Liverpool Football Club – 1957

An accidental scan of newspapers through TROVE, found an article from the Liverpool Football Club in 1957. In fact it is an abridged version of the club’s annual report and makes interesting (but lengthy) reading and identifies some fascinating historical facts concerning the club:

Liverpool Aussie Rules Football Club


Following are highlights from the reports presented by officers at the annual meeting of Liverpool Australian Football Club in its tenth annual report and financial statement of the ‘Liverpool Australian National Football Club’:

I am deeply conscious of the privilege, and when you have examined it in detail I feel sure you will agree that it reflects considerable credit upon all who made possible the successful passing of our seventh season in major football.

The season 1957 started off by many members spending their week-ends doing a grand job in painting our clubhouse, which was a great credit to them. To those members, on behalf of your Committee I convey many thanks for a job well done.

An asset to our Club was the purchase of a canteen shed, which proved worthy of the Ladies’ Committee. It is hoped the season 1958 will commence with everything the club desires.

Your delegates — J Wilkinson C. Gallagher and K. C. Wilcoxon, (a vice-president of the N.S.W. League) did a grand job throughout the 1957 season and off season. Your delegates attended every meeting — a 100 per cent record. Training — Season 1957 saw a great roll up at training and Jack Armstrong (coach) was in attendance at all times. The lighting was much better than 1956. Trainer W. Desmond did a grand job in looking after all players ; his services on and off the ground were above expectations and your committee and members convey many thanks. Donors. — To these gentlemen we extend our sincere thanks and appreciation for their continued support of the club funds.

First Grade. — This team, coached by Jack Armstrong, gave their best ever and were unlucky in not making the final four. Reserve Grade.— This young side, capably handled by their captain, V. Ansell, all played well throughout the season and managed to play themselves into the four This team is the first the Liverpool Club has had in the finals.

Liverpool once again won the Phelan Medal Trophy, Col Waller being the winner. Congratulations to Col on a wonderful achievement. This Trophy has been won by a player of the Liverpooi Club on four occasions. Another award was won by the Liverpool Club, “The Club Championship”. Many thanks must go to the junior organiser, Mr. C. Gallagher, his officials and the junior teams under his command, also the Reserve Grade for gaining our club many points which no doubt won this award.

The presentation evening was held again at Liverpool Golf Club, on September 13, 1957. It was a great success, many players, supporters and prominent personnel being present. TROPHY WINNERS AND DONORS First Grade: Best and fairest (Wilson Rogers Trophy), Col Waller: most consistent (C. Williamson), J. Sutherland; most improved (R. Caterson), K. Heales; best utility (R. Dunbier), J. Armstrong.

Reserve Grade: Best and Fairest (W. Bryce), V. Ansell; most consistent (S. Green), R. Wells; most Improved (W. G. Smith), K. Nolan; best utility (K. O’Brien), N. Bryce. The N. J. Mannix Trophy Shield, for the best team in the Club, was won by the Reserve Grade. captained by Vern Ansell. This team improved to finish In third place in the competition.

The N. J. Mannix Trophy for the best in attendance at training during 1957 season was by R. Butler, who missed only one night. D. McLeod’s Trophy for the most outstanding clubman for 1957 was won by R. West, who did a grand job in looking after the club’s finances.

Club Trophy — A trophy was presented to W. Desmond for the grand work he did in looking after the players on and off the field. Very nice wall pictures were presented to members of the Ladies’ Committee by President Ald. Leo Sullivan. Before concluding, I should like to pay tribute to our President, Mr. L. Sullivan, who continues to render sterling support. Finally. I desire to thank all those who have helped us in any way and I am thankful also for the co-operation I have received from all members and others, who made it possible to present the tenth annual report for your approval and if any item of service has been overlooked, it is regretted.
K. C. WILCOXON. Hon. Sec.

In the foregoing pages, our Secretary has given us further proof of his efficiency as such, and on behalf of mine and the members I congratulate him on such a splendid effort. Our Liverpool .and Southern Districts Junior Association, under the direction of the organiser, Mr. C. Gallagher and his officials, did a grand job in 1957. I feel I must pay great tribute to Mr. R. West, Treasurer, for his fine financial statement, also the Ladies’ Social Committee on their fine effort. Rosedale Park proved a great success during our second year playing on it and 1958 will find it better than ever. I wish to bring under your notice the fine work of the Junior Association and both Grades did in winning for your Club “The Championship for all Clubs.” The 1958 season for us should be good and I feel with every confidence that Liverpool will continue to improve to bigger and better things.
L. SULLIVAN, President.

