It was named after Jim Phelan, who is regarded as the father of football in Sydney following his commitment to the game through WWI and later. Jim was secretary of the strong Newtown for some time and also secretary of the NSW Football League. He was also the NSW Director on the Australian National Football Council.
In late April of 1911 the Newtown and YMCA clubs travelled to Orange where they played an exhibition match at Wade Park in an effort to pump up the newly formed local club. The group was most cordially met when the train reached the station by a bevy of local dignitaries and the eventually game played in good spirit.
However before they left the following is recorded about Jim Phelan, then secretary of the Newtown club:
He was confused at the Sydney station before the train started through every man who came catching him by the hand and saying “How are you Jim?” Jim would reply “All right.” Then one of the crowd would say “Are you quite sure, Jim?” Then all the other fellows seemed to gather around to hear the answer.
At last Jim became a bit nettled and when the twentieth earnest inquiry was made, he said “Here, what’s up? What’s the matter with you fellows?” Then one of them said: “We only wanted to make sure that there was no ill Phelan amongst the team!”