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1893 Football Premiership

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Read most accounts of Gawler football history and the 1893 premiership was won by Gawler Central. In fact even South Gawler’s centenary history book lists its cross-town rivals as premiers. But it has now been discovered that the 1893 season finished in a dead heat between South and Central.

The first clue to the mystery comes from South’s book, in which authors David Heinrich and Garry Hurst state: “South ended up finishing second despite equalling Central at the end of the minor round, as we declined to play Central off for the premiership.” Through the season, South and Central met on five occasions, the sides splitting the first four matches, then Central winning the final contest on September 16 easily, 12-3 to 1-11.

But of the season’s scheduled games, two were abandoned and rescheduled for after the September 16 match. Both contests were South versus Willaston, played on the following two Saturdays. With the season extended to incorporate these two additional games, it’s possible a play-off would have interfered with the players’ cricket commitments and may have contributed to South declining the opportunity to meet Central. The Bunyipreport of October 6, 1893 stated: “The South Gawlers have declined to play off with the Centrals for the Gawler Association Premiership. The two clubs therefore tie for the position. This is very unsatisfactory.”

And as further evidence of the fact the 1893 premiership was shared between Central and South, the Gawler Football Association’s annual report was published in The Bunyip on April 20, 1894. It stated: “Last season was a successful one both from a football and financial point of view. The season ended unsatisfactorily so far as the premiership was concerned. The South Gawlers and Centrals tied for the top place, and for some reason or other the play off did not take place. It was hoped that such a state of affairs would not be possible in the future, and it was suggested that the club refusing to play off on another occasion should take second place.”

Of the discovery, South Gawler president Jim Callander said: “Even though it’s 100 plus years later, we’ll take it. Every premiership is valuable, particularly as we unfortunately finished wooden spooners last season. It gives us a little to smile about,” he said. “Although South hasn’t won a premiership for a while, with 36 flags, now 37, we are the most successful football club in South Australia, and third in Australia.”


Bunyip Article by Robert Laidlaw
Bunyip Article by Robert Laidlaw


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