History Society Gets Serious

Last evening the Football History Society moved into the ranks of the more notable organisations of a similar ilk.

1940 Medal – reverse 1941 Medal – front

At an online Adelaide auction, the Society paid over $5000 (incl. commissions) for the 1940 and 1941 Sydney Best and Fairest Award, the Phelan Medals.  Both are in 9crt gold.

These were put up for sale by an avid football collector (or his family) along with mostly historical South Australian Football material including the 1902 and 1905 Magarey Medals, (B & F in the South Australian Football League).  These did not reach their reserve and were handed in as was the majority of the 105 items in the auction although a 1886 photo of the Australian Test Cricket Team sold for $5000 and a West Adelaide Football Club gold fob for $3200.

The Phelan Medals were both won by Cliff Barnsley, who played with the Sydney Club (later Sydney Naval).  He had formerly played with the Centrals Club in Broken Hill and attended North Broken Hill Public School.

Cliff moved to Sydney in 1937 and lived at Waterloo with his mother.  He worked locally in the shoe trade as a ‘clicker’.

Cliff represented NSW on six occasions before he signed on in the RAAF in September 1942 only to be discharged a few months later.  Then early the next year he joined the Army at Wayville, South Australia, this time using his correct birth date.

Following his eventual discharge from the Army in 1946 he finished the season with the St George Club in Sydney.  Cliff died in Lithgow in 1982 aged 63.    We do not have a photo of him.

Another item the Society purchased was a 1911 image of the South Sydney Australian Football Club.  The names of the players are almost unidentifiable but we are confident that they can be retrieved, given that we have most of the names of the South Sydney players from the majority of their games that year.

The Society has several photographs of football teams taken in the first decade of the last century and all are in a delicate condition.