Joe Johnson Indigenous Round

May 20, 2024

Round 6/7 is a very special round for our teams; as it is the Joe Johnson Indigenous Round.

Since 2011 the Fitzroy Junior Football Club has recognised our Shared History during Indigenous Round alongside the AFL. Fitzroy Football club is known as the club where, in 1904, the first recognised Indigenous player Joe Johnson played VFL football.

All our teams have the Joe Johnson medal awarded to players for demonstrating in the most outstanding way, the five principles and attributes of Endurance, Tenacity, Courage, Loyalty and Pride.

A player from both sides who demonstrates these qualities is awarded the Joe Johnson Medal by the opposing Coach. We recognise our indigenous heritage with a small post game ceremony to recognise Joe Johnson and his incredible feats in 1904.

The Fitzroy Football Club has a strong and deep link with Indigenous players. A link beyond geography and the renown Marngrook clearings of Yarra Bend.

As the AFL world celebrates Indigenous Round, Fitzroy Footy Club recognises our part in Indigenous Footy History.

“No Ordinary Joe” Joe Johnson

On the 7th of May 1904, Joe Johnson became the first known Aborigine to play VFL football and he played for FITZROY. In total Joe played 55 games for Fitzroy and in his debut year he became the first ever Aboriginal player to play in a premiership side. He also played in the 1905 premiership side.

Read this article “No Ordinary Joe” by Jon Anderson to understand more about the significant role Joe Johnson played as the first indigenous VFL player.

Fitzroy continued to lead the way when in 1935 another Roy Boy, Doug Nicholls in a match against WA, became the first Aboriginal player to represent the VFL.

Here are some great photos of the coaches awarding Joe Johnson Medals.

The 2 winners from Fitzroy and the opposition team shake hands.