During the past seasons the junior progress has been a steady climb. With the schools and the District Association there are over 700 boys playing Australian Football. The Association embraces the district from Bankstown, Villawood, Fairfield, Cabramatta, Liverpool and Campbelltown — an area of 30 square miles. An achievement for this Code was the introduction to Campbelltown, which proved a great success. We appreciate all the help received to foster our juniors. This year we had visits from Hawthorn Junior Club, Victoria and Windsor Club, Queensland, and we extend many, thanks those who looked after the visiting lads.
C. GALLAGHER, Junior Org.

It is with pleasure that I present the financial statement of the senior club for 1957 season. Progress financially and in all other aspects during the year has been most successful, and I would like to thank all club members and the committee for their co-operation during the season. The ladies of the Social Club must be congratulated on their untiring effort and also for an excellent financial statement.
R. WEST, Hon. Treasurer.”

Ref. Biz (Fairfield, NSW : 1928 – 1972), Wednesday 12 March 1958, page 31

– Umpiring

1972 Umpires at Training, Erskineville Oval

Each time I watch the AFL on TV it amazes me how quick the reactions are by umpires when they detect a free kick etc.

I guess its the same with all sports but Australian Football umpires are right on the spot, and in the big games, there are three of them!

Of course, like players, the game hasn’t always been particularly kind to umpires over the years but in more recent times umpiring as a discipline has become more professional and their role much more appreciated.

In 1973 Rod Humphries was a feature writer for the Sydney Morning Herald and he authored a great piece about umpires and their training.

He began with:
“Any casual observer who happens to look in at Erskineville Oval between 5 o’clock and 7 o’clock on Wednesday nights is likely to make a quick retreat to the Park View (hotel), just across the street.

At one end of the ground a team of deaf and dumb Rugby League players ginger their way through training, while at the other end an assorted bunch of men spend much of their training running BACKWARDS.”

Umpires in Sydney have used many training grounds over the years.  Erskineville Oval, Moore Park, Reg Bartley Oval at Rushcutters Bay, Fraser Park at Sydenham and Trumper Park, just to name a few.

Jack Armstrong playing for NSW as a ruckman

And they have had their share of characters in their number whether it be field, goal, boundary, their coaches and/or officials.  None though, could have been a more controversial character than ‘Black’ Jack Armstrong.

He played first grade in Sydney for over 15 years after he moved with his family from Coolamon in 1943.  Although the family settled in Ashmore Street, Erskineville, a stones throw from Erskineville Oval, Jack couldn’t get a game with the the nearby Newtown Club who were on the verge of a seven consecutive premiership run, so, along with his brother, he signed with the South Sydney club.

Jack spent six years with South before moving back to Newtown.  He was appointed captain-coach of the club in 1953 a position he held for three years.  Then he moved out west and played with the Liverpool club where he was also coach.  In 1960 he moved back to captain and coach Newtown then, in 1961, he gave away playing and began to umpire.

So here was a player who had probably been reported more times than any other Sydney footballer at that time who was now umpiring Sydney first grade.  If you listen to our podcast on the Jack Dean interview, he says that Jack was the hardest and most difficult oppenent he had opposed in his 20 year history.

jack’s umpiring career only lasted five years but during that time he officiated in club, final and interstate matches.  Lke his brother Joe  ten years before, Jack umpired the 1964 Sydney first grade grand final.  Then went back to the South Sydney Club at 44 years of age as captain-coach in 1967.  Of course he was reported again but used as his defence at the tribunal, “insanity”.  He got off.

1957 Jack Armstrong with Liverpool, in the thick of it. Ellis Noack is about to cop it

Humphries went on his article about umpires – and Jack, telling the readers “Jack was umpiring a third grade game before doing first grade and had cause to send the coach, a first grade player off the field for abusing him.”

