– Craig Lends a Hand

Former CEO of the NSWAFL and player with four VFL Clubs, Craig Davis, is seen her in our photograph with Kevin Taylor, who is suffering from lung cancer.

Kevin was a leading light in football after he moved to Sydney in the late 1970s from Melbourne.  He undertook positions on the league executive and produced the best and most informative Sydney Football Record in two stints, one in the 1980s and again in the 1990s.  His work was superb.

He was also secretary of the History Society for a considerable period and like his effort with the Football Record, his minutes and attention to detail were second to none.

Craig has been visiting Kevin’s home at Eastlakes in Sydney each Thursday giving his partner, Rob a break while he looks out for the octogenarian.

I know all his fans and readers of his former website: Footystats, will join with us in wishing Kevin all the best.


2014-08-19 Film cannisters smallThe Society’s Committee today agreed to digitise eleven cannisters of 1978 16mm film which were found recently.

The exercise is an expensive one with a quote of $35 per 100 feet (30.5 metres) accepted by officials however they have resolved to apply a ceiling limit to costs.

A box of the films, including a cannister of offcuts, were located at the league offices, Moore Park.  Apparently no-one there knew the origin of the film but since, former league CEO, Craig Davis, has indicated that he had the box together with other historical material, in a store room for some years.  The image shows two of the Society’s committee, Jenny Hancock and Ian Wright with the film.

Also, author of the website, Footystats Diary and former League Publicity Officer, Kevin Taylor, told the Society they were part of his World of Australian Football Panel Show which filled the half time slot in Channel Seven’s VFL direct Saturday telecast.

“A number of the rolls of film do not have sound but I believe they are in excellent condition, possibly only being shown once” Taylor, now 81, said.

“We used them in the show and those on the panel with me would comment on the games.  There was only one cameraman at the ground but from memory he did an excellent job with a range of lenses to capture the games with his camera in a very professional manner.”

Those were the days of some great footballers in Sydney, including one of the best to come out of NSW, John Pitura, who was coach of North Shore.  He was recruited from Wagga to South Melbourne then transferred to Richmond.

All the senior teams in the competition are shown in this vision, apart from Balmain.  Some are shown on a number of occasions.

These are the match film currently being processed:

2 9 April Western Suburbs v Pennant Hills Macquarie Uni
4 23 April St George v Newtown Olds Park
5 30 April Southern Districts v St George Rosedale Oval
6 7 May East Sydney v Southern Districts Trumper Park
8 21 May East Sydney v Western Suburbs Trumper Park
9 28 May Newtown v Southern Districts Erskineville Oval
10 4 June East Sydney v Newtown Trumper Park
16 16 July East Sydney v St George Trumper Park
18 30 July St George v Newtown Trumper Park
19 6 August Pennant Hills v Newtown Trumper Park
1st Semi 27 August Newtown v Western Suburbs Erskineville Oval


Also, besides the players it will give an idea of the grounds and facilities clubs had to put up with 46 years ago and obviously too, show some of the supporters and patrons of the game in Sydney in the period.

The decision to digitise the film was motivated by a need to secure the vision while still in a good condition and then make these games available to the public on DVD for a reasonable cost.


My beautiful pictureAlmost 30 years ago now, yet another new regime took hold of NSW football.

Only a few years prior to this, a new broom under president, Bernie Heafey, in a coup, swept aside the congenial governance of Bill Hart, which, for the most part, had followed the operational football pattern based on that set when the game was resuscitated in Sydney in 1903.

The VFL supported Heafey management lasted no more than half a dozen years following the bluff and bluster of their introduction.  In fact it sent a very divided Sydney and NSW football administration almost broke.  In late 1986 the NSWAFL auditors advised that the league would be declared bankrupt.

