Match in Parkes

1930 Newtown jumper smallSome time ago we wrote about a match in 1910 when the strong Paddington Club visited Forbes to play a game.1931 South Sydney jumper small

Again, in 1929 two Sydney teams, premiers Newtown and third placed South Sydney travelled to both Forbes and Parkes to play exhibition matches in both centres to drum up support for the game in the districts.

The Central West Australian Rules Football Association had been formed in April 1929 with teams from Parkes, Forbes, Gunningbland (a local district west of Parkes) and Tullamore making up the competition.  The Gunningbland team was formed in 1928.

Charlie Cardiff, the 42 year old bank manager with the Commercial Bank of Australia Ltd in Parkes was elected president. G C Taylor the secretary and Bob Taylor, treasurer.  Both were from Forbes.  Parkes was selected to be the centre of the competition and advertisements were placed for umpires with a pay rate starting at one guinea (one pound one shilling or $77 today).

The same year it was decided to invite two Sydney teams to the area to play an exhibition match and they were pleased to receive a positive reply from the Sydney league saying that it would not only be an exhibition game but one would be a competition match, and arrangements were immediately commenced.

It was difficult to introduce a new game to the area and with Rugby League then part of the sporting culture and it proved more difficult as time went on.  They were not in favour of a new code being introduced to the area, particularly one with Victorian antecedents.

Cardiff had provisionally arranged use of the only sporting ground in Parkes, the Peoples’ Park, as the venue for the Sydney match however when they made a more formal approach to the local Council they were told that the Rugby League club had the rights to the ground and they would have to deal with them.  Of course the club refused their application stating that they had arranged another fixture on that day.  It was later revealed that no such fixture was scheduled.

This led to a conference between the Council, Australian Football delegates and officials of the Rugby League club.

The Sydney teams were to play two fixtures on that June Long Weekend.  One on Saturday and the other on the Monday.  Initially there was some conjecture as to whether Parkes should be the Saturday or Monday venue but because of the train timetables it was decided that Monday would better suit arrangements.

The meeting could not at first resolve the situation but when Charlie Cardiff said his group was willing to pay some compensation to the Rugby League Club for upsetting their fixtures, an agreement was reached immdiately.  They would be paid 10% of the gate.

So the date was set for Monday 3 June.  Admission was two shillings ($7.40 in today’s money) for men, one shilling for ladies and sixpence for children.

A contingent of 48 was ferried from Forbes to Parkes on Sunday afternoon in cars provided by the members of the Gunningbland club, they were then dispersed into several different hotels for their accommodation .  A Civic Reception for the teams was held on the morning of the game.

The big match was preceded by a game between local clubs Parkes and Tullamore at 12.30pm

The match, which included no less than ten state players, attracted about 1,000 spectators paying forty four pounds ($3,262) in admission charges and umpired by leading Sydney whistle blower, Tom King.

South Sydney won the game 9-11 (61) to 4-21 (45) in very blustery conditions.  The players then caught the evening train to Sydney.

In 1930 Tallmore withdrew from the competition, citing distance as the main reason.  Fortunately they were replaced by Yarranvale and also Wongalea, both representing local districts or most probably sheep stations. However in 1931 both Parkes and Forbes abandoned the competition both attributing distance as cause for their departure. For example, the Forbes Club had to pay two pounds five shillings ($167.00)to the local P & A Association each time they used the showground for games.  This was aside from the public risks costs the club also paid.

Click here for map of the area and towns.

Tullamore reformed in 1933 but could not last and Trundle briefly supported a team in 1934.  However the following year Gunningbland and Wongalea were all that was left as surviving members of the Association.  The new Condobolin association was making overtures for new clubs as the page closed on the Central West competition.

Finals Venue

Writing icon smallerMany always have suggestions how this or that should be done and the same is with the administration in football.

Delving through old documents and papers we came across the following letter.  The bracketed comments are ours, as a way of explanation:

Dear ‘Follower,’ [Follower was the pseudonym used by the journalist who wrote for the particular newspaper]” Everyone interested in Australian Football will endorse your remarks in last week’s ‘Arrow,’ with regard to the matter of fixing the semi-finals and final of the League premiership, to be played at Erskineville Oval.

No-one who has followed the matches played on Moore Park during the present season will have failed to recognise the great interest taken in the various matches played on the Y.M.C.A. ground.

The average attendance this season [at Sydney games] can be fairly estimated at about 3000, all of whom have become intensely interested in the progress of the game. It is quite safe to say that this number will be considerably increased with the advent of the semi-finals and final. Since the re-introduction of the Australian game into this State [in 1903], and especially during the present reason, there has been a growing feeling in favour of the game, and a great deal of enthusiasm shown by the players and public. The only fault one has to find just now is with the governing body.  For some time past the League seems to have played itself out. Year after year the League has lamentably failed to seize the opportunities’ that have presented themselves until at last it has come to be recognised as a body helpless to advance the interests of Australian football. Something will have to be done before the next season comes round to put things on a better footing, and inspire confidence in the players and public.

With regard to the semi-finals, I am voicing the unanimous opinion of the thousands who attend the [Sydney] matches, that a grave mistake will be made if the League insists on playing these matches at Erskineville, and keen disappointment will be felt by those who desire to witness them. Far better to play the two semi  finals on September 5, and engage the Agricultural Ground [former Sydney showground, Moore Park] for the final on the 12th. It will be a great mistake to delay these matches too far into the cricket season. The League should rise to the occasion, and wind up with a brilliant finish-which will augur well  for a good start for 1909.-I am, &c, AUSTRALIAN ALL THE TIME

So you see we all have our opinions.  It is a pity though that those in charge in the early days did not make the decisions which would have capitalised on the growth and popularity of the game in Sydney.

