Shape Up or Ship Out Constable Moon

       Jack Moon

Jack Moon was a railway porter come shunter at Narrandera who successfully joined the NSW Police Force in 1949. He was 20 and married.

John Brian Moon was born and raised in Culcairn, New South Wales and went on to play in the firsts with the Narrandera Imperials in the 1940s. He was a big 1.82cm ruckman 90kg and full of strength. But probably like a lot of young footballers, he played rugby league on Saturdays. Certainly we have recorded him playing for Culcairn with his brother, Clive in the mid 1940s.

Jack moved to Sydney without his wife, Betty and resided in Newtown whilst he underwent the then limited training at the police training centre in Bourke Street Redfern. Following his time there he was stationed at Randwick Police Station in Coogee Bay Road.

The Eastern Suburbs Club were altered to the presence of this big fella and quickly signed him up; he went straight into their first grade and fitted in well. Easts were becoming a strong hard to beat combination peppered with many stars.

In 1951 Jack took an interest in Rugby League and tried out with the Balmain club. In early April he was playing in their reserve grade. It is likely he was encouraged to move to Rugby League by fellow policeman, Roy Dykes, who was living at Marrickville and had switched from Newtown to Balmain also in 1951. At the time Dykes was stationed at Redfern.

Jack continued to play both codes, Rugby League of a Saturday and Australian Football on Sundays. The Balmain club seemed happy with the arrangement but it wasn’t long before there was some reaction.

On 19 May, Eastern Suburbs secretary, Norm Ferguson handed Moon a letter asking him to choose codes and if he chose to keep playing Rugby League he could have a clearance to any Australian Football Club of his choice.

Easts then were dripping with good footballers and could afford to lay down the law even to players like Moon who only in the previous year had represented the state in an All-States carnival in Brisbane.

Moon said he intended to play for Balmain when Easts were not playing however took the option of a clearance telling club officials that he intended to transfer to the Newtown Club (Moon at the time was living in Newtown).

On 23 May, Moon announced that he would give Australian Football away in favour of Rugby League and confirmed his commitment to Balmain Rugby League Club. He had, however, to wait until 12 July 1952 before he played in his initial first grade game for the Tigers, against South Sydney at the Sports Ground; Jack was sent off early in the match for kneeing an opponent.

By the middle of July 1952 Jack was transferred in the police force to the NSW Country town of Coonabarabran but by May 1954 he was back in Sydney and again playing for Balmain.

Jack was a tough customer, always getting into strife and he loved confrontation on the field however his biggest notoriety came in August 1954 when he illegally played a game for the Bargo club in Group 6 (competition name) against Picton at the Bargo Showground.

He was identified by many people as the current Balmain player, Jack Moon but played under the name of J Clissold. The controversy went on for over two months with the NSW Rugby League, Country Rugby League and Group 6 all holding inquiries as to what took place. Moon denied playing on that day even though he was identified by many, including the referee who sent him off for rough play and subsequent abusive language. The issue made headlines in newspapers for weeks and he was eventually suspended for four competition matches.

Jack continued to play into 1955 but in 1958 found himself transferred to the NSW Coastal town of Urunga. He died in Sydney in 2010.  Jack only played 56 games with Balmain and was a member of the 1956 Balmain team who were defeated by St George in the grand final, 18-12.

94 and still going

Dick Wilson
today

A story from our president, Ian Granland:

“Yesterday I had the pleasure of visiting a 94 year old gentleman at his home in Carlingford, Sydney.

My purpose was to conduct and record an oral interview with Dick Wilson, a former player with both the St George and Eastern Suburbs Clubs.

My knowledge of Dick was provoked by his nephew, Andy Horton a former player and official with the Liverpool Club in Sydney.  Andy visited our rooms at Croydon Park for some research last year when he mentioned that ‘Uncle Dick’, who represented NSW, was alive and well and living at Carlingford.

Dick Wilson
in 1949

I kept this information in my memory bank until I began researching players for the Society’s Representative Games section which was started some time ago beginning with NSW representative games in 1881;  I am now up to the 1947 All States Carnival in Hobart.  Since starting, I have loaded 221 games together with their details as well over 1200 players and their bios and in many cases, images.

I saw Dick’s name pop up when documenting rep games after the war in 1946.  In that year he played against Queensland, Broken Hill, Perth and Richmond Football Clubs.  My interest in him deepened when I found that he was a local and had never played football until the same year.

