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Harry Brown, the crusader of ‘British’ sports in Perth.

Posted by cegan on April 22, 2014

In the studies and history of football in Western Australia, we rarely come across the characters that existed in the early part of the foundations of the code in this state.

Harry Brown was an influential member of Perth society and as the first chairman of an organised soccer association in Western Australia has been inducted alongside his fellow members of the Western Australian Football (Association) Hall of Fame. This article will flesh out more about this controversial, yet influential contributor to the code in Western Australia.

Brown was born in Leighton Buzzard Beds in 1861, had served in South Africa in the Cape Mounted Rifles in 1883 and then sailed to Perth in 1887. He would spend the next four years with the Perth Benefit Building Society where he rose to secretary of the company.  Fellow members of the first British Association Committee,  Burt and Messrs worked at the same company. In 1897, upon the resignation of M.D North, Brown became Secretary of the WACA – a highly sought after job within the colony.

The administration of multiple codes in a city of limited grounds would play a significant role in code battles in the early 20th century.   

The Daily News reported on the 19th May 1900 that British Association Football had approached Australian Rules to allow a game to be played at the WACA on September 8th 1900.

Australian Rules rejected this request and so the round ball code used its political advantages to usurp this decision and utilised a day on the sporting calendar that had been reserved for finals.

 Soccer and its officials had political advantage, particularly for games that were to be played at the city’s premier enclosed facility. Harry Brown’s actions were defended in the Daily News, who did not disclose the conflict of interest between his roles as a member of the management of the British Association and as Secretary of the WACA.

This would have created tension between the codes in a city where the population was increasing due to the gold rush. Australian Rules Football was a game not played by the gentry of Perth and for Brown, a servant of the British empire would be determined to give every advantage to British sports.

 Another point of tension arrived during 1904, Brown who had by now become the Mayor of Perth but still was in influential positions at both the WACA and British Association.

The shortage of grounds was at critical point by 1904 and local sport had come together to try and enforce council action to deliver more sporting facilities for the city.

The Stadium debates, which decried how the WACA treated sports in the state showed the conflict of interest Brown had as Secretary of the WACA and as Mayor. A previous blog goes into greater detail about the conversations and unity of the various sporting codes to get a new facility.

 By late 1904, Perth City Council bought the privately held Perth Oval and there was another enclosed facility for sport in the city. But again his conflict of interest was laid bare for all in the state to see. He made political decisions that would be of benefit to his preferred sport. He was less than keen on developing another gated ground because of the monopoly the WACA had on gated grounds within the city.

Brown would resign as mayor in 1906 after continued legal battles with a fellow councillor. His election to State Government in 1905 as the Member of Perth ensured he would still have significant political power. He was now also President of Rugby WA to add to his role as Secretary of the WACA and Vice President of British Association Football.

With his powerful links to sport still in tact, the 1907 Rugby Tour of the NSW Rugby Union tour showed the influence of Brown on Perth’s sporting landscape.

Soccer had suspended all fixtures for the game on the 3rd August 1907.  Brown was determined that Australian Rules Football would do likewise.

In the lead up to the tour he combined the councils that hosted all Australian Rules Football teams to have a unison model of ground hire fees and charges, which across the city had largely been seen as revenue raisers for councils.He was aiming to compel Australian Rules Football to suspend their season for this Rugby Union match in Perth. 

 The Ground Combine through Harry Brown demanded that Australian Rules Football should postpone all Australian Rules fixtures for this NSW tour match. If they did not do so, the Grounds Combine would not allow access to their grounds for the WAFL season.  According to Simmons the chairman of the Western Australian Football Association, Australian Rules Football would have been happy to suspend their games had their not been a compulsion, an arrogance to the order.

Through lobbying and protracted discussion, Australian Football was able to seek agreement to play games across the variant council run grounds without suspending all games on this first weekend of August.

Simmons mentions they were prepared to postpone their game on agreement that Rugby would do likewise for an exhibition of Australian Rules Football in Sydney. This was refuted and so Australian Rules Football played a game head to head with the State of Origin against NSW.  

Harry Brown used his influence to try and change the status quo. He triggered antagonism both in council, in public and within the sporting community. His preference for British Sport would be at the contradiction of the highest gates being reserved for the Australian Game. 

The conflicts of interest within Perth; a long with ground shortages; a battle between professionalism and amateurism, and strong population growth is reflected in the instability within the sporting landscape of Perth.

The heshen tents of the mulberry plantation across from the East Perth Cemetery were only a few hundred meters from the WACA, the bastion of gentry. Men who came to seek out their fortune in a city of high costs and lack of accommodation came with their game of preference – Australian Rules.

The gentry would do their up most to ensure that the capital was not run by this class. The actions of Brown, emphasise the power of the elite.

Counter to this narrative is the 1904 decree that banned soccer from cricket grounds in Western Australia. Political decisions which allowed the Australian game to have more votes when the Perth City Council allocated grounds in April 1907.

 The complexity of understanding sport in the city of Perth in this period is the ever changing variables that sport faced in the capital. Brown’s influential role in the administration of British sports in Perth is countered by the financial strain the WACA found itself in.

 Soccer in Perth was not a code on the periphery of political power in the pre-1914 period. Politicians such as Harry Brown shaped a sporting landscape unlike anywhere else in the Federation.

 By Chris Egan

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The Stadium Debates of 1904

Posted by cegan on February 8, 2014

On the 11th July 1904 a meeting was held at the Amateur Sports Club in King Street, Perth with representatives from numerous codes in order to work out a plan for a new ground for a variety of sports. The Amateur Sports Club had called the meeting in order to develop more grounds throughout the metropolitan area for sport and to develop another gated ground within the inner city. 

