A response to Kevin Sheedy
So it has come to this. According to Kevin Sheedy, Western Sydney Wanderers have been successful because the Immigration Department recruited its support base.The whistler has whistled and the dogs are barking. The Victorian imperialist has inverted logic and history and turned the local game into the foreign one while his imported culture is promoted as the one that truly belongs.
Perhaps the whistler has a point. At least half of the members of Granville Magpies (pictured below) were migrants. Let's not let the fact that the photograph was taken nearly one-hundred years ago spoil the argument. The Magpies were a strong club in the early 1900s and continue today in various forms. [Happy to hear from people who want to point me at a good history]. They represent one of the many historical elements upon which the present support for the Wanderers rests.
Like many of the soccer clubs established in the pre-WW1 period, the Magpies contributed to the war effort. Seven of the twelve players pictured went to the front. In total 17 out of 22 Magpie players in 1914 could "be accounted for as having done or are doing their bit for King and country in foreign parts."
At least one, J.W. Cottam was killed in the fighting. Even the military circular announcing his death comments that he was a "paramount soccer player".
This is an extended notice of his death in the Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate on Saturday 5 May 1917:
The deceased soldier, John Willie Cottam was a great favorite in this district. He was a noted Soccer footballer, and many members - and high officials, too - of the G. and D.F.A. have this week quietly and unassumingly bowed their heads as they heard the sad news. He was a prominent member of the redoubtable 'Magpies, and played centre forward in the team that won the double event- the Gardiner and Rawson Cups - in one season (1914), following it up in 1915 by again winning the Rawson Cup and only meeting defeat for the Gardiner Cup in the semi-final, in 1915. He also held an honor cap from the Sydney association. His only, brother, Private Albert Cottam, is 21 years of age, and is still fighting in France; He enlisted in November, 1915, was ill in Egypt, completed his training in England, and has been in the firing-line since November 10, 1910. He, too, was a footballer before enlisting, but was attached to the Parramatta Juniors, who won the Soccer medals in 1914.
Another Magpie not pictured in the team photo also met his death at the front. The Cumberland Argus Saturday 28 July 1917 reported:
Other men is the district also fell. The Cumberland Argus Saturday 5 June 1915 reported that thePTE. WILLIAM ERNEST BRICKLEY, of Clyde, killed in action. Soccer enthusiasts in the Granville district will regret to learn that Private W. E. Brickley, better known as Billy Brickley, paid the supreme sacrifice on the battlefield in France on 3rd May last. He was a prominent member of the old Magpie team and one of its best players. His poor old mother, Mrs. A. Brickley, who resides in Factory-street, Clyde, received word from the Defence Department on 3rd June that Billy had been reported missing on 3rd April. Then on 10th July she got further word that he was killed in action on 3rd May. The last letter she received from him is dated 2nd May, the day before his death. He was then in cheerful mood and seemed pleased to let his mother know that after waiting anxiously for many months for a letter from home, he had just got a whole bundle of letters. He belonged to the 18th Battalion and left for the front in October last year. He went straight to France after leaving Australia? He was 28 years of age, was married, and leaves one child. His father died about two years ago. He was the youngest son and was born at Kendal-st. Clyde. He went to North Granville public school and afterwards was employed for years at the Clyde Engineering Co.'s Works and later at Messrs. Ritchie Bros.
Granville and District Football Association, at its last meeting, carried votes of sympathy to Mr. Mills and family and Mrs Rea and family in the fate of their sons at the Dardanelles. The fathers of both these gallant boys were two of the earliest players of the Soccer game in the State, and are not yet forgotten by many friends they then made. Trooper Mills, of course, was only wounded.
More work needs to be done on the commitment of the district's soccer players to armed service and this represents just a taste of it. But the point of this is not only to acknowledge this contribution but also to reflect on how the language of the obituaries indicates that these men and the game the played were embedded in their community. Soccer is celebrated as a central (and not peripheral or foreign) aspect of their social lives in Granville and Western Sydney.SERGEANT WALTER E. REA. A promising popular Parramatta boy - at the time of his death 20 years of age - gave his life for his native land and for Empire, when Sergt. Walter E. Rea fell on the field of battle at the Dardanelles on May 24. The deceased soldier was the eldest son of Mrs. Rea, of Church-street, Parramatta North (widow of the late Mr. David Rea, a popular Parramatta citizen and footballer of 20 years ago). Sergt. W. E. Rea was grandson of the late Alderman John Saunders. He was an officer at the Parramatta North Methodist Sunday School for a time before he left. He was one of the first of the Parramatta lads to volunteer; and his high character and attention to his military duties soon won him promotion.
The Cumberland Argus on Saturday 22 February 1919 reported on the return from duty of two of the Magpies in the team photograph.
Harry Wheat, the well-known Magpie player, returned from the war a week or two ago and visited Granville on Monday. He was captain of a Soccer team at the last camp he was at in England, where a competition. was held amongst the different companies, of soldiers. The final game was played on the Saturday prior to his leaving for Australia, and his team scored a good win. Ned Doherty, the well-known full-back of the Magpies, was also a player.Wheat and Doherty had played a fair bit of soccer while in the army, many Australian troops did, and they returned, expecting to resume their careers with the Magpies, which they duly did. They certainly wouldn't have expected to have been thought of as migrants and foreigners in their own country. Nor would they have expected their game to be seen as a curiosity played and supported by people who needed to be "channelled" and "brought" into the region by a government department. And they certainly wouldn't have expected a dog-whistling migrant from far away Melbourne to announce 100 years later that the game they played and nurtured in Sydney's west was anything other than a rich and established local culture of 130 years standing.
PS. Informants have indicated that two of the family names in the team photo live on in the names of the Eric Mobbs Reserve (a present day soccer facility) and the Cottam Cup, a Granville district knockout trophy that goes back to 1907 (resuscitated in 2011 after an eight-year break). Interestingly, the earliest reference I can find to the Cottam Cup is in 1920. Perhaps the name was changed after the war to commemorate John Cottam.
Indeed it was:
To-morrow will be a gala day at Clyde Oval and the whole of the net proceeds are to be donated to charities in the Granville district. The match of the day will be the Cottam Cup final between Two Blues and Granville Rechabites. Play will start at 2.30. The Cottam Cup is a memorial trophy. It was originally the trophy for the First League premiership, and was donated by the late Sir Harry Rawson and known as the Rawson Cup. It was won outright by Granville, who handed it over to the Granville Association, to be played for annually as a memorial to Jack Cottam a clever forward, who made the supreme sacrifice in France. Arrow 15 October 1920 p 6See my follow up here on the Lidcombe Methodists.