History 1883-1920′s

Posted by admin | | Monday 1 December 2008 7:36 pm

Introduction of Football in Australia

There is little doubt that a soccer ball was kicked about in Australia in a playful manner and small scale during the 1870’s by immigrants, but most people knew nothing about the game. The first known group to form a soccer social “club” was organised by a school teacher named W.J. Fletcher. It (the social club) was called the “Wanderers” and began operation on the 14th of August 1880 at Parramatta. Another soccer group was organised at Kings School and social games were arranged between these two groups. During the 1880’s the round code of football became very popular not only in Sydney but also in the coal mining areas of Newcastle and the Illawarra. However, travelling long distances by teams were very restricted until the railway links were made to the areas outside Sydney although there were some coach travelling from the Illawarra prior to the opening of the railway link to the Illawarra in 1888. Travelling to Sydney by ship could not be considered due to shipping times and absence from work.

In Sydney early major clubs were: Pymont, Arcadians, Caledonians, Ambrose, Canterbury, Granville, Parksgrove and Balmain. In the Newcastle district there were: Hamilton, Greta, Carrington, Burwood, Wallsend, West Wallsend, Adamstown and Minmi Rangers. The early South Coast clubs were: Balgownie, Corrimal, Woonona, North Illawarra (Bulli) and Helensburgh. Unfortunately there are very few records if any, of how the early clubs of the South Coast were formed or the dates of origin and most of their history have came from hand me down stories and old newspapers. The first state wide competition began in 1885 and was called the Gardiner Cup. The first state control council was named the British Football Association of N.S.W. and officially operated in 1898.

Early Soccer Football at Balgownie

The Balgownie Soccer Football Club has no early records of its club. The following information has been obtained from interviews of very elderly Balgownie residents, hand me down stories, soccer magazines and newspaper extracts. One official soccer publication claims that the Balgownie Club started in 1890 but this is untrue. In 1890 Balgownie was one of the strongest teams in the state, one of its victories was against Minmi Rangers who were the state champions in 1889. From the information available Balgownie was the first village on the South Coast to play organised football. It played in the Gardiner Cup in the late 1880’s and was officially registered to play in the newly formed N.S.W. Football Association in 1890. Probably this is where the information was obtained that this was when the Balgownie Club was formed.

One of the early mining families to settle in Balgownie or Cramsville as it was then called were the Hunters. One of the young members of this family was Peter Hunter who had played junior football in Scotland. He brought with him an old football and there is little doubt that this was the first football brought to the South Coast. This story has been mentioned by so many of the old soccer players and residents of the 1880’s.

The expansion of Mt Pleasant Colliery in the early 1880’s and the opening of the new mine workings west of the village resulted in many migrants arriving from England and Scotland to work in the mine. Most of these new settlers had been involved or were interested in the game of football. By 1883 Peter Hunter’s ball was being kicked around the flat ground where the William Street joins Lang Street today. This area became Balgownie’s Football ground for many years until a fruit orchard was established there.

At this period the farmers, miners and residents of Cramsville and Mt Pleasant were poor due to recessions in the coal industry and little returns from the farms. Most farmers worked in the mines to supplement their incomes. There was very little money to be spent on sport. However, the residents and their families had to have some interest and entertainment besides the walking to the seashore and lookouts on the escarpment. Gala days were organised on a Sunday of each month at the football ground that attracted most residents.

In the early 1880’s the general area north of Wollongong was called Fairy Meadow and although the North Illawarra Council and the Public School were situated along the main arterial road its centre had a small population consisting mainly of farmers. Small settlements were developing in the area due to the expanding coal industry especially at Mt Pleasant, Cramsville, Corrimal and Bellambi.

Cramsville was by far the largest settlement and its population was increasing due to the miner squatters residing near Mt Pleasant shifting into houses there and immigrants looking for work in the mines. It was under these hard living conditions that the people, some with large families, were so pleased to be engaged in some form of entertainment that did not involve financial outlays.

In North Illawarra, especially among the mining communities, a sport that was developed in the north of England coal fields, was started and spreading. It was a miner’s game of Clay Quoits and already was popular in Cramsville. However, this form of entertainment involved only men. There was some general entertainment for all the community at the only school in the area at Fairy Meadow. The Headmaster there in the early 1880’s was James Pearson and he organised plays and concerts at the school.

It was no wonder that when social games of football were organised at Cramsville it attracted most of the population. Gala days were arranged once a month when two teams would be selected and dressed up in home made fancy dress to the delight of the spectators. These gala days developed into an entertainment day for the whole village and involved games for the children and even a practice clay quoits pitch was made for those not playing football. This event took place on a Sunday with only small activities in the morning due to the church services but by the afternoon soccer and clay quoits were the main attractions. These activities at Cramsville attracted people from other areas and soon soccer football was spreading in the settlements of North Illawarra.

It is very unfortunate that there does not appear to be any records in the Illawarra of early football. In 1946 Judy Masters, who at that period was an executive officer of the South Coast Soccer Association and he requested to write up the history of Balgownie Soccer Football Club. This is his report: -

Balgownie Soccer Club is one of the oldest soccer clubs in N.S.W. and was formed in 1890. The founders were; Peter Hunter (senior), Alderman Harry R Murdock who was the first President and Thomas Cook was Patron. Thomas Thompson (senior) was Secretary of the club for 15 years. James Cram and Thomas Rhodes (senior) were strong supporters of the club for many years.

Both Hunter and Thompson were prominent players. A photograph in my possession reads as follows:- Champions of Illawarra District 1894 -1895-1896 and 1895 Balgownie had two first grade teams who won their way into the district final, competitors were; Corrimal, Helensburgh, Thirroul, Woonona-Bulli, Kembla and Balgownie. Names of Balgownie first grade team reads: T Cook Patron, C York, J Campbell, P Hunter, T Thompson, J Syms, W Logan, R Vardy, M Fitzgibbons, R Campbell, W Shaw, F Figtree, T Foorest and H Murdock President.

Balgownie has always played in District Competitions and in the early days there was the State Gardiner Cup, a knock-out competition. Great players in the early days were: C Campbell Goalie and Peter Hunter Half-back. From 1900 there many very good players such as the Rhodes brothers, Charlie, Jack and Tom, then there were the Masters brothers Charlie and Bob. Others who represented in district teams were: John Fielding and Bill Compton. Early this century Balgownie was always well represented in district and state teams. Other good players to mention were Jack Cram, Tom Screen, Ben Green, Jim Campbell, Bert Murray and Ted Hayman. Jack Rhodes captained N.S.W. against Victoria in 1905.

After World War I until 1930 the standard of soccer at Balgownie was very high and their players were well represented in district, state and Australian teams. During the 1920’s the following players constantly were playing for Australia, sometimes three would be in the national team at the same time. Those players were: Judy Masters, Dave Ward, Tom Thompson (junior) and Frank Smith. Other outstanding players most of whom played in district and state teams were: Peter Hunter (junior), “Scotchie” Learmont, “Tart” McMahon, Bede McMahon, Noel Swan, Joe Scarlett, Tom Batey, Joe Suddick, Arthur Jones, George Murphy, Roy Bowerman, Jack Parker, “Hilly” Johnston, Ray James and Bill Johnston.

In the late 1920’s with the introduction of State League Soccer there was a split in the soccer organisation. The Balgownie Club did not join the new state competition and remained fast with the old district association competition that was affiliated with the junior soccer state organisation of N.S.W.. The international players, Judy Masters, Dave Ward and Tom Thompson were born in Balgownie but Frank Smith was born outside the area. Great credit must be given to our forefathers who handed down through the years a soccer club worthy of the grand old name in soccer circles, Balgownie.

Judy Masters.

A further article by Judy Masters in 1946.

Famous Players of the Club
Representative Players

Peter Hunter (senior)     1896 N.S.W. and South Coast
Tom Thompson (senior) 1896 N.S.W. and South Coast
Jack Rhodes                    1905-8 N.S.W. and South Coast
Charlie Masters             1905-8 N.S.W. and South Coast
Bob Masters                 1905-8 N.S.W. and South Coast
Bill Compton 1905-8 N.S.W. and South Coast
John Fielding 1905-8 N.S.W. and South Coast
Bert Murray 1905-8 N.S.W. and South Coast

The following players represented the district and state teams at various times during the 1920’s.

Bill Johnston, Herb Masters, Noel Swan, Dick Johnston and Peter Hunter (junior).

Judy Masters was the most famous of them all. Captained all Australian teams against: China 1923 in all 5 tests, English Professionals 1923 in all 3 tests, Canada 1926 in 5 tests, Czechoslovakia 1927 in 3 tests and New Zealand in 2 tests. Dave Ward and Tom Thompson played in many of the above mentioned tests. They also played in New Zealand in 1922. Frank Smith and Tom Thompson played for Australia in Java in 1928.

