Playing long balls into empty space since 2012.

Tuesday, 19 April 2022

Five Problems with Australian Rules Football

Last year John Weldon and I created a podcast called Behind the Play. He was the straight guy and I was (something he had called me for years) 'The most hated man in (AR) Football'. We produced some thoughtful discussion I think. My rationale for wanting to undercut the mytholgies of Australian Rules was laid out in the document below, for want of a better title, The Five Problems of Australia Rules Football.

Australian rules is lumbered with five contradictions at its heart. They are so profound and historical that they are obscured from the plain view of aficionados and fans.

First the game is a syncretism of two incompatible modes of football. While the rest of the football word world was busy codifying and arguing between soccer-ish and rugby-ish impulses, Melbourne football decided to amalgamate the two and create an insoluble 160 year old ongoing argument about the holding the ball rule.

Secondly, Australian rules developed and found its basis during a period of Victorian optimism and expansionism. Many Victorians, at this point in its history seemed to believe they were on the road to nationhood. The Victorian Navy, the National Gallery of Victoria and the Victorian National Flag were products of this period. Footy also represented a cultural product of this nascent Victorian nation and so induced and rapidly cemented commitment at political, cultural and ideological levels. It came to represent an expression of Victorian manifest destiny. Its adherents constructed a frontier over which they needed to carry the game to the uncivilised regions of Australia. This frontier still exists in the form of the Barassi line.

Thirdly, and this point relates closely to the previous one, the rhetoric of Australian rules shifted from being a Melbourne game to a Victorian game to a National game over the first 50 years. The game’s imperialist urge was submerged in arguments that came to see the game as always having been representative of Australia in its entirety. This desire to capture Australia and in some instances the world stands in contradiction to the fact that even at its highest level the game is still centred emotionally in the inner suburbs of Melbourne. This region is its powerhouse and for many supporters it remains the heart of the game. Interstate teams are welcome to join the Victorian game but they must do so paying respect to the origins. The clash between Collingwood and Port Adelaide over the right to wear black and white illustrates this perfectly. At the heart of the game is the denigration of not only other codes of football but also other places of Australian rules, including the Victorian football Association which represented an outer suburban ring of Melbourne clubs.

Fourthly, and this point is more recent, the game is saddled with the myth of indigenous origins. While the idea that Australian rules sprung out of Marngrook is sustained, it will forever miss vital points of its own development. Certainly indigenous players have influenced the game tremendously. However, they were absent at its origins. The nature of colonial Society at that point forbade their inclusion. If a story is to be told of Aboriginal influence on Australian rules then it is about their initial exclusion through racist attitudes and laws, their parallel development of their own teams and competitions outside of the mainstream and eventual inclusion in the history of Australian rules when they worked, perhaps better, forced their way in. This is much later than the signal dates of 1858 or 1866 or 1877. This argument, it should be noted, does not actually rule out the influence of marngrook, it simply does not recognise it at any purported moment of origin.

Finally, it is not a particularly good game. Though that is merely my opinion. I don't think it's possible to premise football narratives on how good or how bad a particular game is. Yet, many footy supporters and footy historians start their arguments using the idea that football, their football, is the greatest of games. I do not doubt they believe this and are being honest in their assessments. Around the world games have developed in regions which all seem to think that theirs is the greatest of games. Whether it be Manchester, Wigan, Brisbane, Boston, Auckland, Montreal or indeed Melbourne, passion arising from the tremendous support these cultures give to their local game leads supporters to make greatness claims for them. This belief distorts the reality of a game’s values and problems. Australian rules supporters can be left thinking something like “Hey, this is such a great game, why doesn't the rest of Australia or, indeed, the world take it up?” That's a kind of noble ambition I guess. But the bigger problem might be that supporters can be influenced into thinking something like “Hey this is such a great game, why is the game I'm watching right now a bit shit?” Supporters of footy (and all games for that matter) need to realise that the greatness of a game is not so much because of its intrinsic or aesthetic qualities, but is rather generated by the strength of a culture's commitment to it. We all have a game that we look at and think “Well that's boring as batshit,” while supporters of that game obviously believe the opposite. Who is right? Melbourne, despite all my best attempts, is profoundly committed to Australian rules football. The culture highlights the game’s spectacular and beautiful moments as representative; it tries to dismiss the dreary and drab and problematic aspects of the game as other, problems that have been introduced over time because of the failure of someone, somewhere to stay true to the spirit of the game, whatever that means.

Weston Tragedies: Daisy and John James

Cessnock Eagle and South Maitland Recorder, Tuesday 22 October 1935, page 3

Terrible Sequel to Pathetic Tragedy.


After Wife's Dead Body Recovered. Five Little Orphans.

ONE OF THE most awful tragedies in the history of the Coalfields occurred yesterday. Following the discovery of the body of poor Mrs. James, three hours later her husband shot himself dead at his father's home in Abermain. The father of John Gwyllian James, like the Christian he is, endeavoured to give his bereaved son spiritual comfort, but apparently the heart broken husband had been thrown off his mental balance owing to the tragic death of his wife, to whom he was greatly attached. A further tragedy is that five young children, whose ages range from 18 months to 8 years, are bereft of the love and care of their parents. The whole hearted sympathy of the Coalfields goes out to the two stricken families in their great hour of trial. 

