Historians will tell you that of all their sources of information primary sources are of the greatest value. That is sources that are closest to the actual events. Over the years many dedicated individuals in the Club have contributed to the regular production of newsletters to communicate information to the Sherwood football community. The two most notable and enduring publications have been the “Magpie Chatter” (originally “Magpies Chatter”) and “In Black and White”. These primary sources have been extensively drawn on in this book and will be referenced often in the following pages. Just as an aside, I went back to another promising information source, the “Sherwood Districts Centenary 1867-1967 Celebrations” publication. I thought this might shed some light on the development of football in the region. Interestingly of the 3 ½ pages devoted to sport in this 76 page publication, only 2 ½ lines were devoted to football; that is Australian Rules, Rugby League, Rugby Union and Soccer combined. All it said about football’s contribution over the preceding 100 years was that “Football in its various forms of Rugby League, Rugby Union, Australian Rules and Soccer, have all played their part for both the young and the old of the district”. I couldn’t help noticing that Croquet got 3 ½ lines and Lacrosse 4 ½.
Getting back to the story, and bearing in mind what has been said above about primary sources it is worth going back to a piece produced by Peg Peirce that appeared in the March 1973 edition of the Magpie Chatter. Peg, who became associated with the Club in the very early days, takes us back beyond the beginning of the Sherwood District Australian Football Club (SDAFC) story to her childhood when our current facilities were nothing but a swamp. Following are some excerpts from her article.
“The Progress of Sherwood Districts” writer Peggy Peirce (with helpful advice from Alec Smith and Ron Hodgson)
“Those of us who knew the district in its earlier days would remember the site of the Magpie Clubhouse as the ‘Chelmer Swamp’, and for those of us who travelled as children by train to the city, the old aboriginal ‘corroboree ring’ at the Chelmer Swamp was one of the highlights of the trip to town. (we all fought for the window seat for a better view – the usual reward was a bit of coal dust in the eye from the steam engine).
Oxley Road Chelmer in 1906 looking towards Mt Cootha – 50 years before the Club kicked off. It’s more a shot of the Western Districts site than our own but the swamp is plain to see either side of the road. (Photo courtesy of the State Library of Queensland – Neg no. 160582)
A decade later the newer residents would know it as the Chelmer Dump and reclaiming of this area by the Brisbane City Council must have been well under way when the formation of Sherwood Districts Club was being conceived. First mention of this area as a future home of the Magpies appeared in the club records in April 1962 when Alderman Thomson (Club patron) addressed the Magpie Committee and part of his remarks were:-
“I anticipate the area becoming available in the not too distant future and suggest the time is ripe for Sherwood Districts to submit their claim for allocation of playing fields to Australian Rules. ……”
It is interesting to note how rapidly the Club was expanding in those early years. In 1958 the Club had 68 registered players and by June 1959 it had grown to 140 members, all under 14 years of age.
Grounds were a problem and prior to this time (1958) the Club had obtained the use of Sherwood School for their home games but in March 1959 the Club finally managed to rent No. 2 oval at the Graceville Memorial Park for the season. The privilege was granted by the Brisbane Hockey Association who held the lease for this oval”.
Going back even beyond Peg’s childhood experiences, readers might be interested to know that Sherwood was divided up as a rural development in 1860 into 30 to 40 acre blocks selling at £1 per acre. Several families associated with the Club were the original holders of some of these blocks. I wouldn’t mind holding 30 – 40 acres in this area now! With reference to the Club publications it’s timely to reprint these comments by Bob Peirce from the same edition of the Magpie Chatter:
“When Tom O’Neill conned me into publishing a club magazine way back in 1964, then shot through leaving me with the baby, I would not have believed I would still be holding it nine years later..…. Sometimes Tom and I with Peggy at the typewriter would still be at it until almost 2.00am, mostly because half the managers would fail to submit a team article and rather than have the boys miss out, we would write the notes ourselves from the knowledge we had of the games.”
Anza Dickson, Eric and Ethel Wright, Ron and Meg Hodgson and the Beerlings would also drop in and help while Ted Gibson would come over to the Peirces nearly every Friday night to talk football. People in the 60s had more spare time and these people were very generous with it. Bob Peirce would even go around in the small hours of the morning putting material into committee members’ letter boxes. In one edition of the Chatter he wrote a tongue-in-cheek piece about the various letter boxes and how they reflected the personalities of the owners.