Early Club Officials 1890 – 1896

The early members of Balgownie Soccer Football Club are Peter Hunter (senior), Harry R Murdock, Thomas Cook, Thomas Thompson, James Cram and Thomas Rhodes. In later years other club officials include Alex Masters, John Burrell, Ben Green, Bill Scarlett, Frank Figtree and K Bode. The Club Presidents, in between the period 1919-1925, were Dave Duncombe, Dick Johnston, John Brown, Charlie Edwards and Bill “Digger” Lithgow. Secretary for 25 years Judy Masters then Harry Johnston. The following carried out the job of treasurer until 1940: W Druce, W Dobinson, W Discon, C Booker, C James, Bill Lithgow, C Masters, W Bampton, A Bampton and R Banks. The present (1946) executives are: J Thommeny, R Banks, P Cram, J Hurt, F Dal Santo and E James. Patron is Judy Masters. Also councilor to Schools District Soccer for five years, manager and coach to district under 14 teams.

Judy Masters.

It is very fortunate that Judy Masters with his great involvement in Balgownie Soccer over many years did record the people involved in the club’s activities and their achievements otherwise this information would have been lost. There is no doubt that there would be very few if any person in Australia could match his achievements as a player and an official in club and district soccer. Also, it must be remembered that he was involved in other community activities during the same period he was with soccer. He has omitted many things in his reports but then he was 54 years old when he wrote these reports and he had to depend on his memory and thus he only recorded club players, officials and achievements. Further comments will be made on Judy Masters later in this report.

Returning to the early period of soccer in Balgownie there are several promoters of the game not mentioned in Judy Masters reports. The first team captain was William Brown and not much is known of him as he left the district in the early 1890’s. After he left Tom Thompson (senior) took over as captain for many years and not only was he a very good player but he was an expert coach and organiser. William Brown must have had much experience in soccer before he came to Australia and with Peter Hunter and Tom Thompson to assist him quickly developed a high standard of play for the Balgownie Club to enter the Gardiner Cup which most likely occurred in 1886 or 1887 due to transport problems related to travelling to Sydney. Teams from Sydney certainly could not travel to the Illawarra until the railway link was completed in 1888. However, in 1890 Balgownie Soccer Team was a very strong team as it beat the previous years champions Minmi Rangers although they did not win the competition. Captain William Brown played a great part in the team’s successes that year.


Balgownie Rangers Football Club, Premiers 1895 & 1896
Top Row: Tom Cook (hon. pres.), Charlie York, Charlie Campbell, Jim Campbell, Harry Murdoch (pres.)
Middle Row: Bill Logan, Peter Hunter, Tom Thompson (capt.), Jimmy Syms, Bill Shaw
Front Row: Bob Vardy, Mick Fitzgibbons, Bob Campbell.

It is interesting to note that although the mining village was called Cramsville this name was not used as a soccer club title and it was not until 1889 that the name Cramsville was changed to Balgownie. Probably the reason for this was that the whole area between Mt Pleasant to Reidtown and Tarrawanna was called the Balgownie Estate since the 1830’s. In the 1880’s 20% of the local population lived outside of Cramsville but in the Balgownie Estate and were involved in the sport of soccer.

With the forming up of other soccer clubs in North Illawarra the question of club colours was discussed. The people were too poor to spend money on sport so the logical choice for Balgownie Soccer Football Club was to use their red pit flannels as their competition colours. Their knee long white shorts were made out of calcio material and their boots were their pit boots with some leather bars on the sole. This dress caused some amusement among some Sydney clubs when they first observed it and casual comments were often heard that “here come the dirty miners, they are still in their pit clothes”.

While on this subject throughout this century and most common in the Illawarra is the expression “Dirty Balgownie” which has been heard not only in the sport of soccer but in other sports in which a Balgownie team or player is not involved. It is usually heard at a sports venue when a player does some unfavourable action although legal to his opponent or opponents. This expression was created by the Balgownie Soccer team in the late 1890’s by kicking the ball out as far as they could when they were in front during the second half of the match. This was very effective on their home ground as it took a long time to get the ball from the nearby creek. Usually only one spare ball was available. Balgownie used these tactics early this century and as a result the term “Dirty Balgownie” stuck with them to this day but in a jokingly way. The expression is heard at various places around Australia by people who would not know how or were it started. I was amazed to hear this expression at the Oval, in England during a cricket game, Australia was playing the MCC Eleven. This happened in June 1953 when there were many Australians in England during the Queen’s Coronation. There could have been 5,000 Australians at this cricket match. I was sitting with the Australian team members and talking to Don Tallon, the wicket keeper. Australia was batting, Craig hit a ball hard back towards the bowler Lock, he began to run but Lock caught the ball and threw it hard back to stump Craig who had his back towards the bowler as he scurried back. The ball hit Craig in the back and from somewhere in the noisy Australian section of the crowd the term “Dirty Balgownie” was heard. Judy Masters was in England at this period but I do not know whether he was at this cricket game and I do not think he would ever say this remark if he was.

The Early 1900′s

At the turn of the century the Balgownie Soccer Football Club was very strong and could put two first grade sides into the district competition. At this period their colours were still red, but had discarded their pit flannels for red shirts and many players had football boots. In the period 1910-11 the club decided to change their red colour to black and white stripes. Balgownie School had previously adopted the Magpie as their school emblem and this may have influenced the Soccer Club to do likewise as for many years they were known as the Balgownie Magpies and is still used today.

Judy Masters in his report has mentioned many great soccer players including himself. Not all these players were tall and robustly built. In the early years soccer was a very rough game with very few fouls given for rough play. To gain a place in a top soccer team a player had to be able to rough up his opponents with legal knocks besides taking the hard knocks from his opponents. Also, he had to have the skills to retain his position of play. Even goal keepers could be flattened with a legal knock or tackle. Balgownie had some very rugged and tough players such as the Rhodes brothers and the Figtrees’. These miners were built of hardened muscles, were tall and frightened of no one. Probably one of the most rugged players that ever played for Balgownie was huge “Black Mick” Fitzgibbons, on the field he tackled all players even goal keepers like a mean wild boar, it has been said he has kicked ball and goalie into the net. Balgownie was not the only club that had rough players, rival miners in the Newcastle area were very rough. It was under these conditions that lightly built international players such as Masters, Ward and Thompson had to contend with to reach the top of the soccer world in Australia.

These three players not only were very good players individually they had an excellent team combination and even retained this teamwork in the Australian Test Team. Masters, centre forward; Ward, inside left and Thompson, left wing. Judy Masters in his reports mentions some of the important men who assisted greatly to promote the soccer game in Balgownie in the early years. Some mention should be given of their background and of others who gave wonderful support to Balgownie Soccer Football Club. William Brown has been mentioned and became Balgownie Club’s first captain. He came from Scotland and was well acquainted with the soccer football code. He had played first class soccer in Scotland and was able to organise the game at a high standard in Cramsville. Peter Hunter already a good player improved greatly under the guidance of William Brown and was one of Balgownie’s main players and club supporters until late in life. His son Peter Hunter also became a great player for his home village for many years.

Robert Vardy was a great sportsman, from 1890 to early in the 1900’s and he excelled in soccer, cricket and also was a champion clay quoits player. Balgownie lost a great all rounder when he left the area to live in the Wombarra area. Charlie Campbell the pioneer goalie who was not very robust but his agility, alertness and judgement kept him in the top goalie position until the turn of the century. Tom Thompson (senior) assisted greatly to promote soccer in its early days with William Brown and after Brown’s departure he took over the coaching, the captaincy and most of the club’s administration for many years to follow. Mainly through his great efforts Balgownie Soccer Football Club achieved great heights throughout the 1890’s. It must have given this men a great feeling to see his son Tom play in Australia’s first ever international test at the age of eighteen years old. There has been very little ever mentioned about Bill Shaw as a soccer player. He came with his parents to Australia in the 1870’s when living conditions were poor, most miners lived in roughly built huts at Mt Pleasant. His father worked in the mine and later Bill got a job there at a very early age. He had no experience in football but was there to kick that first ball around with Peter Hunter. He was a keen player and made the top team immediately. He held his position in the first grade team for fifteen years. In 1896 he was awarded a gold watch and chain for the highest number of goals scored in the district competition. Bill Shaw was still a great club supporter in the 1920’s and followed every game they played. Tom Ward, another early versatile player of several positions, spent most of his games in the second team due to his skills as captain and the great record that the second team achieved in the district competitions. On occasions his team beat the star studded first team of Balgownie. Very little is known of James Syms who at the age of 16 was a brilliant player with the second team and still at an early age played in the first team. In 1894 he left the district and Balgownie lost a very skillful player in the peak of his form. There were so many other great players not previously mentioned such as: Alex, Alf and Herb Masters, Charlie York, Jack and Mark Green, Tom Dixon and Bill Chapman.

From the 1880’s until the Second World War soccer was a religion in Balgownie and at all times the club had an abundance of players and officials in depth that ensured it always was one of the strongest soccer clubs in N.S.W.. This was achieved by those pioneer players, coaches and administrators that put the standard of soccer in Balgownie so high that it created the interest of this sport to roll on to greater achievements. Judy Masters has mentioned his achievements when he played for Australia and gave some mention to his achievements and to his two team mates. More detail of these players will follow.

