The Weston Magpies Soccer Team, 1915
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Soccer on the Coalfields

Football, or Soccer was brought to the coalfields from northern England. According to Sid 'Celtic' Grant in his book The history of Coalfields soccer -

Soccer had invaded the fringe areas of what we call the South Maitland Coalfields, years before the world famed geologist, Sir Edgeworth David, found coal near Deep Creek at Abermain.

Centres such as Greta and East Greta saw soccer in 1887 and in 1901 respectively, years before the silence of rich coal seams, under virgin bushlands were awakened from their long slumbers.

When the discovery was made, collieries sprang up at Heddon-Greta, Stanford Merthyr, Pelaw Mainm Hebburn, Abermain, Neath, Aberdare and Cessnock.

This industrial area soon attracted workmen and their families, who deserted the dying Minmi and Greta and hit the rough tracks across the hills to Kurri and later to Cessnock. All brought with their chattels, two common bonds - the desire to find permanent employment and the love of soccer...

Many debate that the Golden Years lay between 1925 and 1930...

The trade depression of the thirties drove scores of experienced players to the cities in search of employment. Their soccer prowess was a big asset on their personal references. A noted Coalfield educationalist wrote, "We export high quality coal - our best brains and our soccer stars".

The table shows the order in which the clubs were established. The page numbers refer to those in Sid Grant's book

Year Club Page No.
1887 Greta

A public meeting in the old band rotunda in the park in High Street, Greta, held in June 1887  formed the first soccer club north of Newcastle.

There were 41 enthusiasts present including a dozen or more who had played the game overseas.  Many were miners who had trekked North from Newcastle where there was a slackness in the coal trade.

1901 East Greta Early in April, 1901, a group of 22 miners met in the Cricket Ground near the East Greta Railway Station to form a Soccer Club. 71
1902 Maitland It is generally accpeted that the soccer game was born in Maitland when a group of enthusiasts formed a senior club in 1902. 52
1903 Pelaw Main

A major trek of miners from the Newcastle fields to Pelaw Main where hundreds of unemployed miners found work at Pelaw Main and Stanford Merthyr collieries, which both enjoyed rapid development.

Pelaw Main Soccer Club was formed in March, 1903 when the inaugural meeting was held on a vacant block of land near Gillon's General Store.

1904 Kurri Kurri Soon after mining operations commenced around Kurri Kurri, a Soccer Club was formed in March, 1904.  This was a natural sequence as many miners flocked from Minmi, West Wallsend, Duckenfield and Greta where unemployment was common. Many were soccer followers.
1904 Heddon Greta The Heddon Greta Club was founded in March 1904 at a meeting near Pike's Saw Mill. 72
1906 Weston

It was late in 1906, when the Hetton Coal Mining complex (Newcastle) sent a party of workmen to develop the site at Hebburn Colliery near Weston.

Among this group were quite a number of soccer enthusiasts from the Adamstown area…

1907 Cessnock … soccer started in Cessnock in April, 1907. A group of 15 sportsmen met on a vacant allotment just south of the Cessnock Railway Station. Many of these enthusiasts were recent arrivals from Minmi, West Wallsend, Greta and Stockton. 25
1908 Abermain An old record book tells of the birth of soccer in Abermain in April 1908 - a meeting called by a group of miners in a vacant block - later to be gazetted as Abermain Recreation Reserve. 67
1910 Neath A former mining official at the Neath Colliery, the late G.W. Batey, expressed the opinion that junior soccer was first played in Neath just prior to World War I, in 1910. 57
1918 Hebburn

A few months after developmental work in the surgace of the Hebburn Colliery had progressed, a group of workmen approached the colliery manager, Mr R. Harle, for permission to use a cleared portion of land as a football field. This was readily granted and Mr. Harle said, "I agree and hope that this area will be used for other sports."

Soon many of the workers engaged in football practice after work. Many were players from Newcastle. 

1918 Rothbury When World War I ceased, a soccer club was formed at Rothbury where coal was being developed. 73
1920 Stanford Merthyr

A problem arose in the Kurri area where there were many juniors crying out for competitive soccer. The Kurri club could not finance all these demands.

/Hence a strong junior club sprang up at the end of 1920 at nearby Stanford Merthyr.

1923 Kearsley

It is difficult to pinpoint the start of soccer in Kearsley - a mining centre on the outskirts of Aberdare.

The game was first played in the local school in 1923-24. 

/ … in 1924, Kearsley entered the S.M. senior grade along with Abermain, Kurri Reserves, Weston Reserves, Neath and Hebburn.

1925 Sawyers Gully A group of enthusiasts headed by Mel Nicholls founded the Sawyers Gully Club. 75
1926 Aberdare In the early twenties, Aberdare club supported several junior teams… Aberdare entered the N.D.B.F.A. senior premiership in 1926. 50
1926 Bellbird Competitive soccer began in 1926 as a result of the enthusiasm for soccer due to the visit of the English professional team to Cessnock in 1925. 65
1927 Muswellbrook Junior soccer has been played in Muswellbrook since coalmining began in the late twenties. However, under the guidance of Perce Brace and John Betts the "Brooks" entered the Northern Federation in 1973. 75
1944 Paxton As in other areas, when coal development came to Paxton so did soccer. // For several seasons junior teams thrived in this grouwing area. In season 1944 Paxton entered a team in the Northern League, which formed when a breakaway State League was created in Sydney. 69
1948 Greta Main In 1948 a new club to the west of Cessnock, Greta Main, entered the Coalfield League of seven teams. 74
1948 Millfield Another new club sprang  up in 1948 in Millfield where junior soccer had developed quickly. 74
1952 Greta Austral When World War II ended, the Commonwealth Government opened its doors to overseas migrants. One of the first centres opened to hourse the intake was the former military camp at Greta. In 1950, the writer, as Assistant State Secretary, was deputed to visit the camp and advise on how to help many who desired to play soccer... 59
1977 Singleton With the development of new coal deposits and the military camp in the Singleton area, teams were entered in the 4th division in 1977. 76


Grant, Sid "Celtic". The history of Coalfields soccer. [Weston, N.S.W.?]: S. Grant, [1980?]
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