HISTORY

The Frenchville Sports Club is one of the largest multi-sports clubs in Queensland. It had humble but hopeful beginnings in 1948 as the Frenchville Soccer Club. Its rise from a team of inexperienced players tin that year to the winning of the prestigious Wesley Hall Cup in 1950 was truly miraculous, for had it converted from a cricket team to a soccer team virtually overnight. It confirmed green and white as its colours in 1959 and changed its name to the Frenchville Sports Club in 1966.

1930s

The Frenchville District Sports Club was formed in 1932 with Fred Juds as Chairman, Alex Black as Secretary and George Kerr as Treasurer. There were approximately 40 members. The total population of Rockhampton was 29,373. Life was tough in those depression years of the 1930s. Fred Juds, as first president of that early club, came to an agreement with the City Council Engineer, Gerald Pennycuick to use his own horse and cart and other family farm machinery to clear and level an area in Norman Road which was later name Juds Park in his honour.

Membership rose to about 170 before the end of the decade, including some South Sea Islander residents as loyal and helpful members of the tennis club.

While the young men and women were away, and the club no longer in existence Fred Juds worked hard for patriotic societies as a fundraiser. At war’s end the Rockhampton District United War Fund presented him with an illuminated address of appreciation ‘for patriotic purposes and to mark the occasion of his raising over one thousand pounds’ for the united war funds.

1940s

Sporting Clubs have come and gone during Rockhampton’s 140 years of European history, but among those founded since the Second World War Frenchville’s record is outstanding. Beginning in 1948 as a very ‘raw’ soccer club without a formal committee structure or constitution.

Past President and Honorary Life Member, Doug Black, represents a family association through his parents which goes back to the old Frenchville District Sports Club of the 1930s, and also his three brothers and their wives and families. The Black brothers ‘made history’ by playing in that first unofficial soccer game in 1947. Their women-folk were among the ‘workers in the back’.

When the Rockhampton Soccer season opened on the first Sunday of 1948 there were five teams competing at Victoria Park and Lakes Creek. Frenchville was not quite ready, but made a victorious entry the following week. That first historic competition games was most exciting and no doubt inspirational. It was against Lakes Creek and the Bulleting report on 9 April 1948 is worth quoting:

‘Play in the senior match between Frenchville and Lakes Creek was rather ragged at first, but as the result of an attack by Frenchville, A. Black scored with shot from about 10 yards out. After this score Frenchville took the ball down the field again and forced the Lakes Creek goalie to save three shots in fairly quick succession.

Lakes Creek rallied and a good centre from left wing by J. Bawden just cleared the cross-bar to go behind. Frenchville came back strongly and shot by Casey was deflected into the net by the Lakes Creek half-back to make the score 2 – 0 in Frenchville’s favour.

Frenchville then took command of the game and a fine run through by L. Casey ended in a shot which went just outside the goal. Lakes Creek came back at Frenchville but a clearance by Perry Frenchville turned defence into attach. The scores were 3-0 at half time.

When play was resumed D. Black took the ball down the line, centred to Casey, who scored. Frenchville scored its fifth goal when Moody passed to Casey, until the end Frenchville attached strongly and the game ended 5-0.’

1950s

Another four years of playing First and Reserve grade without a formal committee with elected officers to provide a structure for the club, decided them that it was time for a change. While Colin Kerr did a good job in making arrangements for their matches, there were no permanent records. Frenchville Soccer Club became a properly constituted body in 1955 with George Black as President, H. Villiers as Secretary and Frank Brady as Treasurer.

Frenchville introduced schoolboy soccer in 1956 with Doug Black and Don Bianchi as coaches. They realised that if their club was to have a future it must have young players coming on. This was a most significant resolution which was to be one of the great strengths of Frenchville. There would be times when there were so many junior players that the Club was hard pressed to find practice grounds for them.