Already many supporters and officials of Balgownie Soccer Football Club have been mentioned but just as important are the heads of families who were living in poor conditions with many children and still gave great assistance to the club and encouraged their sons to play soccer. William Masters was such a person, with a very large family he gave great assistance to the club in many ways before his eldest boys had left school. His self example in community matters including soccer no doubt influenced most of his family to do likewise in later years. George Ward came to Balgownie in the early 1890’s and immediately become involved in various sports. He had eight sons who all became dedicated soccer players and played for Balgownie. It has been mentioned many times, that for several years in the late 1920’s, the Masters’ and the Wards’ could have made up a first grade team to equal the best. Thomas Rhodes and the Rhodes’ boys is another great example of family promotion of Balgownie sport. There were many other heads of families who did not play sport in their early days (not able to) but gave great encouragement to their children. This dedicated attitude in a close knit Balgownie community had a great effect in the early days of developing the standard of soccer in later years.

James “Judy” Masters

The name Masters has been mentioned in Balgownie soccer more than any other name since the 1880’s. The main reason for this are the great achievements of Judy Masters who was called by the media and many state officials as “the little master” of soccer. Without any doubt Judy Masters’ outstanding records in the sport of soccer has not been equaled in the Illawarra this century.

James William (Judy) Masters was born in the Balgownie area on the 21st of May 1892 and died at his home, one hundred metres from the soccer ground where he played most of his football, on the 2nd of December 1955. As a boy he lived in Hunter Street only two hundred metres from Balgownie’s first soccer ground which was situated in Lang’s paddock at the north end of William Street. It was here that he learnt the skills of soccer football from the coaching of Tom Thompson (senior) and his elder brothers Alex and Charlie. Judy had one disadvantage he was not tall and he was lightly built and to overcome the robust play of the “heavies” in that era he mastered the art of agility and ball control. He was very young when selected in the first team and soon given the key position of centre forward. His goal scoring ability against the states top teams was uncanny and he was selected in the district team. At the age of sixteen years he represented N.S.W. on several occasions playing inside right.

By 1914 he was considered one of the best centre forwards in the state and the competition at that period was very strong. He enlisted into the army during World War I and his early training was in Liverpool Camp. However, he still played soccer, at first he played a few games with the Newton Club and then his old rival club Granville got him to play centre forward for them until he went overseas. He saw active service at Gallipoli and France. During the breaks from the front line he captained army teams in France and England.

After World War I

It took some time after the First World War for the soccer clubs to reorganise, old players returning from the war had to contest the young up and coming players. By 1920 there were many changes in the Balgownie first grade teams but the talent and the numbers still existed. The next ten years would see Balgownie soccer reach its greatest heights in its history and fortunately many of the old pioneer soccer supporters were alive to see these great events.


Title on Photograph: Balgownie Rangers Soccer Club Undefeated; Undefeated Premiers 1921
Top row from left: W. Dixon (Manager), Herb Masters, Tom Batey, Peter Hunter, Wadie (Trainer)
Centre row from left: “Scotchy” Learmonth, W. Johnston, Richard Johnston, “Hilly”. Johnston (Captain)
Front row: George Guest, Dave Ward, Judy Masters, Tommy Thompson, Arthur Mc Mahon.

By 1922 and 1923 six players from Balgownie Soccer Football Club at various times were representing district, state and Australia. In 1922 Judy Masters was selected with his team mates Tom Thompson (junior) and Dave Ward to play in Australia’s first international tests in New Zealand but was unable to attend.

Tom Thompson

Tom “Titchie” Thompson was born in Balgownie in 1904 and quickly rose to soccer fame with the Balgownie Soccer Football Club. Encouraged by his well experienced father, although his was only 5 feet 4 inches tall, he soon overcame the hard knocks by bigger opponents and due to his agility and speed, developed a style of attacking football rarely seen in that era. Although a natural left foot player he developed his right foot just as good as his left foot. Due to his speed and attacking play the left wing was his usual position in district and state teams. What made Tom Thompson so outstanding was his ball control, an art he developed as a youth and it certainly confused his opponents. One commentator was heard to say “Thompson can trap a ball, turn on a tripeny-bit and make off leaving his opponent dumbfounded”.

Tom Thompson had his 18th birthday while a member of the first Test Team on a ship travelling to New Zealand. The first Test was played at Dunedin on the 17th May 1922 and although Australia were beaten by two goals to one, the hero of this test was Thompson. The New Zealand crowd were soon amazed at this small man’s “tricks” with the ball and his speed. In the second half on numerous occasions the crowd roared as Thompson turned defence into attack. After the game Thompson was mobbed by a section of the crowd patting him on the back for his spectacular display of soccer never seen before in New Zealand. He played at left wing in all three tests in New Zealand and this paved the way for future international games for Australia.

Another incident worth recording was during the first soccer Test played in Australia at the Gabba ground in Brisbane. It was the Australian crowd that was soon barracking Thompson when he turned defence into attack. The score was one all and there was less then a minute remaining until full time. With great tackling and ball control Thompson stopped the opposing forwards not far from his goal line then took off at fast speed, at the centre line he crossed to the right winger Mitchell who immediately crossed back to Thompson on the left wing. Another Australian Maunder kept pace with them in the centre and he received a strong grubber ball along the ground from Thompson and Maunder with his left foot fired it into the net as the full time whistle blew. The huge crowd mobbed the field and both “Pudge” Maunder and Tom Thompson were carried off by the enthusiastic spectators.

Thompson played many times for Australia, in 1925 he was awarded the best player of the match against an England XI. In 1928 he played for Australia against the Dutch East Indies (now known as Indonesia). In this country he played 19 games including tests and scored 19 goals. The soccer recorded publication on the 2nd of June 1927 states “Tommy Thompson still in his early twenties is one of the most brilliant and versatile players that New South Wales has produced, with outstanding performances against New Zealand in 1922 and 1923, Victoria 1923, Canada 1924, England 1925, China and Czechoslovakia in 1927. With his own club he can play at any position, he is a trier at all times and can drive wonderful shots at goal. He will keep the Queensland goalie busy next weekend at the Gabba Ground”. Australian Rugby Union Captain of the 1920’s Alex Ross who followed the soccer tests claimed “I have seen Thompson play many times and never seen any soccer player in Australia or England to execute ball control as brilliant as Thompson”.

Tom Thompson like his father was devoted to the Balgownie Soccer Football Club and played in the top grade until the Second World War. A small man but with a tough character and he could combat any rough player in the sport. On one occasion he broke an opponents leg in normal play and from that day on he was classed as a “dirty” player by some opponents. In the latter part of his career when he had lost some of his speed he played most of his football in the defensive roll usually as fullback and few if any could play this position as good as Tom. In those years he encouraged the improving young players especially when they played with him in the top grade. I have watched him play many times and never have I seen him ever be the aggressor but if an opponent used rough tactics on one of the junior players he would certainly be seeking that player for the rest of the game. I have seen some of the known rough players in the district avoid Thompson throughout a match if they thought he was after them. That was the reputation he had and he was not frightened of anyone. In any sport it is difficult to judge any person as the best ever due to the changing rules and the time gaps. However as a result of my research into Balgownie Soccer Football Club, my interviews with old residents some of whom were young when the club formed and my own observations from the 1920’s I am of the opinion that Tom Thompson (junior) was the most skillful soccer player in Balgownie Soccer Football Club from 1920 to 1930. To be able to play efficiently in any position including goalie with his small build in first grade soccer is a feat so difficult to equal in the soccer world.

Probably one of the most popular soccer players of Balgownie Soccer Football Club was David Ward. He was born in Hunter Street where so many great soccer players lived in their early years. At the age of 21 years he was selected in the first Australian Test Squad. With Tom Thompson he played in the first ever test against New Zealand at Dunedin in 1922. His normal position was inside left and he combined well with Thompson on the left wing. Like Judy Masters he was an expert in the appraisal of any situation and so skillful in positional play. He could shoot well with both feet and be switched to the half back position if required. The combination of these skills placed him in a favourable light with selectors and as a result he played many games for Australia during the 1920’s. The greatest chapter in Dave Ward’s life was his involvement in so many community matters and his assistance to his fellow men over a long period.

Original text from Vince Ward.

Photo’s courtesy of Balgownie Public School Museum (Open 1st Sunday every Month)

Players, Committee and Club facts – compiled by Travis R. Faulks

Balgownie Rangers Seniors 1900

R. Vardy (committee member), E. Green (player) and Jones (player). Note A. Rae is noted as a Balgownie Ranger player in 1899.

Balgownie Rangers Seniors 1892

The first mention of the Rangers is in the Referee on the 6th of April where it states that a few country teams will enter the Gardiner Challenge Cup this year. They are: Mittagong, Minmi Rangers, Hartley Vale FC, Balgownie Rangers and Helensburgh Rovers.

