Sydney Naval with All Guns Blazing Sail to Victory in 1960

     1960 Sydney Naval FC Premiers – mascot Ken Wilson

By Dr Rod Gillett

Danny Wilson, one of the leading goalkickers in Sydney football in the 1950s, led Sydney Naval to a grand final win over Newtown for the Sydney AFL 1960 premiership this time from the back pocket!

Playing in his 250th game, Wilson was named best player for Naval. According to the Sydney Morning Herald (9 September 1960) report of the game Wilson was “…Newtown’s biggest stumbling block. He repeatedly saved in the backline and made many clearing dashes which turned back the Newtown attacks”.

It was a stunning victory by Sydney Naval who trailed by 8 points at ¾ time but forged to the front at the start of the last term and despite a late comeback by the Blood-stained Angels to draw level with a goal with ten minutes to go; but Naval kicked the last two goals of the match to win by seven points.

It was Sydney Naval’s first premiership since 1944 when it beat RAAF in the grand final. At that time both teams were laden with active servicemen with VFL backgrounds who were stationed in Sydney during the war.

It was prior to the start of the 1944 season that the ‘Sydney’ Football Club received permission to add the title ‘Naval’ to its title. The club was the first one formed in Sydney in 1880. Playing in Melbourne colours, Naval was runner-up to North Shore in 1961, and then won the flag again in 1962, by again beating Newtown at Trumper Park.

Sadly, the club folded in 1971 after forfeiting both grades due to a player shortage in July; Naval had languished at the foot of the table from the late 1960s. The club had no juniors and were heavily reliant on navy personnel.

  Jack Harding

The captain-coach Sydney Naval in 1960 was, believe it or not, local product Jack Harding, who had returned from Fitzroy in 1956 to coach the club. Harding played 27 games for Fitzroy from 1952-54. He had started playing footy quite by chance. He went to a junior game at Moore Park in 1949 to watch a friend play but was coerced to play.

He went on to play seniors for Sydney Naval the next year and represented the league against Newcastle. Harding was captain-coach of the NSW team at the 1960 ANFC second division carnival in Sydney.

Jack who worked for the Sydney City Council, married Dorothy, the sister of team-mate Danny Wilson’s wife, Iris, better known as “Bubby”.

Danny had come to Sydney in 1946 and while serving in the navy and started playing for Sydney Naval in 1947 alongside legendary cricketer Keith Miller (later the first Chief Commissioner for the NSW AFL)

He served on the HMAS Shropshire until 1949 when he was discharged. Originally from Melbourne where he had played with South Melbourne Districts, he meet Bubby on shore-leave, married and settled in Sydney.

After leaving the navy Danny Wilson worked for Ron Bennett’s menswear, and in the sixties ran the store in King Street Newtown. Naval’s best player each week used to receive a shirt as a trophy from the store when Danny was club president from 1964-1970.

Wilson had a distinguished football career in Sydney. He played 340 games for Naval and kicked over 600 goals in a career spanning 1947-62 including two premierships. He captained Naval in 1953-54. He booted 87 goals in 1956 to win the league goal-kicking and won four club best and fairest awards.

He represented NSW on ten occasions including against Victoria at the SCG in 1949 and at the 1950 ANFC Carnival in Brisbane. He was named in the best players against Victoria on both occasions.

Danny Wilson was inducted into the Sydney Hall of Fame in 2006.

  Brad Wilson
          playing Rugby League

His son Brad (pictured left), who played junior football for Peakhurst and then rugby league for St George 1981-82 recalls very happy days with the whole family going to Trumper Park when his father was involved with Sydney Naval,

“My brother Ken (who had an illustrious rugby league career at Newtown including playing in the Bluebags grand final team in 1981) and I used to play kick-to-kick on the ground. We loved the atmosphere, it was so alive”.

