Career : 1902 - 1907
Debut : Round 2, 1902 vs South Melbourne, aged 24 years, 284 days
Carlton Player No. 125
Games : 92
Goals : 56
Last Game : Round 16, 1907 vs Essendon, aged 30 years, 24 days
DOB : July 30, 1877
Arthur Silvanius ‘Archie’ Snell was one of Carlton’s star rovers in the early years of the Victorian Football League. Renowned for his elusiveness on the field – especially in wet weather - Snell was an experienced campaigner who had represented West Melbourne, Williamstown and Brunswick before he joined the Blues in 1902.
Although he subsequently played 92 senior games and his career encompassed the first two seasons of Carlton’s magnificent 1906-07-08 Premiership treble, Archie’s name is missing from the Blues honour board of Premiership players – because in 1906, Alex Lang usurped him as the Blues’ first choice rover. The pair regularly played together in the same team, but Lang was selected ahead of Snell in the 1906 Grand Final side, and the following year, Archie played his last game for Carlton prior to the 1907 finals.
Five years beforehand, Snell had made his debut for Carlton against South Melbourne at the Lake Oval in round 2, 1902, on a miserable occasion for the Navy Blues. Stationed in a forward pocket throughout, Archie was starved of opportunities as Carlton scored only 0.8 to be thrashed by 53 points. More than a century later, that total still stands as the record lowest-ever score by the Blues against either South Melbourne or the Sydney Swans.
Despite that drubbing however, the boys from Princes Park managed to drag themselves up off the floor and broke their 14-match losing streak the very next weekend, edging out St Kilda by 8 points. Snell was one of those who led Carlton’s resurgence, under the stern discipline of the club’s new team manager and coach, Jack Worrall.
Apart from his debut season, when Carlton finished sixth on the eight-team VFL ladder, Archie played finals football in five of his six completed seasons. He was among the Blues’ best contributors in the club’s very first Grand Final in 1904, roving tirelessly all day in a four-goal defeat by Fitzroy at the MCG. He was equally as prominent the following year, when the same two sides met in the Preliminary Final and Fitzroy emerged triumphant again by a similar margin.
Then came 1906, when Jack Worrall discovered ‘Bongo’ Lang playing outstanding football in a local church competition, and wasted no time in getting the brilliant teenager to Princes Park. Despite a gulf in age and experience between he and Snell, Lang was soon Worrall’s first choice rover. Snell was tried in other positions - notably at half-forward or in the centre – but it was soon obvious that his future lay as an understudy to Carlton’s new young star.
Archie stayed on at Princes Park into 1907 and celebrated his thirtieth birthday mid-year, before making his last appearance in Carlton’s colours in round 16, 1907 against Essendon. The Blues easily accounted for the Same Old that afternoon, with Lang roving, and Snell effective at half-forward – where he kicked his 56th and last career goal.
Archie must have impressed the opposition once more that day, because some months later, he was talked into making a comeback for Essendon against Fitzroy in round 6, 1908. Handed his favourite position at the feet of Essendon’s rucks, Archie played well in a cliff-hanger 4-point win by the Same Old. But he retired for good immediately afterwards, telling Essendon that his heart was no longer in it.
The 125th player to represent the Carlton Football Club, Snell passed away on July 18, 1949 at Box Hill, aged 71.
Milestones50 Games: Round 16, 1904 Vs Melbourne
FootnotesIn 1907, the Carlton Football Club presented each player on the club’s list with a commemorative cap, in honour of that season’s VFL Premiership.
One hundred and one years later, in 2008, the only known survivor of those historic items – the cap that had once belonged to Archie Snell – was put up for auction. Lovingly kept and passed down through Archie’s family for generations, it sold for $4350 to a private collector.