In the Sydney Morning Herald on the 13th of April there is an article regarding the Southern British Football Association annual meeting held on 12.4.1892 at Quong Tarts rooms King Street.  The article states that the delegate representing Balgownie was W.H. Brown and for Helensburgh it was Mr Johnson. The article says that the Balmain Club proposed to play in white jerseys and blue knickers but this was disallowed as these colours were too close to Balgownie Rangers’ colours. It does not say what Balgownie’s colours were but a hypothesis may be that if white and blue were too close then the colours may have been white and black. The article additionally stated that in 1891 Balgownie joined the association.

In the Wollongong Argus on 20th of April (game played on 16th of April), where it states that Balgownie played Balmain at Bode’s Centennial Grounds and were defeated by 3 goals to 2. The article in the Referee stated that it was 2-2 at half time and Balmain scored a third in the second half to win the game. Balgownie players mentioned were Livingstone, Millen, Brown and Harris. Note that Balmain traveled by train to Helensburgh the day before to play on Good Friday, they lost 2-1 to Helensburgh.

In the Illawarra Mercury article on the 26th of April it states that T.C. Bode the proprietor of the Centennial Grounds intends giving a 10 pound 10s trophy for the upcoming season.

In the Evening News on 2nd of June it says that the draw for the Gardiner Challenge Cup was completed recently and Balgownie Rangers will play away to Pyrmont Rangers on or before 25th June (The Referee article on 15th June confirms this fixture and states that Pyrmont Rangers will play Balgownie at Wentworth Park). Secondly the article says that Balgownie was drawn against Parkgrove in the medals competition.

In the Illawarra Mercury on the 16th June it stated that newly formed Thirroul Rovers Football Club (playing in all white) would play Balgownies on Saturday 18th June at a paddock at the rear of Cochrane’s Hotel Wollongong.  This was not Thirroul’s first game, this debut game for the club had occurred on the 4th of June against Helensburgh, the game finished in 0-0 draw.

On 18th June in the Evening News it reports that the Gardiner Cup game between the Pyrmont Rangers and Balgownie has been forfeited to the Pyrmont Rangers. An explanation was given in the Referee’s article on 22nd June on why the game was forfeited. It states that the match did not come off as the provincial club (Balgownie) was unable to get a good team together, and a telegram to that effect was received by the local (Pyrmont) club. This is disappointing from a Balgownie perspective, as they had stretched the very good Pyrmont team in the past couple of years in the Gardiner Challenge Cup. But it appears some incident must have occurred at the Club, as further down in the article (when it is describing the Helensburgh Rovers match versus Balmain) it says, “…Helensburgh was fully represented. Millen, Livingstone, and Harrison, late of the Balgownies, played for them”. Now this gives clarity as to why Balgownie forfeited the match as those three players are some of Balgownie’s best, with Millen (or Milne) representing the New South Wales colony in 1890. For the record Helensburgh (with another former Ranger Melville) lost the match to Balmain 2 goals to 1 in the Gardiner Cup.

The Illawarra Mercury article on 21st June states that a football match was played on Bode’s Centennial Grounds on Saturday 18th June between Corrimal Football Club and Thirroul Rangers. The article reports that Thirroul led 1-0 up until half time but were beaten by Corrimal as they scored 2 goals in second half. But it appears that this is an error on the Mercury’s behalf as the Wollongong Argus on 22nd June states that Thirroul Rovers were defeated by the Balgownie Rangers by 2 goal to 1. The game was played on Centennial Grounds.

On 23rd June the Illawarra Mercury states that the following players will represent Balgownie Rangers 2nd XI in a medals competition fixture against the Parkgrove 2nd XI (to be played on the 25th June). For BRFC 2nd XI – Goal-keeper E. Peters; full-backs A. Brown, J. Campbell; half-backs J. Montgomery, T. Thompson, W. Ritchie; left-wing W. Shaw, R. Campbell; centre R. Boden; right-wing C. Ritchie, T. Ward; Emergencies P. Devers, G. Ward and C. York.

The game proposed on the 25th June between the above sides “did not come off” with the Parkgrove team wiring Balgownie that they would not be present. The Illawarra Mercury 28th June and 30th June articles state that the game will be played on 2nd July. The same team was listed and it notes that Mr. Weeks (not Henry R. Murdoch) was Secretary of the Club.

The Illawarra Mercury stated on 5th July that Parkgrove (2nd XI) failed to turn up for the second time and as a consequence the Rangers have a ‘walk over’ in the first round Association medal match. The Referee on 6th July detailed a game between Balmain 2nd XI versus Parkgrove 2nd XI, where Parkgrove won by 5 goals to 2. This shows why Parkgrove did not turn up in Wollongong as they were in Leichhardt. In addition the article detailed a July 1st Southern British Football Association meeting where it stated that 5 clubs were left in the next round of the medal competition and it was decided that there should be three byes in this round as to leave four clubs for the semi finals. The draw resulted in Balmain, Balgownie and the winners of the Pyrmont Rangers B and Granville Second match having byes and the winners of the Minmi Second vs Pyrmont Rangers A match being drawn to play Helensburgh Rovers Second at Helensburgh.

The Illawarra Mercury (5th July) and Wollongong Argus (6th July) reported a game between Thirroul Rovers and Balgownie at Thirroul on July 1st. The result was a 3 goals to 1 victory to Balgownie, with Balgownie’s goals coming in the first half and Thirroul’s in the second half, scored by G. Smith. Interesting notes to come from the articles, the game kicked off at 3:30pm and there was 40 minutes each way (ten minute half time break).

On the 20th of July the Referee reported that Balgownie Rangers played Parkgrove at Moore Park Sydney on the 16th of July. Originally Parkgrove were supposed to play Balmain but they cancelled their engagement with Parkgrove and Balgownie stepped in. Parkgrove thrashed Balgownie 6 goals to nil with Gibson scoring 4 goals for Parkgrove. Campbell (who played in goals) for Balgownie was the only BRFC player mentioned.

The Illawarra Mercury on the 30th of July reported that Balgownie and Helensburgh (first and second teams) were playing against each other at Bode’s grounds in Wollongong (firsts) and Helensburgh (seconds). Both Balgownie teams for the Helensburgh fixtures were listed in this article.  The Illawarra Mercury then did not report on the outcome of these matches but The Referee newspaper does, with a goalless draw between the firsts and a 4-1 win to Helensburgh in the seconds. In this article it is interesting to note that Balgownie’s play in the first team fixture was described as “rough and tumble”. On the same day (30.7.1892) Robbinsville (Thirroul) defeated Corrimal 5 goals to nil, with Rennie of Robbinsville scoring 3 goals.

On the 9th of August in the Illawarra Mercury it describes a game between the Robbinsville Rovers and newly formed Woonona Swifts at Bulli, the Rovers winning by 3 goals to 2. This game was played at Heal’s recreation ground and a banquet after the match was held at Heal’s Bulli Royal Hotel.

On Wednesday the 10th of August in the Referee it states that Balmain 2nd have an engagement with Balgownie at Balgownie, no date is given for this fixture. And further down in this same article there is a letter to the editor from “Goal-Keeper” who appears to be from the Pyrmont Rangers club. This letter states that Pyrmont were unfairly treated in the 1891 Gardiner Cup by Balgownie Ranger’s protests and again in 1892 by a Parkgrove protest.

The Illawarra Mercury on the 11th of August clears up the date for the Balgownie 2nd XI versus Balmain 2nd XI semi final match of the Southern British Association medals competition. The game will be played on the 13th of August at Bode’s ground. The article additionally details a match between Balgownie Rangers first team and Woonona for the Heal South Coast competition at Woonona in a fortnight’s time. The Illawarra Mercury on the 16th of August details the game between Balgownie Rangers 2nd XI versus Balmain 2nd XI, where Balgownie won by 4 goals to 1. The game was played at Centennial Grounds and the win for Balgownie means that they meet Minmi Rangers (Newcastle) in the final in a week or so. The article details another game played between Helensburgh Rovers and Thirroul Rovers at Heal’s grounds at Woonona (for the Heal Cup). Helensburgh thrashed Thirroul by 15 goals to 1.

The Referee newspaper on the 17th of August briefly mentions the Balgownie versus Balmain game, however gives more details on the Helensburgh versus Thirroul game. Firstly the Referee states that the score was 14-1 (versus 15-1 in the Illawarra Mercury article above). The article stated that this game was in relation to the Illawarra Cup (previously described above as the Heal South Coast Competition) and that Helensburgh are now in the final, where the most likely opponents will be Balgownie. In the Illawarra Mercury on the 25th of August it states that on the 27th of August Balgownie Rangers will try conclusions against Woonona Swifts in the Heal South Coast Competition, the third game in this competition and the winner to go into the final. The Illawarra Mercury on the 30th of August stated that Balgownie defeated Woonona by 7 goals to 1. The article stated Woonona did well considering the club is only a few weeks old and that the score may have been higher if Balgownie had their strongest team. The article mentioned that Balgownie Rangers meet the Minmi Rangers in the final of the SBFA medals competition on the 3rd of September in Sydney and Balgownie will meet Helensburgh on the 10th of September in the final of the Heal South Coast Competition at Woonona.

