Playing long balls into empty space since 2012.

Monday 31 May 2021

Soccer is Ordinary

A letter from George's Mother

Val Finlayson has sent me a copy of a letter written by her Grandmother and George Macaulay's mother to her son Sam. It contains evidence of a soccer culture in Melbourne that shines a light on how 'ordinary' soccer was for those families involved in the game. 

The letter was written on the evening of Wednesday 17 May, 1933, while the Footscray Thistle "soccer committee" were meeting  in the Macaulay residence at 17 Napier St Footscray. Mrs Macaulay discusses some family news before writing: 

Geo went to Wonthaggi on Sat, it was a pouring wet day here, it was also bad up there. Charlie Shiels went with them. Preston won, they left Won, at 10 O'Clock & was home at two in the morning. The roads were greasy & besides there was sleet falling however they got home without an accident.

While while not particularly earth shattering the letter nevertheless contains some important information.

  • We can assume perhaps that the Macaulay residence at 17 Napier St was a regular venue for Footscray Thistle SC committee meetings.
  • Why George Macaulay goes to Wonthaggi when his own team is playing St Kilda is an interesting question. Was he dropped? Injured? Rested?
  • He and some other men (Charlie Shiels included) were interested enough in the game to travel to Wonthaggi to see Preston beat Wonthaggi Magpies 8-1 - that's State League I level commitment! The apparent danger of the 4-hour return journey only adds to the sense of commitment.
  • George's mother sees nothing out of the ordinary is such behaviour.
  • We know Preston won well despite the conditions.
  • We also learn that a brother had 5 teeth pulled out that day and was having trouble finding work -- but that's by the by.
  • Sleet?

So, not earth shattering, but also promising. Information exists in family archives about the ordinary culture of Victorian soccer in the 1930s. I am so grateful to Val Finlayson (with whose permission the letter is published above) for once again providing me with inspirational family artifacts that perhaps reveal more about the history of soccer than a family holding them might imagine.

Sunday 30 May 2021

Mapping Footscray's Soccer History

It's growng. Slowly.

My knowledge of Footscray soccer history has grown from zero to really not very much in a year. But 'not very much' is perhaps about as much as anyone else knows. The people who should know: Footscray historians and soccer historians have left it in either the "well I'll be buggered, who'da thunk" box or the "too hard basket". John Lack's history of Footscray, for example, fails to mention the game at all, and the Footscray Historical Society (FHS) had little idea until very recently. To be fair they have welcomed me with open arms and have been particularly supportive, supplying a number of vital leads explored below.

Yet for nearly a 20 year period, bewteen 1914  and the mid 1930s, Footscray, in the form of Northumberland & Durhams and Footscray Thistle, can be fairly described as a driving force of Victorian soccer, one or the other being there at the business end of most senior competitions. The lack of knowledge about the two clubs is not surprising but it remains an annoyance.

Footscray Advertiser July 1940
From my first engagement with the FHS I obtained 5 photographs of the Footscray Thistle team, discussed here. This led to a meeting with Val Finlayson, daughter of George Macaulay, one of Thistle's prominent players between 1927 and 1939. More recently 'Barbara from FHS' found this little article (right) in the Footscray Advertiser from July 1940. An inordinately sad piece, it described the literal and symbolic moment Footscray Thistle was ended as a club. The vandals didn't destroy the club because it was already on the way out but they helped to precipitate a somewhat pathetic ending to Melbourne's first soccer Super Club.

The advantage of the article is that it located the place of the club's final moment. Some digging in Trove revealed that in 1939 the club's 'new ground' was sited at the 'foot of Napier St', 'next to the Swing bridge'. It was also clear that the club had planted a number of trees (with the Council's approval) near the ground in 1939. The important question was which side of Napier St. The north (pink) or the south (blue).

On Saturday morning 29 May I undertook to try to find and video clues as to the ground's location, producing this 6 minute mini doco on twitter, typically inspiring #sokkahtwitter to chip in. While the general consensus seemed to be that the Southern side was most likely, we could not be sure. Discovering the below aerial shot looking west seems to have solved the puzzle. It places the ground squarely on the south side. The large road in the right foreground which crosses the river is Napier St and the patch of ground to its left seems the only possible space for a soccer ground.

c1939 Footscray looking West, ID: 1528, 
an image owned by the Footscray Historical society

A crop of the above image at the corner of Napier and Moreland Strees.

Well, that's 1939-40 knocked over. The harder job is to work backwards and map them all. We know from documents provided by Val Nicholson, that in 1935-36 the club definitely played out of Yarraville Cricket Club's ground on Williamstown Road. It is likely they also played there all the years from 1932 until 1938. Earlier they played at Yarraville Gardens, and sometimes on Ammunition Flat and a number of other grounds the names of which are rendered unclear in newspaper reports

I'm confident we can get there and map the places Footscray Thistle (and Northumberland & Durhams) called home. 

Thursday 27 May 2021

Schoolboys Soccer in Melbourne. Early notes


Age, Friday 18 May 1923, page 7


Five teams selected from the Melbourne technical schools have been entered into a competition in cup tie rules and the winning team will hold the Osborne House cup for twelve months. 


1933 Uni High starts soccer

Age, Monday 21 August 1933, page 7


CONSOLATION SHIELD. University High School 5 goals (Marshall 4 and Busby) d. Coburg 1 (Forrest).

Herald, Thursday 31 August 1933, page 10


Glenroy v. University High A; 

Preston v. Geelong Road; 

Heidelberg v. Brunswick; 

Middle Park B v. Albert Park; 

University High B v. Graham Street [pm]; 

Footscray v. Coburg; 

Box Hill v. Vermont; 

Si. Kilda v. Brighton.

Herald, Thursday 7 September 1933, page 10

By "Onward"


— Brighton v. University High, at Middle Park; kick Off 1.30 p.m. 


— Brunswick East v. Brunswick West, 

Coburg A v Glenrov. 


Preston v. Heidelberg. 

Footscray v. Geelong Road. 

Box Hill v. Vermont. 

St Kilda v. Middle Park A. 

Middle Park B v. Graham Street (Port Melbourne), 

B.P.C. v. Albert Park.

