– Society Inspects Material at State Library

When the History Society was first engaged, it began as a ‘sub committee” to trace and record this history of football within the state, not only Sydney but in the entire state of NSW.

The committee evolved into the NSW Australian Football History Society, which has gone from strength to strength and now boasts a membership of over 90 people.

Initially the group was receiving and accepting material that could not be stored.  These boxes of items which include some great historical football stuff ended up in various peoples’ garages and in a number of cases their partners complained so it was eventually forwarded on to the State Library of NSW in Sydney.

When the Society gained rooms at the Western Suburbs Footy Club (Magpie Sports) at Croydon Park, and new material was started to be stored there in a systematic and arranged process, they still longed for the 40 odd boxes already at the State Library.  Unfortunately when you donate items to places like the State Library, you don’t get them back.

However following several years of negotiation the Society gained access to the material which sice has exploded into 92 boxes.

The president, Ian Granland, Vice President Paul Macpherson and Secretary, Heather White arranged a time and date to inspect these items at the library.

They were ushered into the Special Viewing Room at the Mitchell Library and after a robust identification procedure, spent the following six hours examining the pages, photographs and publications stored in these boxes.

After an exhausting period they came up with quite a number of boxes that they have suggested to the library that they would like copied which+, besides being stored could be posted on the Football History Society’s website.

These include several annual reports from the North Shore Club of which Society officials had no knowledge.

“We were thrilled to find these publications” Vice president Paul said.  “Of all the material we have, there is little from the North Shore Club and these items really fill a void.  We will go through them all and soon post them for all to see.

These will make a great special article for the website when they are copied, so stayed tuned.

Image show Paul Macpherson in deep thought while processing the various items provided by the Library.

John Hardy

Charlie Hardy Nth Melb smallA few of the old stagers might remember John Hardy, that diminutive dynamo who was involved with the North Shore Club and a foundation member of the North Shore Junior Aust Football Association.

John was a familiar figure in Sydney football in the 1950s and 60s.  He came from Melbourne where his father, Charlie Hardy (photographed left) was firstly a long term player with North Melbourne in their VFA days, then switched to Essendon in 1921 aged 34, the oldest player to make a debut in VFL.  Hardy was so good, he was chosen to represent the VFL at Perth in the same year.  He played for the Bombers until 1935 and is recognized as the oldest player, along with Dustin Fletcher, to play at Essendon.  He then coached Coburg to two premierships in the VFA then switching back to Essendon as non-playing coach for three years before crossing the St Kilda for two seasons in the same role.

So John had a pretty good pedigree.

He was born at Essendon in 1927 and so wanted to follow in the foot-steps of his famous father.  After lower school education at Essendon he went to St Kevins at Toorak then onto Melbourne University where he played with Uni Blacks, a great amateur club.  An avid sportsman he was devastated when he broke a leg but the injury gave him more time to concentrate on his studies and he finished uni with a batchelor of science degree immediately gaining a position with a leading industrial firm in Melbourne.

By this time his dad was coaching Carlton 2nds, and justifiably so, John got a run.  He won a few trophies but selectors were reluctant to choose him in the firsts, so much so that he almost had a mortgage on the 19th man spot – there was only one reserve in those days, no interchange.  He is credited with eight games but in actual fact only played in one ‘run-on’ senior team.

John was transferred to Sydney and signed on with the North Shore Club in 1950.  He won the club’s best and fairest 1950-52 and the Phelan Medal (league B & F) in 1951 John Hardy smallwith a massive 34 votes.  John also represented.  He played for NSW in 1950, 52 & 54 and Sydney in 1950-51 and is photographed on the right in the old North Shore FC jumper design.

Hardy became ensconced in football.  He coached North in 1952 and 1954 and captain in 1952, 54 & 55.  Then he took on the presidency from 1959-64 and after which he set about establishing the North Shore Junior Association, a task which took up so much of his time that it almost cost him his job.

Hardy not only worked for footy in and around the game he was also the ABC television’s Sydney football reporter in the late 1960s.

He died in Sydney in 1998 and is one person who officials could consider adding to the Sydney AFL Hall of Fame.

North Shore Licensed Club

1974 North Shore Licensed Club smallNorth Shore obtained a liquor licence from the court on 13 August 1973.  The club was opened on 18 December, Just in time for Christmas.