Delegates present at the first meeting  were Messrs. Chambers and Blakely (League of Wheelman(cycling), Uhde (Australian Football), Peters and Mcnamara (British Association Football) Nairn (Lacrosse), Boxhorn (Amateur Sports Club), Keddie (Perth Mercantile Cricket Association) Scanlan (Wednesday Afternoon Sporting Association) and Keary (WA Amateur Cycling Club).

The meeting laid out plans of accessing an entitlement of land like the WACA had obtained. Australian Rules Football’s voice was that they were prepared to contribute money to a facility that they currently spend at the WACA, Association Football sought to develop buildings on Lord Street next to Lotons Park (now Perth Oval) to bring in revenue for the sports, which would incorporate a cycling track.

There was support from the world game, but no money. Peters reflected that they were unsure how much money they would be able to contribute to the project because of the lack of gate revenue. Other sports mentioned their ideas and a formal committee was established to further look into how they could develop a ground for all sports over the proceeding weeks.

The Amateur Sports Club warned the codes about the power of the WACA and that the debate had to not get bogged down in issues the other sports had with this venue. 

The dire need of more sporting fields was encapsulated by the editorials in the West Australian.

“Sixty football teams belonging to the Australian and British Associations, requiring the use of half as many grounds again every week and most of them on Saturday. But this is far from being the entire demand. There are twelve lacrosse clubs, and there are already a number of hockey clubs, a game in the next year or two promises to double or triple its votaries. As for the tennis players, they have appropriated every rod of the ground available at the Zoological Gardens during the winter. When we come to the summer, the claims of cricket clubs again bring into view the lamentable paucity of available grounds” (The West Australian 13th July 1904)

The West would raise concerns that the ground shortages would get worse.

“At the rate at which we are developing, in five or six years time, the demands may be increased by 25%”

“In any event, it should be an essential part of the policy of this state to encourage outdoor physical activity”

So The West Australian had given its backing to more sporting facilities and grounds for sport in the city. The second meeting on the 18th July is reported the following day with a desire to get a general consensus with the sporting codes working on the principle of developing a venue to rid them of the high fees of the WACA Ground.

Australian Rules Football wanted a free hold grant at Kings Park, Lacrosse preferred the esplanade site, Mercantile Cricket and Association Football sought Loton’s Paddock (Perth Oval) as the most suitable venue. However Lacrosse pointed out that it would cost 5,800 pounds for 10 acres, the cycling track 1000 pounds and the preparing of the ground not less than 2,500 pounds. 

The Amateur Sports Club, led by Broxham said that they may be able to ascertain private donations to help pay for the venue. 

But it does seem that the regionalised aspect of Perth would have played a part in the lack of development of a major facility.

There is a limit on finances they can give all to the capital city Perth, when Fremantle is an essential revenue driver of sport. The Victoria Pavilion at Fremantle Oval gets built with a state government grant in 1897, which in context is highly unusual for the era. Football and other codes would have faced backlash if all their money was tied into a venue in the CBD at the consequence of Fremantle.

The political rivalry is further explained in Barker’s book on the history of Western Australian Football – Behind the Play. Influential business merchants on both sides sought major games to attract people to their respective towns and this became an ongoing tension between Fremantle and Perth Australian Rules football teams. 

The West did another editorial post following the second meeting on the 19th July and in its final sentences said

“In any event, it is to be anxiously wished that the matter will not be abandoned” (The West Australian, July 19th 1904)

At the third meeting, the committee had asked for the granting of land on the esplanade to build the stadium, which had just been reclaimed to prevent health problem’s caused by sewerage entering into the river and washing up due to prevailing winds close to residence and business.  

The Mayor of Perth opposed any plan for the foreshore to have a major sporting facility and questioned whether they would be able to pay rates. The media was on the council’s side and The West Australian backed it up with editorial suggesting that the esplanade should remain ‘free’ forever and that public land was not to be used for ‘revenue’. 

At the final committee meeting on the 1st of August 1904 the sports bodies said they could not afford the payment to buy Loton’s Park and would look to develop a ground on the Esplanade, which would need Parliamentary approval.  

Nairn, who represented Lacrosse on the committee puts a fiery letter condemning the Mayor of Perth Mr Brown and the WACA on the 6th August and implicates his opposition to his paid position as Secretary of the Association.

“The reason which has prevented the Association Ground from paying is precisely the reason which has promoted the agitation for a second oval. The autocratic and short-sighted policy of the management…every sport that has been connected with the Association Ground has fallen into decadence” 

“Other sports are a secondary consideration to the interests of a body of cricketers which is so small and so exclusive that the whole is little more than a clique. What else I ask, is the explanation of refusal of the majority of young cricketers to go on and the subsequent decline of senior cricket?

“This exclusive coterie of cricketers – for whom I will show Mr Brown is the mouthpiece – aims at maintaining a monopoly of enclosed grounds in Perth”

“If in speaking as a Mayor, he had stated at the outset that he was the secretary of the Association Ground in receipt of a salary, I think 60 pounds a year…like other men, his judgement is likely to be influenced by his circumstances”.

There was a regional comparison between the ground issues in Perth and that of Fremantle, in Nairn’s letter to the editor.  

“Fremantle with about half the population of Perth, possess two grounds, both of which are assets to their respective municipalities. Three senior football clubs in Perth can not be accommodated with an oval.”

The conflict of interest between politicians and the WACA shaped Perth’s sporting culture. The subsequent loss of four grounds at Stirling Park in 1902 leads to this showdown in 1904. With sporting codes seeking a grant much like the WACA, the development of a venue on the river could have been quite substantial and a major threat to the ongoing viability of the WACA.

A month later on September 12th 1904, Lotons Paddock is purchased by the city council under the terms dictated by the seller, to ensure it was zoned recreational. The pressure and public support that Nairn elicits in his passionate plea would have shifted the council and mayor, despite their conflict of interest they displayed in the debates. The WACA would face competition as a gated ground from Perth Oval.