On Monday morning, following appeals by the police, the miners of Hebburn No. 1 and 2 and Pelaw Main colliery decided at the pit top to lose a shift, and make a great effort to discover the whereabouts of Mrs. James. Relief workers also joined in, and about 2000 searchers offered their services. A more intense search was conducted from Weston, and at 9.30 a.m. Thomas Street, a relief worker, and Douglas Parker, a Council employee, discovered the missing woman in the bush within fifty yards of a number of houses close to the Weston Soccer ground.

John Gwyllian James (32), husband of Daisey James (28) had participated in the search since his wife was reported missing on Friday morning. Charles James, father of the dead woman, was at the hospital on Monday morning, and was making an appeal by 'phone to Mr. Baddeley to request the Premier to make a 'plane available to assist in the search. 'I am unemployed,' said Mr. James, and spent all the money I had in chartering a 'plane on Saturday for four hours. I considered my daughter, the mother of five children, was just a great an asset to Australia as some of the other un fortunate missing people in whose search the Government spent large sums of money.' 

Before he could receive a reply, the ambulance had arrived with the body of his daughter. 'She is dead,' said Mr. James. 'I can tell that. Otherwise those men would be running over to congratulate me.' Inspector Noble identified the body. Having heard that his son-in-law had threatened to take his life, in the event of his wife being found dead, Mr. C James hastened to Abermain, and collected the five little children— Margaret, Beatrice, John, Bryn, and Allan. They were taken to his home, and instructions were given that they were not to be allowed out of sight, and on no account to be left alone. 

The husband of the dead woman went to his father's house at Abermain. Both family names are James, and the deceased couple were cousins. The police had been informed that John James had threatened to take his life, and was in possession of a revolver. Sergeant Whitechurch went to the residence, and whilst extending sympathy to the bereaved husband, surreptitiously placed his hands over his body in a search for a possible hidden weapon. It was apparent that James was not carrying a weapon on him. The father of John James was endeavouring to comfort his son, and to point out to him what a wrong it would be to take his own life. When Sergeant Whitechurch (said to James, 'I have heard you are threatening to take your life, Jack?' he replied, 'If I had wished to do that, there is lysol in the house, and I could have taken that.' His attitude partly allayed the fears of those present. James then made a cigarette, and asked what time it was. Sergeant Whitechurch told him it was a quarter to one. James then walked behind a partition, and the Sergeant decided to follow him. Just as the Sergeant got within six paces of him, James, with one movement, pulled a revolver from under a cushion, and shot himself in the forehead, dying shortly after. The spring forward of Sergeant Whitechurch was just too late to prevent the second tragedy in the family.

Whilst their parents were being prepared for burial, the little sons of the deceased couple were playing, unconscious of the terrible tragedy that had entered their young lives. There is a tremendous wave of sympathy for both families of the deceased, who are highly respected throughout the Coalfields. 

The mysterious disappearance of Mrs. Daisy James from the Kurri Hospital in the early hours of Friday morning gave an opportunity for the residents of the Coalfields to show their splendid spirit of sympathy. Hundreds of citizens gave up their pay week-end holiday in an effort to find the missing woman. At three o'clock on Friday morning the night sister discovered that Mrs. James, aged 28, was missing from her bed, and after it was ascertained that she was not in the building, the alarm was at once raised, and a search commenced. 

The police quickly got into action, and at commenced, under the leadership of daybreak an organised search was Sergeant Wood, of Kurri. When the news became broadcast, many of the relief workers in the district left work, and joined in the search. As the miners left the various collieries, further search parties were organised. Superintendent White, of the North Eastern Division, was notified at Newcastle, and he immediately made arrangements for a black tracker from Bulga to join in the search. The thick scrub was searched for many miles, and was kept up whilst there was a ray of daylight. Appeals were made in all the Coalfields districts for volunteers to assist on Saturday, and many appeared at the various centres to assist the police in their arduous task. 

Two parties left Kearsley on Saturday to search for the missing woman, Mrs. James. One party was in charge of Constable Hollis, and the other party was the 1st Kearsley Scouts, in charge of Scoutmaster G. Whitfield and Mr. G. Jeffery. One party searched from Kearsley through the scrub to Weston, and the ether party searched the scrub from Kearsley to Hebburn No. 2. Another party left Kearsley on Sunday morning, in charge of Forrest Ranger Wilson and Scoutmaster G. Whitfield, and searched the scrub from Kearsley to Tomalpin, and from there through the scrub to Weston, but found no trace of the missing woman. 

Mrs. James had left the institution apparently only clad in her night attire, with one shoe. Owing to the hard nature of the soil, and its dry ness, the trackers were unable to find any footprints. What appeared to be a print was seen at the foot of Tumble Bee. This, it was thought, pointed to the direction of Abermain. The direction was followed for several miles through the thick bush, without result. 

An aeroplane was requisitioned on Saturday, but the thick ti-tree scrub militated against clear observation. Every water-hole in the vicinity was searched, and the colliery dams dragged. Footsore and weary, the splendid band of searchers returned after sundown to their starting points, with not a clue to report. Arrangements were made that in the event of Mrs. James being found, the colliery whistle should be sounded to recall the searchers, who were spread over a wide tract of country. 

Despite heavy rain all day Sunday, the search was maintained, and air though the searchers were soon drenched to the skin, the search was unabated. Dragging operations were again carried out on Sunday, and at sundown the discouraged searchers returned home worn out and with the opinion that little hope could be entertained of finding the missing woman alive. Again on Monday the search was continued with zeal. 

