94 and still going

Dick Wilson
today

A story from our president, Ian Granland:

“Yesterday I had the pleasure of visiting a 94 year old gentleman at his home in Carlingford, Sydney.

My purpose was to conduct and record an oral interview with Dick Wilson, a former player with both the St George and Eastern Suburbs Clubs.

My knowledge of Dick was provoked by his nephew, Andy Horton a former player and official with the Liverpool Club in Sydney.  Andy visited our rooms at Croydon Park for some research last year when he mentioned that ‘Uncle Dick’, who represented NSW, was alive and well and living at Carlingford.

Dick Wilson
in 1949

I kept this information in my memory bank until I began researching players for the Society’s Representative Games section which was started some time ago beginning with NSW representative games in 1881;  I am now up to the 1947 All States Carnival in Hobart.  Since starting, I have loaded 221 games together with their details as well over 1200 players and their bios and in many cases, images.

I saw Dick’s name pop up when documenting rep games after the war in 1946.  In that year he played against Queensland, Broken Hill, Perth and Richmond Football Clubs.  My interest in him deepened when I found that he was a local and had never played football until the same year.

Letter to Dick Wilson enclosing
entry tickets to game

Dick was a marvellous candidate to interview, now living alone in a modest cottage he built for himself and his family in the mid 1950s.

He loaned me some of his ‘football treasurers’ which included photographs, football records, letters and invitations which we shall scan and add to our digital collection.

I set up our digital recording equipment in his back room and as I asked him questions he gave an amazing account of his life, as a child born in Kensington, Sydney, only 300m from South Sydney’s home ground, his early working experience, a detailed record of his time in WWII, his football and how he moved into working with his brother as builders.

Unfortunately I failed to gain a photograph of Dick, although we do have a number of him when he played.

We will load the interview on our website in the podcast section and hope to have it available for listening in the very near future.”

The photograph we have posted here is from 1990 when the league invited all known members of the 1949 NSW team that played the VFL at the SCG to attend a function at the ground prior to another game against the VFL rep team.  Dick is at the bottom right.

– Tas Carroll – schoolteacher

We have often written that people in sport and more particularly in our case, football, who are lost in the throng of the many who make up football clubs, leagues and groups.

In their time their names “are up in lights” and many became most prominent players or most influential officials or perhaps an outstanding umpire.

And yet when they withdraw or are lost to the code, their names and qualities are almost gone forever.

Sometimes there is a medal or trophy named after them so you can say their names may live on.  But who questions the name on the medal that was perhaps won by a player from your club?  Who knows about him or her for that fact?  Who knows what impact that person had on the game in their particular discipline?

Of course this is the case right around Australia.  It is the “xxx’ or “xyz” medal but who gives a tinkers cuss who “xzy” was?  We could go on about this forever and while times change the circumstances really do not but the memory of their influence or impact naturally enough fades or has faded into the distant past.

And what of those who want to or do change the names of these trophies.? They have no respect for the past.

In Sydney Australian Football there was such a man who led the push.  He was a school teacher and probably one of three who spread the game across the city and at the time who went to extraordinary lengths to promote his students into the game of Australian Football.

We have written about Rupert Browne, and of course there was H.G. (Bunny) Shepherd and Tas Carroll.  Or to be more precise, Tasman Stanley Shepherd.

Tas. (as he was known to his many friends) was born at Stanley in Tasmania in 1902.  After school he went into a career of teaching.  By 1928 he was living at Sandy Bay then two years later along with his wife he was Lillis, he had moved to his long time residence of 36 Kimberley Road, Hurstville.

Strangely, he did not get involved with the then newly formed St George Club however he began teaching at Leichhardt Tech where he promoted the game and coached teams from his school in the fledgling (Australian) football schools competition.

By 1931 he had been transferred to Hurstville Central Technical School and was appointed co-manager of the NSW PSSSA (Public Schools Amateur Athletic Assn) Australian Football Team which even then included future St George players in Don Menzies, Steve Duff and the 1939 Sanders Medalist (Sydney Reserve Grade B & F), Albert Butcher.

