1962 was a real problem year for football in Sydney.
Ernie McFarlane, the former long term Newtown FC Secretary and player was in his second year as president of the league after accepting the position, that apparently not many wanted. He was a member of the board of control for several years before this. McFarlane took over from Wilf Holmes, a shipping executive, who, in his one year as president, was clearly out of his depth in what could only be described as a volatile Sydney football environment.
McFarlane had been a dynamo at Newtown but struggled as president of the league. Early in the year two board members, Joe Armstrong and Ern Holmes, and later, University coach and league vice president, Frank Bird, resigned their positions. Then secretary of the junior organisation, the NSW Football Union, Arthur Bridgewater, was suspended from the board following a disagreement.
Fortunately, principal of a leading accounting firm, Arthur Davey of Sylvania, had taken over as treasurer midway during the previous year but in doing so walked into a financial minefield. His predecessor had resigned and the fulltime secretary of the league had been suspended. There had been some allegations of impropriety, while Davey would probably have used the term, ‘incompetence’, particularly when it took almost a month before he could get hold of the books for examination.
Things were so bad that the Australian National Football Council, the then national body for control of the game, withheld payment of their second installment of seven hundred and fifty pounds ($1400) towards the salary of the league’s fulltime secretary until such time that the accounts were audited and all clubs had paid their liabilities.
In that period, unlike today, there was no mechanism in place to compel clubs to pay their accounts to the league. Then, and in particular, the main areas of liability to the league by clubs included affiliation fees, season tickets for entry to the ground and a levy for the employment of a fulltime secretary.
Davey eventually audited the accounts himself and in doing so found an outstanding contingent liability of five hundred and twenty one pounds ten shillings ($1043.00) owing to the clubs since 1957 This had involved a complicated method of financial reward to clubs based on the Club Championship for that year. For a number of years around that period, the league concluded their seasons in debt, at times the amounts involved were quite sizable.
So early in 1962 the mood was very gloomy in Sydney football, certainly at a league level.
Some on the board wanted to re-appoint a fulltime secretary while others did not and this in itself caused continual bickering resulting in the resignations and suspension, mentioned above.
Further it was said “The New South Wales League has no funds”.
“We don’t even have a typewriter or an office desk” one board member said. “The league was formed 59 years ago, but I doubt if we have ever been in worse financial position.”
Despite all this, the league re-introduced Sydney University to the first grade competition along with new club, Parramatta, bringing the number of clubs to twelve. This was a perfect opportunity to establish a second division, but football would have to wait almost 10 years before this took place. In the meantime four of the 1962 clubs had either folded or amalgamated.
At the end of the year Davey again showed that he was no shrinking violet and let his feeling be known in a lengthy report to the league where he urged a restructure of the organisation, particularly after it again finished the year in debt. This time though the amount had been substantially reduced from those of previous seasons.
Rhys Giddey replaced Joe Boulus as honorary secretary between the end of the season and the subsequent annual general meeting which was held in February 1963. Giddey went on to fill the fulltime league secretary’s role for the next two years. He described his first 12 months in the job as one that had “been under pressures which, in 60 years, had not previously been experienced.”
This was particularly the case after Boulus had issued three writs against members of the Board of Management following the severance of his association with the league.
Just as the story gets interesting we have to end it here because we we are limited for space.