The whole exercise though had been a long and costly journey with a number of the club’s officials putting their hand in their pocket to make it all happen.  Former club president, Jim Tuton, wrote in April of 1973 that  “the licensed club project has proved to be a long and drawn out affair and in this vital time needs the maximum of support.”

The entire saga took 20 months and a great deal of time, effort, commitment and money.  The club were not granted a licence in the conventional manner.  Polonia-Northside Soccer Club had licensed premises at 92 Arthur Street North Sydney and went broke.

Polonia were a soccer club which participated in the NSW State League.

It is alleged that in those days what we could term as ‘shady characters’ funded some innocent and somewhat gullible sporting clubs in NSW in order for them to get a license but their involvement didn’t end there.  Somehow these people organised a major share in their involvement written into the agreement with the club and when the license was eventually granted, moved in to conduct the affairs of the business.  The particular club and the people who had the members received next to nothing from the enterprise while those who funded the project cleaned up, mainly from the proceeds of the poker machines of the day which were very loosely policed and not taxed.  There was a fair chance that such a club was Polonia Northside.

At least one Australian football club in Sydney was approached by this or a similar group at the time but the venture never got off the ground.

Those running North Shore at the time got to hear of the plight of the soccer club (the licensed club was a complete separate entity from their onfield ‘kicking’ club) and made inquiries about a takeover.

The matter ended up in the Equity Court where Mr Justice Street gave final and absolute approval for the North Shore organisers’ scheme to ‘reconstruct a club which was in liquidation.’

It was through the foresight and effort of people like Fred Mackay, Bill Bairstow, Phillip Loiterton and Jim Tuton who spearheaded the operation which was not only supported by members of the North Shore Club but also members of other Australian football clubs in Sydney.

The whole project would not have been possible without the wonderful financial support of the Western Suburbs Australian Football Club Ltd and the personal support of the president of the NSW Football League, Bill Hart and his board of management.

Also the executive of the Australian National Football Council were very empathetic in their stand.

The North Shore (licensed) club obtained a loan from the Australian Football Council through the NSW Football League for $10,000 which mortgaged their offices at 64 Regent Street, Chippendale as guarantee.  This was further guaranteed by the Western Suburbs Club.

The club in North Sydney functioned for about six years or so but eventually failed.  There were a number of reasons put forward for this, none the less was the need for more professional administration.

Another was the location, right opposite the Warringah Expressway.  The club needed to capitalise on the lunchtime crowd in North Sydney because weekends, for the most part, were dead.  The area had moved away from residential housing to that of a commercial hub.

Such a shame for North Shore and football.

The other club which gained their license in the same year as North Shore was the Riverina Australian Football Club at Wagga.  It too has had its ups and downs but now appears to have stabilised.

The Coup of 1978

Towards the end of the 1970s a certain section of the Sydney football community were tiring of the league administration led by long term president, Bill Hart.

As successful as it was in its own way, it was seen as old fashion, not up with the times, anti VFL and still followed doctrine that had been laid out earlier in the century.

Added to this was the growing interest the VFL was showing to extend their influence into Sydney.  In 1974 Victoria v South Australia played at the SCG which attracted 20,000 fans but more importantly the game was televised live to W.A., Tasmania, South Australia, ACT and most country areas of NSW.

In those days the Victorian Government would not permit the VFL to play their games on Sundays in that state so they began looking for different venues where their football could be televised back into Melbourne.  Sydney was one such location which had the potential to fill the void most admirably.  It is safe to say at that stage, there was no premeditated vision to expand the competition interstate.

A lot of the acrimony in Sydney had to do with the NSWAFL’s participation in the Escort Championships.  This was a separate knock-out competition which began in 1977 involving then only the 12 VFL clubs but by 1979 it also included all WAFL clubs, NSW, Tasmania and the ACT.  The following year all clubs in the SANFL became involved along with Queensland.

NSW’s involvement was not without distress when the NSWAFL Board of Management resolved in August, 1978 to involve the state in the series but only after a fairly volatile debate which was then followed by a very close vote.

So with this underlying feeling that the old school would not move with the time plus and rancour in NSW’s involvement in the Escort Championships, a clandestine group began to meet at the then Newtown Rules Club, 303 Cleveland Street, Redfern, with the ultimate aim of unseating the administration of the league at the December 1978 AGM.  At that time and for the previous 75 years, the NSWAFL conducted not only the football affairs of part of NSW but also the Sydney competitions.