The Evening News on the 5th of September (and the Wollongong Argus on the 7th of September) stated that Minmi defeated Balgownie in the final match of the SBFA medals for junior teams by 7 goals to 2.

The Illawarra Mercury on the 13th of September gives a description of the Heal Cup final between Helensburgh Rovers and Balgownie Rangers. Helensburgh Rovers were the deserved winners on the day winning three goals to nil. The article stated that Balgownie did not have their strongest team because the Mt. Pleasant pit was working that day and that Helensburgh had the best team on the coast with some of them hailing from Kembla. The article listed Balgownie’s team: GK=C. Campbell; captain T. Thompson; centre half-backs, D. Horton and J. Campbell; full-backs=T. Forest and J. Montgomery; half-backs=R. Campbell and W. Shaw; left-wing=Bowden; centre= C. Richards; right-wing=W. Broadhead.

On the 24th of September the Australian Town and Country Journal (ATCJ) states that a rough game was played at Wollongong on the 17th of September between teams from Wollongong and Balgownie. It says that the Wollongong team won the game but it does not say if the game was played under Rugby or British Association rules. Two weeks later in a Wollongong Argus article there is mention of a junior British Association game between Moonlight and Cramsville on the Green (Wollongong), thus the above ATCJ result could be between these two teams.

On the 22nd of September, the Illawarra Mercury states that Balgownie Rangers will play Helensburgh Rovers at Centennial Grounds on the 24th of September. The proceeds of the game will be devoted to the Wollongong Town Band, thus the previously mentioned game of Balgownie versus Parkgroves (for the Wollongong Town Band) must not have been played. Balgownie’s team was listed: C. Campbell, P. Hunter, J. Campbell, T. Thompson (Captain), T. Forest, W. Ritchie, W. Shaw, R. Campbell, R. Bowden, C. Ritchie, M. Fitzgibbons; emergencies are J. Armstrong, R. Taylor and G. Ward. On the 28th of September the Wollongong Argus stated that this math was abandoned due to the ground being in sloppy condition, which arose from a storm the night before. In the same article it states that a Cramsville (another name for Balgownie) junior team was to play the Moonlight Club on the Green on the 1st of October.

On the 29th of September the Illawarra Mercury (and in the Wollonong Argus on the 1st of October) detailed a game between Thirroul Rovers and Woonona (Thirroul winning by 3 goals to 2), stating that this was the last football game of the season.

The last mention of Balgownie Rangers is in the Illawarra Mercury on the 4th and 6th of October regarding a social to be held at the Orpheus Hall on the 7th of October. No mention was made of this social in the Illawarra Mercury post the 7th of October.

Committee/Players List for 1892

BRFC First Eleven

Livingstone at least 1 game,

Millen at least 1 game,

Harris at least 1 game,

C. Campbell (goalkeeper) at least 3 games,

A. Brown (full-back) at least 2 games,

J. Campbell (full-back) at least 2 games,

T. Forest (half-back) at least 2 games,

T. Thompson (half-back) at least 2 games,

M. Fitzgibbons (half-back) at least 1 game,

P. Hunter (forward) at least 1 game,

C. Ritchie (forward) at least 1 game,

R. Bowden (right-wing forward) at least 2 games,

M. Green (forward) at least 1 game,

W. Shaw (left-wing forward) at least 2 games,

R. Campbell (left-wing forward) at least 1 game,

D. Horton (full-back) at least 1 game,

J. Montgomery (half-back) at least 1 game,

C. Richards (centre forward) at least 1 game,

W. Broadhead (right-wing forward) at least 1 game,

W. Ritchie – potentially 1 game,

J. Armstrong – potentially 1 game,

R. Taylor – potentially 1 game &

G. Ward – potentially 1 game.

BRFC Second Eleven

E. Peters (goal-keeper) potentially 1 game,

A. Brown (full-back) potentially 1 game,

J. Campbell (full-back) potentially 1 game,

J. Montgomery (half-back) at least 1 game,

T. Thompson (half-back) at least 1 game,

W. Ritchie (half-back/full-back) at least 1 game,

W. Shaw (left-wing forward) potentially 1 game,

R. Campbell (left-wing forward) potentially 1 game,

R. Boden (or Bowden – centre forward) potentially 1 game,

C. Ritchie (right-wing forward) potentially 1 game,

T. Ward (right-wing forward) at least 1 game,

P. Devers (goal-keeper) at least 1 game,

G. Ward (full-back) at least 1 game,

C. York (forward) at least 1 game,

R. Taylor (half-back) at least 1 game,

F. Edgar (half-back) at least 1 game,

Armstrong (forward) at least 1 game,

Dixon (forward) at least 1 game,

Figtree (forward) at least 1 game,

W. Manion potentially 1 game,

Mr. Weeks Secretary and later on in the year H.R. Murdock was listed as secretary &

W.H. Brown BRFC’s SBFA Delegate.

Achievements for 1892

Balgownie Rangers runners up in Heal Cup South Coast Competition

Balgownie Rangers 2nd XI runners up in SBFA Junior Medals Competition

Newspaper Articles:

