Club History and name

It is an undisputed historical fact that our Granville & Districts Soccer Football Association – the GDSFA – is the oldest soccer football Association in Australia. Founded in 1900, the GDSFA is actually older than the Commonwealth of Australia as Federation was on 1 January 1901! The GDSFA is said to be the oldest amateur Soccer Football Association in the Southern Hemisphere. Many clubs have since come and gone since then, but which club is the oldest?

For many years it was thought the Granville Kewpies was the oldest club. Granville Kewpies can accurately define and trace its club history to its inception, being in 1919. They called themselves Kewpies as a tribute to the diggers who returned from France with little Kewpie dolls. They can also claim to being a club operating continuously every year since that time.

But who were they playing?

With the assistance of  researching old local newspapersmostly the Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate, digitally on line from the National Library of Australia, the history of our club has been traced to at least 1898, which makes us the OLDEST JUNIOR SOCCER FOOTBALL CLUB IN THE GDSFA AND IN WESTERN SYDNEY!!

Interestingly however in 1898 Granville Waratah was a rugby union club, the predominant sport at the time, but started playing soccer football in 1901 when we joined the GDSFA with an U16 squad. It appears that we continued to play rugby union for one more year and then stopped after the 1902 season. Note that in 1900, only school teams played in the GDSFA’s junior competitions in its inaugural year. So can we claim to be an Association Foundation club member? Perhaps but it is a technically discussion.

Over the decades the club has enjoyed many successes at both junior and senior levels with the golden period coming between 1965 and 1973 when the All-conquering All-Age senior division 1 team won the Challenge Shield (which is the oldest Soccer Shield still in use in Australia since 1902) 8 out of 9 years and the Cottam Cup (which is the oldest Soccer knock out competition in Australia since 1907) for 7 consecutive years. We hold the mantle of having won the prestigious Cottam Cup more than any other club with 12 titles. Note that there is possibly a 13th title in the early 1950’s that has not been recorded but we are investigating.

Aside from the many local trophies and awards, the club has produced 3 SOCCEROOS:

  1. BILL HENDERSON played for the club in the mid 1940’s. His under 16 year old team won the competition in 1946 and his team photograph and the trophy are displayed in the clubhouse. Bill played for Australia in the mid 1950’s and was Australia’s first Olyroo as he was the goal keeper for Australia at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.

Read this wonderful and richly historical interview from 2008 with Bill and his brother Andy discussing their soccer football careers starting as boys in Granville.

Some great history and photos of Bill are here.

  1. KENNY VAIRY played for the club and with Bill Henderson in the champion 1946 team and played with Bill (and other Granville players) as inside left striker for Australia in 1955 against South Africa.

Read this excellent interview from 2008 with Kenny discussing his soccer football career

**Bill and Kenny were part of a dynasty of Granville players that dominated the Australian team in the 1950’s. Players from the Granville Kewpies and Waratah clubs fed the mighty Granville Magpie club for decades.

  1. MARK JANKOVIC played one season with our under 14’s in 1973. He played for Australia as a striker in the early to mid 1980’s.

Hey – you’re in Parramatta not Granville – whats with the Name?

Being 300 meters from the heart of Parramatta, this is a good question.

In the early years, the club played out of many different grounds in the Granville area including, Granville Park, Merrylands, Pitt Row (which includes Ollie Webb Reserve and Jones Park) Parramatta and A’Beckett Street Park, Granville (lost due to the M4 motorway) but by the 1950’s mostly settled for Brunton Park (affectionately known to locals as Brunton’s Paddock), located on the corner of Clyde and William Streets Granville. The park was named after Brunton’s Flour Mill which was demolished after WWII. The park is now the site of the Granville RSL club who purchased the land in 1960.

Burton Park Granville 1943 (bottom right hand corner),  then the home of Granville Waratah.  The central part of this image shows the Granville Swimming pool.

When construction of the RSL club commenced in the early 1960’s, we moved to James Ruse Reserve, which is the park land to the immediate west of Hambledon Cottage however when Parkes Street was extended to link with Hassall Street in the late 1970’s, it dissected James Ruse Reserve and we were forced to move north across the road to Robin Thomas Reserve. Interestingly, just a few years earlier field number 2 was a land fill dump that was leveled and grassed. It has been our home ever since.

1978 aerial photograph of James Ruse Reserve before the Parkes Street extension

There have seen several pushes to change the club’s name through the years, the most recent in 2015. Over 150 members attended this meeting and the motion failed by a very large margin – it is clear our members proudly want to retain the name and all its glorious history (first you get used to the name and then you fall in love with it).

As the Granville area was arguably the birth place of soccer football in Australia and certainly then the cradle of the game for decades, it makes no sense to change the name and severe that proud and unbroken connection.

(Updated Nov 2018 – more detail about the start up of the association)