The debates surrounding where the major stadium of Perth would be, was replicated one hundred years later. The WACA no longer has political prowess and as a result of its past now only hosts cricket.

What happened in 1904 when the ground shortages occurred happened in similar circumstances in December 2006. In an article I wrote for austadiums.com,  I revealed that the FFA, ARL and Western Force had come together in a unitary bid to get a world class rectangular field to be incorporated into the recommendations of the Major Stadia Taskforce.

While many changes have occurred, the period of June – September 1904 shows that amid the code rivalries certain circumstances force codes to come together.

While they didn’t get the same advantages of the WACA, it did force the end to the monopoly of gated grounds within the city of Perth. The council’s first gated ground, would also deliver an economic tool they would utilise to gain revenue from sport. This would become an on-going issue between the respective sports and the council in the following decades.

 By Chris Egan

@perthforever 

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The story of Stirling Park Estate

Posted by cegan on January 27, 2014

On the 28th March 1901 the Mercantile League’s J.S Mackenzie of Cricket Club Sandover and Co’s wrote a letter to the editor of the Western Mail requesting that the city council buy the grounds situated on the Stirling Park Estate. With the unveiling of this story, comes with it some important insights into Perth sport and the role Stirling Park Estate had in shaping the cities sporting culture of the early 1900′s. 

Stirling Park Estate which was private property held Australian Rules Football and Cricket from 1898 to November 27th 1902.The location is bounded by Brewer, Lord, Stirling and Edwards Street. It had four wickets and the size of the parcel of land suggests it is a significant, albeit unofficial sporting facility for cricket and football. 

The Mercantile Cricket Association held games in the summer at Stirling Park Estate, which was a rival competition and less elitist than the governing Western Australian Cricket Association. 

In Anthony Barker’s book on the WACA, he describes the strong connection between WA Parliament and the WACA governorship of the late 1890′s. One of the trustees of the ground during this period was F.D North who had direct links to the Premiers office and the Governor Sir W.C Robinson.(The WACA, A.J Barker pg 57). There was an interesting inter-connection between government and the association.

A quote from the Cricket Annual of 1902 expands this point of a disconnect between cricketers of lower socio-economic standings and the Association.

“Boys leaving school look upon the cricket association of West Australia as some august body not to be approached and the clubs as exclusive “sets” whose ranks they would never be allowed to enter” (The WACA, A.Barker, p57) 

Stannage’s article on Sport in Western Australia elicits this point, that cricket was towards the top of the class system and that the sport you played was chosen for you based on where you fit on the class ladder.(A new history of Western Australia 1977. C Stannage).

The rebel Mercantile League sought to challenge the aristocracy of cricket in Western Australia. 

The letter written by J.S Mackenzie showed a strong desire to have a cricket ground for the ‘people’. 

“I would like to give expression in your well known journal to the earnest desire of my fellow cricketers and myself, that the splendid piece of ground called the “Stirling Park Estate” fronting Edward, Lord and Stirling Street should be immediately be acquired by the public…the cricket ground in question would make an ideal ground for the people, as it would improve if we got it purchased by the council” (The Western Mail 28th March 1901)

The people’s ground was Stirling Park estate, it was ingenuity and demand for extra recreational facilities that saw a private piece of land being converted into makeshift sporting facilities. We also see a commonality of what occurred in other cities planning, in which sporting facilities and recreation did not play a large role in urban planning. Hobart would have to buy grounds in the late 1800′s such as South Hobart and North Hobart Oval from free title. Stirling Park Estate would also need a rectification of urban policy if it was to survive. .

Games were played at the ground up until the 27th November 1902. Stirling Park Estate was auctioned off on the 5th October 1902, with all 44 lots sold. The desires and hopes of Mackenzie was lost with political power held by the gentry which is reflected in the electoral law of the time. 

Had the cricket grounds been bought by the local council, with four pitches and ovals it would have remained a significant threat for the ongoing viability of an elitist organisation such as the WACA. Particularly with the standards and talent that was available outside the set social structure. 

But there is far greater issues that occur in the sporting makeup of Perth, the loss of four ovals for cricket and Australian Rules Football in a city of very few recreational grounds would cause increase grounds stress and tension within the codes.  Dr Ian Syson has identified the tensions that existed between Australian Rules Football and Soccer in Perth in this period and has presented on how the media reflected these tensions within Perth society in the early 1900′s.

In a presentation in Melbourne in 2012, Syson noted that between 1900 and 1902 there is a dramatic increase in soccer participation with the trebling of school sides from 4 to 12 school by 1902.

By 1904 the growth had slowed and there was only 14 school sides and the senior competition had been reduced to 4. It is clear that the loss of Stirling Park Estate stifles the growth of soccer between 1902 and 1904. 

The Rebel league that sought to revolutionise the game of cricket in Western Australia was an attack on the set class system of Western Australia. Had it been successful, professionalism of cricket would probably have occurred much sooner. Barker notes the cricket sides that were within travelling distance of the WACA had a decidedly ‘common’ nature. 

 “Junior teams representing different suburbs, major business houses and many occupations, such as policemen, hairdressers, master grocers and bookmakers” (A.J Barker. The WACA, p 57) 

The end of Stirling Park estate, whose sweat and tears of the players was sold for 4,800 pounds also touches on the broader ideological debate occurring on the merits of professional and amateur sport. The houses that are built over the top of Stirling Park Estate are dated post 1902 and border the current NIB Stadium. Little would these residents know, that the ground their houses are situated on had an important role in shaping the sporting culture of Perth. The social and political outcomes of the transfer from recreational to residential use of Stirling Park Estate comes to a head in 1904 when the cities diverse sporting pursuits come together to discuss the development of a ground for all sport.

