– Football in Newcastle prior to the Competition

1947 Newcastle v
South Sydney match

After the war, football began to get a stronger foothold or become more established in Newcastle.

The game had flourished around the area and into the Hunter  in the late 19th century but its continuance in the 1900s was very much ad-hoc and most of it centred around interstate workers at the BHP.

The apparent reason the game took on a more serious identity in the coal city was the influx of interstate servicemen who settled there following the cessation of hostilities. [1]

A letter to the local newspaper in July 1946 from W L Jones of Tighes Hill[2] urged the formation of a club to play the game.  He received a reasons response [3] from his suggestion and following a meeting at Islington Oval on 17 August [4] a team was formed to play in Sydney the following month.

They were made up of: backs- G. Ross, T. Coles, D. Higglns; half backs: A. Waller. W. Jones capt., P. Gurner, centres- J. Lines, W. Brisbane vlce-capt., W. Scammell; half-forwards- K. Figgers, C. Wilson, W. Trevor; forwards– D. Brown, P. Deveraux, Ian Shugg; rucks- K. Smith, G. Gordon; rover- R. Tummell. It had been arranged for the team to play the curtain raiser to the NSW v Richmond match at Trumper Park on September 8. [5]

The Newcastle 18 were captained and coached by Bill Jones.  It was said he was a former North Melbourne player, unfortunately this could not be substantiated. Apparently a team was got together the previous year who played against Army sides but no other details were available. [6]

One of the problems the team had was in the ruck division and so Sydney clubs loaned W. Brown, J. Smith, A. Trevors and K. Gordon for the match.

The match was played before 15,000 at Trumper Park and the Combined Sydney team 9-11 (65) defeated the Newcastle combination 6-6 (42).  Former Collingwood player and Stawell Gift winner, Ron McCann kicked 4 goals for Newcastle while Bill Scammell Newtown player, Alf Pate also kicked goals.  McCann and Pate were added to strengthen the Newcastle side.

The team had to hire a bus to get to Sydney on the Sunday Morning when train timetables did not co-ordinate with match arrangements.

Following the game officials met with the NSW Football League executives to explore the possibility of a club being formed in Newcastle to include first and reserves grades which could play in the Sydney competition. [7]

This did not eventuate however in May the following year a Newcastle Combination played a combined Metropolitan (Second Division) team also in a leadup to an interstate clash at Trumper Park.

They were defeated in what was described as “a fast and exciting game played under adverse weather conditions, 8-9 (57) to 5-7 (37). P. Devereaux scored four goals and Billy Scannell the other for Newcastle. Arrangements were made for a return match on the following Sunday.” [8]

The Newcastle player in the dark jumper in the attached image appears to be Bill Elliott, one of the founders of the Newcastle FL and after whom the local B & F Medal was named.

[1] Newcastle Sun – 27 August 1946, p.8
[2] Newcastle Sun – 27 July 1946, p.10
[3] Newcastle Sun – 12 August 1946, p.16
[4] Newcastle Sun – 12 August 1946, p.16
[5] Newcastle Sun – 27 August 1946, p.15
[6] Newcastle Sun – 27 August 1946, p.8
[7] NSWANFL Football Record – 14 September 1946 p.5
[8] Newcastle Herald – 26 May 1947, p.10