Illawarra Mercury            16.2.1892            Helensburgh

Referee            6.4.1892            Rugby Rules

Sydney Morning Herald            13.4.1892            Football

Wollongong Argus            20.4.1892            Brevities

Referee            20.4.1892            Southern British Rules

Referee            20.4.1892            Southern British Rules

Illawarra Mercury            21.4.1892            Helensburgh

Illawarra Mercury            26.4.1892            The Scrap Album

Illawarra Mercury            24.5.1892            Thirroul Items

Evening News            2.6.1892            Football

Evening News            2.6.1892            Football

Illawarra Mercury            2.6.1892            The Scrap Album

Illawarra Mercury            7.6.1892            The Scrap Album

Illawarra Mercury            9.6.1892            Football

AT&CJ            11.6.1892            Football

Referee            15.6.1892            Southern British Rules

Illawarra Mercury            16.6.1892            -

Evening News            18.6.1892            Football

Illawarra Mercury            21.6.1892            Newsettes

Evening News            21.6.1892            Football

Wollongong Argus            22.6.1892            Football

Referee            22.6.1892            Southern British Rules

Illawarra Mercury            23.6.1892            Football

Illawarra Mercury            28.6.1892            Newsettes

Illawarra Mercury            30.6.1892            Football

Illawarra Mercury            2.7.1892            Newsettes

Illawarra Mercury            5.7.1892            Newsettes

Illawarra Mercury            5.7.1892            Football

Referee            6.7.1892            Southern British Rules

Wollongong Argus            6.7.1892            Football

Referee            6.7.1892            Southern British Rules

Referee            13.7.1892            Southern British Rules

AT&CJ            16.7.1892            Football

Sydney Mail & NSW Adv            16.7.1892            Football

Referee            20.7.1892            Southern British Rules

Illawarra Mercury            26.7.1892            Helensburgh

Illawarra Mercury            30.7.1892            Football

Illawarra Mercury            30.7.1892            Football

Referee            3.8.1892            Southern British Rules

Referee            3.8.1892            Southern British Rules

Wollongong Argus            3.8.1892            Sporting

Illawarra Mercury            4.8.1892            Football at Robbinsville

Illawarra Mercury            6.8.1892            Amusements

Illawarra Mercury            9.8.1892            Football at Bulli

Referee            10.8.1892            Southern British Rules

Referee            10.8.1892            To the Editor

Illawarra Mercury            11.8.1892            Robbinsville

Illawarra Mercury            11.8.1892            Football Notes

Illawarra Mercury            11.8.1892            Football Notes

Sydney Mail & NSW Adv            13.8.1892            Football

Sydney Mail & NSW Adv            13.8.1892            Football

Illawarra Mercury            16.8.1892            Football

Illawarra Mercury            16.8.1892            Football

Referee            17.8.1892            Southern British Rules

Referee            17.8.1892            Southern British Rules

Wollongong Argus            17.8.1892            Football

Illawarra Mercury            25.8.1892            The Scrap Album

Sydney Mail & NSW Adv            27.8.1892            Football

Illawarra Mercury            30.8.1892            Football Notes

Illawarra Mercury            30.8.1892            Football Notes

Illawarra Mercury            30.8.1892            Football Notes

Illawarra Mercury            30.8.1892            Football Notes

Wollongong Argus            31.8.1892            Sporting

Wollongong Argus            31.8.1892            Sporting

Wollongong Argus            31.8.1892            Sporting

Wollongong Argus            31.8.1892            Sporting

Newc Morn Herlad & Miners Adv            2.9.1892            Football

Sydney Morning Herald            3.9.1892            Football

Evening News            5.9.1892            South British Rules

Wollongong Argus            7.9.1892            Sporting

Wollongong Argus            10.9.1892            Sporting

Illawarra Mercury            13.9.1892            Football

Wollongong Argus            14.9.1892            Football

AT&CJ            17.9.1892            Queensland Football

Sydney Mail & NSW Adv            17.9.1892            Football

Illawarra Mercury            17.9.1892            Helensburgh

Illawarra Mercury            22.9.1892            The Scrap Album

Wollongong Argus            24.9.1892            Sporting

AT&CJ            24.9.1892            Football

Wollongong Argus            28.9.1892            Sporting

Wollongong Argus            28.9.1892            Sporting

Illawarra Mercury            29.9.1892            Thirroul

Wollongong Argus            1.10.1892            Sporting

Illawarra Mercury            4.10.192            Amusements

Illawarra Mercury            6.10.1892            Newsettes

Illawarra Mercury            6.10.1892            Amusements

Balgownie Rangers Seniors 1891

On 21.4.1891 (25.4.1891 and 2.5.1891) the Illawarra Mercury listed an advertisement for a Ball and Supper in aid of the Balgownie Rangers on 25th of May at Bode’s Centennial Hall.  On 16.5.1891 (21.5.1891 and 23.5.1891) the Illawarra Mercury listed an advertisement for the ‘Opening Match of the Balgownie Rangers Football Club for the season 1891′. In this advertisement it states that BRFC will play the Caledonian Football Club at Bode’s Centennial Grounds on Monday 25th of May (Queen’s Birthday). It further states that the game will kick off at 3 o’clock, admission to the ground is Sixpence, a supper and ball will be held in the evening at 8 o’clock and that Henry R. Murdoch is the Honorary Secretary of the Club.

On 25.5.1891 BRFC 1 (0) drew with the Caledonians 1 (0) at Centennial Grounds (Illawarra). The BRFC team was Goalkeeper: C.W. Campbell; backs: W.H. Brown and P. Hunter; half-backs: M. Fitzgibbons (right), T. Forrest (centre), M. Green (left); right wing: W. Mullen (Captain); inside right: R. Bowden; forward centre; W. Livingstone; left wing: W. Shaw & inside left: F. Harrison. Balgownie’s goal was scored by W. Livingstone. The Illawarra Mercury article (on the 26.5.1890) further states that ‘Mullen, Fitzgibbons, Forest, Green, Brown, and Campbell all played well, and were well supported by the other members of the team’ and in the evening ‘the Caledonians were entertained at dinner at Bode’s Hotel by the local men, and the evening was wound up with a ball in the large pavilion’. The large pavilion was Bode’s Centennial Hall and between 30-35 couples attended this ball, which lasted until 5am the next morning. Mr Henry R. Murdoch on behalf of the Club presented Mr J. Campbell with a silver mounted pipe and pair of pebble spectacles for services rendered to the Club.

On 20.6.1891 BRFC played Pyrmont Rangers at Bode’s Centennial Grounds in the first round of the Gardiner Cup, the result being a 0-0 draw. BRFC player C. Campbell (goalkeeper) was mentioned in the Illawarra Mercury report on the 23.6.1891. And contrary to the newspaper reports in 1890, it stated in this article that C. Campbell represented New South Wales in goals against Queensland rather than J. Campbell. Other BRFC players in this game were Milne, Brown (full back) and Harrison as stated by a Referee article on the 24.6.1891. Both the Illawarra Mercury and Referee articles stated that there was heavy rain during the match, which affected the ground and the game. The Evening News on the 20.6.1891 stated that it was raining in torrents.

On 27.6.1891 BRFC played Pyrmont Rangers in the Gardiner Challenge Cup first round replay at Wentworth Park losing 2 (0) -1 (1) [Balgownie’s goal scorer was W. Millen]. It states in an Illawarra Mercury article on the 30th of June that the ‘Balgownians’ left at 9am by train and arrived in Sydney at 11:30am, where they were not met by the members of the Pyrmont Club. The custom in this period was for the home team to meet visiting teams when they traveled by train or coach a long distance. The article stated that Balgownie protested Pyrmont’s second goal and a further article (Referee 15.7.1891) said at the beginning of the second half a dispute arose over a throw in and the ball was allowed to be thrown in and Pyrmont Rangers scored from this subsequent throw in. The visitor’s umpire protested the throw in (without any player protesting). The referee gave the goal to Pyrmont Rangers. Then the Balgownie Rangers captain withdrew his team from the field and lodged a protest with the Southern British Football Association (SBFA). Additionally the Illawarra Mercury article (30.6.1891) states that the Balgownie team were submitted to ‘some cowardly acts, being kicked and jostled in a disgraceful manner’ by the Pyrmont supporters. The Balgownie team for this game were: G. Campbell (goal-keeper); P. Hunter and F. Figtree (backs); J. Campbell, T. Forest, M. Green (half-backs); W. Millen, R. Bowden(right-wing); F. Harrison, W. Shaw (left-wing) and W. Livingstone (captain and centre).

On 2.7.1891 a meeting of the SBFA was held to hear the Balgownie Rangers protests against some unjust points of the game against Pyrmont Rangers on the 27.6.1891. Balgownie’s protests were upheld by the SBFA and it was decided that the two teams would play for the third time on the 11.7.1891 at Moore Park (neutral ground).

On 4.7.1891 Balgownie Rangers 2nd XI and the Woonona Club met at Centennial Grounds. The game ended in a 1-1 all draw and the following represented the Rangers: W. Masters (captain), J. Campbell, R. Campbell, J. Sims, C. York, P. Davis, T. Dixon, A. Gallaway, B. Ritchie, C. Ritchie and J. McDonald.

On 11.7.1891 (via an 16.7.1891 Illawarra Mercury article) Balgownie Rangers were defeated in the second replay of the first round Gardiner Challenge Cup match against the Pyrmont Rangers at Moore Park Sydney. The score was 2 (1) – 1 (1) to the Pyrmont team. The following represented the Rangers: C. Campbell (goalkeeper); P. Hunter, W. Brown (backs); M. Fitzgibbons, T. Forest, M. Green (half-backs); W. Millen, R. Bowden(right-wing) and W. Livingstone (captain and centre). This article points out as per the previous Illawarra Mercury articles that from Balgownie’s perspective Pyrmont were employing dirty tactics on and off the field. This argument was countered by a letter to the Illawarra Mercury editor from C. F. Harrass on the 16.7.1891. In this letter C.F. Harrass (appears to be a pseudonym) counters the previous articles of dirty play (on and off the field) by the Pyrmont team. With these 3 games and the game the year before it appears that there is a rivalry between these two clubs. And from a Balgownie perspective it appears that they received ill treatment from the Pyrmont supporters that was unjust, as Henry Murdoch responded to C.F. Harrass’s letter to the editor where he strongly refutes his comments.

Advertisement in the Illawarra Mercury on 16th of July states that Balgownie Rangers will play Park-Grove on 18th of July at Bode’s Centennial Grounds. On the 18.7.1891 the Rangers met Parkgrove at Bode’s Centennial Grounds. The score was 2 (1) – 0 (0) to the Balgownie Rangers. The following represented the Rangers: Campbell, Ritchie, Thompson, Forest, Hunter, Melville, Millen, Green, Harrison, Shaw and Livingstone (Captain). And the following represented Parkgrove: Bennett, Gunn, Davey, Dunstan, Graham, Hughes, J. McCreadie, Vidal (captain), Torrence, Campbell and Johnstone. On paper this result appears to be a strong result for the Rangers as Parkgrove ended up thrashing Pyrmont Rangers in the final of the Gardiner Challenge Cup (4-1) and winning the Badge Series (1891 version of our home and away league games). However this result was (as stated by the Newcastle Morning Herald and Evening News on the 22.7.1891) was against a weakened Parkgrove and contained a Balgownie player, Campbell.

On the 30.7.1891 the Illawarra details 2 games that will be played between the Balgownie Rangers and Helensburgh Rovers on the 1.8.1891. At the Centennial Grounds the first teams from the above clubs will play each other and at Helensburgh both clubs second teams will play each other. On the 1.8.1891 Balgownie Rangers played Helensburgh Rovers at Bode’s Centennial Grounds, with the match resulting in a 11-0 win to Balgownie. The Illawarra Mercury only lists Livingstone as scoring 1 goal. The other fixture between the Bagownie and Helensburgh seconds teams did not eventuate. Instead Balgownie played Bulli, where Bulli were successful in winning the game 2 goals to 1.

On the 15.8.1891 Balgownie Rangers traveled up to Moore Park to play the newly crowned Gardiner Challenge Cup champions in Parkgrove.  But due to arrangements being made on short notice the best of the Balgowni Rangers team could not make the fixture. Parkgrove supplied subtitutes and ended up winning the game 3 goal to nil. (the only players listed for this game were the goalscorers for Parkgrove {McMenemy, Graham and Jno. McCreadie}). On the same day Balgownie Rangers 2nd XI went to Helensburgh to play the Rover’s 1st XI. The game ended in a draw, 2 goals each. Balgownie players listed in this game are  R. Campbell (who scored a double), R. Bowden and T. Dixon.

