Metro League, Collegiate League & Saturday Amateurs
Until 1965, when the Sunday Industrial Soccer League (the embryonic SA Amateur Soccer League) was established for those who wished to play on a Sunday, any new soccer club that wanted to play regular competition matches in the greater Adelaide area had no choice but to join the SA Soccer Federation (or its predecessor Associations). As well as suburban teams, this included those from the likes of Mannum, Tailem Bend, and Murray Bridge – they had no choice.
Essentially, for decades sport had only been played on Saturday afternoons, and the SASF had always done so. SA society reflected the view of the Christian churches that insisted Sunday should be a sacrosanct day of rest. The efflux of time, accelerated by the flood of post-war migrants who were accustomed to a quite different recreational Sunday in Europe, steadily modified the old attitude and the Sunday competitions of the SAASL developed rapidly.
This 1960s decade coincided with the AUSC expanding from fielding two teams to six teams, and the formation of teams at Flinders University and the Teacher’s Colleges. SASF administrators had always recognized the importance of teachers and professional men in developing the sport, and warmly encouraged this development.
To develop these new teams into viable clubs, an infant Metropolitan League was set up for the 1971 season. Management of the Metropolitan League was modelled on that of the SASF Third Division Management Committee. It was also represented as Saturday Amateurs on the Management Committee of the SAASL, so the competition had the official backing of both bodies.
The initial 1971 competition comprised teams from Adelaide University, Graduates, SA Institute of Technology, Salisbury Teacher’s College, Flinders University and the Malaysia Singapore Students Association. There were insufficient official referees and most games were refereed by volunteers from the AUSC such as Bill Devine, Tony Winefield, Reg Casling and Eric Shropshire. They filled out SAASL match cards marked ‘Saturday Amateurs’.
The main obstacle against continuing this experiment in the following season was the problem of player registration. Clubs with teams in the SASF Third Division and Reserves needed to be able to move players between their teams, and they insisted that all players continue to be registered with the SASF. (The two teams that AUSC fielded in the Sunday competitions of the SAASL were registered with that body, and not the SASF.)
In 1972 the league was being regarded in a new light. It was reported that it was “administered on behalf of the SASF, with a view to creating a Fourth Division of the SASF in 1973. New teams seeking affiliation with the SASF will have to serve a probation period in this Division before they can apply for the Third Division”.
From 1973 the league included student tertiary teams from Adelaide University, Graduates, Flinders University, SAIT, Italian Students, Malaysian Students, Greek Students, Aquinas College, several CAEs (formerly called Teacher’s Colleges), Elizabeth West HOS, as well as occasional third teams from established clubs like WT Birkalla or Orange-Sturt, and new clubs like Woodville District and Royal Park.
Such was the dominance of the Metro League by the student teams that Martin Pearce of AUSC proposed the formation of an independent student tertiary league as early as the 1975 season. His aims were “to define the status of the Metro League more accurately, and to promote soccer to the best advantage in the tertiary institutions”.
In 1979 the SASF Third Division was renamed Metropolitan League Division 1, and by now each club, including Adelaide University, Flinders University and SAIT, had to have a set of First, Reserve and Junior Teams, which made for very “tidy” fixtures.
The predominantly student league became Metropolitan League 2. The ‘flavour’ of the Metropolitan League Divisions 1 and 2 had become increasingly disparate. It was virtually impossible for a Division 2 club of any ilk to achieve promotion.
From the 1981 season, with the amicable support of the SASF, Martin Pearce and Roy Hetherington of AUSC developed the independent Collegiate League from the Metropolitan League Division 2.
Into the 1980s the SASF clubs were seeking to develop themselves into a more ‘sophisticated’ semi-professional body, and they wished to shed their weakest clubs. The University clubs were seen to be particularly irrelevant in their plans.
For 1984 the SASF decided to limit its membership to twenty four ‘elite’, clubs in two divisions. The SAASL agreed to administer the seven clubs remaining from what had been the Metropolitan League Div 1 (formerly the Third Division) and some additional club teams as its Saturday Amateur League.
– Ron Roberts (7/1/2011)
AUSC Life Member, FFSA Chairman and SASF Meritorious Service Winner