KFJSC: A Potted History

The origins of the Kensington and Flemington Junior Sports Club can be traced back to 1882, when the Kensington Junior Cricket Club played its first season. By 1885/86 it was fielding first and second XI sides. Local football teams joined the Victorian Junior Football Association in the same decade – the Kensington Juniors in 1883 and Flemington Juniors in 1887.

The establishment of junior sport happened during a period of metropolitan–wide population and commercial growth. Kensington and Flemington, created as a borough in 1882, saw its population grow from 1,800 in 1883 to 9,000 by the end of the decade; many of the residents worked at the Newmarket cattle saleyards and abattoirs. The pastoral association was evident in the choice for the cricket and football club get-togethers. Lacking club houses and home grounds, the annual meetings were held at the Racecourse and Pastoral hotels on Racecourse Road, the choice also of the senior football and cricket clubs. An early patron of the Kensington Cricket Club, formed in 1878, was local MLA and future prime minister Alfred Deakin who was instrumental in securing the triangular parcel of land at the western end of Racecourse Road as a recreational reserve, which from 1886 would become known as Newmarket Reserve. Until then, senior and junior cricket and footy was played on local paddocks, including one behind the Pastoral Hotel which, the cricketers admitted, was a decent pitch but not of a turf standard. From 1892, lawn bowls and lawn tennis were played at Newmarket Reserve.

A combined Flemington and Kensington junior football team emerged in the 1890s, which would then become one of the original eight teams in the Essendon District Football League [EDFL], itself formed in 1930. Juniors from Kensington clubs would go on and play for the North Melbourne Football Club in the VFL; well-known names included rover Syd Dyer. In the 1930s, a Kensington Juniors team played in the Victorian Junior Football League [VJFL], winning back to back premierships in 1938 (B grade) and 1939 (A grade). Another local team which enjoyed success in the VJFL was the South Kensington Football Club, which played at the South Kensington Ground. South Kensington had a meteoric career: formed in 1930 and sponsored by local bookmaker Harry Youlden, it won the A grade flag three years running (1932-34) before folding in the late 1930s after Youlden’s death. Harry Youlden also sponsored a cricket team called Youlden’s Kensington. Formed in 1921 with men’s, ladies and junior teams, it became known as Youlden Parkville when the Kensington association was formally dropped in the early 1970s.

The Kensington Junior Cricket Club was reconstituted in 1908 as the Flemington Kensington Junior Cricket Club. Known as the Colts, it won premierships in 1923/24, 1933/34, 1935/36 and 1936/37 in the Victorian Junior Cricket Association [VJCA]. The club’s backbone was the Smith family, whose father Charles and four sons Cecil, Jim, Les and Roy played junior and senior cricket with distinction and served administrative roles in the VJCA. The Colts continued to field sides in the post-WWII period in the in the VJCA turf and matting competitions. Cricket continues to be played at Newmarket Reserve in the 2000s with the Flemington Cricket Club, who are known as the Gulls.

Juniors were a part of many local sporting clubs: the Flemington Athletics Club, Flemington Lacrosse Club and the Kensington and Flemington (men’s and women’s) cycling clubs. A well-known member of the Kensington Amateur Cycling Club (whose cycle track was at South Kensington) in the 1940s was world champion and Olympian Sid Patterson. Tennis was played from the late 1930s on courts built at the top of Smithfield Road, after excavation works funded by Melbourne City Council relief work for the local unemployed were completed. Kensington and Flemington also had many boxing gyms, where Australian boxing champions like Jack Carroll honed their skills as juniors; later boxing champions included Flemington’s Graeme ‘Porky’ Brooke who won the Commonwealth lightweight title in 1984. After World War Two, when Greek and Italian migrants moved to Flemington and Kensington, soccer clubs like Kensington United were established.

Junior teams also emerged from the local churches. The Presbyterians and Methodists fielded tennis, netball, hockey, football, cricket and basketball teams in their own leagues as well as the suburban associations – Kensington Methodists was one of the original eight teams in the EDFL. The Kensington Methodist Basketball Club (as netball was called until 1970) fielded teams in the Methodist Girls Basketball League, formed in 1932. Kensington Methodists won the 1934 and 1935 District premierships and were Metropolitan champions in 1935.

Kensington CYMS, Flemington CYMS (formed 1892) and St Brendan’s, Flemington (formed 1930s), were the Catholic clubs. The Flemington teams, which wore royal blue with a gold sash (which has become KFJSC colours), played at John Wren’s Ascot Vale pony racecourse and then Debney’s Park after the Victorian Government purchased the racecourse for housing in the 1940s. The CYMS football league was especially strong in Melbourne, fostering outstanding juniors like St Brendan’s Donald McDonald, who was recruited by the North Melbourne Football Club. McDonald was captain of the 1979 North Melbourne Colts U17 premiership team, which drew on St Brendan’s and Kensington locals. After the demise of the CYMS football league in the 1970s, St Brendan’s joined the NMFL (1975-79) and then the FDFL (WRFL from 2000) and rebuilt itself under president Steve Sabato (1977-84) and parishioners including Paul Mulgrew (FDFL Official of the Year 1984).