“Then after the game the partition in the change rooms under the grandstand would be moved, and the players and their families would join together for food and drinks and a sing-a-long. Dad’s signature tune was That Old Black Magic. Mum and dad made so many friends through Aussie Rules. Jacky Dean and dad were great mates”.

Danny, Brad and Ken all kicked with their left-foot. Danny’s sons were famed in rugby league for their kicking and ball-handling skills. Ken once kicked the only point for a game in NSWRL history when he slotted a field goal for Newtown to win 1-0 against St George in 1973. Danny taught them how to kick drop kicks in the backyard of the family home in Bexley.

The left-foot Wilson kicking tradition continues with Brad’s son Matthew now on Sydney University’s NEAFL list. However, as a Norths junior product, he will ply his trade with North Shore in the Premier League this season. 

Much of the information for this article was gained the Sydney competition match day programs going back to 1927. These are accessible from the Society’s website: click here

60 Years Ago Whitton Tigers Top the Ladder

Early Sixties image
of the Whitton Tigers

By Doctor Rodney Gillett
Vice President of the NSW Australian Football Society Inc

Whitton Tigers topped the South West League ladder in 1960 but unfortunately missed out on playing in the grand final.

The match day programs for 1960 have been donated to the History Society and can now be accessed by members and friends (click) here, with hundreds more to comes shortly.

Whitton, is a small town in the MIA, just 25 kms from Leeton on the Irrigation Way. The major crop in the district is rice with the name of the local pub appropriately named: The Rice Bowl Hotel.

The town was established in 1881 when the south-west railway line was built from Junee to Griffith, and then on to Hay in 1882. It was named after the NSW Railways Chief Engineer, John Whitton.

The Whitton Football Club was established in 1892 and played scratch matches against district teams. The Reds, as they were known in the early years, started playing in district competitions just prior to World War I.

After winning the MIA Football league premiership in 1928, Whitton entered the South West competition the following year but could manage only two wins, finishing last. They returned to the Leeton district competition winning premierships in 1932, 1939 and 1946.

Whitton again returned to the South West league for the 1947 season and despite finishing second on the ladder after the home-and-away games did not make the grand final. The next year, now known as the Tigers, they did make the grand final but went down to Narrandera in a hard-fought game by 14 points.

The one that really got away was the 1951 grand final against Ganmain, “Just as Whitton seemed certain to win, Ganmain got the ball down to their forwards, Gumbleton collected it to get it through the tall posts as the siren sounded the end of an epic game” (Narrandera Argus, 21 September 1951). Final scores: 7-7 (49) to 5-14 (44).

There was another grand final appearance the following season but old rivals Griffith proved too strong.

After finishing on top of the ladder in 1960 it seemed as if the Tigers time had come. Whitton led Narrandera at half-time of the second semi, 8-2 to 4-8, but were kept score-less in the third quarter as the Imperials kick five goals to run out winners by 31 points. The following week Whitton were bundled out of the premiership race by Turvey Park, who in turn, were well beaten by Narrandera in the grand final.

Most of the Whitton players were sons of farmers, skipper Bernie “Rusty” Kelly and his brother Graham “Red” Kelly were off a wheat and sheep property, the Williams brothers Ian and Delwyn worked on the family orchard, while most of the others were from rice-growing families including twin brothers Edwin “Bruiser” and George Williams.

Whitton continued on the South West League until 1978. After round one of the 1979 season a player shortage forced the club to transfer to the Central Riverina League where it could compete against similar sized towns.

Former player and club president Alan Lenton recalls, “Our coach Tom Doolan was transferred to Albury in his work as a school teacher and star player Gary Tagliabue went to uni in Wagga so he transferred to The Rock. I’d have preferred to stay in the South West (League) but the players wanted to go to the CRL”

“We were fortunate to have local Jim Geltch, a Gammage medalist, agree to take on the coaching job. He did it for nothing. He just asked that the coaching fee be put into new sheds, which we did”.

The Tigers made the finals but went down to Barellan in the preliminary as they did again the next season.

