– Fred Cahill

Fred Cahill with his 1958 ‘Medal’

Ever heard of Fred?

No, I bet you haven’t.  Neither had we until he made contact.

Fred played juniors for the North Shore club when you could count the number of  juniors in the area on one hand.  He went on to play in the Under 18 competition (third grade) for the club.

Fred may well have doubled up for a few games in the league’s initial third grade year of 1957, but 1958 was his season.

Learning the game at 14 from a friend, Keith Keen, at Crows Nest High School, who in fact seduced Fred over from Rugby League.  He resided at Lavender Bay and following his schooling began an apprentice as a ships’ plumber.  In football though, he was in the right spot for selection in the North Shore Under 18 side, a team coached by North Shore veteran, Horrie Cooper.

Fred was getting a few kicks from the centre and along with his mates John Busby, Warren Margrate. Bob Fitzgerald, Clinton Faull and Tony McGillick together a few others they were the ones given an occassional credit but the slack Football Record correspondent from North Shore FC apparently didn’t really rate the team.

Slowly though North Shore crept up the ladder and into second place.  Their only nemises was Eastern Suburbs who suffered one defeat for the season at the hands of St George-Sutherland in the middle of the year but eventually went on to win the minor premiership;  While North lost four games to finish in second place.

East defeated North Shore easily in the second semi and again in the grand final but all the while Fred was making his mark.

He won the best and fairest award in the competition, the Kealey Medal.  Medal?  No, the league were so mean to this eight team competition that they gave Fred a pewter mug as his reward for the achievement – as our picture shows.  Even first and second grade medal winners were given engraved cake trays and silver serving items until the mid 1950s.

In 1959 Fred represented NSW in an Under 18 team, under coach, Roy Hayes, which played against a Footscray under age team on Johnson Reserve in Melbourne.  Later that day his whole side were invited to witness the VFL Grand Final featuring Melbourne and Essendon.

Now in his seventies, Fred has decided to donate the mug and a number of other items to the Society for safe keeping and prosperity.  Fred told us he is also keen to initiate a trust for an Aboriginal club within NSW – details to follow.

This retired footballer, who made a comeback to footy in the early 1970s when he played in North’s “SDA” side, (very early second division) where, as captain he finished third in the Hart Medal in 1972.  It just makes yo wonder how many young men who have finished their serious footy maybe out there just ripe to come back to a social game or two?  We have to keep trying.

– 1904 Continued

The Maroons

There is more interesting data about football in Sydney in 1904.  Space did not allow us to publish it in its entirety in the last issue.


The Adverse Weather Committee decided at 11 o’clock that the game Melbourne v Essendon must be played. As the rain was then falling in torrents at the SCG, with every prospect of continuing, many  thought the game would be not worth looking at.  At 1 o’clock a change took place, and by 2 the sun was shining and the rain had cleared off.”

So reported the local media with the VFL playing this round 4 clash in Sydney in a further effort to re-establish the game in there.

In local football, North Shore, or the Maroons, as they were known then, were easily the best side in the competition winning the flag over Balmain 5-13 to 2-8 after a season without defeat.  The previous year the club finished runner-up.

In July North Shore played the strong Melbourne School side, Wesley College when they toured Sydney.  Wesley easily won all their games leading up to the Shore match including a game on 12 July  against a team of teachers 29-19  to 6-4 at the SCG.  [1]

Then, there was so much rain though on the scheduled date of the North Shore encounter it was put over until the following Wednesday and on this occasion one of the spectators was the NSW Govenor, Sir Harry Rawson.  North Shore won 9-10 to 6-17 before a good mid week crowd. [2]

A month later on 13 August North Shore took on the strong Albury Imperials side also at the SCG and won 8-6 to 7-10 before a poor crowd estimated at 500 people.   Albury was at that stage, also undefeated in their local competition and strongly fancied their chances. [3}

In first grade, the Alexandria club were absorbed into the nearby Redfern side.

