Tiger Truths

Recognise these names?

There’s a few names you might recognise on the club’s player lists. Foremost of these is football legend Tim Cahill – the all-time leading goalscorer for the Australia national team. Tim played for our club in 1986 in the U8s team (nicknamed ‘Rovers’) with his brother Sean, coached by John Higgins. That’s him, highlighted in orange in the picture featured here.

Another well-known veteran of the club is Darcy Byrne, our Inner West Council Mayor. A lifelong Balmain resident, he fell in love with football playing for our club when it was under the BPCBC. In 1992, he was on the Honour Roll for playing 100 Competition Games. The picture here is from around 1988. 

The Balmain Marching Squad

Glen Flecknoe and Peter Maguire accept the Commissioner's Trophy. (Sydney Morning Herald, 1971)

The City Club march was an annual competition event, held the day after the Soccer Carnival as part of Boys’ Club Week. Boys in clubs from all over NSW would march down the streets of Sydney in a fabulous parade beginning in Hyde Park, with proud parents cheering from the sidelines. A Commissioner’s Trophy was awarded to the best marching squad.

In 1971, a marching squad was created for the Balmain Youth Club under the supervision of George Ledain, who hailed from the soccer section. Sixty boys were needed for the squad to be eligible to participate, and while the original 15 registered gradually grew, a few boys had to be added last minute. A great deal of effort went into preparation – ”combing and spraying hair, seeing the boys were clean and presentable”. 

As was reported in the Tiger Rag, a paper circulated by the soccer section to players, “led by our own Club Band, the squad marched to perfection, and could not be faulted and again our band of ladies were on the footpath to cheer the boys on. Finishing in Martin Place, Balmain were declared the winners, all our leader George could say is ‘you beauty’. George and (2) two of the banner bearers were taken up on stage and presented with the Commissioner’s Trophy. We wanted this so badly … On arriving back at the club, we were guests of the Ladies Auxiliary, who turned the food on for all, and rightly they deserved it, it was a matter of fattening up the bird who layed [sic] the ‘golden egg’.”

In their years participating, and under marching leader and BPCBC Secretary-Supervisor Greg Nicol, they were five-time winners and five-time runners up – an achievement no other club could match. “A blaze of glory, the Tigers out-drilled and out-marched them all,” wrote Wourlie proudly. “It was our pride and joy.”

Hand made shirts

An early hand-made club shirt. (Courtesy of Fred Tagoe)

The first shirts of the Balmain football club or “soccer section” were hand-sewn by the Ladies Auxiliary. Not only were the shirts hand-made, the shirt badges were sewn on individually, as were the gold stripes on the shorts. The design itself was Graeme Westrup’s idea, one of the club’s early coaches, inspired by the uniform of the NRL Balmain Tigers, which incorporated the black V on gold. Says Graeme’s son, Craig Westrup:

“I can’t remember all the ladies involved, but I do remember Mrs Koutsoukis made a lot of them ( mum was always in awe of how good a seamstress she was.) Having only three teams, I think around 40 / 45 shirts were ever made … as the club got bigger, handmade shirts were too difficult so they went to commercially produced ones.”

TEAM NAMES

(Collection of Graeme Westrup)

Up until the mid-nineties, team names would be appended with the first name of the team coach. For instance, in 1986, Fred Tagoe was coach to the Under 9s, so his team’s name would be referred to as the ‘Under 9 Fred’.

51
years as a club
2911
Players
218
TEAMS
413
coaches & managers