– Wallsend v Tasmania


1890 Tasmanian Representative Team

Yes, it did happen.  it might have taken place 127 years ago, but it did happen and the Wallsend team went OK.  They drew the game and this was in the days when while behinds were recorded they were not counted in the score.  We thought you might enjoy the read of an abridged record of the match:

“A FOOTALL match under Australian rules was played yesterday on the Old Racecourse ground, Summerhill, between an almost representative 20 from Tasmania and an equal number of men from the Wallsend and Summerhill clubs. The match has excited a good deal of interest during the past week, and, had it not been for the counter attraction in the shape of races, there would have been a large number of people present. As it was, there were nearly 1000 onlookers, many of whom came by train and tram from Newcastle, Hamilton and Lambton. The Tasmanian team are picked from the ranks of the Allbrook, Railway and City clubs in Hobart, and, as a specimen of players they are hard to beat. The average weight of the full team, including the four emergency men, is 12st 6lb (174kg), and the majority of them are 6ft (180cm) tall. From a critical standpoint they are, perhaps, lacking in activity, but, considering that the great Carlton (Vic.) team which is now in Sydney could only defeat them last week after a sea voyage by 9 goals to 2, it was realised before they reached the north that they were no sluggards. Their second match was played on Tuesday at Maitland, when they proved victorious by 7 goals to 3, and owing to this it was thought that the Wallsend men would be outmatched. The result proved that our boys were if anything the stronger team, but lack of condition toll, and at the call of time the game was -Wallsend, 2 goals 9 behinds; Tasmania, 2 goals 10 behinds; a drawn game, as the behinds do not count. The game was a splendid one, and towards the close the greatest excitement prevailed, as it was during the last quarter that the visitors secured all their score. During the game three showers, the first of which was an exceedingly heavy one, fell, and made things rather unpleasant for the onlookers, as well as the players. Still it takes a lot to damp the ardour of a Wallsend crowd, and the rain was soon forgotten. The ground was very sloppy, while the long grass and greasy leather wore evidently against the Tasmanians, who state they are accustomed to a level turf, and a dry ball.”

“There can be no question that the local men had the best of the match, but their lack of weight and condition told in the end, and the visitors were enabled to equalise matters, in spite of the fact that the greasy leather and web ground was obviously against them. For them the captain (Dunlop), Atkinson, Hall, Brown, and Sibley played the best game; while the brothers Duguid, Bower, Tobin, and Laing were the best on the Wallsend side. Mr. D. Jones acted as central umpire, and he is to be congratulated for the splendid manner in which he judged between the two teams. There was absolutely no wrangling, and it would have done some of the Rugby footballers good to have seen a close game played whose language and loud talk were conspicuous by their total absence. As goal umpires, Messrs. Dunlop and Creighton gave every satisfaction. In the evening the visiting team were entertained at a banquet in the Wallsend School of Arts, where two jolly hours were spent.”
Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, Friday 27 June 1890, page 8

Summerhill is a western locality of Newcastle and while the racecourse mentioned is long gone we would love to know where it was situated.

The proposed game Tasmania v Northern Districts Assn (the name of the then local football association) on the following Saturday had to be postponed because of the very inclement weather however the two sides were rematched on the Monday.  The ground was very heavy and the locals unfortunately lost a number of better players due to work commitments however it was played.  Tasmania won 8-28 to 2-4 before a small crowd at the Newcastle Cricket Ground.


– 1888 Northern Districts Football Association

1891.10.01 - Illustrated Australian NewsThe following is an excerpt from the 12 April 1890 Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners Advocate.

Its a bit of a long read, but interesting read and it is fascinating to note the perceived strength of the game in and around Newcastle and the detail to which the newspaper goes to record the Association’s annual meeting.  You have to ask yourself, “what happened to the next 110 years?”

The second annual meeting of the above Association was held last night at the Centennial Hotel, there being present representatives from all the Northern clubs. Mr. William Jenkins, vice-president of the Association, occupied the chair, and having – declared the meeting open, Mr. H. Williiams, the secretary read, the report for the past year, which was as follows:”

Northern District Football Association
(Australian Rules).
“In presenting their second annual report, your committee have every reason to congratulate all footballers on the success which has attended the efforts of the Association in promoting the Australian game of football in the Northern district. The game being first started in the north by the formation of the Northumberland Club at Maitland five years ago, has rapidly spread all over the district, no less than seven new clubs having joined the Association last season there being now 14 subscribing clubs on the roll.

“The balance-sheet shows a small deficit, but your committee think, considering the very heavy undertakings of last season, that they may well congratulate themselves on the financial state of the Association.

“Early last season arrangements were made with the Fitzroy team, of Melbourne, to visit the Northern district to play a series of matches. The first match, played at Wallsend on the 24th May, was won by the Victorians by 10 goals 15 behinds to 5 goals 5 behinds (although behinds were shown in the score they were not counted). This game was witnessed by 8000 people.

