Football 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.