“We were all in the same dressing room and he had a shot at me.  I told him if I wasn’t an umpire I would do something about it.  He said I didn’t have the guts”

“It was a sweet left hook’ Jack said laughing “and they had to drag him out of the mens’ toilet trough…”

So as you can imagine, he was one hell of an umpire!  and during his time, he knew almost everyone in Sydney football certainly during the 1950s and 60s.

In 1971 a car pinned him up against a brick wall which eventually led to the removal of his leg but he never lost his passion for the game.

Umpire Didn’t Hear The Siren

Timekeepers Clock
Timekeepers Clock

I bet you have heard stories of the umpiring failing to hear the sire/bell or alarm to end a quarter or in fact a game.

One of the most recent incidents was in 1987 when leading Sydney umpire Frank Kalayzich, who incidentally retired this year following an illustrious career with the whistle, failed to hear the final siren at Trumper Park and in those vital few seconds of the match St George goaled to snatched a narrow three point win over Pennant Hills in the first semi final.

One of main reasons is that timekeepers fail to continuously sound the alarm at the end of the quarter, which is still the case in some games. Timekeepers are required to keep sounding the siren or ring the bell – if they still use those things, until the umpire in charge of the play signifies that he has heard it and ends the quarter.  THIS is what happened in 1987.

In April 1946 it was again failure of the timekeepers to ring the bell ‘sufficiently’ which caused the field Victorian field umpire Tom Jamieson not to end a game between Eastern Suburbs and South Sydney . Easts won by 90 points.

At the end of the first quarter Jamieson complained that neither he nor the players near him had heard the bell rung. He instructed the timekeepers to keep ringing the bell until he had signified that he had heard it.

A couple of years later it was all on again: In August 1951 the match between Sydney (Naval) and Newtown ended in confusion when central umpire Wal Craig, a future umpires’ coach, failed to hear the full-time bell.

Sydney won a thrilling game – the best of the season – by one point, the scores being Sydney 12-18 (90), Newtown 12-17 (89).

After the game, rumours that the game had ended in a draw caused a fight between rival women spectators in the stand. One of the women involved in the fight was crying as she was escorted from the ground by a friend.

When the bell was rung the had been kicked over the fence.  Craig, who had not heard the bell, told the boundary umpire to throw it in. It was then that Newtown ruckman Jack Armstrong sensed that Craig had not heard the bell, picked up the ball and kicked it to another Newtown player, who kicked for goal. By this time other players realised what was happening and raced towards play. Sydney full forward Bert Dickson won the race and kicked it over the boundary line, just outside the Sydney point post. Had the ball gone through the posts, Newtown would have drawn with Sydney.

While official Newtown timekeeper Bill Townsend continued to ring the bell, Sydney timekeeper Albert Bates ran on to the field to tell Craig the game was over.

Craig was greeted with cheers and boos as he left the ground. He was also heckled by a crowd waiting outside the gates.

In June 1954 in a game between North Shore and South Sydney, umpire Bill Wagener did not hear the bell and bounced the ball up, two yards from South’s goals. A North player gained possession but failed to get a clear kick at goal, and scored a point.

South won 12-8 (80) to 10-17 (77), after leading by l8 points at three quarter time.

There was no bell at the Moore Park match between Railway and Sydney on 15 May 1920, and the time keeper had to yell out ‘time’. The umpire failed to hear, though some of the players did and knocked off. While they were leaving the ground Shannon, of Sydney kicked a goal, and it went down on the card.

These are familiar stories with umpires failing to hear the bell. But it is not normally their fault.

The club supplying the equipment sometimes provide sub-standard equipment and quite often timekeepers are unaware of their responsibilities with regards to time-keeping, maintaining the score and what to do in the event of a drawn final.  But most particularly and in many cases, they fail to continuously sound the alarm device.

And don’t let us revisit the 1961 finals debacle when TWO finals games were subject to time-keeping problems.

We have been plagued by these events in the past and are bound to be in the future.


19661966 could be judged as just another year in Sydney football.  The footy system went on as normal but we take a deeper look at the season which is just 48 years ago.