Following the redistribution of the clubs in the Riverina into a two-tiered competition in 1982 by the VCFL, the Whitton Tigers were placed in the Riverina District league, which eventually became the Farrer League in 1984 fielding two divisions.

At long last Whitton enjoyed premiership success under former Bushpigs star Jamie “Fozzie” Robinson in 1985 followed by two more, in 1986 under Bruce Harrison, and in 1987 with club stalwart Errol Boots at the helm.

However, changing demographics in the district saw Whitton in 1992 merge with reformed Yanco, that had previously played in the Barellan League. Finally, Whitton bowed to the inevitable and buried the hatchet with long-time fierce rivals Leeton to become the Leeton-Whitton Crows.

The combined team finally won a premiership in the Riverina Football League in 2017.

 

A Granville Club in 1889

An interesting piece from an 1889 copy of the Referee (Sporting) Newspaper

                          Daily Telegraph 15 April 1886 p.2

 

“Geo. Graham says that he has already got 30 members for his now club at Granville. The Granvilles, or I should say, the Australian Football Club, plays its first match against the Sydney.

There is nothing like facing the big guns if a new club wants to learn all the dodges of the game. Appended is an official list of the matches for May :—

 

 

May 4.—
Sydney v Australian F.C. , at Granville ; Balmain v University, at Balmain ;
East Sydney v 2nd Sydney 23.
May 11.—
Waratah v Balmain, at Balmain ;
West Sydney v University at Wentworth Park ;
Sydney v St. Ignatius College 23, at Riverview ; Australian F.C. v 2nd Sydney, at Granville ;
East Sydney, vacant.
May 18.—
Sydney v Balmain, at Balmain;
East Sydney v Australian F.C., at Granville ;
Waratah v West Sydney, at Wentworth Park;
2nd Sydney v St. Ignatius College, at Riverview ;
University, vacant.
May 21.—
Waratah v Wallsend, at Wallsend;
Sydney v Northumberland, at Maitland ;
East Sydney v West Sydney, at Moore Park ;
Hamilton v St. Ignatius College 23, at Riverview ;
Australian F.C., vacant.
May 25,—
Sydney v Maitland Juniors, at Maitland;
Balmain v Hamilton, at Balmain ;

West Sydney v Australian F.C., at Granville ;
University v 2nd Sydney 23, on Sydney Ground ;
East Sydney v St, Ignatius College 22, at Riverview.
 

On Saturday the Australian – Football Club, Granville, played their first scratch match, and judging from the form shown by some of tho players they should have a very prosperous season. They meet the Sydney Club on Saturday, and will no doubt give the Sydney all they can do to score a victory.
As there are several good players in tho Cumberland district we hope they will join this now club, and make it a real first class one. (Referee (Sydney, NSW : 1886 – 1939), Wednesday 1 May 1889, page 6)

A couple of things to note here:

  • Granville called themselves ‘The Australian Football Club’, mostly we suggest a soccer club of the same name operated in the village of Granville.
  • We are at a loss to establish where their ground was.
  • Reserve or junior teams were permitted 23 on the field against the normal 20 players of those days.
  • In 1889 teams from the Hunter also participated in the competition.

In May of that year, Granville hosted the East Sydney Club and here is part of a report of the game :  “Before the close of the play party feeling ran high, and blows were exchanged between two of the players. The spectators participated in the excitement, and the attitude of some of them became so menacing that the visitors beat a hasty retreat, and that their retrograde movement was successfully accomplished they attribute to the protection afforded them by the opposing captain, Mr. Graham.” (Evening News (Sydney, NSW : 1869 – 1931), Tuesday 21 May 1889, page 8)  The Granville club did complain about the actions of the East Sydney players however because they were not an ‘associated club’, ie participating  in the top grade for the Flanagan Cup, their letter was dismissed.  The led to an application by Granville to affiliate which was subsequently accepted.