The Wallsend representatives played up splendidly towards the finish, and considerable excitement and enthusiasm prevailed. The second match, played at Maitland, also resulted in a win for the Fitzroys. The Maitland men had the lead up to three-quarter time, the score then being Maitland three goals, Fitzroy two. On the following Tuesday a match was played against a team of Maitland juniors, and on the Thursday against the Newcastle District clubs; both matches resulting in the defeat of your representatives: The final match of. the tour against the combined Northern District – although resulting in a win for the Victorians, showed that the full strength of the .North is well able to cope with the strongest terms that can be sent here. Some splendid form was exhibited by players on both sides; the excitement amongst the spectators being exhibited by loud bursts of applause. The result of the match was six goals six behinds Fitzroy four goals eight behinds to the Northern District team. (It is interesting to note that two of the Fitzroy players were “deaf and dumb” and the tour of the region cost in the vicinity of £300 ($39,000 in today’s money – ed).

“The annual interprovincial match, played at Newcastle on the 14th July, was won by your representatives. “The match played against the Englishmen at Maitland, on the 14th August, resulted in an easy win for the North by nine goals to three. Footballers may well feel proud of this victory, as we were not represented by the best team in the North on this occasion, several prominent exponents of the game being unable to take part in the match ,through business engagements. In passing, it may be noted that this defeat of the English team by your representatives was equal to the defeat administered to the visitors by the crack Victorian teams; and this, after the experience they had undoubtedly gained at the Australian game during their Victorian and South Australian tour, speaks well for the improvement made by your representatives towards the close of the .season.

R L Seddon
Dick Seddon

“It may also be noted with satisfaction that this defeat of the English team by your representatives was the only victory scored against them in N.S. Wales. “The sad accident which caused the death of Mr. R. L. Seddon, of the English team, was deeply regretted by every one. The kindly expressions of sympathy from fol lowers of all games of football in Australia, ten’ed to show the great popularity of the English captain in whatever part of the colonies he had visited. “The Wallsend Club were the successful competitors for the Black Diamond Cup, kindly presented by the Richmond Tobacco Company, of Newcastle, having gone through the season without sustaining defeat. This cup will be competed for again during the coming season, having to be won twice before becoming the absolute property of any club.

“For the Junior Cup, Our Boys, of West Maitland, were returned the winners, alter a series of most interesting matches. “Your committee would strongly urge upon their successors the advisability of continuing these Junior Cup contests.

“Mr. W. Jenkins, the late secretary of the Wallsend Club, having left the district, your committee cannot let this opportunity pass without expressing the deep regret they feel at his departure. Mr. Jenkins was an enthusiastic supporter of the Australian game, and during his short stay in the district did much to promote the welfare of the Association.

“The Northern Association was represented at the conference held in Melbourne in November last to consider and revise the rules by Mr. W. Marshall, of Sydney.

“During the coming season several important fixtures have already ‘been arranged. The Port Melbourne team (one of the best in Melbourne) will , visit the north on the 29th June and 2nd July. A team will also be sent to Victoria to play a series of four or five matches during July. The first match on the 13th July will be of an intercolonial nature, that day having been set apart for a representative match be tween the players of the two colonies. Satisfactory arrangements have been completed with the Victorian Association, and the Melbourne Cricket Club have most generously decided to hand over the whole of the proceeds from this match to the N.D.F.B.A., to wards defraying the expenses of the trip. Matches have also been arranged with the Fitzroy, St. Kilda, Port Melbourne, and probably Ballarat will be visited during the tour.

“In view of these important fixtures, your committee would impress upon all players the necessity of at once getting into practice, and improve themselves at the game, so that they may be able to cope successfully with the formidable opponents they will be called upon to meet during the coming season, and help to place New South Wales football in the same position that this colony occupies in other branches of sport. To achieve this, a certain amount of training will be necessary by those players who desire to be selected in the representative matches; and after arranging such important fixtures, it is to be hoped one and all will do their utmost, not alone to hold their own, but to score a majority of wins in the matches arranged against players of the other colonies.

