Western Sydney Wanders Not Alone

Paddy Shea smallWestern Sydney Wanders the first club in Australian Sporting history to win a minor premiership in their first season?  Now fair suck of the sav, someone hasn’t done their research.

In 1915 the manpower effects of World War I forced the North Shore Club to go into recess and didn’t return until 1921, and then straight into first grade where they won the premiership.

So they not only won the minor premiership, they went onto win the flag.

There was no bridge in 1921 and the north shore of Sydney was separated by the harbour and of course it was more difficult for the movement of people to and from, although it was not then considered a huge impediment.

It was in this year that the club was resurrected.  The details of this action are somewhat obscure but our researchers are hot on the job searching for more details.

Full of enthusiasm, the club nominated teams in both the first and third (Under 18) grade competitions.  The latter failed to materialise.  In a strip of maroon and blue they played out of North Sydney Oval, No. 2, now known as St Leonards Park.

In any case they appointed Paddy Shea, (image above) former Essendon player 1908-18 and before that, Fitzroy, as their coach.  His appointment no doubt influenced Tom Fitzmaurice a 23 year old also from the Essendon Club to join the team after being transferred in his job as a bank johnny.

Fitzmaurice was a giant of a man for football of those days.  He stood 192cm and weighed in at 96kgs playing mainly in the ruck. 1921-08-19 - Tom Fitzmaurice - Arrow Newspaper small This is the best photo of him we can find.

He won Essendon’s B & F in 1922-3-4 transferred to Geelong in 1925 coaching them in 1928 before moving to suburban football.  In 1932 he returned to the VFL in 1932 to play with North Melbourne until 1935.  He was coach of the shin boners in 1934.

Tom represented Victoria on 12 occasions and NSW twice, once as captain against Victoria in early August 1921 where he was awarded best on the ground.  Fitzmaurice was selected in Essendon’s team of the century and inducted into the AFL Hall of Fame in 1996, so we are talking about a real champion and very fortunate to have him in Sydney, if only for one season.

Strangely during this period North Shore was actually called North Sydney and again we do not have the reason.  It was first referred to as this name in 1913 then following the recess, continued with the name 1921-25.

The two weren’t the only ex VFL players to play for North.  There was Les Charge, ex South Melb., Herb Friend ex Melbourne and St Kilda, Gerald Ryan ex-South Melb, Bryan Rush ex-Collingwood,  and the club’s captain, Des Baird who had played with South Melb and St Kilda.  One player, McGrath, had played in the Essendon Association.

The team only lost two games in 1921 and went into the finals firm favourites.

They won the final (there were no grand finals then as we know them) 10.8 (68) to Newtown’s 7.12 (54) at Erskineville Oval on 10 September, prior to a number of interstate games later in the month.

The North Sydney grand final team was composed of:

Des Baird (capt.) Les Charge Tom Fitzmaurice
Dunlop McGrath Herb Friend
Somerland W Castles Frank Cohen
E King G Quinn B Castles
Bryan Rush G Bingham T Leroyd
Gerrard Ryan W McLaughlin John Erskine

 

And so, Western Sydney Wanders are not alone in their first year, as premiers.

1921 Ladder:-

Team P W L D Bye For Agst Pts
*North Sydney 11 9 2 2 887 526 44
Railway 12 8 3 1 2 785 530 42
*Paddington 11 7 4 2 631 548 36
Newtown 12 6 5 1 2 692 605 34
East Sydney 12 6 6 2 814 650 32
Sydney 12 3 9 2 484 831 20
Balmain 12 1 11 2 482 645 12

*Match unplayed                                         

NEWCASTLE FOOTBALL LEAGUE

2013 Lyn Arnold smallSociety officials unearthed a plethora of material today dating back to 1935 mostly relating to the Newcastle Football League.  The photos show the president, Ian Granland working with Mrs Lyn Arnold to load the vehicle.2013 Newcastle Loading the Car 2 small

The documents were donated to the Society by the wife of a former long term official of the league, Jim Arnold, since deceased, which had  been gathering dust in her garage for a number of years.

