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TIMMS, Alexander Boswell (1872 – 1922)

TIMMS, Dr Alexander Boswell (1872 – 1922)

'Alick' Timms, a talented amateur sportsman of his time was a Scottish rugby player 1896-1905, Captain of the Scottish Rugby team, Geelong FC player, British Isles Rugby team player, 1899, and medical practitioner.

‘Alick’ Timms, also known as ‘Shako’ at School, was the third son of William Fowler Timms and Helen nee Anderson.

His father, William Timms, was an early owner of the 30,000 acre Mt Hesse Station near Inverleigh and in 1849 after establishing his own mercantile agency became the largest exporter of wool from Geelong, shipping over 3,000 bales. It was from here that the 11 year old ‘Alick’ was sent to boarding school at Geelong College in 1882. In November 1882, however, the Timms family were forced by drought to sell the Mt Hesse property and in 1883 ‘Alick’ Timms became a student of Melbourne Grammar giving his address as ‘Blenheim’ in St Kilda Rd. He returned to Geelong College in 1884.

Two of his brothers, William Fowler Timms (1868-1928) and Harry Oliphant Timms (1870-1942) also attended the School. Charles Gordon Timms, an excellent rugby player and winner of four Military Crosses also attended the College from about 1901 to 1903 and was a younger brother.

'Alec' Timms (Football, 1890).

'Alick' Timms (Football, 1890).

One of the most talented sportsmen of his era ‘Alick’ Timms was, for six continuous years from 1887 to 1892, a member of the School Football Team captaining it in his final year. Also a keen cricket player, he was a member of that team in 1888, 1890 and captain in 1891 and 1892. In 1890 Timms won the Open School’s Race and the following year, 1891, gained the Geelong College Cup which he then retained in 1892. The College Cup won on aggregate points demonstrated his all-round versatility – he won the shot put; 100 yard race; pole vault; high jump; hurdles; 440 yards race and threw a cricket ball 107 yards and I foot – far further than any other competitor.

Like many of his contemporaries he went to Edinburgh to study medicine (where it has been suggested that there were some 200 Australian students at this time), and in 1893 first played rugby in a university team. He continued his athletics and in 1896 and 1897 won the Scottish Hurdles Championship and was considered one of the leading amateurs of Scotland.

While studying in he joined the Edinburgh Wanderers Team, but changed to the University Team in 1899-1900. In 1896 he joined the Scottish Rugby Team which played Wales that year with ‘Alick’ Timms on the wing. Two years later in 1898/9 Alick Timms toured Australia with a British Team playing his first match in Brisbane and scoring eleven tries on tour. After his return to Scotland he was selected to play for Scotland against Wales, Ireland and England and was a key player in the Scottish triumphs of 1901 and 1903. ‘At this time ‘Alick’ Timms was regarded as one of the leading back line players in Great Britain. He was admired for his ability to drop kick – a skill he learnt playing Australian Rules – and his greatest feat was the day at Inverleigh in 1901 when he kicked a penalty goal from between the touch line and the half way line into the teeth of a gale to win the game against Wales. The Edinburgh University Magazine applauded ‘that dropkick of Timms…the finest we have ever seen.’ It was then that he was acknolwdged as a truly talented sportsman.’ In 1903, the College Annual Report noted that A B Timms had completed his course at the Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh.

Tragically ‘Alick’ Timms, aged 50 years, died relatively young in 1922. He had moved to Cardiff, Wales to work as a general medical practitioner and assisting in promoting rugby and with the war effort before eventually moving south to practise in Surrey, England. He was residing at ‘Earlsbridge’, Woodlands Rd, Redhill, Surrey at the time of his death. Pegasus notes that fundraising for a memorial stained glass window to ‘Alick’ Timms for installation in St John’s Church, Redhill, in Surrey began in 1922.

Two other children of a William Fowler Timms and Cecila nee Anderson are also recorded attending the School - Robert Oliphant Timms (circa 1846-1915) and Harry Alexander Timms (1845-1935). It is uncertain whether or how these may be related.

Sources: Bill Gillies-Speech to Melbourne Club May 2004; Pegasus June 1961 p 18; John Williamson, Football’s forgotten heroes; Pegasus December 1920 pp 30-31; Pegasus August 1922 pp 23-24; The Story of the Edinburgh University Athletic Club. pp 5, 241, 243, 251.
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