“The election of office-bearers for the ensuing season will be held to-night, The following gentlemen held office last season, viz. :– Patron, Mr, J. C. Ellis; presidents, Rev. Canon Tyrrell, Mr. H. Rushton; vice presidents – Messrs. S. Keightley, J. Fletcher junr, John Gillies, W. Jenkins, F. W. Reay, R. F. Watson; hon. treasurer, Mr. John Murrell; hon. secretary, Mr. Harry Williams.” Mr. Murrell, the treasurer, read the balance-sheet, which was as follows :

North Districts Football Association – Financial Statement for 1888

Particulars Amount £ Particulars Amount £
Balance from 1887 2-19-0
Gates from Fitzroy FC matches 253-15-11 Fitzroy FC tour expenses 253-15-11
Gate – interprovincial match 9-15-9 Interprovincial match expenses 8-4-0
Share interprovincial match with NSWFA 16-0
Gate – Northern Dist FA v Englishmen 39-12-3 Expenses Englishmen’s match 72-12-10
Delegates fees (club affiliation) 13-13-0
Canon Tyrrell donation towards junior cup 5-0-0 Purchase Junior Cup 7-7-0
Donations towards Englishmens’match
Wallsend Club
Newcastle City Club
Merewether Club
Sub total 332-4-11 Treasurer’s expenses (telegrams etc.) 1-6-0
Bank Overdraft 12-14-10 Secretary’s expenses (same) 1-10-0
Interest paid to bank 8-0
TOTAL 344-19-9 344-19-9

Against above debt balance there are promises:of donations towards loss on English team spec. Northumberland Club £3. 4s; Summerhill Club £1 12s; Our Boys Club £1; Hamilton Club £1.6s Total, £6.16. J. MURRELL hon: treas. March 13th, 1889. Audited and found correct, ALBERT ALLEN, JAMES CLAYTON.”

Mr. KEIGHTLEY, in moving the adoption of the above said that the number of clubs subscribing to the club is about thirteen, and that it redounds to the credit of those taking interest in the Association game. The speaker eulogised the great help which Mr. Jenkins had given to the different clubs playing under their rules, He (Mr. Jenkins) was a very enthusiastic member, and had done all in his power to make the game go ahead. Mr. Keightley also passed a few words of praise on Mr. Murrell, of the Newcastle City Club, for the vast interest he had taken in forwarding the interests of the Association. He thought that if all the clubs took the same interest in the game as Mr. Murrell, we would soon be able to beat all comers from other parts.

The Wallsend Club deserved great credit for the way in which they had played during the past season, and they well deserved the cup which they had so nobly won. However, he hoped that during the coming season our Newcastle Club would improve enough to wrest from them the cup which they so deservedly won. After passing a few more remarks, the speaker proposed “That the report and balance-sheet be adopted.” – This was carried unanimously. The election of officers then took place, and resulted as follows: – Patron, Mr. S. Keightley; presidents, Rev. Canon Tyrrell and Mr. H. Rushton; vice-presidents : Messrs. J. Fletcher, junr., R. F. Watson, J. Williams, J. Gillies, H. Berkeley, J. Murrell”

The SECRETARY read a letter from the Port Melbourne Football Club, in regard to their visit to New South Wales. He also read a letter from the agent of the Maori team of footballers, in regard to a visit to the Northern districts. It was decided to leave’ the arrangements in connection with these teams in the hands of the delegates of the Association. Thee SECRETARY announced that Mr. Keightley had promised five guineas towards purchasing a cup for junior matches. Mr. BERKELEY, on behalf of the proprietors of the Newcastle Morning Herald, said he would make up another five guineas, so as to make the cup a 10-guinea one. (Cheers.) It was decided that the title in regard to the cup, should be “The Junior ‘Challenge Cup.” A vote of thanks was passed to Mr. Keightleoy and Mr. Berkeley, for their hand some donations, which both gentlemen suitably acknowledged.

A long discussion ensued as to which clubs are to be styled “Juniors,” and it was eventually decided to leave the matter in the hands of the delegates. A vote of thanks was unanimously passed -to the Melbourne Cricket Club and the Victorian Football Association, for placing their ground at the free disposal of the Northern Football Association for their matches which take place in July.

Mr. WILLIAMS, the secretary, moved a vote of thanks to the press (specially coupled with the name of “Glenco”‘, the sporting representative of the .Newcastle Morning Herald), for the assistance he had rendered the Association, which was carried unanimously. The proceedings then terminated.

– Football in Newcastle and the Hunter – updated

1889 Hamilton
Football Club

Australian football was first played in the NSW Hunter region in 1881 when a team was formed at West Maitland.

Rugby (Rugby Union) was then the only football code played in the area and an interesting comment was tagged onto the report of the new team’s formation: “The adoption of the Victorian rules by the newly-formed club will be regarded as a step in the right direction, as the Rugby game which is rendered so objectionable from its roughness and frequency of scrimmages, is gradually dying out in the metropolis and other places.” [1]

A month later the Northumberland (Maitland) Club was formed [2] and in the same year, clubs at Lambton, Wallsend/Plattsburg and Newcastle City were established. [3]

In 1883 the South Melbourne Club visited Maitland on Tuesday 17 July where they played a combined team of Newcastle and Maitland Clubs.  This was the only day in their schedule that they could visit the area and a public subscription raised ample funds to enable the team play the match at the Albion Ground.  An estimated 500 attended the game which was won by South 6-9 to 5-10 (behinds were not counted in the score in those days).  The home side were permitted to play three extra players on the ground against the visitors. [4]

