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Friday, 1 June 2012

100 years of 'Soccer Football' in Warwick

It will come as a surprise to many that today marks the 100th anniversary of the first stirrings of organised soccer in Warwick. On Saturday 1 June 1912 a notice appeared in the Warwick Examiner and Weekly Times that a local, Mr. W. G. Smith had “procured a British Association football, and all interested in this game will have an opportunity of having a game by meeting Mr. Smith at Slade Park this afternoon."

It is not known how many turned up to these inauspicious beginnings. It can't have been a massive turnout. Nonetheless, enough enthusiasm was mustered for the Examiner to be able to report on 26 June that a “meeting of those interested in the formation of a Soccer Football Club was held in No. 4 Barnes' buildings, last night. Mr. H. W. Cooke presided, and there was a good attendance. A sub-committee consisting of Messrs. Butcher, Harland, and Cooke, was appointed to go into details, and report to a meeting to be held next Wednesday night. It, was decided to hold a practice on Saturday next, when it is hoped there will be a good roll up of players.”


Barnes and Company Emporium Building, corner of Palmerin & King Streets, site of the
formation of the first 'soccer football club' in Warwick. Top, c 1914, courtesy
John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland
. Above, recent photo by JohnH, Bonzle,com


And that was that. An association had been formed. Interest was sought from around the district and Warwick, Clifton and and a team from the nearby mining-town of Tannymorel began to play soccer against each other.

The earliest recovered press reference to actual play is to a match against Clifton on 28 July in which Warwick hammered Clifton 11-0.
A British Association "soccer" game was played on the reserve, between a Warwick team (under Capt. Willis) and a local team (Capt. Graham). This was the first time this game was Played in Clifton, and it attracted a good attendance, including many ladies. After a well-contested game, Warwick won by 11 to nil. Mr. Hayman was referee. (Brisbane Courier, 29 July)

The Warwick team faced a more difficult challenge against Tannymorel on 19 August. Clearly not a game for the faint-hearted, it resulted in broken bones for two of the combatants.
Playing football in the soccer match (Warwick v Tannymorel) on Saturday a player for Warwick named Cornuaud sustained an injury to his collarbone. A. Milne while playing in the same match for Warwick, fractured the fibula bone in his left leg. The Ambulance Brigade attended both cases.
The Warwick club broadened its horizons to Toowoomba and it is probably something of a perennial skite that Warwick won the first ever clash recorded between the two towns on 8 September by the handsome score of 4-1. Though in all fairness it should be noted that Toowoomba won the return clash a few days later 3-0!

The Warwick Club rounded out the 1913 season with another game against Tannymorel on 28 September, a 1-1 draw.

The next report we get is from the following season. The Examiner on 2 July 1913 indicates that two games have already been played against Tannymorel, both losses. The writer expects that Warwick will be out to make amends on the coming Saturday. Happily, A. Milne seems to have recovered over the summer from his broken leg and takes his place in midfield.
The third “soccer” match between Warwick end Tannymorel will be played in M'Laughlin's paddock on Saturday afternoon. A good game is expected, as Warwick will endeavour to retrieve its lost laurels, having been defeated by Tannymorel twice this season. The Warwick team will comprise: W: Allan, A. Brown, and "A. N. Other"; A. Kennedy, A. Milne, and E. Thorpe; H. Simpson, and A. Absolum, R. Crawford, E. Beerling and Potter. Emergencies: L, M'Intyre, H. Rowe, and J. Gordon. Mr. T. M. Robertson will have charge of the whistle.
The game day Examiner notes that “members of the Warwick team and officials will meet at Stephens' studio, in Grafton-street. at 2.30, for the purpose of being photographed as a group.” Maybe the dose of 'stardom' worked because the Warwick boys turned the tables, winning 1-0.

No doubt it was getting repetitive playing the same opponents each time and so a game was arranged against the local Rugby team on 12 July.
This afternoon in McLaughlin's paddock, at 3 o'clock, all players are requested to be in attendance when a team will be selected to take part in what will prove to be a somewhat unique fixture in Warwick football circles. A prominent Rugby team in Warwick has consented to meet the local soccer players at their own game next Saturday afternoon, and, as at least half the team understand the British Association rules, the match should be entertaining as well as interesting.
It's hard to imagine such willingness to co-operate and be flexible in today's competitive sports-business environment but the Rugby boys were happy to meet the challenge – unfortunately no report is available.