And so the decade which had begun in 1958 with enthusiasm and initial success in a 5-0 victory, reached its peak in winning the Wesley Hall Cup in 1950, formalised its administration in 1955, and ended with great hopes and plans for the future. But in their wildest dreams, it is doubtful if those pioneers could have envisaged the might Frenchville Sports Club which currently stands proud.

1960s

The mission statement of the Frenchville Sports Club is, and has been since it became a multi-sports club the promotion of sport, especially for juniors. The Constitution of 1966 confirms this: ‘the object of the Club will be the promotion of various sports’. Each new Constitution has repeated this mission statement. ‘Being a multi-sports club always means that there is considerable organisation requirement to meet the needs of as many sportsmen and sportswomen as possible,’ commented Neville Higgins in 1974.

The decade between 1968 and 1978 was one of almost miraculous development – despite inflationary costs and other difficulties which would have deterred lesser mortals from those at the helm of the Frenchville Sports Club. It had grown in that time from a small volunteer organisation to a professionally run licensed club with a membership increase from several hundred to several thousand.

The decade of the 1960s proved to be the most significant in the Club’s early development. The decisions made regarding the introduction of sports other than soccer and the need for a name change were to be crucial in the later expansion and even in obtaining a clubhouse.

This new direction involved the drawing up of a Constitution to take effect from 13 November 1966. This clearly sets out the Club’s new objective as ‘the promotion of various sports’. Membership was unlimited and fees for playing members set at one dollar for all those over seventeen, fifty centres for fifteen to seventeen year olds, and no fees at all for under fifteens. (This was also the year in which Australia changed to decimal currency).

The adoption of its first printed Constitution was a major step in the Club becoming more professional, but it was also absolutely essential in the change from a soccer club to a multi-sports club. One of the first resolutions passed by the newly named Club referred to ‘signing in at the new field’ – a reference to the Club’s acceptance of J. Rowland’s Norbank Estate.

By the end of its first year as a multi-sports club, it was apparent to the committee that much time was wasted in dealing with each sport in an ad hoc manner. Prior to the AGM, J. Rowland moved that a sub-committee be set up to oversee all sports under the Club’s banner.

At the 1968 AGM held at Brady’s home, Mrs Heyes suggested the formation of a Ladies Auxiliary. This was form before the month ended with Mrs H Hamilton as President, Mrs A Heyes as Secretary and Mrs Sheldrake as Treasurer. They were also granted $50 to open a bank account with which to launch the Auxiliary and also given permission to conduct a weekly meat-tray raffle. The ladies distinguished themselves by raising $587.30 in just nine weeks – an effort to be applauded according to the Club Committee.

1970s

The acquisition of Ryan Park in 1972 undoubtedly attracted more sports bodies to apply for affiliation to the Club. Although water was more important than land to it the formation of the Frenchville Sports Club Amateur Swimming Club in September 1972 obviously was motivated by publicity concerning Frenchville.

As the Club expanded its range of sports and acquired its Ryan Park Clubhouse, it moved much more rapidly towards professionalism. Committee administration changed with the establishment of a Board of Directors and a company organisation. Jessie Margaret Brady was a member of the first Board which met on 20 February 1974. Her son Graeme was a fellow director. This was a history-making occurrence, not only a woman director, but mother and son as fellow directors. The Board and a new constitution were the first steps towards greater professionalism, the opening of the Clubhouse and appointment of its first full time Secretary-Manager, Alan Jones the second.

1974 also marked the completion of the Clubhouse which was completely air-conditioned and had a cabaret area of 3,000 square feet for dancing or floor shows. There was seating for 450 members and friends. The Syndicate Band was engaged to lay at cabarets and on Saturday Nights with ‘imported’ entertainers. The carpeted dining-room area provided a ‘touch of luxury’. Catering services were leased to Douglas Deloff and dinner served every day. John Aitken had the honour of being the Club’s first barman. For families with young children, dining or attending functions, baby-sitters were available for 60 cents per hour.

