BEFORE moving to Mornington the Bates family lived in Frankston and Robert played for that team. The Mornington Standard of 7 September, 1912 carried a lengthy report of proceedings before the Frankston Court of Petty Sessions where “Leonard Incigneri, captain of the Hastings team, and captain of the Richmond team in the League competitions last year, was charged with unlawful assault during the progress of the Frankston and Hastings match at Somerville on 24 August.” The player subject to assault was Robert Bates.
Dr Charles Maxwell, the first witness, gave the following evidence: “… Saw the incident that Bates and Incigneri were concerned in. The ball was kicked from near the centre, and it travelled towards the boundary, followed by Bates and Incigneri. Just as it got to the boundary, Incigneri hit Bates, and he fell heavily to the ground. The ball was then out of play. In my opinion the blow was deliberate. Bates was slightly in front of Incigneri and I don’t think he could see who hit him. Within a few moments of Bates being struck, he was picked up and carried to the pavilion. He was stunned and did not know where he was. He had abrasions on his forehead, nose and generally on the right side of his face. His mouth was full of dirt, and blood was coming out both his nose and mouth. I think the blow hit him behind the ear … I saw him on Saturday night and he was still looking dazed and had a high temperature … he will not be himself again for weeks.”
Ben Baxter, captain of the Frankston team, elaborated on the effect on Bates: “After Bates came on to the ground the second time he seemed silly. I saw him run into another player and he fell over. He appeared stunned. After the incident there appeared to be a hostile crowd around Incigneri.”
Incigneri, who gave his occupation as “blacksmith” and who was obviously a much larger man than Bates who measured only five feet five inches when he enlisted, was found guilty and fined five pounds, in default of one month’s imprisonment. The defendant was also ordered to pay costs amounting to five pounds and 10 shillings. No medal for “bravery under fire” was awarded to Robert Bates on this occasion.
Note: Len Incigneri was the feature of an article written by Doug Dyall and which was published in The News in January, 2010.