1904 though was a satisfying season for the league.  We have mentioned in a previous article the schools that participated in the regular weekly schools competition.  One of the organisers was Albert Nash, president of the NSWFL.  He told a meeting that 57 Sydney public schools were involved. [4]

The Catholic Primary Schools’ Association also held a competition involving the following schools :— St Patrick’s (Church Hill), St. Mary’s (City), Sacred Heart (Darlinghurst), St. Francis’ (Paddington), St. Charles (Waverley), St. Francis (City), St. Benedict’s (George Street), St. Vincent’s (Redfern), St. James (Forest Lodge), St. Augustine’s (East Balmain), St. Joseph’s (Balmain) and St. Mary’s (North Shore). Bro. Bonaventure, of St. Francis, acted as hon. sec. of the Association. [5]

The Reserve grade was conducted as a separate competition and not by the League.  It was known as the NSW Football Association and involved Hawkesbury Ag College, South Sydney, Darlinghurst, St Leonards, Sydney A and Balmain A teams.

The final was played at Richmond on the Hawkesbury Ag College ground where they defeated the young South Sydney team 6-10 to 1-8 but not without incident:

1907 Premiership Ladder

“Sir, — I read in your issue of last night a letter from Mr. Millard on the final match for the above, between Hawkesbery College and South Sydney, and would like to make a few remarks concerning the game. There was never a match won more on its merits. The College were leading by 31 points when the South Sydney team complained that it was too dark to continue, and started to walk off the field. The umpire agreed in my presence to go on with the game, but the South Sydney sportsmen kept arguing with him till it became too dark. The College timekeeper, when play ceased, made one and a half min. short of full time, and the South Sydney timekeeper then said there were three minutes to go, but since I think he has stretched It a bit. As the Australian rules are trying to get a footing in New South Wales it is a pity some thorough sportsmen cannot, be induced to play the game in place of some of the players who would call themselves such. It Is also a pity that when a team is fairly and badly beaten they cannot take their defeat In the proper spirit. — Yours. &c.,

K. C. HARPER, Hawkesbury College, Rlchmond, Aug. 30, ’04.” [6]

A month earlier the Hawkesbury side had received a “drubbing”at the hands of the the visiting Wesley College when the latter visited their Richmond ground.  The final score Wesley 14-11 to 2-6. [7]

[1]   Australian Star 13 July 1904, page 2
[2]   Australian Star 14 July 1904, page 2
[3]   Sydney Morning Herald 15 August 1904, page 4
[4]  Sydney Sportsman, Wednesday 28 September 1904, page 7
[5]  ibit

[6]   Australian Star, Friday 2 September 1904, page 2
[7]   Australian Star, Friday 8 July 1904, page 2


A lifetime servant of the game and one who has been familiar to many on the Sydney scene over the past 35 years or so, Kevin Taylor is reportedly suffering from a severe lung infection.

He may not appreciate the world knowing his situation but we think what Kevin did for Sydney football, should be recognized.

He came to the state’s capital in the late 1970s with the motion picture industry and soon found himself involved in the game, first on the North Shore FC’s coKevin Taylor smallmmittee then with the league, as assistant secretary then later and in two or three separate sessions, undertaking his real love as Football Record editor.  He was at onetime in his youth, Football Record Editor for the Diamond Valley FL in Melbourne.

In 1978 Kevin hosted the Australian Football World.  This was a local football panel on Channel 7 shown at half time in their (only) Saturday match of the day each week.  You might see the panel in one of the revolving banners on the front page of this site.

Later he reported “live” on the VFL Match of Day at the SCG following the Swans early arrival in Sydney.  Working for several Sydney radio stations he always reported “exclusively” for each – at the same time!!!.  During this period he also wrote a regular column for a Sydney Sunday Newspaper.

A prolific writer on football, Kevin wrote several papers relating to Sydney football in and around 1980.  It was called “Tween Seasons” and you can view a copy by clicking here.

