Docco’s Diary: The history of Intercollegiate matches

Posted 24 SEP 2020
Old Scholar NewsSPOC Sport

Many Old Scholars will be pleased to know we have recently completed a successful Winter Intercollegiate Program of Sport, Debating and Chess against our traditional rivals, Prince Alfred College. This was three weeks later than usual due to the disruption caused by the 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic. The Pandemic had caused almost all inter-school winter fixtures until the end of June to be cancelled. In late July we were able to resume matches against other schools and most of our teams were able fit in approximately eight matches over the eight weeks of this term.

In the Intercollegiate Program there were eight contests spread over three days from the evening of Wednesday 9th September, with the Opening Function and the Debating “Intercoll”, to the afternoon of Saturday 12th September, with the Football “Intercoll” and the Closing Function. For First Teams, we won four contests and PAC won four. All of the matches were held at home in 2020.

2020 First Team Intercol results:

Basketball: loss 35-49
Chess: loss 3-7
Debating: loss 0-3
Football: win 11.6.72 to 7.10.52 
Hockey: loss 0-10
Rugby: win 31-17
Soccer: win 2-1
Table Tennis: win 14-6

The win in Football was of particular note because our last two wins in Football were in 2013 and 2005! We were “underdogs” again in 2020 but we performed well on the day. We were narrowly ahead early in the game and were 2 points up at half-time. We took control in the third quarter and went further ahead in the final quarter.

Image: The SPSC First XVIII won the 2020 Intercollegiate Football match.

Forty-five St Peter’s College teams across eight different sports and activities competed in the Winter 2020 Intercollegiate Program. A large number of boys from both Schools of all ages, and all abilities, again had the opportunity to represent their School and take part in the Intercoll matches. At the closing ceremony after the Football match, the eight cups for wins in the First Team matches were presented by the Captains of the winning teams to one of the Headmasters.

The history of Intercollegiate matches

Some Old Scholars may not be aware of the amazing history of Intercollegiate matches between St Peter’s College and Prince Alfred College. Soon after the founding of the schools, St Peter’s College in 1847 (our School moved to its present site in January 1850 after its first 2½ years in a school room behind Holy Trinity Church in the city) and Prince Alfred College in 1869, there were cricket and football matches played between them in the 1870s. From 1871 a version of what we now call football was played between the two schools.

The practice of singling out one match and designating it what we now call “The Intercollegiate Match” or “The Intercoll” began in the late 1870s. Intercollegiate Football was played on Adelaide Oval for the first time on Wednesday 18th May 1881. The match was reported in the newspaper the following day: “The scholars of the rival colleges turned out in great force and occupied separate pavilions, the noise from which was simply deafening. If the players needed any stimulus, the cries of their fellow-scholars should have been more than sufficient, for the moment any good play was shown, cheers were invariably given. The match resulted in a win for PAC with 4 goals and 15 behinds to our 14 behinds. One of the most noteworthy points of the play was the admirable manner in which each team worked together.”

Image: SPSC Football team, 1885

In the early years of competition, there were only Intercolls in Football and Cricket. More recent years have seen the introduction of many new winter sports, as well as Debating and Chess, to the Intercoll program. The first Basketball Intercollegiate match was in 1967, the first Rugby Intercoll in 1971, the first Chess Intercoll in 1973, the first Soccer Intercoll in 1978, the first Hockey Intercoll in 1981, the first Debating Intercoll in 1991 and the first Table Tennis Intercoll in 2011.

Summer Intercolls also have an amazing history. The 143rd Cricket Intercoll took place in 2019 and this was "the oldest unbroken annual contest in the history of cricket" anywhere in the world. Intercollegiate matches continued here during the First and Second World Wars. In many other parts of the world, similar fixtures did not take place during wartime. A journalist wrote at the 1885 intercollegiate cricket match: “Next to Speech Day no event in the year is of so much importance to lads attending our leading colleges as the annual match that decides which of the two schools shall hold the premier position on the Cricket field for the season”.  

Image: SPSC First XI Cricket team, 1884

There were Rowing races between the schools from 1883 onwards and in 1893 the Blackmore Shield was awarded for the first time for these annual Intercollegiate Rowing races. This is now awarded after the Head of the River Regatta at West Lakes.

Intercollegiate Athletics can be traced to 1892. Since 1957, Athletics, like Rowing, has determined the results of its Intercoll within the larger competition (now called the Achilles Cup). 

The Swimming Intercoll also occurs within a larger independent schools’ competition. 

The first Tennis Intercoll took place in 1901 on the terms that it “should never usurp the place of cricket and football in the school games”!

Between 1901 and 1906 there was Intercoll Gymnastics. In the 1920s there was even Intercoll Boxing! In the Edwardian age 1901-1910 the main games were Football, Cricket, Rowing, Gymnastics, Athletics and Tennis. There were Intercolls in all of these sports for a period of time. In those days Intercolls in Football, Cricket and Athletics were held on Adelaide Oval. For a long period, Tennis was played at Memorial Drive (near Adelaide Oval).

Many Old Scholars may have represented St Peter’s College in an Intercoll when they were boys in our School. Intercollegiate matches continue to be a wonderful part of St Peter’s College and Prince Alfred College life and history. They create a huge amount of interest in both Schools and are always well-attended. Boys gain much from taking part in these exciting contests. All contests are keenly fought but are played with great sportsmanship reflecting the values of these two fine Schools. A boy is especially proud to represent his school in an Intercoll.

Old Scholars will be pleased to know that the 2020 Winter Intercollegiate Program of eight contests over three days went well and the win in Football has given particular pleasure and pride to everyone in the St Peter’s College community. Many years ago, the Deputy Headmaster, Mr FH Schubert, who retired in 1979, commented that the morale of the School rises and falls with the success of the First XVIII Football Team. Perhaps we have seen this again in recent days.

David Docwra

David Docwra retired from St Peter's College in December 2015 after 37 years’ service, and will be fondly remembered by many as a dedicated teacher, a committed coach of squash, cricket and soccer, and most especially as a passionate Head of Hawkes House for 21 years.

Intercol "Docwramentary"

The Intercollegiate rivalry between St Peter’s College and Prince Alfred College has a remarkable history. Take a moment to watch this video put together by long-serving staff member David Docwra and the St Peter's College Sports Department on why Intercols mean so much to so many. View the "Docwramentary" here.

Image: PAC won the 2020 Debating Intercol.

Image: SPSC First XV won the 33rd Rugby Intercol.