A few months ago Mrs. James was seriously injured in a motor smash. With her father-in-law, Charles James, of Abermain, she was tra velling in a car from Singleton to Abermain. Coming along the Allan dale Road, Cessnock, they suddenly came to a barrier where the bridge was being rebuilt It was too late to stop the car, and it crashed over to the concrete bed below, a distance of about twelve feet. Mrs. James suffered head injuries as a result of this accident, and had been in bad health since.

Weston Tragedies: Rex Stevenson


Weston's 1936 State League Cup
Rex Stevenson. 23, who had been one of the Weston State League Soccer Club's forwards since 1935, was accidentally shot dead at Lemon Tree, Port Stephens, on Saturday. A rabbit shooting party of which Stevenson was a member was returning to its motor launch, and Stevenson at the rear was handing shot guns down a steep slope. A double barrelled gun which, he put down stock first struck a rock and went off, and Stevenson who received the full charge in his chest, died almost immediately. The funeral at Cessnock was attended by representatives of all Northern State League Soccer Clubs., Stevenson, who lived at Church Street, Cessnock, was a miner employed at the Ellington Colliery, In 1936, when Weston, despite the absence of three key players in New Zealand, for an important section of the season, won the New South Wales Soccer double, State premiership and State Cup, nothing in soccer distinction seemed beyond Stevenson's reach. Fast, elusive and an accurate kick, he was an admirable type of forward to finish off the work of a constructive halfback line and with added experience and polish he seemed likely to go far in representative company. 

From Raymond Terrace Examiner and Lower Hunter and Port Stephens Advertiser, Thursday 6 October 1938, page 3

Friday, 15 April 2022

Weston Tragedies

This feels like a kind of starting point.

George Kennedy, the Weston Soccer Club's trainer, was killed by a fall of stone in Hebburn Colliery yesterday. The deceased had been a popular member and player of the Weston Club for some years, and took over the duties of trainer upon the death of Hicks. The accident following upon those of W., Lambert, W. Hicks, and Peter Coppock, all of whom have been killed within the past two years, hits the Weston Club hard. In consequence of the fatality, the match which was to have been played at Weston tomorrow between Weston and West Wallsend has been abandoned.

This article in the Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate (Friday 7 September 1923, page 2) underlines the extent to which Weston Bears has its share of tragedy as well as glory in its annals. Sid Grant puts the matter eloquently when he claims the club's "glorious cavalcade of triumphs has been punctuated with tragic occurrences which have struck at intervals to bring the club to its knees."

Every sporting Club has its go-to stories of pain and despair but what is it about Weston that means it has a little more than its fair share? Rotten luck is one answer but perhaps the tragedies and their reporting and memorialisation are a measure of the club's standing in the Coalfields. Grant writes of the death of Bill Lambert in a fall of coal at Hebburn No. 1: 

A pall of sadness spread right across the soccer firmament. The funeral cortege was one of the biggest seen in the North since Les Darcy died and was buried at East Maitland.

Soccer was a big deal in the region at that time and the death of a great club's best player and captain was a major public event.

This also makes me wonder whether the tragic history of Weston has given the club senses of history, importance and belonging not shared by many other Australian soccer clubs. Events that have caused repeated public memorialisation have in effect forced Weston into public historical consciousness in a way that Western United (for example) can only dream of. And while it seems from here (Melbourne) that Weston might be but a memory, I'm not sure that that is the case in its hearth.

I'd be interested in responses to this idea. Feel free to leave a message in the comments.

Thursday, 14 April 2022


Herald (Melbourne), Saturday 20 May 1916, page 1


News has been received that Sapper H. Humphreys, well known as a playing member of the St. Kilda and Preston British Association (Soccer) Football Clubs, has been killed in action in France. He was largely responsible for the success of the Preston team in its cup-winning year. When war broke out he went to England, and joined the Yorkshire Engineers.



Victorian Soccer (British Association amateur football) is paying its toll in this greatest of all wars, writes Mr J. W. Harrison. Some hundreds of players are on the honor roll of the Australian Expeditionary Force. But it is with regret that I have to announce the death on active service of another soldier-footballer — H. Traynor, the well-known Soccerite of the Preston team, and latterly of the Melbourne Thistle Club. It seems to be only the other day that the writer had an interesting conversation with Corporal Traynor on sportsmen and war, in which he spoke earnestly on what he considered to be one's duty to King and country. Traynor was one of the most versatile players in the ranks of the Victorian Amateur British Football Association. 


Sympathy is also being expressed in local football circles at the bereavement of Mr Matt. Welch, the trainer of the Preston Soccer Club, who has lost his son — a mere youth— in the fighting line. 


Another side of ,the picture is the return of Lance-Corporal Bert. Knight (Engineer Corps) to Melbourne. Mr Knight, who prior to enlisting was the chairman of the Management Committee of the Preston F.C, has been invalided after active service in Egypt and France. He called to see me at this office a few days ago, looking bronzed and well, but told me that his fighting days were over owing to a bad leg. Mr Knight, who came from Lancashire on his emigration to Victoria, saw service in the South African War, and may truly claim to have done his due share for King and country.


Another interesting item is that Mr H. C. Dockerty, a well-known Collins street business man and president of the Victorian Amateur British Foot ball Association, has followed the ex ample of his fellow-Soccerites by enlisting, and is now in camp preparatory to joining his fellow field-sportsmen in the danger zone. Truly, there is no lack of patriotism in the ranks of Victorian Soccer, and when the honor roll is finally completed it will be in keeping with the traditions of the especial winter sport.

