BIG CROWDS AFTER THE WAR

We have written before about how WWII saw a huge increase in crowds attending Australian football in Sydney mainly brought about by the talented servicemen footballers transferred to the city for training and depot work.

Recently a document passed across our desk which provided hard statistics of crowd fluctuations pre and post hostilities.

This 1945 paper said that crowds had increased more than 400 percent over pre-war days.

It went on to state that attendances in 1944 were the highest for 20 years and yet the total competition gate during the first eight rounds in 1945 had topped the corresponding period in the previous year by 25%.

From 1920-25 the average weekend attendance was between 4,000 to 6,000 however that figure dropped to less than half in the ensuing eight seasons.  Even during the depression of the 1930s attendances declined further.

It all changed during the war when gradually crowds began to grow and there is no doubt the introduction of Sunday fixtures, as shown in our graph, had a huge impact on attendances at games.  It must be remembered here when viewing these statistics that there were only three senior games played in Sydney each weekend and they include the regular increase in attendance fees which cannot be differentiated.

The Sunday factor was highlighted in round 6, 1945 when a total of over 12,000 witnessed the games over the weekend of June 2 & 3.

Four thousand attended the Newtown v St George fixture at Erskinville Oval on the Saturday while over at Trumper Park, another 3,000 saw the RAAF side, full of VFL stars, gain its first win over premiers, Sydney Naval.

It was on the following day however, when Eastern Suburbs hung on for a thrilling five point victory over South Sydney 12.12 to 12.7, before a record home and away crowd in excess of 5,000 people.

It just goes to show that, under the circumstances and given the right conditions, people did attend football in Sydney in big numbers in Sydney.

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