Peter Box – Australian Rules Brownlow Medal Winner
We recently explored the playing career on the 1955 Brownlow Medal winner, Fred Goldsmith. The 1956 winner, Peter Box (22 March 1932), has some remarkable shared similarities, including both being born in 1922, with Box being the older by about six months.
Both Goldsmith and Box made their VFL debuts in 1951. Both share the number 107 in their stat line. In Goldsmith’s case, it was 107 goals and in Box’s it was 107 games. In terms of Brownlow votes, the two were close together, with 52 for Goldsmith and 47 for Box.
Both jumped from the VFL to the VFA, a year apart, Box in 1958 and Goldsmith in 1959. In Box’s case, it was the Clamberwell Football Club of the VFA that was the beneficiary of his services.
Box spent one season less in the VFL, and only one in the VFA, where it was seven for Goldsmith. Another difference is that Box was much more limited in the scorer’s role, his career total of 43 less than half of Goldsmith’s tally.
The greatest distinction betwixt the two men, however, was that during Box’s tenure with Footscray, the team enjoyed a great deal more success.
He was part of a Footscray side that got the better of Melbourne in the 1954 Grand Final by the score of 15.12 (102) – 7.9 (51), in a match that Footscray dominated from first ball up, establishing a lead in the first quarter with six goals and three behinds whilst holding Melbourne to one and four.
The rest of the contest was equally lopsided in Footscray’s favour. It was Footscray’s first, and as of 2015, only premiership victory.
In terms of percentage, Footscray won 62 percent of the time during the years where Peter Box was on the ground, against less than 40 percent for South Melbourne during Goldsmith’s career. Most fans and most players would gladly sacrifice individual accomplishments for those of a team nature, and Box would doubtless be no exception.
He made his VFL debut in 1951, commencing in round one against Richmond and concluding with a semifinal loss against Essendon. The Footscray club won 12 and lost seven.
Box was to miss the entire 1952 season as the result of a serious, career threatening road accident, taking a year away from him. It is hard to say that his being missing was completely responsible, by Footscray was down considerably from the year previous, winning only five times out of 19 matches.
Yet, when he came back fully recovered in 1953, he once again played all 19 of the club’s matches, and they improved to 13 victories, including a revenge semifinal victory for the previous year’s loss at the hands of the Bombers, but a preliminary final against Geelong that found Footscray leading at the half reversed dramatically in the third and fourth quarters to end up in Geelong’s favour.
For the season, Peter Box kicked three goals and attracted only one Brownlow vote after having received three in his 1951 debut season.