The Birth of Football
Postwar Broome was picking up the pieces, trying to regain the prosperity and vitality that the pearl shell had brought. Not only had the Cricket, Rifle, Tennis, Bowling, Athletics and Turf clubs resumed in earnest, but many began to rally around starting Football on a regular basis. The town was already clearly divided into two sectors: Chinatown at one end, while the wealthy pearlers lived at the other. It was little wonder that cricket games each Saturday had usually been played on the basis of Norths vs Souths and occasionally the marrieds challenged the singles.
The first football scratch match in Broome was played on Sunday afternoon 29 May 1921 and the club was formed on the same day on the institute verandah.
"For some time past, the young bloods of Broome have been talking of forming a football club."
Patron: Mr H D Norman
President: Mr D McLaren
Vice President: Messers F Rodriquez, F Gray, E G Dobson, W H Barker, Dr Haynes
Secretary: Mr J Currie
Committee: Messers W Dobson, J Castilla, W Price, H Gonzales
The activities of the club commenced right away, a match being played between teams picked by Smith and Owen. In the absence of any distinguishing colours, Smiths team wore a white handkerchief around their arm. The game was rather tough, as is only to be expected so early in the season, and especially as there were so many beginners, but it was thoroughly enjoyed by all players (with the exception of W Dobson who was severely injured during the first quarter.) After a hard tussle Owens team won by 6.1 to 3.5. The winners were best represented by Owen, Gonzales, Price and Iverson while Smith, Ogilvie, Gillies and Watson did yeomen service for the losers. (Nor West Echo)
The Season Begins 1921
Following the tradition set by cricket, two footy teams were chosen on the basis of North v South and played each other for Premiership points a week after the first scratch match, beginning a season that would run for the next three months.
"The game was played in aid of the State
school piano. The play considering that this is the first occasion
two full teams have stripped, was very open and clean with the
exception of the last quarter when Souths crowded the ball a bit.
There was a lot of up and down play before Norths kicking with
the wind scored a goal. The play for the rest of the quarter was
confined to Souths backline. During the third quarter, Viv Ogilvie
got a severe cramp and had to retire. The absence of their captain
was the cause of Souths crowding the ball in the last term. Up
to the end of the third quarter it had been anybody's game, but
Norths simply walked over their opponents in the last lap. The
ball never passed the backs who were playing well together but
the game ended 7.17 to 3.7 in favour of North Broome. Best player
for Norths was their captain, Smith and the refreshments were
served by a committee of ladies which realised seven pounds.
(Nor West Echo)
So football was away and running on a tide of enthusiasm which was analysed in great detail in the local newspaper each week.
"The game on Sunday afternoon was very uninteresting compared with the previous match. Souths were outplayed owing principally to the fact they would not keep their places. Three quarters of the men were on the ball instead of the positions allotted to them. Pickett, Ward and Kirby improved but the majority nurse the ball far too much. Instead of immediately passing it on they wait until all hands run up, thereby losing a chance to feed their side, especially the forwards. Keep the ball moving don't hang on to it. the play at times was rather rough and could be avoided if some of the players used a little more judgment especially when going up for a mark not simply leaping at random and lobbing on somebodies ear."
The following week saw a record attendance for the season, "with a good percentage of the fair sex assembled at the ground."
At half time all were refreshed with lemons, soft drinks and tea served by a band of willing workers. However in the next quarter the umpire had to stop play owing to too many men being on the ball. They were also instructed to "pay more attention to the ball instead of going for the man."
"There was a record attendance as well to witness the fourth match on Sunday. Before bouncing the ball the umpire examined 'Full tones' boots, (there was a rumour that Bill had a battery on), inspection proved everything was correct. The ball was bounced at 3.15pm. The umpire (Mr Robinson) wore a red Guernsey which was a marked improvement on his previous attire as he was not mistaken for a player by either side. Norths carried the play immediately, Ogilvie passed to Johns, the latter to Dewar and the "Baby Doll" kicked the maximum. Later Moore kicked off after a point had been scored however "Possum Ward" took a mark in front but it was his unlucky day he could only get "Shilling Townsend" to wave one flag. A number of spectators took exception to some of the umpires decisions, but if any mistakes were made we are sure they were accidental. Barker, Ellies and Pickett played well throughout the game."
By the time of the seventh match of the season Norths had won the rubber leaving the last game to be played to decide the position of Premiers. The supporters were enthralled by the new form of excitement and entertainment for Broome and both players and supporters were beginning to ask, "What are we going to do of a Sunday afternoon when it is all over?"
The First Grand Final
21 August 1921 "Football in Australia attracts greater crowds and provides more excitement than any other form of sport. Being Australians first, Broomites are not one jot behind in displaying their enthusiasm when witnessing a good game of football. Last Sunday saw the closing of Broome's first football season, when a large crowd attended. Intense excitement prevailed throughout the well fought game, the crowd on the "grandstand" swaying bodily with the flight of the ball, and yelling their throats sore in decrying opponents and urging their particular side to work.
It was a fitting close to a succession of exciting games. Some of the players had little practice before the club was formed this year, but a large number of the young fellows participating have had football training under professional teachers at various southern schools, and, before the season closed, their example in various departments of the game demonstrated its good effect. It is a pity the approaching hot weather will prevent the game going on. As for the virile youth there is no healthy exercise provided here wherein he can expend his excess energy or profitably employ his time. Even the baths are now denied him (to the discredit of the Roads Board.)
Players generally are to be congratulated on the enjoyment they provide the public, and the honorary umpire, Mr Robinson, well merits the token of regard to be given him by the club. To the indefatigable perseverance and application of the Hon. Secretary (Mr J C Currie), much of the success of the season is due. A better man for the position would be hard to find. The club came through the season with £ 39 in hand for charities (after paying all expenses) and had collected (with Sunday's game £ 9/15/6) about £ 22 for the children's picnic. The prize for the most improved player should be going to Jack Spry, who learned all his football in Broome, while "Mick" McGuckin secured the medal for the greatest number of goals kicked. On Sunday the game between North and South resulted as follows: North 6.13, South 6.7; goal kickers North: Law 4, Smith and Gillies 1 each; South: Price 4, Ogilvie and Gonzales 1 each.
The Club, during the season, held two socials and dances and one euchre party, which were a huge success. On behalf of playing members I wish to express my heartfelt thanks to the following: Mr McLaren (President) and all office bearers for their support during the season. If Broome is fortunate enough to have a football club during next year's cool months it can be assured of even greater success." (Nor West Echo)
The Institute (Road Board hall) in the 1960's near the site of the former Shire Offices and West of the present day Commonweath Bank. Used for dances etc as picture above shows.