NSWAFL 1903-26; NSWANFL 1927-73; NSWAFL 1974-80; SFL 1981-6
White and red
In 1903 Newtown was one of eleven founder members of the New South Wales Australian Football League. Over the course of the next eighty-two years it vied with Eastern Suburbs/East Sydney as the competition’s leading club. Indeed, until the early 1980s it was, in terms of premierships won, the most successful team in Sydney, and yet for the final fifteen years of its existence it failed to secure a single flag, while in the only grand final it managed to reach, that of 1981, it compiled the horrendously ignominious total of 3.23 (41).
Despite being an ever-present in the volatile early years of the competition, Newtown did not genuinely emerge as a force until the 1920s. During the first five years of that decade it contested every grand final, was sufficiently competitive on each occasion to have a genuine chance of winning, but lost the lot It lost again in 1927, but the following year broke through for the first of three consecutive flags.
Even better was to come, as Newtown went on to prove itself the most consistently powerful club in Sydney over the next two decades, contesting no fewer than fifteen grand finals for a total of twelve premierships. No other side came close, as the following table attests:
Newtown’s demise from this position of pre-eminence was so gradual as to be almost imperceptible. Indeed, the sides the club was able to field during the late ‘60s and early ‘70s were probably as strong as any in its history, but after the 1970 grand final defeat of North Shore there were to be no further premierships.
The Blood-stained Angels as they were almost poetically known never deteriorated to the extent of becoming a competition easy beat. Indeed, right to the end the team was far more likely to be the perpetrator of a hiding than its recipient. However, by the time the 1980s arrived success in football was being increasingly measured in economic terms, and on this particular scale Newtown, quite simply, no longer came up to scratch. The club disappeared at the end of the 1986 season, leaving Sydney football infinitely the poorer.
Among the club’s greatest ever players was Reg Garvin, whose eye-catching performances for New South Wales at the 1933 Sydney carnival caught the attention of St Kilda officials. Garvin went on to enjoy a highly successful VFL career, captaining and coaching the Saints for a couple of seasons during the war, and winning the club’s best and fairest player award in 1941. He was one of the first genuine Sydneysiders to eke out a successful VFL career.
Roger Duffy was another former North Shore footballer to make a name for himself in the VFL. He was a member in 1954 of Footscray’s grand final winning team against Melbourne, and he also played interstate football for Victoria.
John Devaney - Full Points Publications