Rosebery Football Club

Between 1923 – 1953, what we would know as a second division, The Metropolitan Australian National Football Association, operated in Sydney.

We have written before about this competition before, however in the past few days, documents have come to light which shed more details on the Association but more particularly on one of the participants, the Rosebery Football Club.

Rosebery is a southern suburb of Sydney, near Mascot, and land was first released there in 1912 on which it was intended to build a ‘model suburb’.

Initially the vast majority of the houses were built of that dark brick so common of the houses of the day.

Many dwellings were constructed between 1912-20 in the numerous streets which make up the suburb and most of the children would have attended the Gardeners Road Public School which is located on the corner of Gardeners and Botany Roads, Rosebery.  At one stage around that period the school population boasted 1800 students.

Rupert Browne, a teacher and sports master at the school from 1911-50, promoted Australian football and was responsible for many young men taking on the game and playing for clubs throughout Sydney.

Besides junior teams, the Rosebery Football Club fielded an A grade in the Metropolitan Association for most of its existence, apart from WWII when manpower was scarce.

Rosebery A Grade Premiers 1928 small1937 Rosebery Football Club - 1st Grade small 1939 Rosebery Football Club - 1st Grade thumbnail


We now have several images of the club’s premiership teams from the 1920s and 1930s.

Jack Hayes, a former junior of the club, who went on to play with Footscray and later coached St George, coached the club’s premiership sides of 1937 & 39.  For those who remember, the familiar faces of long term NSWAFL Secretary, Ken Ferguson and South Sydney official, Alby Young, appear in the 1928 photograph.

In the material we have been given are the 1946 and 1947 annual reports which give a glimpse of football of that level in those days.  You can peruse these documents by clicking either of the years.

They make for a very interesting read, particularly an expense item in 1946 for ‘sherry’ which was often given to players during the breaks on a cold day.


A strange mixture of Sydney archival football material turned up the other day.  They were rescued by Society Benevolent Member, Dave (Spanner) Spence, from the Western Suburbs Club.  Dave said he found them in a box at the league office with apparentlyAlby Young - 1948 no-one there with any knowledge as to where they came from.

They included

  • *  1945 South Sydney FC Reserve Grade Premiership Pennant “this is the oldest existing premiership flag we are aware of”.
  • *  1950s South Sydney football jumper.
  • *  Two South Sydney long sleeve football jumpers, in a unique design
  • *  Two 1930s South Sydney long sleeved football jumpers.
  • *  Twelve cans of 16mm film showing various 1978 Sydney football games
  • *  Four unidentified reels of film

The flag and the jumpers are all part of the estate from the late Alby Young (pictured), a life member of the league and South Sydney who had a lifetime involvement with the club and the game in Sydney where he was very well known.  He died in his in his early nineties in 1995.  All items are in reasonably good condition considering their age and unknown storage locations.  All jumpers are woollen and appear to be manufactured in Sydney by ‘Murdocks’, David Jones and Anthony Horderns & Sons.  One has been repaired by darning, an almost lost art these days.  The flag appears to be cotton and apart from a few holes, looks good.

The History Society was aware of his legacy but thought it had been thrown out in one of the many cleanouts at the league over the years.  They were ecstatic at the find most of it still existed and have already begun to preserve the material garments and identify the film reels where possible, which have been catalogued and classified.

1945 Sth Sydney Reserve Grade Flag small
South Sydney jumper 1 smaller South Sydney jumper 2 small South Sydney jumper 3 smaller
1930-40 1940s
note the darning
click to enlarge

When it comes to those without identification it is envisaged one of the more experienced members will have to sit when the film is played to identify the teams and the game.  Then they will all be put on DVD for long term preservation.  It is expected that this will be a costly exercise and Society officials will have to revisit their budget to enable this expensive process to take place.  We have already been quoted $35 per 100 feet for DVD conversion and collectively, there’s many thousands of feet of film for processing.

ATN1978-b smallerFollowing searching inquiries we finally found out the origin of the film.  It was taken during 1978 and used on Kevin Taylor’s Half Time Footy Forum, during the early direct telecast of the VFL Match of the Day.  The attached photograph shows the panel in that year with guest, Fitzroy president Frank Bibby at a time when it was mooted that Fitzroy would move to Sydney.  It was taken in mid-1978 at the Epping studios in Sydney of ATN7. From left: Nick Rogers, Fitzroy president Frank Bibby, Ian Wallace, compere Kevin Taylor, John Armstrong, Joe ‘Cleopatra’ Armstrong and Peter Gray, who is on the right.

To ascertain a more exact idea of the jumpers an approach will be made to a former 89 year old South Sydney player to see if he can identify the era of the unknown jumpers.

The South Sydney Club participated in Sydney football in 1890-93.  Upon the resurrection of the game in 1903, founding club, Redfern changed their name to South Sydney in 1911.  The club folded following the 1976 season.

Society president, Ian Granland played for and was involved with South Sydney in his youth and tells the story that it was quite well known that Alby had all his football treasures in a camphor box at his Rosebery home.  Little would anyone realise that these treasurers, one of which must have been Alby’s football jumper when he played, would surface after all these years.


Inside History MagazineThe Society has had a write-up in the just released 20th issue of the  Inside History Magazine.

The booklet is published every two months and contains some most fascinating articles on various items of Australian History.

It has been on the market now for about 2 years and is one of the most professional publications I have ever seen.  It is exceptionally well presented and the content is real, authentic and accurate.  Something very necessary in magazines of this nature.

You can read more at their website:

Purchase is normally by subscription with a special 12 month deal on at the moment for $50 or 6 months for $25.  Digital subscriptions are also available.

We don’t normally push products on this site but if you are a history buff, this is well worth the investment.  It is independently owned and 2014-01-01 Inside History Magazine smallcomes out of Sydney.

Our article centres on the Society’s online Rep Team Programme which features the names and details of players representing NSW as far back as 1881.  We are slowly adding more games to the repository and currently are up to 1905.  You can check out the Inside History article by clicking this image:

The photograph in the article was selected at random from our website and ironically enough, features some well known past Sydney football identities including Joe and Jack Armstrong, Aub Reid and Alby Young.

With regards to the programme, our researchers have recently found never before listed NSW represetative games, which just goes to show how well the records were kept all those years ago.  One was a game against a Wagga combination at the ‘Wagga Wagga Cricket Ground’ on August 16, 1905.  The NSW team stopped over at Wagga on its way back from Melbourne where they played a match against the VFL.  We will feature an article on the Wagga match in our next post.

On a more sombre subject, Vice President, Bill Carey, a very long term Sydney football player, official and supporter, has been rushed to hospital to undergo further tests.