This is a significant find for the Society with most of the collection meticulously filed and catalogued revealing a detailed history of NSW country football, most particularly in Newcastle.

Included in the boxes of objects is a Football Record, cost three pence (3 cents), of an exhibition game at Newcastle Sports Ground between South Melbourne and Collingwood in 1935 when South boasted players like Nash, Bissett and Pratt while the Magpies team included the Collier brothers, Gordon Coventry, Jack Regan and Keith Stackpole, father of the famous former Australian cricketer.

1935 Newcastle FL FRecord & Annual Report 1 smallCollingwood won the match 11.10 (76) to 10.13 (73) in what was described as a desperate and highly skilled encounter.  The game was played on a Wednesday before an attendance of 2,000 with a further match between the two scheduled for the following Saturday on the SCG.

There are a myriad of photographs in Mr Arnold’s collection together with newspaper cuttings and Newcastle (National) Football League annual reports also dating back to 1935.  In this year and for a number of seasons for the most part, prior to 1948, there was only one or two teams in Newcastle.  These played either inter or intra-club games, matches against visiting Sydney clubs as well as in that particular year, the VFL exhibition match.

Some of the photographs are titled but many are not and officials have already made an approach to a former leading Newcastle AFL Official, Chris Arnold (no relation) to offer suggestions as to the identity of the images.

Interestingly, Mr Arnold kept two photo-lithographic blocks featuring footballers.  Wooden blocks with a zinc face featuring the image, were universally used in a process to produce photographs in the printing trade up until the late seventies.  These two were obviously utilised by the Newcastle Football League in their various periodicals.

Another interesting object is a poster advertising a match between the Perth Football Club and a Newcastle representative side at the Newcastle Showgrounds on 29 June 1957.

There is no doubt that Mr Arnold would be very pleased and proud to have his collection lodged with the History Society providing a home where the material will be very much treasured and valued.  Also his father, elected to the Australian Senate in 1940 for NSW, J J Arnold, who was secretary of the Newcastle Football League for several years, was a man keen to put the game on the map in the coal city.  His image also features in the many prints in the series.

Mr Granland said the Society is concerned that collections such as Mr Arnold’s may not be recognized for what they are and following the passing of their owner, these football treasurers are, on many occasions, just disposed of.  He urges anyone with a similar collection to contact the Society for its eventual safekeeping.

Note: In 2000 the Newcastle Football League combined with the Central Coast FL to form the Black Diamond Australian Football League playing for the oldest continuous sporting trophy in Australia, the Black Diamond Cup.

1950s Newcastle football small 1954 Newcastle FL players small
1950s Newcaste
Football
c1960 Former
Newcastle Footballers
1957 Perth FC v Newcastle small 1959 North Shore - visit to Newcastle 1 small
1957 Perth FC Poster 1959 Visiting
North Shore FC

NSW v QLD – 1934

1934 June 2 - Qld v NSW @ Perry Park - 2(1) smallIts interesting to read and learn about times gone past in football, isn’t it?  Lets cast our minds back to 1934 – just 79 years ago.

Prior to 1948 most Australians worked a 48 hour week.  That meant, for the most part, you worked of a Saturday.  Incidentally, this is why Saturday Sport before 1948 started so late of a Saturday afternoon.

In the 1930s, the NSW Football League enjoyed a very harmonious relationship with Queensland in regards to interstate football.  In a number of seasons, they would play two games in their tour of Queensland (in Brisbane), normally one on Saturday and the other on the following Monday which inevitably was a public holiday.

Then later in the season Queensland would travel to Sydney to play a return match.  This procedure alternated for a number of years and is one reason why NSW has played more interstate games against Queensland than any other opposition.

Such was the case in 1934 which was deep in the depression when times were very hard and many were out of work.

The previous year NSW had hosted an All-States Carnival at the Sydney Cricket Ground and with such a big event, one would imagine the NSW players could well have been given their jumpers after the series.  It is worthy to note though, this was a very uncommon practice in those days.