Tas went on to become intensely involved with schools football in Sydney and like Rupert Browne and H G Shepherd, became mentors to young men who would go on to play senior football in NSW with a percentage moving into the VFL.

Despite his commitment to the game he was never elected a life member of the NSW Football League although his two colleagues, Browne and Shepherd were.  Also he missed on the ANFC’s Merit Award, and honour bestowed upon a person for his or her outstanding commitment to football in the state.

Regardless, his loyalty to the game, particularly in the schools remained consistent through to about 1960.  In these latter years he was the honorary schools secretary when he was listed as a teacher at the South Hurstville School.

There are many men in Australia who owe their involvement and in some way so too do the St George Club who were the recipient of these players , including a former outstanding club president in Sid Felstead.

Tas’s daughter, Patsy who also became a schoolteacher, was another who the St George Club benefited from his involvement.  She turned out to be the club’s publicity officer, writing in the St George Leader as well as the Football Record for a number of years.

Tas died in 1992, aged 90, his death unnoticed by the Australian Football community of the time.

 

Unfortunately we have no image of Tas.

Ellis Noack

Ellis Noack with the NSW Police Commissioner, Fred Hanson

Probably one of the best known players and later administrators of the game in Sydney during the 1950s, 70s & 80s.

There was no-one in Sydney who didn’t know or know of Ellis.

He came to Sydney in 1956 from Ariah Park, NSW to join the NSW Police Force and during his time in football played with:

  • Eastern Suburbs FC
  • St George FC
  • Newtown FC – as captain-coach
  • Southern Districts FC
  • South Sydney FC
  • Campbelltown FC
Ellis with the Police Team

And during the week in the season he played for the Police Football Club.

He amassed probably close to 500 senior games in his career and besides life member of the Sydney Football League and clubs, he was admitted to the Sydney Hall of Fame some years ago.

 

 
This is a short interview made during a function at the Alexandria Hotel in Sydney.

 

Percy Symons – St George

Percy has a long involvement with the St George Club.  He first started with them in 1946 following his employment in the Navy.

He was one of those players you love:  Strong, talented and forever reliable.

Percy played over 12 seasons for the Saints and included in this was a match representing NSW against Broken Hill.

Unfortunately our image of Percy is not the best but we are working on getting a more improved version soon.

We hope you like our interview and Percy’s experiences:

– Narandera Imperials defeat St George

imperials-logoThe last football match of the 1941 season played on the Narandera Sportsground on Sunday 5 October, Sydney Club, St George played Narandera, before a large crowd of enthusiasts from Narandera, Leeton and districts. The Narandera side richmond-logo-1977included six Leeton players and the captain of the local R.A.A.F.  – Narandera team.

St. George team members, which finished fourth in the competition that year were accorded a civic reception on their arrival on the Saturday and were entertained at a euchre party end dance at night.  In those days the club wore a black jumper with a yellow sash.

Splendld marking and passing were features of the play of the visitors, who were beaten by only one point. The final scores were: Narandera 11 goals 9 behinds (75 points). St. George, 10 goals 14 behlnds (74 points).

In the first quarter Narandera took and held the lead though only by one point when the quarter ended. The scores were, Narandera 2 goals 4 behinds; St. George 2 goals 3 behinds. Leo Foley (Narandera) was responsible for the three goals scored in the second quarter which, with one point, made the score 5 goals, 5 behinds. St. George add- ed one goal, and four behinds to their score In the second term to make their score 3 goals, 7 behinds. The goal was kicked by Fred Pendergast, vice-captain of St. George. The visitors were at their best in the third quarter when in quick succession they added 7 goals, six behinds. Narandera scored only one goal (Leo Foley) and one point (Bob Dryburgh) In this term.