By Chris Egan

egan@austadiums.com  

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The forgotten story of Cottesloe Beach Oval

Posted by cegan on January 21, 2014

When I was first trawling Trove and came across Cottesloe Beach Oval, I instantly thought it would be a venue in what is presently known as Cottesloe. I then assumed it would be Cottesloe Oval, and beach had just been dropped off the end over time as the name was too long

Then when researching I saw that in the 1920’s there was two venues that sport was played at Cottesloe Oval and Cottesloe Beach Oval. The historical record in publications such as Soccer Anzacs said Caledonians played at Mann Oval, there was no note of it being called Cottesloe Beach Oval. I needed more evidence to find out what and where Cottesloe Beach Oval was located.

It wasn’t until a photo on trove titled Cottesloe Beach (now Mosman Park) that I looked further afield and didn’t look for evidence of a soccer pitch on the world famous Cottesloe Promenade .

In a long forgotten story the town of Mosman Park was called  The District of Cottesloe Beach, much to the disdain of the government at the time. It was named after Cottesloe Beach Railway Station, which is now called Mosman Park Station on the Fremantle Line. Mosman Park was called Cottesloe Beach for 21 years from 1909-1930 before eventually being renamed a long with the ground.

I used spatial archaeology to confirm that Mann Oval, named after the President of Cottesloe Beach Council was in fact Cottesloe Beach Oval, a name long forgotten by supporters and historians alike. The field is more square shaped than oval and is quite compact compared to ovals such as Fremantle Oval.

The archaeological spatial boundaries show a ground that held rectangular codes and Australian Rules in the 1920’s as Cottesloe Beach Oval did. Williamson noted that community acceptance of both codes in the 1930’s at the ground. However the major football code of the region was Association Football.  Australian Rules Football was not hated, but it knew its place, that it was not as popular as the world game in many parts of the western suburbs.

Caledonians success in the 1920’s relates to the community and local decision makers passion for the game which carries on for much of the early 20th century

 On the 31st March 1933 the council had allocated a Caledonians home game ahead of a WAFA fixture which had to be rescheduled to the following weekend. The opposite occurred  in other parts of Perth such as Leederville and Subiaco where soccer would often be kicked out or denied entrance to sporting fields. .Showing the pre-eminent position held by the code in this part of Perth

Today Mosman Park’s major football code is Australian Rules Football not soccer.

Preliminary research on how this occurred leads back to the entrance into the WAFL of Claremont Tigers in 1925. Due to the strength of soccer the Tigers were very weak at the same time Caledonians were at their peak.

 In John Williamson’s Soccer Anzacs, Williamson argues that local councils defined how Perth interacted with sport. A particular election would change the attitudes, rates and access to a particular ground depending on which councillors had been elected.

The decision by the neighbouring Claremont Council in 1925 to spend 5000 pounds on Claremont Oval and evict Claremont Soccer Club from the ground is evidence of a council decision that changed a communities sporting interest.

So why did the Claremont Tigers get established in a region that was an island of British Soccer hegemony?  

Much like the establishment of Greater Western Sydney Giants, Claremont Tigers came into the WAFL based on being an untapped population, despite other sides based on talent and interest being more applicable to join the top league. It was an Australian Rules Football administration decision to be represented in every district and thus Claremont was the only district which was not represented in the top competition.

This administration decision changed the region from Association Football to Australian Rules Football and thus a ground that used to hold three football codes, with soccer being given priority has only the Australian game being played on it today. The name of Cottesloe Beach Oval, when soccer was at its peak is long gone.

But grounds such as Cottesloe Beach Oval have stories to tell, its spatial shape shows the legacy and prominence of the rectangular codes in the region.

As in my other articles on my blog, spatial archaeology can be used in sports history to interpret stories not written down in the historical record.

The WACA ground went from an oval suited to Australian Rules Football, to squared off boundaries in its last redevelopment because it wanted to be home to Perth Glory after its contract with the AFL had finished. The growth of soccer in the late 1990’s is reflected in the spatial archaeology of the WACA.

Field spaces are simply an expression of a community and sports will adapt venues according to the social demands of the time. Grounds and stadia are often the creation of a surrounding community, whether at regional or a more city bound level.

 The lost name of Cottesloe Beach Oval, from both memories and historical interpretations in the region reflects a community that no longer sees Association Football as its most popular football code. However the archaeological footprint remains to elicit the fact that in this region in the early part of the 20th century, the world game reigned supreme. 

By Chris Egan

@perthforever 

 

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Will the mining boom crash Western Australia?

Posted by cegan on December 12, 2013

One of the big discussion points of 2013 has been the decline in mining investment in WA. Earlier this year there was statements about WA being in recession due to the reduction in mining capex from the previous years, but it discounts the overwhelming strength of the WA economy when the focus is so narrowly focussed on one area of the state’s economy.

The national unemployment rate of 5.8% today stands in contrast to Western Australia’s unemployment rate is 4.4%. Participation Rate the highest of the states at 67% and this is when the mining cycle has transferred from the construction to the operational phase.

The crash, the unemployment has not occurred.

Why is this the case?

Economies are in reality complex, they can’t be predicted by one simple sector based report. As WA’s mining capex reduced, interest rates were reducing because of continued weakness on the eastern seaboard. So the stimulation of the interest rate cuts have been significantly stronger in an economy that never had weak growth that the rest of Australia has had. As mining capex has reduced, interest rates have gone down and money is being expended in different sectors of the state.

First Home buyers getting loans in Western Australia are 23.1% of the market compared to the 12.6% national average. There are higher wages, land being supplied to market and inflation at the national average. Just like Germany has benefited from recession in Greece, Western Australia has benefited from recession in Tasmania and South Australia.

Inflation pressures?

