This is a bit of a read, but is interesting and demonstrates the passion of Mr Joseph J Jagelman, a solicitor who was tied up with the NSW Football League in Sydney in the first decade of last century. He came from Tasmania, studied law at Sydney University and admitted to the bar in 1897.
Joe Jagelman, wrote verse for the “Tasmanian Mail” in the late 1800s under the nom-de-plume of “Alastor.” He was a vice-president of the N.S.W. Football League and worked hard to successfully send the game ahead in Sydney. He was a very able speaker and his knowledge of requirements, second to none.
At the same time Jagelman was the honorary solicitor for the NSW Rugby League. He resided in Bellevue Hill an eastern suburb of Sydney where he died in 1947.
This passage was published in the Referee Newspaper in May, 1912 and it gives some insight of the game in Sydney at that period.
“The Australian game of football In Sydney, and in the State generally, has had a slow, but steady growth. If its progress has not been meteoric, its supporters have much ’cause for congratulation and for feeling confident about its future. In 1902 it was practically dead in Sydney, with Rugby holding the public interest in the same way as this game holds way in Melbourne and Adelaide. In 1903 it was revived, and under capable guidance has made a permanent home for itself in New South Wales. It has been an uphill fight, but enthusiasm makes light of the struggle. To-day we are looking forward to the great Inter-State Carnival of 1914 taking place on the League’s own ground in Sydney, and to its being marked by all those features which marked the Carnivals of Melbourne and Adelaide as such outstanding events in the history of the Australian game. The rise of native talent from the schools is a grand thing for the revived game here, and one is sanguine that at the Inter- State Championship Carnival in 1914 this fact will be amply and pleasingly demonstrated.
The senior clubs form the New South Wales League having control of the game in this State and having country associations affiliated with it. The Government of Affairs is vested in six trustees, viz. Messrs.H.R Denison A.E. Nash, L. A. Ballhausen, H. Chesney Harte, J. J. O’Meara and J. J. Jagelman. Under their management great strides have been and are being made.
WHY PROGRESS WAS BLOCKED?
For some years progress has been blocked by two causes. The first was the want of enclosed grounds. Until recently important matches have been played on open spaces, with encroaching crowds hampering players; and there is no reason for feeling grateful to the trustees of sports grounds during past seasons for their treatment of the Australian game. Now this is all changed.
The trustees of the League have bought land at Alexandria, within three miles of the Sydney GPO and have made a splendidly turfed, levelled, and fenced ground, with a fine grandstand. It is called the Australian Football Ground, and experts pronounce it one of the best sports grounds in Australia. Its playing length is 200yds, and its width 150, and around this area is a fine lawn and terrace, capable, of holding 25,000 people. It is 20 minutes by Botany tram from King-street, city, or 13 minutes by Botany tram from Central Railway Station, and forms an ideal ground for athletic sports and school demonstrations.
In addition to the Australian Football Ground, the trustees have secured the use of Erskineville Oval and of Hampden Oval for the current season, with special dates on North Sydney Oval No. 2 and it is a great thing for us to be able to say, in the face of so many competitors, that all the principal matches this year will be played on enclosed grounds for the first time in the history of the game. Thus the first obstacle has been overcome.
THE ATTITUDE OF SYDNEY UNIVERSITY
The second remains, and it is simply the conservative attitude of the authorities controlling sport at the Sydney University. The Universities in Victoria, South Australia, and Tasmania play the game, and so, of course, do all the colleges; but here in Sydney the University does not give it a chance, and the colleges follow suit. One would think that such a nursery of sport as the University necessary, and would give equal opportunity to a game which is indigenous to the country and typical of the cleverness and skill of Australians.
It must be admitted that the University and colleges have many fine traditions and records of’ the particular game they have played for years, but this is not sufficient justification for stifling the introduction of a game which has no objectionable features, and which, besides being an Australian game, is played by the other Australian Universities, and by the bulk of the footballers of the Commonwealth. This obstacle is likely to remain for some time. One can only hope that more liberal and Australian views will ultimately prevail.
NOW FOR THE FUTURE
It is a difficult and often a foolish thing to attempt the role of prophet. One can only be guided by what has been done, then what Milton calls ‘Something of prophetic strain’ may appear in the deductions made from experience. The factors that point to continued progress are, first, the capable management and control of the game which has marked it up to the present. The men working for it are shrewd, careful men In all ranks of life. The secretaries of the clubs are enthusiastic and energetic workers, and the outside supporters are keen to a degree.
PLAYERS, ARE GENUINE AMATEURS
The second factor is the loyalty of the players. For years the players of this game in New South Wales have been men whose only reward has been the game itself. There has been no outpouring of trophies, no excited crowds to cheer them on, and no pleasure trips at the expense of the controlling body. With but few exceptions the players have had to bear pro portion of their expenses on the occasional trips they have had, and every year they have to pay into their clubs for their upkeep. At times they have paid the hire of a ground upon which to play a match. With the large body of players who for the past nine years have played it, the game has been a matter of love and patriotism. The men playing Australian football in Sydney are a very fine class of Australian and a credit in every way on and off the field to their native country.
Many Public Schools have formed teams, and this season the number of schools playing the game has been increased; After school days are over the Young Australian League offers scope for the ex-schoolboy to continue playing. This League has done excellent work, and has brought out a crowd of clover players for the senior clubs. It has been found that the gap between the young Australian League and the senior clubs was too great, and therefore this year has seen the formation of the New South Wales Australian Football Association, which will take In players over the age limit of the Young Australian League and other players who are (through the necessary limitation of senior clubs) unable to get games each Saturday. This Association has already increased the weekly total of players by over 170, and under the able presidency of Mr. Quinn (former president of the Y.A. League (Young Australian Football League) will undoubtedly prove a huge success.
Another factor which must help is the number of supporters of the game from other States who have made Sydney their home. If they would only realise that the standard of play here is but little inferior to that in other states they would lend it both moral and financial support. Some of them do so now, but a great number require rousing. Probably the new ground will revive their interest. Still another factor to make for the success of the game in the Mother State Is the introduction of the game into England, America and Canada.
In Sydney the, value of- International sport is known hotter than in the other States, where they have not seen the beauties of International Rugby. The day is not far distant when’ International contests will be arranged under Australian rules. We have had American boys here playing our game, and Canadian boys are coming to play it, too. Interstate contests we already have, and once Sydney University takes up the game and has its matches with the other Universities, New South Wales, will be able to place a team in the fluid fit to conquer any of the other sides, and be not only the premier state in cricket but also the premier state in Australian football. “