Well we can tell you that the NSW Football Association, the forerunner to the NSW Australian Football League, played their first representative game at the MCG on 1 July 1881. The match was against the then VFA which was the first controlling body for football in Victoria. The VFL was formed in 1897 from some clubs that then comprised the VFA.
Behinds were not counted in the score in those days, winners were judged by the number of goals they kicked and just as well in this first game because the VFA or Victoria, kicked 9-24 to 0-1. The game in Sydney had only been going for 12 months while of course it was founded in Melbourne with the first game recognized as being played in 1858.
NSW played twenty six representative games between 1881 and until the Association’s demise in 1894 and only won against their regular nemeses, Queensland. They drew several of their other matches, mostly because behinds were not counted, an anomaly in the game that was changed in 1897.
When the code was resurrected in Sydney in 1903, VFL clubs were falling over themselves to visit and play against the locals. Some of the games were listed as NSW versus â€¦ or Metropolitan or alternatively, Combined Sydney and many of the records of the matches were lost or no effort was kept to maintain them. So it has taken many long years of research and investigation to locate details of the respective games.
NSW’s most significant victories have been two over the VFL which were both played in Sydney. They won the first of these in 1923, 15-11 to 11-19 and the other two years later by a point 13-10 to 13-9. It is fair to say though on the weekends these games were played, the VFL fielded at least two other representative sides playing other interstate games so maybe their top side was not that which was fielded against NSW.
In the first thirty years of the last century they defeated Queensland (on several occasions), Port Adelaide, Geelong (twice), Tasmania (twice), South Adelaide, West Torrens, Melbourne, ACT, Sth Aust Football Assn and most of these games were played in Sydney. They lost the rest which we have calculated as seventy.
The state has competed in numerous national carnivals, which up until the first war were played every three years in different states however in latter decades were relegated to competition between Tasmania, ACT and Queensland while the other states played in the same carnival but against supposedly (and more correctly) stronger opposition between themselves.
NSW have also played in at least three amateur carnivals, the most recent in a country championships carnival in Wagga in 2012. The other two were held in Adelaide in 1936 and Launceston in 1938 and we have included a photograph of the team taken as they travelled to the apple isle by boat.
As part of the 1988 Bi-Centenary celebrations, a pure State of Origin team was selected to compete in the carnival in Adelaide. They lost their game against South Australia but recorded their first ever win over WA 10-8 to 9-12.
Some might remember the pseudo State of Origin team NSW fielded on a rainy night game against the VFL on May 22 at the SCG. They won that match 13-8 to 10-16, much to the chargrin of Victorian selector, Ted Whitton. We say pseudo because the team contained several Sydney Swans players who were not born, nor played their junior football in NSW.
To sum it up, NSW have lost far more than they have won in interstate contests and now the state combines their fortunes with players selected from the ACT, so here’s to the future.