Prime Minister Bounces the Ball

How often do you get the Prime Minister bouncing the ball to start a match – IN SYDNEY?

Well it happened in 1933 when the Prime Minister, Joe Lyons was the country’s leader.  Lyons was from Northern Tasmania and trained as a school teacher.  He played both cricket and football before entering the Tasmanian State Parliament.  Originally a Labor man, he was Premier of Tasmania between 1923-28.Hotel Morris - Pitt Street

In 1933 the Australian National Football Council, since usurped by the AFL, conducted their triennial national carnival at the Sydney Cricket Ground.  The NSW side comprised several players from Broken Hill, many of whom reported back to their league following the carnival that they were not treated well.  The eight players from Broken Hill were housed in the Hotel Morris in Pitt Street while those players in the NSW team from Sydney resided at their normal homes.  The Queensland and Canberra teams were also domiciled at the hotel.

Incidentally, the Hotel Morris is still there, at the Railway Square end but now caters mostly for backpackers.

Lyons wasn’t the main act in the opening of the Carnival.  Australia’s first locally born Governor General, Isaac Isaacs, did the honours in the middle of the ground surrounded by a number of other dignitaries, see image.

However, like the 1914 Carnival in Sydney it was not a success.  It lost over £1,000 which equates to $96,500 in today’s terms.

1932 NSW v VFL @ SCG PM bounces ball - Truth 12-6-1932 - ALyons however was talked into bouncing the ball in the opening game between NSW and Victoria and we have been able to obtain a photograph of the event with him in his suit and tie.  Its not in best of condition nevertheless, it captures the moment the prime minister of the time got himself involved in our game – literally.

New South Wales had a reasonably successful carnival despite being trounced in the first match against the VFL.  Having said that the draw for the series was contrived so that the locals were not that hard pressed in most of their games.  They played all but South Australia and finished in fourth place.  The only real standout for them was the naming of local star, Jimmy Stiff, as the carnival’s best player.

NSW results:

Date NSW G P T Opposition G P T Margin
2 August 14 18 102 VFL 23 17 155 53
4 August 19 22 136 Queensland 6 15 51 85
7 August 16 14 110 Canberra 12 10 82 28
10 August 20 12 132 Tasmania 15 17 107 25
12 August 16 18 114 West Aust 17 22 124 10

 

 

1930s in Sydney

1930 football in Sydney was a period of much dissent yet was also a time when more images of action photographs began to appear in newspapers.

Here is one in a match between the Eastern Suburbs Club and Newtown at Trumper Park taken in early June 1930.  Easts players are in the striped jumpers.

Ironically the sight of the two tenement houses in Roylston Street, at the eastern end of the ground is again captured in this image.  These two houses, which you could have picked up for a couple of hundred pounds (probably for both) are featured in so many football photos taken at Trumper Park over the years.  We doubt if many of us could afford them now.

Click here for a look at Trumper Park today taken from the Glenmore Road end.  A far cry from its fabulous days when it catered for Sydney’s best football.

Early in that decade, South Sydney threatened to leave the league.  Where they would go is unknown but the league was ready to advertise for another side to take their place should they have left.  One reason given by the club for their decision was the omission of their star rover, Jimmy Stiff, from the state team which participated in the Adelaide Carnival.

However a ballot was taken of all the senior players at Souths who resolved to continue playing.

South Sydney were minor premiers in that year although were defeated by Newtown in the grand final.  Souths won the reserves competition.

A glimpse of the schools playing in 1930 include: Stanmore, Daceyville, Ultimo, Maroubra Junction, Kogarah, Hurstville and Gardeners Road.  A team playing in the ‘junior’ competition was called ‘Central Band of Hope’, heaven knows where they hailed from.

Twenty thousand attended a match between Richmond and Carlton at the SCG.  These clubs divided 66.23% of the gate between themselves.

More to come of the 1930s decade.

A Match In Goulburn

1931 South Sydney jumper smallA couple of weeks ago we wrote about a match between South Sydney and Newtown played in Parkes1930 Newtown jumper small in 1929.

Two years later both sides accepted and invitation to play in Goulburn and the locals loved it.

The venue was the Goulburn Showground and this time over 3,000 turned up on a Sunday in August to watch.  This was well before Sunday football had claimed the populations’ attention but the magnificent weather and the hype induced a very big turnout to the event.

Twenty three cars ferried the 130 players, officials and supporters from Sydney who were met at the outskirts of the city at 11.15am on the morning of the match.  The vehicles attracted an immense amount of attention as they drove through the town to the Royal Hotel where the group received a wonderful reception.

