Playing long balls into empty space since 2012.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Soccer registrations reach 600 in pre-WW1 Melbourne

This article is from The Winner, 5 August 1914, only just over 100 years ago. It demonstrates a number of things. First it shows the value of The Winner as an historical source for soccer historians and our good fortune that it has been digitised on Trove. The article also suggests that soccer in Melbourne in 1914 is a game in rude health - with: 600 players, a competitive Dockerty Cup competition, a strong league, a budding junior competition, willing and able officials and administrators and interstate representative trips. The only dull note is the complaint of limited availability of grounds (something that echoes down the years).

‘The Victorian Amateur British Football Association Is now well established, and I can assure you that the game of 'soccer' has come to stay in Victoria, and this with all due respect to other branches of football.' Thus spoke a prominent official to the writer in the course of a recent interview. 'It is not generally known, I feel sure, that we have no fewer than600 players on our register, all connected with clubs in Melbourne and district.' I may point out that the Victorian British Football Association is under strictly amateur auspices, and that it has at its head a body of sportsmen whose one and only desire is to further the interests of this branch of athletics.
Their love for 'soccer' is full of enthusiasm, and bids well for the welfare of the game. Though to an extent hampered for the want of official playing grounds, the Association has surmounted many formidable obstacles, in the course of its efforts to bring the code to the forefront. And it is well to know that they promise to 'make good.'
Of all winter pastimes, 'soccer' has made great and rapid strides in England and Scotland, particularly having made wonderful progress in veritable hotbeds of Rugbyism. In fact, I number amongst some of my best football friends persons who are now well known officials with British Association clubs in the North of England, who years ago held high positions in Rugby circles. When I cast my mind's eye back, it seems almost perplexing to note the intense popularity the 'soccer' game enjoys where once only 'rugger' was spoken of.
It would truly seem as if when one becomes thoroughly initiated into theintricacies of British Association football, it possesses such a wonderful fascination that there is no forsaking itfor any other branch of the winter game. I well remember an old football acquaintance of mine, one of England's finest goal-keepers — J. W.Sutcliffe — remarking to me that 'soccer' was the ideal game so far as scientific football is concerned. Itcould not be well said that this illustrious player had a prejudiced mind, seeing that Sutcliffe is one of the few footballers in the world who enjoys the distinction of having represented his country at both 'soccer' and 'rugger.' He gained his Rugby international honor on the occasion of the first visit of the Maories to England, Sutcliffe being then a mere youth. After further successes inclass 'rugger,' he joined Bolton Wanderers, and whilst with that famed Lancashire organisation gained thecoveted blue riband of the 'soccer' football— an international cap, and a place in the English team! I simply make reference to the above as an in-stance of a crack player's love for this particular game after securing the highest possible honors at the sister code.
To revert, however, to our local clubs, it is interesting to note that the Victorian B. F. A. is affiliated with theparent body in England, no more powerful organisation that which exists in British sport. Victoria is represented on the Council of the v English F. A. by Mr E. Gibb, a player of the olden days, who is not altogether unknown in New Zealand football circles.
Chatting the other day with an enthusiast, he told me that there, was some hope in the not far distant future of organising a tour to Australia of acouple of 'crack' teams from England and Scotland respectively as a missionary enterprise to exhibit the niceties of the game. The undertaking would, of course, be a costly one, butat the same time, it might be money well spent.

It is well to know that the Victorian Council have secured Government sanction from the Defence Department toformulate a scheme for the institution of a 'Soccer' league on behalf of the cadets. The project seems to be a commendable one. Mr R. C. M. Strachan, of Prahran, has made the Association an offer of either a challenge cup or shield to be put up for competition among the cadets.
I am told also, officially, that thecode is making rapid headway in theYarraville district, and in Footscray and Spotswood a lot of enthusiasm is being shown. It is well, too, to knowthat the V.B.F.A. has no lack of efficient referees, which is a most important factor nowadays. The Referees' Association has as president Mr J. G. Hawes, an indefatigable worker in the interests of 'soccer.' Mr W. B. Gilbert is secretary and treasurer, and the examining council comprises Messrs Cummings, Palmer, and Gilbert.
All this goes to show that local 'soccer' is booming, and must eventually make that headway which has characterised its progress in Great Britain.
The finalists for the Dockerty Cup competition is not as yet settled. At the second time of asking, the St. Kilda and Thistle teams failed to decide the issue, another pointless draw being played. The other semi-final, that between Wonthaggi and N. and D., saw a keen, strenuous game, with the last-named coming out on top by a goal to nothing. The game was brimful of incident, each side in turn being seen to advantage. The win may be said to have been of a somewhat flukey character, the winners' goal which gave them the victory being the result of an unlucky piece of play by one of the Wonthaggi backs, who turned the ball into his own goal.
In the concluding stages of the game excitement was intense, Wonthaggi testing the defence of the opposition to its utmost. Thevisitors had certainly a bad share of the luck of the afternoon.
The other games resulted:— League (Division I.) : Birmingham, 2; Burns,The goal-scorers were Taylor, Dodds, Anderson andRuddiman re spectively. Yarraville, 2 ; Prahran, 1.this game, Earthey (through owngoal), Blackburn and Staniforth werethe scorers. Spotswood and Preston scored a draw of a goal each, with Mobbs and Purcell as the respective goal-getters.
The present is a red-letter week for 'Soccerites.' Today (Wednesday) thefollowing players leave Melbourne by the s.s. Manuka for Hobart, under the management of Mr. E. Harvey: — Hamilton, H. Jones, Stranger, M. Gardiner, Woods, Rumbol, Fleming, Marsden, Jeffereys, G. Brown, and Weston.
Seeing that this issue of 'The Winner' contains the first official publication of the teams for next Saturday's international match — England v. Scotland — at Fitzroy, there will be some disappointment amongst those players whose names do not appear. The Football Council sat until a late hour, giving the many claims their most careful consideration.
In accordance with the traditions of international football, all the selected are of English or Scottish birth.
England — Robinson (N. and D.),Hyde (capt., Birmingham), F. Jones(Burns), Lamb (St. Kilda), Riley(Spotswood), Goodson (Thistle), Fisher(Thistle), Walsh (Spotswood), Kendall (St. Kilda), Dowker (Yarraville),Slade (St. Kilda), Allen (Birmingham), Church (St. Kilda), and Golding (Birmingham).
Scotland — Russell (Thistle), Kelly(Albert Park), Raith (Thistle), Tray-nor (Preston); M'Milian (capt., St.Kilda), Cox (Albert Park), Turner (Thistle), Lowe (St. Kilda), Spencer(St. Kilda), Hogg (Thistle), Guthrie(Thistle), Ruddiman (Burns), T. Anderson (Burns), W. Anderson (AlbertPark).
Mr C. R. Williamson is to officiate as referee, with Messrs Dempster and Meens as linesmen. The Football Council hold anothermeeting tomorrow (Thursday) evening, and finally decide on the two elevens to take the field.

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