrator, Mrs Dodge was respected and well liked by players and officials. Although modest and reserved in manner, she had a good sense of humour, but could be strict when necessary. Five ft 5 ins (165 cm) tall and of medium build, she wore glasses and was rarely seen without a hat. Survived by her daughter, Ettie Dodge died on 3 January 1973 at Mosman and was cremated with Anglican rites. Her legacy, the Dodge Cup, in which are preserved the ashes of the stumps and bails used in the first interstate match of 1931, is the trophy for an annual competition.

Select Bibliography

  • L. W. Dodge, The History of Vigoro (Syd, nd)
  • M. K. Stell, Half the Race (Syd, 1991)
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 23 Mar 1931
  • Sun-Herald (Sydney), 20 Mar 1966
  • private information.

Citation details

Anne-Marie Gaudry, 'Dodge, Ettie (1885–1973)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/dodge-ettie-10028/text17679, published first in hardcopy 1996, accessed online 17 December 2017.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (MUP), 1996

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