251,256 Pages

Joe Pearce
Joe Pearce (1912).jpeg

28 January 1885

Sandhurst (Bendigo)

25 April 1915(1915-04-25) (aged 30)

Gallipoli, Turkey

Arthur Mueller "Joe" Pearce (28 January 1885 – 25 April 1915) was an Australian rules footballer who played with Melbourne in the Victorian Football League (VFL). Throughout his life, he was always known as "Joe".[1]

He was a member of the First AIF, and was killed in action whilst landing at Gallipoli, Turkey on 25 April 1915.[2]


The son of Arthur John Pearce, the headmaster of the Bendigo Grammar School, and Lena Margaret Pearce, née Mueller, he was born at Sandhurst (Bendigo) on 28 January 1885. He was educated at Bendigo Grammar School, and was employed in a well-paid position in the Australian Mutual Provident Society, firstly in Bendigo, and then in Melbourne.

Once he had moved to Melbourne he became very involved in the community of the Anglican Holy Trinity Church, in East Melbourne; he was Church Treasurer, the Sunday School Superintendent,[3] the Secretary of the Church of England Men's Society, and a member of the church choir.[4]

His cousin, Jack Mueller, played 216 senior VFL games for Melbourne from 1934 to 1950.


Recruited from the South Bendigo Football Club in 1904, he played as a strict amateur, and even refused to accept out of pocket expenses.

He played his first senior game for Melbourne, aged 19, against Collingwood, at the MCG, on Saturday, 14 May 1904 (round two). Pearce played well in a Melbourne team that lost by 6 points to Collingwood.[5]

He played his last senior match for Melbourne against Essendon, on the MCG, on Saturday, 30 August 1913 (round eighteen). Essendon won by 10 points, 6.16 (52) to 6.6 (42), and Pearce was one of the best players in a losing team.[6]

A specialist full-back, Pearce was a regular player for Melbourne from 1904 to 1913, and was noted for "clear[ing] his goal with a dash which took the ball past the centre",[7] playing 152 games, and represented Victoria at the 1908 Melbourne Carnival.

In 1922, champion full-forward Dick Lee, who played for Collingwood from 1906 to 1922, told a reporter that he thought that Pearce was, by far, the best full-back of his day; and only matched in that time (1922) by the current Richmond full-back Vic Thorp.[8]


He played sub-district cricket with Coburg, and also played with the Melbourne Cricket Club's Club XI's. He was also good at lawn tennis, and at lacrosse.[9]


Leaving his lucrative employment as a clerk with the Australian Mutual Provident Society, he enlisted in the First AIF on 17 August 1914 (he was the eighth man to enlist at Essendon on day one[10]); he was immediate given the rank of Lance-Corporal, and was promoted to Corporal on 6 April 1915.


He was killed in action with the 7th Battalion, whilst taking part in the landings at Gallipoli, Turkey on 25 April 1915. He was shot before his boat could reach the beach.


He was buried at No 2 Outpost Cemetery, Gallipoli, Turkey (one and a half miles from where he first landed), and his name is located name is located at panel 51 in the Commemorative Area at the Australian War Memorial. A bronze memorial plaque was erected at the Holy Trinity Church, East Melbourne.

On Saturday, 12 June 1915, playing against Essendon (in round eight), "the Melbourne players wore black armbands, as a token of respect for a former comrade, Lance-Corporal Pearce, a well-known back man of a few seasons ago, who was killed in action at the Dardanelles".[11]

As a devoted church-man, Joe Pearce would have been pleased to know that he was the subject of a sermon, "Football, the Game and the Barracker", delivered by Rev. Ernest George Petherick (1879–1950) at the Horsham Presbyterian Church on Sunday, 12 September 1926.[12]

His sister Ethel, and a "F.W. Hastings" each inserted an "In Memoriam" notice in the newspaper, every year, at least until 1954.[13]

See alsoEdit


  1. It is most likely that it was to distinguish young "Arthur" from his father, who was also an "Arthur", but known as "John".
  2. Despite various suggestions given over time, related to particular individuals, it is clear that, because, at least, six former VFL footballers were killed during the chaos of the landing at Anzac CoveRupert Balfe (University, Alan Cordner (Geelong and Collingwood), Claude Crowl (St Kilda), Charlie Fincher (South Melbourne), Fen McDonald (Carlton and Melbourne), and Joe Pearce (Melbourne) — it can never be definitively argued that one of these men was "the first VFL footballer killed in the First World War".
  3. His father was also a Sunday School Superintendent: at All Saints' Pro-Cathedral, in Bendigo (The Argus, 21 June 1915).
  4. In Memoriam: Pearce, The Argus, (Tuesday, 25 April 1916), p.1.
  5. The Football Season: Collingwood (7.13) Beat Melbourne (7.7), The Age, (Monday, 16 May 1904), p.8; Melbourne's Plucky Effort, The Argus, (Monday, 16 May 1904), p.9.
  6. The Football Season: Essendon (6.16) Beat Melbourne (6.6), The Age, (Monday, 1 September 1913), p.7; Football: The League Season: Essendon's Narrow Margin: Melbourne Finish Strongly, The Argus, (Monday, 1 September 1913), p.7.
  7. Old Boy, "Football Romance: Past and Present Players: Are They Comparable?", The Argus, Tuesday, 1 May 1928), p.20.
  8. C.H., "A Champion Forward", The (Adelaide) Register, (Monday, 14 August 1922), p.8.
  9. Personal Particulars, The Argus.
  10. Service Record, p.19
  11. Football: Melbourne's Grand Finish: Fast and Even Game, The Argus, (Monday 14 June 1915), p.4.
  12. Sermon on Football, The Horsham Times, (Tuesday 14 September 1926), p.2.
  13. In Memoriam: On Active Service: Pearce, The Argus, (Saturday, 24 April 1954), p.19.


External linksEdit

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.