1901-1919

1901 Arthur C Thomas was born in Mary Street, Unley on May 4, 1869, Thomas deserves the title of “Father of the Sturt Football Club”, indeed he was the father of sport in general in Unley. On March 23, 1890 the Unley Football Club was formed and although few details of the club exist it is known that they played a number of matches at the Unley Oval, Arthur C Thomas was one of many interested spectators and felt that the club could be better organised and the oval greatly improved. On August 9, 1890, Arthur C Thomas formed the Sturt District Cricket Club, Thomas knew that the forming of this club would give the young men of Unley the chance to play cricket in their district. In the closing years of the 19th century it was obvious to Thomas that a football team was required in Unley to use the oval during winter, keep the cricketers fit in the off-season and allow young men who loved the sport to once again play in their own district. Subsequently the Sturt Cricket Club decides to form a football club in the Unley area and their application to join the South Australian Football Association is successful and so the Sturt Football Club is born. The club decides to use the two shades of blue of Oxford and Cambridge Universities as Unley Oval is situated on the junction of Oxford Terrace and Cambridge Terrace, hence the nickname of the “Double Blues”. The first captain of the club was Percy Kekwick, Highlights of the club’s first season- they play Norwood at Norwood Oval in their first ever game, losing by 33 points, the first game at Unley Oval was against West Torrens which they lost by 30 points and the club’s first ever win was recorded against South Adelaide by 27 points at Unley Oval.

Arthur C Thomas
Percy Kekwick
Inaugural Team

1902 – 1908 The club struggles in these formative years, finishing no higher than fourth in 1906, however ruckman Hendrick ‘Taffy’ Waye, who dominated the competition to the extent that opposition club’s used two players against him becomes the club’s first ever Magarey Medallist, winning in 1903.

Team training at Unley Oval in 1907
Phil ‘Áeroplane’ Matson marks from behind in a game against West Adelaide in the late 1900’s

1909 – 1913 Bert Renfrey is appointed Captain-Coach and leads Sturt into its first ever Grand Final in 1910 against Port Adelaide, unfortunately the club loses to Port Adelaide by 4 points after Frank Golding’s place kick hits the top of the goalpost with only 50 seconds remaining in the game. AFL Hall of Fame ruckman Harold ‘Vic’ Cumberland finishes second in the 1910 Magarey Medal before winning it in 1911.

Frank Golding – a master of the place kick missed on the day it counted most, the 1910 grand final
Team practice in 1910

1914 – 1915 Led by Captain-Coach Bill Mayman, the Sturt Football Club wins its first ever premiership in 1915, beating Port Adelaide by 12 points, Bill Mayman is best on ground and rover Bill Noal kicks an amazing 5.5 of Sturt’s total score of 6.10 on the day.

Victor Richardson marking against West Adelaide in 1915
Sturt Captain Bill Mayman receiving the 1915 Premiership Shield

1916-1918 Football is suspended due to World War 1.

Sturt Captain Bill Mayman and North Adelaide Captain Tom Leahy shaking hands before the 1919 Grand Final

1919 Football resumes and Sturt plays North Adelaide in the first Grand Final, this game results in a draw after Sturt’s Owen Beatty failed to score from 35 yards out at the 27 minute mark of the last quarter, however Sturt wins its second Pemiership the next week in the Grand Final replay after ANZAC Ivor Nicolle kicks the winning goal with only 6 seconds remaining!

1919 Grand Final day at the Adelaide Oval