In an extremely 1930 Bi-plane thumbnailnovel way to start a game the ball was bounced or rather dropped, by Frank Panther, president of the Goulburn Australian National Football Association, from a bi-plane owned by the patron of the organisation as it flew low over the ground.  Reports indicate the ball hit the ground right in the middle of the field.  Later the plane did loop the loop stunts to the enjoyment of the crowd.

School pupils, juveniles and the unemployed were admitted to the ground free of charge. The gate realised a return of £50 (fifty pounds) and this was at a time when the country was in deep depression.

During the interval the local athletic club staged a three mile handicap while the City Band enlivened proceedings by playing a number of popular selections.

The Sherrin football used in the match was later fixed with a silver plaque as a momento of the occasion.

The only downside to the day was the failure of the public address system, a relatively new innovation at the time, which was to be used to describe the match to the crowd during the afternoon.

South Sydney won the game easily, 13-12 (90) to 8-8 (56).  The star of the game was South Sydney’s twenty year old diminutive rover, Jimmy Stiff who stole the lime light booting 5 goals in the match.  Jimmy Stiff was a gun.

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.

UNIQUE TROPHIES REPAIRED

Jimmy Stiff's Trophies original smallFirstly sorry to our readers about the stagnant situation of our website over the past few days.  It appears our hosting company has had some problems.

In the meantime, the Society has had some unique trophies from the 1930s repaired and returned to the organisation for display. (click images to enlarge)

Almost two years ago a person contacted the Society saying he had found two ‘Australian Rules’ trophies at a metal re-cycle place (image above) on the Central Coast of NSW and asked if we were interested in them.

These trophies, which were in a very poor condition, had been awarded to a former top line player in Sydney during the 1930s, of whom we have written many lines.

His name was Jimmy Stiff and he played with the South Sydney Club and in interviews before their death, three separate leading Sydney football identities said Jimmy Stiff was the best player they had seen in Sydney football, and these judges were no slouches.1931 Jimmy Stiff small

Jim lived at Mascot and attended the Gardeners Road School.  While there and under the tutelage of teacher-mentor, Rupert Browne, he, like many members of his family, began to play Australian Football.

At an early age he was selected in the NSW schoolboys team where he excelled.  Then, at 17, while playing with the South Sydney Club, he was chosen to represent NSW.  In and out of the reserves, in 1930 he came equal third in the Phelan Medal and  also runner up in the Sanders Medal (reserves B & F).  He had won the Sanders Medal in 1928.  Then in 1931, at age 20, he was named as the best player in the state’s match against Victoria on the SCG.

In 1933, again playing for NSW, Jim won the best player at the All-States Carnival held in Sydney over 10 days – against all the stars from other states, including the likes of triple Brownlow Medalist, Hayden Bunton.  At 1.6m and 64.5kg he was a dynamo but possessed an erratic attitude towards football.

He was tragically killed in a motor cycle accident in 1937.

Jimmy Stiffs Trophies smallWe found one of the trophies to be of a very significant nature. It is the 1933 best & fairest award at the All-States Carnival in Sydney – the Major Condor Trophy – now 80 years old!

When we got it, it was in bits and not in good condition.

We gave it to an antique restorer who worked tirelessly to bring this and another that Stiff had won playing for South Sydney in 1935, back to life.

They now take pride of place amongst the many former football trophies the Society has on show at the rooms in the Western Suburbs Football Club at Croydon Park, Sydney.

SCHOOLBOYS FOOTY – new photo

1922 NSW Schoolboys Team 2 smallEver thought about where our footballers came from years ago?  I mean what junior football did they participate in.

In Sydney, junior club football was almost non-existent until about 1923 when the Metropolitan Australian National Football Association was formed.  And even then the lowest grade was Under 16.

Previous to this there was a junior league in Sydney but the age group was more for boys 18 or 19.  A Young Australian Association also existed for some time up to the first war, but again, the age group was not for minors.

Ironically, football was played quite extensively at schools during the first decade of the twentieth century in Sydney.  The NSW league even had a fulltime school football organiser.

In 1906 a schools competition in Sydney had one A Division group comprising Petersham, Fort Street, Pyrmont, Waverley and Kogarah, the first two teams to give the others handicaps while 37 schools made up the remaining seven groups in B Division .

Eight Catholic schools participated.

Petersham Superior School won the final game that year against Double Bay for the schools premiership and also the right to travel to Melbourne in an all expenses paid trip to play for the schools championship on the MCG.  Their headmaster however, Mr James Rickard waived their claim which permitted the winners of a match between Double Bay and Fort Street to go.

The following year the Young Australian competition reported that 29 teams participated in their competition.  New teams include: Ryde, Nth Annandale, Bexley and a second St Leonards.

A Grade consisted of Ryde, Nth Shore, Kegworth, Paddington, Kegworth B, Sydney B, St Leonards, Illawarra (Hustville), Drummoyne, Petersham, YMCA, Newtown, Balmain, Eastern Suburbs and Northern Suburbs.