Wests won the flag before a crowd of 7,000 at Trumper Park, Sydney Naval’s Norm Tuxford took out the Phelan Medal, Don McKenna an army recruit from the St George club booted 71 goals to win the first grade Leading Goalking Award, the league returned a (never to be repeated) profit of $2,575 on the Football Record, Eastern Suburb’s Roy Hayes, was made life member of the league, a junior competition was started in the Balmain-Ryde area which included North Ryde, Ermington, Pennant Hills-Normanhurst as well as a Balmain junior club and long term league secretary, Ken Ferguson once again took the reigns at the league, this time in a fulltime capacity.

The league consolidated their newly acquired premises at 64 Regent Street Chippendale, (a photo of which now adorns the website front page in a rotating banner) and again recorded their recognition and appreciation for its purchase to the Western Suburbs Licensed Club.  Sydney Naval and Eastern Suburbs clubs, separately, had their applications for a licensed rejected by the Licensing Court.

A direct and live broadcast (albeit of the second half) by Channel 7 of the Western Suburbs v Sydney Naval game on June 4 game gave the code a lift while East’s captain-coach, Alan Gray was transferred to Wagga prior to the end of the season, upsetting the club’s plans for the finals  Souths had a foreign legion in the senior side which only contained three locals.

Junior players in the state’s Under 15 training squad included Jack Slade (Newtown), Phil Fenny (Wests), Paul Paitry (Easts), Chris Bucko and Paul McCook (St George) were some who would go on to play senior football in Sydney.  Peter Hastings, SC, QC, former Tribunal Chairman who now heads the NSW Crime Commission, was president and player of the Sydney University Club.

Forty-two year old, Jack Armstrong, The Black Fella, retired from umpiring.  Incidentally the Society is working on a story of this once legend of Sydney football which will be published soon.  Ellis Noack was captain-coach of the Southern Districts club.  St George moved to their new home on the site of a former quarry which became Olds Park.  In the rules of the game, the flick-pass was ditched.

History Society president, Ian Granland, began his long journey in football administration when elected secretary of the South Sydney club at age 17 and Vice President, Bill Carey, played his 100th consecutive first grade game for Balmain.

Former VFL umpire and Sydney Naval Coach, Bill Quinn, who went on to become a wonderful supporter of the Sydney Swans club, was appointed coach of the NSW Umpires Assn.  And who could not forget the appointment of Ray Catherall as Sydney Naval’s coach.  Ray, a restauranteur,  had Mother’s Cellar and Moby Dicks restaurants at Kings Cross in his stable.  He gained international notoriety by playing ‘soothing’ music to his players in the change rooms at half time breaks.  He only last one season at the club only to move on to coach Sydney University the following year.

However one of the biggest and least remembered events of the season was the umpiring furore at Trumper Park on July 10 when NSW played North Melbourne.

Our last featured photograph prompted a few memories when, in the days of one (central) umpire, the then Umpires’ Assn secretary and the 1965 Sydney grand final umpire, Len Palmer, was ‘unappointed’ from the game and replaced by VFL umpire, Stan Fisher.

We contacted the Ettalong based Palmer to get the real story.

KilligrewHe said he was at the ground and had begun to change into his umpiring attire when Kangaroo’s coach, the 168cm former St Kilda dynamo, Alan Killigrew (pictured) told officials that “he would not let his boys be umpired by someone from a football outpost like Sydney.”  When asked to be reasonable about the matter and that the 31 year old Palmer, who was after all,  was straight off the VFL Reserves Umpiring list in 1964 and quite competent of handling the match, but the volatile Killigrew refused and stood his ground.

Minutes before the start of the game, Sydney officials had no choice but to capitulate.

Palmer said he had been told before the match that a VFL umpire was at the ground but he did not know his identity.  North Melbourne had brought Fisher to Sydney for the game but there appeared to be no prior communication on the appointment between the two organising parties.

Fisher, who began his VFL umpiring career in 1963 and by then had umpired over 40 league games, was embarrassed about the controversy and suggested to Palmer that they eac do one half.  Palmer could see the problems this could cause and declined his offer.  He then sat on the sideline as the reserve umpire but joined in the after-match hospitality at the Wests Club.

NSW was soundly beaten 20.17 (137) to 7.11 (53).  And incidentally, several current members of the Society were in that NSW team including Brian Tyler, Denis Aitken and Peter Burgess.

