Playing long balls into empty space since 2012.

Monday, 19 August 2013

A-League team for Ipswich?

So someone has raised the prospect of an Ipswich A League team. It's an idea worth some consideration, even if only to dismiss the idea with sound arguments instead of emotive ones. This is a point expressed well by Leave for the Cup in a recent post.

I've seen a number of comments that pooh pooh the idea because Ipswich is a Rugby League stronghold. So it is. And so are Newcastle and Western Sydney but that hasn't stopped a vibrant soccer culture existing within those regions. There's something about the relationship between the two codes that can transcend antagonism and become symbiotic. Sure League and soccer followers can be dismissive of each other's games but they have existed side-by-side in too many places for there to be a fundamental problem between them.

Punters have also wondered about the demographic make-up of Ipswich, the less charitable mentioning the 'bogan' element. Aside from the fact that local knowledge would suggest 'bevan' as the correct epithet, there is no necessary disconnection between beer, flannelette shirts and watching soccer. The negative arguments will have to improve to convince me.

But so will the positive ones. I'd be interested to know whether there is a practical possibility that Ipswich could fill a 15,000 seater. Could they (a la Western Sydney) capitalise on an antagonism between the west and the city? Could they nod towards the substantial history of soccer in the West Moreton region - again much like the Wanderers have done with Western Sydney?

Indeed, soccer has a long history in the Ipswich region, one that goes back to the 1880s (though we might say 1875 if we allow for the Woogaroo game). This means nothing without continuity of course and this is the million dollar question. Nonetheless, this is at least a rich seam to tap. The metaphor is deliberate because a lot of the early Ipswich players were miners from Scotland and elsewhere around Britain. Many of the teams in the early days of Ipswich soccer were founded by coal miners.

The Brisbane Courier reported in May 1886:
The Brisbane exponents of the British Association game of football will no doubt be pleased to hear that a club which will play under the Association rules, has been started at Bundanba. A preliminary meeting was held at that place on Monday evening last when there was a very fair attendance. Mr W. Hastie in the chair. The club was duly formed, and thirteen members were enrolled at the meeting, while it was announced that several good players from Dinmore and Blackstone intend to join. Mr. James Glasgow was appointed as secretary, and it was decided that the club should be known as the Bundanba Rovers. I am informed that the Rovers intend to try conclusions with one of the Brisbane clubs shortly.
 This team was added to the mix that saw a Rangers club already in existence in Bundamba.

Rangers of Bundanba 1895

The Bush Rats were founded in 1890 by a group of miners (hence the nickname). I need to get my head around this because sometimes they are referred to as the Bush Rats, sometimes the Dinmore Bush Rats. The club has the honour of including perhaps the first Aboriginal player in Queensland, Quilp. Quilp was an all-round sportsman and soccer referee!

Original Bushrats 1890. or is it 1893?

Dinmore Bush Rats 1909

Dinmore Bush Rats 1910, note Quilp in the centre of the photograph

And just to remind the sceptics that this was a decent level of competition, the combined Ipswich and West Moreton team beat NSW by 4 goal to 1 in 1914.

Ipswich and West Moreton British Football Association executive and team
that defeated NSW by 4 goals to 1, 1914

One of the early clubs was Blackstone Rovers. It survived well into the twentieth century.

Blackstone Rovers 1915
Back row - J. Halls (Chairman), Geo. Hill, F. Elson, A. Perry, J. Follett. Second row - W. Evans (Selector), W. Halls (Treasurer), C. Davies, W. Jones, Private A. E. Law, Jas. Halls (Selector). Front row - R. H. Lewis (Vice-president), J. Pedley, T. G. Bowen (President), Private W. Paterson (Captain), Geo. Leeks (Selector), G. Evans (Secretary), Jas. Law (Vice-president). In front - Geo. W. Law, A. Halls. (Description supplied with photograph.)

As the game becomes established in the region it takes hold in other workforces. The Queensland Times reported in April 1911 that:
The "soccer" game will be very prominent in Ipswich this season, as I have heard from reliable authority that the North Ipswich railway workshops are putting forward an excellent combination, including quite a number of British Association exponents from the old country.

Ipswich Railway Workshop team 1924
More to come . . .


  1. Great idea Ian call it the Ipswich Bush Rats and how about a Ballarat, Bendigo or Geelong team. These cities have a long history of football but are seemingly unable to get it together in recent years with elite football

  2. Soccer has really been picking up a lot all over Australia, and not just in Ipswich. But more for the younger generations I suppose? My mates and I, we all still prefer rugby and the surf..