Herald (Melbourne, Vic. : 1861 - 1954), Saturday 7 October 1933, page 3


Kingswood v. Hakoah


Before the big Soccer match at the Exhibition Oval Hakoah Juniors met University High School. FINAL HAKOAH JUNIORS 3. UNIVERSITY HIGH SCHOOL 2. 


Hakoah. — Pinch, Edelstein, Stern. 

High School. — Marshall. Bellchambcrs.


Age, Monday 9 April 1934, page 5


State School League.— 

Preston 4, Bell U 0, 

Geelong-road 1, Tottenham 0. 

Hyde-street 2, University High School 0. 

North Melbourne 1. Beattie Ph. Col. 0, 

Middle Park A 7, Middle Park B 0.


Argus, Thursday 23 May 1935, page 7

Schoolboys' Soccer Association

Following are the fixtures for the Schoolboys' Soccer Association:-

University High School A v. Preston, 

Heidelberg v. North Melbourne. 

Moreland v. Coburg West, 

Coburg High School v. Brunswick, 

Tottenham v. Sunshine, 

University High B v. Middle Park, 

Sandridge v. Brighton, 

Geelong Road a bye.

Record (Emerald Hill), Saturday 29 June 1935, page 6


Juniors Record Seventh Victory

(By 'Neslo.')

On Saturday last, at the expense of the University High School Old Boys, the local Junior Soccer Club recorded their seventh victory for the season. Weather permitting, the local juniors are confident of winning their match against University next week, the winners to take the title of 'State Junior Champions.' South Melbourne juveniles' fixture against Heidelberg was postponed on Saturday owing to the sodden state of the ground at Heidelberg. To-day the local juveniles will meet Heidelberg in the final of the 'Miller Cup.' Middle Park Schoolboys were easily defeated by their much heavier opponents on Saturday. The final score was 7 goals to 1. Kaye was the scorer for Middle Park. 

On Saturday night the visiting Wonthaggi Schoolboys, together with the Middle Park boys, were entertained at the Middle Park Theatre. The manager of the theatre congratulated the Wonthaggi Boys on their victory, and promised to donate a cup for the Wonthaggi and the local boys to compete for every year. 

The Victorian Junior Association propose to send a team to New South Wales or South Australia either in September of this year or early next season. The local Junior Club will propose, at the next Association meeting, that two teams go interState at the same time next year, one team to go to New South Wales and the other to South Australia. 

Results of last Saturday's matches are as follows: — 

South Melbourne Seniors, 2 goals, drew with Coburg, 2 goals. Goal kickers:— South Melbourne: Kerr and Fyfe; Coburg: Robertson and Tennant. 

South Melbourne Juniors. 4 goals, defeated University High School Old Boys, 1 goal. Goal-kickers: - South Melbourne: Scrafton (2), Wilson and Carter; University High School Old Boys: Marshall, 

Wonthaggi Schoolboys, 7 goals, defeated Middle Park School, 1 goal Goal-kickers:— Wonthaggi: Keay (5)-Tibbies. (2); Middle Park: Kaye. Fixtures (or Saturday, July #-:— Dockerty Cup.— South Melbourne v. Camherwcll, at Camber well; 3 p.m. 

Junior Cup—South Melbourne v. University High School Old Boys, at Olympic Park; 1,30 pm. 

Miller Cup.— South Melbourne juveniles v. Preston, at Heidelberg; 3 p.m. 

Metropolitan Cup, — Middle Park Schoolboys v. University High School Old Boys, at Middle Park; 11a.m. 

Selected teams for Saturday:— 

Seniors: Fenn, A. Kego, Gow, J. Kego, Thompson, O'Brien, Kerr, King, Fyfe. Wilson and Smith. Reserves: Muir and Tyson. 

Juniors: Barton. McKinty, Dorrington, Hutchinson, Guthrie, Boast. Carter, Wilson. Moore, Scrafton, Dixon. At Olympic, Park at 1 pm. 

Juveniles: Webster, Hodge or Reddish, Collins, Sinclair, McLeod, McLaggan, Wanliss, O'Halloran or Boyd, Bywaters and Wilson. Meet corner of Flinders and Swanston Streets at 2 p-m. 

Schoolboys: Sinclair, Gleeson, Wilson, Bickerton, Wilton, Williams. Woolhouse, Boyd, Kaye, Gains, Mackie. Reserves; Stone Morley and Ding. On ground at 10.15 a.m. sharp.


Herald (Melbourne), Thursday 5 December 1935, page 54


The altered conditions that will operate in 1937 was considered to be a progressive step, because, each senior club would then be obliged to run first, reserve and junior teams, as well as foster one or more schoolboy teams. The Old Boys Association it was stated had done useful work during the two years of their existence, in bringing together old players and others interested in the welfare of the game, and lending a helping hand where it was most needed to further the interests of the code. 


Glen Sheppard Cup (Schoolboys).— 
Preston v. Footscray,
Heidelberg v. Northcote High,
Middle Park B v. Albert park C.B.,
Melbourne High v. Coburg High,
Brighton Technical v. University High, 
Tottenham v. Middle Park A

West Melbourne Technical schhool??

100 Years Ago Today 27 May 1921

Toowoomba Chronicle, Tuesday 31 May 1921, page 7


CAWDOR, Monday.

Three boys have been selected from the Country team which recently, defeated Brisbane to represent the State in the interstate soccer football matches in New South Wales this week. They are: Eric Browne, left full-back; Jeff Browne, right wing forward (Cawdor); and Vincent Hanrahan, left wing forward (Geham). Considerable disappointment is felt amongst the Country team that Frank and Parker were not included. Other centres have greater representation, although considerably weaker than the Country team. However, it is the old story of Queen-street influence. The boys leave by the Sydney mail on Thursday.

Toowoomba Chronicle, Tuesday 31 May 1921, page 7



At Oakey on Saturday last. Oakey Western Suburbs entertained Balgowan F.C. in the premiership competition, the visitors winning by 7 goals to nil. Mr. A. Squelch was referee. W. Kennedy, late of the Casuals F.C. played centre forward, and was responsible for five goals, two being from penalties, while Murphy and Williams registered one each. Although Balgowan won by a big majority, the game was not as one-sided as it would appear to have been. Oakey are a good combination, and all are young players. Toowoomba Soccer supporters will have the pleasure of seeing both these teams in action next Saturday in Queen's Park, when I am quite sure good football will be played. Balgowan are a very strong team, and the play on Saturday. was very clean and interesting. W. Kennedy, although a masterpiece at fullback, shone to great perfection as centre forward. Both Casuals and Diggers were informed when he played in Toowoomba that centre forward was his position, but would not take any heed. The schools' committee would like all the boys to see these two teams play in Toowoomba and take particular notice of the combination. Supporters are asked to keep next Saturday afternoon vacant, and roll up in good numbers.