Winner (Melbourne), Wednesday 15 November 1916, page 8



Gunner William H. Browning resided at 3 Whitehall st., Footscray, until he enlisted in April, 1916, with 120th Howitzer Battery. He reached England in Dec. 1916; France in Feb. 1917, and joined the 50th Battery. On 11th October, 1917, he was killed in action. Gunner Browning was 21 years of age and a Scotchman by birth, having come to Australia 4 years ago. Prior to enlistment he was employed at the Government Dock Yards, Williams town. He was a leading player with the Footscray Thistle Soccer Club and an international player of note.

Advertiser (Footscray), Saturday 3 November 1917, page 3

Wednesday, 23 March 2022

Well, it’s in the paper!

Newspaper records of soccer and Rugby League in Newcastle in the 1920s

This research idea is based on the hypothesis that soccer in Australia achieved a level of popularity and growth in the 1920s that is often overlooked. In some areas of Australia, particularly Newcastle, the game may indeed have been the dominant code for well over a decade, if not even longer.

Guided by this assumption, I searched Trove to ascertain the extent to which soccer achieved substantial recognition in a variety of local media. My first search was ‘soccer’ in the Newcastle Morning Herald, which was a present term in over 4500 items (articles, lists and advertising) in the newspaper during the 1920s. During the same period ‘Rugby League’ was present in 2400 items. A similar comparison in the Illawarra mercury revealed 1470 soccer items as against 693 for Rugby League. The Brisbane Telegraph revealed numbers that were roughly equal (over 9000 each) during that decade. Surprisingly, the Ipswich newspaper recorded 4000 Rugby League items to soccer’s 3000–the 1927 split seemingly having a retarding influence on soccer numbers at the end of the decade. Despite the Ipswich result, this data largely aligned with my original assertion that soccer was a dominant code in Newcastle and elsewhere in the 1920s. The Brisbane and Ipswich figures indicate a code that is equally dominant with Rugby League. 

A number of questions arise from these observations. 

  1. How useful are the search terms?

  2. Do the Trove searches find substantial and relevant items?

  3. How reliable is the newspaper content?

  4. What is the correlation between newspaper content and cultural reality?

  1. Are the terms ‘soccer’ and ‘Rugby League’ useful catch-all terms in the newspapers? Are they inclusive enough to capture all relevant items while excluding irrelevancies. Will they capture enough of the data to make the statistics accurate? My sense is that they are adequate; however, I need to pay attention to alternate terms: ‘BA rules’, ‘Association football’ for soccer, and ‘league football’ for Rugby League. Though again, I suspect these factors are not enough to skew the data.

  2. Can I trust that the Trove searches find substantial items? Or do a great proportion of them represent incidental references? A brief perusal of the hits suggests that most items have a direct and substantial reference to the game under search. It seems that in the Newcastle papers, lists and advertising make up approximately one third of the total items. For soccer, the Newcastle Sun includes 3500 articles, 1200 lists, 600 advertisements while for Rugby League the figures are 2100 articles, 520 lists, 330 advertisements. A similar spread exists in the Herald. The Maitland Daily Mercury yields for soccer: 1000 articles, 276 lists, 83 advertisements; and for Rugby League 1350 articles, 241 lists, 153 advertisements. In the Maitland figures, lists and advertising make up approximately a quarter of the total items.

    Sporting representation in three Newcastle region newspapers in the 1920s







Newcastle Morning Herald






Rugby League





Newcastle Sun






Rugby League





The Maitland Daily Mercury






Rugby League





  1. Are the newspapers chosen representative of actual numbers or do their editorial policies hold a distorting bias? For example, the Newcastle Sun during the period had over 5000 items that referred to soccer and 3000 that referred to Rugby League–a similar difference to the Herald. The Maitland Daily Mercury, however, had more references to Rugby League over soccer (1750 to 1350). This latter figure may represent a regional preference for Rugby League or it may itself represent bias towards Rugby League. My sense is that the Newcastle Morning Herald and the Newcastle Sun as the main newspapers of Newcastle at that time are likely representative. Because the Sun contains most items relating to each code I will provisionally establish it as the more significant reporter for the whole region. 

  1. Can a correlation be assumed between representation in the newspaper and 1) what is actually happening in a sports culture and 2) the extent to which a regional culture accepts a game as its own? This is a general/theoretical question that applies to all locales and cultures that are represented by a newspaper.

Notes for later work

  • Cumberland Argus: soccer 2000 Rugby League half that

  • Sydney Morning Herald: rugby combined 9000 soccer 1500

  • Referee newspaper: RL 300

Thursday, 8 July 2021

100 Years Ago Today, July 8 1921

Queensland Times (Ipswich), Wednesday 6 July 1921, page 6


Compiled from files of the "Queensland Times," of 25 years ago, 1896.

British Association Football--Ipswich Rovers trounced the Bundanba Rangers by 1 goal to nil, P. Levesey refereeing; and the Brisbane Thistles were beaten, on the Pineapple ground South Brisbane, by the Second Bush Rats by 4 goals to 3. 

Armidale Chronicle, Wednesday 6 July 1921, page 3

SOCCER Armidale City met the renowned Cessnock team (Newcastle) on Saturday last, giving one of the finest exhibitions of football played at home this season, the home team leading by one goal to nil ten minutes from time. Constant practice told its tale, and Newcastle led by three goals to one on the final whistle. The teams were:—

Armidale City.—A. Woodcock, W. Gill, A. Ridley, C. Lesnic F. W. Mil ner (capl.), Dr. Austin, W. Leach, R. Woodcock, .1. M'Avoy, and II. Bishop.