We say this because the following year, both in their trip to Queensland and in the return Sydney match, the NSW team wore what appears to be a tri-coloured jumper in the design of the East Sydney club 1960-99.  While similar, Easts of that period turned out in a different strip altogether so it is unlikely that the state team wore ‘loan’ 1934-06-02 NSW State Team v Qld smalljumpers.

So the mystery as to how and why NSW played in such a vastly different jumper from normal is probably lost in time.  One reason, and in fact if they were without representative jumpers, could be the significant loss of £117.12.7 ($235.27) recorded on the league’s previous year activities.  Given the depression, this was quite a substantial amount of money, particularly in a six club competition.  This is the only photograph we have of the 1934 team.

This loss could have prompted the league to purchase any type of jumpers for their representative team just to get through the season.  Come 1935, the State team were back in the familiar sky blue and black.

1934 June 3 - Qld v NSW @ Perry Park - 2(2) smallIt can now be seen that the situation was further exacerbated when the league declared a further loss of £54 ($108) for the 1934 season and more particularly, for this exercise, a deficit of £70 ($140) on the tri-series against Queensland.

Debt in sport was not uncommon.  Runner-up, Newtown incurred a debt of £25 for 1934, the Sydney club £30 however St George declared a profit of £6 ($12) and the premiers, South Sydney £20 ($40).

Both North Shore and Eastern Suburbs clubs complained that players had failed to meet their financial obligations to their clubs – what changes?

It was customary then for the visiting team to receive a 50% share of the gate which was some type of compensation for travel and expenses but never covered the entire amount.  It is very interesting to note that in those depression years, players also received a share of the gate, certainly from the two Queensland matches most probably as an incentive to travel.  After all, in this particular series, the players left Sydney by train on Thursday 31 May and returned on 5 June, a week away from home, and work.  You have to ask, how did they get this time off?  Did they have to take holidays or was it that some were out of work? 1934-08-18 NSW v Qld @ SCG small

From the first announcement of the NSW team two weeks prior, eight had withdrawn for one reason or another.  This resulted in twenty players and one manager in the contingent in the days when teams were comprised of eighteen on the field with one reserve – no interchange then.

None of the financial details of the games are accessible, unless in a Queensland AFL Annual Report of the year

The image on the right was taken at the SCG.  The remainder, apart from the team pic., were taken at Perry Park.

Game 1 – 2 June 1934 – Perry Park, Brisbane

TEAM

Qtr Time

Half Time

Three Qtr Time

Fulltime

NSW

14.14 (98)

Queensland

13.15 (93)

NSW Goals: L Wilkie 3, R Garvin 3, R Ferguson 3, H Buttsworth 2,
J. Stiff 2, Crane, W Colquhoun 1 ea.
NSW Best: J A Curtis, L Wilkie, J Stiff, H Radford, J Peterson

 

Game 2 – 4 June 1934 – Perry Park, Brisbane

TEAM

Qtr Time

Half Time

Three Qtr Time

Fulltime

Queensland

11.16 (82)

NSW

13.15 (93)

NSW Goals: L Wilkie 4, J Stiff 3, R Ferguson R Aitken, H Buttsworth, F Dixon, N Blacklock 1 ea.
NSW Best: Stiff, Wilkie, Wilkinson, Curtis, Garvin, Blacklock & Ferguson

 

Game 3 – 18 August – Sydney Cricket Ground

TEAM

Qtr Time

Half Time

Three Qtr Time

Fulltime

NSW

4.4

8.6

12.10

17.14 (116)

Queensland

1.4

7.7

9.8

12.10 (82)

NSW Goals  J Stiff 6, S. Powditch 3, H Starr 3, F Walsh 2, C Guyer 2, E Blacklock 1
NSW Best: J Stiff, H Radford, J Peterson, W McKoy, F Smith.

Newtown FC v North Ballarat in 1968

1968 Nth Ballarat at Erskineville Oval smallIn March 1968 a very unusual event occurred in Sydney football.

In a pre-season game, the now very successful North Ballarat Football Club which competes in the state-wide, VFL, visited Sydney and played   against the Sydney premiers, Newtown.  The photo shows North pictured before the game at Erskineville Oval – note the timber fence.