Also in the Chronicle



A Soccer football match was played on the local ground last Saturday afternoon, Boodua playing Goombungee B grade, in the first round of the fixtures. The following were the teams represented: Boodua (Black and White}: Goal, R. Lewis; iuUbaokii, C. Jones, Lyons; half backs, \v. Wood, "P. Barrett (captain), H. Mcrwx- -,

forwards, E. Hughes, D. Hughes, G. Lyons, C. Schneider, J. Norton. Goombungee (Rainbows):

World (Hobart), Saturday 28 May 1921, page 7




Hobart will meet South Hobart on the Show Ground this afternoon. The last meeting of these teams resulted in a win tor Hobart, snatched within the last two minutes' play, so supporters are assured of an exciting tussle to-day. Both teams will be strongly represented, and Referee Kirfoot will have charge of the game. Players to catch 2.30 train to Elwick. 

Hobart team: Miller, Boyes, Pearson, Dillon, Gilbert, Hemsley, Beattie, J. Honeysett, Lovett, Gayton, Stoner. 

South Hobart team: Hudson, Cracknell (2), Graves, Stuart, Williams, Followes, L. Honeysett, Vout, Stevens, Maycock. and Carter.

Port Adelaide News, Friday 27 May 1921, page 7


Cheltenham, 3 goals, beat Sturt, 1 goal. This match, played on Saturday, was the best game of soccer seen this season. Right till the final the result was in doubt, when Roberts, from a breakaway and a low ground shot, put the match to Cheltenham's credit. The ball travelled quickly from one end to the other. Gormlie missed several opportunities to score and place Sturt in the lead. From a pass from the back lines Croger saved, and centring well Robertson had a breakaway and from a great shot gave Sturt the first goal. Cheltenham came away, the outside wings playing great football. The ball was placed well into goal, and Sanstrom saved. Jackman centred, and from a melee Robertson pushed it through. Halftime arrived with the teams 1 goal each. From the kick-off Sturts had the better of the game, and had their opponents on the defensive. The defence proved sound, and Sturts lost opportunities. Robertson (Sturt) and Cameron (goalie for Cheltenham) collided, and the former ricked his knee. Cheltenham came away and Brown handled in the penalty area. Cameron converted the resulting penalty kick into a goal. Cheltenham, 2 goals; Sturt 1. Roberts with a daisy cutter put Cheltenham 3 up.

Age, Monday 30 May 1921, page 11


A large crowd witnessed the game between Windsor and Albert Park. Windsor were too good, and finished 7 goals to nil. 

Other results were:— 

St. Kilda 2 (Lamb, Cameron); N. mid D. 1 (Robison) ; 

Footscray Thistle 1 (Thomas). Melbourne Thistle nil. 

League II — 

Thistle A 4. Welsh United 1; 

Brunswick 1, Windsor A nil; 

St David nil, Preston A nil.

Thursday 20 May 2021

Slavia in Sunshine?

The six photos discussed here are team shots taken in 1969 by Eddie Ward in Sunshine of a schoolboy soccer team wearing Slavia shirts. They represent two sets of three. The first set is boys and officials; the second is team only.

Initially I was at a loss to know what to make of them. Mark Boric's first response was to query the idea of Sunshine players in a Slavia kit. I agreed. So I developed the fanciful hypothesis that the team was Port Melbourne technical school and the shirts are indicative of a connection between the school and Slavia. But I really had no idea. As could be expected some of the soccer history sleuths of #sokkahtwitter got to work.

Straight off the bat, Jason Calleja suggested that they were taken at Chaplin reserve. Victor Brincat (who would know!) confirmed. Tony Persoglia gets the first box of chocolates though. Turns out that the team was almost certainly Sunshine Heights Slavia, a club which only lasted for two or three seasons. The team is most likely the U 16 team. We should be able to discern some names to attach to some of the individuals in the photos. George Cotsanis contacted his mate Greg Daglis who had played for Sunshine Heights as a youngster. Greg wrote the following response for which I am very grateful:

[Mr Maunder is] the elderly fella standing extreme right. Look I was only a young kid, under/6 there till under/16 and he was there for everyone - with of course others in the background assisting. A huge impact on the juniors, especially our team for 4/5 years in a row was Jim Papashalis, coach, manager, Uber driver. He picked us up, loaded his Falcon with 6/7/8 kids in Sunshine West straight to Castley Reserve, Glengala road. training, game days. A most passionate guy, decent player himself at WSSC. Seriously like a father to us. And then there was Frank Grixti coaching a little later until all the under 16 team then won the Australian championships in Adelaide. We spent a week there living in players' family homes from the club that held the competition (Para Hills soccer club), playing teams from all over the country. Beat everyone! Sunshine Heights, top junior club if not the best, for me anyway. Then all the team ended up at WSSC reserve team, except for Sebastian Italia who went to sunshine city, Peter Wiscneski Polonia, I think with Daniel Bozic.  I won B&S reserves I think in 1974 it was. Turned 16 in May, elevated to the seniors, the rest is history.

Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of this club is that it provides for me at least a kind of missing link between Port Melbourne Slavia and Essendon Slavia, which went on to become Prahran Slavia. 

More to be done.

The following information supplied by Tony Persoglia was copied from the 1969 VSF yearbooks:

Sec.: D. Maunders, 19 Arnold St., Sunshine, 3020. 393 1261 (day).
Ground: Castley Reserve, Glen Gala Rd., Sunshine Heights.
Colours: Shirts, blue, yellow trim; Shorts, white; Socks, red & white.

But it's not until the 1970 yearbook that we learn that the club's change strip is Red and White (ie probably the Slavia kits in the photos below)

Rather than put all 6 images in the article I have just used 4, A long shot and a cropped shot from each set. Note that in both cases the cropped photo is from a different photo from the one above it. If anyone needs to see all photos, get in contact.