The next advertisement on behalf the Balgownie Rangers was seen 3 times in the Illawarra Mercury (25th, 27th and 29th of August). It was in regards to a football charity match against the Balmain team from Sydney. All proceeds raised are to go to the funds of the hospital. On 29.8.1891 Balgownie Rangers 5 (0) defeated Balmain 1 (1) at Bode’s Centennial Grounds. The Illawarra Mercury article on the 3.9.1891 states that the goal scorers were Livingstone for Balgownie (other scorers not named) and McMenerry for Balmain.  The article stated Melville played well in the back division for the Rangers. While this match was being played the Balgownie Rangers 2nd XI met the Balmain 2nd XI at Leichhardt, with the match being won by the Rangers 5 goals (4 scored by halftime) to Balmain’s 1 goal (scored in the second half). No players listed in this article.

The next advertisement on behalf of Balgownie Rangers was seen 3 times in the Illawarra Mercury (22nd, 24th and 26th of September), whereby Balgownie Rangers will play the winners of the Gardiner Cup Parkgrove on the 26th of September at Bode’s Centennial Grounds. Kick off at 4pm and admission is six pence. This game may have been played but no newspaper reports were written In the Illawarra Mercury, Evening News or Sydney Morning Herald. There was some rain on this weekend so the game may not have gone ahead.

On the 3rd of October (and the 6th and 8th of October) the Illawarra Mercury stated (and it was advertised) that Balgownie Rangers were having a plain and fancy dress ball at Bode’s Centennial Hall on Friday 9th of October (dancing to start at 8pm and tickets costing 7/6). The evening (to close the season off) went well with 30 to 40 couples present. During the evening the members of the Club presented secretary Henry Murdoch with a writing desk for all his work he had completed for the Club. In responding to this token of appreciation the secretary stated how many games the first and second team played during the year (listed below) and said that the Club was in a sound financial position. He further added that in 1890 the Club had 26 members and in 1891 had 62 members. The evening kept going until the early hours of Saturday morning.

Committee/Players List for 1891

Henry R. Murdoch Honorary Secretary

BRFC First Eleven

C.W. Campbell (goal keeper) at least 5 games,

W.H. Brown (back) at least 3 games,

P. Hunter (back) at least 4 games,

M. Fitzgibbons (right half back) at least 2 games,

T. Forest (centre half back) at least 4 games/1 goal,

M. Green (left half back) at least 4 games,

W. Mullen* (or Millen or Milne – right wing) at least 5 games/1 goal,

R. Bowden (inside right forward) at least 3 games,

W. Livingstone* (centre forward) at least 5 games/2 goals,

W. Shaw (left wing) at least 3 games,

F. Harrison (inside left forward) at least 4 games,

F. Figtree (back) at least 1 game,

J. Campbell (half back) at least 1 game,

Thompson at least 1 game and

Melville at least 2 games.

*Captained the side in some of these games

P = 8, W = 3,  D = 3, L = 2, F= 21 and A = 7 – As listed by Illawarra Mercury

BRFC Second Eleven

W. Masters at least 1 game (this game as Captain),

J. Campbell at least 2 games (1 of these games as Captain),

R. Campbell at least 3 games,

J. Sims at least 2 games,

C. York at least 1 game,

P. Davis at least 1 game,

T. Dixon at least 3 games,

A. Gallaway at least 2 games,

B. Ritchie at least 1 game,

C. Ritchie at least 1 game,

J. McDonald at least 1 game,

J. Roxby at least 1 game,

M. Manion at least 1 game,

W. Ritchie at least 1 game,

S. Bird at least 1 game,

R. Johnstone at least 1 game,

A. McDonald at least 1 game,

A. Weeks maybe 1 game and

R. Bowden at least 1 game.

P = 5, W = 2,  D = 2, L = 1, F= 11 and A = 6 – As listed by Illawarra Mercury

Achievements for 1891

Gardiner Challenge Cup 1st Round

Newspaper Articles:

Illawarra Mercury            21.4.1891            Amusements

Illawarra Mercury            25.4.1891            Amusements

Illawarra Mercury            16.5.1891            Football Match

Illawarra Mercury            2.5.1891            Amusements

Illawarra Mercury            21.5.1891            Football Match

Illawarra Mercury            23.5.1891            Football Match

Illawarra Mercury            23.5.1891            Newsettes

Illawarra Mercury            26.5.1891            Football Match

Illawarra Mercury            28.5.1891            Ball in the Centennial Hall

Illawarra Mercury            30.5.1891            To the Editor

Evening News            22.6.1891            Football

Illawarra Mercury            23.6.1891            Football Match

Referee            24.6.1891            Southern British Rules

Evening News            26.6.1891            Football

Evening News            29.6.1891            Football

Illawarra Mercury            30.6.1891            Football Match

Illawarra Mercury            9.6.1891            Newsettes

Referee            15.7.1891            Southern British Rules

Illawarra Mercury            16.7.1891            Football Match

Illawarra Mercury            16.7.1891            Football Match

Illawarra Mercury            16.7.1891            To the Editor

Illawarra Mercury            16.7.1891            Football Match

Evening News            17.7.1891            Football

Illawarra Mercury            17.7.1891            Football Match

Illawarra Mercury            18.7.1891            Football Match

Illawarra Mercury            21.7.1891            Newsettes

Evening News            22.7.1891            Football

New Morn Herlad & Miners Adv            22.7.1891            Football

Illawarra Mercury            23.7.1891            Football Notes

Illawarra Mercury            23.7.1891            To the Editor

AT&CJ            25.7.1891            Football

Illawarra Mercury            30.7.1891            Football Match

Illawarra Mercury            30.7.1891            Newsettes

AT&CJ            4.7.1891            Miscellaneous

Illawarra Mercury            9.7.1891            Football Notes

Illawarra Mercury            9.7.1891            Football Notes

Illawarra Mercury            1.8.1891            Football Match

Evening News            14.8.1891            Football

Sydney Morning Herald            17.8.1891            Football

Evening News            17.8.1891            Football

Illawarra Mercury            20.8.1891            Football

Illawarra Mercury            20.8.1891            Football

Illawarra Mercury            25.8.1891            Football Charity Match

Illawarra Mercury            27.8.1891            Football Charity Match

Illawarra Mercury            29.8.1891            Football Charity Match

Illawarra Mercury            6.8.1891            Football Notes

Illawarra Mercury            6.8.1891            Football Notes

Illawarra Mercury            6.8.1891            Football Notes

Illawarra Mercury            22.9.1891            Football Match

Illawarra Mercury            24.9.1891            Football Match

Illawarra Mercury            26.9.1891            Football Match

Illawarra Mercury            3.9.1891            Football Notes

Illawarra Mercury            3.9.1891            Football Notes

Illawarra Mercury            13.10.1891            Newsettes

Illawarra Mercury            13.10.1891            Balg F-ballers’ Plain and Fancy Dress Ball

Illawarra Mercury            3.10.1891            Newsettes

Illawarra Mercury            3.10.1891            Amusements

Illawarra Mercury            6.10.1891            Amusements

Illawarra Mercury            8.10.1891            Amusements

Illawarra Mercury            8.10.1891            The Scrap Album

Balgownie Rangers Seniors 1890

On 24.5.1890 BRFC played Parkgrove Rovers locally losing 1-0. BRFC players mentioned are M. Fitzgibbons, Thompson, M. Green, W. Shaw and Captain J.H. Brown.

The Illawarra Mercury on stated on the 19th and 21st of June that BRFC were to play Joadja (Creek) FC in the Gardiner Cup on the 21st of June at Centennial Grounds. But on the 24th of June the Illawarra Mercury stated that this game did not eventuate and it was reported that BRFC Secretary H. Murdoch received a letter on Saturday (21st of June) stating that Joadja would not be able to carry out the engagement. The contents of the letter were described as ‘rather meagre’ and BRFC played a game amongst themselves.

In between 24.5.1890 and 19.7.1890 BRFC defeated Minmi Rangers 2-1 in the 2nd round of the Gardiner Cup (Harry Hetherington, Temple of Knowledge, History of Football in Australia, Volume 15 page 7). No BRFC players mentioned in this book and the date (or result) of the fixture is not listed in any newspaper I have read. It is my contention that this game may not have taken place and as there was only Balgownie, Pyrmont, Lithgow and Granville left in the competition (after the first round) then all 4 teams went into the semi finals. However further evidence is required to substantiate this contention.

On 19.7.1890 BRFC played Pyrmont Rangers in a Gardiner Cup semi-final match at Centennial Grounds (Illawarra), losing 3-2. BRFC players mentioned are W. Browne (full back), J. Livingstone (full back), P. Hunter (half back), M. Fitzgibbons (half back), W. Milne (forward), F. Harrison (forward), F. Figtree (forward), M. Green (forward) and B. Shore (forward). The Illawarra Mercury (on 22.7.1890) said that BRFC had lodged a protest against a referee’s decision and this protest had been accepted and will be considered by the Association. However as the Pyrmont Rangers were the eventual winners of the Gardiner Cup in 1890 it is clear that this protest was dismissed.