Letter to Dick Wilson enclosing
entry tickets to game

Dick was a marvellous candidate to interview, now living alone in a modest cottage he built for himself and his family in the mid 1950s.

He loaned me some of his ‘football treasurers’ which included photographs, football records, letters and invitations which we shall scan and add to our digital collection.

I set up our digital recording equipment in his back room and as I asked him questions he gave an amazing account of his life, as a child born in Kensington, Sydney, only 300m from South Sydney’s home ground, his early working experience, a detailed record of his time in WWII, his football and how he moved into working with his brother as builders.

Unfortunately I failed to gain a photograph of Dick, although we do have a number of him when he played.

We will load the interview on our website in the podcast section and hope to have it available for listening in the very near future.”

The photograph we have posted here is from 1990 when the league invited all known members of the 1949 NSW team that played the VFL at the SCG to attend a function at the ground prior to another game against the VFL rep team.  Dick is at the bottom right.

– Football On The Domain

More than likely, the majority of those reading this will have no idea where ‘the Domain’ is in Sydney.

In 1816 Governor Macquarie inaugurated what are now the Royal Botanic Gardens and the ‘Domain’, on land that his predecessor, Arthur Phillip had set aside as a ‘Governor’s demesne’ [a piece of land attached to a manor and retained by the owner for their own use] late in the eighteenth century.

It is situated to the south of the Opera House and behind the NSW Parliament Building.  The land is home to the NSW Art Gallery and also Mrs Macquarie’s Chair.

The subsequent growth of Sydney’s magnificent Botanic Gardens was at the expense of the Domain. The Domain now exists only in four small precincts, where once it covered all the area from Woolloomooloo Bay to Circular Quay, and south to Hyde Park. Encroachments over time – such as in 1942, when Domain land was taken for naval fuel tanks, and during the 1960s when land was taken for ramps for freeways and traffic tunnels – have greatly diminished its original size.

The venue was also used for political orators of a Sunday who used to gather people in their thousands to listen to these various soap box speakers.  Sadly this part of Sydney’s history is gone.

However at lunch time, midweek, a few sports are still played there, in particular soccer and touch football while netball courts are located on top of the Domain carpark.  The park was also the scene of a midweek city business houses rugby league competition in the fifties, sixties and seventies.

People could be seen hurrying from their city offices the short distance to the Domain to watch or play sport their during their luncheon period.

Clinton Wines

On Wednesday 27 August 1947 a lunch-hour game of Australian Football was played before a crowd of 500 people at the Sydney Domain.  Eastern Suburbs player and former Carlton star, Clinton Wines, was instrumental in having the game played.  The teams were made up of a number of Sydney first grade player including test cricketer, Keith Miller who then played with the Sydney Club.

Although reports on the game (we think there was only one), are scant we can provide some detail on the leadup to the match:

Test cricketer Keith Miller, and NSW captain Roy Hayes lead the two teams in what was described as a lunch-hour promotional match.

Nine State players and other outstanding first-graders took part. Many of the players worked in the city, but others travelled from distant suburbs to participate.

Besides Wines, Newtown captain Alan Smythe along with Ron Matthews, policeman Neil Stevens, Roy Geddes, Ted Larsen and Darcy Coleman were all involved.  It was reported “that many spectators, who have never seen the code, would get an idea just how spectacular it is,” said Hayes, the captain and coach of the Eastern Suburbs Club.

“The Australian Council is spending money on fostering the code in NSW and Queensland, but there Is no better way of making progress than ‘to bring the game before the public. “Hundreds of people walk in the Domain and Gardens In the lunch-hour, and we want them to see the match.” he added.

Roy Hayes

The game was played in two 25 minutes halves.  Many of the players had to dash from their city offices at 1:00pm then be back at their work place by 2:00pm.

Jack Dean, (now deceased) a former member of the History Society Committee played in the game and said it was very popular amongst the lunchtime crowd.  Dean, a plumber, had to organise himself to be ready to go at 1:00pm and then back to his work in the Eastern Sububs of Sydney.

We have no record if other matches were played or the actual result of the game but were told that further games were planned for 1948.  They did not go ahead.

The concept of Lunchtime AFL at the Domain could well be taken up by present day administrators of the game in Sydney who might want to schedule an AFL 9s game or a modified Womens AFL match on this popular Sydney lunchtime venue.

– What Could Have Been and What Didn’t Happen

The Sydney Football League, NSW AFL, AFL Sydney or whatever title you want to give it, and its had a number of changes over the years, has really made few ground break decisions in its 124 year history.