The game was arranged with former members of the strong Victorian club who were residing in Sydney.  All proceeds from the match and entertainment, which included a Highland Band at half time, went to the Royal South Sydney Hospital.  Besides the two football clubs, the day was also promoted by the Randwick-Botany Harriers Athletic Club.

North Ballarat, formed in 1882, was a strong side which spawned many champions over the years, including the prolific goal kicker, Tony Lockett – as well as his father, Howard, a veteran of 500 senior games who was also known as Plugger.

Originally scheduled for the Sydney Cricket Ground, the game was relocated to Erskineville Oval after SCG officials would not release the ground for the March 10 game.  And in any case, the expected crowd was considered to be far under that to cover expenses after the Ballarat press first suggested the attendance might top 15,000.

The party of forty Roosters players and their fans travelled to Sydney by coach.  The players were accommodated in the Olympic Hotel, Moore Park Road, Paddington while the supporters were quartered in the Sir John Young Hotel, corner of Liverpool and George Streets, Sydney.  They were lavishly entertained firstly by an official reception at the Sydney Town Hall and later a harbour cruise together with official dinners and bar-b-ques.

An added attraction to the game, was the inclusion of Hawthorn captain, Graham Arthur, in the Newtown team wearing jumper number 21 – just for the day.  A series of athletic events were held before and at half time of the match.  Olympians, including long distance runner, Ron Clarke and sprinter, Bobby Lay, the Australian 100 yard champion, were amongst those who participated.

Newtown had won the premiership the previous year under the guidance of former VFL and Tasmanian footballer, Gordon Bowman who was still in charge in 1968.  North Ballarat, on the other hand,1968 Newtown FC - 1st Grade small small had failed to make the four in the Ballarat Football League in 1967 but this was soon redressed.

The game was played in relatively hot weather which taxed the Victorian players and at the same time had a severe effect on the Newtown side who had only just started training a few weeks before.  North though, had undertaken one of the most strenuous early training schedules seen in Ballarat.

They ran out victors in a close and ‘firey clash’ 12.8 (80) to 9.14 (68).  The crowd was pretty ordinary however there was so much enthusiasm, a return match was promised for the following year.  The game was a forerunner to success for the Roosters who finished runner-up in their competition in 1968.  Newtown also had a great year to eclipse their second successive premiership in September.

If you wish to read the specially produced Football Record for the game, click here.

A big thanks to Digger Roberts, the North Ballarat FC Historian for supplying information for this article.

Big Response to Easts Reunion

Group smallThere were in excess of 160 at the Alexandria Hotel today for the East Sydney Football Club Reunion.

Organisers were very pleased with the turnout which boasted former players from the 1940s up to the present day.

The Society were encouraged to set up an area where they promoted the organisation resulting in an extra ten members.  Memberships officer,Jenny signing up a new member small Jenny Hancock was hard at it chatting to people and selling the virtues of the History Society as can be seen on the right.

We counted five of the club’s coaches starting with Cliff Matson in 1971-72, 1974-75.  We were only able to capture three with the camera.

Greg Harris small Kevin Pearson small Jim Richardson small
Greg Harris 1981-83, 1985 & 1988 Kevin Pearson 1973  Jim Richardson 1986

There still exists a magnificent camaraderie within the group, many of whom had travelled as far as Perth to attend..  There was even a hint of an ambitious move to form a dedicated Easts team to play in one of the lower divisions.

A surprise visitor and ex-player, was former Carlton FC captain, Mark McClure, who has been in the news recently following the appointment of Marc Murphy to lead the Blues.

FORMER PLAYERS
John Roberts, Mark McClure, Enzo Corvino small Keith Liddlelow & Ian Allen small Easts Elder Group small
John Roberts, Mark McClure, Enzo Corvino Keith Liddelow & Ian Allen Ray Millington, Jack Clarke (rear)
Kevin Ryan, Ernie Norman
Paul Constance small Zipper small Ellis Noack & Greg Schroder small
Paul Constance Zipper Ellis Noack & Greg Schroder

 

Also in the attendees was Grant Luhrs, renowned professional Country singer who played with Easts in the 1970s following in the footsteps of his father, Jack who also played in the 1940s.

