As this season fades into history, we have been looking round for something to write about. The question is, where do we start.
Then we identified a year which heralded so much change to football in NSW: 1970.
It would take several sessions to outline what did take place in that year, so we have centred on just a few events.
It was Australia’s Bi-Centenary. The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh together with Princess Anne and Prince Charles visited Australia to join with the rest of the country in the celebrations.
And they didn’t miss watching a game of Australian football as shown in the photo – details below
And in Sydney, a show for the Royals was put on at the Trocodero in Sydney’s George Street. This was a large dance and concert hall that operated between 1936 and 1971. It was once regarded as the “most glamorous dance palace in Sydney and accommodated up to 2,000 people”. It was the favoured venue for university and school ‘formals’, and hosted many important local rock and pop concerts during the 1960s. The block of cinemas has replaced the old Troc. between Liverpool and Bathurst Streets.
It was April when the Royal party “met young sportsmen (we don’t know if the word sportsmen refers to both genders) from all parts of the state” we were told.
“Our Australian Rules representatives included David Sykes, captain coach of Newtown, Rodney Tubbs the captain coach of Sydney University Club, Bob Sterling and Emmanuel (Manny) Keriniaua from the St George Club. Also Ian Allen, North Shore and NSW centre half back and Chris Huon, one of the young brigade of umpires making their mark on Sydney football.”
Both David Sykes, Ian Allen and Chris Huon are members of the Football History Society.
On the opening day of the season a team of Northern Territory Aboriginal Schoolboys played a Sydney Schoolboys team in an Under 16 match. The boys from the north cleaned up the Sydney side, 17-12 (114) to 11-12 (78) at Picken Oval.
It is interesting to look at the names of some of the Sydney players and the junior clubs they came from. For example:
|Alan Bouch (son of NSWAFL Board Member, Doug)||Warringah|
|Graeme Foster – later Balmain, East Sydney and NSW player||Ermington|
|Mark Andrews – (son of Brian, a former state player and Balmain coach) who played with North Shore||Warringah|
|David McVey – who went on to win a Kealey Medal with St George
|Mark McClure – later captain of Carlton FC||Eastern Suburbs|
|Greg Harris – later state player and captain coach of East Sydney FC||St George|
|Bill Free – former Newtown player was the coach|
|Other junior clubs that no longer exist or have had a name change:||Warwick Farm, Holsworthy, Green Valley, Bankstown Sports, Manly/Seaforth|
In 1970, the long term league secretary Ken Ferguson retired and was given a well attended sendoff at the Western Suburbs Club.
At last the league introduced a second division after years of half-hearted attempts to cater for burgeoning clubs in Sydney. The clubs that comprised the league’s other open age competition since the demise of the Metropolitan Australian National Football Association in 1952 were: Warringah, St Ives, Salasians, Penshurst, UNSW, Sydney University and Western Suburbs. Later, North Shore and South Sydney also entered teams.
The second division thing just wasn’t right, it was unbalanced. Because they didn’t have enough clubs to go round in a stand alone competition, Sydney Uni, UNSW, South Sydney and Macquarie University fielded their senior teams in the normal open age reserve grade, which, like today, created problems at away games. This was corrected the following season.
1970 was Sydney Naval’s last hurrah. It was their final year in the competition after such a splendid involvement in the game dating back to 1881. There was an attempt to combine the club with the struggling South Sydney side but that too failed. South in fact, were on their knees after being relegated following a number of poor seasons. But with a band of willing workers they managed a further half a dozen years.
There were early moves to play a Victoria v South Australia game at the SCG mid season. The expenses were estimated at in excess of $30,000 (assessed using the Reserve Bank of Australia’s calculator today at $317,647.06), seems a bit rich, but thats the reason the game did not go ahead and Sydney had to wait until 1974 to see the Vics play the Crows at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Big news during the season was that Wests were to lose their home ground of Picken Oval to a supermarket complex. Canterbury Council failed to give the idea the green light so it was shelved but it didn’t take too many years before a further and very damaging issue effected the relationship between Wests and their ground.
The Newtown club opened clubrooms on the normally unknown mid level in the grandstand at Erskineville Oval. It wasn’t long though before they moved their social activities to the old Stage Club at 303 Cleveland Street, Redfern which became the Newtown Rules Club.
And finally for the first time in Sydney, the ABC telecast highlights of two VFL games each Saturday Night at the very late time of 10:50pm, well before the introduction of domestic VCR – recorders. It didn’t take long before the then very conservative ABC decided to ditch the show producing howls of complaint from footy followers. So much so that the league printed a form on which supporters could register their PROTEST to the Director of Programmes, ABC 2, Sydney. It worked and these highlights were retained for the rest of the season.
Our photograph of course is not Sydney football, but the Queen being introduced to the Fitzroy team in the same year. Some questions for you about this event:
* What ground was the game played at?
* Which team played Fitzroy on that day?
* What was the most unusual and in fact unique circumstance of this game?
And seeing Australia lost probably its most iconic prime minister this week, it is worth a mention that either in the late fifties or early sixties, Gough took one of his sons along to Rosedale Oval to learn the game of Australian football. We don’t think there were many follow up visits.
You can send your answers to this address: Click here.