– Tamworth v Queensland

In 1913 an outbreak of smallpox swept across Sydney.  To counter its spread, authorities introduced drastic travel restrictions:

In Queensland, “the Commissioner of Public Health stated to-day that, owing to the lack of co-operation by the New South Wales railway authorities in the enforcement of Federal quarantine regulations for the protection of other parts of Australia against the smallpox outbreak, drastic action is being taken at the Queensland border. Persons who arrived from Sydney without vaccination certificates are ordered into quarantine, and sent on to Brisbane for detention at Colmslie Quarantine Station.  Such persons will be charged with the cost of their maintenance whilst In quarantine, and will probably be prosecuted also when their period of detention is completed. Three persons are already being dealt with in this way, and others are expected to arrive to-morrow.” [1]

New South Wales had already played an interstate game against Queensland in Brisbane in early June so these restrictions missed the team and its players.  However, a return match had been scheduled in Sydney later in the year.  By then more serious travel restrictions had been applied and the match was at first postponed [2] and later cancelled. [3]  Visits by VFL Clubs, Carlton and St Kilda were similarly abandoned. [4]

Despite all this enthusiasts of the game in Tamworth were keen to have the Queensland match played there following the establishment of the game in the town earlier in the year.  (The main Sydney – Brisbane rail line used the travel through Tamworth) and after little negotiation a match was arranged for September 13 however it was postponed and rescheduled for Saturday September 27 at ‘The Oval’, Tamworth. [5]

It was reported that the Tamworth Club were being “paid the compliment of a special visit instead of Queensland’s regular visit to Sydney.”

The trip was at the expense of the Queensland Australian Football League costing an estimated £70 or £80, ($9,500 today – RBA figures) “and as the Tamworth Association were generously donating any surplus gate proceeds towards improving ‘the Oval’ the Queensland team did not participate in the gate proceeds.” [6]

“The game was to the Northern Tablelands district, but the ambition of their enthusiasts grew to such an extent and Tamworth was so obdurate in pressing their desire for a visit from a team, that Queensland, where the game this year is not of a very high standard, was asked to satisfy the appetite of the northern centre.”

“The local papers devoted a good deal of space in reporting the game, which varied greatly in different quarters, suggesting that a big influence was exerted by a. fairly stiff breeze. Queensland had the first use of it and kicked 6 goals 2 behinds to 1 goal 1 behind In the initial session, but in the next the Reds could only add 1 goal 2 behinds to. the locals 3 goals 4 behinds. Queensland placed the result beyond doubt in the third quarter, and, easing up in the final term, allowed the country men to make, the final scores:— Queensland, 10 goals 14 behinds (74 points); Tamworth, 10 goals 7 behinds (67 points).” [7]

The local representatives consisted of Walker (captain), Boon, Sherry, Lawther, Bell, Leathley, Roberts, Smith (2), Ross, Prentice, McRitchie, Reid (2), Hombsch (2), and Campbell. The referee (umpire) was Mr. Price.

“The game, which was a very mediocre one, was witnessed by a fair attendance of spectators. It was noted that the visitors were “not a very crack lot”.

A banquet was held at the Central Hotel in the evening. Mr. W. E. Potts was in the chair, and Mr. A. Brownscombe noted as vice-chairman. The usual toasts were honoured, chief of which were “The Queensland team,” and the “Tamworth Australian Football Association.” A number of vocal contributions added to the evening enjoyment. [8]

[1] SMH – 17 July 1913, p. 10

[2] Saturday Referee and Arrow – 26 July 1913, p.3

[3] SMH – 13 August 1913, p.5

[4] Daily Telegraph – 6 August 1913, p.17

[5] Tamworth Daily Observer – 23 September, 1913, p.2

[6] Ibid

[7] Daily Telegraph – 1 October 1913, p.17

[8] Tamworth Daily Observer – 29 September 1913, p.2


– 1914 Tamworth v Newtown Match

Australian Rules TitleFootball in one of the state’s largest regional centres, Tamworth, had an early start with Australian football followed by a very short history probably brought on with the advent of World War 1.

Australian football was no more than a novelty in the area when in June of the 1913 under the hand of O R Smith, some of the locals formed themselves into a club.  This was followed by a game against Queensland who travelled to Tamworth in September following their decision not to go on to Sydney for an interstate clash against NSW because of the smallpox outbreak at this time.

The following February the club held their first meeting with local electrician, Harry Ewins, the secretary.

In June 1914 the Tamworth club invited Sydney side, Newtown to play a game in their city in what was termed as the opening of the “opening of the Australian Rules Season.”

Dick Condon, a former Collingwood player, travelled with the Newtown team to umpire the match.

There was some type of a problem with the local council regarding the letting of it to the local Australian Football Group however the local Rugby League permitted the their adversaries the use of the No. 2 Ground in Tamworth.  Not to be outdone the Central Northern Rugby League then scheduled a match between Tamworth and Sydney club, Western Suburbs on the adjoining ground which understandably outdrew the Australian Football game and in fact considerably affected their gate, admission was one shilling ($5.60).  The CNRL advertised their game by saying the Western Suburbs game was the match of the season and that “the league is popular”.

Rugby Union still held sway in country NSW in 1914 but the Rugby League were steadily eating into their base.

The Tamworth Australian Football team included: Ben Boon (captain), F G Roberts, F Smith, Knox (2), Bell, Scott, Rodgers, Leathley, E Campbell, Yelland, Willis, Lawther, Ross, Fred & George Hombsch, Lee, McRitchie and Curran.  Emergencies were Winn, Harrington, Doyle, Smith and A. Read.  They did not appear to have any local teams as competitors and certainly no operational competition.  The captain, Ben Boon was a bank clerk.

The game was a very one sided affair.  The locals failed to combine and play well and were completely outclassed although a number of individuals performed quite well.

Newtown won 10-10 (70) to 0-5 (5).  The attendance was not mentioned.

There was no further football activity in the town until the 1970s when the North West Australian Rules Football Association was formed.  This folded with the more recent Tamworth Australian Football League now in full swing.