– 1938 – A Year to Remember
in Sydney Football

1938-st-george-v-south-sydney
St George – in yellow & black, v South Sydney
in 1938

A number of interesting events occurred in 1938.

Because of a good financial season in 1937, the league voted ten pounds ($860.00 in today’s money) to each of the six Sydney clubs before the commencement of the competition.

A Team At Wollongong?
Early in the year, the Metropolitan Aust National Football Association (second division) refused an application by a group from Wollongong to compete in the second division competition citing the lack of a home ground.  The applicants were encouraged to form a local competition rather than enter one team in the Sydney League.  Nothing came of it.

Sunday football was a big talking point in the league and in fact in all codes of football.  For the Australian Game the decided lack of grounds where a gate could be charged was the issue.

Basically there were six first grade clubs and two grounds where the league could control the attendance gate:  Erskineville Oval and Trumper Park.  They wanted an additional ground or alternatively to use one of the Saturday grounds again on a Sunday.

Kensington Oval at Kingsford was the third alternative but only honest people paid so the league was flat out earning fifteen shillings a game.

Traditionalists in the league however soundly defeated the Sunday proposal but it was only a matter of time before Sunday games successfully became part of the league’s calendar.

North Sydney Oval
After a lapse of  ten years, North Shore again played on the small North Sydney Oval,  a ground noted for its particularly hard surface.  There, an estimated crowd of 4,000 witnessed South Sydney defeat North 14-15 to 9-11.  The first semi-final again between North Shore and South Sydney was played there on September 3.

Jubilee Oval, Kogarah
In another first, St George played their first match on Jubilee Oval, Kogarah, now home to St George Rugby League Club on Monday 13 June also before of 4,000 spectators.  Here too a semi-final was played on 3 September ironically between the same teams participated in that initial game:  St George and Newtown.

These were the first occasions, certainly in more recent years, that any finals match was played away from the then league headquarters of Erskineville Oval.

In a very controversial incident at Kensington Oval, central umpire Bill Hunkin reported two players AND the timekeepers in the game between South Sydney and St George on 2 July.

It was alleged that the timekeepers failed to record time-on whilst the umpire attended to a fight and in the meantime rang the bell for full time just as a South Sydney player kicked for goal.  The goal, which would have won the game for Souths was disallowed.

A subsequent hearing found the timekeepers had erred, they had stopped the game 1 minute early, the goal was allowed and the game was awarded to South Sydney.

In the same year South Sydney altered their jumper design from a green jumper with a very wide horizontal bar across the centre to one of green with a red V.

Four time Phelan Medalist, Jack Williamson, registered 100 games for the Eastern Suburbs Club in early May.  He was reported in 1938 for abusive language but must have beat the charge because he won his fourth Phelan in that year.

Police Intervention
In late August a local police inspector pulled the captains of Newtown and South Sydney Clubs, as well as the umpires aside before the commencement of their game at Erskineville Oval warning them against any repeat of the violent play that dominated the last time they met.  He warned them and the umpires that if a repetition of the previous week’s violent play between the two occurred again the police would enter the ground and arrest any offender.  He said “if the league official (umpire) did not intend to stop that sort of play, the police would.”

There were a few occasions when players lost their tempers but no reports.

Interstate
During the latter part of the season NSW were defeated by East Fremantle on the RAS Showground in front of a crowd of 6,000 while the state team performed poorly at the National Amateur Football Carnival in Launceston where they were defeated by South Australia and Victoria.  They managed a win in the last game against Canberra.

An interstate Railways Carnival was played on Erskineville Oval.  NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania competed.  The interstate teams arrived in Sydney by train as did the country representatives in the NSW team.  The carnival was won by Victoria.

Honour Certificates

Bryan Joseph Rush Honour Certificate 1In 1935 the NSW Football League decided to give Honour Certificates to those people who had done much for the game in Sydney.

Our research indicates that this was possibly the only year that these certificates were presented.

The gesture probably went against the grain of the traditionalists who may have felt that life membership of the league was sufficient recognition of a persons’ s contribution to the game in NSW.

The criteria for the awarding the certificates were included: that the applicant shall have given not less than 10 years’ active service to affiliated first-grade clubs or have played in 10 or more representative games for the State.

At that time players with the Eastern Suburbs club occupied rather an unusual position as Jack Williamson, winner of the Provan (later the Phelan) Medal for 1935 had Bryan Rush smallplayed for the club for only four seasons and yet had represented on ten occasions.  Stan Milton, after who the Sydney FL Leading Goalkicking award is named, had, at that stage, played 276 games for Easts over a 17 year period and had otherwise been actively engaged in the sport.  He had represented on 29 occasions and during 1935, had kicked a total of 46 goals in nine matches, including eight in the final series.

We have however been given one such certificate which was present to Bryan Rush (pictured).  A former Collingwood player who came to Sydney on business and became involved in football.  He captained and coached the North Shore club in the early 1920s, represented NSW on a dozen occasions, captaining them several times.

He also coached NSW on a number of occasions in the early 1930s.