Newcastle.—G. Wells, G. Williams, Li. Buskins, G. Nixon, G. Runncx (cap tain), D. Harden, C.'Williams, G. Roe, •T. Shang, D. Leonard, and II. Wil liams.

Mr. O. V. Williams (President) kicked off for the City, commencing the game al 3.15 p.m. McAvoy securing passed to Bishop, who centred, G. Williams eofending aldy. Play was transferred into the City territory, a combined movement by Newcastle ending in Shang shooting wide. Con tinued pressure by them resulted in their ciTorls meeting with no success, owing to ihe high standard of the lo cal defence, Milncr, Handley, and C. Lcsnic showing out conspicuously. Milner relieving, sent lo Woodcock, lo McAvoy, to Bishop, who drove a high dropping sliot into goal, which was well cleared by Wells. Play was transferred lo mid-field, where even play look place. Rennex securing, again transferred play into the City's territory, but once again the home defence prevailed, Gill and Ridley proving their stumbling block. Bach side look up the attack, Ihe wing men showing cleverness, their centreing being all that could lie wished, hut weakness of the inside men spoilt their efforts. Half-time arrived with no scores. \

On resuming, Newcastle kept up Ihe attack for ten minutes, Milncr re lieving the pressure, sending to Lesnie, to Austin, who, travelling down the wing, centred, and Bishop' securing, opened the scoring with a fast, low drive, giving Wells no possible chance. Even play from the kick-ofT followed, Newcastle having the better - of the exchanges, but could not break through the homo defence. Auslin, Lesnie, and R. Woodcock broke away

occasionally,'hut they found lloskins

and Rennex hard to beat. A move ment starling from Nixon, to Williams, Lo Roe, lo Lennard, In E. Williams, who centred, and Woodcock, owing to Hie slippery state of the ball, could not hold it, ended in Shang rushing the ball through, equalising for ' New castle. Willi five minutes to go, New castle attacked in earnest, and once again, owing to a misunderstanding be tween (he local hack and goalie, Roe touched the hall past Ihe latter, secur ing the lead 2—1. Willi three minutes to go, Newcastle scored again, Ren

ucx securing, and passing to Nixon, to Roe, to C. Williams, who, travelling at top speed, beat Milner and Ridley, sending in a lovely siiol to the riglil side of the goal, high up, giving A. Woodcock no chance, rfliu. !ly after the whistle hlew, leaving Newcastle the winners hy lliree goals to one.

Newcastle were deserving of their victory, their combination, especially the forwards, being worthy of high est praise in the second half. Up, ten minutes from time, Armidale appeared lo he certain winners, but constant playing by the Newcastle team stood them at the finish. No individual play can be quoted of the Newcastleites, combination being their premier excellence.

For Armidale, Rishop's goal was a scorcher, and Handley was the best on field in the defence. R. Woodcock did not play up to his reputation, but G. Uesnie played his best game of the season. Milner, Gill, and Ridley play ed up-to their usual good standard, but A. Woodcock was extremely un fortunate in two goals being scored against liini owing to the slippery na ture of the ground. Dr. Austin play ed an excellent game, whilst his condi tion lasted, hut his final efforts were inclined to lie weak.

Visitors Entertained.

After the match the Armidale players had dinner with the visiting team, and entertained them later at a smoke concert at the Albion Hotel.

The Mayor (Ald. A. Purkiss) presided, and gave the toast of "The King." The Mayor extended a hearty welcome to the visiting team. Soccer, he said, was in its infancy in Armidale, and he did not know much about the game, being more conversant with Rugby. Nevertheless there must be something in Soccer to bring visitors all the way from Cessnock to give Armidale a game. He hoped their slay in Armidale would be a pleasant one.

Mr. F. W. Milner proposed the health of "The Cessnock Soccer Club." The locals were highly delighted and intensely gratified when they heard the Cessnock Club intended to pay a visit to Armidale, simply to give a helping hand to "Soccer" in the country districts. Thcy had travelled at their own expense to push things along in Armidale. No doubt Soccer was making big strides in New South Wales. A lot of Soccer was being played in and around Sydney, and it had got a footing in the country districts. It was being played in Glen Innes, Tenterfield, and the Kentucky Soldiers' Settlement had also a good team. The ladies were taking the game up. He felt sure Soccer was here to stay.

Mr. H. Stevenson replied. Cessnock had been playing Soccer for a number of years. He knew he was expressing the best wishes of the visiting players when he hoped Armidale would develop into a champion Soccer team. He hoped an effort would be made to get the game into the schools, for the boys of to-day were young enough to make the Soccer players of the future.

Mr. G. Renncx proposed the toast of the Armidale Soccer Club." He, too, would impress the Armidale players with the necessity of getting the school boys to play the game. Cessnock's experience' had been that the schools had taken the game up seriously, and many of their seniors had learnt it in the schools. He had played both the Union and the League game, but for a scientific display they were not to lie compared to Soccer.

Mr. O. V. Williams (President) replied on behalf' of the Armidale Soccer Club. He was delighted that the visitors had came along. There had been some talk of postponing the game owing to the wet weather, but, after considering the whole matter, il was decided to let the visitors make the journey. They felt they had met a real good lot of sports, for they had played a nice, clean game, and he thought both sides had enjoyed it. He looked forward to taking an Armidale team to Cessnock, and he was sure the local men would give them a good game.