I'm grateful to the Footscray Historical Society  for sharing the images with me. If anyone is interested in working at the Society on the Eddie Ward collection contact them through the above link. They are always looking for volunteers.

100 Years Ago Today 20 May 1921

Sun (Kalgoorlie), Sunday 22 May 1921, page 4

Sport as a Nation Builder

Britons the world over are noted for their fondness for sport and pastimes. Before the commencement of the war, students of national character were getting restless at the evergrowing importance attached to sporting events as compared with the more serious problems of life. ...

.... cricket outrivals football, but all the same the latter is the most popular game, because the thrills of a single afternoon's play are quick and numerous. Footballers require a steady nerve too, but not to the extent that a topnotch cricketer does. 

In Australia, football is played under a code of rules entirely our own, and it is gradually supplanting the old English games of rugby and Soccer. In Sydney the Australian game is making steady progress, but it will probably take many years of cultivation before it becomes the principal winter pastime in that city. 

Armidale Chronicle, Saturday 21 May 1921, page 7


The Armidale City Soccer Club held its weekly meeting on Tuesday last. Correspondence was read, and the team selected to play to-day (Saturday), at Tenterfleld. It is as follows:—Goal, A. Woodcock; hacks, W. Gill, A. Bidley; half-backs, L, Gaites, F. W. Miner, (Capt.), G. Handley; forwards, W. Reach, C. Lesnie, R. Woodcock, J. McAvoy, A. N. Other. Reserve: J. Simpson, J. A. Gardner. Referee. Mr. T. Smith.

Four new applications were received for nomination, which were approved and accepted, which brings the total number of members up to 59. Three new applications from players of note in the Soccer code, arc anticipated shortly, and, by the inclusion of these players in the team, it is considered that Armidale will be capable of fielding an eleven well able to hold their own against the N.S.W. State team, which is expected to visit this town in August next.

Applications for membership to the Club will be received at all times by the Captain, Vice-Captain, and Secretary, so those desirous of Joining are asked to do so quickly, in view of the matches to be played in the near future.

Players selected to visit Tenterfield are reminded to assemble on the Railway Station not later than 3 o'clock this (Saturday) morning, 21st inst.

Geraldton Express, Friday 20 May 1921, page 4



(By Onlooker.")

On Saturday last the opening league match of the season took place at Queen's Park, the teams being Town and Queen's Park Rangers. It was a typical opening match, and one could see at a glance that the players were not up to concert pitch. Rangers started off well, and should have scored in the first minute. However they scored about ten minutes from the start, Glendenning scoring from a penalty given against Bishop for handling in the penalty area. The Rangers continued to monopolise the play, and scored again twice through Cooper and Currie. Half time arrived with the scores: Rangers, 3 goals. Town, nil. 

In the second half play was a little more even, but Rangers were always dangerous near goal, Glendenning and Cooper scoring. Result: Rangers, 5 goals. Town, nil. Rangers, who could only muster ten men, played better combination than their opponents, but Glendenning was the pick, and in fact the best player on the field. Secker a right half, a new player also played well. For Town Barker and Bishop at back were the pick, but they played very ragged football. However, they are sure to improve as the season advances. Second Officer Crickmer, of the S.S. Athol, had charge of the game and gave general all round satisfaction.

Swan Express, Friday 20 May 1921, page 3



On the Esplanade last Saturday Midland Athletic tried themselves against Perth City, and although beaten they played a fair game, but their failure was due to lack of training. Midland won the toss, and the home team kicked off. In the first half play was only fair and Perth City managed to score. In the second half Midland tried hard to equalise, but their efforts proved fruitless. In the latter stages Perth bombarded Midland's goals, but the Athletic's custodian proved too good, until Graham shot from well out, and scored the second for Perth City. Final result: Perth City 2, Midland 0. 

To-morrow the local lads travel by the usual train to Claremont, and there they will line up against the Training College eleven. Midland will be represented by Dower, Clarke (2), Motteram, Smart, Bond, Davidson, Wright, Birch, Kimber, Bradshaw, Christian and Gallagher.

Southern Districts Advocate (Katanning), Monday 23 May 1921, page 3

Katanning Road Board

A request was to hand from the soccer players for the use of the recreation ground for playing matches on Sundays, and this, after discussion, was refused by six votes to four.

West Australian, Monday 23 May 1921, page 9


The third round of games in the league ±ompetition were decided last Saturday afternoon in wet weather. Continuous rain during the afternoon completely spoiled the football and soccer tactics were much in evidence. ... Sparrow received a free in front of the posts. but only managed a single. In the blinding rain, Subiaco rushed the ball forward. and Beisley soccered a goal. From a scrimmage Easts added a single. 

[imagine if today's IP conventions were in force then]

Telegraph (Brisbane), Monday 23 May 1921, page 5

        • Bush Rats 2 Corinthians 1
        • Queen's Park 1 Suburbs 0
        • Bundamba 2 Brisbane City 0

Argus, Monday 23 May 1921, page 5


Melbourne results 21 May

League I

  • Melbourne Thistle 2 Windsor 0
  • Spotswood 0 St Kilda 6
  • N & D 4 Preson 0
  • Footscray Thistle 2 Albert Park 0

League II

  • St. Kilda A beat St David, 0. 
  • Welsh United. 3 drew with Brunswick. 3. 
  • Windsor A, l beat Melbourne Thistle 0
"A meeting of the Protest Committee will be held at St. David's Hall Latrobe street, at the protest of Spotswood against Footscray Thistle" (2 weeks ago FT won 6-1)
[a strong narrative of improvement is being pushed by the writer: best goal all season ...; best new player etc]

Wednesday 19 May 2021

The rise and fall of Slavia

 By Roy Hay 

Article first appeared in Goal! Weekly on Monday 19th April 2010. 

Slavia was one of the great names of football in the 1960s becoming the national club champion in 1963 and fielding some of the best players of that generation. The Slavia club was formed in 1950 by Czech migrants to Australia and played its first competitive league game in the Fourth Division of the Victorian Amateur Soccer Federation League on 7 April 1951 against Heidelberg, another newcomer. Slavia came out on top by four goals to one. 