By this time a new regime which followed and was linked to the private ownership of the Sydney Swans, and had, as part of their licence, to guarantee $417,000 per year for development of the game in NSW, had taken root.  But in all the manoeuvrings, conivings and plottings which in the end produced poor management as opposed the good and benefit of football, had made its mark.

Players and officials from clubs and country leagues knew little of of the problems and issues of the inner sanctum of NSW/Sydney Football.  Their main concern was their little patch and so long as the game went ahead on the weekend, these issues were of little concern.

By mid 1986 the turmoil faltered to an administrative staff of two: the aging former St George official, Bob McConnell whose role was to deal with player clearances together with the office typist, who both conducted the day to day activities of the league.

Queanbeyan FC guru, Ron Fowlie had resigned his job as CEO of the NSW Football League to return to his club while the machinations of the Sydney competition itself started to show signs of self destruction.

NSWAFL was under the direction of the affable and relatively young, Rod Gillett (pictured), who had made a name for himself working at a number of university student unions throughout the state.  The vital asset Gillett had over his four man committee of Pritchard, Smith and Thomas was his commitment and passion for the game and in particular NSW football.  Fortunately, and in probability with some bias, they made the very important appointment of Ian Granland to the role of CEO of the league.

Important because Granland was a local, he had been a club secretary in Sydney and had an extensive involvement at club and league level.  He understood Sydney football and his heart beat for football.  He knew and understood the problems, the issues and the politics.

Bob Pritchard, who gained his notoriety with Powerplay in the Edelsten years at the Sydney Swans, called a meeting of Sydney Club presidents at the Western Suburbs Licensed Club premises in late 1986.  He laid the options on the table, which included a commission to run the league.  Either relinquish ‘power’ to his group and continue as a viable league or go under.  He also sold the blueprint of a state wide league to operate in NSW which would incorporate some but not all Sydney clubs.  Incidentally this never came to fruition although a similar competition was later tried.

At the same time, Pritchard had arranged for cricket legend, Keith Miller, a former St Kilda, Victoria and NSW player to take on the position of Chief Commissioner ( president) of the NSWAFL.  Miller was reluctant but had Gillett as his accomplished offsider.

The clubs acquiesced.  Authority was once again vested in the NSW Australian Football League.  Change was swift.  The NSW Junior Football Union, which had acquired some dominance over junior football in the state, most particularly because of their influence in the selection and promotion of junior state teams, was abolished.

Next to go was the NSW Country Australian Football Leauge, of which Granland had been a leading advocate. Ironically, it was he who wielded the axe.

The roles of both these organisations was then vested in the NSW Football League, of which, Sydney became one and not a dominant partner. Many of the positions undertaken by volunteers were assumed by paid administrators and the coaching of young state representative teams was in time, assigned to professional football people.

Then there were changes to Sydney football.  Make no mistake, the league was broke.  They had creditors of $50,000 and debtors of $30,000. The competition was split into three divisions, affiliation fees were substantially increased, an individual player registration fee was introduced and those clubs that were in debt to the league were told to pay up or go and play somewhere else.  All but one paid.  The plan was to make the three divisions pay their way, instead of relying on the major clubs to contribute the lions’ share.

There were other subtle changes  The accounts were split, the major one concerning the $417,000 was isolated and the Sydney development officers, all of whom were Sydney Swans players, had their job descriptions better defined to be capably overseen under manager, Greg Harris and later Craig Davis.

Despite some heartache and fractured egos, the foundations were well and truly laid for a revised and viable NSW Australian Football League until the October 1987 world stock market crash bit into the private ownership of the Sydney Swans, effecting the cash flow of the annual $417,000 development money.

My beautiful picture Bob Pritchard 2 My beautiful picture My beautiful picture My beautiful picture My beautiful picture
Keith Miller Bob Pritchard Ian Granland Ron Thomas Greg Harris Bob McConnell
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1987 Sydney Swans Development Officers
Brett Scott Craig Davis Dennis Carroll Mark Browning Paul Hawke Stevie Wright