Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Ernest Broughton – An unenviable task (2018)

Very few people know of the second president of the NSWRL. Largely due to the fact he served for less than a month, however Ernest Clement Vernon Broughton was the very definition of a career politician who very much worked himself into the ground.

He was born in Kangaroo Point, Queensland on January 29, 1865. His father was a police magistrate in Drayton at the time. Ernest was the youngest of four children.

In 1882, he finished his schooling and relocated to Sydney. Two years later, at the age of 19, he and his brother had set up a business where they performed real estate valuations, sales and auctions as well as offering financial advice. They set up their office in Pitt St, Sydney.

Late in November 1884, Broughton was one of three men who had their buggy crashed into by a bus that poorly executed an overtake. The buggy was destroyed but the escaped with just some scratches.

Just four months later and Ernest was involved in another mishap. This time while he was out sailing on Lake George with a friend, Albert Cooper, when the boat jolted both men clear due to a heavy squall. Broughton could not swim, but managed to grab hold of a life belt attached to the side of the boat. They lost the bag which contained their shoes and a change of clothes, so had to make their way home in soaked clothes.

1884 was also the year that Ernest Broughton was a member of the School of Arts debating club, becoming its secretary. One of his colleagues there was Edward O’Sullivan, with whom Broughton’s career would regularly cross paths with. They were regularly opposing one another in debates at the School of Arts.

In 1887, he and his brother went their own separate ways and Ernest continued running the business, solely under his own name.

In 1890 he married Amelia Lockyer and the following year became the Manager of the Universal Advance and Investment Association, the first of many boards and committees that he would be a member of.

In 1898 he began campaigning for the seat of Sydney-King in the NSW Legislative Assembly, representing the Progressive Party. He won the seat in 1901, the same year that he also became the Mayor for Ashfield.

In March 1901, he was an office-bearer for the Western Suburbs District Football Club in the early days of the Metropolitan Rugby Union. Two weeks later he was at a meeting of the Political Reform Association, which fought to reduce the number of members in the State Parliament.

In early 1902 he was then on the board for the Ambulance Association, presiding over one meeting, where he stated, to great cheer, “I would be a helper of those who practised the religion of good deeds.”

Four days after that meeting he was in another, this time for the trustees of Hyde Park, where he put forward the motion of having a designated section of the park exclusively for children.

A rather boisterous sitting of the Legislative Assemble in 1903 resulted in a physical altercation between Broughton and Mr Norton. Broughton voiced his disagreement at a comment made by Mr Norton, and called him “a social leper”. Mr Norton became incensed and swung a punch at Broughton. Norton stated afterwards that he gave Broughton a black eye, however Broughton publicly refuted the claim and adding that he scarcely felt the blow. The newspapers of Sydney supported Broughton, stating they had seen him after the incident and there were no indications he had been struck.

In 1904 the electoral boundaries were all changed, which saw an end to Sydney-King and the creation of King. Broughton won this election, thus making him the last sitting member of Sydney-King and the first member of King. In 1904 though, he was aligned with the Liberal Reform Party.

In 1905 he was elected as a member on the board of the British Empire League alongside Edward O’Sullivan.

He had spent many years as a property and infrastructure developer. In 1907 this saw him on hand at the turning of the first sod which marked the beginning of the extension of the train line past Belmore.

In March 1908 he was made president of the East Sydney Aussie Rules club.

5 months later, he put forward a proposal for a gun licence bill, which aimed to have all gun owners licenced.

On March 3 he was appointed as patron of the Eastern Suburbs Rugby League club and two days later, he attends the NSWRL Annual General Meeting, where he was put forward to take over the governance of the game from founding father and fellow politician, Henry Hoyle. Hoyle won the vote by 1.

On March 8 it was learnt that two of the voting delegates were acting on behalf of the Newcastle club, but had not been officially appointed. Hoyle was unable to produce a signed letter, which he claimed he had from the Newcastle club, where the two delegates had been named.

The Newcastle club then revealed that they hadn’t appointed any delegates and thus, all elections at the meeting were deemed null.

The meeting has held again on March 15, where Hoyle was again unable to produce a balance sheet, while he was also accused of having a secret account. Another election for office bearers was demanded. Hoyle, amidst the angst and emotion, resigned on the spot. Broughton was elected President.

On April 6, just 22 days after taking on the role of President of the NSWRL, Ernest Broughton handed in his resignation, citing ill-health, a heavy work schedule and an upcoming holiday, all of which meant he would not be able to devote himself to the role as much as was required.

He was replaced by none other than Edward O’Sullivan.

Broughton had been ordered to take 3 months rest from all his working duties, but he largely ignored the orders, continuing his work in the Legislative Assembly, as Mayor, on the board of all the committee’s he was a member of, while still running his very demanding business, which had expanded to property development as well.

In 1916, His father-in-law passed away, leaving Ernest to handle his will. Shortly after, Ernest himself fell ill and after 12 months of dealing with his poor health, he finally succumbed to it on August 15, 1917, at the age of 52.

In his life, aside from the roles already mentioned, he had also served as:
Treasurer of the Queen Victoria Memorial Fund in connection with the Prince Alfred Hospital
Vice President of the Pioneers Club
Co-founder of the British Empire League in Sydney
Director representing the Government on the Sydney Hospital Board
Treasurer of the Surgical Aid Society
Member of the Sydney Golf Club
Member of the Fresh Air League
Member of the Australian Protestant Defence Association
Justice of the Peace
President of the Ashfield Harrier Club
Vice President of the Sydney District Cricket Club

Monday, 4 June 2018

Dear Todd, Don't listen to Buzz (2018)

Monday morning before the opening State of Origin battle for the year is upon us and so too are the same people in the media trying to tell Todd Greenberg what to do.