There were former captains, coaches, best & fairest players as well as club officials all of whom bonded and were particularly vocal in the rendition of the club song.

Unfortunately the club’s patriarch, Jack Dean, could not be in attendance after his hospitalisation last week.

Bob Wilton smallChief organiser, Bob Wilton pictured, spoke briefly on the leadup to the event, the people involved and the spirit which still exists amongst those who made the Easts club what it is today, all those years ago.

There are still a limited number of reunion caps available which were especially produced for the day.  These can be purchased @ $10 plus postage.  More details on these can be gained from Bob at 0417363091.

Reg Garvin

1935 Reg Garvin smallEver heard the name, Reg Garvin?

I would imagine not many have other than those who might be an absolute footy follower and a St Kilda one at that.

Reg was born in Erskineville, Sydney in 1912 and lived with his painter father Bill and his mother Maud, firstly in Park Street then at 43 Malcolm Street.  He attended Erskineville public school and as a boy, played soccer.

During his mid teens his mates talked him into having a try at Australian football and gradually he worked his way up the ranks in the local strong Newtown club, not that there were many ranks in those days.  He was a great kick, particularly in bare feet and was recognized as having very large hands.  It wasn’t long before the selectors chose him in first grade.

Someone saw some value in him because in his second year of senior football, Reg was selected to represent NSW in the 1933 All-States 10 day carnival at the Sydney Cricket Ground.  Reg was 20 and described as 6 foot (1.83m), 12st 12lb (81.5kg) in weight, a half back come follower and a product of the Newtown club.  It was said he was “young and powerful”.  This was the beginning of his representative career in his home state.

YEAR

OPPOSITION

Venue

BEST?

1933

  VFL

Sydney

1933

  Canberra

Sydney

Yes

1933

  Western Australia

Sydney

Yes

1934

  Queensland

Brisbane

Yes

1934

  Queensland

Brisbane

Yes

1934

  Queensland

Sydney

Yes – Vcapt

1935

  VAFA

Sydney

Yes

1935

  Queensland

Brisbane

Yes

1935

  Queensland

Sydney

Yes

1936

  Nth Broken Hill FC

Sydney

Yes

 

In 1936 he was not part of the NSW team that travelled to Adelaide to compete in the national Reg Garvin 1933 NSW v WA smallamateur football carnival however did play a major part in Combined Sydney’s game against the North Broken Hill Football Club, a match the Sydneysiders lost.  In the same year, Garvin won the Phelan Medal (Sydney AFL B & F), then known as the Provan Trophy.  Photograph on the right, with thanks to the State Library of NSW, shows Garvin marking over his Western Australian opponent at the SCG in 1933 – click to enlarge.

In 1937 Garvin went off to Melbourne to try out with St Kilda.  Maybe his choice of clubs was influenced by two of his Newtown team mates, Charlie Guyer and Stan Lloyd who, only a few seasons previous, had moved south to play with the Saints.  Lloyd captained St Kilda in 1940.

Reg must have made an impact because he was selected in their round 1 team against Fitzroy where they recorded a seven point win.  He played his last game with the side when he was 33 years of age.

Apart from injury, he was chosen in nearly every St Kilda team until early 1946, playing 130 games and booting 33 goals.  Garvin did not serve in the military during WWII but had earlier join the Victorian Fire Brigade.

He captained and coached the Saints in 1942-43, with the unenviable record of winning seven from 24 games and one draw.  He was fourth in the 1941 Brownlow Medal and won his club’s best and fairest award in 1941 & 44.  Garvin was one of those big strong blokes who come into your club and make an impact.  Every side in Australia rejoices when this style of player signs on.

In 1947 after first training with VFA clubs, Brighton and Coburg he eventually transferred to Prahran  first as player then in 1948 captain-coach until 1949 when he returned to the Saints to coach their seconds.

