Hecker, who lives in Fullarton, South Australia, recently forwarded a letter and accompanying image of Park, who is believed to have played a handful of games off the half-back flank through the pre-VFL season of 1893 and later emerged as an Australian amateur cycling champion, straddling his two-wheeler more than 100 years ago.
According to Hecker, Park was born at 97 Bourke Street, Sydney district, on November 2, 1874, ten years after the Carlton Football Club’s formation.
Not long after his birth, Park’s father secured a position as Chief General Manager of Colonial Mutual Life Society, which in turn precipitated the family’s relocation to Melbourne. The Parks resided at 99 Sackville Street, East Kew, and in time Park was schooled at the local Hawthorn Grammar before pursuing studies in law at Melbourne University.
It is understood that during his time at the University, Park briefly chased the leather for Carlton, probably at reserve grade level. He later pursued a career in cycling and, according to Park’s grandson, “we found an old piece of paper which advises that he was at one stage 10 mile amateur champion of Australia”.
The eldest son of Leslie Park, William married Dora Wilson, formerly of Tooborac, at St Hilary’s Church East Kew, on March 29, 1900. Not long after his marriage, Park embarked on his legal career and relocated to Ouyen in the Mallee, where he remained until his death on November 4, 1937.
The Argus of Saturday, November 6, reported the following;
“The death has occurred of Mr. William Leslie Park, formerly a well-known member of the legal profession at Ouyen and Murrayville. Mr. Park was formerly an Australian cycling champion and a fine athlete. The funeral was at the Ouyen cemetery”.
The Carlton Football Club would like to hear from descendants of other players and officials of the pre-VFL days. Those with any information or photographs are welcome to contact Tony De Bolfo at the club on 9389 6241 or via email, firstname.lastname@example.org