Swinburne football team

Somerton Man photo search focuses on Swinburne junior football snap from 1921

Amateur sleuthing has produced potentially tantalizing new evidence in the hunt for a photo depicting the mysterious Somerton Man when he was alive.

A 1921 snap of the under-16 football team from Swinburne Technical College — the forerunner of today’s Swinburne University of Technology — lists a “C. Webb” among the players.

Late last month, researcher Derek Abbott declared he and US forensic genealogy expert Colleen Fitzpatrick had solved the mystery, identifying the Somerton Man as Carl “Charles” Webb, a 43-year-old engineer and instrument maker from Melbourne.

Since that time, a veritable “face race” has ensued — enthusiasts across the globe have assiduously sought to discover a photo of Webb when he was alive, in order to compare it with the posthumous photos of the Somerton Man.

While the Swinburne photo, which has been published on Somerton Man online forums including Nick Pelling’s Cipher Mysteries and Professor Abbott’s Facebook group, falls considerably short of such a breakthrough, there are several facts in its favour.