History of the UNSW Raiders Gridiron Club

steve jones

The Raiders are the oldest team in Australia and were formed in 1979 by Stephen Jones.


Steve was a Gridiron fanatic and started Gridiron in Australia even before regular competitions were introduced. He pioneered the Raiders by convincing his work mates and friends to play. In 1979, the Waverly Raiders were formed and they basically had play offs against themselves and or whomever else they could rally up a challenge to. In the those preliminary days there was no protective equipment available and so most players wore tracksuit pants and old foam pads that were constructed from unused or old couches.

The SJ55 logo is in honour of Steve Jones – he was number 55 for the Raiders and he established the club in 1983

In 1984 the Australian American football Conference was formed, containing 7 teams participating in the first ever American Football competition.

The Raiders have won a total of 7 Championships in NSW:

  • 1987
  • 1988
  • 1989
  • 1990
  • 1991
  • 1998
  • 1999

The Foundation Shovel


There is a long history between the Raiders and the Lions – they are the  two oldest clubs in NSW.

In 1984, the Sydney University Stormtroopers and the Waverley Raiders (as the clubs were called that year) played in their first AAFC game and a rivalry is born.  

Since 1985, the Raiders and the Lions have battled against each other in 6 Championship Games with both teams having won 3 championship victories each:

  • Lions – 1985
  • Raiders – 1989
  • Raiders – 1990
  • Raiders – 1991
  • Lions – 1992
  • Lions – 2005

The Foundation Shovel was started in 2008 and was created in recognition of the Raiders and the Lions being the only two surviving foundation clubs from 1984 Gridiron NSW league.  


The Foundation Shovel is held by the winner of each game played between the two teams and therefore each time they meet they battle for ownership of the Foundation Shovel which had been held by the Lions for 10 years before the Raiders won it back in 2018. Since then it has changed hands multiple times.