Challenges were soon coming from other clubs and communities in the region
The Warwick Soccer team has been asked by the Walloon and Rosewood Soccer Football team to play them a match in Warwick on Thursday, 28th August. The Warwick team will endeavour to fulfill the fixture, but would prefer that the match should be played on a Saturday. In any case the visitors will have a match in Warwick.
Throughout the season the Warwick team also organised fixtures against the 'Wanderers' and the Ipswich Railway Employees team (unfortunately cancelled).

A post-war soccer team from the Brass Shop at the Railway Workshops, Ipswich, 1924
It rounded out this season with two games against Toowoomba. The first a thrilling 4-4 draw, with Warwick losing the return match 3-0, a number of locals missing because of "business exigencies".

The report on the 4-4 draw is reproduced in full below because it is such a remarkable document. For a start it is absurdly long, especially when placed in comparison with any other Examiner soccer report from the period. It also seems to construct the soccer match as such an important local event. Clearly some other politics are not far below the surface here. The reference to the reprehensible behaviour of the Rugby team also points to some local political shenanigans. But most intruiging, and important, of all is its suggestion that "Toowoomba was generally regarded as the nursery in Queensland of British Association football".
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SOCCER FOOTBALL.

A very interesting and exciting exposition of British Association football was in McLaughlin's paddock on Saturday afternoon last, when teams representing Toowoomba, and Warwick and Tannymorel combined, tried conclusions. The game resulted in a tie—each side scoring four goals. The personnel of the two teams was the same as already published, with the exception that W. Kennedy took the place of Allison in the Toowoomba forwards. A nasty west wind blew during the afternoon, and this, combined with the fact that the sun directly faced into the eyes of the men playing towards the western goal, caused play to be erratic at times. However, on the whole the game was fast, exciting and scientific. His Worship the Mayor (Ald. John Allman) set the ball in motion amid applause and the players then settled dawn to their task.
Toowoomba was the first to show out, and achieved a corner, the kick from which however, proved fruitless. A second time Toowoomba became very dangerous, and a hot shot at goal just missed the post by about a foot. Warwick then livened up, and a swift attempt at goal by Jardine was dexterously thwarted. Shortly afterwards Warwick secured a corner, but the opportunity was not improved. Warwick, however, was keeping the ball too high. Shortly after the Warwick goalie kicked off, but the ball speedily came back, and J. Wilson easily scored. Toowoomba 1, Warwick nil. The visitors then pressed, and J. Wilson again scored with a high dropping shot, the Warwick goalie being obviously at a disadvantage owing to the sun shining in his eyes. Toowoomba 2, Warwick nil. Warwick, however, was not dismayed, and Crawford, who had been playing a very heady game, neatly scored from a corner kick delivered by Potter. Toowoomba 2, Warwick 1. The visitors shortly after notched another goal, the successful player being R. Wilson, though some of the spectators thought there had been offside play. Toowoomba still pressed, and in loose work J. Wilson scored his third goal, the ball just nipping through at the corner post. The score was Toowoomba 4, Warwick 1 at half-time. The visitors had had decidedly the best of the game so far, and if there had only been a modern Joshua among them to command the sun to stand still, no doubt they would have ran out Victorious with a good lead. But as the sun sank in the west the Toowoomba men found themselves even more embarrassed than the local players in the first half. On resuming, Warwick pressed, but the Toowoomba defence was good. The game became very fast, and Steel made a nice, but unsuccessful, shot at goal.
This was followed by a pretty shot by Crawford which, however, missed its objective. Then, from a corner Potter put in a fine kick. The ball came off a Toowoomba player to Joyce, who did the rest. Toowoomba 4, Warwick 2. Even play followed, in which Brown and Hallam showed up well for Warwick. Toowoomba was kept busily defending, but their battle line could not be broken. Warwick was now showing good passing form, while Toowoomba's forward rushes were fine combined efforts. Ultimately Crawford trapped the ball about 20 yards from the goal, and a swift, sure kick brought the score to: Toowoomba 4, Warwick 3. A few minutes later Joyce notched another goal, and made the scores even. From that on to the end the game was hotly contested, and the ball travelled up and down the field at a great pace. Brown, Potter. Joyce, and Crawford all showed forth prominently for Warwick, while of the visitors the pick of the basket were Kennedy, J. Wilson, and Gillogly.
Mr. T. M. Robertson was an efficient referee. During the afternoon the Warwick Town Band played selections.
After the match the members of both teams sat down to a splendid dinner at the Cafe Majestic. Mr. D.J. Hatchings (chairman of Committee of the .Warwick Club) presided and seated on his right was his Worship the Mayor.
After the usual loyal toast the chairman proposed the toast of "The Visitors." He said he could not congratulate either team on victory, but he could congratulate them on a good game, Toowoomba was generally regarded as the nursery in Queensland of British Association football, and the visitors were a fine lot of sportsmanlike players. The game that day had been clean and wholesome, and he hoped the match on Monday would be equally satisfactory in this respect. If the game were always kept clean, fair, and above board, there was no question that it would become the national game of Australia.

