In 1908 someone wrote a letter to a Tasmanian newspaper extolling the efforts of the then, Australian (National) Football Council, later the National Football League (a national organisation considered the peak body for the game in Australia. All states were equally represented on it).
In particular it went on to explain the effort the Council was doing in spreading the game of Australian football across the nation as well as in New Zealand and how this was done.
It said “the great obstacle to be overcome, of course, is the predominant and apparently lasting popularity of Rugby football (Rugby League had only just been established) in New South Wales and New Zealand.”
The letter went on to mention the success the game was having in the schools in this state and then turned its attention to the University. Sydney University was then the only such institution in the NSW.
The letter maintained that one reason the VFL accepted Melbourne University into their ranks, as a club, was “in anticipation that inter-university games in Australian football between the Melbourne and Sydney universities would be hastened.” (That’s drawing a long bow – ed.)
More interestingly it said that “in the 1908 season, there were 14 students of Sydney University playing with senior clubs in Sydney so that the university should soon be able to send a good team to Melbourne.”
The article went on “the Australian Football Council over the summer of 1907-08 distributed five hundred pounds ($63,300 in today’s money) between the state football bodies in NSW, Western Australia, Queensland, Tasmania and New Zealand. This money was the balance from a levy made by the Council of 5% of the takings of all Associations (presumably the state football leagues, ie VFL – ed.). The Victorian quota was the largest at three hundred and twenty pounds ($40,500) with NSW receiving two hundred pounds ($25,300), the bulk share of the total funding.”
A team called Training College competed in first grade in the Sydney competition between 1909-12. Unfortunately they came last each season and apparently with lack of enthusiasm AND success they folded.
There is not a lot documented about the Training College side, but through some careful research we have found that the club was representative of the Sydney Teachers College, then located at Blackfriars, which is situated just off Broadway in Chippendale, Sydney. It also had an annex which operated out of Hereford House at Glebe.
In 1910 a Combined Colleges team played Fitzroy FC at Erskineville Oval as a curtain raiser to NSW v Geelong FC. Both VFL teams were on a visit to Sydney at that time. The ‘Combined Colleges’ included some from the Sydney University and was comprised of the following: Ashton, Barker, Alfred Kiesling, Weiss, Woodward, Edwards, Dennis, Thompson, J Shannon (captain), Michael Mahoney, Williams, Cunningham, Bennett, Chapman, Osborne, Dyer, H Tubman, William Rice.
In the early 1920s, the Training College fielded a team in the reserve grade competition but it was not until 1948, with an influx of students studying veterinary science at the University, that they again fielded a team in the Sydney competition.