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 at 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.