The toast was supported by Mr. Archie Milne (Warwick) and Mr. W. Nesbit (Tannymorel), and was responded to bv Mr. Gillogly, the captain of the Toowoomba team.
The toast of "The Referee" was proposed by Mr. R. Crawford and supported by Mr. Smith (Toowoomba). Mr. Collins proposed the toast of "The Mayor."
In reply his Worship complimented the players on the manly game played that afternoon, which was in marked contradistinction to the unfair treatment meted out to the Brisbane visitors of the Rugby match. He trusted they would have another good game on Monday, and that Warwick would prove victorious. In any case he hoped the best team would win. In conclusion his Worship invited the visitors to a run into the country by motor next day, and this kind invitation was largely availed of yesterday. (Examiner 8 September)
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In 1914 the competition resumed. Games were played against Allora and Tannymorel (one of which was a benefit for a Tannymorel player who had lost his sight in a mining accident) and, towards the end of the season, Yangan.

As is the case with so many of the blossoming soccer competitions around rural Australia, driven by migrant workers and schoolteachers, the Great War stepped in to take away many of the young men playing the game. From Toowoomba alone, 140 soccer players went to the front.

In most parts of Australia, including the big cities, soccer became unviable. Warwick was no different. A couple of games involving Warwick were played during the war but these were at a junior or cadet level.

As is the pattern around most of rural Australia, soccer in Warwick waited for the next wave of migration to give it players. The coal mines in the region inevitably brought English and Scottish migrant soccer players to work them.

The game lurched back into action in the mid 20s, with Warwick playing a healthy competition, with a recorded league table, against Allora, Mt Colliery and Tannymorel for several years. It seems to wane in the early 30s only to be revived once more in the mid 1930s (aided by a strong Stanthorpe influence).

The Courier Mail reported on a particularly optimistic AGM of the Warwick Soccer Association in May 1936.
At the annual meeting of the Warwick Soccer Association the president (Mr. T. Ingrams) expressed pleasure at the progress the code was making in Warwick, and the hope that it would not be long before Allora, Tannymorel, and Mt. Colliery were again In the association. Warwick now possessed a ground second to none on the Downs. The following officers were elected: Patron, Mr. T. Collins; president, Mr. T. Ingrams; vice presidents, Alderman Berthelsen. Messrs. W. Angus. R. Thornton. Carey, A. Dempster. B. Owens, P. Graham. S. Jones, T. Dalgleish: secretary, Mrs. A. Absolum, Jun.; assistant secretary, Mr. J. Bowen; treasurer, Mr. A. Radford; press correspondent, Mr. J. Bowen; coach. Mr. A. Radford; referee, Mr. A. Radford: official referees, Messrs Garlick, Carey, A. Absolum, W. Angus.
This is an enigmatic expression of optimism from a code about to head into a 30-year slumber in the region. Yet it is a commonly held view in the soccer community around Australia at the time. They were not to know that a devastating war was on the horizon, one that would again decimate the game's available players and create a new Australia in which soccer seemed less at home in many towns and regions than ever before.

Soccer revived once more in the Warwick region some time in the 1960s. And as with so many soccer associations around Australia, the people responsible began in a pioneering spirit, probably unaware that they were not the first to bring this game to this place.

Had they known, what difference would it have made?

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing information on 100 years of 'Soccer Football' in Warwick , i have visited your blog great post.....!!!!!!
    100 years of 'Soccer Football' in Warwick


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