As a show of their support for Palmer, the league had sent him to Canberra only weeks before to umpire the Queensland v ACT game at Manuka Oval.  He 1966 NSWANFL 1st Semi Final 1 smallalso umpired the 1966 Sydney Grand Final before he retired from umpiring due to his work in the TAB.

When asked if he had any regrets he said no, “Football gave me a great journey through life and I have made some wonderful friends.  I wouldn’t change a thing” he replied.

Our photograph shows Len Palmer taking the field for the 1966 Sydney Grand Final at Trumper Park.  Note the crowd.  The footballs the umpires had in their hands were used for bouncing and throw-in practice.  None was the match ball.


Inside History MagazineThe Society has had a write-up in the just released 20th issue of the  Inside History Magazine.

The booklet is published every two months and contains some most fascinating articles on various items of Australian History.

It has been on the market now for about 2 years and is one of the most professional publications I have ever seen.  It is exceptionally well presented and the content is real, authentic and accurate.  Something very necessary in magazines of this nature.

You can read more at their website:

Purchase is normally by subscription with a special 12 month deal on at the moment for $50 or 6 months for $25.  Digital subscriptions are also available.

We don’t normally push products on this site but if you are a history buff, this is well worth the investment.  It is independently owned and 2014-01-01 Inside History Magazine smallcomes out of Sydney.

Our article centres on the Society’s online Rep Team Programme which features the names and details of players representing NSW as far back as 1881.  We are slowly adding more games to the repository and currently are up to 1905.  You can check out the Inside History article by clicking this image:

The photograph in the article was selected at random from our website and ironically enough, features some well known past Sydney football identities including Joe and Jack Armstrong, Aub Reid and Alby Young.

With regards to the programme, our researchers have recently found never before listed NSW represetative games, which just goes to show how well the records were kept all those years ago.  One was a game against a Wagga combination at the ‘Wagga Wagga Cricket Ground’ on August 16, 1905.  The NSW team stopped over at Wagga on its way back from Melbourne where they played a match against the VFL.  We will feature an article on the Wagga match in our next post.

On a more sombre subject, Vice President, Bill Carey, a very long term Sydney football player, official and supporter, has been rushed to hospital to undergo further tests.


The Society is fortunate to have a number of photographs, each of which are currently being processed for cataloguing into  their online repository.

The images we have added here are from the background of a photograph taken at the 1969 Sydney Football Grand Final at Trumper Park between, Western Suburbs and Newtown where the Magpies won by a goal.

They reflect the tremendous disparity in crowds at Sydney football today and in particular, those who visit Trumper Park.

This ground used to be the headquarters for the game in Sydney.  In fact in 1963, the league operated out of a single storey brick building, which was near the Glenmore Road entrance.  They temporarily used it as their office.  The canteen was at one end.

How many faces do you know in these three photos?  We have picked out a few whom we have marked:

*  Former footballer, umpire, and administrator Jack Armstrong,
all decked out in his South Sydney jumper ready for the club’s dramatic half-time reaction to their forced relegation to second division.
*  1970 League’s leading goalkicker, Jeff Jarret.
*  North Shore official Bob Quinn
*  Newtown player and later umpire, Alan Sigsworth.

1969 Sydney GF - Faces in the Crowd 1 small 1969 Sydney GF - Faces in the Crowd 2 small 1969 Sydney GF - Faces in the Crowd 3 small


The photos also show the fashions of the day.  In a period which saw much change in society you can see the short and long hair on males.  Some who wore collars and ties, suits and other semi formal attire, only to sit on the sparsely grassed hill, rather than pay the extra one and six (15c) to gain entry to the Frank Dixon Grandstand which stood on the southern wing.

Today, the stand is gone, reshaped several years ago into the small boutique amenity block which fits in with the trendy environment the suburb of Paddington has now assumed.  The hill now boasts several trees which would make it difficult to sit and enjoy the football.

Other older men are wearing hats, once a common sight and worn more as a fashion attachment rather than to keep the sun from their pale skin.


The 1961 season in Sydney was one full of action, the employment of a full time employee, the tragic death of an up and coming footballer, accusations of missing money, stuff ups in the final series but best of all, great football.

This is a long read, so grab a cup of coffee and sit down a learn a bit of Sydney footy history.