The B Grade included Newtown, Kegworth, Summer Hill, Sydney, Balmain A., Summer Hill and Bexley all playing of a Friday afternoon.

In 1909 the secretary of the PSAAA committee, Mr Garden suggested that rather than send a single school team to Melbourne each year, maybe it would be more stimulating to send a representative side.

As a consequence a schoolboys team comprised of: W. Stafford, F. Crozier, E. Cullen-Ward, R. Smith, B. O’Grady, S. Russell (Fort St); A Stenhouse, L. Dunbar, J. Kelly (Petersham), Ron Swan (Ryde), Arthur Emanuel, & Bede (Erskineville), J. Adams (Double Bay); Walker, John Iler, Thompson & George Thew, Gordon, (Burwood).  Emergencies: Ernie Messenger (Double Bay), Dean (Ryde), Hadden (Hurstville) & Stan Morehouse (Erskineville) was chosen.

They had no chance against a team representing the public schools of Victoria.  The match was played on the MCC Ground on 24 September, prior to the VFL final and it was a very one sided affair, the home boys winning by no fewer than 116 points.  The Victorian boys were heavier and bigger than the visitors.  Final scores: Victoria 17.14 (116) NSW 1.6 (12).

In 1912, under the control of Mr G Perry of Burwood Superior School, announced he would have six teams in the competition. “It was,” he said, “intended to reduce the age of the players in the Young Australian League to 18 years, so that boys at school, and those who have just left school, but who are too youthful for the association team, may enter it’s ranks.”

The war however changed everything with school and junior football.

Eventually it was left to people like Rupert Browne, a teacher of the Gardeners Road Public School at Mascot (formerly of Kegworth school in Sydney) who in April 1914 suggested the concept of introducing an under 16 competition in Sydney schools.

Gardeners Road school in those days was an intermediate high school or in contemporary terms a junior high school.  They also offered advanced education at night and by 1918 had a school population of 1800 students.

PSSA or PSAAA (as it was called in those days) have nurtured many young footballers in their state teams over the years.  These are the best primary schoolboys who play annually in a national carnival at a venue around Australia.

Strangely not a high percentage of these boys over the years, have gone on to play top level football.  Some don’t even go on at all.

The interstate schoolboy carnivals began in 1921 after NSW separately played Victoria and Queensland in school football in the years immediately after WWI.

The first carnival was held in Brisbane where the Victorian side went through undefeated.

Initially the NSW team was drawn from schools like, Paddington, Newtown, Double Bay, Glenmore Road (Paddington), Kogarah, Hurstville, Coolamon, Narrandera, Newcastle and Gardeners Road.

NSW won the 1923 and 1924 national PSAAA.  Both years the side contained some great local talent.  Some of whom would go on to represent the state at a senior level and Gardeners_Rd_School_1925 smallat least two, a Double Bay and Gardeners Road boys, played in the VFL.  One captained Fitzroy.

This photo on the right shows the NSW schoolboys team in 1925 in their visit to Brisbane.  They are wearing jumpers from the Gardeners Road Public School and amongst their number includes Stan Lloyd who played 117 games with and captained St Kilda, Lionel Hastie, who played 13 games with the strong Fitzroy Club in 1931, Stan Powditch winner of three NSW Football League’s leading goalkicking award in  the 1930s and of course little Jimmy Stiff, who won the best player award in the 1933 Sydney All-States National Carnival.

We have all the names of these boys but aligning them with a face is most difficult.

By 1926 the Sydney Schools competition had split into two divisions, Northern, which included Lane Cove, Artarmon, Willoughby, Gordon, Chatswood, Hornsby, Lindfield, Naremburn, Crows Nest, Neutral Bay & Mosman schools.  The other was called Metropolitan which included: Gardiners Road, Glenmore Road, Double Bay, Epping, Erskineville, Newtown.

One item I dragged out of the archives from August 1926 you might like is the following:

“The Victorian Central Schools defeated Metropolis (Sydney Metro) at Chatswood Oval yesterday by 70 to 44. Caravagh (2) Jimmy Stiff (2) Reed, Burge and Smith were the goalscorers for the local team.”

But, it all changes.

DIFFERENT STORIES IN SYDNEY FOOTY

Scanning through the number of publications the Society has in their records, we have come across some humorous, stoic and some genuinely interesting bits of information:

In a 1972 Football Record it said “Wests Third Grade coach, Alan Sales, is talking with a much deeper voice these days.  No, he hasn’t got laryngitis, he’s just changed tailors.  The result is his short shorts are not as short as before.”

