In 1933 the Argus newspaper company established the Star Newspaper as an afternoon tabloid to compete with the Melbourne Herald. Due to a lack of competitiveness with the Herald it was withdrawn from publication in 1936. During its short life, the Star Newspaper produced a set of football badges.
Like most newspaper giveaways, readers had to collect a number of coupons to redeem the badge of their favourite club; initially it was six consecutively numbered coupons. All of the badges were of the same design – a star shaped badge on a pin. All of the badges had a green background colour with a gold border around the star. In the centre of the badge was a gold circle and imprinted in red were the initials of the club. In the example shown here, the initials are “HFC” – for the Hawthorn Football Club.
There was a slight problem however. As only the club’s initials were shown on the badge, how could you distinguish a Collingwood badge from a Carlton badge (both CFC) or a Fitzroy badge from a Footscray badge (both FFC)? Simple, include some ribbons on the pin in the club’s colours – brown and gold for Hawthorn!
Star Newspaper badges are quite hard to find, the most common badge seen is that of the South Melbourne Football Club. As the Swans were a strong team between 1933 and 1936, it might be that there was more demand for their badges and hence more were produced – but who knows?
The common understanding about these badges is that they were produced for only the Victorian Football League clubs, and images of badges that I have seen confirmed this – until recently when I acquired the badge opposite. As you will note, the initials shown on this badge are “OFC”. There were no VFL clubs whose names started with the letter O, but there was Oakleigh playing in the Victorian Football Association. So were more badges made than we thought?
Prior to finding the OFC badge, Eric Panther gave me a snippet from the Star Newspaper concerning the badges. The article advised readers that due to unprecedented demand, they had run out of badges, were currently having more produced and that all orders would be filled. Perhaps to reduce demand, and cost, the criteria for obtaining a badge was to be increased from six consecutively numbered coupons to twelve – “from next Monday”!
The article also features an image of a badge, unfortunately too faded to identify the club initials. However, the badge shown is listed as “No. 16”. As there were only 12 VFL clubs at that time this appears to confirm that badges were made for more than just the VFL clubs, and OFC suggests that they were made for VFA clubs, and a need for more ribbons to identify the clubs.
If that’s the case where are these badges and why don’t we see more of them? Maybe their design meant they were not readily identified as a football badge, especially if the ribbons were missing. Or it may be that the closure of the newspaper meant that not all the badges were produced and sent to readers as promised.