The OzSoccer Articles

When two tribes go to war

Greg Stock has been researching Australian Soccer history and in his travels has noted the similarities in the split of the Soccer Association into the Federation and the Superleague/ARL split of the mid-to-late 1990's.

Alan bought up the subject of 1957 today and by striking coincidence I was able to spend a couple of hours at the library today looking at that exact year. By mistake I left my book with the '56 notes I started on Saturday and so I bought a new exercise book and with a couple of hours to spare I headed to the Hurstville library.

I started from February 1 1957 and was surprised at the amount of soccer coverage. On every issue of the SMH there was a story on the latest developments in the Association v the federation dispute. Putting it in my own words, here is what I thought happened.

In the season 1956 there was much trouble between the Association and a few clubs regarding the administration of the game. Some clubs thought the association was too regimented and needed an overhaul. The main sticking point was the rule that the association imposed that a player who signs for one club, signed for life unless the two clubs orchestrated a deal to have that player transfer. This rule was indeed silly and meant that the progressive clubs of the time like Prague and Sydney Austral could not sign new players without shelling out transfer payments. There was also a great deal of concern at the way the selection for rep games was being done and this was bought to a head by the clubs at the end of the season. They threatened to leave the association and start their own comp if they did not change their ways.

So at a meeting in early Feb, four clubs - Prague, Sydney Austral, Canterbury and Auburn walked out saying they would form a federation and start their own comp.

After much tooing and froing the clubs did just that. They were joined by some second div clubs like Hakoah (then not a big club), Lane Cove and about ten others to form the initial federation. From here it got real messy with some players and some clubs not sure what to do. The Auburn club actually split entirely into 2. One was with the Federation and played out of Mona Park, the other side went to Macarthur Park and played in the association. Players like Joe Marston and Ron Lord stayed loyal to the association while others went over to the federation.

The Australian Soccer Association refused the federation affiliation but the NSWSF rolled on and with superior players and clubs eventually rolled the association early in 59 to make the one comp we have today. I guess the ins and outs of each player could be documented but if you are that keen it would be better to look through the SMH's yourself.

The first federation game was played on Saturday March 2 1957 between Canterbury and Hakoah at Arlington Oval. In front of 1,500 people the "official trila" was a great success. Hakoah played overseas triallists Heinz Schussig (from the Saarland republic), Robert Garay (Hungary) and goalkeeper Kurt Steiger (Austria). Oh and the scorers were Cant : Ed Jones, Dave Brown and Bobby Young while for Hakoah C.Higgins and Robert Garay got them.

From here the Association also started playing trials with the season proper not getting underway until the first week in April.