NO TYPEWRITER IN 1962

Typewriter1962 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.

Ernie McFarlane I
Ern McFarlane

Wilf Holmes - NSW AFL Life Member
Wilf Holmes

Arthur Bridgewater
Arthur Bridgewater

 

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.

1961

The 1961 season in Sydney was one full of action, the employment of a full time employee, the tragic death of an up and coming footballer, accusations of missing money, stuff ups in the final series but best of all, great football.

This is a long read, so grab a cup of coffee and sit down a learn a bit of Sydney footy history.

Sydney University were readmitted to the competition but not in the first grade.Uni Blues, Uni Bolds,   Instead they  fielded two teams in the reserve grade: Uni Blues and Uni Golds.  Neither won the premiership but cleaned up in the League Best & Fairest, the Sanders Medal, with the top three places going to Uni players.

Balmain failed to turn up for a pre-season game against North Shore at Trumper Park.  This brought their tenure in the competition under some scrutiny.  The following week they came out and cleaned up the strong Eastern Suburbs club by four goals in round 1.

The competition started with a dramatic change to 16-aside, a decision which was continually ridiculed as being anti-football and almost unAustralian until the league was almost forced to revert to the normal 18 per team, mid season.

Long term Sydney tough player and coach, Jack Armstrong, turned his hand to umpiring and was ultimately appointed to the competition’s 1st semi final..

South Melbourne FC defeated a combined Sydney team 17.29 (131) to 6.6. (42) at Trumper Park before a good crowd on 28 May.

Eventual premiers, North Shore, kicked 2.13 (25) to defeat the lowly Bankstown side 2.11 (23).  This was one of the lowest post WWII scores in Sydney football.

Bankstown were known by the very bizarre name as the Boomerangs.  Western Suburbs were the Pirates, Balmain the Magpies, St George the Tigers and North Shore the Bears.

There was an Umpires strike in round 15 but football went ahead with the league using stand-in personnel.  The forty year old South Sydney captain-coach, Jack Atkins, umpired a second grade game then backed up as boundary for the firsts only to eventually replace central umpire, the University and NSW coach, Frank Bird, who broke down.

The competition was shocked when 20 year old soldier, Roger Challis, was killed whilst hitch hiking from Puckapunyal in Victoria to play with the South Sydney club.  This talented full forward had played in the Sydney team against South Melbourne the previous month.  He was buried at the Waverley Cemetery with full Military Honours.  Read Football Records article here.

In a bit of embarrassing news, the league full time secretary, Jack Holman, was reported to be admitted to hospital in July. The Football Record had to print a retraction when Jack, who never did get there, had several people visit the hospital and others send get-well wishes and flowers with many wondering where he was.  We guess they could have accepted this had it happened on April 1.

The Australian Football Club Limited (a licensed club venture) held weekly get togethers at Aarons Hotel in Pitt Street.  Membership was an expensive thirty shillings per year ($3).  Sylvania accountant and league board member, Arthur Davey was the prime mover in this project which never did get off the ground.

The league relocated their offices from the NSW Sports Club in Hunter Street, Sydney to Trumper Park, Paddington.

Western Suburbs club were granted a liquor licence, the first for an Australian football club in NSW.  Future league long term president, Bill Hart was in his eighth season as football club secretary at Wests.

A Parramatta Club was formed in July with Ron Cameron elected its president, Kevin Little secretary and Peter Clark, the treasurer.  They adopted pale blue and white as their colours with a jumper design in alternate panel colours.  The meeting was held at the Parramatta Town Hall.  This new club had a four goal win against Newcastle at Trumper Park on 2 September.

In the popular annual Army v Navy game at Trumper Park, the Navy side recorded an easy 14.18 to 11.12 win with all proceeds raised on the day going to the Royal NSW Institute for the Deaf and Blind Children.

The game received good media coverage after reportedly securing the services of a promotion company, Recreation International, to market the game in Sydney.

The last round saw St George, South Sydney and Eastern Suburbs all on equal points in fourth place.  Saints had to play the stronger third placed Sydney Naval in their final game, Souths were opposed the seventh place, Western Suburbs while East were up against the hapless Liverpool team.