Like the University club, Granville failed to reform in 1890.

First Game At Goulburn

Recently we found details of a game of football played at Collector in 1936 between a Collector/Goulburn combined team and Metropolitan Aust Football Assn Team, Rosebery (a suburb near Mascot).  You can view that report here.

However further research finds a further game played much earlier at Goulburn between the then newly formed Goulburn Imperials and the Sydney Football Club.

“First Football Match in Goulburn
On Saturday last the members of the Sydney Football Club and numbers of their supporters journeyed to Goulburn to try conclusions with the newly-formed club at Goulburn named the Imperials.

This was the first match ever played in Goulburn under the Australian rules, the district hitherto being a very big stronghold of Rugby, but after the match played on Saturday a very large number have decided to play the Australian game in the future, and which speaks well for the career of the local club.

The match was played on the Olympic Ground, which was located between the Goulburn Paceway and Garoorigang, in the presence of about 1000 spectators. There was a very big gathering of the fair sex at the match.

Joe Arnold captained the Sydney team, and W. Sandford led the Goulburn. The Sydneys scored 4 goals to 1 in the first quarter. The Goulburn team for the rest of the game played splendidly, especially in the third quarter, when the Sydney players seemed disorganised. However, in the last quarter Sydney played more together, and scored a couple of goals. Goulburn, as a team, played splendidly, considering it was their first game, and they have the makings of a good team. *Crisp (3), Clausen (2), Murrell, Hodgkinson and Poole for the Goulburn and Noonan (3), Potter, Jessop, Shipton, Giles, the Brothers Arnold, Sullivan (2), for Sydney, all played well. The College boys, Sandford, Jessop, Noonan, and Potter tried hard to evert defeat. The final result was: Sydney 8 goals 20 behinds Goulburn, 6 goals 8 behinds. Mr. Murray umpired the match in his usual impartial way. In the evening the Sydney boys were entertained at a splendid banquet at the Oddfellows Hall in Auburn Street,

Mr. Siegel in the chair. After justice had been done to the excellent spread various toasts were gone through with musical honours. Messrs. Alexander, M. Sullivan, Ashton, Dick, Jessop, Sandford and others gave assistance with songs and recitations. The Sydneys returned to town on Monday morning, everyone being thoroughly pleased with his outing in the country.”

Another game or two was played in Goulburn over the next couple of years but interest petered out.  A club however, was formally organised at Goulburn in June 1905.
*George Crisp, recognized as one of the founders of the game in Sydney was still playing with the Sydney Club in 1892.  He probably played with the combined side on that day to help out.

(Referee (Sydney, NSW : 1886 – 1939), Wednesday 17 August 1892, page 8)

Carrolls and Ganmain are Linked like Kellogs and Cornflakes

     Dennis Carroll

Former Sydney Swans captain and Team of the Century member Dennis Carroll was selected on a half-back flank in the NSW Greatest Team.

He was one of four Carrolls on the NSW Greatest List who played VFL/AFL.

His father Laurie, better known as Dooley, played eleven games at St Kilda from 1948-49.

His uncle Tom, who was nicknamed “Turkey Tom” by the late Lou Richards on account of running a rafter of turkeys on the family farm, won a Coleman medal playing for Carlton in 1961.

   Wayne “Christmas’               Carroll

His cousin, Wayne, aka “Christmas”, played at South Melbourne/Sydney Swans from 1980-85 playing 56 games and kicking 57 goals. He won the VFL Mark of the Year award in 1984.

The Carrolls originally hail from Ganmain situated between Wagga and Narrandera in the Riverina where members of the family have farmed since “Grandpa” Larry Carroll and his wife and nine kids took up land selection in the district in the early 1900s.

The Carrolls all came together on the one day when they took on the Rest of Ganmain to raise funds for the swimming pool at the village of Ganmain on 6 October 1968.