Sydney University were readmitted to the competition but not in the first grade.Uni Blues, Uni Bolds,   Instead they  fielded two teams in the reserve grade: Uni Blues and Uni Golds.  Neither won the premiership but cleaned up in the League Best & Fairest, the Sanders Medal, with the top three places going to Uni players.

Balmain failed to turn up for a pre-season game against North Shore at Trumper Park.  This brought their tenure in the competition under some scrutiny.  The following week they came out and cleaned up the strong Eastern Suburbs club by four goals in round 1.

The competition started with a dramatic change to 16-aside, a decision which was continually ridiculed as being anti-football and almost unAustralian until the league was almost forced to revert to the normal 18 per team, mid season.

Long term Sydney tough player and coach, Jack Armstrong, turned his hand to umpiring and was ultimately appointed to the competition’s 1st semi final..

South Melbourne FC defeated a combined Sydney team 17.29 (131) to 6.6. (42) at Trumper Park before a good crowd on 28 May.

Eventual premiers, North Shore, kicked 2.13 (25) to defeat the lowly Bankstown side 2.11 (23).  This was one of the lowest post WWII scores in Sydney football.

Bankstown were known by the very bizarre name as the Boomerangs.  Western Suburbs were the Pirates, Balmain the Magpies, St George the Tigers and North Shore the Bears.

There was an Umpires strike in round 15 but football went ahead with the league using stand-in personnel.  The forty year old South Sydney captain-coach, Jack Atkins, umpired a second grade game then backed up as boundary for the firsts only to eventually replace central umpire, the University and NSW coach, Frank Bird, who broke down.

The competition was shocked when 20 year old soldier, Roger Challis, was killed whilst hitch hiking from Puckapunyal in Victoria to play with the South Sydney club.  This talented full forward had played in the Sydney team against South Melbourne the previous month.  He was buried at the Waverley Cemetery with full Military Honours.  Read Football Records article here.

In a bit of embarrassing news, the league full time secretary, Jack Holman, was reported to be admitted to hospital in July. The Football Record had to print a retraction when Jack, who never did get there, had several people visit the hospital and others send get-well wishes and flowers with many wondering where he was.  We guess they could have accepted this had it happened on April 1.

The Australian Football Club Limited (a licensed club venture) held weekly get togethers at Aarons Hotel in Pitt Street.  Membership was an expensive thirty shillings per year ($3).  Sylvania accountant and league board member, Arthur Davey was the prime mover in this project which never did get off the ground.

The league relocated their offices from the NSW Sports Club in Hunter Street, Sydney to Trumper Park, Paddington.

Western Suburbs club were granted a liquor licence, the first for an Australian football club in NSW.  Future league long term president, Bill Hart was in his eighth season as football club secretary at Wests.

A Parramatta Club was formed in July with Ron Cameron elected its president, Kevin Little secretary and Peter Clark, the treasurer.  They adopted pale blue and white as their colours with a jumper design in alternate panel colours.  The meeting was held at the Parramatta Town Hall.  This new club had a four goal win against Newcastle at Trumper Park on 2 September.

In the popular annual Army v Navy game at Trumper Park, the Navy side recorded an easy 14.18 to 11.12 win with all proceeds raised on the day going to the Royal NSW Institute for the Deaf and Blind Children.

The game received good media coverage after reportedly securing the services of a promotion company, Recreation International, to market the game in Sydney.

The last round saw St George, South Sydney and Eastern Suburbs all on equal points in fourth place.  Saints had to play the stronger third placed Sydney Naval in their final game, Souths were opposed the seventh place, Western Suburbs while East were up against the hapless Liverpool team.

St George lost, Souths had a 10 goal win over Wests but Easts belted Liverpool by 165 points to grab fourth place with a percentage 122.2 just in front of South Sydney’s 120.0.  Souths therefore missed their opportunity to play in the finals for the first time since 1949 when, ironically, they were beaten by Easts by one point in the first semi.

Voting for the Phelan, Sanders and Kealey Medals, league B & F Medals, was counted on the second semi final day at Trumper Park with the winners announced over the PA system.  How times have changed.

And now for the fun….

