Football in the ACT - A Brief History

1910 - The first recorded game of football in the Territory was played between the village of Ginninderra and the settlement of Yarralumla on Friday 19 August 1910. The Ginninderra locals were no longer interested in rugby and chose association football as a new winter pastime. As part of a half-day sports carnival, held by the Farmer’s Union of Ginninderra at the Ginninderra Showground, the visiting Yarralumla team won the match 1-0. “The game was fast and clean from start to finish, played in true sportsman like manner, and was exceedingly interesting from a spectator’s point of view,” according to a report of the time.
 
1910-1919 - Following that first game, the two teams contested a return match at Yarralumla with Ginninderra the victors. In 1911 Yarralumla were replaced by Duntroon, a team made up mainly of the non-army workers at the newly formed Royal Military College. They were to be joined by the Department of Home Affairs in 1912, Acton in 1913 and Power House in 1914. The Central Southern District British Football Association was formed in April, 1914. At the end of that season days before war was to break out Duntroon, the winner of the competition, contested a match against the rest of the league.
 
1920-1929 - The First World War closed down most sport in Canberra and football did not re-emerge until 1924 when the Scottish-based Burns Club was formed. They travelled to country New South Wales and to Sydney to play matches over the next two years. By 1926 the Federal Capital Territory Soccer Football
Association was created with five teams. A solid competition continued for the next five years, although the teams would change. As workers completed different jobs in Canberra they would move within the city. The football teams inevitably followed.
 
1930-1939 - In 1931 the Depression took hold and matches were limited to Canberra v Queanbeyan. Yet, in 1932, the Federal Monaro District Soccer Association was formed and became a strong competition with five teams. The following year saw the inclusion of Gundaroo and a junior competition for those under-16 years of age. Yet, in 1934, the game disappeared without reason. All that was left was Gundaroo, with some Canberra players, contesting games against either Goulburn or Marulan.
 
1940-1949 - Following the collapse of competitive football in Canberra, the game during the period of war was left to the odd clashes between servicemen located in Canberra. Most of these took place late in the conflict and at Manuka. Towards the end of the decade, as the building of Canberra moved into yet another phase, a team called Wanderers was created to contest games in Goulburn, Sydney and other venues. They attracted regular strong crowds and showed promise of developing the game again in Canberra.
 
1950-1959 - This decade was one of expansion. With the formation of the ACT Soccer Association teams made up mainly of new migrants began to emerge throughout Canberra. The number of teams, and their names varied throughout the early years, but from around 1954 clubs appeared with ethnic representation, including Roma, Olympics, Hungaria and Croatia. Matches were regularly patronised by crowds of up to 2,000. Canberra teams were also successful in the Sydney-based Robertson Cup.

1960-1969 - The major change at the beginning of the 1960s was the removal of ethnic names from the clubs. The decade also saw the creation of the ACT Soccer Federation, the name in existence until 2005. Hungaria was to disappear, but the other three powers of football in Canberra remained. Towards the end of the decade, teams from Wagga and Griffith were invited to participate as were two new teams from Queanbeyan, Inter Monaro and Makedonia. Further, the club names reverted back to the ethnic bases in 1966. Canberra was also to see its first international team when Fiji played an ACT representative team in 1962.
 
1970-1979 - The 1970’s saw an explosion in the growth in popularity of the sport in Canberra with junior numbers swelling exponentially after the Socceroo’s first successful qualification for the World Cup. In local men’s football the decade belonged to Juventus who were crowned ACT Champions on five occasions under their different guises as well as capturing the 1975 Federation Cup. In a major move 1978 also saw the formation of the first Premier League playing under the auspices of the ACT Soccer Federation Junior League with the ACT Women’s Association formed in 1979. The first women’s squad also emerged for inter-state clashes. 
 
1980-1989 - In 1981 Canberra hosted three matches in the World Youth Championships including Australia’s narrow 0-1 loss in the quarter finals to eventual champions West Germany. In the women’s game local giants Weston Creek were making waves winning eight straight championships from 1981 onwards on their way to a record twelve consecutive league title wins while Juventus (four), Belconnen (two) and Canberra Deakin (two) shared the majority of men’s crowns. 
 
1990-1999 - The nineties saw major changes off the field in terms of administration with the move of the ACT Federation into new premises at Football House. Meanwhile, on the field, Canberra was a host venue for the 1993 World Youth Cup held in Australia during March whilst locally Belconnen United ended the decade as the team to beat in the men’s league with three Grand Final victories while Weston Creek marched on in the women’s league with six championships to their name. 
 
2000-2009 - Major changes in how Football was governed in Australia saw a name change at the ACT Football Federation with a new single entity for all components of the sport under a new brand, Capital Football, in line with the re-formed Football Federation Australia (FFA). The decade started with the city hosting matches in the 2000 Olympics and the sport continued to grow with regular visits from the Matildas as well as a Socceroo international match and age-grade international fixtures. Canberra FC claimed five Grand Final victories in the men’s league, three as Canberra Deakin, whilst Belconnen United won three times as the competition was dominated by the ‘big two’. Elsewhere, the women’s competition saw unprecedented growth with the introduction of all age competitions and celebrated with seven different champions in ten seasons while junior football continued its growth under small-sided games. In 2008 Canberra earned entry into the new Women’s national league as Canberra United was formed, reaching the Grand Final in the first Westfield W-League season. 
 
2010 - The sport continues to get bigger and bigger with record numbers of participation at all levels and a major explosion in the junior ranks making Football the largest participation sport in the ACT. Here’s to the next 100 years of continued expansion!