The senior team consisted of twenty Carrolls plus an emergency. “Dooley” and Tom were selected together in the first ruck. Their brothers Joe, Bill, Tony, Brian (aka Mickey) and Kevin were also in the team.

The coach was the Catholic Bishop of Wagga Francis Carroll, known as “Father Frank”, who at 38 years of age was then the youngest bishop in Australia. He was named on the half-forward flank but only played a cameo role in the game.

In the schoolboys team were Dennis and his brothers Chris, Stephen, Colin and Scott, along with many cousins which included Wayne and Greg!

“It was my first game of football. I was so excited to play. I was seven years of age at the time”, Dennis recalled. “I couldn’t believe I had so many uncles and cousins”.

Like all the Carrolls, Dennis has had various nicknames bestowed upon him, including “Boofy”, “DC” and “Dan”, and at one stage “Washington” but the one that has stuck is DC.

“DC” went to South Melbourne under zoning in 1981 and went on to play 219 games and kick 117 goals for the Bloods. He started as a winger but later developed into a fine defender. Dennis was the Swans captain from 1986-92 when he retired. He later coached the Reserves to a grand final in 1995 only to be beaten by North Melbourne under Rodney Eade.

Dennis played in the original NSW State of Origin team at the Bicentennial carnival in Adelaide in 1988 when he was vice-captain to Terry Daniher. He also played three games for Victoria between 1984-86.

He is now employed as Head of People Development at the Sydney Swans Football Club.

  Dooley Carroll

His father, Laurie, an absolute champion, played in seven premierships for Ganmain (1946, 1947, 1950, 1951, 1953, 1956 and 1957). He was captain-coach of the victorious 1951 team that had an epic win over Whitton by five points with Keith “Swampy” Gumbleton (father of North Melbourne premiership defender Frank Gumbleton) kicking the winning goal in the dying moments of the game.

“Dooley” was regarded as one of, if not the best, high mark in the South West League” (Wagga Daily Advertiser, 8 November, 1958).

In his last season at Ganmain in 1957 “Dooley” was equal best and fairest with captain-coach Mick Grambeau, the hardman ruckman who had come from North Melbourne in 1956. Eight of the players in that premiership team were Carrolls.

Grambeau was the highest paid player in Australia at the time on a package of £65 per week that included a job, match payments, a house, and a milking cow. All of Ganmain turned out for a street parade on a half-day holiday on his arrival in the town followed by a dance in the local hall. (Sun-News Pictorial, 26 March 1956).    

In 1958 “Dooley” went to coach Collingullie in the Central Riverina league for three seasons. Later, he was chairman of selectors at the Lockhart footy club for many years.

He was voted best player for NSW at the 1950 ANFC Carnival in Brisbane.

    ‘Turkey’           Tom          Carroll

“Turkey Tom” Carroll first made a strong impression as a forward in Ganmain’s 1956 and 1957 premiership teams. He then booted 103 goals in 1960 to head the league goal-kicking list and won the club best and fairest for the second successive season.

He was eagerly sought by VFL clubs Essendon and Footscray before electing to go to Carlton in 1961. He kicked 5 goals on debut against champion St Kilda and then-Victorian full-back Verdun Howell who was retrospectively awarded a Brownlow medal for the 1959 season.

Tom kicked 54 goals for the season to top the VFL goalkicking list. He also played in Carlton’s grand   final team in 1962. He was Carlton’s leading goal-kicker in each of his three seasons at the Blues. But th lure of home was too strong and he returned to Ganmain as captain-coach in 1964.

Upon his return, he led the Maroons to a premiership win over Griffith by two points. His late goal, his 102nd goal for the season, proved to be the winning goal. He was voted best-on-the-ground.

Tom also played in the famous South West league representative team that won the Victorian country championship in the televised final against the Hampden league at Narrandera. The first-ever win by a NSW-based league.

Ganmain repeated the feat the next season with a convincing 38 point victory over Griffith. Tom again topped the league goal-kicking with 90 goals. He coached the club again in 1966 but they were eliminated in the preliminary final by eventual premier Narrandera.

