Playing Football in 1925

We thought you might like to read a comment about football in Sydney in 1925 from a sporting newspaper of the time:

The N.S.W. player is a hero. He plays the game for honour, and in some cases pays a weekly fee to his club for the honour of playing. If he is injured in the course of the game, what does he receive? The same as if his club won the premiership. Even less than that— absolutely nothing. There is no insurance, because the controllers of the game have been too busy looking after the ‘gates’ to give the matter consideration.

One club insured its players last year, why not do the same again this year. That appears to be in order, but it was only through the personal exertion of an energetic club secretary, that a policy was obtained. This season the story was different. Insurance companies said ‘Yes, providing all the teams insure their members.’ Here again the League should give a helping hand – the club secretaries being responsible for the collection of the insurance money each week, fortnight or month, as the case may be.

‘The conduct of the affairs of the N.S.W. Australian Football League has been left to three or four officers, and the time is now ripe to remove the drones and place in their stead, a bunch of live-wire workers, all striving for the one object, first and foremost, the furtherance of the Australian Rules Code in N.S.W.’ [Arrow (Sydney, NSW : 1916 – 1933), Friday 17 July 1925, page 12]

Shape Up or Ship Out Constable Moon

       Jack Moon

Jack Moon was a railway porter come shunter at Narrandera who successfully joined the NSW Police Force in 1949. He was 20 and married.

John Brian Moon was born and raised in Culcairn, New South Wales and went on to play in the firsts with the Narrandera Imperials in the 1940s. He was a big 1.82cm ruckman 90kg and full of strength. But probably like a lot of young footballers, he played rugby league on Saturdays. Certainly we have recorded him playing for Culcairn with his brother, Clive in the mid 1940s.

Jack moved to Sydney without his wife, Betty and resided in Newtown whilst he underwent the then limited training at the police training centre in Bourke Street Redfern. Following his time there he was stationed at Randwick Police Station in Coogee Bay Road.

The Eastern Suburbs Club were altered to the presence of this big fella and quickly signed him up; he went straight into their first grade and fitted in well. Easts were becoming a strong hard to beat combination peppered with many stars.

In 1951 Jack took an interest in Rugby League and tried out with the Balmain club. In early April he was playing in their reserve grade. It is likely he was encouraged to move to Rugby League by fellow policeman, Roy Dykes, who was living at Marrickville and had switched from Newtown to Balmain also in 1951. At the time Dykes was stationed at Redfern.

Jack continued to play both codes, Rugby League of a Saturday and Australian Football on Sundays. The Balmain club seemed happy with the arrangement but it wasn’t long before there was some reaction.

On 19 May, Eastern Suburbs secretary, Norm Ferguson handed Moon a letter asking him to choose codes and if he chose to keep playing Rugby League he could have a clearance to any Australian Football Club of his choice.

Easts then were dripping with good footballers and could afford to lay down the law even to players like Moon who only in the previous year had represented the state in an All-States carnival in Brisbane.

Moon said he intended to play for Balmain when Easts were not playing however took the option of a clearance telling club officials that he intended to transfer to the Newtown Club (Moon at the time was living in Newtown).

On 23 May, Moon announced that he would give Australian Football away in favour of Rugby League and confirmed his commitment to Balmain Rugby League Club. He had, however, to wait until 12 July 1952 before he played in his initial first grade game for the Tigers, against South Sydney at the Sports Ground; Jack was sent off early in the match for kneeing an opponent.

By the middle of July 1952 Jack was transferred in the police force to the NSW Country town of Coonabarabran but by May 1954 he was back in Sydney and again playing for Balmain.

Jack was a tough customer, always getting into strife and he loved confrontation on the field however his biggest notoriety came in August 1954 when he illegally played a game for the Bargo club in Group 6 (competition name) against Picton at the Bargo Showground.

He was identified by many people as the current Balmain player, Jack Moon but played under the name of J Clissold. The controversy went on for over two months with the NSW Rugby League, Country Rugby League and Group 6 all holding inquiries as to what took place. Moon denied playing on that day even though he was identified by many, including the referee who sent him off for rough play and subsequent abusive language. The issue made headlines in newspapers for weeks and he was eventually suspended for four competition matches.