The last quarter had the onlookers thrilled with some splendid play. Taking advantage of the wind, Narandera made a big effort and although many possible goals resulted in only points being scared, they added 5 goals and 3 behinds.

St. George played splendidly but could only score a single point in this quarter. Fred Hopley (Leeton), Bert Hutchinson and Foley were responsible for Narandera’s goals. Foley was the hero of the match as his last goal marked the victory for his team. The few minutes of play after this goal which gave Narandera a lead of one point, were fast and thrilling and both sides fought hard for victory. St. George was best represented by Fred Prendergast, Ken Derry, Bernie Slattery, Ivan Argus and Steve Duff. Goals for St. George were kicked by Slattery (4), Duff, Harry Mallett, L. Williamson and George Farrow.  Narandera were best served by T. Davis, Jim Durnan, Leo Foley, Les Longmore, Fred Hopley. Charlie Weygood, and M. Hutchinson.

The St. George team were guests of the Leeton club on the following Monday morning where they were shown over the Irrigation Area. They returned to Sydney by train later in the day.

NOTE: The town of Naranderra was spelt Narandera in those days.

St George FC History Released

2013 David Green smallDavid Green, (pictured) a former St George player who was runner-up in the 1964 Phelan Medal, has written a trilogy on the history of the St George Australian Football Club.

He has spent years researching his subject and interviewed hundreds of former players and officials, not only from St George but other clubs as well as league officials, some dating back to times in WWII.

These three books, each of which are dedicated to a period from the club’s official 1929 beginnings in the senior division, are printed in an A4 format with sensational hard glossy cover and back.

STG books 2 STG books 3
STG books 1

For a real footy fan they are a must for their library.  The information they contain is interesting and at times reveals part of history of the game, not only for the club, but also the NSW Football League, unknown before today.

Each are about 50mm thick and contain about 700 pages or so of text and images, 2100 pages in all.  Should you purchase a set you will be absorbed with the information they contain.

To obtain your suite, call David on 07 33950784 or email him at degreen@bigpond.net.au, he will advise you of the cost and the best way to go about placing your order.

Now I can tell you that because of the size and content of these books he only had a limited number printed.  Most of these are already gone so if you are keen, be early to get your copies.  They come recommended.

The Signing of Davies was Unethical

1926 Fred Davies smallYou have probably never heard of Freddie Davies  …  not many football followers these days have.

But Fred was one of those rare players from NSW (Sydney), who went on to captain a VFL Club, but that was in 1934.  Ironically Davies was not the first Sydneyite to captain his VFL Club, Fitzroy.  Chris Lethbridge from the now defunct, YMCA Club was captain in 1922 and later non-playing coach.

However Fred had an ignominious start to his VFL career.

Born in Sydney he attended Double Bay Public School where the headmaster, Tom Stafford, was a keen (Australian) football supporter and one of few teachers in Sydney who actively promoted the game in and out of school.

Following his schooling the snowy headed Fred was elevated to the ranks of  local senior club, Paddington and by 1925 was a permanent fixture in their first grade.  When the team combined with East Sydney in 1926 he went on to become one of the stars of the new Eastern Suburbs Club and the league.

He represented NSW against the VFL, Richmond and Footscray Clubs in 1925 and twice against the VFL in 1926 so he was no slouch.

Then in the All-States carnival held in Melbourne in 1927 where he again was representing the state, the manager of the NSW team, Leo Percy, made an astounding announcement at a public function.

He told those gathered at a dinner held during the carnival where officials from all of the VFL clubs were present “I want to refer to the despicable action of the officials of one of your League clubs in persuading Davies, one of our best men, to sign an agreement to play with their team next season. I can assure you that I will do my utmost to prevent it”

It was an unfortunate introduction to league football for Davies.  It was also reported that he knocked back a big offer £4/10/, a week ($340 in today’s money and well in excess of the weekly wage) to play football and a job in the bargain in 1928, however it wasn’t until 1930 that he made his entry to Melbourne football in a season where he played the whole 18 games.