These are just some of innumerable examples that exemplify the willingness of these pioneers of the Club to just do what had to be done – without asking questions, without looking for some personal gain. They saw a job that had to be done and they did it. This spirit has endured through these past 50 years with today’s football club and social club board members continuing to do what has to be done, under sometimes very trying circumstances.
It was also apparent that their attitudes were infectious.
Little Scotty Spencer, recently retired, rose up the ranks to become the Director-General of a large State Government department. He is now Chair of Sunwater and a member of other high level boards, authorities and committees. Hard work, good manners and respect can go a long way!
The first issue of Magpies Chatter (June 1964 – pictured above) contained a letter from the State Member for Sherwood John Herbert who was convenor of the Sherwood District Youth Week celebrations. He expressed his appreciation for the Club’s participation and cooperation and mentioned that the Club drew a compliment from the Governor when the teams passed the saluting base during the march. He said the Governor was “particularly intrigued by the bearing of the little fellows at the end of the line”, which could mean just about anything. As it was apparently intended as a compliment I’m sure it was taken as such.
Club patron Alderman Gordon “Bluey” Thomson also submitted an article:
“DAD! Have you a boy who has any of these attributes? – He can run, he can jump, and he is not heavily built (he can be), and Mother does not want him to be badly hurt – then this club needs him and you.
It offers to him all of the thrills and schoolboy happiness that participation in “Australia’s own Code of Football” can give, and you, his parents will know that this Club, along with those excellent people who handle the administration, have built up a reputation in your suburb that is bringing to the western suburbs, along with other sporting bodies, much civic pride and commendation.
As their patron I can say that the growth of this Club is such that I am more than hopeful that in this three year term of office as Alderman for the ward in which the Club is operating, they will have allotted for their own use a home ground”.
The alderman was true to his word. History shows us that the Magpie Committee took Alderman Thomson’s advice and submitted a claim for the playing fields at the Chelmer Dump site. On the occasion of the opening of the original clubhouse in 1973 Frank Sargent, Secretary of the QJAFL, articulately put into perspective the tireless work required to establish a sporting club such as Sherwood DAFC. His letter to the Club was reproduced in the Magpie Chatter of 31 March 1973.
Frank had nothing to do with the Magpie Mirth! This was a feature of the Magpie Chatter over the years. From what we’ve seen we can’t say that it ever rose to discernibly greater heights than these humble examples! (If you need proof have a look at the random examples included at the end of this chapter).
So, Magpie Mirth aside, Frank made some telling statements in his letter –
“…. Do not ever forget the work, the worry and particularly the tradition that has brought about the erection of this building …” (the clubhouse). The major building problem which confronted those early administrators related to the building of a club (that is those things that bind us together in the Magpie Family)….. never forget those pioneers.”
At the end of the 1975 season he had some more very humbling words for the officials at Sherwood that he penned to the President of Sherwood DAFC.
“At the conclusion of my fifth and most difficult and frustrating season as Secretary of the Q.J.A.F.L., I appreciate being given this opportunity to express my sincere thanks to the Sherwood Districts Australian Football Club.
As you are aware, the opening of the 1975 playing season was accompanied by a disaster with the QAFL commencing its own U17 grade competition. During that most difficult period the support given the Q.J.A.F.L. by the Sherwood Club will never leave my memory. Not once did your support and understanding waiver.
…..In June, the Queen’s Birthday week-end proved beyond a doubt the generosity of Sherwood AFC and its members. Having provided billets for the entire Victorian Teal Cup team, almost without being asked, further billets were provided for members of the NSW team after other clubs had failed to fulfil their commitments.
The Victorian team, competing for the first time in Teal Cup competition, were treated on arrival to a supper second to none I have ever had the privilege to attend. The welcome and friendship extended by your officials overwhelmed the visiting Victorian officials and unquestionably cemented relations and ensured the continued participation of Victoria in Teal Cup competition.
…..Co-operation of your officials remains unsurpassed and as long as you have people of their calibre controlling the future of your club you need never fear anything but progressive and great achievements. If I were asked to make a recommendation to your Club, it would be to bring to bear all the influence at your disposal to retain the services of these officials. I have never been associated with a more enthusiastic, more dedicated or more capable group of people and I am indebted to all of them for their various contributions to Australian Football and particularly to the Q.J.A.F.L.”
After that I don’t think anything more needs to be said about these people except that they are excellent exemplars for sports club administrators anywhere, anytime and set the bar pretty high for succeeding administrations.