So someone who had a meagre start in Sydney life ended up with a notable career in the best competition in Australia.

Easts Reunion This Saturday

1955 Easts JumperDon’t forget its Easts Reunion on this Saturday at the Alexandria Hotel, Henderson Road, Alexandria.

The function will commence at 1:00pm and already well over 100 have already signed up to attend.

If you intend coming along don’t forget to bring any old photos or memorabilia that you might have of your time at the club.  Members of the History Society will be there and are keen to scan some of the images they do not have in order to bolster their repository.

You can contact Bob Wilton on 0417363091 for further details on the function.

Incidentally, we are are trying to get our logo redrawn to reflect a bigger image with a higher resolution which we can use in other applications.  If you or any of your friends might able to help, possibly using the programme, Vector or EPS file, please let us know.

Football In Sydney During WWI

WWI Medals smallWar severely affected football in Australia and in particular Sydney.

This is a very brief look at the game and the times during WWI.

The first world war was declared on 4 August 1914.  That week, representatives from all states had gathered in Sydney to compete in a National Carnival on the SCG which was opened the following day.  You can imagine the anguish in the community with sport and the carnival given a back seat as the weeks, then months, progressed.

NSW captain, Ralph Robertson, (pictured right) who at 32 won the medal for the best player in the NSW team, signed onRalph Robertson small in the army before the carnival had completed.  In fact he did not play in the final game against Western Australia on 15 August, leaving four days later with the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force on the troop ship HMAS Berrima for New Guinea.

For the first few days nothing was spoken of but the war and its consequences to the Empire.  This had a depressing impact on the attendance at the Carnival games. However, notwithstanding its effect on the sport-loving public and the fact that the Rugby League played their club matches next door on the showground while the Rugby Union played against the All Blacks on the adjoining Sports Ground, there was a fair attendance of the lovers of the national game on several days of the Carnival where some excellent football was played.

By 20 August 10,000 men had enlisted in Sydney and this number increased to 52,561 by December. In July and August 1915 alone, 62,289 men had joined the AIF from throughout Australia.

Employers panicked when war was announced.  Prices rose rapidly with the expectation of shortages.  Wholesale grocers in NSW, for example, raised prices of imported commodities from between 7½ to 20 percent during August alone.

Added to this, between 10-31 August unemployment in NSW rose from 13,500 to 29,313 and although these are official figures, it is likely that they underestimated the true picture.  Other workers were placed on part time work instead of being dismissed.

Because the league could not lease more enclosed grounds, ie the Australian Football Ground at North Botany (now Alexandria) & SCG No. 2, being the only ones, it was resolved to play matches on Moore Park.  This was met with approval from some older members of the league saying that the game should never have moved away from the “Park”.  (corner Cleveland & South Dowling Streets)

By mid May 1915, it was estimated that 1,500 players of Australian Football from NSW had gone to the front.

Because of the war, it was reckoned that only P. Barry, L. Bignell, E. Stephens and G. Davenport from South Sydney’s premiership team the previous year before would be available in 1915.

During that season 46 interstate clearances passed through the league and 1,340 players were registered in first, second and schools – a fair number.

But for the war, league secretary Jim Phelan wrote, Australian football would have been unable to continue in Sydney because of the loss of the players to the front.  However the movement of interstate players through the city enabled clubs and even the umpiring ranks, to supplement their numbers.

East Sydney reported by early May 1915, that 30 of their players had enlisted while Newtown had 14 at the front. It was around this time that the North Shore club announced that because of lack of numbers, they were withdrawing from the competition.

All this came at a time when the league was in turmoil.  They had a nine thousand pound ($18,000) debt over their heads with the responsibility of repayments of a loan for the purchase of the Australian Football Ground at North Botany.  The trustees subsequently agreed to assume this responsibility which then allowed the administrators to get on with running the game.

In March 1916 the NSW league wrote “Through the want of proper organisation on the part of some of the clubs, and recognition of the duty owed the League in this important matter, your Committee regret that no complete list of players at the front or in preparatory training camps has up to the present been prepared.  Even with the incomplete figures to hand it is safe to assert that 50 per cent of players of 1914 have responded to the call.  From lists to hand and other sources it is known that the Southern portion of the state has contributed a large quota of players.