In that first season the club won 8 games and lost 6, finishing third behind Polonia and Ulsterville. Maccabi ended its interest in the Dockerty Cup in the second round. 

Slavia shared a ground at Yarra Park with White Eagles. 

Two years later Slavia won the fourth division, and in 1954 it finished on top of division three on goal difference from Flinders Naval Depot and Hellenic in one of the closest finishes on record. All three teams had 31 points from 18 games, 13 clear of Sandringham in fourth spot. In 1955 Slavia completed a hat-trick of championships and thus promotion to the first division. This time it was six points clear of Prahran, the runner-up. The club president was M Roznetinsky and the secretary H Fuksa. J Roessler was the coach. 

Now the club had moved to a new ground at Murphy Reserve in Port Melbourne. Slavia began its first season in Division One with a one-all draw against JUST on 31 March 1956. Among the players who turned out for Slavia that year were Ray Barotajs, A Terek, Kodak, Roznetinski, Bob Zablocki, Kotatko, Billy Bell, Joe Lachman, Ted Bialek, Kostromin, Issy Ressler, Steiner, Brenner, John Dickson, George Rakic, Mario Busidoni, Vince Varcirca, Karl Engelbogen, Joe Gottesman, Colin Brady, Kriz and Volny. Barotajs was capped by Victoria against New South Wales that year at only 19 years old and was an outstanding keeper. Slavia came third in the league only a couple of points adrift of Juventus and Hakoah. 

It was third again in 1957, but dropped to seventh in 1958, the first year of the Victorian State League. Slavia bumped along in mid-table in the league in the first half of the 1960s. In 1966 however it had a brilliant year pushing South Melbourne Hellas to within a couple of points at the head of the ladder. The team that year included John Young, Ray Barotajs, Nigel Shepherd, David High, Tommy Randles, Billy Cook, John Goodwin, David Short, Peter Laraman, Sandy Jones, Bill Savage, Charlie McCorquodale, Harper, Hall, Grant McGregor, Peter Lowen. So the playing staff was no longer Czech. But that league success was short-lived and in 1970 Slavia was relegated to the Metropolitan League. 

The peripatetic club had now moved to Essendon and appeared under the unwieldy title of Essendon Sunshine Heights Slavia. If the league performances were up and down, it was as a cup side that Slavia made its mark in the 1960s. It won the Dockerty Cup in 1964, 1965 and 1967 and was runner-up in 1966. In 1963 it took out the Australia Cup coming from fourth in the First Division and in 1967 it won the Ampol Cup and the reserves trophy, the Armstrong Cup. 

Hammy McMeechan helped Slavia win its first Dockerty Cup in 1964 but then was bought by Croatia. His team-mates that season included Ray Barotajs, Fred Vine, Nigel Shepherd, A Zanatta, John Auchie, Billy Cook, John Sanchez, Pat McDonagh, David Meechan, Tommy Harper and Charlie McCorquodale. John Hammerling coached the team. It was in 1964 that Slavia took on and beat the might of the VFL in a charity soccer match. Jack Dyer had described soccer as a game for big girls, but the Slavia boys won 8-0. 

In 1972, Slavia won Metropolitan Division One and so resumed its place in the State League which it held through the rest of the decade. In 1974 the squad included Lou Ivanoff, Jim Campbell, Jim Tansey, Frank Campbell, Steve McCombe, John Howie, Tony Harris, Jim Train, Ian Humble, Bobby Kent, George Train. John Sanchez, who played in the 1960s and won the Argus medal, was now coaching Slavia. 

Jim Tansey took the Argus medal in 1976, the second Slavia player to do so. But relegation in 1980 was followed by a further drops in 1982 and last place fi nishes in the next two years at which point the club effectively folded, though Laverton Park, which now plays in Division One of the Provisional League, claims a linkage to the defunct Slavia. 


Australian Cup Winners – 1963 

Victorian Runners-Up – 1966, 1977 

Victorian Division 1 Champions – 1955, 1972 

Victorian Division 2 Champions – 1954 

Victorian Division 3 Champions – 1953 

Dockerty Cup Winners – 1964, 1965, 1967 

Dockerty Cup Runners-Up – 1966 

Ampol Cup Winners – 1967 

Slavia’s brief history 

1951 Fourth Division Position 3rd 

1952 Fourth Division - 5th 

1953 Fourth Division - 1st 

1954 Third Division - 1st 

1955 Second Division - 1st 

1956 First Division - 3rd 

1957 First Division - 3rd 

1958 State League - 7th 

1959 State League - 5th 

1960 State League - 6th 

1961 State League - 6th 

1962 State League - 7th 

1963 State League - 4th 

1964 State League - 5th 

1965 State League - 4th 

1966 State League - 2nd 

1967 State League - 7th 

1968 State League - 8th 

1969 State League - 10th 

1970 State League - 12th 

1971 Metro Div 1 - 3rd 

1972 Metro Div 1 - 1st 

1973 State League - 9th 

1974 State League - 5th 

1975 State League - 8th 

1976 State League - 8th 

1977 State League - 2nd 

1978 State League - 5th 

1979 State League - 11th 

1980 State League - 12th 

1981 Metro Div 1 - 11th 

1982 Metro Div 1 - 14th 

1983 Metro Div 2 - 14th 

1984 Metro Div 2 - 14th

Footscray Thistle Images

This mini-trove of Footscray Thistle material comes from the Footscray Historical Society (many thanks!). The photos span the period 1919-1932 and they contain some useful notes from those who donated them. Some confusion exists about the name of the team in various notes. I have used the descriptions and nomenclature from the FHS (which is well worth a visit) and I have kept them the order in which they were sent to me. Some will notice that 'the large trophy' is in fact the Dockerty Cup!

PIc 9110 F.T.S.C. [Footscray Thistle Soccer Club] 1932

Group of boys and men with 10 in soccer uniform with thistle on jersey. The man seated in front row second from the right was Walter Gilbert, a manager at the Parkinson Stove Co (Australia ) Ltd.

Pic 9111 F.T.S.C. [Footscray Thistle Soccer Club] 1930s

Group of men with 10 in soccer uniform with thistle on jersey and a large trophy. The man seated in front row on the right was Walter Gilbert, a manager at the Parkinson Stove Co (Australia ) Ltd.

