Paul Nicholls has sent us an interesting snippet.
A classic case of football over-reaching itself
In 1885, New South Wales raised a contingent of volunteers to serve with British forces in the Sudan. On 3rd March a huge crowd came down to the harbour to see the troops off. A steamer, Nemesis, escorted the transport Iberia down the harbour but near South Head the two ships collided. Two women on the Nemesis were killed in the accident. One of them, Margaret Capell, was 38 years old and left behind five children.
A fund, known as the Capell fund, was set up to help the family. However, Sydneysiders did not support the fund very well.
Enter the Caledonian British Football Association club - a club for Scotsmen formed earlier that year. In July 1885 they decided to hold a soccer match in aid of the Capell fund. In The Sydney Morning Herald it was announced that:
“A first-class exhibition of pure football will be given (no carrying of the ball being allowed), and a large attendance is hoped for.”The game was advertised in the press and the Agricultural Ground was secured in order to collect a gate. Soccer was displaying its civic credentials while doing a bit of code promotion on the side. But despite the weather on the day being good, the turnout was small.
The Australian Town and Country Journal on 11 July 1885 wrote:
“The Caledonian-Wanderers match on the Agricultural Ground, in aid of the Capell relief fund, was not patronised as it deserved. Whether the contra attractions were too many, or the charge, 6d, for admission, was too exorbitant, it is impossible to say. Had it been upon Moore Park, no doubt the crowds of partisans would have been so numerous as to impede the progress of the game. And while on this old and dire contention let me say that the matches upon Moore Park were witnessed by fully three thousand people. Not that their lawful patronage is begrudged, but it is against the "crowds" we complain, who generally make themselves obnoxious at free matches and invisible when a sixpence is begged for worthy ends.”This from The Daily Telegraph:
“it is extremely doubtful that the small attendance of the public will admit of even a trifling sum being handed over to the fund.”The result was slightly embarrassing for football. A classic case of over-reach.