DOB: 16 October 1836
Died: 2 September 1929
One of the major contributors to the drafting of the first set of rules of the game, Henry Colden Antill Harrison, the step-cousin of Tom Wills was one of the key figures of the early days of Australian Football. Born in New South Wales, Harrison's family moved to the new Port Phillip (Victoria) colony when he was one year old. He later married Wills' sister.
Educated at Melbourne Grammar, Harrison was a keen cricketer until Wills returned from England with a love of football which his young cousin followed with relish. Eventually they found themselves at the forefront of the new Australia version of the sport.
Taking up the new local game with relish, Harrison played in Melbourne's first season then for both Richmond and Melbourne in 1860 and 1861. In 1862 his work took him to Geelong where he became captain of the local side, but Harrison returned to Melbourne in 1863 their as captain and held the role until his retirement at the end of the 1871 season - but also captained the Customs club during 1865.
He had been a champion athlete as well, winning a match race against a previously undefeated opponent to be named best in the colony in 1861 before defending his title every year until retiring in 1867.
Having been confined to bed for a month after an October 1871 against Carlton Harrison retired on doctors' advice at the start of the next year and and concentrated on administration. The club presented him with an engraved diamond ring as a token of appreciation for his hard work.
In 1877 he was one of the founding fathers of the VFA - and served as their first vice-president. In 1885, Harrison travelled to England and extolled the virtues of the game to the British, he was also prominent in trying to sell the game to the other colonies. In 1889 he was made a life member of the VFA.
Some sources list Harrison as the "Champion of the Colony" for 1862, 1863, 1866, 1867 and 1869 but there is some dispute over whether this award actually existed. He also doubled as a champion runner which kept him incredibly fit by the standard of the day. He appeared in an 1879 MFC Past Players team aged 42.
First elected to the committee of the MCC in 1871, Harrison became Vice-President in 1892 and served until his death in 1929. He was chairman of the Australian Football Conference in 1905 and a grandstand at the MCG was named in his honour in 1906.
He served as Melbourne's delegate to the VFL and the league's vice-president until resigning in March 1907.
On his 90th birthday Harrison saw Melbourne win the 1926 premiership. He passed away on aged 93 and was buried in the Boorondara Cemetery.
In August 1929, the VFL purchased premises for headquarters at 61 Spring Street and named it Harrison House in honour of one of the founders of the modern game. They remained in the house until 1972 when they moved to Jolimont.
The Argus - 29/05/1865
Otago Witness - 18/07/1885
The Australasian - 08/06/1889
The Australasian - 23/03/1907
"Mr HCA Harrison dead" - 03/09/1929
"Death of Mr H Harrison" - Picton Post 18/09/1929