#AFLQ150 – How we looked in 1904

Each week throughout the 2016 season, the Queensland Australian Football Forensics (QAFF) will bring you a short article about our code’s history in Queensland over the past 150 years.  

This week, let’s jump ahead a few years:

The year is 1904.  After a hiatus of over a decade, an organised Australian Football competition returned to Brisbane with the formation of the Queensland Football League (QFL).

For the inaugural season, the structure of the competition is relatively loose.  There were only three “clubs”, North, South, and West.  The entire season consisted of only nine fixtures, in which each team played six games.  Each team finished the year with three wins and three losses.  As there were no finals, the premiership was declared a three-way tie.  It was practically a “every kid wins a prize” situation.

However, you have to start somewhere.  The emergence of some form of organisation and structure for the code locally provided great encouragement for future growth and development.  The appearance of genuine clubs would occur after this preparatory season.

The first QFL fixture was played on Saturday, 21 May 1904, between Wests and Norths at the Botanical Gardens ground.

The Brisbane Courier reported that:

“A good crowd mustered, the teams were fairly evenly matched, and the game was an excellent one, considering that few of the men were acquainted with one another, much less with their style of play.”

The report shows that both Wests (black and white) and Norths (red and white) took to the field with 17 players each.  There are several prominent surnames present in both teams.  It is worth noting the participation of Harry Coates, one of a handful of men who kept the code alive during the dark years when the structured competition fell away.  Coates would quite rightly qualify as a future AFLQ Hall of Fame inductee.

There is no discussion of the course of the game, although the final score was:

West 4 – 8 – 32 defeated Norths 2 – 5 – 17

Wests:  Green, Coates, Rees, Sweet
Norths:  A Vare, Farringdon
Wests:  Green, Weakley, Martin, Foster, Hocking, Jennings, McKenzie, Sweet, Rees, Coates
Norths:  Watson, Branson, F Vare, Cranston, Farringdon, Elder, A Vare, Parker Richardson

Clearly, perhaps both the paper and the QFL were enthusiastic enough to mention as many players as possible in the new competition.  (If anyone reading this sees the surname of their grandfather or great-grandfather, we would like to hear from you.)

The season was off to a positive start.

(Side note:  Whilst all three clubs were named 1904 Premiers, if we applied percentage as part of the season ladder, the ultimate Premier was Wests – although, not by much.)

To find out more about #AFLQ150 year anniversary https://aflq.com.au/aflq150/

QAFF, a volunteer group of researchers and writers, is currently writing the 150-year history of Australian Football in Queensland.  The aim is to publish their 800+ page book in July 2016, 150 years after the first game in Queensland.  If you can help support this project, please contact QAFF via their website, www.q150.net.au

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