140 Years of Footy at the SCG – First Intercolonial Game

Dr Rod Gillett continues the series on the SCG as a venue for football for 140 years.

                   The 1933 Carnival Game – NSW v WA
     NSW player Powditch outmarks his WA opponent

The Sydney Cricket Ground has been the venue for the biggest Australian football games in Sydney since it started with the first intercolonial football match of any code between NSW and Victoria on 6 August 1881.

The Victorian easily won the match 9-17 to NSW 1-6; however, only goals were counted in this period. It was a return match as NSW and Victoria had played their first intercolonial match at the MCG on 1 June which Victoria won 9-24 to 0-1.  (Note: behinds were shown but not counted in the score; goals had the value of one point)

The attendance was estimated at 5000, which The Sydney Morning Herald (8 August 1881) reported was “…the largest concourse of spectators that ever attended a football match in Sydney.”

The then governing body, NSW Football Association, had only been formed the previous year while the Victorians had been playing football since the late 1850s and had formed an Association in 1877. The rules had been first written by committee members of the Melbourne Cricket Club in 1859.

The New South Wales team wore a blue guernsey and knickerbockers with scarlet caps and stockings with the Victorian representatives played in red, white and blue.

The respective teams which consisted of twenty players were as follows:

New South Wales: Kellett (captain), Randall, Nash, Young, Phillips, Clay, Martin, Terry, Jackson, Daly (East Sydney), O’Brien, Burns, Bull, Jackson, A. MacNamara, J. MacNamara, Pierce, Crisp, Hedger (Sydney), and Bull (Petersham)

Victoria: Austin (captain), Collins, Murphy, Robertson, Steadman (Geelong), Neely, Patterson, Weld, Ley (Hotham), Goer (vice-captain), Coventry, Spear, McIntosh (Carlton), Carter, Griffiths (Essendon), Dougall, Cody, Tindall, Dunn, Manderson (East Melbourne)

The match report in The Sydney Morning Herald (8 August 1881) stated that:

“…although the Victorian side scored nine goals to one, they were frequently hard pressed by their opponents, and had the latter exercised a little more judgement and skill in little marking in front of the Victorian goal-posts the points scored would not have been so unevenly
balanced.   It must be admitted that the Victorians deserved their victory. They kept their places admirably which our men as a rule failed to do and the skill displayed by them in dodging and weaving were remarkable. “….they (the spectators) were frequently carried away with the
excitement of the competition, and cordially applauded both sides throughout the game”.

The victors were best served by their skipper Austin and his Geelong team-mates Robertson and Steadman and Essendon’s Carter while the best players for NSW were Albert Young, who kicked their only goal with a 60-yard place kick, and Thomas Nash (both East Sydney), and Sydney pair George Pierce and George Crisp.

Despite the strong support for this first intercolonial game in Sydney a Victorian representative team did not play NSW at the SCG again until the ANFC Carnival in 1914, and then again for the 1933 carnival. NSW lost both games as it did for inter-state matches in 1948 and 1948.

However, NSW finally triumphed over Victoria at the SCG in their first-ever state-of-origin clash in 1990, winning 13-8 (86) to 10-16 (76).

In his history of the Sydney Cricket Ground entitled The Grand Old Game (1981), Philip Derriman states the first intercolonial match in 1881 opened the door for the other football codes, “the most important (sic) … was the first-ever NSW – Queensland rugby match in 1882”.

Derriman fails to mention the ANFC National Interstate Carnivals which were played on the SCG in 1914 and 1933 when arguably the best footballers in the country competed at the SCG.

He has written chapters in the book on the other football codes of Rugby Union and Rugby League, and even Pedestrianism (athletics) and Cycling, and of course, Cricket but no chapter on Australian Football which has a rich history at the SCG. It must be noted that the history has been further enriched with the arrival of the Swans in 1982, but that it all began 140 years ago.

SCHOOLBOYS FOOTY – new photo

1922 NSW Schoolboys Team 2 smallEver thought about where our footballers came from years ago?  I mean what junior football did they participate in.

In Sydney, junior club football was almost non-existent until about 1923 when the Metropolitan Australian National Football Association was formed.  And even then the lowest grade was Under 16.

Previous to this there was a junior league in Sydney but the age group was more for boys 18 or 19.  A Young Australian Association also existed for some time up to the first war, but again, the age group was not for minors.

Ironically, football was played quite extensively at schools during the first decade of the twentieth century in Sydney.  The NSW league even had a fulltime school football organiser.

In 1906 a schools competition in Sydney had one A Division group comprising Petersham, Fort Street, Pyrmont, Waverley and Kogarah, the first two teams to give the others handicaps while 37 schools made up the remaining seven groups in B Division .

Eight Catholic schools participated.

Petersham Superior School won the final game that year against Double Bay for the schools premiership and also the right to travel to Melbourne in an all expenses paid trip to play for the schools championship on the MCG.  Their headmaster however, Mr James Rickard waived their claim which permitted the winners of a match between Double Bay and Fort Street to go.

The following year the Young Australian competition reported that 29 teams participated in their competition.  New teams include: Ryde, Nth Annandale, Bexley and a second St Leonards.

A Grade consisted of Ryde, Nth Shore, Kegworth, Paddington, Kegworth B, Sydney B, St Leonards, Illawarra (Hustville), Drummoyne, Petersham, YMCA, Newtown, Balmain, Eastern Suburbs and Northern Suburbs.

The B Grade included Newtown, Kegworth, Summer Hill, Sydney, Balmain A., Summer Hill and Bexley all playing of a Friday afternoon.

In 1909 the secretary of the PSAAA committee, Mr Garden suggested that rather than send a single school team to Melbourne each year, maybe it would be more stimulating to send a representative side.

As a consequence a schoolboys team comprised of: W. Stafford, F. Crozier, E. Cullen-Ward, R. Smith, B. O’Grady, S. Russell (Fort St); A Stenhouse, L. Dunbar, J. Kelly (Petersham), Ron Swan (Ryde), Arthur Emanuel, & Bede (Erskineville), J. Adams (Double Bay); Walker, John Iler, Thompson & George Thew, Gordon, (Burwood).  Emergencies: Ernie Messenger (Double Bay), Dean (Ryde), Hadden (Hurstville) & Stan Morehouse (Erskineville) was chosen.

They had no chance against a team representing the public schools of Victoria.  The match was played on the MCC Ground on 24 September, prior to the VFL final and it was a very one sided affair, the home boys winning by no fewer than 116 points.  The Victorian boys were heavier and bigger than the visitors.  Final scores: Victoria 17.14 (116) NSW 1.6 (12).

In 1912, under the control of Mr G Perry of Burwood Superior School, announced he would have six teams in the competition. “It was,” he said, “intended to reduce the age of the players in the Young Australian League to 18 years, so that boys at school, and those who have just left school, but who are too youthful for the association team, may enter it’s ranks.”

The war however changed everything with school and junior football.

Eventually it was left to people like Rupert Browne, a teacher of the Gardeners Road Public School at Mascot (formerly of Kegworth school in Sydney) who in April 1914 suggested the concept of introducing an under 16 competition in Sydney schools.

Gardeners Road school in those days was an intermediate high school or in contemporary terms a junior high school.  They also offered advanced education at night and by 1918 had a school population of 1800 students.

PSSA or PSAAA (as it was called in those days) have nurtured many young footballers in their state teams over the years.  These are the best primary schoolboys who play annually in a national carnival at a venue around Australia.

Strangely not a high percentage of these boys over the years, have gone on to play top level football.  Some don’t even go on at all.

The interstate schoolboy carnivals began in 1921 after NSW separately played Victoria and Queensland in school football in the years immediately after WWI.

The first carnival was held in Brisbane where the Victorian side went through undefeated.

Initially the NSW team was drawn from schools like, Paddington, Newtown, Double Bay, Glenmore Road (Paddington), Kogarah, Hurstville, Coolamon, Narrandera, Newcastle and Gardeners Road.

NSW won the 1923 and 1924 national PSAAA.  Both years the side contained some great local talent.  Some of whom would go on to represent the state at a senior level and Gardeners_Rd_School_1925 smallat least two, a Double Bay and Gardeners Road boys, played in the VFL.  One captained Fitzroy.

This photo on the right shows the NSW schoolboys team in 1925 in their visit to Brisbane.  They are wearing jumpers from the Gardeners Road Public School and amongst their number includes Stan Lloyd who played 117 games with and captained St Kilda, Lionel Hastie, who played 13 games with the strong Fitzroy Club in 1931, Stan Powditch winner of three NSW Football League’s leading goalkicking award in  the 1930s and of course little Jimmy Stiff, who won the best player award in the 1933 Sydney All-States National Carnival.

We have all the names of these boys but aligning them with a face is most difficult.

By 1926 the Sydney Schools competition had split into two divisions, Northern, which included Lane Cove, Artarmon, Willoughby, Gordon, Chatswood, Hornsby, Lindfield, Naremburn, Crows Nest, Neutral Bay & Mosman schools.  The other was called Metropolitan which included: Gardiners Road, Glenmore Road, Double Bay, Epping, Erskineville, Newtown.

One item I dragged out of the archives from August 1926 you might like is the following:

“The Victorian Central Schools defeated Metropolis (Sydney Metro) at Chatswood Oval yesterday by 70 to 44. Caravagh (2) Jimmy Stiff (2) Reed, Burge and Smith were the goalscorers for the local team.”

But, it all changes.

SYD FELSTEAD PASSES

While reported on the passing of Alf Penno this week yet another legend of Sydney football, not a player but an administrator, has died suddenly.

He former long term St George president and league official, Syd Felstead, passed away in June 2011, he was 92.

St George Football Club historian, Pat McCourt, penned a profile of this very well respected man who really had the game at heart:

Syd’s journey through life is an amazing story!  His contribution to Australian Rules at St George, throughout Sydney and NSW is invaluable.  I will be brief in my summary; however on Syd’s passing we have to pay a tribute, acknowledge who Syd Felstead was and what he did to establish junior competitions of Australian Rules throughout Sydney.

Syd Felstead born 26 August 1919, Bendigo Victoria, his father dying in early 1920s as result service at Gallipoli and gassing received in France in WW1.  After moves around Victoria, and Paddington in Sydney in 1928, Syd and his mother moved to Dora St Hurstville in 1930 at start of the depression. A time when Syd and his mother eked out a living; Syd on his bike, he named “Greenie” doing deliveries and collecting manure in his billy cart [made from a fruit box and wheels off a pram], selling a cart load to neighbours for sixpence [now five cents]!

In 1934 at age 15, having passed the Intermediate certificate, Syd left school eventually got an apprenticeship at ACI Glassworks as a crystal glass cutter, earning eleven shillings and sixpence per week [today’s currency; one dollar and fifteen cents]. He traded his bike “Greenie” on a new Malvern Star, paying it off at two shillings per week [present currency; twenty cents] and played junior Rules matches in local school and local park competitions! Syd commenced in 1938 with St George AFC, in Reserve Grade [St George Third grade was not formed until 1958].

Syd was associated with some greats of that St George era; likes of Phonse Kyne, Jack Browne, and Stan Powditch and was lucky to witness St George’s Premiership in 1938.  Syd also had a strong affiliation with the committee and between 1938 and 1957 (allowing for time spent overseas in WWII with RAAF, crewing in Wellington and Lancaster bombers), played a total of 128 senior games; was a member of 1951 Reserve Grade premiership.

After returning from war, Syd with partners started their own cut glass business, and continued playing with St George, mainly as fullback.  During his time as a player, Syd was an active committee member, with Andrew Glass as President. In 1955 Syd became President, holding the position for 20 years when he stepped aside in 1974.  Under his Presidency, St George played in three consecutive Grand finals between 1964 and 1966; winning 1964 Premiership!

Behind the scenes with colleagues from various Sydney Clubs, Syd was active developing the junior base of all Sydney Clubs. He chaired committees to establish St George junior clubs in 1950s; likes of Como, Peakhurst and Boys Town [all since faded into history]. Present junior Clubs [Ramsgate, Miranda, Cronulla and Penshurst] established with assistance from; Ruben Fraser, Alan Gibbons, Alex Melville.  Some of Syd’s achievements, included –

Life Memberships and Awards

 Life member of St George AFC – awarded 1953

Life member of AFL (NSW/ACT) – awarded 1967

In 2000, received from Prime Minister an Honour Award for 2000 Bi Centennial celebrations – for past contributions to Australian Rules

St George AFC ‘Hall of Fame’ –  inducted in 2005 one of five initial inductees

 

Some other contributions and achievements [there were many] –

[As recorded in Syd’s hand written notes, held by me]

Elected to Board of Management of NSW ANFL 1956

Appointed Team Manager for NSW Teams from 1958 to 1965

In 1966 appointed by Sutherland Council to Ground Allocation Committee

Awarded Australian Sports Medal by Commonwealth Government

Served as Chair Person in formation of both Junior Assoc, and St George body of NSW ANFL Junior Planning Committee

Chaired formation committee of St George All Age Comp/Open Age League [now defunct]; subsequently became NSW League Second division comp

Included in book published [2000] recording “History of Hurstville Oval”

Suggested, had passed initial concept of Club Championship Points at NSW League

Held positions in 1950s and 1960s as President and Delegate to NSW ANFL

Awarded ˜Merit Award” by Australian Football Council

Olds Park – Syd was instrumental in 1968/1969 in securing the initial 21 year lease on Olds Park when St George made the move from Hurstville Oval.  Syd was involved in 1970 in the unsuccessful application to obtain a liquor licence for St George at Olds Park which was backed at time by Bill Picken [Western Suburbs fame].

Due to his strong Australian wide connections in Aussie Rules circles, whilst President, Syd was instrumental in getting the likes of Dale Dalton, Don McKenna, Dennis & Ray Pegg, Ralph Todd, Graham Cornes and many other interstate recruits to play with St George.

Syd was always strongly supported by his wife, Betty [nee O’Reilly b.1924] whom he married during the war and had four children; Graham, Sandra, Robyn and David. Both boys played briefly at St George, where Betty was a pillar of strength, working in the canteen at Hurstville Oval, selling raffle tickets and organising social functions. They retired to live at Vincentia, where Betty passed away in May 2005.

It can be categorically stated; Syd fathered the St George AFC junior competition as it stands today – Patrick McCourt was a member of initial team that started Miranda junior club! Syd’s blue print to establish St George junior clubs, was adopted by other Sydney Clubs.

Syd Felstead made a valuable contribution to successes enjoyed by a vast base of Australian Rules players, supporters. He established basis for present day operations for many persons who continue to participate, enjoy Australian Rules throughout Sydney and NSW. St George benefited from Syd’s earlier work; winning eleven, Third Grade Premierships between 1958 and 1980; with two runner ups and only three times did it not make the final four in that era.

Australian Rules is poorer upon the passing of Syd Felstead. Syd was a pioneer; St George has lost an icon!

For contemporary players and followers of Sydney football, Syd was a regular attendee at the league’s annual Phelan Medal Night.  Syd Felstead “was really a nice guy.”