Movement in the Seventies

The development and expansion of NSW football took place mostly in the 1970s really makes you ask why?

The last major addition to Sydney football was in 1948 when Western Suburbs and Balmain re-emerged and Sydney University were formed.

But in the seventies not only did new clubs appear in Sydney, including Manly, St Ives, Sutherland, Blacktown, Mac Uni, Bankstown Sports, Campbelltown, Pennant Hills etc. but new leagues developed on the South Coast, the Illawarra and Central Coast  all spawning new teams.

One reason offered for the expansion of the game was that the baby boomers began moving out to the suburbs and regional areas.

City clubs like Sydney Naval, South Sydney and later Newtown felt that exit and went out of business.  These were inner city clubs that excelled during the first half of the last century but struggled when the youth was no longer there to take over.

The East Sydney Club, formerly Eastern Suburbs, emerged out of an amalgamation of Paddington and East Sydney Clubs in 1926.  They withstood the exodus for most of the century however they began to rely heavily on interstate players and players from out of their area.  They kept a junior division but it struggled to sustain the re-supply of players needed at senior club level.  Eventually they combined with the University of NSW in 2000 to form a new club, UNSW-ES.

This was the first time their officials saw the need to merge whilst Sydney (Naval) on the other hand had combined with the reserve grade Public Service Club in 1923 and not that much later with Balmain in 1926.  On both occasions they stuck with their given name.  They did however toy with the idea of changing the title to Glebe in about 1930, shortly after shifting their home ground to Wentworth Park, but, they maintained the title, Sydney, until 1944 when the naval influence in the club resolved to alter it to Sydney Naval.

Clubs have come and gone;  the present Blacktown club for example is the third to assume that name.

While Newtown faded off to oblivion there did appear to be a whisker of light with the emergence of a new Newtown junior club some years ago. The aging South Sydney faithful may hold out a glimmer of hope that one day the Randwick Saints might work their way to the purpose built Australian football ground at Kensington Oval.  But, like Trumper Park, the grandstand there has been demolished.

NO CLUB CONTINUOUS

Several requests have been received about what club has been participating in the Sydney competition the longest.

In the Premier Division, North Shore are the only contenders.  They joined the NSW Australian Football League when the game was revised in Sydney in 1903 however the club went into recession in 1915 because of WWI only to return to the competition in 1921 to incredibly win the premiership in that year!!!  Now thats a story well worth researching.

They again went into recession in 1942 because of the drain on manpower during WWII, returning in 1946.

St George is next in line but they first played in the league in 1929 after a season in the reserve grade.

Wests have been in and out.  A Western Suburbs club competed in the league between 1926-29 playing out of Marrickville Oval.  We are not sure why they faded out but this was the time of the big depression and many would have suffered.

Then, along with Balmain and Sydney Uni, they returned to the competition in 1948.

Balmain affiliated with the league between 1903-09.  Then re-emerged briefly for the 1913 season before they combined with another side to play as the Central Western Football Club during 1914-15 however were back as Balmain in 1916-17.  This was the time of the first world war so times were grim and they disappeared in 1918 but returned to participate in the league for the 1919-25 seasons then folded.

Pennant Hills and Campbelltown both formed in the 1970s and spent a period in what was known as Second Division before their elevation to the top league.  Both have been very successful in the competition.

East Coast Eagles, formerly known as Baulkham Hills, first played in the Second and Third Divisions starting in 1986 following the formation of a very strong junior club.

Sydney University made a brief appearance in the competition in around 1887 for a season and a half. From reading the results and manpower problems, their participation was not a really serious effort and they disappeared until their return with the two other clubs in 1948.

Uni played, rather unsuccessfully during the fifties when many of the team was made up of students studying Vet. Science – the only university in Australia offering the course so these young blokes came to Sydney from all over Australia to play for the club.

They dropped out of the competition in 1958 only to return in 1961 when they entered two teams in the reserve grade competition, Uni Blues and Uni Golds.  From then they were in and out of the premier division reverting to almost static participation in the Second Division from the early 1970s.

The Wollongong team first appeared in the Second Division in 1989 after participating in the Illawarra Football League for a number of years.  Between the 1949 & 1950 seasons however an Illawarra club, playing out of the Wollongong Showground, competed in the league.

UTS (University of Technology) first began playing in Division III in 2000.

UNSW-ES Club was formed in 2000 following an amalgamation of the University of NSW and East Sydney Clubs.

Prior to this UNSW participated in the reserves and Second Division from the mid 1960s while East Sydney, who changed their name from Eastern Suburbs in 1972, were formed at the end of the 1925 season following an amalgamation between the Paddington and East Sydney Clubs.  The assertion that ‘East Sydney ‘ can claim a heritage back to 1881 when an East Sydney Club was first formed is drawing a long bow.

Manly Warringah was formed in 1970 under the direction of president, Harry Marston.  They are a very successful club and spent most of their time in the Sydney Second Division winning ten premierships until they were elevated to the premier division in 2013 where they won the flag in their first year of participation.

So there is no premier league club in Sydney which have played continuously in the league since day 1.

Of those current clubs, a number have changed their name, while more still have altered their colours and motifs.

To answer the question, if any club wants to claim some type of link to the past it has to be Sydney University but, it is too drawing a very long bow.

North Shore, who went from being known as The Bridgewalkers, The Robins, The Bears and now the Bombers are the only club that can almost claim some type of continuum.

Other divisions will be listed soon.