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Edward Goderich (Carji) Greeves (1903–1963)

by A. G. Austin

This article was published:

Edward Goderich (Carji) Greeves (1903-1963), footballer, was born on 1 November 1903 at Warragul, Victoria, son of Edward Goderich Greeves, farmer, and his wife Frances Adaline, née Nasmith. He was nicknamed 'Carji', derived from 'Carjillo, the Rajah of Bhong', a character in a popular play. After the family returned to the Geelong district, Greeves attended Geelong College in 1916-23 where he showed outstanding prowess as an all-round sportsman. As captain of cricket he was a useful bowler and a dashing left-hand batsman; he won the school tennis championship; he stroked the crew and won golden opinions as a footballer.

Geelong Football Club was keen to secure his services even before his schooldays were over, but the principal refused him permission to play. After leaving school in May 1923 he was quickly snapped up by the club and he began his illustrious career, first as a rover and on the forward line, then in the centre which he soon made his own—a position which had been held with distinction, for Geelong, by his father.

In 1924, to honour the memory of Charles Brownlow, an early player for Geelong and long an administrator, the Victorian Football League created the Brownlow medal for the fairest and best player in the league. Greeves won the first award, and was runner-up in 1925 to Colin Watson (St Kilda) and in 1926 and 1929 to Ivor Warne-Smith (Melbourne). The sight of Greeves (in guernsey number 20) playing his 137 games in ten years, as an amateur, was always memorable; at 5 ft 9 ins (175 cm) and 12 stone (76 kg) he was never very fast but had a remarkable sense of anticipation, was an excellent mark and a devastating kick with either foot, though favouring his right. He never wore football boots, preferring ordinary boots of very soft leather, suitably stopped. He played in the premiership teams of 1925 and 1931, and was four times a member of interstate teams.

In the American winter of 1928-29 he was invited as specialist coach of the University of Southern California football team by Andrew Chaffey (son of George Chaffey) who was treasurer of the university and was anxious to improve his team's kicking and marking. Greeves spent a happy time in Southern California, was widely fêted, gave several famous demonstrations of his kicking ability, and noticeably improved his charges by insisting that they drop-kick using the instep instead of the toe.

In the early 1930s Greeves worked as a contractor in the Inglewood district. On 9 April 1934 at St David's Presbyterian Manse, Newtown, Geelong, he married Alma Catherine Condie. Later he went to Ararat, where he took charge of the spare-parts section of a garage; he coached the Warracknabeal and Ararat football teams until a cartilage operation forced him to give up the game.

From the 1930s Greeves suffered from pulmonary tuberculosis and emphysema. He died on 15 April 1963, survived by his wife and two daughters; he was cremated at Ararat. His image is kept alive in Geelong by the award of the football club's annual best and fairest trophy—the Carji Greeves medal—and in Harold Freedman's mural of the Western District in the State Public Offices.

Select Bibliography

  • J. Dunn and J. Main (eds), Footy Annual (Melb, 1968)
  • ‘Carji’ Greeves scrapbook (privately held)
  • private information.

Citation details

A. G. Austin, 'Greeves, Edward Goderich (Carji) (1903–1963)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1983, accessed online 5 December 2023.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (Melbourne University Press), 1983

View the front pages for Volume 9

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