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Indigenous sport

Northern Territory Rugby League

Wally McArthur, born in 1933 at Borroloola, was a member of the Stolen Generation who was sent to South Australia as a teenager to further his education. He excelled at sport and became a professional athlete and also played Rugby League. Although Rugby League is a minor sport in South Australia he was recruited to English professional club Rochdale Hornets in 1953.

Rugby League was a relatively late comer to Northern Territory sport.  In 1935 an NT Rugby Association met to decide whether they would play Rugby Union or Rugby League. It was decided to play Rugby League but the interest was short lived. One of the earliest Ruby League competitions was held in Tennant Creek in the late 1930s during the height of the gold rush. The first incarnation of the NT Rugby League (NTRL) was during World War II when a ‘town’ team vied with various armed service teams like the RAAF, Navy and Army. The NTRL did not reform after the Bombing of Darwin in 1942 but the game continued throughout the NT including Alice Springs and military locations up and down the Stuart Highway. After the war Rugby League recommenced in Darwin, Tennant Creek and Alice Springs in 1949. As the NTRL consolidated in the 1950s teams included QANTAS, Wallabies, RAAF, Army, Navy and Hornets. The first NT representative Rugby League team played in the national championships in Perth in 1956.   


The World Game in the Northern Territory [Soccer]

The world game, football (soccer) was first played in Darwin in 1911 when a Darwin XI played a HMS Prometheus XI. Amongst the Darwin XI was a Larrakia man Willie Allen, the Northern Territories first indigenous sports champion. The Darwin Chinese Recreation Club became the catalyst for much of Darwin’s early football after it established in 1923. The Darwin Soccer Association was formed in 1927. In the years leading up to World War II the military build up saw interest grow in British Association Football. During World War II Football was very popular amongst the troops. After World War II football was re-established by the Darwin Football Association in 1949. The game has ebbed and flowed since that time.