We mentioned recently that Sydney University first put their toe in the water in the Sydney competition in 1887 but only lasted for a season and a half.

With some of their history, we have taken the following from the club’s website ( :

In 1935 attempts were made to re-establish the Sydney University Australian Football Club but without success. Again in April 1936, a notice was published in “Honi Soit” inviting students to form a club. Some Australian football must have been played at about that time as Alan Grozier is recorded as having been awarded a Blue in Australian football, but was not until 1947 that the club finally reincarnated itself. Even then its entry to the competition was delayed and it was not until 1948 that it started to play officially. The club got off to a promising start and seemed to have a number of good players. The club captain, John Marshall, was a former Canberra representative and the coach was “Bubber”  Phelan, a famous name in Sydney football. Len Fulton, a 19-year-old rover was selected in the State team to play South Fremantle. Tom O’Byrne a centreman from Tasmania was selected to play against Broken Hill in the same year and in 1949 was State captain. The Club received instant recognition within the University and was awarded three Blues in 1948, three in 1949 and three in 1950. The captain, John Marshall, ruckman and later Doctor John Neasey (who had played for Hobart University) and  Tom O’Byrne were the recipients in 1948.

The Club was soon back in the Intervarsity competition which was held in Sydney in 1949 in the course of which Sydney University actually defeated Adelaide University.

The revival was well timed because from 1951 the government commenced to fund fees for sporting institutions at universities which led to approval by the Sydney University Senate for the improvement of sporting facilities including the provision of dressing sheds on the ovals for those participating in athletics, rugby union, Australian rules and soccer.

It did not take long before the club established one of its long-standing traditions by playing the same team in first and reserve grades in 1951 after the annual inter-varsity competition. The club lost most of its games that year and attracted considerable criticism for not being competitive, but the most stinging criticism came in the Sunday paper of 3 June 1951 when it was reported that some of the University players engaged in inappropriate conduct because they wore odd socks and, even worse, one player took the field sockless.

In 1952 it was reported that the post-inter-varsity tradition was fulfilled again when on 9 July 1952 in a match against South Sydney 13 reserve grade players doubled up as a number of players had  arrived back in Sydney at noon for the game that afternoon after travelling by train from Adelaide which they had left at 6 PM on Thursday. The club was in trouble because the team had travelled to Adelaide without having obtained permission from the League, but the secretary, Ken Ferguson, showed some compassion by indicating that in his view any player who played after so many hours on a train deserved praise. (with thanks to their website manager for this information)

As we scoured through our records we found some additions that might well be of interest.

Firstly, as you will see, is a photograph of their 1949 match in the Intervarsity carnival against the University of Adelaide.

Second is the programme from the 1949 Carnival which you can read by clicking here.  In addition to this we have been able to dig up the match programme from the 1953 series, also held in Sydney and you can view this document by clicking here.

If these documents prove too big to view, simply print a copy.

With the club’s elevation into the NEAFL it will be very interesting to see how they perform, not only on the field but how their administration stacks up.  It is no secret that prior to Mark Skinner’s involvement, the club struggled off the field.  Since however, they have become a very well oiled unit and begin their quest in the big time competition with training commencing 6.15pm, from 9 January at St Pauls Oval, Sydney University.  We are unsure if you can follow their progress on Tweet.