Kevin was one of the first to put his hand up when the League’s history committee was first formed in the mid 1990s.  He continued as secretary of the group for a number of seasons.  His minute taking was a sight to behold and since the reorganisation of the group has joined the Society at Benefactor level.

Two years ago Kevin was voted in as a life member of AFL Sydney, receiving his award on the Phelan Medal Night.

Not so long ago, Kevin turned 80 but still kept his hand in football with his website: Footystats where you can find next to every detail, particularly about the AFL for almost the past 20 years or so.  There is also a fair bit of old Sydney football there too.  Unfortunately he has been unable to continue with his reporting over the past few weeks because of his medical condition.

A great and very dedicated football disciple is Kevin and we know you will join us in wishing him the very best with his health.


Timekeepers Clock
Timekeepers  Clock

We have written much about football and its peripheral activities and now one subject comes up that takes place in each game and at times continues to be as vexatious as ever:  Timekeeping.

The rules of the game say that each team must supply a timekeeper and the reason for this is simple.  It ensures that the time each quarter, breaks and match itself is timed correctly and stops cheating.

The rules also say that each timekeeper must have his or her own timepiece with which they should maintain the times of those periods.

The president of the History Society, Ian Granland, is a person with undoubted credentials in this area, after he told us that he first began to keep time for a first grade match in Sydney at age 17.

“Like many struggling clubs, there was no-one else.  I was handed the clock and team sheet and told to go and sit in the press box with someone from the other club and keep time.” Granland said.

“What?  That’s not my idea of a fun day at the footy” I thought.  “That’s for old blokes who can no longer play or who don’t want to pick up the jumpers after the game” but, he went on “I was stuck with it.”

“I was a quick learner and soon found out that a good timekeeper can win or lose you a game.  I went on to work with some solid shonks in the local football fraternity, an area you probably don’t think counts.”

“First, I was told, ‘look, you write down the goalkickers and I’ll keep the time, don’t bother using your clock’ (I never could work out why there were two clocks in the first place – but there was a reason).

So on a windswept day at Erskineville Oval in Sydney, a naive young Ian Granland sat in the back seats of the grandstand (there was no pressbox) with his opposition number to keep time.  “It didn’t take me long to realise that although my colleague feigned stopping the clock (for time out) when my1988 Erskineville Oval 001 small team was kicking with the wind, he didn’t and the reserve was the case with his side.  My education in timekeeping had started.  And there were and still are, other lurks to the caper.”

There is nothing like a good club timekeeper, who comes along to the game does their job, interferes with no-one and goes home.  For every club, that’s one big and important job out of the way.

But of course on the other hand there are other disorganised clubs, many of whom are college teams, that just sit an injured player on the seat and expect them to perform.  No, it doesn’t work like that.

Umpires and their signals are another question.  If there is a prolonged stoppage in play, the officiating umpire must signal time out by raising their hand in the air and blowing the whistle.  Some forget and it’s not the timekeeper’s job to take on that responsibility, so if you see the clock ticking away while a stretcher is on the ground it’s maybe because the umpire is a bit lax.

But, the rules do provide for umpires who forget to signal ‘time back in’.  Should the umpire fail to do this the timekeeper/s can take it upon themselves to restart the clock. Sometimes umpires just raise their hand.  You have to watch the game.

Then of course, if you are at a match where a timepiece, more likely digital these days, is able to be viewed by the public, you might see the clock either stopped or operating when it should not and in fact the game stoppage has been addressed by the umpire.  This could be because of slack timekeepers.  Or if a timekeeper has been taken short and there is no-one to replace him or her….. and so the list goes on.

Every league will have bad timekeeping stories, there are no good ones because no-one notices the timekeeper if all goes well.  And, as an aside, did you know that many local rules provide for if and when the two goal umpires cannot decide on the score, they must consult with the timekeepers, who too, are supposed to be noting the score each time a point or goal is kicked.