Pic 9112 [Footscray Thistle Soccer Club] 1930s

Group of men with 10 in soccer uniform with thistle on jersey

Pic 9114 Management at Parkinson Stoves 1930C

Nine members of the management at Parkinson Stove Ltd. in Footscray.

(From John Dell: My Grandfather, Walter Gilbert moved to Australia in the 1920s to help set up the Parkin Stove Company Factory. While there he helped run the Footscray Harriers Football team. - These are photos from the family collection - The striking girl on horseback is not a known family member - the photo is labelled "Pauline - Footscray". My grandfather is the bald man in the light suit second from the right in the front seated row in the "Footscray Harriers" image and on the left of the "Parkin Stove Management" photo. He had served at Gallipolli as a private in the Warwickshire Regiment and had then fought the Turks again in Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq) where he was captured in the attempt to relieve the British and Indian Division surrounded at Kut. - He endured years of captivity by the Turks (statistically you had a much higher chance of surviving as a prisoner of the Japanese in World War Two than as a Prisoner of the Turks in World War One!)).

I hope the images are of interest, and might find a place in your archive, if they are not there already. Note: The images supplied labelled Harriers were actually of the Footscray Thistle Soccer Club.)

Parkinson Stove was at Sunshine Road Footscray West in 1957.

Pic 9158 1919

Group of 26 men, some in soccer uniform and some in suits.
A large trophy cup is in the foreground.

[The owner of this post card sized image, noted that her mother was told that the club was formed before World War 1 and that the players were all Scottish lads most of whom signed up together to fight in WW1.]

Pic 4002 [1927]

Two team photos, one players shaking hands 
FDSC 1927, Footscray District Soccer Club

Val Finlayson contacted me to let me know the her dad, George Macaulay and his brother Jack are in the above two teams shots. She replied to my fb post in Lost Footscray, saying that in "1927 photo my father, George Macaulay is 3rd from the left, middle row. His brother Jack is first in the middle row."

On a further post originated by Val in Lost Footscray she put up these two images with her comments below them: 

Thistles soccer team, my father, George Macaulay is in the middle of the top row. Year?

My father’s soccer medallions - left to right, 1927 Dockerty cup, 1928 Northern Section winners, 1930 Dockerty cup, 1932 Dockerty cup, no inscription.

This is a sobering reminder of the collapse of Footscray Thistle. Vandals attack the clubhouse while 17 of their members are away fighting in WW2. The piece is from the Footscray Adverstiser cJuly 1940

Thistle team lists 1 June 1928

Footscray. — Parker, A. Lyons, McGregor, Ballantine, Calderwood, R. Lyons, Templeton, Bellingall, W. Wilson, Orr, Robb. Reserves: W. McKelvie, G. McAuley. Reserve team— Pateman. A. McLean, Beveridge (new man) Jim Wilson, Morton, Fulton, S. McKelvie, John Wilson. A. Robb. Wilkinson, Rhind. Reserves: Craig, Mills. Simmonds, Mackerras.

Thursday 13 May 2021

JJ Liston

The following documents were sent to me by Roy Hay. They reference a strange moment of ecumenical thinking in Australian football. They centre on the figure of JJ Liston, simultaneously president of the Victorian Football Association and Victorian Soccer Football Association, something unthinkable today. The first is his Australian Dictionary of Biography entry by David Dunstan. The remainder are from newspaper articles during the 1930s. The first is a breathtaking piece of brinkmanship in which Liston threatens to convert the VFA to another code. The others document his introduction to the soccer code.

Liston, John James (1872–1944)

John James Liston (1872-1944), civic leader and liquor trades spokesman, was born on 21 September 1872 at Granny, Roscommon, Ireland, son of John Haire Liston, constable, and his wife Mary Ann, née McNamany. The family migrated to Victoria about 1882 and settled at Williamstown where, after education at St Mary's Parish School, young Liston became a hairdresser. A member of the Catholic Young Men's Society, he was an outstanding debater and a keen sportsman; he played for Williamstown Football Club and in 1889 joined the Williamstown Racing Club. He was to head both organizations (the Football Club in 1923-33, the Racing Club in 1939-44) and become a prominent racehorse-owner. His barber's shop in Nelson Place was remembered as 'a sportsman's bureau'.

A big, ambitious man who studied to improve himself, Liston stood for Williamstown Council in 1897, revealing 'an astonishing grasp of municipal affairs' but losing the election by two votes. Next year he was returned unopposed. He was mayor in 1901-02 (the youngest in the State) and again in 1913-14. By 1906 he was licensee of the Customs House Hotel and that year was appointed secretary of the Liquor Trades' Defence Union, based in Melbourne. He sold his hairdressing business and, on 3 August 1910 at St Mary's Catholic Church, West Melbourne, married a milliner Eva Emily Roberts (d.1928).

Williamstown was a working-class suburb whose industries were in decline. As its representative on the Melbourne Harbor Trust in 1909-13, Liston sought public works for his area, expressed strong protectionist views and urged the trust to build its own ships at Williamstown. Even before his five successive mayoral terms in the 1920s it was said that Liston ran the town. Chairman of the finance and lighting committee, he persuaded the council to light the suburb with electricity in 1917 and take over supply. The financial success of the venture led to a new town hall and the purchase of a theatre and ferry steamer. Liston's plan to charge the cost of new streets to the benefiting property-owners was implemented after a long legal battle. In 1922-27 his supporters abandoned the rotation of the mayoralty so that he might carry out his programme of public works. But towards the end of the decade Liston and his 'progressive party' lost their grip. In August 1930 'grave irregularities' were alleged. A royal commission cleared Liston of wrongdoing but he resigned from the council and, after marrying May Ward on 15 December at St Patrick's Cathedral, moved to St Kilda. He claimed at this time to have lost all his Williamstown investments.

Liston had long ceased to be a purely local man. In 1918-30 he was Williamstown's representative on the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works; he was the northern and western suburbs representative on the Metropolitan Town Planning Commission in the 1920s; and in 1923-31 he was a Melbourne city councillor and for six years chairman of the traffic and building regulations committee. A supporter of a Greater Melbourne Council, in 1931 he was defeated by one vote for the position of lord mayor.

