41. Eric Zschech

Player Inductee

Richmond/Lefroy/Sandy Bay, Centreman, 1930-46

102 games, 16 goals for Richmond, 1930-35
91 games, 53 goals for Lefroy, 1936-41
22 games for Sandy Bay, 1945-46
Lefroy captain-coach, 1936-39
Richmond VFL premierships, 1932, 1934
Lefroy TANFL premiership, 1937
Sandy Bay TANFL and state premierships, 1946
George Watt medallist for TANFL Best and Fairest, 1936, 1937 (equal), 1939
Seven representative matches for the TANFL
Represented VFL v SANFL, 1934

One of the finest centremen in Australia during the inter-war period, Eric Zschech (pronounced ‘Sheck’) was a star in both Victorian and Tasmanian football for more than 15 years.

Born in 1909, Eric Zschech first played senior football in Minyip in country Victoria where he played alongside and was coached by Tasmanian Hall of Fame icon Roy Cazaly. In 1930 Zschech ventured to Melbourne to pursue a VFL career, signing with Richmond and soon becoming a star of the competition. Along with fellow midfield champions Alan Geddes and 1930 Brownlow medallist Stan Judkins, Zschech formed the most potent centreline of the era. His supreme agility and pinpoint-accurate drop kicks into attack greatly serviced the Tigers’ champion full forward of the day, Jack Titus, with the understanding between the two at times appearing to verge on telepathic. With such a bevy of stars at their disposal the Tigers appeared in four consecutive grand finals between 1931 and 1934 – the last two against South Melbourne’s lauded ‘Foreign Legion’ – with the Tigers emerging with the 1932 and 1934 premierships. 1934 also brought the first representative match of Zschech’s career, as he pulled on the Big V guernsey in a match against the SANFL at the Adelaide Oval, with the Victorians going down by 11 points in a high-scoring affair.

After 102 games for the Tigers Zschech set sail for greener pastures in 1936, settling in Tasmania and joining Lefroy in the TANFL as captain-coach. In six seasons Zschech became arguably the best player in the state, winning three George Watt Medals as the TFL’s best and fairest player, coaching Lefroy to their last premiership in 1937 and representing the league seven times in interleague fixtures. After 91 matches in six seasons with Lefroy, Zschech enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force in 1942, serving with an RAAF Postal Unit. At one stage he was posted to Darwin, and it was here that he captained an RAAF side in the ten-team forces competition in the Top End, his team containing many VFL players including future North Melbourne champion Les Foote.

Upon the TANFL’s resumption in 1945, the league’s decision to adopt a district-based competition rendered Lefroy’s position untenable, however Zschech was one of a great many ex-Lefroy players and administrators to shift to the newly-formed Sandy Bay Football Club. After playing a single game for the Seagulls whilst on leave from the RAAF in mid-1945, Zschech played a crucial role in the club capturing the TANFL and state premierships in 1946, these triumphs bringing down the curtain on Zschech’s celebrated career in top-flight football at the age of 37. In 1947 he was appointed captain-coach of Snug in the Kingborough Football Association, playing his last game for the club in 1949 at the age of 40 before returning to Victoria. Eric Zschech passed away in Melbourne in 1981 at the age of 72.