Sydney Touring the Riverina

Prior to the first world war, the NSW Football League, as it was known then, undertook two Riverina tours with a Sydney representative team playing at different centres.

Several football associations in the Riverina had affiliated with the (almost) new NSWAFL, following its re-birth in 1903.  In response it was almost expected that the Sydney league would send teams into the area to play.  Besides representative teams, Sydney club sides also made the journey deep into the Riverina.

These representative tours took place in 1907 and 1908, and had a duration of seven days plus.  This was during a time when a separate and top line NSW team played elsewhere in an interstate fixture, so the Riverina touring side, for the most part, was Sydney’s second team“ comprised of those available.

The financial arrangements of these tours are not spelt out but we would assume that:

“Those who  ‘volunteered’ to play in these representative teams had the time to
do so. These were the days, certainly for manual workers, shop assistants,
carters and the like to be working 60 hours a week, some, even every day.  So
we are at a loss to say how they were able to  absent themselves from their
work unless they: were self-employed, the bosses son, took leave  (and not all
employees had the benefit of holidays) or were out of work.  Because of thee
restrictions it is reasonable to assume that those ˜selected’ (or who volunteered
to play), were not always the best players in the competition.
Also, in many cases in those early days of representative football, one of their
number, would second as the team manager, so a bare eighteen might travel “
there was no interchange or  reserves in those days.
The host league would pay the travel and accommodation costs.
All that the NSW Football League would do was to supply the jumpers, and
possibly the shorts and socks, all of which would have to be returned.
The number of representative games in the first decade or so of the last century was incredible and it is little wonder that the league almost persistently recorded an annual deficit.  Although it is fair to say that in the few years immediately following 1903, prominent interstate teams did not make a claim on the gate and in fact left any and all proceeds from their matches in Sydney with the local league.






1907 £400.00 -$54,857.00


1908 £174.00 -$22,459.00


1909 £123.00 +$15,876.00


1910 £166.00 -$21,014.00


1911 £110.00 +13,662.00


1912 £39.00 -$5,476.00


1913 £165.00 -$18,409.00


Does this show a pattern?  The 1911 profit is almost certainly due to the subsidy of £225.00 (with inflation in today’s money: $27,946.00) received from the Australian National Football Council as NSW’s share of gate receipts from the all states carnival in Adelaide.

In 1907 and 1908, Sydney teams toured and played at Hay, Narrandera, Coolamon and Wagga.  The first of these tours was disastrous with some virtual unknowns making the trip in the Sydney team, probably due to their availability.  In their final game against the Wagga Association, the Sydney side had to call upon five players from Narrandera and Hay to make up their number.  Whether this was because of injury or withdrawal has not been established.

The next year they had a stronger team which included the NSW captain, Ralph Robertson, but nevertheless could not match it with some of their Riverina opponents.





1907 2-10 (22) Hay F C 5-11 (47)
1907 2-1 (13) Narrandera F C 10-19 (79)
1907 5-6 (36) Coolamon F C 3-9 (27)
1907 5-5 (35) Wagga F A 10-27 (87)
1908 9-7 (61) Hay F C 7-22 (64)
1908 10-18 (78) Narrandera F C 8-14 (62)
1908 6-9 (45) Wagga F A 10-19 (79)


Unlike today, the trip to all centres was by train.  The first stop (passing through most of the others) was at Hay which is 755 rail kilometres from Sydney.  Incidentally and interesting piece came to light when researching this article, it was talking about Narrandera and Lockhart “Teams travel tremendous distances to take part in these matches – from ten to forty miles.  Greater difficulty will be experienced this season (1908) in bringing off these matches, owing to the scarcity of horses, brought about by the drought.  They must be very enthusiastic ……”

It was some years before more Sydney representative teams toured the area again, although a number of requests were received, even during the first world war.


      Prime Minister John
   Curtin at Trumper Park

Maybe we are a bit late but it appears that Trumper Park is slowly slipping from the AFL’s grip – or so it seems.

Only two premier division games will be played there this year with the ground used by the University of Technology, (the Bats),  for a number of seasons now.  The East Sydney club has moved to the University of NSW’s home ground of the Village Green since the merge of the two.

The thinking now is that the oval is too small for games of this nature and with the Bats now playing in the major league in Sydney they have been hived off to use Henson Park and one match at Waverley Oval – a venue used by the Eastern Suburbs Club in the early 1950s.

Trumper Park, or Hampden Oval, as it was known in the very early days was first used as a venue for the game in 1901.  It has since gone on to host many grand finals and representative games with NSW playing VFL clubs there as late as 1966.

In many of these games the attendance went into the thousands and in fact the 1963 grand final at Trumper Park saw a record crowd of over 11,000.  For many years it was used as a home venue for both East Sydney and Sydney Naval clubs with games played there on each day of a winter weekend.  In those days the game in Sydney WAS Trumper Park so much so that in 1943,  the then iconic Australian Wartime Prime Minister, John Curtin, attended more than one match at the ground where he stood ‘in the outer’ and then after the game visited the change rooms of each team in the old wooden grandstand that once adorned the oval.

The rot really set in with Trumper Park as a venue after the area was rezoned to Woollahra Council from the City of Sydney Council and the changing demographics saw the more upwardly mobile population wanting an open park and the advertising bill boards on the Glenmore Road boundary were dismantled, the grandstand drastically reduced in size and some of the ante buildings dismantled.

The surface, which once boasted a contest between it and concrete, has been manicured however the size of the ground has not been altered since the Council extended the length in the north east pocket in the late 1950s and took away tons of sand from the hill overlooking the ground.

Despite all this and given its intrinsic relationship to football, it is hard to see why the game cannot host more Premier League games this year and in the future.

Image shows John Curtin watch a game at Trumper Park during WWII.