Smart or Dumb?

1949 - Mal Dean ES (No. 13) v North Shore at Henson. George Brack (NS) on right smallerRound 10 in 1937 Sydney football was played on Saturday 19 June and it poured during and prior to the match.  So much so that a number of sports were cancelled.

There were three grounds used by the league then and it was said on the day that (the old) Erskineville Oval, “apart from one or two small patches of water, was in playable order to the half time interval where South Sydney defeated St George.  At Trumper Park, where conditions were pretty bad, North Shore scooted home over Eastern Suburbs while in the remaining match at Kensington Oval (Kingsford), the Sydney and Newtown clubs adopted a very unusual method of determining the winner.

Prior to the commencement of the senior game, representatives from both clubs, via the ground manager, had the phone wires fusing with demands to league officials that the game be abandoned because of  the state of the playing area which was waterlogged.  The ground was flooded with up to 30-40ml of water across the Randwick half of the arena.  Undoubtedly it was, but apparently not to the same extent as Erskineville and Trumper Park, both of which, due to their physical configuration, were much more adversely affected by such weather.

League officials were firm in their ruling that the game must be played and in accordance with the rules. Faced with this decision the clubs concerned put their heads together and evolved a scheme they considered could circumvent the constitution of the league plus profit and minus risk to themselves.

So when the first grade field umpire, Tom King, took the ground, one player from each of the reserve grade sides accompanied him (the reserve grade match was played  with Newtown 6-2 (38) defeating Sydney 3-2 (20).  After each player had kicked two goals and one behind apiece, they solemnly walked off and declared it a day, and the game a draw after five minutes play. Now how each managed to kick the ball into play and who took possession of it following the behind is anybodys’ guess.

This act was in total defiance and disregard of the rule which definitely set out that a game shall consist of four quarters, each of twenty-five minutes duration. If they had been granted the privilege of a draw, it would mean that each defaulting club, and defaulters they undoubtedly were, would gain two points on the premiership table by the adoption of tactics more deserving of censure than commendation. While the clubs that went down In the other games, both by the narrowest of margins, after fulfilling their obligations to the League and the public under conditions that were of the worst, automatically forfeit four points. Could anything, apart from the flouting of the rules, be more farcical?  As regards the games that were played, well, to misquote Kipling, if mud be the price of admiralty, the six dozen soused, sodden and spattered stalwarts who prayed for five o’clock and hot showers may rightfully count themselves admirals all.

Both clubs maintained that the match was a draw and that each were entitled to competition points.  But the league’s administration failed to see it that way.  The rules today though would not allow such a situation to take place.

The Monday Night following the game the league maintained that each club broke all of the laws of the game which said, “games shall be played in wet or fine weather.”

Both were denied any competition points and each were fined two pounds ($175.00 in today’s money).  Also, club officials were severely censured by the league and this was even after the their delegates had argued that the ground was totally unfit for play and the game should be replayed.  It was not.

At the end of the season, two or four points to each club mattered not.  Newtown was in third position on 42 points, eighteen behind St George in second place and Sydney finished in fourth position, on 36 points.