Jack continued to play into 1955 but in 1958 found himself transferred to the NSW Coastal town of Urunga. He died in Sydney in 2010.  Jack only played 56 games with Balmain and was a member of the 1956 Balmain team who were defeated by St George in the grand final, 18-12.

Garth Burkett – Champion Footballer

            Garth Burkett

When researching football in NSW I came across a player who we would term today, as a “real gun”.

He is Garth Burkett who represented New South Wales against Victoria on the SCG in 1949 where he was named one of the best. He was chosen as vice-captain of the state side in the 1950 Carnival in Brisbane where again he was one of the best in the three games he played.

Garth Burkett was the coach of West Broken Hill between 1949 to 1951. As a 22 year old he came from the West Adelaide Club where he had won their best and fairest as a youngster in 1945 & 46. At the age of 17 was a regular member of the West Adelaide team.

What prompted him to apply for the coach’s job in Broken Hill is a mystery, although, it may well have been money. He was one of 15 applicants from South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania for the position and was joined at WBH with fellow West Adelaide player, Bob Lee.

He began work as a fitter and turner at the Zinc Corporation in Broken Hill in March 1949.

Burkett had already represented South Australia against Victoria and Western Australia as well as in the South Australian team that contested the ANFC Carnival in Hobart in 1947. At the time of his appointment at WBH he was regarded as the best player in the state of South Australia.

In his first season with West Broken Hill he took them to their first premiership in ten years and during his time at Broken Hill represented the league on a number of occasions. He won the league B&F Medal in 1949 and his club’s best and fairest award in 1949-50 & 51.

In 1952 at 24 and still in his prime, Burkett then accepted playing position at the Stansbury Club on the York Peninsular and together with former West Adelaide team mate and coach, Jack Broadstock, was instrumental in making the club one of the most powerful in the area.

Then in 1954 Burkett returned to West Adelaide and represented South Australia against Victoria in July of that year yet again being named as one of the team’s best in a losing match. He was again identified as one of West’s best in their grand final defeat against Port Adelaide.

In 1956 Burkett, still only 29 was signed as captain coach of the Myponga Club (south of Adelaide) in the then Southern Football Association (now Great Southern) at a reputed fee of two hundred and twenty five pounds (in excess of $7,300 today) , taking them to a flag in 1957. Ironically Burkett is not in the club’s best team 1946-66.

Unfortunately we can find no further information on Garth following the 1957 season.

He was a true champion who perhaps should have played in the VFL.

More Riverina Football Records

The Society has been fortunate in obtaining quite a number of historic Football Records from the Riverina, whether they were called ‘The Crier’, ‘Sou’Wester’, ‘Aussie Ruler’ or ‘Football Record’, there are hours of reading if you click here.

The latest copies, dating back to 1956, were supplied by Geoff Gambell and now bring the number of Football Records from the Riverina area to well over 100.

Many of those posted are Grand Final publications from various years with more copies in the pipe line to be added in coming months.

If you have access to any Football Records and would like to see them published on our site please email us at:

Also, in reading these documents, should you find any broken links, please let us know.

Gillett joins the Board

Academic and long term supporter and football modernist, Doctor Rod Gillett joined the board of the Football History Society at their annual general meeting held today.

Rod Gillett

Gillett has had a long involvement with the game commencing as a lad at Kyabram, Victoria then later Armidale, Coffs Harbour, Sydney and Wagga.

In the 1980s a young Rodney Gillett was vice president of the NSW Football League and later one of the initial members when the Society was formed as a committee of the AFL NSW/ACT but moved on to progress his academic career with postings in Fiji, South Korea, Dubai and currently in Singapore.

He is retiring from work shortly and will settle in Sydney. Gillett is keen to focus on football jumping at the opportunity to re-ignite his interest in the history of the game.

In other moves, professional archivist Paul Macpherson was voted in as secretary while the incumbent, Heather White moved to the back bench: (the committee).

Paul Macpherson

Ian Granland was returned as president and John Addison, treasurer. With the addition of Heather White, Ian Wright, Jenny Hancock, Mandy Keevil and Tom Mahon, take up the remainder of the committee positions.

Treasurer, John Addison announced an operating profit for the year of $2,218.00 but cautioned in his report that it is not the objective of the Society to hold surplus funds and outlined a series of spending projects the committee has agreed to for the coming months.