– 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.

Bob Merrick – Goalkicker

1917 Bob MerrickWe came across some interesting information when researching Sydney goalkickers.

The Sydney 1st grade goalkicking list is far from complete although we are slowly closing the gaps. Next to no records were kept of the goalkickers (or any other players for that fact) until the league went through a minor restructure in 1926.  Then though, the scant record keeping started from that year.

That was when the successful Paddington Club joined together with East Sydney to form Eastern Suburbs to play in the familiar red, white and blue.

Balmain and Railway clubs disappeared and “District” football was reintroduced.

It was almost from then that football achievements were recorded, mainly due to the efforts of long term league secretary, Ken Ferguson.

Bob Merrick was a Port Melbourne Gun. He was small for a full forward at 175cm and sometimes was used in other positions but mainly he kept on the forward line. At 21 he won Port’s leading goalkicking award in 191,  then again in 1914 & 15. His 1915 effort also saw him top the VFA goalkicking list with 43 goals. In July of that year he kicked 10 against Brighton and his form was so good that early in that season, the Carlton Club offered Port Melbourne £50 ($100 or $ today) to “buy him out”. In other words, pay Port Melbourne to transfer Merrick to the Blues.

However in mid July he was on crutches after hospitalisation with an injured knee he received while playing. The injury kept him off the field and presumably out of work for 15 weeks. So much did it effect him that his club were obliged to hold a benefit night and fund for him.

Merrick 1 small Merrick 2 small Merrick 3 small

By December, Merrick was playing cricket so he obviously overcame his disability.

What, I can hear you ask does all this have to do with NSW Football?

Well in May of the next year, Bob Merrick turned out for the East Sydney Club. This in a period that the VFA had gone into recess because of WWI and the lack of man power.

At full forward, Merrick won Sydney Football’s 1917 Leading Goalkicking Award booting 35 majors. In the same year he was married. Merrick also played the 1918 year for East Sydney and again figured prominently in the goals.

In 1919 at aged 27 he transferred to the Fitzroy Club where he went on to play 59 games booting 181 goals. He topped Fitzroy’s goalkicking in 1919, 20 & 22. In round 16, 1919 he booted 12 goals against the Melbourne FC at Brunswick Street.  He missed playing in the Maroon’s 1922 premiership due to his re-occurring knee injury.

Merrick played country football and had one last shot at the VFL in 1926. He then tried his hand at umpiring.