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Queensland Footy History

Qld Footy History Overview
19th Century
1903 to 1914
1915 to 1926
1927 to 1940
1941 to 1958
1959 to 1971
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19th Century

Overview of the Era
The national game enjoyed considerable popularity and success in Queensland in the late nineteenth century, and by the 1880s the game had become the most popular winter sport in the colony.

The first club in Queensland, Brisbane, was formed on 22nd May 1866 at a meeting of Braysher’s Metropolitan Hotel.  An Ipswich club was formed in 1870, and the coal city became a powerful force in the code.  Ipswich Grammar School played an annual match against Brisbane Grammar School every year from 1870 to 1888, with the exception of 1872, 73 and 74.

The Queensland Football Association (QFA) was formed in 1879 (some records give the year as 1880).  Other Queensland clubs of that era included Excelsiors, Wallaroos and Rovers, and there were also teams in Toowoomba, Allora, Gympie and Maryborough.

However, the game was to suffer a series of setbacks which would have a long-lasting effect on the code’s relative standing in Queensland.

An early factor which contributed to the game’s loss of favour occurred in the late 1880s when the influential Brisbane Grammar School switched its loyalties from Australian football to rugby union, the only rugby code in existence at the time. The 1889 football match between Ipswich Grammar School and Brisbane Grammar School was, significantly, the first between the schools to be played under rugby union rules.  It’s worth noting that the other rugby code, rugby league, was not created until the 1890s as a breakaway from rugby union in northern England, and was first played in Queensland as late as 1908.

The national game was dealt another blow in June 1890 when the visiting South Melbourne team scored a series of big wins over the best that the local boys could manage. These results were as follows, bearing in mind that prior to the commencement of VFL fixtures in 1897, behinds were registered but did not count towards a team’s total. The Breakfast Creek Sports Ground is better known today as Albion Park, a name which was adopted in the 1890s.

Saturday 21st June, Breakfast Creek Sports Ground
South Melbourne 13-12 d Brisbane 2-3

Monday 23rd June, Town Reserve, Ipswich
South Melbourne 10-17 d Ipswich 5-5

Tuesday 24th June, Breakfast Creek Sports Ground
South Melbourne 6-17 d Queensland 1-0

The South Melbourne team was a powerhouse of the game at the time, going on to win its third consecutive VFA premiership later that year.  Nonetheless, the Queensland footballing community took the magnitude of the losses to heart, particularly the culminating defeat of Queensland where the colony’s best men had been on show.  According to an article on the history of the game in a 1935 souvenir Football Record, ‘Victoria made no effort to rectify the blunder’ which was the South Melbourne trip.

To further exacerbate the relative standing of the game in the colony, the Queensland rugby side met with considerable success in the succeeding years as the popularity of the rugby game grew, securing a number of victories over New South Wales.  This state of affairs, along with the fact that the New South Wales rugby authorities had begun to foster the code in Queensland where immigrants were constantly welcomed as recruits, caused a shift in popularity between the two codes.  By the turn of the century rugby had gained considerable support and the national game lay dormant.

Images from 19th Century 
(all images are clickable)

The Brisbane team of 1879 (previously this photo was widely thought to be from 1866).

A newspaper report of the formation of the original Brisbane club in May 1866.

A public notice of the above meeting.

Last Modified:  7th January 2013

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