Albert Hartkopf was one of the great all round sportsmen of his day. Born to German migrants in 1889, Hartkopf entered Melbourne’s Scotch College in 1896, and from there a legend was born. Few, if any, could match his athletic record as a schoolboy.
Hartkopf played in the school’s first XI cricket team from 1903-1909 and was captain for the final two seasons. He also captained the school’s football team, rowed in the Head of the River in 1908 and 1909, was in the school’s top tennis team as well as playing district cricket for Fitzroy at the age of 17, where he topped the club’s bowling and batting averages.
As well as excelling in team sports, Albert was a runner of distinction, winning eight of nine events at the school’s athletic carnival in 1909. He then went on to capture the 100, 220 and 440 yards events at the combined schools carnival, in addition to the long jump. In all four events he set records. Then in 1911 he was Victoria’s state champion over 440 yards.
Attending Melbourne University and studying medicine, Hartkopf continued to excel across a range of sports, representing the University in cricket, football and athletics. This included 48 games for University in the VFL, where he played as a leading forward, kicking a total of 87 goals.
From 1912 to 1917, Hartkopf was unable to play any sport, restricted by collarbone and leg injuries. In this time he worked at the Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne and then at the Royal Children’s in Perth. He resurfaced as a cricketer in Perth, scoring centuries for Subiaco in the city’s club competition.
In 1919 Hartkopf returned to Melbourne, opening up a medical practice in Northcote and joining the Northcote Cricket Club. He played 11 seasons at Northcote, averaging nearly 37 with the bat and just under 18 with the ball. He also played regularly for Victoria during this time, finally earning a call up to the national team in 1925 at the age of 35. Batting at no. 8, Hartkopf hit a handy 80 in Australia’s large first inning total but his comparatively poor performance with the ball of 1/134 off 30 overs saw him dropped from the team, never to return. He had been selected for his bowling.
He continued playing for Victoria until the 1927/28 season, when his bowling form dropped off significantly, although he did claim the wicket of Don Bradman.
Albert Hartkopf died in 1968 after a long battle with rheumatoid arthritis.
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