Francis Cuthbert Futter
- 60Wallaby Number
Born in 1880 at Cootamundra, NSW, Frank Futter was a fine attacking centre with a powerful right boot and great potential, but one whose appearances in first class rugby were limited by his engineering studies in the mining industry. The son of a wealthy grazier from Cootamundra, Futter who was known as ‘Kitty’, attended The King’s School, Parramatta, with his brothers, John and Victor. An outstanding schoolboy sportsman in rugby, cricket and athletics, young Frank played centre in the First XV for four years and also played in the First XI cricket team. Jack Davis, writing as the ‘The Cynic’ in The Referee in 1900,reckoned him to be ‘just about the best all round back man in the schools last year.’
On leaving school in 1899, Futter attended Sydney University and immediately played for the First XV in the 1900 season. At the same time, 23-year-old John Futter was then playing five-eighth for North Sydney. A tricky runner, John represented New South Wales against Queensland in the first match in Sydney that year. On the following Wednesday, Frank Futter, selected as a winger, joined John in the Metropolitan Union (Sydney) match against Queensland. The Sydney men won 12-8. John Futter played in the return intercolonial match but Will Shortland replaced him for the return interstate matches in Brisbane. Meanwhile, Frank Futter made the trip to Brisbane in place of Iggy O’Donnell and played in all three matches – two against Queensland and one against the ‘Next Fifteen’.
In an effort to support the local cricket association, the teams played the first match at the Brisbane Cricket Ground, which was turned into a quagmire by heavy rain throughout the game. Futter did not have any attacking opportunities but kicked splendidly. On this occasion, Futter paired with Harry Blaney in the centers and they were opposed by Test men Lonnie Spragg and Alex Henry. In the midweek game, Futter enjoyed greater attacking opportunities. In the final match against Queensland, Futter marked Spragg and again had little opportunity in attack, although he tackled well and kicked well. The powerful Queensland team, with nine internationals and three future Test players, won by 20-0. In 1901, while John Futter retired prematurely, Frank moved to Ballarat to study at the School of Mines and did not return to Sydney until early July and missed the representative season. In fact, he did not play first class football again until 1904.
In the meantime, his younger brother, Victor, played for Sydney University as a speedy winger and represented New South Wales in 1903 against Queensland and New Zealand. In the 1904 season, Frank and Vic Futter played together for Sydney University and both were included in the interstate matches in Sydney. New South Wales won the first 11-6 and Queensland the second 11-7. The matches showed that neither State had powerful teams and that rugby in Australia was at a low ebb. This year marked the tour of Australia and New Zealand by a British team led by the redoubtable Scottish forward, David ‘Darkie’ Bedell-Sivright. This team had one of the best back divisions to tour Australia and featured those ‘Welsh Wizards’ – Teddy Morgan, Willie Llewellyn, Rhys Gabe, Percy Bush and Tommy Vile. Their tour opened with a match against New South Wales and both Frank and Vic Futter were included in the State side, captained by Iggy O’Donnell, who had marked the great Gwyn Nicholls of the Reverend Mullineaux’s 1899 side. The match excited enormous interest and more than 35,000 spectators who attended the S.C.G. gasped in astonishment as Sivright’s backs ran riot in a magnificent display of precision handling to win by 27 to nil.
Stung by the brilliance of the British backs, the NSW selectors made a number of backline changes for the return game, including Humphrey Oxenham for Vic Futter on the left wing. Meanwhile Stan Wickham moved from wing to center to partner Frank Futter. Although the home side turned in an improved performance, the tourists won comfortably by 29-6. After the humiliation of New South Wales in both games, the Australian selectors overlooked Futter and played Queensland winger Jack Hindmarsh at centre in the first Test match, which Australia lost 17-0. Up in Queensland, the home sides did rather better against the visitors and Phil Carmichael and Doug McLean were named as Australia’s centre pairing in the second Test match. However, when Australia lost that Test by 17-3, Futter was selected to replace the injured Carmichael and thus partner Wickham in the centres for the third Test at the S.C.G. Futter donned the sky blue jersey with the Australian coat-of-arms, perhaps realising that he was about to play his final representative game. So far as the match was concerned, by now, it was apparent that the British forwards were not as potent a force without the injured Sivright and the Australian forwards held them in the first half which finished with Australia trailing 3-0. With the Australian backs lacking combination, Futter had little chance to impress and the tourists ran away with the game to win by 16 points to nil. Although New South Wales had three remaining fixtures that season, Futter was not available and was again travelling for mining experience. This time, he moved to Gympie to study the mines there.
An old Sydney University team-mate, Jack Garry, travelled to Gympie with Futter also to study the mines. A loose forward, Garry had played for New South Wales against Queensland in 1901 and 1902. Futter decided to continue to play football while in Gympie and he and Garry were chosen in the Queensland Country ‘A’ team that played City ‘A’ in a State trial match at the start of the 1905 season. Futter marked Phil Carmichael who played in the centres for City with George Watson and kicked effectively for Country who narrowly lost by 13 points to 9. Futter and Garry were selected in the Queensland team to visit Sydney. Futter declined the invitation but Garry accepted and played in the second match against his old State. Meanwhile, John Futter died that year and Frank Futter gave up his career as a mining engineer and returned to the family property at Began-Began to carry on the property as a grazier. This was the end of his football career, although Vic Futter continued on for a couple of more years and played all four interstate matches against Queensland in 1906.
In his last match for New South Wales in Sydney, Vic scored two tries. Both Frank and Vic Futter died in 1941 and, as neither had married, the executors of their trust sold their family property and distributed the proceeds to their old alma mater, The King’s School, Parramatta. In all, Frank Futter played just six games for New South Wales between 1900 and 1904 and figured in one Test match for Australia. Like many other talented footballers at the turn of the century, Futter’s career as a mining engineer prevented him from realising his undoubted talents as a gifted centre three-quarter.