After two more seasons as a player with Ganmain, Tom finished his playing career as captain-coach of neighbouring club, Grong Grong Matong in 1968-69.

Dennis recalls spending most of his school-holidays on the farm with uncle Tom during this period. “He was a big influence on me. He taught me to kick properly, and to kick on my left foot. I remember going to games at Matong in his new royal blue Ford Falcon GTHO”.

Wayne “Christmas” Carroll started playing seniors with Ganmain in 1976 under legendary Riverina coach the late Greg Leech and played a key role in winning the club’s last-ever premiership as a stand-alone club in the South West DFL.

He transferred to Queanbeyan in the ACT in 1977 and played in their premiership. He re-joined brother, “Jock” (Greg), at Mangoplah-Cookardinia United in 1978 then playing in the Farrer league, then went to South in 1980 after playing senior games on permit in 1979.

Upon returning to the Riverina in 1986, “Christmas” took over as captain-coach of Turvey Park in Wagga and led the Bulldogs to four premierships in a row, 1987-1990.

“Christmas” represented NSW in 1979 under Alan Jeans and then again from 1986 to 1990.

 

HAWKINS CLAN – A footballing family from Finley NSW

Tom HawkinsThe Hawkins clan are an exceptional footballing family from Finley in southern NSW.

Four members of the family were on the selection list for the NSW Greatest Team.

Current Geelong power forward Tom Hawkins, who was named an All-Australian for the second time in 2019, was selected on the interchange bench in the NSW Greatest Team.

His father, Jack, was in serious contention for a back pocket berth but was edged out by dual premiership players Chris Lethbridge (Sydney YMCA/Fitzroy) and Ross Henshaw (North Albury/North Melbourne).

Jack’s brothers, Michael and Robb, who both played in the VFL for Geelong, were also on the list.

Since being drafted under the father-son rule by Geelong in 2006, Tom Hawkins has played 254 games for the Cats. In his football career to date he has won two premierships (2009 & 2011), seven leading goal-kicking awards, a club best and fairest (2012), and booted 550 goals (at the end round 22, 2019).

Hawkins was born and raised in Finley and went to the local high school before moving south to be a boarder at Melbourne Grammar, a school his father also attended. He played his early football for Finley in the Murray League as well as when returning home for school holidays.

“Away from the farm, I loved playing sport – I played football and cricket for Finley. There used to be social tennis on Monday night, and I enjoyed that. My parents encouraged us to be involved in sport”, he told Country Style (1 May 2018).

Tom’s father, “Jumping” Jack Hawkins was a cult-figure at Geelong where he played from 1973 to 1981 accumulating 182 games and kicking twenty goals. He also represented Victoria.

He was renowned for his vertical leaping to take marks on the last line of defence. He was the school high jump champion. Hence his nickname, “Jumping Jack”.Jumping <br>Jack Hawkins

Jack suffered a serious knee injury in 1982 which resulted in his retirement from football in 1983.

He went home to the farm but could only play only one game for the local side due to the debilitating knee injury. He did however play in a premiership team for Finley in 1971 with his brother Michael. They beat Deniliquin in the grand final under journeyman country football coach Wally Mumford.

Jack later became president of the Finley Football Club from 1987-89 and then served on the MFL executive from 1990 including the last nine years as president until he stepped down at the end of last season.

He said he needed more time to relax and time to see both of his sons play football.

“I’ve been trying to balance out Murray league duties and watch Charlie playing for Finley as well as travelling to Geelong to watch Tom”, he told the Southern Riverina Weekly (3 January 2018).

Michael played two senior games on match permits with Geelong in 1973 when Finley had byes. He replaced the injured Ian “Bluey” Hampshire as first ruck.

