Phelan/Snow Medal History

As tradition dictates, both the Phelan and Snow medals are named after former officials of the NSW League in recognition for their services.

The Phelan Medal was first presented un-named in 1926 and then in 1932 titled the "Provan Trophy" after the donor, Mr Aub D.S. Provan, then president of the N.S.W.A.(National) F.L.

The name was changed to the Phelan Medal in 1937, perpetuating and in recognition of the work of Mr James E. Phelan (1860-1939) (pictured above), a resident of Erskineville and a man who devoted much of his lifetime to the interests of Australian Football in Sydney.

A Victorian by birth, Jim Phelan developed his football around Ballarat and upon moving to Sydney in the 1880s played with the West Sydney Club (Ultimo-Pyrmont area) until the game's demise following the 1893 season.

When the code was resurrected 10 years later in 1903, he became the inaugural secretary of the Newtown Club until the outbreak of World War I. In fact, the reason why Newtown wore the red and white strip is because Jim Phelan followed South Melbourne and so chose those colours when the club was formed.

For many reasons, but particularly due to the first world war, people walked away from football in Sydney. Man-power was becoming an increasing problem with more and more young men off to war.

In 1915 Phelan became league secretary, a difficult position particularly during WWI when only five clubs competed. His final year as league secretary was in 1925.

It is well recognised that Jim's undying effort and his commitment to the code ensured the game's continuation during this difficult period.

As an alderman on the then Erskineville Municipal Council, he was largely responsible for Australian Football's long tenure and almost 100 year association with Erskineville Oval.

The ground was rebuilt in a slightly different location during the mid 1930s and as a result of Jim Phelan's dedication, was committed entirely to Australian Football.

Jim Phelan was bestowed with life membership of the Australian National Football Council (now AFL) in 1924. He was also made life member of both the NSWAFL and the Newtown Football Club.

Winning the Phelan Medal, particularly in the early days, barely rated a mention. It wasn't until the late sixties and early seventies that due recognition was given to the achievement of the recipients.

Jim was still attending meetings of the league a short time before his death in 1939, aged 79 years.

Alf began his involvement in football in Sydney with the Sydney Club (later Sydney Naval Club). He was treasurer in 1937 and then in 1939 was elected treasurer of the league; a role he carried out until 1952.

In 1956 he was elected president of the league and continued in that position until 1959.

He was often manager of representative teams and worked tirelessly for the betterment of the league. He was made a life member of the NSW Football League in 1953.

Ian GRANLAND, OAM History Committee


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