But here’s a great story: In 1961 Newtown FC protested the result of its six point loss in the preliminary final to Sydney Naval when it was revealed that the siren sounded 12 minutes early to end the first quarter. This came about when the president of marching girls team (which was to perform at half time), plugged her music into the power board and in testing it, pressed the wrong switch which sounded the siren.  Nothing could be done because the players stopped and changed ends (there were no quarter time huddles then).

This certainly caused a conundrum with officials quickly deciding to spread those lost 12 minutes over the next three quarters. However they failed to tell anyone.  Was that a wise move? Was it within the rules? Maybe a situation like this had not been considered possible?

To add insult to injury, at the end of the game the sole central umpire failed to hear the final siren with both teams level on 88 points.  Sydney Naval player, Jack Harding had marked 40m out but his kick failed to reach the goal just as the siren sounded.  Oblivious to this, umpire Colbert called “play on” which allowed Naval player, Alan Waack, to gather the ball and boot a goal.  Sydney Naval had won by six points! The umpire even returned to the centre of the ground for the bounce before he finally acknowledged ‘time’.

Now you’re not going to believe this but a few weeks later in the grand final between North Shore and Sydney Naval there was a further timekeeping issue.

When starting to pack up towards the end of the of the match, acting league secretary, Joe Boulus, in dismantling the public address system, accidentally sounded the siren eight minutes before the end of the last quarter. Vice President, George Henry, jumped the fence and ran to tell the umpire but it was too late.

Let me tell you, similar things still go on today around Australia, we just don’t hear of them.

One thing I often see on the TV at times, is the clock being stopped in AFL games because of a complication in the game, when clearly the umpire has not signalled time out.  Have the rules changed?

Hail the long forgotten administrator in our game, The Timekeeper.  Lets have a Timekeepers Round for the thousands each weekend who perform that duty.

(We were going to publish a story about the introduction of the timekeepers clock into VFL football in 1923 but that can wait for another day.)


1924 NSW State Team Hobart smallWe have a number of images in our repository, of which quite a considerable amount are displayed on our website.

Additionally we have pages of names which we have to add or fix up and while it is on the drawing board, we just haven’t had time to get round to it, but we will.

Recently we were sent a fantastic photograph by Sean Cowan in Western Australia.  It is of the 1924 NSW State team taken at North Hobart Oval, Tasmania during the All-States Carnival in August.

We have the names of the players in another studio photograph so can transpose those onto this pic., again, when time permits.

The captain of the team was A. Ellis.  Yes, thats all we have, A. Ellis.  We know he was from the Newtown club and that he captained that club in the same year, but that is it.  We have since found that his name was Bert, Albert.

Immediately behind Ellis is Byran Rush who was vice captain.  Bryan played with North Shore and formerly had two seasons with Collingwood before moving to Sydney.  He was 31 when this photograph was taken.

The side only won a single game from five in the carnival and that was against Queensland in the opening match.  They really were not competitive against the other states.

NSW played the VFL on three occasions that year and apart from the game in Hobart, their Sydney and Melbourne matches were reasonably close.  However this was probably on weekends where the VFL had other representative teams in different parts of the country playing representative games.


slouch hat smallEarly in the twentieth century football was different in Sydney.

By different we mean ‘isolated’.  There were a number of locals playing but many came from interstate and this position was reasonably consistent right up until about the mid seventies where interstaters on many occasions out numbered local players.  That is not to say that local juniors didn’t fill the ranks of most senior clubs, but for the most part, it was the imports, a lot of whom were in the military, who played senior football.

We have the research capacity to go back a long way and even in 1912, the North Shore club was unable to field a team in the first semi final because a number of its players went to Tasmania.  The following year however, their captain Ralph Robertson, president Albert Kitt and others officials like Arthur Beedon and Harry Lowe got the side together.

The introduction of the ‘District’ scheme though had a big impact on the North Shore club.

