These interstate round robin carnivals were popular, but now with the AFL virtually playing interstate games each round, the interest and significance of such events have lost favour. The last of these was in 1988 as part of the bi-centennial celebrations when the then VFL clubs released their players to play a state of origin carnival series in Adelaide.
However in July 1924, in an unusual turn of events, NSW selected a team to participate in two matches against the very strong Victorian team at the same time as the carnival was being played. Consequently, the team they selected was regarded as a ‘second rate’ side, given that the main NSW team would be in Tasmania.
As a leadup, officials organised a game between this second tier NSW team and a combined team from ‘the juniors’.
Now it took some research to work out exactly who these ‘juniors’ represented. In some reports they were recorded as a combined reserve grade and in others, ‘juniors’.
In 1924 not all first grade teams supported a reserve grade so the following first grade clubs in the Sydney competition had other, or ‘junior’ clubs play in the place of their second eighteen and before the main or first grade game of the day. It should be noted that these teams were made up of open age players:
|First Grade Club||Reserve Grade Club|
|North Shore||South Sydney|
|East Sydney||Western Suburbs|
It would appear that St George was a late nomination for the competition.
The game between NSW and a combined second grade was played at Erskineville Oval and itself was a curtain raiser to a match between the main metropolitan contingent for the carnival team and a team from the South Broken Hill Club. Two players from the latter side were eventually added to the NSW carnival team.
The game between combined junior team and the second NSW side commenced at 1.40pm, given that in those days there was a 48 hour week with most people working of a Saturday morning.
There were 3,000 in attendance to watch this leadup match and the ‘juniors’ left no stone unturned to establish themselves as the dominant of the two.
The quarter time scores were: 2-5 to 1-3, 5-7 to 2-4, 5-10 to 3-4 with the final score a win the for junior side, 6-11 (47) to 3-6 (24)
Despite their rating, the juniors had some stars in their side. It contained the Rosebery captain, Jacky Hayes who would go on to play for Footscray and later captain-coach St George and later, the Sydney Club. Rob Smith a Newtown player, who in 1928, turned out for North Melbourne and Percy Flynn who later topped the Sydney first grade goalkicking list playing for South Sydney.
Officials cried foul citing the omission of eight of the NSW players from the team, the reason for their absence being unanswered.
Nevertheless the score was on the board. Here was a NSW team defeated by a “virile, youthful and skilful” bunch of aspirants. They did well.
On 9 August incidentally, the NSW, team, as expected, were defeated in their first encounter with Victoria in front of 6,000 at Erskineville Oval, 15-14 (104) to 13-13 (91) and in their second at the MCG, 15-12 (102) to (again) 13-13 (91) before a crowd of 16,370.