In July 1885 the first recorded schoolboys game was played in the Newcastle District between Wickham and Wallsend Superior Schools resulting in a win for Wickham 2-10 to 0-5. [5]

In late July 1886 the Northern District players met a Queensland twenty on the Newcastle Cricket Ground before a crowd of 1500.  This match was played while on their way to Sydney for an inter-colonial match.  [6]  By August 30 there was enough momentum to form an association or league and on Monday 30 August 1886, before  representatives of from Wallsend, Northumberland, Carlton, Newcastle City, Stockton, Summerhill and Mount Zion clubs, with five apologies, the Northern District Football Association was formed. [7]

In mid-1887 Newcastle City reported that they had a renowned VFA player, Joey Tankard in their lineup when they were scheduled to play a match against Northumberland at Maitland Park. [8]

The Association indicated they could raise the astronomical amount of £150 (one hundred and fifty pounds) as an inducement for a VFA team to play in Newcastle. [9]

This possibly resulted in the visit of the Fitzroy Club the following year where they were schedule to play four games: May 26, v. Maitland District, Albion Ground, May 29, v. Maitland Juniors (23 players) on the Albion Ground and May 31 v. Newcastle District and June 2, v. Combined North, both on the Newcastle Ground.[10]

By this time Summer Hill had joined the Association and there were also junior teams (although the ‘junior’ age was probably under 21) in Carltons, Warwicks and Centennials.  It was noted around this time that the Newcastle City Club were prone to forfeit games, particularly against those teams where the outcome would have likely been in the opposition’s favour. [11]

On Monday 22 April 1889 (Easter) an exhibition game was played at Dungog, north of Maitland [12]  then later in the year a representative side from the Northern District Football Association travelled to Victoria where they played games against the VFA, Carlton, St Kilda, Ballarat and Fitzroy Clubs. [13]  Another club competing in 1889 competition was Merewether.

In 1890 the Newcastle Herald published the Hamilton Football Club’s annual report which provided in fine detail, the activities of the club since 1887.[14]1887 Northumberland Football Team - 1887-09-24 Town & Country Journal -p.643

By 1895 it was all over.  There was no trace of any club participating in either Newcastle or the Maitland area.  A similar phenomenon had occurred in Sydney however there issue was put down to poor management;  there was no such inference to the north with the only suggestions that some players, particularly juniors, had no idea what they were doing. [15]

The 1890s also brought economic depression to the country.  Did this impact on football?  It did not appear to on Rugby or Association Football (soccer).

So no football until 1898 when a supporter wrote to a local newspaper advocating a meeting to re-start the game.  The response was positive. [16]

Clubs were reformed in Wallsend and Maitland and they played a few games but then it again fell away only to be revived in 1903, the same year that football in Sydney was resuscitated. [17]

Since then however, football has been an on-again, off-again affair and it wasn’t until 1948 that Australian  Football gained a permanent footing in the district thanks in many ways to the number of service personnel being transferred to the area.

Then in 2000 when the Black Diamond Football League was formed football came assume a very solid position within the community and the play is now of a very good standard.

1881 Northumberland West Maitland
1883 Lambton, Newcastle City, Wallsend/Plattsbury
1885 West Maitland Half Holiday Club
1886 Stockon 2nds, Carlton 2nds, Summerhill, Mount Zion, Rix’s Creek, Morpheth
1887 Our Boys 2nds, Hamilton, Northumberland 2nds, Oakhampton 2nds, Lochinvar Oakhampton is north of Rutherford
1888 Wallsend Juniors, Merewether,
Burwood United,
1890 Tighes Hill, Broadmeadows juniors, Charlestown, Rovers, Hamilton Juniors, Vulcans.
[1] Maitland Mercury 9 July 1881 p.8
[2] Newcastle Morning Herald 13 August p.3
[3] Newcastle Morning Herald 7 August 1885 p.2
[4] Maitland Mercury 219 July 1883 p.4
[5] Newcastle Morning Herald 28 July 1885 p.8
[6] Newcastle Morning Herald 25 June 1886 p.5
[7] Newcastle Morning Herald 31 August 1886 p. 8
[8] Maitland Mercury 25 June 1887 p.12

[9] Maitland Mercury 28 June 1887 p.3
[10] Maitland Mercury 24 May 1888 p.5
[11] Newcastle Morning Herald 25 June 1888 p.6
[12] Maitland Mercury 18 April 1889 p.4
[13] Newcastle Morning Herald 5 August 1889 p.8
[14] Newcastle Morning Herald 11 March 1890 p.5
[15] Newcastle Morning Herald 4 June 1894 p.3
[16] Newcastle Morning Herald 16 June 1898 p.7
[17] Maitland Daily Mercury 22 June 1898 p.2