DOB: 9 September 1915
Died: 14 June 2001
From: Echuca Technical School/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 average five goals a game in the Bendigo league, the tall, powerful forward beat the odds to become of the great goalkickers of his era despite playing most of his career with two missing fingers.
Mueller 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. South Melbourne and Carlton had also been keen on his services, but his father took the advice of a Member of Parliament who was a keen Melbourne fan and let him join the Demons on the proviso that he didn't play seniors until 1934.
He played the last six games of the season for the Seconds and was part of their 1933 premiership side. In 1934 he kicked 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.
At the end of a promising first season, Mueller nearly had his career ruined in an industrial accident. Working in a box manufacturing company, his fingers were crushed in the punch of a machine that put holes in boxes during November 1934, but he still managed to line up in the first game of 1935 wearing a protective glove which left his marking unimpeded.
In the 1938 pre-season, Mueller was turned down an approach by VFA club Brighton. During the season he also denied being approached by Camberwell. That year he was elevated to vice-captain, replacing John Lewis. In Round 5 he was reported for elbowing and suspended for four matches, despite the reporting umpire giving the wrong victim's name in evidence. Melbourne appealed but the original verdict was upheld.
Mueller was picked to play for Victoria in 1939 but was unable to travel to Western Australia due to business commitments. State selectors tried to convince his employer to allow him to go but to no avail. In the same year he was unable to play for the state due to a suspension.
He 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 was deadly 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. Mueller won a 10p 10s trophy from the former Fitzroy secretary for the best player in the finals.
Rejected by the army due to his injuries, Mueller was able to play in the 1940 and 1941 premiership sides. In 1940 he was linked to Prahran, but they denied having approached him. 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 played five games in 1944 while on army leave, and represented Victoria in that year's Forces championship. He played another five matches in 1945 after being posted interstate. Once the war was over, Mueller returned as a regular in 1946. He was linked with a move to Footscray in that pre-season, but denied he wanted to leave Melbourne, simply that he wanted to hand back the vice-captaincy. One report suggested he was upset about not being appointed captain on returning from the services.
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. He played another four games in 1949, recalled in the middle of the season to try and boost the side's finals chances but tore a thigh muscle in his second game, missing six weeks. The club tried the finals trick again in 1950 after which Mueller retired from VFL football for good. In 1951 he played for a combined VFL Seconds team against Werribee and the Croydon-Fern Tree Gully League.
In 1952 he captained a VFL Reserves side against the Croydon-Ferntree Gully Football League. That year he 1952 kicked ten goals in a game and at 37 years old was the league's second leading goalkicker. Mueller continued to play in the reserves until 1954, a year when he filled in at times the team was short-handed, when he retired to play with the Len Smith coached Millers in the Sunday League. He was forced to come out of retirement for the last time aged 39 in 1955 when a Seconds side could only muster 17 players.
Mueller's cousin Joe Pearce played for the club before World War I.
In 1940 he coached Middle Park to the Catholic Boys' Legion premiership, taking over from South Melbourne player Pat Scanlan, who became ill during the finals series.
|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.
Some sources say that the finger injury happened in late 1933 in the rope factory of Francis Vine, but contemporary newspapers confirm the box factory location.
Said to have coached a team called 'Mt. Carmel' during the war.
Herald - 14/07/1933
Riverine Herald - 01/08/1934
Herald - 23/11/1934
Argus - 24/11/1934
Sporting Globe - 01/12/1934
Record - 14/03/1936
Weekly Times - 25/07/1936
Argus - 05/04/1938
Age - 22/04/1938
Age - 08/06/1938
Argus - 29/06/1938
Age - 03/06/1939
Herald - 03/06/1939
Age - 21/07/1939
[https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/206336163|Age - 02/10/1939
Herald - 04/04/1940
Sporting Globe - 27/04/1940
Record - 28/09/1940
Sporting Globe - 08/06/1944
Argus - 23/06/1944
Australasian - 24/06/1944
Argus - 21/05/1945
Argus - 08/02/1946
Sporting Globe - 27/04/1946
Age - 27/04/1946
Riverine Herald - 22/11/1946
Age - 20/12/1947
Sporting Globe - 15/09/1948
Argus - 11/02/1949
Weekly Times - 16/02/1949
Age - 20/05/1949
Argus - 10/06/1950
Herald - 04/07/1951
Mountain District Free Press - 12/07/1951
Sporting Globe - 14/06/1952
Herald - 07/08/1954
Age - 23/05/1955
Riverine Herald - 30/06/2001
Riverine Herald - 29/06/2001