1944-07-01 Sydney Football Record front page 1 smallSociety officials have completed another painstaking chore by loading Sydney football records onto the website for the war years, 1941-44.

So far sixty of these publications have been loaded.  Some are four page editions, one or two single page efforts while the remainder are mostly of twelve pages.

Because of a shortage of paper during the war some of the Records were cut down to one sheet of paper folded to present four pages.  This unique contribution was enough to maintain a regular communication on the local competition to players and supporters.

In other years a one page effort had to suffice for a month and this occurred on two occasions in that season.  These gave the teams lists and not much more.

Those were the days (and carried on well into the 1990s) when volunteers who worked in the city, came into the league office then housed in the NSW Sports Club in Hunter Street, and helped the Honorary League Secretary and/or Record Editor to compile and staple the publication to ready them for sale at grounds the following weekend.  We know that a few of these reached our troops in the South Pacific as we imagine some also were sent on to the European theatre.

It is fascinating to read the names of the players who participated in Sydney during that period.  Many were top line interstate players who played in the VFL, SANFL  and WAFL including Phonse Kyne, captain of Collingwood, Alby Morrison a former captain of Footscray and Bill Morris who would go on to win a Brownlow Medal.

Terry Moriarty, winner of the 1943 Sandover Medal played in Sydney as did someone who would go on to be inducted in the AFL’s Hall of Fame from WA, Jack Sheedy.  There were many, many more.

From what we were told, these boys simply turned up at a ground seeking a game.  Maybe a quarter in the seconds would convince the coach of the player’s ability and he was taken off the field and put straight into the firsts.  Because of their situation in the military, many could not train.

It must have been great football and wonderful for the fans, many of whom were military personnel themselves.

Check this graph out which shows a spark in attendances at Sydney football during the war, Chart of Sydney Ground Gate Takings 1930-50 smallmost particularly when Sunday football was introduced.  To separate the grounds, the solitary green line above the ongoing graph is the takings at Trumper Park of a Sunday.  Click to enlarge.

Shortly the Society will post the 1939-40 and 45 Football Records on the site.  They have all of the former but only a handful of 1945 publications.  If anyone has any early editions in their family football treasurers we would very much appreciate copies which could then be added to a most absorbing list of Football Record many of which are available for everyone to peruse on the net.

The Season 1947

1947 was a mammoth year for football in Sydney.

It began with a tram strike which, if continued into the season, would have created havoc with fans and players getting to games.

The weather was not kind with several weekends suffering terrible downpours throughout the year, starting with a very damaging hail storm in January.

The league participated in eight interstate matches.  Five of these were in Sydney, one in Queensland and another in Broken Hill.  Then the NSW side travelled to Hobart where they played in the All States Carnival, competing in a further four games, under very wet and boggy conditions.

The most damning feature of the season, which for the most part went unreported, was the issue of charging admission at games on a Sunday.

Australian football was the first sport to play on a Sunday.  This first occurred in 1943, when, mainly because of the lack of grounds where an admission fee could be applied, one of their three Saturday matches was shifted to the Sunday, played mostly at Trumper Park.  Rugby League soon followed but Rugby Union, forever the traditionalists, never deviated from their conventional Saturday fixtures.

In May, the Sunday Sun newspaper, ran a series of articles on sports which charged a gate of a Sunday – copy attached. This convened a little known section of the Police Offences Act of 1901 which was almost never applied.

There is no doubt the church lobby would have had a great influence on this Sunday sport issue.

For many years, these Sunday games were the biggest revenue stream for the league, the proceeds of which it very much relied upon and to see the possibility of this being suddenly removed sent shock waves through the administration.  In those days, the league conducted the gate at each game.  It took the proceeds, paid the gatemen but also paid the rental on all grounds used in the competition.

The league secretary, Ken Ferguson, wrote to the Chief Secretary’s Department seeking clarification on its ability to apply a charge.  Click here to see their answer, said charging admission to Sunday sport would most likely be seen as contravening the Act and the League would have to accept full responsibility for their actions.  In fact the Department forwarded the league a list of conditions which would have to apply should they continue with Sunday games.  We have also attached a copy of these conditions for your edification – click to read.

The police from the Paddington station attended some games in this period to observe the nature of admission.  By this stage the league had resorted to requesting patrons to donate the 1/11 (one and eleven pence or 19¢) admission fee.  The local licensing sergeant stated that this still amounted to a definite breach of the law.

Other sporting bodies had taken to providing free admission but charged an appropriate increased amount for their match programme (Football Record).  The league pondered this position but questioned if it would make them subject to paying further taxation.  All sporting bodies were subject to paying tax on the amount received for admission charges in those days.

Eventually, following legal advice, the league advised the Chief Secretary’s Department that no charge would be made to any of their games they staged of a Sunday.

This prompted a letter to the League’s legal advisor – click to read.

A further inspection of the situation by the police, the president and secretary of the League found themselves in front of Inspector Magney of Paddington Police.

In no uncertain terms he stated that in his opinion, the league was violating the law in calling for a donation of a certain amount for admission, although underneath the donation sign it was advertised that a free gate existed at Hart Street, which we believe was a street at the eastern end of the ground, on the hill and adjacent to a rubbish tip.  At the time this was a very difficult location to get to.  Inspector Magney said this practice would have to cease or otherwise the league would face the consequences.

As a result the league altered their admission system by increasing the price of a programme from 3d (three pence or three cents) to 1/6 (one and six pence or fifteen cents), plus the erection of a sign at the Glenmore Road gate stating: ADMISSION BY PROGRAMME, 1/6d., FREE GATE AT HART STREET”

We can’t see how this change fitted the requirements of the law, given that, according to the documents and what we have written above, we believe the league was previously almost doing the same thing as the police inspector intimated.  Even so, the price of Football Records increased and nothing further was heard of the matter.

The Free Gate though, lasted at Trumper Park until well into the 1970s and became somewhat of a joke to those who knew it existed.


We should have probably said “received an increase” because the reporting here is on the year 1955.

In that year umpires rates went from:

1st Grade Field Two pounds ($4.00) to Two pounds five shillings ($4.50)
Reserve Grade Field One pound five shillings ($2.50) to One pound ten shillings ($3.00)
Goal One pound two and six ($2.25) to One pound five shillings ( ($2.50)
Boundary (only 1st grade) Seventeen and six pence ($1.75) to One pound ($2.00)

Boundary umpires were supplied for reserve grade only for Sunday matches, of which there would be a maximum of two each weekend.  In all probability, these young umpires would have backed up from a Saturday game.  Then, for their effort they received ten shillings or $1.00 per game.  Clubs would have to supply boundary umpires of a Saturday or the players would have to had thrown the ball in.  The former rates were set in 1954.

These amounts do not seem much but when you equate the payment to say a schooner of beer, which then would have cost around one shilling (10c) or so, its not a bad return for the effort.

In the same year the Sydney Football Record went from eight to twelve pages (one piece of paper represents four pages) and the price to the consumer would have increased accordingly but the league lost nineteen pounds ($38) on the production and sales of the Record for the season.

It doesn’t seem much but when the league only made six hundred and twenty three dollars, eleven shillings and three pence ($1247.13) on the advertising and sales of the publication, it was a fair proportion to lose.

Then, and for many years after (and no doubt today), the production of the Football Record in Sydney was a drain on manpower and resources to the extent that many officials over the year looked at ways to produce this publication with the least amount of effort.   But, it doesn’t work.  The league is stuck with it.

And thank god they are or the History Society would have little supply of information to write these articles.