During the evening songs were sung by Messrs. W. Gill, P. Woodcock, J. Gardner, .1. Giles, S. Nixon, T. Bishop, S. and C. Leslie, and a recitation given by Mr. F. W. Milner.

On Monday morning the visitors were the guests of the Mayor, who look them for a motor trip round Armidale.

Mr. G. Stevenson, on behalf of the visitors, expressed their indebtedness In the Armidale people for all their kindness.

Armidale Chronicle, Saturday 9 July 1921, page 7

Armidale City played a return match with the renowned Cessnock team (Newcastle) on Monday last, reversing their defeat of Saturday last. The home team proved victorious by two goals to one. Both teams made a couple of alterations to the sides which played on Saturday. For Armidale, Cameron, S. Lesnie, and Herron replaced Leach, Handley, and Dr. Austin (absent, owing to injuries); for Newcastle, G. Rennex and G. Wells were replaced by S. Williams and D. Pendergast. Mr. Hanks refereed.

Mr. O. V. Williams (President of the local Club) again kicked off, towards the grandstand. S. Williams cleared. Darwell secured, and passed to E. Williams, who made progress to the City's goal. Gill relieved with a powerful kick, and play was transferred to mid-field. Even play followed until Milner, trapping the ball, passed to R. Woodcock, to Herron, to Cameron, who beat his opponents in line style, finishing up his run by centreing accurately, and McAvoy shooting within inches of the post. From the goalkick, E. Williams secured, and, travelling down the wing at top speed, C. Williams missed by yards with his shot at goal. Cameron once more got possession, and, beating the opposition, centred accurately from the corner flag, where bishop, following up, had an easy task in opening the scoring. Both E. and C. Williams, for Newcastle, showed great pace, the former time and again beating S. Lesnie, and leaving him behind. From a good kick by Ridley, Milner passed to R. Woodcock, who sent in a terrific shot from thirty yards out, only to see the

ball hit the goal post and bounce back into play. Give-and-take play followed afterwards, but neither side could add to the score. Both defences proved superior to the attack. Half-time arrived with Armidale leading by one goal to nil.

On resuming, Armidale took up the attack, and for the first ten minutes overwhelmed the visitors' defence, at tempts being made by R. Woodcock, Milner, Cameron, Bishop, and McAvoy, but Wells proved an adept at dealing with them. Newcastle then took up the offensive, and powerful shots by E. and C. Williams found A. Woodcock on the alert. One save in particular was a masterpiece, Woodcock turning the ball around the goal-post when a score seemed a certainty. Not to be denied, Newcastle continued to press, and C. Williams, securing the ball in mid-field, made a magnificent

individual run, beating Milner, Ridley, and Gill, and sending in a terrific

shot, gave Woodcock no possible chance, making the scores one goal each. This acted as a tonic to the local team, who tightened up their attack, and several attempts were made to secure the lead again. A shot by Bishop had hard luck to miss by inches. The home forwards were outplaying the visitors, their combination being the best seen this season. Long passing was a feature of the play about this time, and on occasions it found the Newcastleites standing still,

owing to the suddenness of transfer of play from one wing to the other. One of these long passes ended in Armidale securing the lead. Milner passed to McAvoy, to Bishop, who, noticing the right wing unmarked, whipped the ball across to Cameron, to Herron, who sent in a perfect centre, and R. Woodcock jumping up, met the ball and headed it through into the top right-hand corner of the net—as pretty a goal as one could wish to see. From this onwards Armidale kept up the pressure, but the visitors defended stubbornly, and no further score was added. The final whistle found Armidlie pressing, and the home team ran out winners by two goals to one.

The combination by the local team displayed in the second half was the best produced this season. The long passing game completely beat the visitors' defence, when indulged in. This is a practice the local men should remember. Ridley was unfortunate in receiving a heavy blow in the face during the early part of the game, which affected his play in the first half. Gill was most reliable, playing his soundest game of the season. C. Lesnie and F. W. Milner were beyond comparison, their tackling and clearing being a sight to see. Cameron was a bone of strength in the forwards. The locals are lucky in having secured such a player. R. Woodcock and McAvoy showed up prominently, but should keep up closer to goal when the wing men centre the ball. They give the opposition too many opportunities to clear. Newcastle adopted the same tactics as on Saturday, E. and C. Williams, on their respective wings, showing brilliance, but the inside men did not support them too well. Hoskins experienced bad luck in having his wrist sprained ten minutes before time. He played a sterling


Meeting of Committee.

On the day's play Armidale deserved their victory, and were extremely unfortunate to lose on Saturday.

The Club held its weekly meeting on Tuesday last. Mr. F. W. Milner occupied the chair, and there was a good attendance. It was decided to invite West Wallsend to Armidale at an early date. It was also pleasing to note that the High School had decided to adopt the Soccer code, in view of which the Club is donating a football. On Wednesday, two elevens from the High School participated in a friendly game, which the boys greatly enjoyed. It was decided that should the other schools wish to play Soccer, a member would be in attendance at any time to teach them the rules of the game. After the football meeting the Dance Committee got busy, and completed arrangements for the Soccer dance, which is fixed to take palce on July 12th.

Sun (Sydney), Wednesday 6 July 1921, page 4



Chewing Gum and Giggles

"What are the red flags for?" asked a big strapping girl, attired in a bathing costume, white shoes and stockings, and gold armlets, at the Wentworth Oval last night. "Them's the goals, silly," said an other girl, not quite so big, but similarly attired. 