Surprisingly many economists view that inflationary pressures begin at unemployment levels below 5% and thus the need for interest rate rises. This has not been seen in WA because of strong population growth and significant weakness in other job markets. So because it has weak economies in other states, upward pressure on wages and costs have been constrained.

The housing sector which was seen as crucial to support economic growth has only stimulated Western Australia and New South Wales .Dwelling commencements in both states grew 31% in 2012/13, but in the rest of the country it grew by only 1%

Interest rate cuts have not had any impact on the vital housing construction industry other than in two states, but the strength of recovery in both states which have the highest wages in the country is such that future interest rate cuts will be limited.

Declining mining investment has come at the same time as very weak economic fundamentals in much of eastern Australia, thus significant stimulus for Western Australia. Its unemployment rate is thus below full employment

So the predictions of recession in national newspapers in Western Australia, does not reflect what happened when the mining investment stage finished. It has weak economic performance in much of Australia to thank for this. For the media, just because Western Australia has mining, economies don’t always work in boom/bust cycles. They are interlinked to forces at a regional, national and global level.

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The real reason why Glory fans have snubbed the A-League.

Posted by cegan on October 23, 2013

A recent article on the Football Australia website investigated why Glory fans are not attending A-League games in the same vigor that they had done in the old National Soccer League. Mike Cockerill’s opinion was to tell the Perth public they had no excuses to not turn up at games as the club had listened to them.

However Cockerill has used nostalgic memories, rather than an in-depth understanding of the state’s football culture.

 The Glory of 1996 was the Perth Azzurri of 1951.

Perth Azzurri at its peak in the early 1950′s expanded rapidly and dared to challenge the traditional football clubs.Forty years later Perth Glory repeated history with 10% participation growth per year during the late 1990′s and broke countless Australian NSL records.

 The other element that typifies Western Australian Football is the diversity of the states interactions towards football. How a community interacts with the world game in one suburb was different to another. Unison statements on football culture in Western Australia is problematic.

In the working class communities in the inner east of Perth there was very little opportunity for kids like my father in the 1970’s to play football in Maylands, the only option was Australian Rules Football. 

However for his friend who grew up in the Swan Valley, there was only soccer to play up until he was 15. He had no opportunity to play Australian Rules Football as a young kid.

CT Stannage in A New History of Western Australia talks about the class system of sport in Perth. Soccer is clearly a team for civil servants and thus its influence on working class suburbs such as Maylands are limited. Australian Rules Football in Western Australia was a code not supported by the gentry of Western Australia as they believed it engendered violence. However Australian Rules Football bound working class communities which would limit any opportunities for my father to play any game other than Australian Rules Football in 1970′s Perth.

 If we look at the current crowd issues, Damian Mori’s column in 2002/3 indicates why in 2012/13 the crowds are some of the lowest in the A-League.

“I can understand that some people might have been turned off the NSL by the problems that continue to hamper the league, while the loss of TV coverage has also been a big blow to the competition. But I’m sure that before too long, with the help of the Federal Governments inquiry into the sport, the league will be reformed” 

“But Perth Glory needs to stay strong as a club and that needs the assistance of fans. I know supporters are entitled to show their dissapointment by refusing to come to matches. I only hope the opposite will be the case and we can show the rest of the league exactly where the game should be.” The West Australian, October 31st 2002

The crowds of 2011/12 are a similar average to those of 2002/3.

 The nostalgia in the Glory fan, which Cockerill represents well in his article is not why crowds are bad in 2013. .

 If history is seen as teaching us lessons for the future then a comprehensive analysis of the codes history is necessary.  

In my initial research the vastly different interactions with the world game is clear throughout the Perth metropolitan area.

Even with the immense hype of the Glory in the late 1990’s, not every suburb interacted with the club with passion. Notably the inner city suburb of Leederville had over 1500 people opposing the club’s proposed move to their town in 2001 in a petition to the Town of Vincent.

So what drives hype in football in Western Australia?

  1. Perth v Fremantle rivalry
  2. State Parochialism
  3. Innovation
  4. Multi-culturalism

The research and development of the book will exemplify these themes, but it’s a lot more complex than Cockerill’s analysis. Perth became disenfranchised by the NSL and they haven’t been encouraged to head to the A-League because of the dearth of excitement surrounding the game. The code is currently in a natural plateau of support that has occurred many times after strong growth in support and was present prior to the introduction of Perth Glory in 1996.

The FFA and Glory need to reflect on the past to spark a return to the interest in the game of the late 90′s. A comprehensive understanding of the codes diverse interactions within the city is needed before the world game reaches the ‘untapped’ potential that Cockerill accurately identified. 

By Chris Egan

@perthforever 

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How the past is reflected in the present – An expose on the images of an Arican Football Match.

Posted by cegan on August 13, 2013

The past is often seen in present cultural experiences. This was no different when I went to Arica in 2010. It has been three years, but after waking up with this idea at 6:00am on a Monday morning, I had incredible interest in the question. How do the images of force and security reflect a nation’s past?

When I arrived at Arica’s Football Ground, I was shocked at the photo of a heavily armoured vehicle. I remember the feeling still today, I felt intimidated, a little scared of what sort of experience I was about to experience and whether it was worth me attending a match – despite being a lover of the world game.

https://fbcdn-sphotos-e-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-prn1/40276_419862718460_3869184_n.jpgHeavily armoured Police Vehicle

At no stage, did I even think there was a riot in hand and it seemed to be complete overkill for an event that was fairly relaxed in nature, particularly as the game ended in a dour 1-1 draw – not the fluent latin American play I was expecting.

But there were other images of force that I was perplexed to see. Particularly the police carrying batons, to deal with any pitch invasion.
https://fbcdn-sphotos-d-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-prn1/40272_419862858460_5952197_n.jpgChilean Police

They are in very army like uniforms, they are imposing characters and they give the impression of a heavily armed state ready to counter any disobedience with brutality.

