Our Rich History
Founded in 1887, the Sydney University Australian National Football Club (SUANFC) holds the distinction of being the longest-standing Australian rules football club in New South Wales. Originating from Sydney University Football Club’s formative explorations into Australian rules football in the 1860s, SUANFC—known initially simply as ‘University’—embarked on its competitive journey with its inaugural match against St Ignatius’ College, Riverview. Emerging victorious with a score of 3.9. 27 to 2.5. 17, the club set the tone for a rich mosaic of triumphs, challenges, and historic milestones.
During the initial stages, specifically from 1948 to 1957, SUANFC weathered the storms of Sydney’s premier football competition. Even while facing setbacks that included four “wooden spoons” and two near-bottom finishes, the club’s indefatigable spirit remained steadfast.
Over the ensuing decades, the club demonstrated remarkable sporting acumen across various leagues. In the periods spanning 1962-1968 and 1971-1987, SUANFC clinched its inaugural Sydney Football Association (SFA) premiership in 1981. This victory heralded a prosperous era, marked by back-to-back premierships in 1986 and 1987, thereby bolstering the club’s growing reputation.
The 1990s and early 2000s featured the club making significant strides, punctuated by a monumental premiership win in 1992. Guided by Rod Carter, a former Sydney Swans luminary, SUANFC showcased an imposing performance against the then-reigning premiers, North Shore.
Concurrently, the Sydney University Women’s AFL Club, one of the inaugural clubs of the Sydney Women’s Australian Football League, was established in 2000. Named ‘The Bombers,’ the women’s side achieved immediate success, capturing premierships in 2001 and 2007.
A pivotal moment occurred in 2007 when SUANFC returned to the apex of Sydney AFL after a 12-year hiatus. Showcasing both resilience and skill, the club reached the Sydney AFL Premier Division Grand Final in the 2010 season, a first since its re-entry. This era was further enriched by individual accolades, including Brydon Coles and Alex Lee winning the Phelan Medal in 2009 and 2010, respectively, along with Tom Young earning the AFL Sydney Rising Star Award in 2010.
The 2010s saw The Bombers dominate the league, winning premierships in 2013 and 2014. This successful period was complemented by the rise of future stars like Stephanie Walker and Nicola Barr, who won the AFL Sydney Women’s Rising Star awards and later the Mostyn Medals. Moreover, Barr, Erin McKinnon, and Walker were drafted to the GWS Giants in the inaugural AFLW draft in 2017, with Barr being the first overall pick.
In 2011, SUANFC elevated its standing through its participation in the North East Australian Football League (NEAFL). This expanded the club’s horizons, pitting them against top-tier teams across the eastern seaboard. Roger Moten, appointed as the inaugural NEAFL Senior Coach in 2012, played a vital role in refining the club’s football program. Subsequent years were marked by steady progress under Tom Morrison, making the finals for five consecutive years.
The club chose not to participate in the VFL following the dissolution of the NEAFL due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, it returned to the Sydney Premier Division and secured the premiership in 2020, with Jake Bartholomaeus earning the Phelan Medal.
Marking a watershed moment in 2020, the men’s and women’s clubs merged under a unified constitution. This progressive initiative sought to foster a more inclusive and dynamic AFL community within Inner Sydney.
In the post-pandemic era, SUANFC has witnessed significant growth. With both men’s and women’s premier division teams consistently reaching the finals, 2023 saw the u19s division one win back-to-back premierships and Maryanne Harley capture the Mostyn Medal after a standout season.
The club’s storied history is indelibly linked to the Sydney University Oval No.1, a hallowed ground since its construction in 1854. The grandstand, erected in 1885, serves as a lasting monument to the club’s evolution and rich sporting history.
With a legacy intricately woven from threads of perseverance, athletic prowess, and visionary progressiveness, SUANFC continues to be a central pillar in the advancement and promotion of Australian rules football.