Playing long balls into empty space since 2012.

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

SA’s soccer’s lost wartime tribute found

By Rob Greenwood, taken
from Adelaide Advertiser 13 November 2019

A PIECE of state soccer history, honouring the nation’s wartime sacrifices, has been located in suburban Adelaide and there are growing calls to preserve it for future generations.
On August 3, 1941, the SA Soccer Football Association planted 125 white cedar trees at Rowley Park as a tribue to local players who had enlisted to serve in World War II.
But within eight years the Brompton venue, which had initially been intended to become the home of SA soccer, had been leased off and converted into a speedway track.
While the association moved 3km to the now Hindmarsh Stadium, the trees were thought to have been swallowed up by the housing development that took over the site in the 1990s.
That was until a discovery by Melbourne-based soccer historian Ian Syson last week, who spotted a number of them still standing in and around dwellings on the former ground.
Some of the white cedar trees planted on the former Rowley Park soccer ground. Picture: Ian Syson
Some of the white cedar trees planted on the former Rowley Park soccer ground. Picture: Ian Syson
The trees were planted at the Brompton venue in 1941 to recognise local soccer players enlisted to serve in World War II. Picture: Ian Syson
The trees were planted at the Brompton venue in 1941 to recognise local soccer players enlisted to serve in World War II. Picture: Ian Syson
“We thought probably the trees had been chopped down to make way for the new housing estate,” said Dr Syson, a retired academic from Victoria University.
“But there are still scores of those trees left and they’ve built the new housing estate around the trees.
“Each of them was planted to represent a South Australian soccer enlistment in the second World War.
“If each tree is for a soldier, some of those trees would represent a dead soldier and someone killed at war.
“They have a sacred significance.”
Dr Syson’s images show the trees dotted around John Hindmarsh Frontage, Francis Ridley Circuit and Rowley Lane in the development, which borders Torrens Rd.
A plaque on the former Rowley Park site acknowledging its past use as a speedway track. Picture: Ian Syson
A plaque on the former Rowley Park site acknowledging its past use as a speedway track. Picture: Ian Syson
Part of the housing development on the previous Rowley Park soccer ground is dedicated to a reserve. Picture: Ian Syson
Part of the housing development on the previous Rowley Park soccer ground is dedicated to a reserve. Picture: Ian Syson
The FFA history subcommittee member, who is compiling a book titled Newcastle Soccer Anzacs, said the find had encouraged him to expand his project to cover other states.
He hoped acknowledgment on the site’s soccer history, similar to the plaque recognising its past speedway activity, would commemorate the memorial and protect the trees.
“It was actually a soccer ground before it was used for speedway,” said Dr Syson, who believed about 80 per cent of soccer players across Australia enlisted for military service.
“It’s important, but sometimes soccer doesn’t understand it’s own connection with this history.
“The AFL and the rugby league have built a connection with Anzac over the last 20 years or so, but soccer has stood by and watched.
“Soccer has as much right to claim an Anzac connection, because soccer basically halted itself during the first World War and the other codes not so much as they kept playing.”

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