When Country and Metropolitan returns are finalised it is estimated that over 1500 players have gone to take part in the greatest game the world has yet witnessed.

Newtown Club’s Honour List
J. Ashton, W H Bolan, F G Barnett, H Brooks, M Caffyn, A A Ellis, Eason, J. Furlong, C. Holliday, H P Horton, H, Jarman, N. Jeffries, F. Meadows, H. Miller, J H Munro, J. McTaggart, C. Pearson, A D S Provan, V Provan. K. Probert, N. Squires, F. Squires, G H Sanders, R Sharp, B. Swindell, J.Walker, R. Weiss, R. Whidden.

The Annual report also suggested the erection of a memorial tablet in honour of those who had fallen.  This did not come to pass.

Phelan later wrote “In that fateful year, 1915, the spirit which gave birth to the word, ‘Anzac” was evidenced by the few enthusiastic followers of the game in Sydney who were faced with untold difficulties, unknown to the majority of present day followers of the game, kept the six-starred flag of Australian Football flying.  With a heritage of debt from the previous administrative body, which ceased operations after the outbreak of war in 1914, the newly formed body depending wholly on local resources for finance presented a credit balance for the year’s operations after donating the whole of the gate receipts from the premiership final game between Paddington and Newtown to the “Australia Day Fund” and catering for 780 public schoolboy players and 200 Roman Catholic schoolboys, the winners of each competition receiving medals.

In a sense 1915 may be termed as the darkest and brightest year in the history of the game in Sydney.”

In an interesting turn of events, Jim Phelan, successfully moved a motion suspending senior football in Sydney but carrying on with school and junior football.  This was subsequently rescinded at a specially convened meeting of the league.  The main factor in bringing about the change was that the Rugby League was continuing, though in a modified form. The Sydney Rugby Union competition was suspended although some clubs played unofficial matches once a fortnight.

If anything, the war bought our game alive in England.  An exhibition game was played in London on October 28th, at the Queen’s Club Ground, West Kensington.  Teams representing the Third Australian Division and the Combined Training Groups met before an attendance of 3,000 which was won by the Third Division 6.16 to 4.12 amid a high pitch of enthusiasm.  Sydney field umpire, George Barry officiated in the game.  He had gone to England to join the Royal Flying Corps at his own expense after being denied admittance to the Aviation School in Australia.  George is in both images below.

Australian_Training_Units_Team small Third_Australian_Divisional_Team small
Aust Training Units Team Third Aust Divisional Team

In 1917 the League decided to conduct a senior premiership competition but the handsome Norwood Club shield (the premiership trophy – which still hangs in the league office) was not to be competed for. Paddington, Sydney, Balmain, East Sydney and Newtown were reported to have affiliated after speculation that the competition may not have gone ahead.  The South Sydney club could only field a junior side in a competition which comprised teams representing Redfern, Western Suburbs, South Sydney, Tempe and Double Bay.

The Prime Minister of the day, Billy Hughes believed he needed to placate the wowsers in society who had already succeeded in reducing hotel hours in NSW.  During the 1917 federal election campaign, he announced that, because of the war, his government would introduce controls on sport.

His restrictions weighed heavily on horse racing and boxing with more general powers to be used if required.  These restrictions remained in force until the end of the war although there were no moves against the 1918 football season.

Recruitment campaigns were held at sporting events but attracted little attention. In the end audiences at sporting events became very antagonistic towards recruiters and at some events would ‘count out’ the speakers’. The various sporting bodies tried valiantly to prove their loyalty by publicising the numbers of men to enlist from their ranks.

