GREAT FOOTBALL IN SYDNEY DURING WWII

It would be reasonable to say that Australian Football in Sydney has failed to reach the dizzy heights of World War II.

If you played junior football in Sydney in the fifties and sixties you were forever the target of misguided abuse from people who were traditionally biased and ignorant to our great game.

However during World War II the number of top grade players who either passed through Sydney or were posted here in the services was incredible.

Some players who had no contacts in Sydney simply turned up at a match with their togs seeking a game, such was the movement of men.  Club officials may well have given the player a run in the seconds to check him out then take him off at quarter time in order to play him in the firsts or  if he were a well known VFL player  merely select him in the team, sight unseen, simply relying on reputation.  Clearances for the military or servicemen did not appear to apply in the days of strict rules governing the movement of players.

If you think that these players turning up for a game may have put someone out of the side, well quite often, and certainly during the early part of the war, when teams struggled for numbers, it did not but with the influx of servicemen it must have caused some local angst.

With the introduction of Sunday football into Sydney in 1943 and the inclusion of so many stars the attendances soared, some suggest over the 10,000 mark.  Australian Sydney Football Attendances Graph smallfootball became a very popular sport, even the Prime Minister, John Curtin,  turned up at a few games at Trumper Park in 1943.  The increase in crowds was put down to two reasons, 1. the number of servicemen in Sydney attending matches and 2. the great and talented (servicemen) players in the competition who drew more locals to the games.

Some of these players included Phonse Kyne, who won the Copeland Trophy twice and went on to captain then coach the mighty Collingwood side.  Bill Morris was another.  He won the Brownlow Medal in 1948 and won Richmond’s B & F on three occasions.  Several played in VFL premiership teams after the war.

The names of these players included:

St George
Phonse Kyne – Collingwood (Collingwood B & F, captain and later coach)
Norm Campbell – Collingwood
Adrian Dullard – Melbourne
Len Pabst – Hawthorn
Jim Hovey – Geelong
South Sydney
Bill Morris – Richmond (1948 Brownlow Medalist 3 times Richmond B & F )
Jim Miller – Footscray
Bruce Fountain – Footscray
Don Seymour – Footscray
Bill Wood – Footscray
Evan Rees – Footscray
Norm Webb – Footscray
Max Piggott – South Melbourne
Bluey Truscott – Melbourne
Clyde Helmer – Geelong & Melbourne (Geelong Leading Goalkicker)
Terry Moriarty – Perth (Sandover Medalist)
Jim Matthews – St Kilda
Ray Garby – Carlton
A J (Jack) Smith – Norwood captain
Eastern Suburbs
Sam Loxton – St Kilda (St Kilda Leading Goalkicker)
Clinton Wines – Carlton
Jim Mitchell – Melbourne
Newtown
Jack Green- Collingwood
Alex Pender – Port Adelaide
Jack Disher – Sturt
Sydney (Naval)
Jack Sheedy – East Fremantle (Member AFL Hall of Fame)
Bob Neate – Hawthorn
Bob McLean – St Kilda
RAAF
Alby Morrison – Footscray (former captain of Footscray and twice B & F winner & Footscray Hall of Fame)
Ern Henfrey – Carlton
Marty McDonnell – Footscray
George Tilley – Sturt

 

Bill Wood small AlbyMorrison Bill Morris small Ern Henfrey small Jack Sheedy 1 small Ray Garby small
Bill Wood
Footscray
Alby Morrison
Footscray
Bill Morris
Richmond
Ern Henfrey
Carlton
Jack Sheedy
East Fremantle
Ray Garvey
Carlton

 

Of course there were many more footballers of some note who played football  in Sydney during that period.  It has been a long time ago since they graced the grounds like Trumper Park and Erskineville Oval but the memories of their participation still lingers if only just and the Sydney football population of those days must have been extremely thankful to watch these stars in action.  Many of these went on to play for their respective states on numerous occasions.

After the war officials failed to capitalise or possibly recognize the new heights that football had reached.

Separate Image: Phonse Kyne

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