Honour Certificates

Bryan Joseph Rush Honour Certificate 1In 1935 the NSW Football League decided to give Honour Certificates to those people who had done much for the game in Sydney.

Our research indicates that this was possibly the only year that these certificates were presented.

The gesture probably went against the grain of the traditionalists who may have felt that life membership of the league was sufficient recognition of a persons’ s contribution to the game in NSW.

The criteria for the awarding the certificates were included: that the applicant shall have given not less than 10 years’ active service to affiliated first-grade clubs or have played in 10 or more representative games for the State.

At that time players with the Eastern Suburbs club occupied rather an unusual position as Jack Williamson, winner of the Provan (later the Phelan) Medal for 1935 had Bryan Rush smallplayed for the club for only four seasons and yet had represented on ten occasions.  Stan Milton, after who the Sydney FL Leading Goalkicking award is named, had, at that stage, played 276 games for Easts over a 17 year period and had otherwise been actively engaged in the sport.  He had represented on 29 occasions and during 1935, had kicked a total of 46 goals in nine matches, including eight in the final series.

We have however been given one such certificate which was present to Bryan Rush (pictured).  A former Collingwood player who came to Sydney on business and became involved in football.  He captained and coached the North Shore club in the early 1920s, represented NSW on a dozen occasions, captaining them several times.

He also coached NSW on a number of occasions in the early 1930s.

There is no record of these awards being presented in the league’s annual reports nor any further mention of their presentation after 1935.

Harry Hedger – MBE

Harry HedgerIn 1923 Harry Hedger travelled with the NSW team which played Victoria on the MCG.

Hedger was not particularly involved in football during that period but if it were not for his foresight and enthusiasm the game may not have been revived in the NSW capital twenty years before.

Henry or Harry Hedger, to his friends was from Tasmania.  He moved to Sydney in 1880 to take up a job as teacher at the Industrial Blind Institution Woolloomooloo.  Harry was a footballer but not just an ordinary footballer, he was committed to his sport.

He firstly played for the new East Sydney club and later three other clubs between 1881-94,  During this period he represented  NSW on 16 occasions, almost all of the representative matches the state participated in.

He was captain of several clubs and the state and took on official positions at club level.  While the game was poorly administered which eventually led to its demise, he never once shirked his responsibilities.  One of his assets was his kick and for a number of years held an Australian record of kicking the ball  just over 59 metres

In 1903 it was he who visited Melbourne and spoke passionately at a meeting of the VFL pleading for help to have the game re-established in Sydney.  This resulted in two leading clubs of the time, Collingwood and Fitzroy playing a premiership match on the SCG in May of that year.  This was the catalyst for the start of an eleven team competition in Sydney in 1903.

Hedger had little to do with football after that.  He attended a few meetings, his sons played with the then YMCA club and later East Sydney but he devoted himself to his work in the school for the blind which by this stage had shifted its premises to Ashfield where Hedger was manager.

He attended the official welcome for the NSW team in Melbourne in 1923 and was called upon to respond on the team’s behalf at a function in their honour.

He told the gathering that he played in the first interstate game for New South Wales in 1881 and in the first game ever in Sydney.  He could never forget what the Victorian Football League had done and recalled his first visit to the league rooms in 1903 when they first aroused the sympathy of the Victorian League and enlisted their support.  It was not until half-past two in the morning of the same meeting that he had managed to get Fitzroy and Collingwood to agree to play their premiership match in Sydney.  Since then, he said, the NSW league had received encouragement and financial assistance from Victoria for which they were eternally grateful.  He finished by saying he was satisfied after seeing1886 NSW Team v Qld - Harry Hedger small every kind of football that the Australian game was easily the best.

And yet, who remembers Hedger and what he did for the game in NSW and most particularly Sydney?  No-one.  He was honoured by the queen in 1935 for his services to the blind when awarded an MBE, he also had a street in Ashfield named after him.

1903 H Hedger sketchHedger spent 58 years of his life working for the blind, 44 of those as manager of the Sydney Institute.  It was a fall at work in 1937 which eventually took his life that forced him out of the environment he loved.  Two weeks later he died aged 78.

The image shows him in the 1886 NSW team which played Queensland at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

When he pioneered the return of the game he put so much effort in that in his forties he turned out to play with the YMCA with his son.  YMCA was a team in the first grade competition between 1903-11.  We have unearthed a wonderful etching of him in a newspaper interview from 1903 and have reproduced it here.


2013 Lyn Arnold smallSociety officials unearthed a plethora of material today dating back to 1935 mostly relating to the Newcastle Football League.  The photos show the president, Ian Granland working with Mrs Lyn Arnold to load the vehicle.2013 Newcastle Loading the Car 2 small

The documents were donated to the Society by the wife of a former long term official of the league, Jim Arnold, since deceased, which had  been gathering dust in her garage for a number of years.

This is a significant find for the Society with most of the collection meticulously filed and catalogued revealing a detailed history of NSW country football, most particularly in Newcastle.

Included in the boxes of objects is a Football Record, cost three pence (3 cents), of an exhibition game at Newcastle Sports Ground between South Melbourne and Collingwood in 1935 when South boasted players like Nash, Bissett and Pratt while the Magpies team included the Collier brothers, Gordon Coventry, Jack Regan and Keith Stackpole, father of the famous former Australian cricketer.

1935 Newcastle FL FRecord & Annual Report 1 smallCollingwood won the match 11.10 (76) to 10.13 (73) in what was described as a desperate and highly skilled encounter.  The game was played on a Wednesday before an attendance of 2,000 with a further match between the two scheduled for the following Saturday on the SCG.

There are a myriad of photographs in Mr Arnold’s collection together with newspaper cuttings and Newcastle (National) Football League annual reports also dating back to 1935.  In this year and for a number of seasons for the most part, prior to 1948, there was only one or two teams in Newcastle.  These played either inter or intra-club games, matches against visiting Sydney clubs as well as in that particular year, the VFL exhibition match.

Some of the photographs are titled but many are not and officials have already made an approach to a former leading Newcastle AFL Official, Chris Arnold (no relation) to offer suggestions as to the identity of the images.

Interestingly, Mr Arnold kept two photo-lithographic blocks featuring footballers.  Wooden blocks with a zinc face featuring the image, were universally used in a process to produce photographs in the printing trade up until the late seventies.  These two were obviously utilised by the Newcastle Football League in their various periodicals.

Another interesting object is a poster advertising a match between the Perth Football Club and a Newcastle representative side at the Newcastle Showgrounds on 29 June 1957.

There is no doubt that Mr Arnold would be very pleased and proud to have his collection lodged with the History Society providing a home where the material will be very much treasured and valued.  Also his father, elected to the Australian Senate in 1940 for NSW, J J Arnold, who was secretary of the Newcastle Football League for several years, was a man keen to put the game on the map in the coal city.  His image also features in the many prints in the series.

Mr Granland said the Society is concerned that collections such as Mr Arnold’s may not be recognized for what they are and following the passing of their owner, these football treasurers are, on many occasions, just disposed of.  He urges anyone with a similar collection to contact the Society for its eventual safekeeping.

Note: In 2000 the Newcastle Football League combined with the Central Coast FL to form the Black Diamond Australian Football League playing for the oldest continuous sporting trophy in Australia, the Black Diamond Cup.

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c1960 Former
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1957 Perth FC v Newcastle small 1959 North Shore - visit to Newcastle 1 small
1957 Perth FC Poster 1959 Visiting
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