From the time of its formation in 1903 up until 1928 relations between the Club and the Association had been marked-by harmony. Indeed, a number of the Association’s longest-serving administrators had come from Northern Division Club. For instance, Elias Bowden was President from 1903-20 and Patron from 1920-28; William Lindsay was Treasurer from 1894-1915; and Harold Johnston was an Executive Committee member from 1905-15 and Treasurer from 1919-24. However towards the end of the 1927-28 season there was a serious dispute between the Club and the Association, which was to strain relations to breaking-point and carry-over into the start of the next season before it was resolved.
The problem arose when Northern played Col Cameron in an A grade match after the Association Secretary had allegedly notified the Captain, Bob Lindsay Senior; that the registration of the player had not been granted. When Bob Lindsay Senior refused to appear before the Association’s executive, he was first of all suspended and then expelled from the Association. The registration of the Club’s A grade players was also cancelled.
There followed a series of heated Special Meetings and the resignation from the Association of E. Bowden (Patron), E.A.J. Noble (President), W.C. Johnston (Vice- President), E.P. Osland (Treasurer) and P. Hendren (Recorder). In the Association’s Annual Report (a rare copy of which still survives in booklet form) these developments were referred to in an understatement “a little unpleasantness, as a result of representatives of certain teams failing to discharge their duties in accordance with the rules”. The Club, for its part, claimed that “it had to fight for its rights”.
So deep was the rift that at the start of the 1928-29 season the Club by a unanimous vote decided not to affiliate with the Hunter River Association and instead to apply for entry to the Newcastle competition – a move that was eventually blocked by the Association.
After the matter was referred to the NSWCA, Northern Division Club was admitted to the Association’s competition at the end of October, after two matches had already been played. However, following protests from the Clubs that had to play against them in A and B grade, the decision was reversed at a further Special Meeting. lt was not until mid-November after another Special Meeting that the two Northern teams were readmitted but both were placed in A grade and were debarred from premiership honours and the O’Hearn Shield – an action that the Club considered to be “unsportsmanlike”.
This was an unpleasant episode and a stormy period but one that was to be uncharacteristic of relations between the Club and the Association over the years!