Last night the Sydney Ladies' Soccer Club, held its first try-out with the ball, and a varied assortment of styles in femininity and fashion turned up with enthusiasm. After half an hour on the field they learned to kick the ball in something like the way that it should be kicked— a few stubbed toes soon taught the lesson. There were tall and hefty girls, short und wiry girls, and girls betwixt and, between. Mostly they were clad in bathing costumes, and as it was rather a chilly night the new footballers would have been glad to play even chasings in order to keep warm. A few girls wore shorts and shirts, and one affected a smart black bow-tie at the collar of her silk shirt. A few Woollen jumpers were worn on top of bloomers, and handkerchiefs or bathing cups kept troublesome tresses within bounds. The railings became wardrobes, and here and there a coat or a mackintosh or a fur coat was hooked on top of the fence. 


It would seem that girls nowadays are not possessed of good stout shoes, for the Soccer ladies wore slightly light slices with Louis heels. Sensible ones wore boots or sandshoes, but they were in the minority. Before the game was over heels were left in the mud, and later on in the dressing-room there went up a cry: "Has anybody got a hammer?" The Indispensable man produced the necessary Implement and oornrrt reed nailiig shoes and licels to gether, amid chqers. nd all the while the chewing went on— the jaws moved round with un canny precision, and no matter where you looked you could not escape that hcri .ble move men'. Even the ripple of giggles and delightful feminine shrieks of excitement did not stop the eternal chewing. On the field the girls were eagerness itself and while waiting for sides to be picked some jawed ill over the oval, some turned Catherine wheels, some walked on their hands. The ground was not only damp, It was wet, and the girls who turned somersaults soon looked as If they had been In a Rugby scrum. "When the game commenced in earnest tl e fun commenced also. An occasional thin "Hee-a-o-ugh!" was answered by t burly "Hu-o-o-ugh!' from the other side of the paling fence. Women must be beginning to feel the delightful triumph of doing some, king during which mop can be kept on the wrong side of tho fence. THE INDISPENSABLE HAIRPIN Just as the game was starting one of the backs wanted a hairpin, and the centre-forward offered to run to the dressing room, but an 'obliging In side hg.lf came to the rescue. Then the whistle blow, and the ball was off. It was chased across the field and back again, to the accompaniment of laughter and screams, with a few go'od kicks to balance things. In a critical moment' there was a yell, "Where's the back?" bqt. the 'back was chasing up somewhere In the rear. Then the game concentrated round one goal post, and there were plaintive walls from the darkness at the other end of tho field, "Eh, aren't we playing too? We're getting cold." More spills and kicks, and the ball' came back again to a goal. | GOSSIP- OH There- wero cheers and an Interlude for gossip, or the adjustment of shoe laces and the rubbing of sore places. Then a lull came — the chatter stopped, but the chewing continued — and a voice roared, "What's wrong? Kam-buk wanted?"' That was enough. The game started again with renewed vigor and increased Blcill. A second goal was scored by the samo side, and the opponents' zeal wus challenged. "Bull In the centre!" cried one of the Instructors again, and the girls took their places for the last game.- Thoy chased and kicked, put out their arms to grab the ball — ("Keep yer arms down!" yelled the referee) — slithered on tho grass, lost the handkerchiefs off their hair, shrieked with excitement or set their (faces In grim determination, and by dint of good luck and good play the losing side retrieved some of Its reputation by scoring a goal. "Yah, yer needn't be so skittish. We got two, so's "alright!" cried a mem ber of the winning team, as everybody plcked,up their belongings, collected rings and bangles and ear-rings fron\ tho pockets of an obliging man, and returned to the dreBsing-room. The sounds of massage, slapped flesh, and shower baths were mingled with the hummed tune of "By Jingo, Oh, by Gee!" as two girls — still. In bathing costume and bare feet — essayed a one-stop. When Miss Alexander (tho pre sident) arrived she asked the girls If the" wero enthusiastic enough to como along to practice next Tuesday. "Too right, we will!" was the ringing chorus. And after the first night's practice the Soccer players shaped so well that some good games should be seen in tho near future. If enthusiasm helps any, tho Sydney Soccer .Ladles' Cldb will certainly mako good. At tho ond of play last night a meet ing was held, and Miss Beth Keogh was elected secretary In place of Miss Flnl-gan. Miss M. Keogh was elected to tho management committee.

Telegraph (Brisbane), Thursday 7 July 1921, page 4




A Soccer football club for girls has been formed at Paddington. It is named the Latrobe Ladies Football Club. It has already 14 playing members, and practice is in full awing. A lady connected with the club writes to Mr. William Betts, the well known physical culture instructor, who is convening a meeting to be held in the Brisbane Gymnasium on Friday evening, at 7.30 o'clock, as follows: "In to-night's (Monday) 'Telegraph,' I saw where the first definite move in the direction of forming women's football clubs was being made. I am pleased to state that we formed a ladies' Soccer football club on Tuesday last. We have 14 playing members already. I am sorry your meeting is to be held on Friday night, as our members are then holding an evening, Still I shall be very pleased to have an interview with you on the matter." 