Sydney’s ‘District’ scheme was based on that used in Adelaide.  The metropolitan area was divided in such a manner, based on electoral boundaries and named after the particular district.  This provided for ten clubs although in 1913 there was momentum for only seven: Paddington, Sydney, South Sydney, Newtown, East Sydney, Balmain and North Shore.  Players who resided in a particular district had to play for that district club although there were some dispensations.

Because North Shore was not a recognized electoral district, the club had to change their name to North Sydney.  The only concession was that the northern part of Sydney was not divided and the North Sydney club had claim to all players who resided in that area, not that there were many in those days.

The YMCA club which only a few years before had won the premiership, were out.  Also not admitted was the Railway club.  YMCA were offered a spot in reserve grade but declined.

Balmain struggled throughout the season finishing second last.  They were one of two clubs without a reserve grade.  The next year Balmain combined with Northern Districts, the reserve grade premiers, to form a club called Central Western.  Northern Districts were a team based in the Ryde area.

World War 1 created havoc with all sport throughout the country, particularly Australian football in Sydney.  With the departure of thousands of young men the ranks of football teams were depleted so much so that that the North Sydney Club had to retire from the competition.

Then it was the military that saved football.  Many of these were based at and around Victoria Barracks so the near clubs, like Paddington and Sydney in particular benefited from their presence.


The 1961 season in Sydney was one full of action, the employment of a full time employee, the tragic death of an up and coming footballer, accusations of missing money, stuff ups in the final series but best of all, great football.

This is a long read, so grab a cup of coffee and sit down a learn a bit of Sydney footy history.

Sydney University were readmitted to the competition but not in the first grade.Uni Blues, Uni Bolds,   Instead they  fielded two teams in the reserve grade: Uni Blues and Uni Golds.  Neither won the premiership but cleaned up in the League Best & Fairest, the Sanders Medal, with the top three places going to Uni players.

Balmain failed to turn up for a pre-season game against North Shore at Trumper Park.  This brought their tenure in the competition under some scrutiny.  The following week they came out and cleaned up the strong Eastern Suburbs club by four goals in round 1.

The competition started with a dramatic change to 16-aside, a decision which was continually ridiculed as being anti-football and almost unAustralian until the league was almost forced to revert to the normal 18 per team, mid season.

Long term Sydney tough player and coach, Jack Armstrong, turned his hand to umpiring and was ultimately appointed to the competition’s 1st semi final..

South Melbourne FC defeated a combined Sydney team 17.29 (131) to 6.6. (42) at Trumper Park before a good crowd on 28 May.

Eventual premiers, North Shore, kicked 2.13 (25) to defeat the lowly Bankstown side 2.11 (23).  This was one of the lowest post WWII scores in Sydney football.

Bankstown were known by the very bizarre name as the Boomerangs.  Western Suburbs were the Pirates, Balmain the Magpies, St George the Tigers and North Shore the Bears.

There was an Umpires strike in round 15 but football went ahead with the league using stand-in personnel.  The forty year old South Sydney captain-coach, Jack Atkins, umpired a second grade game then backed up as boundary for the firsts only to eventually replace central umpire, the University and NSW coach, Frank Bird, who broke down.

The competition was shocked when 20 year old soldier, Roger Challis, was killed whilst hitch hiking from Puckapunyal in Victoria to play with the South Sydney club.  This talented full forward had played in the Sydney team against South Melbourne the previous month.  He was buried at the Waverley Cemetery with full Military Honours.  Read Football Records article here.

In a bit of embarrassing news, the league full time secretary, Jack Holman, was reported to be admitted to hospital in July. The Football Record had to print a retraction when Jack, who never did get there, had several people visit the hospital and others send get-well wishes and flowers with many wondering where he was.  We guess they could have accepted this had it happened on April 1.

The Australian Football Club Limited (a licensed club venture) held weekly get togethers at Aarons Hotel in Pitt Street.  Membership was an expensive thirty shillings per year ($3).  Sylvania accountant and league board member, Arthur Davey was the prime mover in this project which never did get off the ground.

The league relocated their offices from the NSW Sports Club in Hunter Street, Sydney to Trumper Park, Paddington.

