Francis George Finley
- 59Wallaby Number
Francis (‘Pony’) Finley was an 11 stone halfback from Armidale whose first break-through in representative rugby occurred when he was selected as a member of the NSW touring team to New Zealand in 1901. They would have seven matches on their tour in August and September. He was considered the back-up to the vice-captain, Bill (‘Charlie’) Shortland and V. Harris from Glebe. However he was to play in six matches, only missing the first against Wellington, when the Glebe combination teamed up. Shortland died a few days after the trip at Homebush at his parent’s home. He was only 26, and died from a kidney infection.
Finley’s first appearance was against Southland, the next was against Otago, then against Canterbury he came on as a reserve after Maund, normally a fullback, could not continue. He was selected for the match against New Zealand, which was not considered a Test. Chester and McMillan wrote, in The Visitors:“Pony Finley was the outstanding player in the New South Wales team and won frequent applause for his plucky defence. His passing and kicking, too, were of the highest order.” Against Wanganui, the next match, Chester and McMillan wrote that “only Charlie Shortland, Finley and Lindsay among the backs had played anywhere near top form.” Against Auckland, they noted:” Good performances were put up by the captain Shortland, Finley and Maund, with Judd standing out in the pack.” In 1903 the New Zealand team toured Australia, but Finley did not get a run for NSW or Australia.
Yet in 1904, when Great Britain toured, he reached the pinnacle of his career. “Snowy’ Baker, perhaps the most outstanding athlete ever produced in Australia, was the reigning halfback, and he was in the first and second NSW games and the first two Tests. Surprisingly, Finley was chosen to play in the final Test at the SCG, his only game against the tourists up to that point, and his only Test. Great Britain toured New Zealand, and played one more match against NSW. ‘Pony’ Finley played 16 matches for NSW from 1901 and 1904. He was a grazier, and a product of The Armidale School.