But its an even more powerful symbol in a sport that is at the heart of working class latin America.
The symbols of state power v socialist values of the community.

The TIFO that was unveiled by the home fans, links back to a more childlike image of rivalry and a semblance of US cultural influence that has been embraced in a continent of American hostility.

https://fbcdn-sphotos-h-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-frc1/45489_419862183460_8007118_n.jpg Simpson TIFO

So we see that football is a reflection of the culture surrounding the region. Not just abstract from the culture of the local community.

In the truck strike in 1972, prior to Pinochet’s coup, Arica had been a stronghold in workers revolution against the middle and upper classes. The Transportation Owners strike tried to test the resolve of Socialist President Allende. As the negotiations took over to ensure order within the country, Allende had ordered that the workers of Arica return the factories that they were running due to the strike.

“Through the transportation owners’ strike that began on October 11, 1972, the Chilean bourgeoisie attempted to use its continued control of distribution to put Allende on the defensive. Workers in many areas had won significant control over production…shopkeepers closed their shops in support of the transportation bosses; doctors, lawyers, dentists and other professionals added to the atmosphere of panic by also joining the strike.
But masses of workers took things into their own hands, ensuring that supplies continued to circulate by taking to the streets and commandeering trucks and vans. They set up factory committees to organize distribution without the bosses and to protect production against sabotage”

“Finally, Allende launched a campaign for “social peace” together with the commander in chief of the army, who was given control over internal security. What “social peace” meant was soon clear to some workers at least. Where they had occupied factories, for instance in the town of Arica in Northern Chile, they were told to allow the old bosses to take over again. As the bosses did so they sacked the militant workers…”(International Socialist Review, Issue 6 Winter 1999)

So class divide has been a long and continued story within Arica with powerful unions and protest. In 2010, this was a common occurrence on the weekends we stayed in the Northern Chilean City.

https://fbcdn-sphotos-f-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-prn1/40801_419865278460_221955_n.jpgUnion marches

And this photo with the hammer and sickle tells us that the socialist passion has not been totally eroded from present day Arica.

Hammer and Sickle

The story of socialism in Chile is that it has been defeated by the neo-conservatism that was secured under the right Pinochet government in the purest sense. There may be Socialist politicians in Chile but they are not seeking to reverse the now present capitalist ideology.

This under-current that could threaten the status quo in Chile, provides the impetus for the symbols present in a largely working class social environment that is a football match in Arica.

Why does the state have such strong symbols of force?

In my reflections it is because a society still has memories and experiences of the past. In Post Pinochet, there is a view amongst many that the economy is better and thus it was worth the human rights abuses. With Human Rights abuses excused by many, particularly those in the middle and upper classes who have the political power, there is a skewing of morality of how strong state power should be.

As an Australian, I have seen more drama at a Cricket match with police officers in blue, with divide between fans and the state unable to be seen. No heavily armed van, no batons on police officers and no massive barriers separating fans from the field.

Do the images and symbols we see in a stadium reflect the symbols of a society?

One nation which has experienced recent authoritarian government has images that reflect a disproportionality of risks compared to a nation I have been brought up with where the state has less visible symbols of force in their law and order obligations.

In Victoria, with 80-100 arrests of Australian fans out to have a good time, the boundaries between freedom and the state’s power is less visible, more tolerant and despite the bad behaviour there is no desire by the public to allow heavily armoured vans and police officers with batons to be stationed around the MCG.

These discussions have come from images, history and personal experiences from being brought up in Australia, a land that unless you are an aboriginal has never experienced a military coup. In both Australia and Chile the symbols of the sporting ground reflect an underlying culture that exposes that the past is still with us in the present day.

By Chris Egan
@perthforever

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The culture of soccer in the west

Posted by cegan on July 26, 2013

In a game that is often seen as a homogenised culture within Australia, I wanted to further the argument of the world game being mainstream, rather than a game of ethnics in Western Australia.

Recently as a member of Perth Glory I got a newsletter with the following opportunity.

“Perth Glory is proud to support its Principal Partner QBE who have kindly donated 20 family passes to it’s annual match day WAFL celebrations with the Subiaco Lions on Saturday 27th July. At the game will be Perth Glory’s own inflatable football pitch, Jungle Sports soccer and fun activities for the kids.”

Perth Glory branded paraphanalia at an Australian Rules football match? Coverage of state league fixtures, match results in the state newspaper and a private sector wanting to combine their two brands in Australian Rules Football and soccer together.

Does this happen in Victoria? Have Adelaide United utilised their owners links with North Adelaide Roosters? I don’t think they have.

When the Socceroos qualified for the World Cup, the West Coast Eagles twitter account published

#gosocceroos We’re going to Rio.

I am not saying Perth is this Utopian society without code rivalry in a nation riddled with it, but soccer has established its place in society. It is not seen as a confine of the minority culture. We are a mainstream sport.

The largest and most dominant code in Perth – Australian Rules Football does not see it as a sport outside of Western Australian culture, indeed private enterprise sees the need to connect the codes together.

This is not unusual in some parts of Perth, in Fremantle in the early 1900’s soccer players filled in for the Fremantle Rugby Union side. Fremantle Oval management wanted to be broad-based and help all codes rid itself from local government authority at the venue.

My Dad mentioned to me a few weeks ago at an Aussie Rules ground that he played Speedball at high school, a tweaked Australian version of the original American game. The codes of Rugby, Soccer and Australian Rules Football were mixed togther. On the ground they played soccer, if they kicked it up, they played Aussie Rules and passed it backwards. They used soccer goals.

At primary school in his working class suburb of Maylands, the only code they could play was Australian Rules Football, not even cricket was available. Sport and their use was limited by the culture and the social structures of the time.

Australian Rules Football has long been a working class sport within Perth and thus restricted opportunities for people like my Dad at a young age to play sport of their choosing. It was Aussie Rules or nothing.

