The Moore Park Tigers Junior Australian Football Club (MPTJAFC) was founded on 23 January 2009, entering into the Sydney City League, part of the AFL Sydney Juniors competition.
Five teams were fielded in the Saturday morning competition, with one team each in Under 5s to Under 9s. The Executive Committee in the foundation year included Michael Luvio as President, Andrew Grulich as Secretary, and Skye Molyneux as Fundraising and Social Coordinator.
The beginnings of MPTJAFC, however, started a few years earlier – with the quiet arrival of a set of AFL goal posts at Moore Park South in the Centennial Parklands.
About those goal posts
In 2006, the AFL NSW/ACT installed goal posts on land managed by the Centennial Park and Moore Park Trust, on the field adjacent to the intersection of South Dowling and Cleveland Streets, Moore Park.
Historical records with the NSW Australian Football History Committee showed the field had been an established AFL ground from 1903 until the 1960s - although back then players told of having to fetch the posts from the yard of a nearby house and return them after the game was over. Craig Davis, an AFL legend of Carlton, North Melbourne, Collingwood, and Sydney, along with Jason McPherson, AFL NSW/ACT Development Manager for Sydney City, were involved in re-establishing the ground once again for AFL.
Getting the numbers
At the time, AFL NSW/ACT was increasingly fielding calls from parents wanting their children to play AFL, but who were unable to join the closest Junior AFL club, Easts Bulldogs JAFL, because its Auskick programme was full. McPherson suggested that as an alternative AFL NSW/ACT was considering running an Auskick clinic at Moore Park – if there was enough interest.
The Auskick clinic at Moore Park commenced in April 2007 with 45 players, and ran for two seasons on Sunday mornings. At the end of the second clinic in 2008, McPherson called the players and parents together, and asked them to consider forming a new Junior AFL club. AFL NSW/ACT promised its support for the initial year, but volunteers were needed to step up and run the club. A working committee of interested parents was formed in September 2008.
Making the new club
Davis and McPherson initially proposed that the new club be called the Randwick Eagles, and play as part of the North Shore League in its Sunday competition to attract players who could not play AFL on a Saturday.
However from the start, the Auskick clinic at Moore Park had naturally drawn players from all the inner Sydney and Eastern Suburb communities surrounding Centennial Parklands. The name Moore Park was chosen over Randwick as it was considered inclusive of all the catchment communities as well as acknowledged the new club’s relationship with the Centennial Parklands.
A decision was then made to play in the Sydney City League, in its Saturday competition. Playing on a Saturday allowed the new club to play against the neighbouring Junior AFL clubs, and in a League where an 8th club would be highly valued in the competition, as opposed to a 15th club in the North Shore League.
The more difficult issue was the mascot. AFL NSW/ACT's advice was to align the new club with an AFL Club. The mascots of AFL Clubs that were not already in use in the Sydney City League included the Eagles, and a few more. When an approach to the West Coast Eagles was unsuccessful, Luvio continued contacting the working party's preferred AFL Club short list - and was able to secure the mighty Richmond Tiger's support for an alignment with the new club.
The Moore Park Tigers JAFC played its inaugural competition match on 28 March 2009, on its home ground at Moore Park Bat & Ball Oval – in Yellow and Black.
Go the Tigers.