In 1924 the Australian National Football Council hosted an all-states carnival in Tasmania.

These interstate round robin carnivals were popular, but now with the AFL virtually playing interstate games each round, the interest and significance of such events have lost favour.  The last of these was in 1988 as part of the bi-centennial celebrations when the then VFL clubs released their players to play a state of origin carnival series in Adelaide.

However in July 1924, in an unusual turn of events, NSW selected a team to participate in two matches against the very strong Victorian team at the same time as the carnival was being played.  Consequently, the team they selected was regarded as a ‘second rate’ side, given that the main NSW team would be in Tasmania.

As a leadup, officials organised a game between this second tier NSW team and a combined team from ‘the juniors’.

Now it took some research to work out exactly who these ‘juniors’ represented.  In some reports they were recorded as a combined reserve grade and in others, ‘juniors’.

In 1924 not all first grade teams supported a reserve grade so the following first grade clubs in the Sydney competition had other, or ‘junior’ clubs play in the place of their second eighteen and before the main or first grade game of the day.  It should be noted that these teams were made up of open age players:

First Grade Club Reserve Grade Club
Newtown Newtown
Paddington Paddington
Sydney Sydney
North Shore South Sydney
East Sydney Western Suburbs
Balmain Botany
Railway Rosebery
St George

It would appear that St George was a late nomination for the competition.

The game between NSW and a combined second grade was played at Erskineville Oval and itself was a curtain raiser to a match between the main metropolitan contingent for the carnival team and a team from the South Broken Hill Club.  Two players from the latter side were eventually added to the NSW carnival team.

The game between combined junior team and the second NSW side commenced at 1.40pm, given that in those days there was a 48 hour week with most people working of a Saturday morning.

There were 3,000 in attendance to watch this leadup match and the ‘juniors’ left no stone unturned to establish themselves as the dominant of the two.

The quarter time scores were: 2-5 to 1-3, 5-7 to 2-4, 5-10 to 3-4 with the final score a win the for junior side, 6-11 (47) to 3-6 (24)

Despite their rating, the juniors had some stars in their side.  It contained the Rosebery captain, Jacky Hayes who would go on to play for Footscray and later captain-coach St George and later, the Sydney Club.  Rob Smith a Newtown player, who in 1928, turned out for North Melbourne and Percy Flynn who later topped the Sydney first grade goalkicking list playing for South Sydney.

Officials cried foul citing the omission of eight of the NSW players from the team, the reason for their absence being unanswered.

Nevertheless the score was on the board.  Here was a NSW team defeated by a “virile, youthful and skilful” bunch of aspirants.  They did well.

On 9 August incidentally, the NSW, team, as expected, were defeated in their first encounter with Victoria in front of 6,000 at Erskineville Oval, 15-14 (104) to 13-13 (91) and in their second at the MCG, 15-12 (102) to (again) 13-13 (91) before a crowd of 16,370.


Our researchers have been hard at it producing a list of the final four and grand final scores for the Premier Division Reserve Grade, now known as, Division I.  There are still a small number of results which our people are unsure of but the list still makes good reading.  Go to CLUBS & LEAGUES > FINAL FOUR & GRAND FINAL SCORES > PREMIER DIVISION – Reserve Grade (Div I)

Also, we have posted NSW & ACT Recipients of the AFL Merit Award.  This was an award presented to personnel nominated by their respective State Body whom they consider have contributed a good deal of effort for football in their area/state.  Go to CLUBS & LEAGUES > LEAGUES > NSW AFL > AFL MERIT AWARD RECIPIENTS

The award was originally presented in the early 1950s by the Australian National Football Council to one recipient  per state.  In recent years they have upped the number to two.  The presenting body was the Australian National Football Council, changed to the National Football League in 1978 with the responsibility for the award taken over by the AFL when they assumed overall control of the game in Australia during the mid 1990s.

In this list our researchers have attempted to show the areas the recipients hail from when the award was presented.

The league’s life members will be listed soon.

Jim Phelan’s Writings

Jim Phelan was one of the most influential and hard working honorary officials Sydney has seen.

A product of the Victorian Gold Mining boom, he learned his football around Ballarat and upon moving to Sydney played with the Waratah Club in 1888-9. He re-emerged in 1892 as Secretary and player of the East Sydney Club.

When the code was resurrected in Sydney in 1903, following an almost ten year hiatus, he became the inaugural secretary of the Newtown Club until the outbreak of World War I when, mainly due to financial and man-power reasons, the game in Sydney again almost came to a crashing halt.

Between 1914-25 Jim took on the position of honorary Secretary of the League (General Manager) and was a huge influence in it’s continuation, particularly during the first war.

It was also during this time that Jim wrote, on a casual basis, about football in Sydney  for The Arrow, one of the many Sporting Publications.  It is from his accurate and to the point reporting of the game, at a time of distress for Sydney football, that we are able to form a picture of how the game was played and organised during that period.  We shall present these at a later date.

Jim was made a life member of the NSW Football League, then, following his prolonged period as the NSW delegate to the Australian Football Council – a national body representing each state and territory (since absorbed by the AFL), he was bestowed with life membership to this organisation in 1924.

So much did the football people of Sydney respect the tenacity and ability of this determined confectionery salesman, that the title of the Best and Fairest Medal was altered during the mid 1930s to bear his name.

Fortunately, Jim also wrote about many of his experiences and past times which were published  in the Football Record of the day, some of which we have transcribed and are included here for you to read.
Click Here for Phelans writings