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The Financial Predicament of the FFA

Posted by cegan on September 21, 2017

After speaking to countless members of the football community in Australia the financial situation for the game is more serious than the FFA is letting on.

– They have little money to pay out FFA staff contracts, including if they wish to hire a new Socceroos coach. According to one source there is no money to pay out Ange Postecoglou’s contract.
– One State Association President commented at a recent meeting between State Associations and the FFA that the body was “one bad event away from insolvency”
– If the Socceroos do not make the World Cup, their budget is even weaker both in corporate payments and having already budgeted the income from this event.
– The failure to make the World Cup will be a financial predicament which will impact the provision of services across the game in Australia for the next four years with some suggesting there will be no money for international friendlies.

The A-League clubs have wanted the books to be opened up, if they had been, it would show an Association body that has not learned from the previous mistakes of Australian Football. In 2002 our game was crippled from former Soccer Australia Chairman Tony Labbozzetta overseeing a similar World Cup Qualification campaign where we aligned our four year expenditure with qualification.

Our wonderful world game could not cope and it provided the impetus for Federal Government money to help reform and create a financially prudent league.

In 2017 we face yet another disaster on our doorstep via Year Zero ideology which permeates FFA headquarters and has ensured we did not learn from the mistakes of the past.

Now a rebel league is on our doorsteps, with sources within the State Federation of Victoria in agreement that the NPL system is a failure.

If the FFA don’t quickly realise the poison chalice of the NPL, the National Second Division will be created – whether or not it is FIFA sanctioned. The governing body will be internationally ridiculed if there is a non-sanctioned FIFA league operating within our nation.

For NPL clubs across the country they now see no other choice, many see it as a life or death situation for their clubs. Clubs they love like their families.

This mess is destined to become even messier.

By Chris Egan


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Posted by cegan on November 9, 2016

Trump’s rise threatens neo-liberalism

America has changed overnight, one that is big spending, low taxing and protectionist. Obama started this trend with his election in 2008, Sanders increased the momentum during the Democrat Primary and Trump sealed the deal. The party of Reagan is dead.

It is a monumental global event which will shake politics globally, its impact will be hard to assess for a few years, but what is certain neo-liberal attitudes of markets have been shaken up. Trump’s rise is the defeat of the view of limited government and allowing the economy to run freely . What it is to be a Republican now has completely changed, maybe forever.

A party under Bush which had as its mantra liberty globally, is now about winning domestically. The fear in the media has become insane in the post-election coverage in Australia. It’s not Armageddon for the world, nor is it a great event for global prosperity, but the world will move on.

America may choose a protectionist president but it won’t stifle innovation because local regions will choose to disrupt regardless of national politics. Cities will gain greater power under new economic model and those who wish to live in progressive, leftist cities will be able to flock to these places with limited restrictions.
National governance in America is less relevant for folk who live in New York and San Francisco as they become more independent in outlook and policy making. Cities that seek to adapt to change will still survive under this model, just government will hold a helping hand for those forgotten in this change.

The mantra that government shouldn’t subsidise industries that are not economically viable has been defeated for the time being, whether it is longer lasting, time will tell. What is the future of Cost Benefit Analysis in Public Policy making?

For the old guard of the Republican Party, Margaret Thatcher and even John Howard they will see a monumental shift on the view that markets and business should be allowed to run free. This may be the destruction of current neo-liberal policy which started with the bombing of Allende in Chile in the 1970’s to today.

While the left is in shock, there has been little critical examination on areas where there has been a deep challenge for centre-right parties globally – their political philosophy may just have been defeated.

By Chris Egan

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Jetta’s spear throw was on his Noongar Country

Posted by cegan on July 31, 2015

The media has revelled in looking at Lewis Jetta’s response as a compilation of standing up for his mate, but it also symbolises Jetta’s connection to his country. Sports Journalists around the country may not be able to interpret this as Aboriginal history is poorly taught, many don’t have friends that are Aboriginal and many see their culture as ‘primitive’.

This is to expose the stories behind this image as a white man on Wadjula Noongar country. Subiaco Oval is very close to sacred ground at Kings Park, which is part of the city’s soul – but rarely do we recognise its significance to women’s rights and particularly to Noongar culture. As Jetta did his war dance in defence of his friend Goodes, it was not just part of the story of Goodes, but a story of the defiance of Noongar culture that continues to be ravaged by poverty and incarceration.

Jetta’s country, his land, his spirit, his people was reason enough to step up. In Melbourne and Sydney the boos would have hit home, but at Subiaco Oval, his country, his spirit it would have been devastating. A friend he had welcomed to his country being booed on his land. There was nothing more he could do but deliver a war dance against those who chose to discriminate.

This war dance was different to Goodes in that it had meaning rather than a simple celebration of Indigenous Round as Goodes words spoke. It was something that portrayed the spirit of Yagan in standing up as a Noongar man on his country. The interpretation we have seen from sports journalists, not racist in anyway but tells us how far we have to explain the stories of Aboriginal culture so that we accurately raise what these symbols mean. Jetta’s war dance to many is just about defending Goodes, but it tells us more, Jetta wants this to mean more than defending his mates, but communication is hampered via the culture that White Australia has imposed since 1901.

We hear the stories in the history books, but very few of us are friends with Aboriginals. I am mates with Noongars – some who I am very close too. I have worked with Noongars, been drunk with Noongars, philosophised with Noongars and in turn felt immense empathy with the people who own my country. I am as close to these people as I could be as a White Australian – never be one of them, will never hear all the stories but have learnt more from my friends than most Australians. I will be forever grateful.

I have learnt not to be paternalistic in my defence, that it is not my role to deliver change for Aboriginals, it is for those societies to initiate the change. Something that Jetta would not have done until this aggression was displayed in a game on Jetta’s country. This is the important factor not coming out – we still see Aboriginals as the same, but how? I am referring them as Aboriginal in this piece as that is what Noongars want to be called if they are a collective, not Indigenous Australian’s.
In other parts of the country they want to be referred to as Indigenous – but not in Perth.

This has been further proven by the State Government changing the departments name from Indigenous to Aboriginal Affairs. The reference of seeing Aboriginals in a holistic sentiment is part of the problem of the analysis of Jetta’s ceremonial dance.

I speak to my Noongar mate about welcome to countries in south west Australia incorporating the didgeridoo as not being part of traditional Noongar culture. A conversation I had many a time with my Noongar friend in how it could be explained to the people of Perth was obviously delivered in a message from him as a recent welcome to country in the Perth cultural precinct explained this to the audience. Education because of a strong relationship developed between white and noongar man.

You see there is much to be explained about skins, eel traps, rock art, culture in a nation that chooses to only highlight the child abuse and drunken behaviour in its national media.

So when Jetta stood up for his mate, we just got the paternalistic analysis of standing up for a mate. Linking in the themes of white cultural stories of ‘mateship’ rather than Noongar stories of defiance and continuation of culture. We didn’t look deeper into the fact Jetta was a proud Noongar man, standing up against prejudice on his Noongar country with the spirit of Yagan oozing through his blood.

By Chris Egan

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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


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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








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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



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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


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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

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