Newtown FC protested the result of their six point preliminary final loss to Sydney Naval at Trumper Park when it was revealed that the siren sounded 12 MINUTES early to end the first quarter.

This came about when the president of marching girls team (who were to perform at half time), plugged her music into the power board and when she tested it, pressed the wrong switch which sounded the siren.  Nothing could be done because the players stopped and changed ends (there was no quarter time huddles then).

This certainly caused an conundrum with officials quickly deciding to spread those 12 minutes over the next three quarters, but they failed to tell anyone.  Was that a wise move, AND, was it within the rules or maybe a situation like this had not been considered possible?

(But wait, theres more…)  To add insult to injury, at the end of the game the (only) central umpire failed to hear the final siren with both teams level on 88 points.  Sydney Naval player, Jack Harding had  marked 40m out but his kick failed to reach the goal just as the siren sounded.  Oblivious to this, umpire Colbert called “play on” which allowed Naval player, Alan Waack to gather the ball and boot a goal.  Sydney Naval by six points!

The umpire even returned to the centre of the ground for the bounce before he acknowledged ‘time’.

The Newtown protest was upheld and the game replayed.  By the way, the marching girls raised a goodly twenty pounds ($40) in their blanket collection for the day.

Another calamity happened in the replay
When starting to pack up towards the end of the replayed preliminary final, league acting secretary, Joe Boulus in dismantling the public address system, accidentally sounded the siren 8 MINUTES before the end of the last quarter – don’t you just hate that?  League Vice President, George Henry, jumped the fence and ran to tell the umpire but it was too late.  Sydney Naval won 10.14 (74) to 7.10 (52).

No protest was lodged after this game.

This impediment put the grand final back a week and because Trumper Park was unavailable and the only ground of some consequence which the league could use was the RAS Showground at Moore Park.  So, on the same day, the Rugby Union held their grand final on the Sydney Sports Ground, the NSW Rugby League grand final on the SCG and the AFL decider next door.  All grounds adjoin each other so besides general bedlam, parking and public transport would have been at a premium.

On top of all this was the resignation of the treasurer in June when it was revealed that the accounts were in a mess.  This was quickly followed by the suspension of the full time secretary when questions were asked about missing money and work that simply had not been done.  But all this will be told in a later story.  Your eyes must be getting sore?

Oh by the way, we have activated our Twitter account.  You can follow us there.


More has come to light following some further research into the 1949 VFA Premiers, Williamstown’s game at Wollongong.

Arrangements had been made well in advance of the October 9 game for Williamstown to visit Wollongong and as it turned out, ‘Willy’ finished the VFA season as premiers defeating Oakleigh in a very tight grand final only the week before.  The visit reportedly cost the club one thousand pounds ($2,000), a huge sum of money in those days.

Their attendance was arranged in an effort to promote the code in the city and surrounds with local officials under the impression that they had secured as opposition, the likely Sydney premiers, Newtown, to play a combined Williamstown/Illawarra combination in an exhibition match at the Wollongong Showground on Saturday 8 October.

At the time, Newtown were the gun side in Sydney.  They had won the 1945-48 flags and went on to win the premiership again in 1949-50, giving them six successive titles in Sydney football.  They suffered only one defeat in 1949 so would have been perfect opponents for the VFA premiers.  Only a week before Newtown had defeated the Eastern Suburbs club by one point to annex the premiership at the Sydney Showground.

On the Sunday of the weekend, nine NSW representative players had been included in the Illawarra team to play a full strength Williamstown side on the same venue with the proceeds to go to the Illawarra District Ambulance.  So the weekend was looked upon as a carnival for Australian football in Wollongong.

However a bombshell hit organisers early on Saturday when Illawarra FC secretary, Bob Watkins, received a telegram from the NSW AFL Secretary, Ken Ferguson that Newtown would not be making the trip so a last minute re-arrangement of teams had to be made.

Mr Ferguson entirely blamed the Newtown club for their lack of attendance whom he said had previously agreed to the encounter some six weeks previous.  He said the Newtown club delegate had informed his club secretary of the match only a matter of days before the game but it took until Saturday before Newtown announced their decision not to participate!

Quite understandably, Wollongong officials were furious with Newtown’s non-attendance and in terms which could be reported here said that “it was inexcusable and not only disheartening to Illawarra officials but would give the visiting team a very poor impression on the conduct of the code in this state.”