He continued to play for Finley and was a key member of the 1981-82 premierships under ex Fitzroy player Mark Newton. He was also a regular Murray league representative in NSW State and country championship fixtures. Michael was recently inducted into the Finley Football Club Hall of Fame.

Robb Hawkins also went to Geelong under zoning but after not playing a senior game he went to South Adelaide in the SANFL in 1979 where he carved out a niche career of 115 games, two best and fairest awards, and state selection in 1981.

He returned to Geelong in 1984 but only played three games. He went to Sydney in 1984 but injuries curtailed his career at the highest level.

Robb returned home to the farm and to play for Finley. He led the club to the 1988 premiership. He has had three stints coaching the club as well as coaching juniors and a member of the match committee.

Wynne HawkinsThe father of the Hawkins brothers, Wynne, played for near neighbours and arch rivals, Tocumwal. He sought a clearance from Toc. when he moved to a farm near to Finley. It was denied and he never played again. He was aged in his mid-twenties.

There is a history of acrimony between Tocumwal and Finley. This is captured on the Tocumwal Football Club’s website, which has excellent coverage of the club’s history. There is a section entitled “Bloody Finley”, which details some of the more colourful incidents between the two clubs. ( http://websites.sportstg.com/club_info.cgi?c=1-6191-147841-522354-26427634&sID=382344).

One of the most interesting concerns the coach of the NSW Greatest Team and legendary St Kilda & Hawthorn premiership coach Allan Jeans.

Jeans was recruited to St Kilda from Finley in 1955, but he was originally a Tocumwal player. He was enticed to play for Finley in 1952 by a good offer to play and work in a local pub when the 1951 Toc. coach Bert DeAbbel went to coach Finley and run the Albion Hotel.  Tocumwal refused the clearance and Jeans stood out of football for a year. He was cleared to Finley the next year.

Finley has been a rich source of players for the VFL/AFL. Other players on the NSW Greatest Team list from Finley are David Murphy (Sydney Swans), Peter Baldwin (Geelong), Damian Sexton (St Kilda), Bert Taylor (Melbourne), Darren Jackson (Geelong), Shane Crawford (Hawthorn) and Mark Whiley (GWS & Carlton).

However, it is the Hawkins that name is the most strongly linked with Finley and they have all contributed significantly to the Finley FC, the Murray League and the game in NSW.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: David Murphy (Sydney), Hamish Bull (Deniliquin), Mick Taylor & Mark O’Bryan (champions and stalwarts of the Finley Football Club) and the Tocumwal Football Club) for information and feedback.  Author – Rod Gillett

1949 – Liverpool Club Emerges

Committeeman, Ian Wright came across an interesting newspaper article regarding the formation of the Liverpool Club in Sydney in 1949.

Not a lot of descriptions of how and where clubs like this started are publically available so this goes to show the value of providing reports of proceedings to the local media, in particular, newspapers.  The digital age cannot provide such history.

The report in the “Biz”, a local rag circulating in the Fairfield area in Sydney not only provides an account of events but also gives us a copy of the advertisement placed in the same newspaper together a preliminary article the week before the meeting.

The report says:

AUSTRALIAN RULES FOOTBALL

CLUB FORMED IN LIVERPOOL

Over 40 enthusiastic followers and players of the Australian Rules Football code attended an inaugural meeting held the home of Mr C. Williamson in Northumberland Street, Liverpool, last Monday night. It was decided to form a club to be called Liverpool Australian Rules Football Club and to affiliate with the head body. The matter of guernseys is creating some difficulty, as manufacturers stated that it will be two years before they could supply a set. However, the club will probably overcome this problem.

A practice match will be held on Bigge Park Sunday next at 10 a.m., and all players interested are invited to have a run. Already fifteen players have notified their intention of playing. At the conclusion of the meeting, Mrs. C. Williamson and her daughters served a very dainty supper.

