– 1904 , interesting times

1904 for football in Sydney proved quite interesting.

Following the re-introduction of the code the year before , a period full of euphoria, the code began to settle down.

The league had money.  The gate from the The balance-sheet showed a credit of £115 13s 9d. The total receipts for the season were £842 0s 9d, of which £612 18s Id came from the Fitzroy v Collingwood match and £135 14s 8d from the game between Carlton and Geelong.  In each case, the clubs made no claim on the admission charges and paid their own way.  Taking out expenses, the league finished with with a balance of £115 13s 9d (- $17,443.29 in 2016) [1]

But what did they do with the money?

Here is a great article from an edition of the Sunday Sun in 1903:
“When Australian football was previously Introduced into New South Wales, the first burst of enthusiasm gradually dwindled away, until the game collapsed. That result was due primarily to two causes, First of all, there was lacking a thoroughness of organisation and secondly no effort was made to establish a nursery for the production of players to fill the places of those who dropped out. Both those elements of weakness are now eradicated and the prospects of the game are entirely improved. The schools committee, by indefatigable labours, have agreed to an elaborate programme, which offers Inducements to schoolboys transcending everything before done in any game. The support of the Public Schools Athletic Association has been secured, and success must necessarily follow the enterprise shown. Tho schools have been divided into five districts, each of which is to have its own controlling council, and these will be under the supervision of another elective body, on which the League only seeks one representative. Two valuable shields have been donated One will become the absolute property of the premier school, and the second will be held by the runners-up for a year, then to become the property of the following season’s premiers and so on. The Premier (Sir John See) has given medals for the, members of the winning school team, and other medals are also provided. Further, the premier school team are be be taken to Melbourne to meet the winning schools of Victoria and an endeavour is being made to have the match played on the same day and ground us the final for the Victorian premiership. Three medals are also offered for, the three best essays essays written by schoolboys on Australian football at the end of the season, and the successful ones will be published In either the “Sun” or the “Star” Newspapers. Surely nothing more could be expected of the body which has charge of the game, but the League has gone even further. A lecturer and coaches have been provided for the boys, who will receive complimentary tickets for the big matches on the Cricket Ground.. Grounds are also supplied, and the League donates goal posts, footballs, &c.

Such a complete programme reflects credit on the zeal. enterprise, and energy of Mr. Nash (league president) and the other gentlemen associated with him. The whole scheme Is expected to cost about £200, outside the trophies for the year, but of this £120 has already been donated. An excellently written and published pamphlet detailing the above particulars and also the rules and features of the game, has been issued to schoolboys, and throughout there has been a thoroughness and completeness of organisation which compels admiration.” [2]

The whole problem was, and it is very common with most initiatives and new concepts, if there are no strategies or planning for tomorrow and no support for such plan, it will fail.  Succession planing is paramount!

Without publishing the details, Rugby Union (Rugby League then had not been conceived), were not left in their tracks.  They too began a concerted effort with juniors and proposed a number of initiatives which they considered would propel their sport.

With all this money, assistance and players, why then did Australian Football in Sydney not live up to expectations?  The nation’s biggest city?

[1]  Australian Star (Sydney, NSW : 1887 – 1909), Saturday 9 April 1904, page 2
[2]  Sunday Sun (Sydney, NSW : 1903 – 1910), Sunday 27 March 1904, page 3

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