Fred ended up playing 63 games for Fitzroy from 1930-34 during a period when they didn’t enjoy the best of success.  He gained the captaincy in his last year by default when the original captain (and coach), Jack Cashman was of the opinion that he did not have the committee’s complete confidence and went off to play with Carlton after only two games.  It was then that the captaincy of the side was thrown in Fred’s lap and he went on to lead the side for the rest of the season, winning his first (against Carlton) and a further five games for the year.

After that the 28 year old pulled up stumps and returned to Sydney where he was appointed captain of the new St George Club and later leading them to a premiership in 1937.

GREEN’S WORK ON BOOK CONTINUES

2013 David Green smallFormer St George player of the 1960s, David Green, has made another journey from his Brisbane home to Sydney to gather more information on a book he is writing on the first fifty years of the St George Club, 1929-1978.

Green has made remarkable progress since we last reported on his efforts and recently has spoken to numerous people in his quest to document an account of the happenings, people and environment of the St George Club in that 50 year period.

His work has amassed an amazing collection of photographs, oral interviews and statistics but as he said, it’s a labour of love.

“I thought I would get this done sooner than later but it still looks like being 12 months or so until it’s finished” Green said, “theres so much to do.”

“Then of course I’ll have to get it edited and printed, so it’s all ahead of me.  I just hope those who read it will enjoy the experience.”

St George Celebrate

2013 St George Building Opening smallerSome officials of the Society were guests of the St George Club yesterday at the official opening of additions to their Peakhust Clubrooms.  Our photo is taken later in the day and we apologise for the poor quality.

The development of the ground and facilities have come a long way since 1965 when they moved their base from Hurstville Oval to their present site.

The additions include gymnasium and other facilities as well as an upgrade to the ground.

Amongst the one hundred or so invitees were a number of former club players including some of the club’s Phelan Medal Winners: Noel Reading (1965), Dale Dalton (1977), David West (1991), Tony Quinn (1993) and Simon Wilson (1997).

Here we have a photograph of Noel Reading taken yesterday, one of him receiving his medal  and a further photo action photo of Noel taken in 1966 at Trumper Park in a finals match against Wests.

2013 Noel Reading small 1965 Noel Reading receiving his medal 1965 Grand Final John Godwin (W) & Noel Reading (StG) small

 

BIG CROWDS AFTER THE WAR

We have written before about how WWII saw a huge increase in crowds attending Australian football in Sydney mainly brought about by the talented servicemen footballers transferred to the city for training and depot work.

Recently a document passed across our desk which provided hard statistics of crowd fluctuations pre and post hostilities.

This 1945 paper said that crowds had increased more than 400 percent over pre-war days.

It went on to state that attendances in 1944 were the highest for 20 years and yet the total competition gate during the first eight rounds in 1945 had topped the corresponding period in the previous year by 25%.

From 1920-25 the average weekend attendance was between 4,000 to 6,000 however that figure dropped to less than half in the ensuing eight seasons.  Even during the depression of the 1930s attendances declined further.

It all changed during the war when gradually crowds began to grow and there is no doubt the introduction of Sunday fixtures, as shown in our graph, had a huge impact on attendances at games.  It must be remembered here when viewing these statistics that there were only three senior games played in Sydney each weekend and they include the regular increase in attendance fees which cannot be differentiated.

The Sunday factor was highlighted in round 6, 1945 when a total of over 12,000 witnessed the games over the weekend of June 2 & 3.

Four thousand attended the Newtown v St George fixture at Erskinville Oval on the Saturday while over at Trumper Park, another 3,000 saw the RAAF side, full of VFL stars, gain its first win over premiers, Sydney Naval.

It was on the following day however, when Eastern Suburbs hung on for a thrilling five point victory over South Sydney 12.12 to 12.7, before a record home and away crowd in excess of 5,000 people.

It just goes to show that, under the circumstances and given the right conditions, people did attend football in Sydney in big numbers in Sydney.