He said he had wanted to do Boxing, but the travel to Midland was too far to go regularly in the 1970’s.

It brings us to this picture that reflects the historic record, there has been regionalisation going on at a Perth level and thus Australian Rules Football has seen how soccer has become stronger in areas with a different social structure/immigration.

A sport that is often considered our national game – Cricket was not even played in the summer. The gentry aspect of the game was not suitable for a working class suburb.

Yet when he went to high school all three codes were played Union, Soccer and Australian Rules Football, with a feeder system of a variety of suburbs the more middle class games of Soccer and Rugby were exposed to him.

Some communities in Perth were restricted in their sporting opportunities and others were not. At high school the different sporting cultures meshed into one and class differences and sport become less relevant due to the wider spectrum of students, not just folk who resided within one suburb. There was a more diverse view, because of the different sporting cultures and class structures within the city.

It gets back to the culture today; the fact that Australian Rules Football had had its hegemony tested has given legitimacy for soccer as a mainstream sport in Perth. In the 1950’s and late 1990’s there is a social and political power that is given to Soccer due to immigration.

So when the Eagles encourage people to get excited about the qualification of the World Cup, when Glory’s major sponsor integrates them into an event at an Australian Rules Football ground, we have to begin to see that this view of the game of ethnics, that it hasn’t forced itself into mainstream consciousness is not accurate to this day in the wider Western Australian culture. You could however challenge this at a more localised level, particularly with my father’s experience.

My many friends at Perth Glory games are multi-sport fans and we go to events 12 months of the year. Appreciation for sport coming from a history that has given legitimacy of playing different sports, supporting different codes and harnessing the Western Australian pride in whatever sport we play.

By Chris Egan

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From Rectangles to Speedways – Using spatial archaeology to explain the change in function of Rowley Park from Soccer to Speedway.

Posted by cegan on July 16, 2013

Rowley Park is now no longer with us, it has been demolished with houses that now occupy the land that was previously home to up to 20,000 people on a Friday Night. However the ground which was purchased as a philanthropic gift to the South Australian Football Soccer Association has a fascinating history to the world game. The purchaser of the ground Enoch Rowley, a soccer goalkeeper in 1908, which the ground was named after occurred prior to the establishment of speedway in Maitland NSW in 1921. Despite this, in 2013 the memory of the venue is dominated by Speedway, not soccer. This report will give an understanding of how a sport not even invented in 1908 when Mr Rowley bought the ground for soccer, ended up being Adelaide’s premier Speedway facility.

In 1943, the Advertiser on the 11th November reports about the discussion between the Hindmarsh Council and the South Australian Soccer Football Association as they were called.

“A special committee was appointed to negotiate with Hindmarsh Council regarding a proposal submitted by the council to either purchase direct from it a parcel of land from Brompton or grant the association a 99 year lease of the Hindmarsh Oval (now Hindmarsh Stadium) in exchange for the land owned by the association”

Rowley Park had been vested in the Soccer Football Association of South Australia in 1908 after a purchase from Mr Enoch Rowley, who had forged a reputation of being Western Australia’s best goalkeeper.

So it was a philanthropic gift that allows South Australian Football to own an asset that not many fellow associations around the country are lucky enough to own.

On the 26th October 1943, we see that there were issues the Soccer Association had with the triangular piece of land that was Hindmarsh Stadium. There seems to be council discussions with the Federal Government about the realignment for the Hindmarsh Post Office. Space seems to be an issue, particularly with a desire to host international football.

The committee that was established were named a few weeks after on the 19th November 1943.

“Messrs. E. P. Rowley, w. P. J. McCann. H. Waterman, J. A. Croger R. L. Sims. H Evans. T. C. Stephens. R. J. Holiday. C. Campbell Smith, and J. R. Creenbank were appointed to negotiate with the Hindmarsh Council regarding the sale or lease to the council of the association ground at Brompton”

Despite this five months later on the 3rd March 1944 Hindmarsh Oval is rejected by the South Australian’s as a possible home ground, despite the opportunity to hold a 99 year lease at the ground.

Soccer was still being played at Rowley Park in the early 1950s and despite the ground surface being unsuitable for a larger venue, it was the home of local team Budapest, a team for ‘new Australian’s’ in the post war surge of interest in the round ball code.

The movement from Rowley Park to Hindmarsh Stadium is not as early as Wikipedia seems to mention. The early 1950’s at Hindmarsh Oval is a period where Rugby becomes the major sport to be held on the ground and it is not till the late 1950′s that Rowley Park’s spatial landscape makes it unsuitable to hold soccer matches.

It seems the movement back to Hindmarsh Oval (Hindmarsh Stadium) takes a lot longer and comes about not because of the realisation of a bad surface, but because of the increased popularity of Speedway changing the spatial landscape of the venue. While the surface meant it could not hold international games, there was no desire to not hold soccer fixtures at the venue until community demands for a change in its function. Speedway is more popular on that site than soccer.

This photo below shows us the shape of Rowley Park in 1954.

Rowley Park 1954

By 1958 the ground is changed and Rowley Park can no longer play soccer on it. Adaptations due to a change in human behaviour and new technology. The mid 1950′s is seen as a golden era for Speedway in Australia, particularly in Perth, Adelaide and Sydney.

Rowley Park 1958

We begin to see a trait, during periods of heightened interest in a sport at a venue, grounds change shape and function. It is also important to add this to community understandings of history, to add this to the often sketchy records we have of sports history to ensure interpretations incorporate the cultural artefacts – the grounds.

The Speedway which had once had to conform to the needs of soccer in 1949 when it leases the ground over the summer months changed in 1958 to a speedway track. The imagery shows how community attitudes can change and infrastructure adapts to this change in human behaviour.