Aust War Graves - Villers Bretonneaux smallAlthough there were many more some Sydney players were listed as being killed at the war by 1918:

H. Blackburn, W. Earle, J. Gorman, O B Henderson, T D McKay, W H Mackay, L. Provan, L G Smith, J Solomon, J. Price, R. Scanes, F Young and G Young (Newtown) J. Robinson, Bert Watts, Frank Hickey, Allan Jackson and W.A. Bottomley (Paddington), A. Steptoe and the Ericsons (Central Western), Lakeman (Sydney), Ralph Robertson (Nth Shore). Image shows Commonwealth War Graves at Villers Bretonneaux.

Following the war Sydney football, like many other sports, was in a fragile state and it took many years for the game to overcome the loss of players and return to some reasonable shape.  It did and in the early 1920s for example, NSW defeated the VFL on two occasions in interstate contests.

Year

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

1914

SS

SYD

PAD

CW

NEW

NS

ES

1915

PAD

NEW

CW

SYD

SS

ES

1916

PAD

BAL

NEW

SYD

ES

SS

1917

PAD

ES

NEW

BAL

SYD

1918

ES

NEW

PAD

SYD

SS

Legend: SS = South Sydney, Syd = Sydney, Pad = Paddington, CW = Central West, New = Newtown,
NS = North Shore, ES = East Sydney, Bal = Balmain

Images courtesy of the Australian War Memorial.

Committee Considers Sale of Items

1937 Melb FC Tour Itinerary front page smallIn the four years the Society has been in operating a number of historical items have come into its possession.

The vast majority relate to NSW football but a few that have unearthed are connected with other competitions in Australia, mostly the VFL (pre-AFL).

Possibly the most prized article is the 1937 Souvenir Melbourne Football Club itinerary booklet of their Sydney tour which is printed in the club’s colours and bound with a decorative red and blue cord.  The itinerary outlines in some detail, the club touring party, accommodation and daily activities beginning with their steam voyage from Melbourne on the SS Manoora.

Another similar publication produced in 1939 is the itinerary of the Carlton Football Club’s trip to 1939 Carlton FC Sydney Tour Itinerary front page smallCanberra and Sydney, although this is not as elaborate as the Demons booklet.  Click both items to read the details.

Other publications uncovered include a 32 page copy of the August 13, 1938 VFL Football Record for the match, Carlton v Collingwood.

In addition there are two copies of ABC (radio) Football Rules, printed in about 1939 and two more concise copies of the rules of the game produced by the Aust National Football Council in 1944 for the information of overseas troops.

While the Committee are interested in selling the latter items they are reluctant to part with both the Melbourne FC and Carlton FC itineraries because of their relationship to Sydney.

All offers of purchase will be considered.

1938.08.13 VFL FRecord Carlton v Coll small 1944 ANFC Rules of the Game small 1938 ABC Book of Rules - Aust Football small

Tom Wills Book on ABC Radio

Tom WillsHistory Society member, Greg de Moore, author of the popular football book, Tom Wills, First Wild Man of Australian Sport, has again appeared on the ABC Radio morning programme, Conversations.

De Moore has undertaken incredible amount of research to write the book and now his interview has been podcast which can be played at any time.

If you have the opportunity, take the time to listen to the hour long programme which I am sure you will find fascinating.

Click this link to listen: http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2012/04/24/3487841.htm

The Society still has copies of the book for sale which can be accessed here:
www.nswfootballhistory.com.au/stories

In other news it appears that Sydney has lost another club.

This time its the junior club, Bankstown Sports.

The club fielded a full complement of teams in their competition last year and this season were caught up in the reorganisation of junior clubs in Sydney.

They were one of at least three clubs who this year have been realigned to a different  competition.  In their case,  instead of playing in the Sydney South Association they were to play in the Greater West Competition.

Ample warning was given of the impending change but the club did not want to go which, to cut a long story short, forced their end.  It appears that the very well appointed Kelso Ground will go with them.

There have been meetings in an effort to overcome this issue with no result.  Some of the players have given the game away while others have moved on to neighbouring clubs.

There are always two sides to a story but the club’s demise leaves a big hole in the mid south west of Sydney where the population is still growing and it is a real shame that a compromise could not be reached.

There is more on the story on Bankstown Sports Junior Football Club’s website: http://www.bankstownsportsafl.com.au/