St George lost, Souths had a 10 goal win over Wests but Easts belted Liverpool by 165 points to grab fourth place with a percentage 122.2 just in front of South Sydney’s 120.0.  Souths therefore missed their opportunity to play in the finals for the first time since 1949 when, ironically, they were beaten by Easts by one point in the first semi.

Voting for the Phelan, Sanders and Kealey Medals, league B & F Medals, was counted on the second semi final day at Trumper Park with the winners announced over the PA system.  How times have changed.

And now for the fun….

Newtown FC protested the result of their six point preliminary final loss to Sydney Naval at Trumper Park when it was revealed that the siren sounded 12 MINUTES early to end the first quarter.

This came about when the president of marching girls team (who were to perform at half time), plugged her music into the power board and when she tested it, pressed the wrong switch which sounded the siren.  Nothing could be done because the players stopped and changed ends (there was no quarter time huddles then).

This certainly caused an conundrum with officials quickly deciding to spread those 12 minutes over the next three quarters, but they failed to tell anyone.  Was that a wise move, AND, was it within the rules or maybe a situation like this had not been considered possible?

(But wait, theres more…)  To add insult to injury, at the end of the game the (only) central umpire failed to hear the final siren with both teams level on 88 points.  Sydney Naval player, Jack Harding had  marked 40m out but his kick failed to reach the goal just as the siren sounded.  Oblivious to this, umpire Colbert called “play on” which allowed Naval player, Alan Waack to gather the ball and boot a goal.  Sydney Naval by six points!

The umpire even returned to the centre of the ground for the bounce before he acknowledged ‘time’.

The Newtown protest was upheld and the game replayed.  By the way, the marching girls raised a goodly twenty pounds ($40) in their blanket collection for the day.

Another calamity happened in the replay
When starting to pack up towards the end of the replayed preliminary final, league acting secretary, Joe Boulus in dismantling the public address system, accidentally sounded the siren 8 MINUTES before the end of the last quarter – don’t you just hate that?  League Vice President, George Henry, jumped the fence and ran to tell the umpire but it was too late.  Sydney Naval won 10.14 (74) to 7.10 (52).

No protest was lodged after this game.

This impediment put the grand final back a week and because Trumper Park was unavailable and the only ground of some consequence which the league could use was the RAS Showground at Moore Park.  So, on the same day, the Rugby Union held their grand final on the Sydney Sports Ground, the NSW Rugby League grand final on the SCG and the AFL decider next door.  All grounds adjoin each other so besides general bedlam, parking and public transport would have been at a premium.

On top of all this was the resignation of the treasurer in June when it was revealed that the accounts were in a mess.  This was quickly followed by the suspension of the full time secretary when questions were asked about missing money and work that simply had not been done.  But all this will be told in a later story.  Your eyes must be getting sore?

Oh by the way, we have activated our Twitter account.  You can follow us there.

LOST OPPORTUNITIES AND WHAT COULD HAPPEN WITH PERSISTENCE AND PLANNING

The Sydney Football League, NSW AFL, AFL Sydney or whatever title you want to give it, and its had a number of changes over the years, has really made few ground break decisions in its 124 year history.

In many cases the officials who ruled the game simply missed the boat.

The licensing laws only permitted a certain number of licensed clubs to operate in NSW up until the mid 1950s and this number did not vary.

Despite this and following WWII, Frank Dixon, who captained and coached the South Sydney club in a very successful period in the 1930s was appointed vice president of the league.  He was later to become a successful NSW coach.

Dixon talked the executive into him approaching the then, Australian National Football Council for a loan of $10,000 to establish a licensed club in Sydney.  He was a man of vision.

Dixon, a staunch Labor man who ended up Deputy Lord Mayor or Sydney City Council, just so happened to travel to Melbourne on the train with prime minister, Ben Chifley.  He returned with the guarantee of the $10,000 but a nervous executive in Sydney went cold on the idea and it never went ahead.

