A strange mixture of Sydney archival football material turned up the other day.  They were rescued by Society Benevolent Member, Dave (Spanner) Spence, from the Western Suburbs Club.  Dave said he found them in a box at the league office with apparentlyAlby Young - 1948 no-one there with any knowledge as to where they came from.

They included

  • *  1945 South Sydney FC Reserve Grade Premiership Pennant “this is the oldest existing premiership flag we are aware of”.
  • *  1950s South Sydney football jumper.
  • *  Two South Sydney long sleeve football jumpers, in a unique design
  • *  Two 1930s South Sydney long sleeved football jumpers.
  • *  Twelve cans of 16mm film showing various 1978 Sydney football games
  • *  Four unidentified reels of film

The flag and the jumpers are all part of the estate from the late Alby Young (pictured), a life member of the league and South Sydney who had a lifetime involvement with the club and the game in Sydney where he was very well known.  He died in his in his early nineties in 1995.  All items are in reasonably good condition considering their age and unknown storage locations.  All jumpers are woollen and appear to be manufactured in Sydney by ‘Murdocks’, David Jones and Anthony Horderns & Sons.  One has been repaired by darning, an almost lost art these days.  The flag appears to be cotton and apart from a few holes, looks good.

The History Society was aware of his legacy but thought it had been thrown out in one of the many cleanouts at the league over the years.  They were ecstatic at the find most of it still existed and have already begun to preserve the material garments and identify the film reels where possible, which have been catalogued and classified.

1945 Sth Sydney Reserve Grade Flag small
South Sydney jumper 1 smaller South Sydney jumper 2 small South Sydney jumper 3 smaller
1930-40 1940s
note the darning
click to enlarge

When it comes to those without identification it is envisaged one of the more experienced members will have to sit when the film is played to identify the teams and the game.  Then they will all be put on DVD for long term preservation.  It is expected that this will be a costly exercise and Society officials will have to revisit their budget to enable this expensive process to take place.  We have already been quoted $35 per 100 feet for DVD conversion and collectively, there’s many thousands of feet of film for processing.

ATN1978-b smallerFollowing searching inquiries we finally found out the origin of the film.  It was taken during 1978 and used on Kevin Taylor’s Half Time Footy Forum, during the early direct telecast of the VFL Match of the Day.  The attached photograph shows the panel in that year with guest, Fitzroy president Frank Bibby at a time when it was mooted that Fitzroy would move to Sydney.  It was taken in mid-1978 at the Epping studios in Sydney of ATN7. From left: Nick Rogers, Fitzroy president Frank Bibby, Ian Wallace, compere Kevin Taylor, John Armstrong, Joe ‘Cleopatra’ Armstrong and Peter Gray, who is on the right.

To ascertain a more exact idea of the jumpers an approach will be made to a former 89 year old South Sydney player to see if he can identify the era of the unknown jumpers.

The South Sydney Club participated in Sydney football in 1890-93.  Upon the resurrection of the game in 1903, founding club, Redfern changed their name to South Sydney in 1911.  The club folded following the 1976 season.

Society president, Ian Granland played for and was involved with South Sydney in his youth and tells the story that it was quite well known that Alby had all his football treasures in a camphor box at his Rosebery home.  Little would anyone realise that these treasurers, one of which must have been Alby’s football jumper when he played, would surface after all these years.


1966 Newtown 1st Grade smallOver 100 former players and officials gathered today at the Alexandria Hotel in Sydney for a reunion of the Newtown Football Club.

The club was founded in 1903 and folded in 1986.  And yet was the most successful club of its time winning 17 premierships from 38 grand finals.

There were players from the 1950s right through to the last days of the club and old memories and stories abounded in the big marquee area as a steady rotation of photographs of teams, people and places of the club over the years were displayed on the big screen as well as two giant TVs.

Speakers included former president and secretary, John Armstrong, former captain and coach, Ellis Noack, Phelan Medal winner, Paul Bouchier.

Several travelled from interstate including Doc O’Connor, whose photo adorned the Sydney Football Record for many years taking a magic one handed mark during a 1960s grand final.Front cover small  He was joined from Queensland by Jimmy Costa and Max Dean.  Les, the son of the famous Nobby Clarke and his wife Fay were two who travelled from Tuncurry, NSW to be at the function.

A number of attendees brought photographs and football records with them and from those we are able to display an image of a 1966 first grade team taken at Trumper Park.

Each were rewarded with a 20 page book containing an abridged history of the club which included several fascinating photographs as well as profiles and a short article on Erskineville Oval.

One item it also included was a list of all the Newtown first grade premiership players together with another table of club state and Sydney representatives post WWII.

As one attendee said, “It was a very successful day.” (click image to enlarge)

2013 John Armstrong small Gary Hooker small Max Dean small 2013 Ellis Noack & Kevin Egan small Nobby & Fay Clarke small
John Armstrong Gary Hooker Max Dean Ellis Noack & Kevin Egan  Les and Fay Clarke


Gordon Bowman colour smallWe don’t often publish news of the death of former Sydney footballers, mostly because, as life has it unfortunately this happens every day.

However it is worth noting the passing of a person who had a considerable influence on Sydney football, certainly very much in the eve of his football playing career.

His name was Gordon Bowman.  It probably means little to contemporary players and administrators of today but back in the late sixties this 40 year old, as captain coach of the Newtown Club, took his side to successive premierships in 1967-68 and a grand final the following year.

Playing at 41, he tied for the 1968 first grade leading goalkicking award with Easts, Jack Hamilton.

If anyone deserved recognition in football it was this man.

Originally from the East Malvern club in suburban Melbourne, he made his debut with Melbourne FC as an 18 year old in 1945.  He went on to play 53 games with the Dees, mostly on the forward flank and was a member of the 1948 VFL premiership team following the famous draw with Essendon in the initial grand final.

After Melbourne, Bowman had two seasons with Hawthorn then moved to Tasmania where he captained-coached the Sandy Bay Club to a premiership in his first year.  At the same time he also coached the Tasmanian side.

He later moved to Brisbane where he captained and coached the Mayne Club, which included two premierships in his time with them, as well as the Queensland state side.

Moving to Sydney with his employment in 1967 he was talked into coaching the highly famous Newtown Club, which had been starved of a premiership for 17 years, by a young and enthusiastic club secretary, John Armstrong.

Bowman was the general manager of Hume Industries, at the time the well established manufacturers of concrete pipes.

He changed the culture at Newtown and an official of the time said he “made average players do extra-ordinary things”.

Following his time with the Red and Whites Bowman coached the North Shore club in 1970-71 but could only manage third place.  He returned to Newtown in 1973 but failed to achieve the success of earlier years.

Bowman eventually retired to Tasmania about 15 years ago where, amongst other things, he involved himself with horses in the trotting industry.

Bowman was named in the best 25 players ever at the Sandy Bay Club and is a member of Queensland Football’s, Hall of Fame.  In fact he possesses what we believe is a unique record: He played in premiership teams in four different senior state leagues: Melbourne, Sandy Bay, Mayne and Newtown.

His passing followed a period of illness and his presence in football will be sorely missed.