DOB: 9 September 1915
Died: 14 June 2001
From: Echuca Imperials
Premiership Player - 1939, 1940, 1941, 1948
Grand Final team - 1946
Best and Fairest - 1937, 1939, 1946
Leading Goalkicker - 1934, 1936
Seconds Premiership Player - 1933, 1949
Seconds Leading Goalkicker - 1952
Team of the Century - Forward Pocket
Australian Football Hall of Fame inductee
MFC Hall of Fame - 2001
Victorian state representative - 1936, 1937, 1941 (4 games)
150 Heroes selection
Life Member - 1943
Statistical categories led:
Most goals in jumper 12
Recruited from Echuca after having dominated the Bendigo league, the tall, powerful forward beat the odds to become of the great goalkickers of his era despite having just 8 fingers due to a timber machine accident. He had been recommended to secretary Percy Page by former Redleg Hugh Dunbar. Desperate to get his man, Page arrived by train at 2am and did the deal. Hawthorn arrived to sign Muller at 9am but had been beaten to the punch.
He played for the seconds in 1933 and won a premiership, but it was in the rope factory of former Demon Francis Vine that he suffered his injury. He lost two fingers above the knuckle iafter they were crushed in a machine accident but still managed to line up in the first game of 1934 wearing a protective glove which left his marking unimpeded.
He got four goals on debut, seven in his second match and didn't kick less than two goals in any match that year en route to 52 from 14 games and an award as "Best Forward Player". He was invited to join the VIctorian side, but as Melbourne were touring his home region at the same time he didn't play. The next year he spent the first six weeks of the year up front for 16 goals before being thrown to the backline for the rest of the season after which he didn't get another.
Mueller could play any key position, and in the 1939 Grand Final he was named at full-back but moved into the ruck after the first goal. That year saw him kick 35 goals, his best tally since his rookie season. He had been appointed as vice-captain the year before, and was a deadly option no matter where he played around the ground. The exciting forward line created by Checker Hughes meant that no one forward was relied on to get the goals any of Mueller, Ron Baggott or Norm Smith could get the goals.
Rejected by the army due to his injuries, Mueller was ironically still able to play in the 1940 and 1941 premiership sides. He kicked 38 and 45 goals respectively in those years. He finally managed to find his way into the army in 1943 and missed the entire season after the first round. He had five game stints in both 1944 and 1945 while on leave from the army before returning as a regular in 1946.
With Hughes back as coach for his second stint, Mueller was thrown back into the forward line permanently and responded with 58 goals for the year - including a match winning 8 in the Preliminary Final and 6 in the Grand Final loss. Despite a niggling leg injury through the season he won the Best and Fairest award.
Mueller played just two home and away games in 1948 while also coaching the 2nds, but was recalled midway through the season. He suffered an ankle injury in his second game back, and then thigh trouble which kept him out for six weeks before he returned to the side for the finals series. He kicked eight goals in the Preliminary Final before helping himself to six each in the Grand Final and subsequent replay.
At the end of that season Melbourne refused Hawthorn permission to interview Mueller, and he played four games in 1949.The club tried the finals trick again in 1950 after which he retired from VFL football for good. Mueller continued to play in the reserves until 1954 when he retired.
In 1951 he captained a VFL Reserves side in a match against the Croydon-Ferntree Gully Football League, and in 1952 kicked ten goals in a Seconds match and at 37 years old was the league's second leading goalkicker.
Mueller's cousin Joe Pearce played for the club before World War I
|Round 5, 1938||Elbowing||4 matches|
|Round 13, 1939||Elbowing||4 matches|
|Round 6, 1949||Striking||4 matches|
|Round 17, 1950||Charing||Not Guilty|
Some sources list his date of death as 15 June, and state that he was the nephew of Joe Pearce.
Riverine Herald - 01/08/1934
"Footballer's fortitude" - 01/12/1934
Sporting Globe - 27/04/1940
The Argus - 23/06/1944
The Australasian - 24/06/1944
"Trophy for J. Mueller" Riverine Herald - 22/11/1946
Sporting Globe - 15/09/1948
The Argus - 11/02/1949
"Mueller had to return" - The Age 23/05/1955