Western Suburbs club were granted a liquor licence, the first for an Australian football club in NSW.  Future league long term president, Bill Hart was in his eighth season as football club secretary at Wests.

A Parramatta Club was formed in July with Ron Cameron elected its president, Kevin Little secretary and Peter Clark, the treasurer.  They adopted pale blue and white as their colours with a jumper design in alternate panel colours.  The meeting was held at the Parramatta Town Hall.  This new club had a four goal win against Newcastle at Trumper Park on 2 September.

In the popular annual Army v Navy game at Trumper Park, the Navy side recorded an easy 14.18 to 11.12 win with all proceeds raised on the day going to the Royal NSW Institute for the Deaf and Blind Children.

The game received good media coverage after reportedly securing the services of a promotion company, Recreation International, to market the game in Sydney.

The last round saw St George, South Sydney and Eastern Suburbs all on equal points in fourth place.  Saints had to play the stronger third placed Sydney Naval in their final game, Souths were opposed the seventh place, Western Suburbs while East were up against the hapless Liverpool team.

St George lost, Souths had a 10 goal win over Wests but Easts belted Liverpool by 165 points to grab fourth place with a percentage 122.2 just in front of South Sydney’s 120.0.  Souths therefore missed their opportunity to play in the finals for the first time since 1949 when, ironically, they were beaten by Easts by one point in the first semi.

Voting for the Phelan, Sanders and Kealey Medals, league B & F Medals, was counted on the second semi final day at Trumper Park with the winners announced over the PA system.  How times have changed.

And now for the fun….

Newtown FC protested the result of their six point preliminary final loss to Sydney Naval at Trumper Park when it was revealed that the siren sounded 12 MINUTES early to end the first quarter.

This came about when the president of marching girls team (who were to perform at half time), plugged her music into the power board and when she tested it, pressed the wrong switch which sounded the siren.  Nothing could be done because the players stopped and changed ends (there was no quarter time huddles then).

This certainly caused an conundrum with officials quickly deciding to spread those 12 minutes over the next three quarters, but they failed to tell anyone.  Was that a wise move, AND, was it within the rules or maybe a situation like this had not been considered possible?

(But wait, theres more…)  To add insult to injury, at the end of the game the (only) central umpire failed to hear the final siren with both teams level on 88 points.  Sydney Naval player, Jack Harding had  marked 40m out but his kick failed to reach the goal just as the siren sounded.  Oblivious to this, umpire Colbert called “play on” which allowed Naval player, Alan Waack to gather the ball and boot a goal.  Sydney Naval by six points!

The umpire even returned to the centre of the ground for the bounce before he acknowledged ‘time’.

The Newtown protest was upheld and the game replayed.  By the way, the marching girls raised a goodly twenty pounds ($40) in their blanket collection for the day.

Another calamity happened in the replay
When starting to pack up towards the end of the replayed preliminary final, league acting secretary, Joe Boulus in dismantling the public address system, accidentally sounded the siren 8 MINUTES before the end of the last quarter – don’t you just hate that?  League Vice President, George Henry, jumped the fence and ran to tell the umpire but it was too late.  Sydney Naval won 10.14 (74) to 7.10 (52).

No protest was lodged after this game.

This impediment put the grand final back a week and because Trumper Park was unavailable and the only ground of some consequence which the league could use was the RAS Showground at Moore Park.  So, on the same day, the Rugby Union held their grand final on the Sydney Sports Ground, the NSW Rugby League grand final on the SCG and the AFL decider next door.  All grounds adjoin each other so besides general bedlam, parking and public transport would have been at a premium.

On top of all this was the resignation of the treasurer in June when it was revealed that the accounts were in a mess.  This was quickly followed by the suspension of the full time secretary when questions were asked about missing money and work that simply had not been done.  But all this will be told in a later story.  Your eyes must be getting sore?

Oh by the way, we have activated our Twitter account.  You can follow us there.