Five Williamstown players had been sent ahead of the main group for the Saturday game and the NSW league only could scrape up only two Sydney players: Seventeen year old Ray Millington (who would go onto play with Fitzroy) and Western Suburb’s, Tommy Lamb.

The game was re-arranged with only two hours notice and fortunately a set of Eastern Suburbs jumpers had been sent with Millington to enable two teams to take the field.  It was not surprising that the Illawarra-Williamstown combination won this game 13.14 (92) to the composite team’s 9.9 (63).

Despite the re-arrangements, the pre-arranged local second grade baseball premiership challenge match between Cringila Cardinals and Port Kembla was still played as a prelude to the Saturday game.

In all sixty three had made the trip to Wollongong, including 24 players and, it was reported, a further sixty supporters would have also travelled with the group if accommodation could have been found.   The entire contingent stayed at the now closed Headlands Hotel, Austinmer, a village well north of Wollongong itself.

They had travelled by rail from Melbourne to Moss Vale where they changed trains to travel cross country through Robertson on the now ‘freight-only’ and special excursion train track.  This line is one of the most scenic in New South Wales, and for the first 20 km after leaving Unanderra has an almost continuous grade 1 in 30 providing spectacular view over the Illawarra coastline.

On arrival at Wollongong the party were accorded a civic reception by the Mayor, Ald Graham who was joined by other dignitaries in welcoming the group.

During their week long stay they:

*  Were guests of the Illawarra Greyhound Racing Club on the Monday night;
*  Paid a visit to BHP Steelworks, Port Kembla on Tuesday;
*  On Tuesday night were guests of the Civic Theatre in Wollongong;
*  Travelled to Sydney on the Wednesday where the entire party became lost and on their return stopped at the top of Bulli Pass over looking Wollongong and the Illawarra, where they describedthe view
as “breath-taking” and “beyond description” and a vista never before seen by the group;

*  Then on the Thursday saw them entertained at a dance arranged by the Illawarra FC at the Agricultural Hall in Wollongong.
*  On Friday the contingent travelled south to the village of Kiama where they were entertained viewing the sights of the area including the Kiama Blow Hole.
*  On the last night of their stay, the proprietor at the Headlands Hotel, Mrs Vera Kelly, afforded the group a farewell social evening where they all dressed up in various garb taking off the many
    personalities of the club and other civil dignitaries of the Williamstown club and area.  It was reported that the hostess, Mrs Kelly, received a presentation from her visitors, “as did the pianiste, Mrs

On Sunday however, and despite the wet track, two games were played as curtain raisers.  In the first at 12 noon, a NSW junior state team, most probably Under 16s, played ‘The Rest’.  All of these boys came from Sydney with the NSW side winning 11.11 (77) to 7.7 (49).

In the second 1.30pm game, Liverpool, which was playing in the Metropolitan Australian National Football Association (MANFA) A grade, defeated Illawarra 3.16 (34) to 2.3 (15).  The Illawarra side was mostly comprised of their second grade, with a few others who had little chance against the Liverpool team who only a few years later were elevated to the Sydney league.

In the main game, the Illawarra/Sydney combination were behind at each change but offered a concerted challenge at the last minute with the ball in their attacking zone just as the bell sounded.

The star for the locals was Eastern Suburbs legend Roy Hayes, who, at 25 created havoc in the centre for the opposition.  Another Hall of Fame member, Jack Armstrong in the ruck was named as an additional good contributor as was the 1949-50 Phelan Medalist and Illawarra FC player, Ken Gilbert who had a battle royal against his roving opponent, Johnny Molyneaux.

Strong Sydney Naval FC captain-coach, Jimmy Cracknell at forward booted three goals but not before the opposition had two put on him in an attempt to reduce his influence on the game.

South Sydney tough man, Geoff Lendrum, played on Williamtown’s iconic forward, Ron Todd and kept him to four goals.  Lendrum was commended for his effort as was the team in an effort that was considered “well up to Melbourne standard.”

It is worth noting that the 1949 season was one of the wettest on record in Sydney and coastal areas.

Photograph shows the Williamstown team of 1949.