If successful the group were promised by the VFL the appointment of a ‘fulltime professional administrator for the league.’  This was despite the fact that the NSWAFL had had a fulltime secretary with assistant, since 1964.

In October 1978, part-time television personality, Kevin Taylor, who, by that time, had been sacked by the league as their media representative, laid out the plans of the new group in an article in a local inner-city newspaper, The Sydney Shout, so it was quite clear that the clandestine tag had been quickly lost with the machinations of the time.

Along with Taylor, Bern Heafey was one of the prime movers in the Sydney football power play.  He was an affable character who had football at heart.  Heafey had one year as president of the North Shore Club in 1951 but later involved himself with St Ives, a second division club, where he was president.  In time he was to become the face of the new faction but only for a short period.

The idea of change came with the suggestion of new and exciting possibilities and additional meetings were held at other venues, including Easts Rules Club, Bond Junction, St George Clubrooms at Olds Park and even Bankstown Sports Club.  Tension was building with the group’s activities because not all clubs were involved with this action.

The 1978 Annual General Meeting of the NSWAFL was set for Monday 11 December at their offices, 64 Regent Street, Chippendale.

Unusually, the actual meeting was held in the front reception area of the small attached brick building where there was standing room only for most.

League officials were very much aware of the move against them with both camps working overtime to secure sufficient votes to get over the line.

Each of the nine Sydney first division clubs had two votes.  The eight second division clubs each had one vote as did the NSW Junior Football Council, Newcastle AFL, South Coast AFL, NSW Country AFL, Central Coast AFL, Illawarra AFL and each board member of the league.  Life members also had the opportunity to exercise a vote but historically not many of these personnel turned out for the annual meetings.  Perhaps if they had  realised the significance of the possible outcome, they might have made the effort.

The meeting was extremely acrimonious with chairman, Bill Hart, flat out controlling the sometimes raucous attendees who were full of interjections.

Hart (shown here on the left) was defeated by Heafey in a close vote.  Country representative, Allen Baker was appointed to the Vice President’s position.

Many of the incumbent Board of Management were re-elected but several, along with Heafey, only lasted a year or two with a number of resignations listed in 1980.

One of the most disappointing aspects of the change was the sale of premises at 64 Regent Street, which incidentally the purchase of which was mainly funded by the Western Suburbs Football Club Ltd.  The building was far from salubrious but did represent the code with a main street location and somewhere to call ‘home’.

After the sale, League officials were then housed in the top floor at the Newtown Rules Club at 303 Cleveland Street Redfern, a converted picture theatre, until 1985 when they moved to new premises under the Bill O’Reilly stand at the SCG.

The enthusiasm and new Sydney Football League entity which resulted from the coup, did not last and when a new administration took control not that many years later, it all changed again.

NO CLUB CONTINUOUS

Several requests have been received about what club has been participating in the Sydney competition the longest.

In the Premier Division, North Shore are the only contenders.  They joined the NSW Australian Football League when the game was revised in Sydney in 1903 however the club went into recession in 1915 because of WWI only to return to the competition in 1921 to incredibly win the premiership in that year!!!  Now thats a story well worth researching.

They again went into recession in 1942 because of the drain on manpower during WWII, returning in 1946.

St George is next in line but they first played in the league in 1929 after a season in the reserve grade.

Wests have been in and out.  A Western Suburbs club competed in the league between 1926-29 playing out of Marrickville Oval.  We are not sure why they faded out but this was the time of the big depression and many would have suffered.

Then, along with Balmain and Sydney Uni, they returned to the competition in 1948.

Balmain affiliated with the league between 1903-09.  Then re-emerged briefly for the 1913 season before they combined with another side to play as the Central Western Football Club during 1914-15 however were back as Balmain in 1916-17.  This was the time of the first world war so times were grim and they disappeared in 1918 but returned to participate in the league for the 1919-25 seasons then folded.

Pennant Hills and Campbelltown both formed in the 1970s and spent a period in what was known as Second Division before their elevation to the top league.  Both have been very successful in the competition.

East Coast Eagles, formerly known as Baulkham Hills, first played in the Second and Third Divisions starting in 1986 following the formation of a very strong junior club.

