– Regent Street Gone

The League premises at 64 Regent Street, Chippendale

There would not be too many still involved in Sydney football who would remember the NSWAFL Headquarters at 64 Regent Street, Chippendale.

It was purchased by the League, with the help of loans from the Western Suburbs Licensed Club and a four thousand pounds advance from the Australian Football Council in 1964.

At the time it was a disused shop with residence above and part of a group of five similar adjoined buildings constructed in 1920.  All of these have recently been demolished to be replaced by a residential complex with most probably a series of commercial premises at street level.

The 1964 purchase by the league was a bold move by a body which had seen a series of homes since its disconnection from the NSW Sports Club in George Street, Sydney in about 1960.  The Sports Club had been the league’s home for almost 50 years and it too closed its doors recently.  They had use of a meeting room and minimal storage facilities.

The management committee of the league at the time were very proud of their new acquisition.  This committee was comprised of a number of men most of whom were also involved with various clubs Many of these put their hearts and soul into making something of this old building.

The League Headquarters in Regent Street at the time of purchase

It wasn’t long before a ground floor brick extension was added which took the boundary of the building back to the fence which borders the main Sydney rail line.  The front too had its timber and glass façade removed and replaced with brick surrounding an aluminium framed entry.

A most recent image of 64 Regent Street Chippendale (blue)

Initially it accommodated a fulltime secretary and typist and then over the years became a venue for all facets and committees of the league.

The building was lost to football when a coup in 1978 voted the long serving league president, Bill Hart out of office.  Eventually most of his loyal lieutenants followed and the replacement group forced the sale of the premises in 1981 for $77,500 with the league moving their offices to the Newtown Rules Club at the nearby 303 Cleveland Street, Redfern.  One of the reasons given for the sale was that the building was alive with white ants and yet it stood for another 36 years.  The electric sign you see in the top black and white image protruding over the footpath remained attached to the building for over 20 years after its sale.

Since 1981, the building has changed hands several times with the last sale in 2016 realising $1,300,000.00.

With its demolition goes part of football history in NSW.

DIFFERENT STORIES IN SYDNEY FOOTY

Scanning through the number of publications the Society has in their records, we have come across some humorous, stoic and some genuinely interesting bits of information:

In a 1972 Football Record it said “Wests Third Grade coach, Alan Sales, is talking with a much deeper voice these days.  No, he hasn’t got laryngitis, he’s just changed tailors.  The result is his short shorts are not as short as before.”

* * * * *

Also in 1972 popular Rugby League caller, Tiger Black, hosted a sports show on radio station 2KY of a Saturday Morning at 11:00am.  Clubs were rostered for one of their number to attend the satellite, Eastlakes Studios to be interviewed by the aging Tiger.  The show was sponsored by Tooheys and called the Toohey’s Sports Parade.

* * * * *

In 1919 the Newtown Football Club in Sydney released details of those club members who served in WWI.

They had sixty-one enlist of whom eleven were killed in battle.  Two were awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal as well as the Military Medal while three were promoted in the field to Lieutenant.

* * * * *

In 1974, the strong Western Suburbs Licensed Club at Picken Oval, where our Society rooms are situated, advertised a Sunday Smorgasbord Lunch when games were played at the ground for $1.20 a head – casual dress.

* * * * *

NSW have hosted two All-States Carnivals.  The first was in 1914 and the opening game was played the day WWI was announced.  Needless to say, the seven day series was a flop and financially ruined the league, resulting in the resignation of the trustees who had care and management of the new Australian Football Ground at Alexandria – that was also lost.

The next was in 1933 also held at the Sydney Cricket Ground.  NSW fielded quite a handy side but could not match it with Victoria or Western Australia.

The carnival was not particularly well patronised, given that it was held deep  in the depression.  Admission to the outer was one shilling (ten cents) and 2/4½ (not too sure how that is represented in today’s currency, so I will call it, twenty five cents) to the stands.

One real plus for NSW was the selection of South Sydneys’, rover,  Jimmy Stiff (pictured) as best and fairest in the carnival.

“You could have knocked me over with a feather” Stiff said, describing how he felt when he learned of the award.

“As a matter of fact, I never gave it a thought.  There were so many good players from other states.”

The Hawthorn Football club showed definite interest in recruiting Stiff but he said he had a good home and job and that he was satisfied living in Sydney.

The rugby league also wanted Stiff and was almost talked into playing with South Sydney Rugby League side by their ace administrator, Cecil Blinkhorn.

“I thought it over hard” Stiff said, “but just as I was going to give it a flutter I remembered the ‘Rules carnival that was to be held here and I gave up the idea.”

In the next couple of years Stiff did play first grade rugby league for Souths and just to demonstrate what a great sportsman he was, Stiff was a regular first grade cricketer with the then Glebe Club which played in the Sydney competition.

Unfortunately, the daring and diminutive Stiff was killed in a road accident in 1937.  He was one of the first selected in the AFL NSW, Hall of Fame.

The image at the top of the story shows Jimmy Stiff at the base of the pack ready to dive on the ball in a carnival game against Tasmania at the SCG in 1933.