– Ryde and Drummoyne Clubs Combine

In 1911 a new club was formed.  It was called the Northern Districts Australian Football Club and its formation meeting was held in St. Anne’s Hall, Ryde, in late March of that year. The club was an amalgamation of the  Drummoyne and Ryde Australian football clubs. It was intended to enter two teams In the *Young Australian Competition. The following officers were elected : Patrons, Messrs. W. Thompson and Howley; president, Mr. Henry Graff;  secretary and assistant treasurer, Mr. Geo. Drury; treasurer and assistant secretary, Mr. C. D. O’Connell; captain, Mr. Andy Ratcliffe; vlce captaln, Mr. A. McWhlrter; selection committee, Messrs. A. Ratcliffe, A. McWhlrter and Graff junior. Royal blue was adopted as the club color.

Ratcliffe would go on to represent NSW in the 1914 National Carnival and also play cricket for Australia, NSW and Victoria.Andrew Ratcliffe

Ryde was very much an outer suburb of Sydney.  It had been created a Municipality in 1870 but much of the region was confined to farming and its population was minimal.  Despite this the Patrician Brothers opened a Boarding College at Ryde in 1883, Holy Cross College which became a landmark in the area with its towering sandstone building in Victoria Road.  I wouldn’ t be surprised if this Catholic Order encouraged the formation of the club.

Prior to this both Drummoyne and Ryde clubs competed in the Young Australian Competition.  In two years previous Drummoyne had two teams;  one in the A division and the other in the B.

Games were played at both Ryde and Drummoyne.  The fact that Ryde was on the main north rail line was certainly helpful in the days of horse and dray.  While we are unsure of the venue for the Ryde games, those at Drummoyne were played at Drummoyne Oval.

In 1912 the Young Australian Association changed its title to the NSW Australian Football Second Grade.  This then encouraged the separately administered teams in Sydney playing under the one club banner to amalgamate enabling a free flow of players between the second grade and league teams.  Amazingly enough, prior to this, if a player from a club’s Young Australian Team was required to play first grade in the same club he had to obtain a clearance.

In 1914 the Northern Districts Club amalgamated with the Balmain club to form a new side: Central Western.  This club lasted only a couple of seasons before they changed its name to Balmain Australian Football Club.

*The Young Australian Competition was separate but aligned with the NSW Football League.  It initially catered for young men aged 20 and under then in 1908 introduced an under 17 division;  later the old grade was revised to 21.  When the group altered their name it dispensed with age limitations.

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