On 9.8.1890 BRFC played Parkgrove Rovers at Moore Park Sydney losing 4-1. BRFC players mentioned were Milne, Harrison, Brown and Figtree.

In a 12.8.1890 Sydney Morning Herald football article it stated that on the 16th of August N.S.W. will play a touring QLD team. Two BRFC players were selected for this first match and they were A. Millen (forward and I believe the paper incorrectly spelled Milne, his previously recorded name) and J. Campbell (goalkeeper) was listed as a reserve. A. Millen (or Milne) represented New South Wales versus Queensland on the 16.8.1890. Queensland won the game 3 goals to 1. In the return inter colonial match on the 23.8.1890 J. Campbell represented New South Wales versus Queensland. Queensland won this match 1 goal to 0. J. Campbell received his chance because the goal keeper in the first game J. Logan broke his leg. Further to these two Balgownie gentleman playing for N.S.W., Fitzgibbons, Figtree and Harrison were selected as reserves for the return match.

On 27.8.1890 Balgownie Rovers played and defeated a Kembla team as part of the Labor Demonstration sports day. No Balgownie players were mentioned and a mistake may have been made in regards to the name of the Balgownie team being denoted as Rovers instead of Rangers. However it is quite plausible that there was a second Balgownie team or second/junior team named the Rovers.

Committee/Players List for 1890

H Murdoch BRFC Secretary

W. Browne (full back) at least 1 game,

J. Livingstone (full back),

P. Hunter (half back) at least 1 game,

M. Fitzgibbons (half back) – at least 2 games,

W. Milne (forward) at least 2 games,

F. Harrison (forward) at least 2 games,

F. Figtree (forward) at least 2 games,

M. Green (forward) – at least 2 games,

B. Shore (forward) at least 1 game,

Thompson at least 1 game,

W. Shaw at least 1 game and

Captain J.H. Brown at least 2 games.

P = 6*, W = 2,  D = 0, L = 3, F= at least 6 and A = at least 9

*1 of these games is an intra club game (no result listed) and another game that is included is the game whereby the Illawarra Mercury denotes Balgownie as Rovers.

Achievements for 1890

Gardiner Cup Semi Finalists (8 teams entered)

A. Milne (W. Milne) and J. Campbell (a year later listed as C. Campbell) N.S.W. representatives versus Queensland

Fitzgibbons, Figtree and Harrison selected as reserves for N.S.W. (vs QLD)

Newspaper Articles:

Illawarra Mercury


Sports! Sports! Sports!

Illawarra Mercury


Sports! Sports! Sports!

Sydney Morning Herald



Illawarra Mercury


Centennial Runnning Grounds

Sydney Morning Herald



Illawarra Mercury


The Scrap Album

Illawarra Mercury


The Scrap Album

Illawarra Mercury



Illawarra Mercury



Illawarra Mercury


The Scrap Album

Illawarra Mercury


The Scrap Album

Illawarra Mercury





Southern British Rules

Sydney Morning Herald



Evening News



Sydney Morning Herald



Sydney Morning Herald





Southern British Rules

Evening News



Sydney Morning Herald


Intercolonial Football Match

Evening News






Illawarra Mercury


Labor Demonstration and Sports

Balgownie Rangers Seniors 1889

Balgownie are only cited in the Illawarra Mercury once in 1889 (August 27th). This was in connection with the Miner’s demonstration on the 24th of August where a football match was played between Balgownie and Bulli, with Bulli winning the match by 3-0.

In regards to other Illawarra football clubs, the North Illawarra Rovers (Bulli) played in the Gardiner Challenge Cup, losing to Granville in the first round at Granville (Harry Hetherington, Temple of Knowledge, History of Football in Australia, Volume 15 page 6). Additionally they played against Parkgrove (both first and second teams) at Bulli and Moore Park.

Committee/Players List for 1889 – No committee or players listed

P = 1, W = 0,  D = 0, L = 1, F=0 and A = 3

Achievements for 1889

No achievements for 1889.

Newspaper  and Book Articles:

Illawarra Mercury 27.8.1889 Miners’ Demonstration and Sports
Sydney Morning Herald 30.5.1889 Football
Evening News 11.7.1889 Football
Sydney Morning Herald 22.7.1889 Football
Harry Hetherington, Temple of Knowledge History of Football in Australia Gardiner Challenge Cup

Balgownie Rangers Seniors 1888

The Illawarra Mercury and Sydney Morning Herald have been examined and in regards to ‘Balgownie Rangers’ no direct mention is made in both these papers for 1888. However there are several mentions of the British Association game, in particular 4 items relating to the Fairy Meadow Football Club and the Bulli Football Club (they are listed below).

In the Illawarra Mercury on June 19th it states that Fairy Meadow 2 defeated Bulli 0 at Cabbage Tree on Saturday (June 16th).

In the Illawarra Mercury on July 19th it states that Bulli defeated (no score given) Fairy Meadow at Bulli on Saturday (July 14th).

In the Illawarra Mercury on August 7th it states that Fairy Meadow 2 drew with Bulli 2 at Cabbage Tree on Saturday (August 4th).

In the Illawarra Mercury on September 15th it states that in the final match of the season will be played today, between Fairy Meadow and Bulli 0. Although the result of this game is not mentioned in any subsequent editions of the Illawarra Mercury.

It is my hypothesis that the team listed as Bulli is the North Illawarra Rovers, as earlier in the year (Illawarra Mercury article on March 10th) there was an article titled ‘North Illawarra Rovers Football Club’. This article detailed the elected officers for 1888 and stated that the meeting was held at Mr Dudley’s Hotel, Bulli. Additionally in a Sydney Morning Herald article on July 2nd the North Illawarra Rovers were listed in a Gardiner Challenge Cup match report (versus Parkgrove) as being from Bulli.

In regards to the Fairy Meadow Football Club it is my proposition that this Club is in fact Balgownie Rangers Football Club. The contributor of the story or the Illawarra Mercury incorrectly described the team as Fairy Meadow as this village was nearby the Balgownie coal centre. However this proposition is unfounded at this current moment as further evidence is required to prove this proposition. And it is plausible that a Fairy Meadow Football Club did exist at this time and Balgownie Rangers formed after this point but in 1890 the Illawarra Mercury (or a contributor) stated that Cramsville were playing a Sydney team and a week later the match report stated that Balgownie Rangers played the Caledonians. Thus accurate information or knowledge of the sport itself by the Illawarra Mercury (or contributors) may not necessarily be correct when printed. And in terms of the items printed in 1888 I believe the Illawarra Mercury (or contributor) has incorrectly listed Balgownie Rangers as Fair Meadow.

Finally it must be noted that it took time, organisation and money to travel to Sydney to play other football teams. In 1888 on 30th of June North Illawarra Rovers Football Club played Parkgrove at Moore Park Sydney in the first round of the Gardiner Challenge Cup (Sydney Morning Herald 2.7.1888). They lost this game 5 goals to 1, the thrashing would be difficult to deal with, more so when you consider the article states the Rovers were handicapped through traveling from 5am to 11:30am on the day of play. The committee and players would have to potentially give up work, organise coaches to get up to Sydney (as trains did not run from Sydney to Wollongong until later in 1888) and pay for the cost of getting up to Sydney. So it was not easy to enter the Gardiner Challenge Cup for Illawarra and Newcastle teams and it is plausible that a Club like Balgownie did not have the ability to organize and pay to play in Sydney in 1888.

Committee/Players List for 1888 – No committee or players listed

P = 4*, W = 1,  D = 1, L = 1, F=4 and A = at least 3

*1 result not listed as it was not published in the Illawarra Mercury

Achievements for 1888

As there is no club records or information published in the Illawarra Mercury in regards to trophies won locally, this section will be left blank. Although it must be stated that on the 21.6.1888 the Illawarra Mercury states that J. Glass Storekeeper at Bulli is exhibiting in his window a silver cup for competing British Association teams. Thus it is plausible that Bulli or Fairy Meadow may have won this trophy in 1888.

Newspaper Articles:

Illawarra Mercury


North Illawarra Rovers’ Football Club

Sydney Morning Herald


Southern British Football Association

Sydney Morning Herald



Illawarra Mercury


The Scrap Album

Illawarra Mercury


The Scrap Album

Illawarra Mercury


The Scrap Album

Sydney Morning Herald



Sydney Morning Herald



Illawarra Mercury


The Scrap Album

Illawarra Mercury


The Scrap Album

1 Comment »

  1. Comment by allan Broadfoot — January 14, 2013 @ 1:03 pm

    Hi! My Great Grandfather Thomas ward played for Balgownie in 1890;s as captian, and won 3 medals,(toms son) My Grandfather was John Mathew Ward who also played for Balgownie in the under 19′s team ,he played when the combined corrimal- balgownie, when they decided to pay their players 3 shillings a game, but it was in the days of depression and the club was broke.They charged sixpence addmission for men,threepence for women,and if you were out of work you got in for nothing.The crowds were huge.John went on to play for Australia. Would you have any information reguarding Tom and John Ward that I could obtain please.

    Reguards Allan Broadfoot.

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