There is no record of these awards being presented in the league’s annual reports nor any further mention of their presentation after 1935.

An Interesting Article

Recently, we came across and interesting article written by Jim Phelan, after whom the Phelan Medal was named, in a 1934 Sydney Football Record.

His recollections of times that passed before him are spelt out in some detail in a number of those publications during the 1930s.  This one concerns an interstate match between NSW and Queensland.  The most interesting part is the contribution players made to offset costs.

“To-day’s (1934) match at Brisbane should provide be of interest to followers of the game in both of the States named.  In Carnival games N.S.W. hold an unbeaten record against Queensland, but in interstate games played in Sydney and Brisbane, the Queenslanders have proved worthy opponents.

The last victory gained by N.S.W. over Queensland in interstate games was at Brisbane in 1928, when a thrilling match was won on the post by N.S.W. which scored 6-10 (46) to 5-13 (43).

J. Phelan (Jim Phelan’s son) then playing his first season in the first grade, scoring 3 of the six goals credited to N.S.W.

The 1928 N.S.W. team were: Clendon Eastment, Frank Cawsey, Preston, Gordon Shennan, Burns, Clarke, Loel, F Hudson, Gough, Vernon, Ossie Green, Rex Ferguson, A Ferguson, James (Bub) Phelan, Frank Smith, J Kennedy, Bert Brown-Parker and M. Lane (captain).  [The article also listed the Queensland team].

Loel, Phelan, Hudson, Preston, Brown-Parker, Lane, Clarke and the two Fergusons were singled out for good play by the Brisbane Press.

It is perhaps noteworthy, that the majority of the players in the team and each of whom paid two pounds ten shillings (in today’s terms with inflation this equates to $184.00) towards the expenses of the trip, were overlooked by the selectors in 1929, when Queensland beat N.S.W. after a splendid game at the S.C.G.  The team was given a rousing sendoff at Central Station by officials and friends who were there in numbers as the 7.33pm train slowly steamed out of the station.  Such was the enthusiasm of the1934 June 3 - Qld v NSW @ Perry Park - 2(2) small supporters with their streamers etc. it took the conductor until Gosford to clean up the bunting. (how times change…)

The N.S.W. team contained Reg Garvin, who would later go on to play for then captain and coach St Kilda FC.  Also Jack Williamson who won four Phelan Medals and Jimmy Stiff, of whom we have written so much.

The coach of the N.S.W. team in 1934 was Dave Ryan.

“Dave Ryan has been for the past few seasons the coach of the Sydney club and his methods have proved to be very successful, judging from the position the Sydney Club generally occupies in the premiership table.

His association with the National Code dates back quite a long while.

For many years he was associated with the famous Collingwood Football Club (played 101 games between 1906-12).  Since his arrival in Sydney he has associated himself with the Sydney Club.

Its strange to note the jumpers worn by the N.S.W. players which were red, white and blue.  It is very doubtful that these were club jumpers, given that this period was deep in the 1930s depression and money was scarce.  The Eastern Suburbs FC of the day wore a different jumper design.  Both the jumpers and socks look to be in new condition and were again worn later in the year when N.S.W. again played Queensland at the SCG.  They were never worn again by the state team.

NEW STATE TEAM PHOTO FOUND

1939 NSW v ACT in Canberra smallAnother NSW state photograph has been located.

This came as a result of the Newtown FC reunion two weeks ago when former members of the club brought along photos and other memorabilia reflecting the club’s past.

The photograph, donated by Joe Franklin, was processed this week and although it was recognized as an early image of the NSW team, with the players all appearing to be decked out in the familiar light blue and black, incidentally Australian football is only one of two sports in the state which have a similar colour styled uniform, the year and venue were unknown.

Luckily a number of faces in the team were recognizable which narrowed down the search to either prior to or early in WWII.  In fact after a short time, officials limited the photo to one of about six interstate games.

With a process of further elimination and research, the image has been identified as the NSW team which played Canberra at Manuka Oval in the ACT on 24 June 1939.

The team comprised:

Jack Guthrie (NS) capt, Ned Blacklock (Sydney), Henry Crane (St George), Athol McPhee (Eastern Subs), Jack (Bomber) Browne (St George), Jim (Bub) Phelan (South Sydney), Doug Edgeworth (Eastern Subs), Jack Davies (Sydney), Bert Aitken (Newtown), Dave Blacklock (Sydney), Fred Pendergast (St George), Joe Franklin (Newtown), Jim Allen (Newtown), Fred Eyre (Sydney), C Coupe (South Sydney), Micky Stiff (South Sydney), Jack Williamson (Eastern Subs), Hec Starr (South Sydney), Gordon Bennett (South Sydney)  Those highlighted have been identified.

Canberra 14.10 (94) d NSW 10.15 (75)Goals for NSW: Phelan 3, Crane 2, Edgeworth 2, Stiff, E Blacklock & Aitken 1 each.  Best: Blacklock, Stiff, Starr, Guthrie, Coupe, Williamson, Browne.

Any information that can be of assistance with other players in this photograph would be appreciated as would any further images of past players or team in the state.