AUSC from the Beginning…
In 1935 the Second Division of the SA Soccer Association played its first round of league games on Saturday 27th April. The University – and probably (Goodwood) Otiose – joined the Division two weeks later on the 11th May. I find that “otiose” is an obscure English word meaning “pointless, idle, etc.” My theory is that Otiose Boys Club was a euphemistic name for an organisation that attempted to keep unemployed aimless youth out of mischief during the economic depression of the 1930’s. Soccer would have been one of several available activities run. (Ron Roberts)
1935 was the first year of actual Soccer played by a University team in the local competition, but it was 1936 was a year in which hopes were gaining on many fronts. Those in the University (only one then) who were keen on playing Soccer (then a game that most people ignored in SA) managed to form a Soccer Club in the University and was accepted as an affiliate of the AUSA at their Annual General Meeting on March 26th 1936; actual title at that time was ‘Adelaide University Association Football Club’. The Club was associated with the South Australian British Football Association. The next four years show the Club involved in matches with other clubs associated with the SABFA, never sparkling but producing one or two top players, including Ian J Evans 11 state games for SA and 1 National game for Australia v India (University & SA) played at wing-half for Australia when it beat India 3-1 in the ‘Fifth Test’ at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Saturday 1st October 1938. It was his only appearance in a national team. Players from outside NSW and Qld were very rarely chosen in those days.
The highlight of this early time was being SABFA Division 2 Runners Up in 1937 and thus being promoted to Division 1 for 1938, and the Pozza Cup Winners of 1937 initially after coming back from 0.2 down at half time v Otiose to draw 2.2 and then win 1.0 in the replay the following week.
Then came 1939 and World War II. The SA Association closed its activities for the duration, but there were some friendly games between those who were available. Then came the worst blow; the Association’s main ground, the Jubilee Oval on Frome Road opposite the Dental Hospital and north of the Jubilee Building of the then SA School of Mines and Industries, became the site of slit trenches for scholars of the School and of the Adelaide Technical High School which was part of it. I was one of them. And the Oval was used for other groups also, and as a result it became useless as an oval. It is now the site of University Engineering Faculty buildings.
In 1946 the Club was revived as was Club Soccer in the State, or at least in Adelaide and suburbs. Pre-war Clubs, or most of them, tried to form teams again but most of them only lasted a year or two. At the end of this time new interest was rising; migrants were being encouraged to come to Australia to find a new life, and most came from the UK and then Europe and their only football codes were Soccer and Rugby, but the latter did not secure as much support as the former. The result was that the various groups of migrants naturally joined into national blocs and began to play the game they knew. The State Association welcomed them and over the next few years there were teams representing Britain, Italy, Greece, Malta, Serbia, Croatia and others and interest grew. The Game saw more divisions available for teams to join and it seems that that move has not yet stopped. And with the increase in interest the standard grew, and that move seems not to have stopped either
Unfortunately hatreds from the past of some of these countries came to the surface during games, and in the end the Association required clubs to do away with names of countries as their club name where there had been fighting.
The University Club started slowly and with only just enough members to fill the two teams that had been registered; indeed it was not unusual in the first year at least and sometimes in the second year for the second team to be playing short by up to 3 players – any fewer meant a forfeit and there were some of them too. Initially the ‘A’ team was in the first division, but in the second year we were put down to the second division where we were more level with the other teams we played. Although we never reached the top, we gave other teams a real game when we met. And the influx of players who were brought up in the game came to have an effect on the size of the club, in the way we played and the standard of our play. As the State Association grew so did we, and the number of teams we were able to put on the field each week grew, so that today we have more teams than were ever thought possible in 1946. No doubt the growing popularity of the game in Australia and in the State helped in this regard. I have to be a little hazy about these years because I was chasing a round ball on icy fields elsewhere.
Other universities also had their teams and in 1947 Sydney and Melbourne were both asked to and did send teams to the first post-war Intervarsity, and the following year Melbourne was the host. In 1949 Sydney was the host but Adelaide was unable to make it because of a wide railway workers strike. These Matches have continued and have proved very popular with those who can go.
Grounds were always a problem for the first few years. There was really only one ground that could be called ours – it was on the edge of the University Oval by Frome Road near the Albert Bridge. It was not always that the ground would be well marked out, and it was standard practice for the team playing at home to put up the nets and the flags and return them to the Oval Grandstand after the game. A number of games were played on Parklands grounds which were the home grounds of quite a few of the other teams in the competition, and the condition of some of these, often with uncut grass and weeds, that made games quite “interesting!” to say the least.
It would be wrong of me not to record the great support the Club received from the Adelaide University Sports Association over its growing time, and also the understanding of the State Association in those years. Without both of these avenues of support the Club would not have grown as it did nor reach the standard it is today, but someone else will fill in the years between then and now, years in which I was unable to keep much contact with the Club for a number of reasons.
– Reg Casling
AUSA Blues Winner, AUSC Life Member, former AUSC Chairperson and SASF Meritorious Service Winner