The Clubhouse opened ‘heavily in debt, but not embarrassed’ according to Neville Higgins. The ‘low key’ opening days helped offset this with takings amounting to $8,331.18 in the first two weeks of trading. Meanwhile Club membership was increasing so rapidly that eight months after the Clubhouse Opening there was a membership of approximately 1,200 and a waiting list of another 200.

In February 1975 Jessie Brady was elected an Honorary Life Member ‘for long and meritorious service’ she was only the third person to be honoured. The ‘long service’ included the weekly Sunday night socials held at the Brady home from 16 April 1961 and committee meetings which met there from May 1963 until 1969 when Frank Brady’s illness caused them to be transferred to Kalka Shades.

Bouquets and brickbats appear to be a fact of club existence. The Morning Bulletin took it upon itself in 1978 to criticise Frenchville Sports Club for enclosing Ryan Park within ‘a head height chain fence’. Its editor maintained that such ‘park space in the city could be lost to the public through an on-going process of allowing leases for the construction of club houses and other facilities…’ He believed the City Council should make more land available ‘for use by kids, the dogs, the walkers and the people who just want to sit in the sun.’

1980s

The10th Anniversary of the opening of the Clubhouse involved more than the cutting of a birthday cake and a celebration cabaret. It was a time for summing up the progress not only in the growth of Membership and Financial turnover, but in the state of the Clubs sport. In this year of 1984 there were 4 senior and 5 junior soccer teams, 2 senior and 10 junior cricket teams, swimming, tennis, basketball, indoor bowls, social golf and social snooker.

Sports Clubs like the community and business generally, began the 1980s in optimism and they were dashed down by high inflation and increasing costs. A see-sawing economy appears to be endemic in post-war society, worldwide. Despite these further extensions to the Club House on 18 May 1988 were constructed by Scott and Hogan at a cost of $200,000 the additions included the gymnasium and private bar, bottle shop and sauna.

That year, 1988, saw the celebration of Australia’s bi-centenary. Looking back on it from the vantage point of the 1989 AGM, it was seen that Frenchville Club suffered the same financial downturns as clubs and businesses everywhere.

In the decade of the 190s with its wider range of field sports under the Club umbrella, it was the foundation sport, Soccer which provided consistent highlights in First Grade competition. Frenchville secured the Wesley Hall Cup in 1983, 1984, 1986 1988 and 1989. No wonder the Directors recorded a vote of thanks to Club coach, Bevan Dingley. This was an outstanding record as in the post-war years Nerimbera had dominated the competition, but that came to a sudden halt in 1982.

Sports wise the 1980s ended on a high note, not least with a reunion of former soccer players to celebrate the 40th Anniversary in 1988. The Club provided beer, light snacks and a video programme for them. The occasion was given lasting significance by the decision to obtain a ‘Service Board’ to record the names of players who had been fifteen years, not only in soccer but any sport under the Club’s Umbrella.

1990s

A most important change took place in 1992 – the first poker machines were introduced and the Club took over the catering itself, doing away with contract caterers. The kitchen was remodelled and new style Bistro area was established. There was even more cause for hope in 1995 when a quality A La Carte restaurant was incorporated into the new extensions. With the addition of a functions Room for special or Private Functions such as weddings the Catering Department was placed on a profession level equal to any in Rockhampton.

All the struggles of the past in raising funds in order to promote sport and provide a pleasant club atmosphere for members were justified on that proud day, 4 November 1995, when the Deputy Premier, Hon. Tom Burns, officially opened the Clubhouse extensions. Newly elected President, Graeme Brady, referred to it as the culmination of nine months of ‘planning, hard work, re-organising and soul-searching for the Directors, Staff and Management.

The 1995 extensions and the new grandstand of 1997 symbolised triumph for the Board of Directors, finer facilities for Club members and vastly improved conditions for players and spectators at Ryan Park.

 

RELAX. UNWIND. ENJOY