* * * * *

Also in 1972 popular Rugby League caller, Tiger Black, hosted a sports show on radio station 2KY of a Saturday Morning at 11:00am.  Clubs were rostered for one of their number to attend the satellite, Eastlakes Studios to be interviewed by the aging Tiger.  The show was sponsored by Tooheys and called the Toohey’s Sports Parade.

* * * * *

In 1919 the Newtown Football Club in Sydney released details of those club members who served in WWI.

They had sixty-one enlist of whom eleven were killed in battle.  Two were awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal as well as the Military Medal while three were promoted in the field to Lieutenant.

* * * * *

In 1974, the strong Western Suburbs Licensed Club at Picken Oval, where our Society rooms are situated, advertised a Sunday Smorgasbord Lunch when games were played at the ground for $1.20 a head – casual dress.

* * * * *

NSW have hosted two All-States Carnivals.  The first was in 1914 and the opening game was played the day WWI was announced.  Needless to say, the seven day series was a flop and financially ruined the league, resulting in the resignation of the trustees who had care and management of the new Australian Football Ground at Alexandria – that was also lost.

The next was in 1933 also held at the Sydney Cricket Ground.  NSW fielded quite a handy side but could not match it with Victoria or Western Australia.

The carnival was not particularly well patronised, given that it was held deep  in the depression.  Admission to the outer was one shilling (ten cents) and 2/4½ (not too sure how that is represented in today’s currency, so I will call it, twenty five cents) to the stands.

One real plus for NSW was the selection of South Sydneys’, rover,  Jimmy Stiff (pictured) as best and fairest in the carnival.

“You could have knocked me over with a feather” Stiff said, describing how he felt when he learned of the award.

“As a matter of fact, I never gave it a thought.  There were so many good players from other states.”

The Hawthorn Football club showed definite interest in recruiting Stiff but he said he had a good home and job and that he was satisfied living in Sydney.

The rugby league also wanted Stiff and was almost talked into playing with South Sydney Rugby League side by their ace administrator, Cecil Blinkhorn.

“I thought it over hard” Stiff said, “but just as I was going to give it a flutter I remembered the ‘Rules carnival that was to be held here and I gave up the idea.”

In the next couple of years Stiff did play first grade rugby league for Souths and just to demonstrate what a great sportsman he was, Stiff was a regular first grade cricketer with the then Glebe Club which played in the Sydney competition.

Unfortunately, the daring and diminutive Stiff was killed in a road accident in 1937.  He was one of the first selected in the AFL NSW, Hall of Fame.

The image at the top of the story shows Jimmy Stiff at the base of the pack ready to dive on the ball in a carnival game against Tasmania at the SCG in 1933.

HOW GOOD WAS JIMMY STIFF – ONE TOUGH NUT?

Jimmy Stiff is a member of the Sydney Hall of Fame but is one of those past players who’s name means little to contemporary football followers of the game.

Nevertheless, he was a true champion.

Jim lived at Mascot and attended the Gardeners Road School.  While there and under the tutelage of teacher-mentor, Rupert Browne, he, like many members of his family, began to play Australian Football.

At an early age he was selected in the NSW schoolboys team where he excelled.  Then, at 17, while playing with the South Sydney Club, he was chosen to represent NSW.  In and out of the reserves, in 1930 he came equal third in the Phelan Medal and  also runner up in the Sanders Medal (reserves B & F) in then the following year at age 20, he was named as the best player in the state’s match against Victoria on the SCG.

Then in 1933, again playing for NSW, Jim won the best player at the All-States Carnival held in Sydney over 10 days – against all the stars from other states.  At 1.6m and 64.5kg he was a dynamo but erratic in his attitude towards football.

The several approaches by VFL clubs were rebutted and it appears that the handsome young Jim was happy living and playing in Sydney where he worked as a tool maker.

His coach of the time (who went on to coach NSW for five years after the war) and another member of the Hall of Fame, Frank Dixon, cited Stiff as the best footballer he had ever seen.  Maybe his opinion had a touch of bias but others of the period, from different clubs who saw Stiff play, also shared his opinion.

Not only was he a good footballer he also played first grade cricket in the Sydney competition with the Glebe club and between 1935-37 Stiff played 18 first grade games for the South Sydney Rugby League side and, it is said, was unlucky not to be selected in the 1937-38 Kangaroos tour of England.  This was a marvellous feat in the time of the great depression when there would have been great competition for a place in the rugby league team where the match payments could have meant the difference between eating or going without.

It is a pity he was not selected because the fearless young Stiff was killed in a motor cycle accident in Botany Road, Botany in December of 1937 prematurely ending the life of a leading Sydney sportsman.

Ironically, Stiff was followed as South Sydney’s first rover by his brother, Micky (Malcolm) who, after living in his brother’s shadow, went onto play over 200 games with the club and represent the state on numerous occasions.