In many cases the officials who ruled the game simply missed the boat.

The licensing laws only permitted a certain number of licensed clubs to operate in NSW up until the mid 1950s and this number did not vary.

Following WWII, Frank Dixon, who captained and coached the South Sydney club in a very successful period in the 1930s was appointed vice president of the league.  He talked the executive into him approaching the then, Australian National Football Council (ANFC) for a loan of $10,000 to establish a licensed club in Sydney.

Dixon, a staunch Labor man who ended up Deputy Lord Mayor or Sydney City Council, travelled to Melbourne by train in 1949 to attend a ANFC Meeting.  Incidentally, on the train happened to be the prime minister, Ben Chifley.  Dixon returned with the guarantee of the $10,000 from the ANFC but a nervous executive in Sydney went cold on the idea and it never went ahead.

In 1948 three new clubs were admitted to the league, Western Suburbs, Balmain and Sydney University.  Wests were the only club to go on taste success.  They played off in successive grand finals of 1952-53 but had to wait until 1963 until they won a flag.  Neither Balmain nor Sydney University clubs could boast success until much, much later.

In the meantime a team from Illawarra joined the competition in 1949-50 but the travel and their lack of success accounted for their departure.

This was a time when six clubs dominated the competition, Eastern Suburbs, Sydney Naval, Newtown, St George, North Shore and Western Suburbs.  Liverpool joined the competition in 1954 after a couple of successful seasons in the Metropolitan Australian National Football Assn (MANFA – or really a Second Division, which folded in 1953).  It was a time when the league should have bitten the bullet and formed two divisions.  It didn’t.  Sydney was a growing city and the league should have capitalised on the popularity of the game during the war and immediately after.

This was particularly the case again in the early 1960s after Uni had dropped out in 1958 but replaced by new club, Bankstown.  Again they should have travelled down the two division track but failed to act.

In 1960 however they did introduce a dramatic change to Sydney football when they reduced the number of players on the field to 16.  This was thought to produce better football on the smaller Sydney grounds and perhaps encourage the formation of new clubs and reduce the instances of backing up to a minimal.

The purists were enraged with this change and by mid-season clubs forced the hand of the league executive to return to the traditional eighteen aside.

The basically unsuccessful club of Liverpool joined forces with the other battler, Bankstown in 1962 then two years later encouraged another new club, Parramatta to combine with them to form a new club: Southern Districts.  Initially this venture  produced a competitive club but eventually failed.  What it did do in particular was rob a team playing Australian Game from the then far western suburbs.  Parramatta then played out of Mona Park, Auburn.

It was around the same time that efforts were being encouraged to form a licensed club for Australian football in Sydney.  They had enough members, sufficient commitment and had identified premises at 224 Riley Street Surry Hills, a former hotel which was then trading as a private hotel (boarding house).

The prime mover in this action unfortunately died and so without a leader the whole issue fell flat.

Eastern Suburbs had a licensed club at Bondi Junction but as successful as it was could not maintain the repayments to a very expensive loan which funded the addition to the premises and the club fell by the wayside.  North Shore went all out to gain a license in the premises of Polonia Northside soccer club in Walker Street North Sydney. They were successful in this enterprise but unfortunately too this eventually failed.

St George made it to the licensing court but were refused their bid for a license at Olds Park on some technicality.

Despite all this, there has been some success in Sydney football and this was quite recently.

Garry Burkinshaw, the man in charge of Sydney footy between 2007-2014 soon realised there were problems when he took over the reigns.

He listened to the gripes, he looked how they do it in soccer and studied Sydney football.

Burkinshaw maintained that Sydney footy was not as tribal as it is interstate.  Players come to play their game and go.  They don’t stick around for the next game and they certainly don’t stay all day.

He decided the answer was divisionalisation where teams from various clubs of apparent equal strength would be best suited playing against each other.  So, apart from the Premier League competition, a reserve grade team which might have battled in the senior division was dropped to third or fourth division in the new setup.

He took advice from clubs and said there was no real opposition to the model.  He got members from each club in a room and put his proposition.  It took over three months in the planning and together with colleague, Bob Robinson, they introduced a competition which has, for the most part, been extremely successful.

There are more teams winning games and all but St George, Camden and Illawarra clubs, from twenty four participating in the Sydney league,  have participated in finals.