In 1948 three new clubs were admitted to the league, Western Suburbs, Balmain and Sydney University.  Wests were the only club to go on taste success.  They played off in successive grand finals of 1952-53 but had to wait until 1963 until they won their first flag.  Neither Balmain nor Sydney University clubs could boast success until much, much later.

In the meantime a team from Illawarra joined the competition in 1949-50 but the travel and their lack of success accounted for their departure.

This was a time when six clubs dominated the competition, Eastern Suburbs, Sydney Naval, Newtown, St George, North Shore and Western Suburbs.  And it was a time when the league should have bit the bullet and formed two divisions.  It didn’ t.

This was particularly the case in the early 1960s when Uni had dropped out but replaced by Liverpool and a team from Bankstown.  Again they should have travelled down the two division track but failed to act.

In 1960 however they did introduce a dramatic change to Sydney football when they reduced the number of players on the field to 16.  This was thought to produce better on the smaller Sydney grounds and perhaps encourage the formation of new clubs and reduce the instances of backing up to a minimal.

Another reason was that initially the Australian National Football League were going to conduct their centenary carnival in Melbourne with teams, 16 aside.  This decision was reversed early in the season.

The purists were enraged with this change and mid-season clubs forced the hand of the executive to return to the traditional sixteen aside.

As you can see opinion was divided as to course the league should take.

Liverpool joined forces with Bankstown in 1962 then two years later encouraged Parramatta to join and form a new club, Southern Districts.  This of course eventually failed but what it did in particular was rob a team playing Australian Game from the then far western suburbs.  Parramatta was playing out of Mona Park, Auburn and like other clubs came into the Sydney competition raw, with no actual football experience.

It was around the same time that efforts were being encouraged to form a licensed club for Australian football in Sydney.  They had enough members, sufficient commitment and had identified premises at 224 Riley Street Surry Hills, a former hotel which was then trading as a private hotel (boarding house) as a potential site for the club.

The prime mover in this action, Arthur Davey, unfortunately died and so without a leader the whole issue fell flat.

Eastern Suburbs had a licensed club at Bondi Junction but over capitalised in their additions and failed.  North Shore went all out to gain a license in the premises of Polonia Northside soccer club in Walker Street North Sydney.  Unfortunately this too failed.

St George at least made it to the licensing court but were refused their bid for a license at Olds Park on some technicality.

Despite all this, there has been some success in Sydney football and this was quite recently.

Garry Burkinshaw, the man in charge of Sydney footy soon realised there were problems when he took over the reigns in 2007.

He listened to the gripes, he looked how they do it in soccer and most of all, studied Sydney football.

Burkinshaw maintained that Sydney footy was not as tribal as it is interstate.  Players come to play their game and go.  They don’t stick around for the next game and they certainly don’t stay all day.

He decided the answer was divisionalisation where teams from various clubs would be best suited playing against each other.  So, apart from the Premier League competition, a reserve grade team which might have battled in the senior division was dropped to third or fourth division in the new setup.

He took advice from clubs and said there was no real opposition to the model.  He got members from each club in a room and put his proposition.  It took over three months in the planning and together with colleague, Bob Robinson, they introduced a competition which has, for the most part, extremely successful.

There are more teams winning games and all but St George, Camden and Illawarra clubs, from twenty four participating in the Sydney league,  have participated in finals.

This new and novel competition has promoted success in other clubs too.  Penrith who were down to one team now boast three, North-West are fielding more sides along with Camden and their a four new clubs now participating in the competition.

This new system leaves it open for established teams to field more teams and enthuse new or junior clubs to field senior teams.  The way is open for more clubs but most particular, nearly all competitions are competitive.

The downside to divisionalisation is that clubs MUST be particularly organised.  Three teams could be playing at three different locations so all players must commit themselves to turn up, each team must be a self contained unit: umpire (if required), goal umpire, runner, water boys, manager, runner etc.

At least one Sydney initiative has succeeded.  Change can be so very difficult to introduce.

Top photograph shows Frank Dixon, the lower image is of Garry Burkinshaw.  The documents are taken from the Football Records of the day.