Formation of NSW Australian Football Association 1880


“That the gentlemen present, or those who desire to do so, form themselves into an association to be called the New South Wales Football Association, and that they adopt the Victorian Football Association rules.” (Sydney Mail, 1 July 1880).

At a meeting atHenry Hook’s Freemason’s Hotel in York St, Sydney on 30 June 1880 the NSW Football Association was formed to play under “Victorian Rules”.

It is estimated that over 100 persons attended the meeting to form the Association.  It was claimed in the press that the attendance was the largest gathering of football players ever assembled in NSW.

The election of office bearers was put over to the following Wednesday when another well attended meeting also at the Freemason Hotel. It saw a motion by C W Beal that Phillip Sheridan, a trustee of the Association Cricket Ground be elected to the position of president.

Sheridan was one of the first trustees of the Sydney Cricket Ground, then known as the Association Ground, who was appointed to that position in 1875, and served in that capacity until his death in 1910.

Other office bearers of the NSW FA including the Charles W Beal, a vice president of the SRFU and player with the Waratah Club, as secretary. Another Waratah player, William C Hinwood was named  the treasurer. The committee was made up of Messrs. *George F Bowen, *H Williams, W. Fordham, *J W Wilkinson, A. McLean, Joseph J Allen, *Walter C Marshall, George A Crisp, *William Druce, *Robert Thallon (who, a short time later was elected to a rules committee for the rugby union)34 , Powell, M. Chambers, *Fred Hayman, *^Billy Newing and F L Weiss (* players of the Waratah Rugby Club ^ex-Carlton FC)

The meeting also resolved to set the subscription for members at five shillings. Within days of the formation of the Association, interest in the game began to increase.

A scratch match was organised at the Waratah (rugby) Ground which was at the Randwick end of Moore Park 36 for 10 July but because of the limited size of the playing field, numbers were restricted to 15 aside. At the time Moore Park was a large expanse of parkland and in the winter it was divided into several football grounds.

A week later on 17 July the Waratah Club played an exhibition match of Victorian football against the Burwood (rugby) club. The team that went on to play Waratah that day was made up of ‘Old Victorians’ and a few of the Burwood players (Daily Telegraph, 19 July 1880).

Despite their leaning toward Victorian Rules football, the Waratah Club continued to participate in the SRFU. Significantly, the Waratahs had played the first game of football under Victorian Rules in 1877 when they hosted the Carlton Football Club to matches in football and rugby.

Then, on 6 August, a meeting was convened by George Bowen to form the Sydney Football Club, playing under Victorian rules at Weber’s Post Office Hotel in York Street.  The club was formed and the colours of dark blue with a red cap and red hose were adopted.

This was followed on Tuesday 10 August, by a meeting at the Cambridge Club Hotel, on the corner of Oxford and Liverpool Streets, to form the East Sydney Football Club. The meeting enrolled a total of 40 members. The team adopted the colours of a blue and white jersey and hose with blue knickerbockers and cap.

Source: Ian Granland’s unpublished work The History of Australian Football in Sydney 1877-1895 (2014 v5)