The Early Years
Sport in Matraville goes back a long way, with cycle races dating back to the 1890’s, these were held along Bunnerong Road, on the 7 mile track, as it was called then. Teams would come as the districts they were named after. This was like Rugby League and Rugby Union. In the summer, Cricket was also played. Matraville Cricket Club played at the Moore Park Association or Eastern Suburbs from the turn of the Century, travelling all over Sydney to play matches in A, B and C Grade.
1903 saw the opening of Matraville Public School and in 1907 saw the opening of the now St Agnes School in Perry Street in the Suburb of Bunnerong. Bunnerong was between Perry Street South on Beauchamp Road to Military Road taking in the power station and at the corner of Botany Road and Bunnerong Road was the Bunnerong Wool Wash Factory, with other factories surrounding it. There was a Sandstone Quarry in Australia Avenue where the now Matraville Church is with a number of houses with the Tram running daily to Bunnerong taking the workers to work.
In 1909, Matraville gets a Post Office and Stamp which is a big thing for a Suburb, putting it on the map.
1908 sees the start of Rugby League in South’s Juniors with only a handful of teams in the Redfern and Waterloo area playing in the 1st year.
In 1912, the game became bigger with A, B and C grade competitions and the introduction of more teams, with no teams close to Matraville, only a team called Norwood Botany. The next team would be Moore Park.
1919 sees the building of Soldiers Settlement houses around Beauchamp Road, Combles Parade and Menin Road, Matraville, with the work being done by Soldiers and young boys. The playing of Rugby League was on Sundays at the now Heffron Park, which ensures the start of Matraville with teams playing in the 1922 Competition in A and B Grade.
In 1923, Detectives and Police search bushes in Matraville for a desperate and dangerous criminal who locals and Police call the “Matraville Tiger”. Police say he is a good shot, so shoot on sight. Most sporting teams in the area became the Tigers including Cricket, Baseball, Football and Tennis Teams to name a few.
In 1924, a team from Bunnerong enters the 3rd Grade Premiership, put together from players from Matraville A grade competitions from previous years. Sadly, the team Bunnerong falls away in 1926.
An advertisement from Mr Ben Hanson of Rosebery, calling a meeting at Mascot Town hall, for teams entering, A, B and C grades in 1926, sees 14 new clubs for South’s Juniors. The game is growing in Matraville.
A 1938 team travels to Gosford entering in the Gosford Cup, winning the 2nd Grade, 5 to 3 against Gosford.
In 1939, the team travelled to Springwood for a Challenge Match. The locals were not happy with the result, with Matraville beating the locals, 17 to 9 on the 20th of August, 1939.
In 1939, three players made the President’s Cup team. They are: J Barron, F Goole, and A Sommerville.
In 1940, Matraville were playing teams such as: The Orange Taxi Company; News Boys; and Maroubra Surf Club. A player to emerge in the 1940’s was Cyril Pyle, who in later years, was one of the founding Members of Matraville RSL and went on to later play Halfback for South’s.
Also in 1940, Matraville formed a short-lived alliance with Malabar Club.
In 1947, Matraville fielded a strong C Grade with many locals playing in the teams. Matraville takes off and gets stronger as we approach the 1950’s.
1949 saw the Tigers field A, B and D grades in the seniors which held their own.
1950’s saw Matraville Tigers grow into a strong club with A, B, C and D grades with most years and junior sides coming through as new grades emerge each new season.
1955, E grades 15’s, 1956, F grade 14’s and 1957, G grade 13’s. Final years 1959, H grade 12’s and 61, I grade 11’s. 1964 J grade 10’s. Also in 1969, Matraville won its first Premiership, D grade with a player named Paul Sait, who goes on to play for South’s in Australia and named in the South’s Juniors Team of the Century.
1965 saw K grade under 9’s introduced and in 1966 Matraville wins C grade and D grade Premierships.
1967 introduces L grade under 8’s and 1968, M grade under 7 and then 1970 the first year of Nappy Grade under 6’s. Through these times, Matraville field sides in most grades without success but the club’s numbers are very strong due to the local boys’ home at Yarra Bay. A call to the home at the start of each season through the 1970’s saw a bus load of boys mixing with local boys at training. The boys from the home fitted all through the grades up until the 1980’s.
In 1975 to 1977, Matraville played two A grade teams. The A1’s teams where the locals and the A2’s teams where inmates from Long Bay Jail. As the Jail’s supporters would gather every time they played, to watch how they would go, it became too hard to field a team because the inmates were released.
1980 saw Matraville Premiers M Grade, I Grade 11’s and again in 1985, 11’s I grade.
1987 saw Matraville win C grade which was the start of a new era at the club. With new sponsors on board, the Pagewood Hotel, the club had a huge decade ahead:
Wining C, D and B grades;
C grade 19’s in 1987, 1989, 1992 and 1996;
D Grade 17’s in 1990, 1991, 1993 and 1994;
E Grade 15’s in 1989; and
B Grade 21’s in 1997.
1990’s saw the introduction of Mini League and Mod League, a new concept for the younger ages and in 1993 the introduction of split divisions in age groups. This meant more teams for Matraville Tigers keeping more young age players longer in the game.
1998 saw Matraville playing in the A and A Reserves Grand Finals only to be beaten.
Reserves were undefeated all season only to go down in the Grand Final to Paddington Colts and the A grade Minor Premiers only to lose to Mascot in extra time.
In the turn of the Century, 2000 till 2017 Matraville Tigers became a family friendly Club. Most grades, the mini and mod leagues were a great success.
Matraville Tigers also has a sister club in Queensland, namely Fortitude Valley Football Club. With a history dating back to the 1960’s, it saw teams in the 11’s age group travel to play matches. In 2007, it was named the Sait Lewis Trophy, which is currently held by Matraville winners in 2011.