Liston worked with Montague Cohen to amalgamate Melbourne's breweries and strove to thwart the prohibitionists. He led 'the wets' to victory in the 1930 and 1938 'no licence' referenda; during the first campaign a Herald writer called him 'the busiest man in Melbourne'.

In his rise from humble origins and in the scope of his influence Liston may be compared with his co-religionist John Wren. He devoted an extraordinary amount of effort to public service, bestowing patronage on sporting and charitable associations and performing unpublicized acts of kindness during the Depression. A Williamstown high school, a regional hospital at Footscray and the Friendly Societies' Association were among his causes. He was a trustee of the Port Phillip Pilots' Association and of the Melbourne Cricket Ground and president of both the Victorian Soccer and Victorian Football associations.

Liston died of heart disease at Cliveden Mansions, East Melbourne, on 12 April 1944, survived by his wife and by two sons from his first marriage, one of whom was killed on active service next year. Archbishop Mannix attended his funeral and J. H. Scullin was a pallbearer. His estate was sworn for probate at £293,481. There is a bust in the Williamstown Town Hall and the Williamstown Historical Society holds a portrait. He is also remembered by the J. J. Liston medal for the best and fairest player in the Victorian Football Association and by the J. J. Liston Stakes at Sandown.

Tuesday 11 May 2021

100 Years Ago Today, 13 May 1921

Mercury (Hobart), Saturday 14 May 1921, page 5


Division I.-Corinthians v. South Hobart, at Show Ground.

Division II.-Hobart v. South Hobart, at South Hobart.

The result of the senior match at Elwick this afternoon will have an important bearing on the Cottrell-Dormer cup competition. In the event of South Hobart proving successful, all the teams will be bracketed together with an equal number of premiership points, but a win for Corinthians would give that team a very useful lead. In the second division, Hobart could only muster a weak team for their first match last Saturday, but they have got together a good side for to-day's game, and are confident of re-peating the success of the senior team.

Last season's State champions, South Hobart, sustained their first defeat in a league match since 1919. It was a thrilling contest, and undoubtedly one of the fastest exhibitions of the game seen in Tasmania. It is pleasing to learn that Cadbury's have started a team, end their first practice match will take place at Claremont this afternoon. A number of experienced players are at the works, and the new club should be further strengthened by further arrivals from the Old Country.

It is certainly time that the association properly organised the C grade competition. There are a great number of youngsters playing the game in Hobart, and representation has been made to the T.F.A. that the Honeysett cup should be again made available for competition. The association must bear in mind that the boy of today is the man of tomorrow.

Register (Adelaide), Friday 13 May 1921, page 4


Following are the soccer football fixtures for Saturday:
  • North Adelaide v. Prospect, Mackinnon parade; 
  • Sturt v. Glenelg, Wayville; 
  • South v. Ports, Hutt street; 
  • Cheltenham, a bye.

Advertiser (Fremantle), Friday 13 May 1921, page 7


The Fremantle Caledonians played their first "away" match against Perth City and had to admit defeat by 5 goals to nil. The score was not a true reflexion the play, as up till the last twenty minutes, although City showed the best football, the game was fairly even. The Caleys have not yet been able to put their full strength in the field, owing to one reason and another, and as a number of players have to be tried yet. It will be a few weeks before the team is properly settled down. The game on Saturday opened in a downpour of rain and the conditions were all against good football. It was Evident from the start that training would tell, and so it turned out. Caleys were obviously leg weary at the finish, whereas City looked as if they were only beginning. The backs deserve a special pat on the back for the way they stood up to what must be considered one of the best forward lines in the League. The next game is against College on the East Fremantle Oval on Saturday. The students are a lively lot and have been doing well this season, and as Caleys expect to have out their best team so far, a game worth watching is expected.

Advertiser (Fremantle), Saturday 14 May 1921, page 4


Fremantle Caledonians, 7. Claremont College, 1.

Melbourne results 7 May 1921

League I

  • Albert Park 0; St. Kilda, 0;
  • Melbourne Thistle, 3 (Robertson 2, J. Russell), Preston, 0.
  • Footscray Thistle, 6 (Issard 3, Cumming, Fletcher. Pearce); Spotswood, 1 (H. Watson).
  • N & D 1 Windsor 1

League II
  • Brunswick, 2; St. Kilda A, 0.
  • Windsor A, 5;.Yarra Falls, 2.
  • Welsh United, 4 (Watkins, Cann, Manger, Campbell) ; St. Davids, 0

Melbourne results 14 May 1921

League I
  • Melbourne Thistle 2 St Kilda 1
  • Windsor 3 goals; Spotswood 0
  • Footscray 1 goal; N. and D. 0

League II
  • Brunswick 10 goal, Preston A 0
  • Thistle A 2 goals St. Kilda A 0
  • Windsor A 4 goals, St Davids 1 goal.

Wednesday 5 May 2021

100 Years Ago Today 6 May 1921

 Herald (Melbourne), Friday 6 May 1921, page 4


"Soccer" enthusiasts have been busy during the past three weeks in preparation for competition games. which begin tomorrow. There is every indication of a successful season, for although Burns and Osborne House teams have dropped out, their places have been taken by the newly-formed Brunswick and Yarra Falls clubs. The Council, at its last meeting, decided upon two Leagues, the first division to consist of Albert Park. St. Kilda, Footscray Thistle, Melbourne Thistle, Preston, Windsor, Northumberland and Durham United, and Spotswood: while Brunswick, Yarra Falls, St. David's, Welsh United, Windsor "A." Preston "A." St. Kilda "A." and Melbourne Thistle "A" will constitute the second division. In addition to the League fixtures, arrangements have been made for the annual England v. Scotland match, to be played on the Fitzroy Cricket Ground on August 6. This fixture will he followed by the Dockerty Cup final on the same ground.

Age, Friday 6 May 1921, page 10


British Association.— This body will also open its league programme, when the following matches will be played: — 

league 1.: 

  • Albert Park v. St. Kilda, Cumming: 
  • Melbourne Thistle v. Preston, Morrison {?}: 
  • N. and D. United v. Windsor. Butler: 
  • Spotswood v. Footscray Thistle. McDonald. 

League II.: 

  • St. Kilda. A v. Brunswick, Dempster: 
  • Preston A v. Melbourne Thistle A, Barker: 
  • Windsor A v. Yarra Falls. Armstrong; 
  • Welsh United v. St. David's. McKenzie. 