Sydney University made a brief appearance in the competition in around 1887 for a season and a half. From reading the results and manpower problems, their participation was not a really serious effort and they disappeared until their return with the two other clubs in 1948.

Uni played, rather unsuccessfully during the fifties when many of the team was made up of students studying Vet. Science – the only university in Australia offering the course so these young blokes came to Sydney from all over Australia to play for the club.

They dropped out of the competition in 1958 only to return in 1961 when they entered two teams in the reserve grade competition, Uni Blues and Uni Golds.  From then they were in and out of the premier division reverting to almost static participation in the Second Division from the early 1970s.

The Wollongong team first appeared in the Second Division in 1989 after participating in the Illawarra Football League for a number of years.  Between the 1949 & 1950 seasons however an Illawarra club, playing out of the Wollongong Showground, competed in the league.

UTS (University of Technology) first began playing in Division III in 2000.

UNSW-ES Club was formed in 2000 following an amalgamation of the University of NSW and East Sydney Clubs.

Prior to this UNSW participated in the reserves and Second Division from the mid 1960s while East Sydney, who changed their name from Eastern Suburbs in 1972, were formed at the end of the 1925 season following an amalgamation between the Paddington and East Sydney Clubs.  The assertion that ‘East Sydney ‘ can claim a heritage back to 1881 when an East Sydney Club was first formed is drawing a long bow.

Manly Warringah was formed in 1970 under the direction of president, Harry Marston.  They are a very successful club and spent most of their time in the Sydney Second Division winning ten premierships until they were elevated to the premier division in 2013 where they won the flag in their first year of participation.

So there is no premier league club in Sydney which have played continuously in the league since day 1.

Of those current clubs, a number have changed their name, while more still have altered their colours and motifs.

To answer the question, if any club wants to claim some type of link to the past it has to be Sydney University but, it is too drawing a very long bow.

North Shore, who went from being known as The Bridgewalkers, The Robins, The Bears and now the Bombers are the only club that can almost claim some type of continuum.

Other divisions will be listed soon.

It Pays To Remember

In 1921 & 22 the North Sydney Rugby League Club won the premiership in Sydney.  They were going very well.

Unfortunately the following season  it appeared that they were caught napping when applying for their home ground of North Sydney Oval, a venue which they normally packed out at their home games.  So much so that the club’s revenue from the 1922 season was their greatest to date.

The NSW Australian Football League either outbid them or the rugby league club failed to put in an application for the oval and lost the use of the two grounds, (North Sydney No 1 & No. 2) for the 1923 season.  So the use of it for 1923 went to the local AFL club, North Shore, then known as ‘The Shoremen’.

This came hot on the heels of the Glebe Rugby League Club (they were in the NSWRL competition then) losing the use of Wentworth Park, at Glebe, to soccer a couple of years before.

Just goes to show that you cannot be too complacent in thinking that the ground would normally always go to the incumbent.  Amazingly, this isn’t the first time that this has happened in local sport but certainly unheard of at that level.

The North Sydney Rugby League club finished fifth in 1923.

JOHN HARDY – THE DYNAMO

In 1950 a 1.76m, 66kg industrial chemist moved from Melbourne to Sydney through his employment.

He was John Hardy, the 22 year old son of Charlie Hardy, a veteran of 250 VFL games with North Melbourne and Essendon, including two premierships.

Charlie, who was shorter and lighter than his son went on to coach at Essendon then St Kilda.

However our subject, John Hardy, played with Calton but, apparently because of his size, could only managed four games nevertheless his efforts saw him win the seconds B & F for the club in 1949.

The young Hardy earned the nickname, Mighty Mouse, and in 1950, the Cricket Immortal, Keith Miller, who himself had  represented the VFL and later he played with Sydney Naval then incidentally, many years after, took on the role of Chief Commissioner of the NSWAFL, wrote an article about John in the Sydney Sporting Life.

We have attached this very descriptive piece about John, the 1951 Phelan Medal winner playing with North Shore, in two parts.  It is very interesting reading.  Click the magnifying glass over the page after opening each link.

John later coached North Shore and was then elected president where he also reported on ABC TV for the game locally.  In his time he was a well known personality in Sydney football but is most recognized as the driving force in the formation of the North Shore-Warringah Junior Football Association in 1969.

The photo shows John in an older style North Shore jumper.

John Hardy Part I

John Hardy Part II