Almanac Footy: 140 Years of Footy at the SCG – First Intercolonial Game


                 Star NSW forward Stan Powditch outmarks his WA opponent at the SCG in 1933



The Sydney Cricket Ground has been the venue for the biggest Australian football games in Sydney since it started with the first intercolonial football match of any code between NSW and Victoria on 6 August 1881.


The Victorian easily won the match 9.17 to NSW 1.6; however, only goals were counted in this period. It was a return match as NSW and Victoria had played their first intercolonial match at the MCG on 1 June which Victoria won 9.24 to 0.1.


The attendance was estimated at 5000, which The Sydney Morning Herald (8 August 1881) reported was “…the largest concourse of spectators that ever attended a football match in Sydney.”


The NSW Football Association had only been formed the previous year while the Victorians had been playing football since the late 1850s and had formed an Association in 1877. The rules had been first written by committee members of the Melbourne Cricket Club in 1859.


The New South Wales team wore a blue guernsey and knickerbockers with scarlet caps and stockings with the Victorian representatives played in red, white and blue.


The respective teams which consisted of twenty players were as follows:


New South Wales: Kellett (captain), Randall, Nash, Young, Phillips, Clay, Martin, Terry, Jackson, Daly (East Sydney), O’Brien, Burns, Bull, Jackson, A. MacNamara, J. MacNamara, Pierce, Crisp Hedger (Sydney), and Bull (Petersham)


Victoria: Austin (captain), Collins, Murphy, Robertson, Steadman (Geelong), Neely, Patterson, Weld, Ley (Hotham), Goer (vice-captain), Coventry, Spear, McIntosh (Carlton), Carter, Griffiths (Essendon), Dougall, Cody, Tindall, Dunn, Manderson (East Melbourne)


The match report in The Sydney Morning Herald (8 August 1881) stated that:


“…although the Victorian side scored nine goals to one, they were frequently hard pressed by their opponents, and had the latter exercised a little more judgement and skill in little marking in front of the Victorian goal-posts the points scored would not have been so unevenly balanced.  It must be admitted that the Victorians deserved their victory. They kept their places admirably which our men as a rule failed to do and the skill displayed by them in dodging and weaving were remarkable. “….they (the spectators) were frequently carried away with the excitement of the competition, and cordially applauded both sides throughout the game”.


The victors were best served by their skipper Austin and his Geelong team-mates Robertson and Steadman and Essendon’s Carter while the best players for NSW were Albert Young, who kicked their only goal with a 60-yard place kick, and Thomas Nash (both East Sydney), and Sydney pair George Pierce and George Crisp.


Despite the strong support for this first intercolonial game in Sydney a Victorian representative team did not play NSW at the SCG again until the ANFC Carnival in 1914, and then again for the 1933 carnival. NSW lost both games as it did for inter-state matches in 1948 and 1948.


However, NSW finally triumphed over Victoria at the SCG in their first-ever state-of-origin clash in 1990, winning 13.8.86 to 10.16.76. Both previous victories in the 1920s had been played at Erskineville Oval.



More from Rod Gillett can be read HERE




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  1. Geoffrey Gold says

    First ‘international’ Rugby match – 26 March 1871, England v Scotland in Edinburgh. Crowd about 4,000

    First ‘international’ Soccer match – 13 Nov 1872, England v Scotland in Glasgow. Crowd about 4,000

    First ‘international’ Aussie Rules match – 1 July 1879, Victoria (VFA) v South Australia (SAFA) in Melbourne. Crowd about 10,000

  2. Chris Bracher says

    An interesting article Rod. The depth of the historical association of footy and the SCG is little known. Thanks for filling in the knowledge gap.

  3. Ta Rod.

    You mention only goals were counted in this period, but there is a score-line of 9.17. to 1.6. Does 9-17 equate to 71 points, ditto is 1-6 a total of 12 points?


  4. Thanks for the comments.

    Geoffrey – thanks for this information but these games were not at the SCG…

    Chris – thanks – yes, a deep and rich history in Sydney that many sports historians have chosen to ignore…
    history of SCG book really tries to underplay the Australian game and does not even refer to the ANFC carnivals.

    Glen! – yes behinds recorded but not counted, apparently. Peter Clark writing a piece on John Foord Oval, a place dear to your heart.

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