Other junior teams called Holland Park their home. The Park was named after long-serving local politician John Joseph Holland (1877-1955), Labor MLA for Flemington for 30 years from 1925, and representative for Hopetoun Ward on the Melbourne City Council for many years. He fought for better recreation facilities in the Ken-Flem area, arguing against proposals to develop the land into a pig market in the 1930s and a motor cycle speedway in the late 1940s. Holland Park was originally a low-lying area prone to flooding (nicknamed Seagull Swamp and South Kensington Swamp), only becoming a recreation area after considerable reclamation efforts over several decades (and the removal of a tannery and noxious rubbish dump). Sport was also played at Wight’s Paddock, below the Ridgeway (now Kensington Banks). After Wight’s Paddock and Seagull Swamp were declared unfit for grazing purposes in the 1890s, they became much needed alternative sporting grounds to Newmarket Reserve. Known in general as the South Kensington Ground, there were several ovals for winter and summer sport, a cinder track for cycling and a children’s playground. Until change rooms, storage facilities and toilets were built at Holland Park in the 1970s, local residents provided facilities and did the ground preparation themselves.

A prominent and tireless volunteer associated with Holland Park was the late Bill Vanina, after whom the Holland Park pavilion is named. Vanina helped to prepare the grounds, provide funds for the teams and used his Bellair St house to store sporting gear. Vanina summed up the Ken-Flem tradition of ‘giving the battlers a go’. During this period, a small number of boys from Turana Youth Training Centre played in the U17 football team. Club helpers would collect and return boys from Turana.

The Kensington Youth Club, founded by local parents in the late 1960s, fostered junior sport at Holland Park including football and cricket; the U13 boys football team was victorious in the 1972 grand final in the NDFL, while the U11s won the 1976 grand final. Local stalwarts included Stan and Bonnie Brown, Judy McRae and Brian Kane. The North Melbourne and Kensington junior football teams joined forces in 1986 and went on to win flags in the FDFL, including U15 in 1987, U13 in 1990 and U16 in 1997.

By 1990, due to a declining club membership, St Brendan’s proud tradition came to an end. Meanwhile, Flemington Junior Football Club, reborn in the 1980s, welcomed new players. Flemington Juniors won several flags in the 1990s in the FDFL, including U14C in 1991, the winning team of which included Shannon Grant who won the league’s U14C best and fairest that year. Grant went on to play 301 games with Sydney Swans and North Melbourne, winning the 1999 Norm Smith medal.

In 2001 Flemington Juniors grasped an opportunity to move to superior facilities at Holland Park. In the early 2000s, the club recruited strongly from local schools and from North Melbourne AusKick. In 2003 the U9s were restored; in 2004 the U14s; and in 2005 the U16s. The Colts developed a strong reputation for good sportsmanship, achieved good results on the field (premierships in 2005, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2016) and continued the local tradition in giving opportunities to underprivileged youth.

In 2003 with Rob Greenfield as president, the club perceived a need for a local community cricket club (the Kensington Boys Cricket Club, whose home ground was Holland Park, had folded in the 1990s) and again extended its activities, this time in the NWCA under the name of Kensington Junior Cricket Club. In its first year of return to cricket the club entered eight teams at the U10, U12, U14 (with Reds CC) and U14 (girls); premiership success followed for both girls and boys teams. In addition, a Milo program was introduced, and a pathway to senior cricket was put in place with the Flemington Colts Cricket Club, also located at Holland Park.

With the rapid growth in the club it was felt that tighter management was required and in 2005 the club was re-incorporated as Kensington Flemington Junior Sports Club playing as Flemington Junior Football Club and Kensington Junior Cricket Club. Since then, KFJSC has added the Kensington Junior Girls Soccer Club (2007) and Kensington Junior Basketball Club (2009), both of which have won premierships (soccer U12 2013; basketball U14 & U16 & U18 2014/15, U18 2015/16, U16 2017/18). In 2017 the Kensington Junior Netball Club was added to KFJSC, and in 2018 boys soccer joined the club.

For over 130 years, KFJSC has worked hard to bring team sport to the area’s diverse communities who have made inner Melbourne their home. We remain a proud community based club run by parents where the main focus is on the all-round development of our young players. KFJSC enjoys world-class facilities at Holland Park, funded and maintained by the Melbourne City Council.

 

Sources

Newspapers

Advocate, Age, Argus, Flemington Gazette, Herald, North Melbourne Advertiser, Sporting Globe, Sportsman

 

Publications

Flemington and Kensington Conservation Study (1985)

Hillier, Kevin. History of the WRFL/FDFL (2007)

Stoward, John. History of Football in Melbourne’s North West: Essendon Football League, Western Region Football League (2008)

 

Websites

Boyle’s Football Photos http://www.boylesfootballphotos.net.au/article53-Photos-of-Thomas-Quinlan-Flemington-CYMS

Flemington Heritage Association https://www.facebook.com/flemingtonheritage/

Footypedia http://www.footypedia.com/

History of District Cricket http://premier.cricketvictoria.com.au/History.aspx?rw=c

Kensington Association http://www.kensingtonassociation.org.au/

Kensington Methodist Basketball Club http://timetravellers.pbworks.com/w/page/114803725/Kensington-Methodist-Basketball-Club

North Melbourne and Kensington Football Club https://www.facebook.com/groups/170297423332106/

Youlden Parkville Cricket Club http://www.ypcc.org.au/content.aspx?file=437|10334d