The first general meeting will be held in the R.S.L. Clubrooms, Liverpool, on April 7, at 7.30 p.m.”
Biz (Fairfield, NSW : 1928 – 1972), Thursday 31 March 1949, page 6

And despite several name and club colour changes, the Liverpool Club is still in existence, now 70 years old.  It played its early games at Woodward Park, located in Hoxton Park Road, then later at Liverpool Showground and eventually to Rosedale Park (as it then known), Warwick Farm from 1955.  They were initially known as The Rangers.

A baker, Cliff Williamson, was the first president of the club while former St George premiership player, Keith Wilcoxen took on the secretary’s role and bank manager, Austin Prigg settled in as treasurer.  Leo Sullivan was the captain coach.

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:

INSURANCE POLICY
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]

– Birchgrove Oval

The earliest game the Balmain Club participated in was a scratch match with teams chosen by the captain and vice captain on Church-hill, Balmain  The game was witness by a large crowd “who thoroughly enjoyed it” [1]

The first Balmain club was formed on Wednesday 9 May 1888 at a meeting held at Dick’s Hotel in Beattie Street Balmain.  Further meetings were held to appoint a committee and set the rules.[2]

Then on 30 June they played their first match against the “2nd Sydney (club) team” at Moore Park which they won eight goals to nil.  [then behinds were not counted in the team’s total score and goals were worth only one point]

The following year the secretary, Bill Fordham advertised a practice match on St Thomas’Ground, Darling Road West on Saturday 4 May but little more was heard of the club.

A Balmain club became part of the resurrected NSW Football League in 1903 and participated until 1909, they were nicknamed ‘The Seaguls’.  It was during this period that they and the Australian Football League, regularly used Birchgrove Oval for matches however whether by design or not, the game failed to be part of the game’s venues after Balmain fell over in 1910. [3]

It would appear that Australian Football has never been played on that ground in an official capacity since 1909, despite the resurrection of the club.

[1] Referee Newspaper, 14 June 1888, page 6
[2] Balmain Observer & Western Subs Advertiser, 26 May 1888, p.5
[3] Referee Newspaper, 13 March 1910 page 11

– 1888 Sydney University Football Club

 

Professor W H Warren and Engineering students in the 1890s

The following was taken from an article written in the Sydney Mail in April, 1888.  It briefly describes the Sydney University Australian Football Club which unfortunately, only survived for two seasons.

The University only had a limited number of students at the time but increased significantly after John Henry Challis bequeathed a sum of £200,000 in 1889 and seven new professorships were created.

Be that as it may, the 1888 annual meeting of the University Football Club, playing under Australian rules, was held on Monday night, 16 April 1888 at Miithorp’s Hotel. (Milthorp’s Hotel was on the corner of York and King Streets, Sydney) Mr. F. Challands occupied the chair.

Quoting from the annual report which stated “that the club was only formed on July 7, 1887, late last year, when other clubs were closing the season.

The club could not claim to have done much more than make a start. Three matches were played, but, as the number of members was small, it had to depend in a degree on tho assistance given by the Sydney, East Sydney, Waratah and West Sydney clubs. Members should go into regular practice in order that they might be prepared to accept an invitation from tho Melbourne University this season.”

A further report on the meeting continued: “The balance sheet was of a satisfactory nature. The report and balance-sheet were adopted. Letters were received from his Excellency the Governor and Dr. Brownless according their patronage to the club. Tho following office-bearers were elected : Patron, his Excellency the Governor; president, the Chancellor (Sir William Manning) ; vice-presidents, Dr. Maclaurin and Dr. Brownless ; hon. secretary, Mr. M. M. Ryan; assistant hon. secretary, Mr. H. Davis; hon. treasurer, Mr. F. E. Wood: committee, Messrs. R. Kidston, W.J.W. Richardson, Cock, Waters, and T. Challands ; auditors, Messrs. J. P. Leahy and Fitzsimons; delegate to . the association, Mr. W. J. W. Richardson. ”

Ref. Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1871 – 1912), Saturday 21 April 1888, page 865