Central Australian Football League

Postal address
PO Box 379, Alice Springs. NT 0871

Alice Springs was transformed by World War II. For the first time the town had a reticulated water system, a power station and a new airport and with the new infrastructure came rapid development. 

At the beginning of the war Alice’s population was 764. During the war when Alice Springs was the Northern Territory’s civil administrative centre and major military transport hub the population rose to 5,000.[1] In 1947 the population was 1871.[2]

Sports introduced during the war continued after the military departed. A series of five football games was played between July and August 1946 between Railways and PMG (Post Master General). The PMG also played the ‘locals’ on one occasion.[3] 

One of the PMG players, who played a key role in establishing football in Alice Springs in 1947, was Mick Costello who was of Arrernte descent. As a youth he had been sent to Rostrevor College in Adelaide where had played football.[4] He had served in the RAAF in England during World War II where he had married and returned to Alice Springs.

In July 1947 there was a scratch match between the Allied Works Council versus Halfcaste Boys from the Alice Springs Bungalow. The Halfcaste Boys won. H. [Henry] Peckham and M. Goodhall were the best players.[5] 

A week later the Centralian Football Association (CAFA) was established.[6] 

P.F. Muldoon, the Superintendent of the Alice Springs Gaol and former Waratah player was elected Patron and J.W. Nichols, now resident in Alice Springs, became president. Nichols’s vast experience with the NTFL would give the CAFA a sound foundation. Mick Costello was appointed the captain of the ‘existing’ town team.

Early CAFA games were played between the Combined and Town teams. By the third round, Federals played Rovers and the following week Pioneers made their first appearance.

Pioneers won CAFA premierships 1947-49 establishing a proud tradition.

[1] Donovan. At the Other End of Australia, p. 152.

[2] Julie T Wells, Mickey Dewar, and Suzanne Parry, eds. Modern Frontier: Aspects of the 1950's in Australia’s Northern Territory (Darwin: CDU Press, 2005), p.187.

[3] The Dead Heart, 3 August 1946.

[4] Penhall, Oral history interview, National Library of Australia, National Library of Australia / Australian Sports Commission, Sports Oral History Project, nla.oh-5900-0070-0001, 51.40, 26 May 2008. See also The Australian, 4 September 2010.

[5] Centralian Advocate, 5 July 1947

[6] Centralian Advocate, 19 July 1947