Today in 2013, Rowley Park is now a housing estate with a memorial on the site recognising its place in history as part of the growth of Speedway in the 1950′s within Australia. Community attitudes to Speedway changed and the last race was held in 1979 at the Brompton site. However the Speedway Track never changed its name, despite its association to the world game. Just like the gates are still called Perth Oval outside of NIB Stadium. The naming of a venue seems to hold more historical importance than the function and cultural artefacts that exist within a venue.

Hindmarsh Stadium is still hosting soccer, just as it did in the 1940s but has now transferred ownership to the state government. Had Hindmarsh council been able to convince the South Australian Soccer Football Association to take the 99 year lease of the site, Rowley Park would have become a childrens playground rather than a football pitch in 1945.

Soccer within South Australia would be in a much more powerful situation if they had taken the lease and would still be holding that tenancy in 2013. Yet, Hindmarsh because of its triangular land parcel was seen as unable to construct an international standard ground based on the limitations of 1940′s architecture. In 2013 Hindmarsh Stadium is a FIFA standard venue as new technologies have enabled site restrictions to be alleviated. In 1944 this is a barrier to football that is not the case in 1999 when Hindmarsh Stadium is redeveloped for the Sydney Olympics.

Adaptations can be seen in the archaeological record at Rowley Park and Hindmarsh Stadium and it begins to chart a new theme in sports history in Australia. Sporting interests at a suburban/community level change over time and this is reflected in the archaeological record.

By Chris Egan

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From ovals to rectangles – A case study on how sporting fields change their archaeological footprint over time

Posted by cegan on July 15, 2013

Over the past one hundred years, code rivalry has been a common research topic for sports historians in Australia. Most of the time it has focussed on Sydney and Melbourne with very few interpretations incorporating the cultural artefacts (The Sports Fields). The recent change in function of Perth Oval from Australian Rules Football to Soccer in 2004 is part of a trend that has been going on for over a hundred years in various parts of Australia.

The two case studies I will use are Woodville Reserve and South Hobart Recreation Ground and their change in function. It begins a theoretical understanding of how soccer has already won hegemony at a suburban landscape and how it has maintained this interest at a suburban level.

The first example I will use is Woodville Cricket Reserve in North Perth, the ground has held soccer since the late 1920s. It is not far from Perth Oval, and was developed primarily for cricket. But in 1927 the use of the ground is changed from Australian Rules Football to soccer in the winter.

At the same time soccer’s interest within Western Australia has increased, but the archaeological footprint today also tells us that the cultural features of the ground and the region has been shaped by human adaptation to a new sporting interest.

It is a long rectangle and cricket played on this ground till 1979 before moving to the northern suburbs. Soccer remains present, and the ground has held many battles in the 50’s between power house sides Azzurri and North Perth.

Today Woodville Reserve is soccer because the local community changed the function of the ground in the winter and thus changed the social environment of the region. There is little infrastructure development and today is still just a long expanse of grass. Its spatial landscape shows little evidence of its past use as a cricket or Australian Rules Football facility.

What would have happened had the 1915 Perth City Council not refused goal posts to be erected at the ground?

I have not found this unique in Western Australia, with Bayswater Oval also changing function in 1953 in response to the next period of football’s growth and again not far away from Woodville Reserve in 2004 after Perth Oval changed to Association Football. The grounds change their purpose and spatial landscape with the communities change in attitudes.

It also occurs at the South Hobart Recreational Ground, which with a complex history is bought for 1000 pounds by the state government in 1887 upon demands by the local communities. The initial town planners of Hobart had not put recreational pursuits as a priority and other regions had to buy privately owned land for recreation as well, through the parliamentary system. But from 1887- 1912 the ground is primarily a cricket ground, it is not till 1912 that we see the cultural characteristics change because of the growth of interest in soccer.

In a newspaper report in the Mercury in 1912, the ground is shortened as a cricket ground in order to better accommodate the round ball code, the commentary suggests it will no longer be able to be used for first class cricket. It is clear that cricket is struggling in Hobart in this era and the ability to make it less adapt for cricket is a sign of the world games drawing power in the suburb. Australian Rules Football games are replaced with many Soccer fixtures.

In 1930 the ground by council has funded with built infrastructure and South Hobart Recreation Ground is known as the centre of soccer in the region. There is a letter to the editor that mentions that it has come into the hands of a private manager and that kids are prevented from playing football on the ground by the grounds keeper and that it only holds soccer and cricket for adult men. Australian Rules Football has lost access to this ground in the winter.

In 1974 South Hobart District Cricket Club also moves to a larger ground as South Hobart Recreation Ground is no longer responsive to its needs and has become culturally empowered by the world game, not cricket.

The spatial landscape today shows little resemblance of its former sporting pursuits.

Adaptations are often seen in the archaeological record and are often driven by factors such as immigration, class and access to new ideas/technology. In a sporting context, the establishment of two new soccer clubs changes human behaviour which leads to adaptations of the cultural infrastructure within the region.

In 1910 South Hobart FC are established, in 1996 Perth Glory are established on Perth Oval. As the interest generates more power for the code, the archaeological landscape is changed to what we currently see at both venues in Tasmania and Western Australia.

Symbolic messages are still etched into the grounds, despite both being rectangles are commonly known as South Hobart Oval and Perth Oval.

Is this a sign of the power of Australian Rules Football in both cities? Or a respect to the past?

It is probably a combination of both.

Woodville Reserve, Bayswater Oval (Now Frank Drago Reserve) , Perth Oval and South Hobart Oval are grounds that changed because of the communities interest in the world game. It is unlikely that Australian Rules football will ever reverse the spatial changes undertaken.

This is a powerful symbol in 2013, that once a ground in a region changes its archaeological footprint to the world game, it never retreats back to its initial purpose of recreational pursuit.

By Chris Egan

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