This new and novel competition has promoted success in other clubs too.  Penrith who were down to one team now boast three, North-West are fielding more sides along with Camden and there a four new clubs now participating in the competition. (this article was initially published in 2012)

This new system leaves it open for established teams to field more teams and enthuse new or junior clubs to field senior teams.  The way is open for the establishment of more clubs but most particularly, nearly all competitions in Sydney senior football are competitive.

The downside to divisionalisation is that clubs MUST be particularly organised.  Three teams could be playing at three different locations so all players and officials have had to commit themselves to turn up,  in all probability in these circumstances, there would be not players to back up in the event there is not a full team to take the field.  Each team must be a self contained unit: umpire (if required), goal umpire, runner, water boys, manager, runner etc.

At least one Sydney initiative has succeeded but apparently with those purists at it again is now up for change

 

 

JACK DEAN STEPS DOWN – more pics

Society Committee member for five years, Jack Dean, has finally decided to hang up his football boots.

He joined the committee in 2006 prior to the establishment of the group formalising its Society status and incorporation.

He was invaluable for his knowledge of specific eras of Sydney football from the mid forties through to the 1980s.  Jack is 83 years of age and his bio in Sydney football is almost unique:

Born in Sydney and due to his father’s influence (Joe Dean who also played for Easts) he joined the Eastern Suburbs Football Club at the age of 16.  An easy decision seeing the family lived next door to Trumper Park.

Jack was chosen to play for NSW at 17 then became a driving force as a ruckman at Eastern Suburbs and went on to represent NSW on 25 occasions. He played in Easts premiership teams between 1953-58, coached Ardlethan FC in the Riverina for 1959-60 seasons before returning to coach Eastern Suburbs in 1961.

 

In 1962 Jack crossed to neighbouring club, Sydney Naval and played there until he retired from football in 1966.

He won 4 Best & Fairest and 4 Runner Up Awards with Easts and in 1958 won the Div. II Carnival Best & Fairest Trophy representing NSW in the Centenary football carnival in Melbourne. Later, he became a NSW State Selector for 12 years.

 

Jack was President of Easts from 1970-82 during which the club won 6 premierships. He received the ANFC Merit Award for Service to Australian Football in 1977. Jack was also involved with Easts Juniors as a coach and Junior State Selector for the NSW Under 15 (Shell Cup) and Manager on several Shell Cup Interstate trips.

 

In a playing career spanning over 20 years, Jack played 310 games for Easts, 45 for Sydney Naval, 40 for Ardlethan as well as 25 for NSW. He also won Best & Fairest Awards for NSW against Western Australia, Queensland and ACT during his career.

He even had a booklet of his playing football photographs and newspaper articles published in his honour.

Jack’s knowledge of those past players in Sydney was invaluable when it came to nominations for the Sydney Football Hall of Fame and he himself was an almost automatic selection to the post in its first year.

His presence will be sorely missed and sited his inability to again stand for election on the Society’s move to the Western Suburbs Club at Croydon Park.  At Jack’s age, the trip to and from the venue posed a real issue and he decided not to test fate, particularly after he has spent several bouts in hospital in recent years.

The Society is indebted to Jack for his involvement and has invited him to continue his relationship with those on the Board.  In return Jack has donated a number of items of his memorabilia of Sydney football which include several from former East’s coach and mentor, Alf Penno.

The top photo is a recent one of Jack sporting one of the new Society polo shirts which are now available for purchase.

A LEGEND PASSES

Alf Penno - 1948There have been many great footballers pass through Sydney.  Some were locals while others moved to the city to take up the game with a district club.

Alf Penno was one such man but he learned his football, for the most part, in his early twenties after he returned to Australia following WWII.  He went on to play over 200 first grade games with the Eastern Suburbs Club and played in their premiership teams between 1953-59.  As well, Alf coached  the side to their flags in 1956-57-58 and incredibly was twice voted best and fairest in 1950 & 55.  We say incredibly because here was a person who played rugby league right up until his early twenties.

Alf was a laconic persons who didn’t aspire to set the world on fire but he did.  Besides all the achievements mentioned above he represented NSW on 21 occasions, the last when he was 32 in the 1958 Centenary Carnival in Melbourne.

He was inducted into the Sydney Football Hall of Fame in 2007.  He sadly passed away on 6 June aged 83.

We have used a 1948 photograph of the great man to share with you how he appeared in his prime.

His funeral details will be advised in the Sydney papers.

Stop Press:
News just received is the passing of NSW AFL and St George Life Member, Syd Felstead.  Syd died on 5 June.  More news about Syd’s involvement will be published soon.