Toowoomba Chronicle, Friday 8 July 1921, page 7


Table Talk (Melbourne), Thursday 7 July 1921, page 38

The Australian Cricketers in England


"We arrived in England last Friday and were invited to see the Cup Final at Chelsea. Seventy-two thousand people paid for admission, and then they to close the gates, turning thousands away. The "gate" was £13,000. The King and Duke of York were present and went out and shook hands with the players before the game started, although it was raining. After the match was over the King presented the "cup" to the captain of the winning team and a medal to each of the players. It was the first game of soccer I have seen, and although the conditions were very bad owing to the rain, the players struck me as being wonderfully clever. It is really football, as the players are not allowed to handle the ball, and I think it is faster than our Australian game. It was wonderful to see the vast crowd sitting out in the rain, and I didn't think there were as many caps in the world as I saw on Saturday.

Dockerty Cup replay

N&D 1 Melbourne Thistle 0

League I

Albert Park 1 St Kilda 1

Windsor 4 Preston 1 (game abandoned)

League II

Welsh Utd 2 St David's 1

Thistle A 7 Preston A 1

Sunday, 27 June 2021

100 Years Ago Today, 1 July 1921

 Daily Standard (Brisbane), Thursday 30 June 1921, page 4

Six young ladies In Toowoomba are endeavoring to form a Soccer football team, and the nurses at the Toowoomba and Willowburn Hospitals are being invited to down swabs and thermometers once or twice a week and join in. There should be a great trade in hair-pads when the darlings of the Downs set to work at Soccer, for there is a lot of head work in the British game. The reporters will have to be very circumspect in their criticisms of the game; that is if they are males, for only a lady knows how another lady feels.

Sun (Sydney), Friday 1 July 1921, page 2



A meeting was held under the auspices of the Metropolitan (Soccer) Football Association, at the Sports Club, Hunter-street, last night, to consider the formation of a Women's Soccer Football Association. There were over 30 ladies present. Mr. W. Lincoln, president of M.F.A., presided, and other officials present were Messrs. G. K. Martin (hon. secretary), Mr. F. West (president M.J.F.A.), and K. Jones, F. Langford, W. McAllister, C. Robinson, W. Chapman, and E. Drew. The ladies watched the proceedings with interest, and were keen for the formation of an association. Some of them had played in Canada, New Zealand, Great Britain, and Melbourne. It was decided to form an association, to be called the Sydney Ladies' Soccer F.A. The following wore elected to the necessary positions: — President, Miss M. Alexander; hon. secretary, Miss D. Finigan; hon. treasurer, Mrs. S. Reed; management committee, Miss M. Thomas, M. Charters, B. Keogh, Z. Maine, and M. Bush. The ladies were given an invitation to attend two first-class Soccer football matches at, Wentworth Park Oval to-morrow. The first management committee meeting of the new organisation will be held next Monday at the Sports Club, and the first practice match will take place at Wentworth Park Oval on Tuesday night.

Week (Brisbane), Friday 1 July 1921, page 18




Quite a craze has set in in Sydney for the formation of women football clubs, and Brisbane has become infected with the idea through the Soccer code. Women play Soccer in Great Britain, and in France, in which countries the game is considered the most suitable for those women who want to play football. Both the Sydney and Brisbane Soccer Associations are alive to this fact, and in the former place a move has already been made in the direction of running women's clubs. The Queensland body considered the matter at its meeting this week. In the meantime, correspondence is invited from those girls who are interested in the formation of such clubs.

In England last season, the French women Soccer footballers defeated an English team by 2 goals to 1. A huge crowd witnessed the game. I remember reading a description of the match—or, at least, a description of the girls who. played in it. The writer was too much hypnotised by "bare knees, adorned by the most fascinating of dimples" to write much about the match itself. He described one French player as "the prettiest little thing who ever strayed off the cover of a magazine on to a football ground." Some kid! as the American would say. The football critic did not stop there. "She is the smallest member of the team." he wrote, "but has a figure like a more solid Venus di Medici." Ye gods!

What a crowd a few such players would attract at the 'Gabba.

The question has been raised whether or not the Australian girls are of a sufficient physique to play football. I was talking the matter over with an official of the Q.F.A. the other day and he pointed out that the Brisbane girl was not so big, strong, and well developed as the Lancashire girls. The English XI, which played France, it might be mentioned, was comprised mostly of girls from the factories of Lancashire, but although they were a heavier combination than the French women. they failed to win. This, of course, goes to prove that it is not always weight that counts in Soccer. Science is almost variably the deciding factor. The French team was drawn from the magasins and offices of Paris—long, thin girls; short, nuggety girls; big, lumpy girls; and dainty, shapely-girls.

Why, the smallest member of the French team Mdlle. Rigal, the girl with the "fascinating dimples," was the trickiest player on the field. Surely, in face of this, no one can deny that the material for women Soccer, teams is available in Brisbane.

"Miriam" (Kangaroo Point), as though anticipating my thoughts on the above subject, writes under yesterday's date, as follows: "I have been a constant visitor this season to the 'Gabba, and while watching the games there I have often thought what great fun it would be if the contestants were women instead of men. I notice that attempts are being made in New South Wales to form football clubs for women, but the only game of the different codes that appeals to me and most members of my sex, is Soccer. I should be glad if you would publish this letter in

your Soccer notes on Thursday-  if only Messrs. Kendal, Hildreth, and Co. make a move in the matter, I am sure you will find that quite a number of girls will come forward. Several of my friends have already made up their minds in the matter.


Word has been received in Brisbane that a movement is on foot to start women Soccer clubs in Toowoomba. The secretary of the B.F.A. in the Downs city states that several girls have approached him in the matter. An invitation has been issued by the executive to other members of the fair sex. who wish to play Soccer, to send in their names. It is hoped to form two clubs, almost immediately.

Beaudesert Times, Friday 1 July 1921, page 6