Sport Lively in the Eighties
Early Vicissitudes of Soccer To the Editor of The Courier-Mail
SIR,— Mr. G. R. Tainton's article in Monday's Courier-Mail reminds me of the primitive days of Queensland Soccer, of which I was one of the
pioneers. In the early eighties there was a large influx of migrants to Queensland, especially to Brisbane, some enthusiasts brought footballs in their luggage, and a few gathered on that stretch of land adjoining Alice Street, between Albert Street and Edward Street, then known as Queen's Park. All went well until the Rugby Union players ap- peared, when things became mixed and lively. Ultimately, it was agreed that the Union followers should practise at the river end of the ground, and the 'Scotch rulers' (as we were known) the bamboo end. All went well until 'Melbourne rulers' (as then called) appeared. Representatives of the three codes agreed to certain nights for prac- tice and Saturday afternoons for match play. Then the cricketers, too, came for practice. They pitched their nets close to Alice Street, near the centre of the pitch, and when our ball strayed near their nets they threatened to stick a knife into the ball. We threatened to retaliate by throwing their ball into the river. A writer in the 'Courier' said: 'Things are lively at Queen's Park be- tween the cricketers and footballers. One lot goes in for hard hitting, and the other lot for hard kicking, and sometimes affairs become somewhat serious.' The 'Scotch rulers' looked round for more serene surroundings. We found a piece of vacant land bounded by Stanley Street, Melbourne Street, and Grey Street, now covered by a hotel and other large buildings. The land was low-lying, and after a heavy downpour our pitch became waterlogged. Our outfit was easily car- ried about. We had goal posts and a 3in wide tape, such as Mr. Tainton mentions, for a crossbar, and a ball. Coats and hats marked our corner 'flags.' When we found our pitch under water we marched up Mel- bourne Street to a cow paddock directly opposite Melbourne Street Station. It was a bad ground, sloping two ways, towards Melbourne Street and Stan- ley Street. Ultimately, we secured the ground behind the Pineapple Hotel, in Main Street, Kangaroo Point. Under such conditions Soccer was born in Brisbane. By the season 1883- 4 we could muster 33 players — no spare parts — and decided to form three clubs, named St. Andrews, Queen's Park, and Rangers, and hold a competition. The knockout struggles left St. Andrew's and Rangers to play the final tie. Rangers winning the badges by the only goal scored. The newspapers did not supply reporters and photographers as to-day. Clubs had to find their own reporters. We had a real Scottish Lord reporting. He preferred to be known as Duncan Forbes, and wrote under the name of "Tam o' Shanter." I believe I hold the only badge to survive the long years, and also the reports of those early matches. Of that band of 33 who laid the founda- tion of Soccer in Brisbane, to-day I know only two survivors — James Cairns and myself. — I am, sir, &c, DON S. GEMMELL, Gray Street, New Farm.