Southern Districts Football League

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Gary Bartholomeusz
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SOUTHERN DISTRICTS FOOTBALL LEAGUE
19581990
(33 years)

After seasons of talk, action by the Albany Football Association to increase its number of clubs began in earnest on Sunday March 24, 1957, when it organised a meeting with neighbouring Mount Barker Football Association at the Mount Barker Hotel to talk about amalgamation and the formation of a Lower Great Southern football league.

At the time, the AFA clubs were North Albany, Railways and Royals while the MBFA consisted of Cranbrook, North Mount Barker, South Mount Barker and Western Districts (based at Rocky Gully).

The personnel at the inaugural meeting agreed to hold a special meeting involving the seven clubs concerned in the Centennial Oval tearoom, Albany, next Thursday – March 28.

The forerunner of such a concept up for discussion and decision came earlier that year with the formation of the South West Football League.

In 1953, the Bunbury and Collie football associations amalgamated with seven teams. Two years later, Eastern Districts and Western Districts of Busselton joined forces to become the Busselton Magpies. Harvey / Brunswick was admitted into the competition in 1956 and, that same year, Bunbury Pastimes dissolved into Carey Park. All this guaranteed the future of football in WA’s South West region from 1957.

The officials and players from the Albany and Mount Barker associations who met at the March 28, 1957, special meeting arranged a further meeting at the Mount Barker Hotel on Tuesday April 2 that year to determine the latter association’s direction on the proposal.

Ninety five people attended this meeting and a motion was moved to amalgamate for the forthcoming season. North and South Mount Barker voted for the motion but Cranbrook and Western Districts declined.

MBFA president Henry Kleemann was called upon for his casting vote and he decided that an amalgamation in 1957 was too rushed and stated it will eventuate next season.

AFA president John ‘Jack’ Hutchinson said he was hopeful the amalgamation would take place for the current season but respected Mount Barker’s decision to give it more time in the planning.

The board members of both associations next met on Tuesday July 30 to formulate an amalgamation plan and, the following Tuesday (August 6), a club delegates meeting on the matter was conducted in the Toc H room – Norman House, Stirling Terrace, Albany.

At this meeting, nothing was decided. Instead, another meeting was set down for Tuesday August 27 in the same venue.

It was at this latter meeting that the proposal for the Albany and Mount Barker associations to combine was officially endorsed and, from the 1958 season, the Southern Districts Football League would operate – initially on a trial basis.

The people at the meeting also decided that, despite the amalgamation, both the associations would retain its separate former identity for the Great Southern Football Council carnival. This concept lasted until the 1961 season. In 1962, associations played together under the SDFL title.

Finally, from the late August meeting, it was decided to hold the SDFL’s first election of office bearers meeting in the forthcoming February. Officials met at the Mount Barker Hotel (The Top Pub) on Wednesday February 26, 1958.

Present were John ‘Jack’ Hutchinson, Albany Football Association’s president who instigated the original amalgamation meeting, Hugh Hardiman, Tom Rudinger and Jim Sarre (AFA) and, from Mount Barker Football Association, president Henry Kleemann, Bill Backshall, Alfred ‘Fred’ Cummings, Terrence ‘Turk’ Kelly, Bill Lathwell, Harry Reeves, Kim Sounness, Ron Sounness, Percy Stubber and Barry Williamson.

Jack Hutchinson was elected the first president of the Southern Districts Football League, Henry Kleemann vice president and Hugh Hardiman secretary / treasurer.

Each of the seven inaugural clubs (Cranbrook, North Albany, North Mount Barker, Railways, Royals, South Mount Barker & Western Districts) committed at this meeting to field teams in the league and reserves grades.

Following the SDFL’s first season, Denmark played a couple of very successful social games against Albany teams and, with plenty of off-season coaxing by the League, a Denmark Football Club was formed to make an eighth SDFL club.

Denmark was voted into the SDFL on February 23, 1959, after 54 players were already registered for the new season.

INDEX

Annual awards venue
Club championships
Delegates
Drawn games
Fairest & best
Finals & records
Finishing order
Grade premiers
Grand final B-O-G
Grand final date & venue
Grand final field umpires
History of the SDFL

Leaders
Life members
Major league sponsors & colours
Office bearers
Premiership count
Premiership leaders
Qualifying game records
Season start date
Top goalkickers
Two-figure player goals
Umpire advisors
Umpire awards