Today it’s Phil Rothfield, appealing to Greenberg “to let the game flow. To instruct the State of Origin I referees to drop the nit-picking that has turned rugby league into a sometimes boring and stop-start snooze fest.”

What is boring is Rothfield’s pathetic nit-picking. His same old stop-start rhetoric is snooze-fest inducing.

More importantly though, Mr Greenberg, I would hate to see the day that the game is run by whatever some tired, whinging dinosaur in the media has to say.

It was their complaints after the Sharks v Storm game, where over 30 penalties were blown and legends Cameron Smith and Luke Lewis both spent time in the sin bin, which fuelled their attacks on the NRL for their unbelievable stance of enforcing the rules.

A few weeks later a total of 14 players were sent to the sin bin in one round, the most in one round in over 20 years.

Not once has any of these detractors employed anything other than the aggressively stupid and damaging tact of blaming referees. The players and clubs are committing the acts and deserve to be punished, yet are being let off and now it seems, have Rothfield suggesting they should be allowed to cheat.

What makes Rothfield’s stance today so much more laughable is the fact he was sooking about referees NOT doing their job properly last year. Now he’s demanding that they don’t do their job properly in 2018. This is enough evidence alone to prove that this man should never have his opinions on how the game should be run listened to, let alone considered.

We also know that refs have a history of being ultra-lenient in Origin games anyway, so there really is no crisis here, bar the one Rothfield is trying to create.

My message to you though Mr Greenberg is simple.

While your suggestion to #TalkTheGameUp is a good one, we are facing a different problem here on two fronts. Media attacking match officials is disgraceful and needs to be addressed, in a firm manner. We all know referees make mistakes, they are humans after all. But the constant denigration and the abhorrent insinuations by some commentators that the referees are trying to get in the spotlight, or the rubbish view of some fans that they are match fixing and the like, need to end. Be as harsh as you need to on this.

Because it leads to a bigger issue and my second point. The message this belittling of referees sends to children. That players are never at fault, it’s the referees who are to blame. Do we really want a game where kids are abusing referees? Or a game where no-one wants to be an official. It’s a hard enough job as it is, they don’t need to cop this verbal diahorrea from cowards that have never once tried their hand at being an official at this level.

Thank you.

Monday, 21 May 2018

My Book: The Story Of Rugby League

Today, Monday the 21st of May is a day I never though would come. The day that I had my very own Rugby League book on the shelves in shops.

But the day is here and it is amazing.

My debut book is titled The Story of Rugby League, a look at key moments in the history of Rugby League in Australia designed to entertain, educate and inform school children (and even adults who have yet to dabble into the game's history), about the events, players, clubs and games that have taken place from the games birth in England in 1895 to the final of the 2017 World Cup.

It is a colourful book, packed with great images, facts and statistics. It's an A4 sized, hardcover book, with 93 pages, published by the team at New Holland Publishers.

The book exists thanks largely to the iconic Rugby League historian and author Alan Whiticker.

You can buy it online here:

It is also available in all major bookstores around Australia.

Friday, 27 April 2018

The 1915 Patriotic Carnival (2018)

Australian Rugby League during the first World War received plenty of criticism for opting to continue competition, largely directed at it from rival code Rugby Union. They argued, wrongly, that League players refused to join up and serve in the military, instead opting to stay at home and get paid to play footy.

There are many stories of prominent Rugby League players at the time who defied this argument, as well as the game’s secretary and then-politician Edward Larkin who died at the landing of Gallipoli. What is rarely mentioned when this argument arises nearly every year is just how much the game of Rugby League donated to the war effort, through the game itself.

They regularly played games where gate receipts were donated and on one occasion, an actual field ambulance was donated.

On June 28, 1915, the League staged its first ever shortened version of Rugby League in a knockout competition played over 5 hours, all to raise funds for the war effort.

The day itself, with great intentions in mind, started tragically when it was revealed that one of the three founding fathers of Rugby League in Australia and brilliant Test Cricket batsmen Victor Trumper, had died at 10am that day while at St.Vincents Hospital.

Trumper had been ill for 2 years and was said to have died from ‘sportsman’s heart’ but later diagnosed as Bright’s disease. He was just 38 years old.

The players though had no idea about this news at the time. They had assembled at the famous Sydney Cricket Ground for the days action. The trustees of the ground agreed to let the venue be used free of charge for the day, so as to maximise the donation to the war effort.

Three games were played between President’s Cup sides to start proceedings. South Sydney defeated Western Suburbs 11-2, before Wests backed up to take on Glebe, winning the contest 8-5.

After these games was a brief intermission before the knockout began. The games were 30 minutes long, 15 minutes each way, with no half time interval, just a changing of ends.

At 12:30pm Glebe took on North Sydney in the first game. The match was played with vigour early on, leading to a try by Frank Burge which was converted by Henry Bolewski. Just before the change of ends, Charlie Sherritt kicked a penalty goal. After the switch, Glebe dominated as Tom Leggo and Fred Saunders bagged tries, the latter also converted by Bolewski. Glebe winning 13-2.

At 1:05pm Wests took on an understrength Souths side and after a dour first half, only a penalty goal by Athol White separated the sides. Wests though ran away with the game after changing sides, with Smith, Clarrie Prentice and Bill Joass all scoring tries, one of which was converted by White. