Players Strike!

1930 East v Sydney at Trumper Park smallIn late July 1929, a number of the Eastern Suburbs Football Club players refused to take their place in the team at Erskineville Oval in a match against South Sydney.

The game was originally scheduled for Trumper Park but the South Sydney club thought they could secure a bigger gate if the game was moved to Erskineville.

At that stage, South Sydney was sitting in second place with five wins and three losses, while Eastern Suburbs was in fifth spot with four wins and four losses. East had won their first round encounter against the Rabbits and naturally enough, were reluctant to give their opponents any perceived advantage in the match.

South Sydney put the proposal to change the venue to a meeting of the League on July 22 which voted 9-2 in favour.

On the day, only seven from East’s eighteen took the field, the remainder of the team was made up of reserve grade players, all of whom had backed-up.

Two of East’s stars, Stan Milton (pictured), after whom the Sydney Football Goalkicking Award is named and Fred Davies, who later went on to 1930 - Stan Milton smallcaptain Fitzroy, were among those who stood out.

With a scheduled 3.00pm start, it was not until 15 minutes before that it was certain that East would field a team. Sam Organ, Kean, Sanders, Hyland, Stoppelbein, Nicholas and Lindsay Kelton were the only senior players who made up the first grade team that day.

It turns out that the decision not to play was not without warning.  It had been made in the week prior to the match and this decision was conveyed to the League Secretary by the president and secretary of the club. It stated that their team would not take the field against South Sydney unless the game was played at the originally scheduled venue of Trumper Park.

In anticipation of no game the League had made arrangements for patrons to be reimbursed their entry fee.

The decision by the players was not a popular one with the public and League officials besieged with complaints and seeking information as to what action could be taken against the recalcitrant players.

At a subsequent meeting of the League, Eastern Suburbs FC officials said they had arranged a meeting with all their players over the matter. It was pointed out however, that the club had fulfilled its obligation and did field a team in the match.

The League however refused to select any of the subject Eastern Suburbs players to play for NSW against the visiting Perth FC team the following week.

At their club meeting an amicable agreement had been arrived at and a guarantee given that no further trouble would be found from these players.

This result was placed before a League meeting where the offending players were pardoned after they had expressed regret for their action and had promised not to offend in a like manner again.

Whether as a result of this decision or not, Arch Kerr, a former League Secretary, submitted his resignation at that meeting from all positions on the League, accusing those in charge of the league of “apathy and mismanagement”.

It was later ascertained that Kerr’s resignation was due to the parlous financial position the League had found itself in.  At the meeting it was revealed that the League was one hundred and sixty pounds ($11,860 in today’s money) in debt with the incumbent secretary informing the league that he had been unable to convene a quorum of the management committee for over a month.