Kick-off 3 pm.

Northern Territory Times and Gazette, Tuesday 10 May 1921, page 3

The town is quite lively with sailors from the Geranium, which arrived in port on Sunday morning. They are a splendid lot of young fellows-good-humored and courteous to civilians-and evidently out to make the best of their short stay in port.

Having no matting to cover the concrete wicket, a cricket match with the sailors was impossible, but it is understood that a football match is being arranged. The cricket materials will arrive in the Mataram and, if the Geranium is still in port, a match will he played.

Monday 3 May 2021

George Macaulay

Paul Mavroudis thinks that I research soccer in order to discover my roots in a mining village in Durham, and this explains my Weston obsession. Maybe he's right. This thought occurred to me as I retraced my origins in Melbourne on the Number 1 tram on Saturday morning as I visited Val Finlayson at Albert Park, just two streets away from my first residence in Melbourne.

Val is the daughter of George Macaulay who played for Footscray Thistle for more than a decade between 1927 and the Second World War. Val had noticed that I put some photographs on the Lost Footscray Facebook site and contacted me letting me know that one of the people in the photographs was her father. I subsequently chatted with Val on the phone and arranged to meet her at brother Ed's place in Albert Park to talk about her father and to look at some of the artefacts and photographs he left.

Initially I surmised that Val must have been quite old, perhaps even in her 90s. It turns out that she was the first baby from a late marriage. Her parents married in November 1941 and her father George enrolled in the army a month later, training in Puckapunyul and Bonegilla for a year before serving in New Guinea. Val didn't meet her father until after the war in September1945 when she was 3 years old! Meeting Val and her brother Ed was a real privilege; both of them sprightly and active with a keen interest in learning about what I was researching and a real commitment to helping me understand their father's story.

Val and Ed generously provided me with the opportunity to learn about their father's origins and showed me a number of artefacts and photographs that I could copy. Ed was particularly helpful charging up and down the stairs to the scanner to produce high-quality scans of certain items.

Hughes Academy, George top row 3rd left
George Macaulay was born on 27 July 1907 in Aghadowey Northern Ireland. The youngest of five siblings growing up in a flax farming family, George was the only child to be educated beyond primary school. He attended the Hughes Academy where he learned to play football. Today, the academy, in Belfast, is a training college for young soccer players. After the untimely death of George’s father in the mid-1920s the family migrated to Australia. They arrived in Melbourne in 1926 and settled at 17 Napier Street in the suburb of Footscray. Despite having trained for the Civil Service George obtained a job as a foundry worker at Metters - a job he retained until the company closed in the 1960s. He then worked at Angliss Meatworks until retirement. Val mentions that he would proudly recount working there with the actor, John Wood.

George's 1930 Dockerty Cup medal
No name inscribed on the back.

In 1927 George, a Presbyterian, was playing with Footscray Thistle, one of Melbourne's champion Scottish-based teams. In sporting terms George must have felt that he had landed on his feet. Over the next five years he would obtain four championship medals (three Dockerty cups and one northern section championship). He also played a number of times for Victoria. Val laughed when she told me about the letter he received inviting him to play for Victoria. “It told him where he needed to be at a particular time on a particular day and to bring his own socks.”

It's clear that Macaulay was an excellent player. He is prominent in match reports throughout the decade. Though it should be said that Footscray Thistle was on something of a decline throughout the decade being relegated to the second tier in 1937.

George Macaulay enlisted in the Australian army in 1941 at the age of 34. He served in New Guinea, shattering his kneecap, contracting malaria, and returning to Australia in September 1945. It appears that George never played an organised game again. Val certainly remembers him kicking a ball in the backyard, showing her some tricks, but she has no memory that includes games of soccer. Perhaps it was the malaria; or the shattered kneecap; or his age, but his soccer career was over. But maybe also it was because he lost his team. A familiar story in Australian soccer is the death of clubs and the despondency and sometimes defection of those who follow them. Footscray Thistle seems to have been one of the war’s many casualties. Of all the teams that were deleted by the war, perhaps Footscray Thistle was the best of them. In any case, George seems to have lost interest in local soccer, preferring to follow the broadcast of English games on his scratchy radio in the back shed or local games of VFL.

Sadly, George’s wife, Valerie died when Val was 10 in 1953. The family moved to 79 Hyde Street Footscray until George's retirement when they moved to 16 Station Street in Blackburn. George Macaulay died in 1997 at the ripe old age of 90.

When it came to George's soccer records, photographs, and medals, Val didn't have a vast number of items. However, the quality of what she has is immense. These included a number of photographs of the Footscray Thistle team and the Victorian State team, some of which I had not seen before. One in particular took my attention because of the width of the
undated picture of the Footscray Thistle team
photograph. In the background we see detail normally excluded from team photos, that might well give us information about the locality of the game. The 1937 program for the English game against Australia excited me because I've never seen anything like it. My excitement was attenuated by realising a copy of it was already on Mark Boric’s Melbourne soccer site. I had seen photos of George’s Dockerty cup and Northern Section medals but to hold them in my hot little hand and be able to photograph the inscriptions on the reverse side was was a thrill. But the big ticket items were . . . little tickets: two tiny blue booklets from 1935 and 1936, called Footscray Thistle member 
1935 and 1936 Member's Tickets
tickets. These little booklets hold so much information as can be seen below: the committee, the season fixtures, the ground that they play on, even the little advertisements for local products contain information available nowhere else. I half-jokingly offered Val $200 for them on the spot. She seriously declined. One item I missed was the letter informing him that he was in the Victorian team, Val having misplaced it.

A wonderful amount of information about Footscray Thistle
 and Victorian soccer in such small bundles
Leaving Val and Ed, a familiar feeling came to me. Having visited many people for such interviews, I was aware of taking a little piece of their personal history. This produces a sense of responsibility and desire to treat the material with care — not in a physical sense in this case, because all I had was photographs and scans of originals and the notes — in an emotional sense. I need to respect the implied trust the siblings have placed in me. I will be pleased if this little piece fits that bill.

More is to be discovered about George Macaulay's personal history and Footscray Thistle’s rise and fall. This piece is my first contribution to the that project.