First - love this stuff, Jeffles - including the rugby league history as well.
One thing I really liked that was on display was a shield presented to Petersham Superior Public School for winning the Sydney schools challenge of 1905. As a reward, the VFL paid for the team to travel down to Melbourne to play Melbourne's primary school champions Albert Park, in the curtain raiser to the 1905 final. Petersham won and the Melbourne press accused them of being over age. The next year, Petersham did the same and the media blew up again!
Pity NSW's seniors weren't up to scratch.
1908 in Sydney:
Norwood 2.3 8.6 12.8 13.9 (87)
New South Wales 1.2 1.3 1.3 2.6 (18 )
Keep in mind that Australian Football in Sydney ceased altogether in 1893 after being banned from enclosed grounds
, and the league only reformed in 1903, whereas in Adelaide it was, of course, dominant throughout this period -
Extract from http://convictcreations.com/football/evolution.htm
"... The working classes viewed Australian Rules as a fast, free flowing game invented by Australians for Australians. However such positive sentiments were not shared by the upper classes. These people "saw rugby as more than just a game; it was a symbol and reminder of their Englishness
." They subsequently used their political contacts to have the NSWFA banned from Sydney's enclosed grounds. Without gate money to spend on promotional purposes or to pay players, the NSWFA collapsed in 1893
Although football was down, it was not out. In February 1903
, the code picked itself up and formed the New South Wales Football League (NSWFL). Clubs were initially established in Sydney, Paddington and the North Shore, and by the beginning of April there were eight more - Alexandria, Ashfield, Balmain, East Sydney, Newtown, Redfern, West Sydney and YMCA. ..."
On a different track, I think this article also explains why Sydney eventually needs another AFL club, based in the Western suburbs of Sudney, with its different demographics than the Swans supporters, in order to again "redefine the code's image" in Sydney -
"...Although Rugby League became more popular than Australian Football, working class players continued to swap between the two with a South Sydney rover by the name of Jim Stiff being the most famous example. Jim was voted best player at the 1933 National Australian Football Carnival. Four years later, he was chosen to tour with the Australian Rugby League. As for Sydney sports fans ...there was little hostility to Australian Football
. As late as 1930, there was still high-level discussions about unifying Australia's two professional football codes.
The standard of Sydney footy was quite a high standard right until the 70s. In 1972, the NSW team, which contained predominantly of players from the Sydney league, beat the VFL seconds by 77 points
. There was also a deal of spectator popularity. Games were played on enclosed grounds with gates, turnstiles and brick grandstands. Home and away games weren't huge but grand finals were played in front of 12,000-strong crowds
However, this goodwill all changed in 1982 when the South Melbourne Swans relocated to Sydney and became known as the Sydney Swans. As the public face of Australian Rules in Sydney, the club redefined the code's image. Instead of being seen as working class, Football became associated with chardonnay, ballet and yuppies. 105 years of Australian Rules in Sydney was wiped clean and instead League fans viewed the game as a recent Melbourne import. Local clubs folded or amalgamated, grounds were rationalised or demonlised. ... despite making some inroads in the affluent market, the Swans were still unable to penetrate Sydney's working-class psyche. ...