– Gus McKernan

A long term member of our committee, Gus McKernan has died.

He suffered for the past six months from pancreatic cancer and finally succumbed to this dastardly ailment today, Friday 23 February 2018;  he was 73.

Born and raised in Euroa, Victoria he played footy for the local side and of course fell in love with the game.

Upon leaving school he successfully entered the Australian naval cadets and spent three wonderful years at HMAS Creswell.

Unfortunately he did not finish his course and moved to Sydney where he took on an appointment with the Commonwealth Bank at Windsor.  This led to moves in his job and while he played rugby league at Windsor in 1965 he pulled on the boots for St George, mostly in reserve grade.  Gus later became an outstanding insurance agent and in fact advertised his business in the Sydney Football Record.

Later he moved to the north west of Sydney and got himself involved in the burgeoning Pennant Hills club and never left.

He was an absolute dyed in the woods Penno supporter and of the Sydney Football League.  He often boasted that he attended every Sydney grand final from 1967 and also the last 42 Phelan Medal nights, apart from 2017 (which in fact turned out to be a great night) because he was disappointed with the direction Sydney football had taken.  Womens’ football was not his favourite subject but nevertheless he was one of footy’s great supporters.  Always at a VFL/AFL grand final and a member of the Sydney Swans since their move to Sydney in 1982, he was true blue footy.

At one stage we even had a segment on the website named after him: “Ask Gus” and boy did it create some controversy.  You can see him in the attached pic.

Gus was not one to come to our Croydon Park rooms to work, more to talk and read any of the new material that had arrived, so we gave him that job: ‘chief reader’.  I don’t know if that worked but he took on the job as treasurer for a couple of years and loved overseeing the Bunnings Bar-B-Qs the Society held, they were always of course not to conflict with his attendance at Wednesdays Races.  He was a member of the Hawkesbury Race Club and a perennial attender at the Grafton Cup.

We have lost another good bloke;  someone who enjoyed life and loved footy.  Rest in peace Gus.

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.

SYDNEY PLAYERS WHO PLAYED IN THE VFL/AFL

How many players can you name who went from Sydney football to play in the VFL or AFL?

With the advent of the Sydney Swans in Sydney it becomes a little easier but the list goes way back to the 1880s.  So we were not always the back water when it comes to football talent.

We can name three Sydney footballers who went on to captain VFL/AFL sides:  Former Double Bay Primary School player who later turned out with the Eastern Suburbs and St George Clubs, Freddy Davies, captained Fitzroy in 1934.  Then in 1940, former Newtown player, Stan Lloyd, captained St Kilda in 1940 followed two years later by fellow Newtown team mate and Phelan Medal Winner, Reg Garvin, who captained the Saints for the 1942-3 seasons.  Garvin finished equal 4th in the 1941 Brownlow Medal the same year he won the first of his two St Kilda best and fairest awards, the other coming in 1944. For the 1942 and 1943 seasons he was not only captain but also coach of the club.

In 2004, former Pennant Hills junior, Lenny Hayes was captain of the St Kilda Club.

History Society committee member, Bob Wilton is compiling a list of players to go from the Sydney competition to the VFL/AFL.  There have been some, as senior players from interstate or another senior NSW competition, who have come into the Sydney competition then off to Melbourne so unfortunately, they do not qualify for Bob’s list.

Are you able to contribute some names that Bob may miss?  If so,  simply email us at history@aflnswact.com.au with the player’s name, his Sydney club, the approximate years he played in Sydney and the VFL/AFL club he played with.  We shall publish the final list in due course.

Our photograph shows Reg Garvin as a 21 year old representing NSW against WA on the Sydney Cricket Ground in 1933 – courtesy of the State Library of NSW.