Playing long balls into empty space since 2012.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

When the crowd gathers in Sydney to watch the Soccer

This is a nice piece from the Sunday Herald in 1951 on the occasion of Australia hosting an England XI at the SCG. It's interesting to reflect on the way the writer invokes a multicultural and multilingual spirit all gathered to celebrate the the occasion.

There are many links we could draw with the World Cup qualifier to be played this evening between Australia and Iraq. Not only is a broad multicultural crowd gathered at Sydney's premier football stadium, the big end of town and rugby leagues stars are there in force. Everyone getting behind a momentous occasion in Australian sport.

Bedlam On The Hill


By Our Special Reporter

Thousands of New Australians provided the main colour to yesterday's first Soccer Test between England and Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

In a weird medley of languages they drowned out the traditional barracking of "Coom on, Chooms" by Englishmen and "Gie tha' whustle a rest" by Scots.

Italians yelled "Fuori giuoco" ("offside"). Yugoslav blasts at referee Ron Wright were: "Na cijoj ste strani?" ("Whose side are you on?"). Czechs cried "Odstav te ho" ("Send him off"), and Germans asked, "Sind Sie blind?" ("Are you blind?").

When a pass was foozled, an Australian voice would penetrate the din on the Hill with an expressive "Mug!"

A Scots barracker offered this tribute to record transfer fee star Jack Sewell after a brilliant move: "43,750 poonds, an' wurrth ivery muckle o' it."

As a gesture to the large European element in the crowd the Soccer Association gave over one of the early matches to a "New Australian Cup" between Ferencvaros (Hungarians) and Hakoah (Jewish).


Chinese Roll Up, Too

It is estimated that at least one-third of Sydney's Chinese community saw the game. Chop suey restaurants worked a roster to allow as many waiters and chefs as possible off for the afternoon.

Since a team from their own country drew a crowd of 47,500 in Sydney in 1923 the Chinese have become the most ardent of Australia's Soccer fans.

Expecting them to roll up in. force, refreshment sellers speculated in additional sup- plies of peanuts.



The Chinese came all right. And they munched peanuts all afternoon. But they brought their own.

Now and then a piping cry of "Chuen tai kou" ("pass the ball") came from the stands, but mostly they were expressionless onlookers.

Hawkers of snide first scorer doubles had a profit- able afternoon at the expense of the Soccer new-chums.

Odds of £2 to 2/were offer- ed if the names contained in sealed packets were those of the first scorer on either side.



But the name of the English goalie, Sam Bartram, was included in a section of the packets. For those doubles to succeed would be the miracle to end all miracles.

The crowd, which began to stream in from 10 a.m., was probably the most represen- tative ever assembled on the ground.

They came in convoys of flat-top trucks from the Newcastle and Cessnock areas, and by cars, trucks, and trains from the South Coast.

Some thumbed rides from as far away as Wallsend. Hundreds of North and South Coast motor cycles were in the parking enclosures.



Royal Navy sailors came from Nowra, and an entire cycling club pedalled from Newcastle after a pre-dawn start.

In the members' enclosure were elderly Englishmen wearing cloth caps and rough tweeds. One came in plus fours.

Several Consuls whose home countries are devoted to the round ball code were guests in the official enclosures.

A.J.C. chairman Alan Potter took a day off from racing to see the match. Also there were many bookmakers and big punters playing truant from Canterbury.



In the enclosure, too, were Dr. H. V. Evatt, Rugby League patron, State Cabinet Ministers, members of the Judiciary, and a select group from Macquarie Street.

Mr. Les Austin headed a delegation of Conciliation Commissioners (who had taken the odds and backed Australia).

First World War Diggers, prominent among them Bede Kenny, V.C., deserted the League code for the afternoon.

One English player wisely prepared himself for the rush of autograph hunters. He armed himself with a rubber stamp bearing his signature and an ink pad.

The story is that "Rajah" Miller, president of the Bondi Icebergs, intends offering seve- ral members of the English team honorary life-membership.

Led by Harry Bamford, the visitors have been swimming each morning at Coogee. Bamford claims that, after England, Coogee is like jumping into a hot bath.

The Englishmen attribute their fitness to a match-day ban on drinking and smoking. Their abstinence begins at bedtime on match eve-and that means not even a surruptitious drag on a Woodbine.

But once a match is over an outsider needs a gas mask to get through the fumes.

Who Won? - See Full Story In Sport Section. 1, 2, 3.

See this image for photographs and inscriptions of supporters voicing themselves.


  1. Some archival newsreel footage can be found here:

    Also, will check it out when i get a chance, but I seem to remember that doc evatt played a little bit of "football" at school (although it might well have been australian rules, also unusual for Sydney at the time).

    1. "Doc" Evatt was one of the founders of the Sydney University Rugby League Club and played for University when they were in the NSWRL premiership.

  2. Although the reports refer to the matches against Australia as "Tests" they do not seem to be recognised as such as the tourists were an England FA selection.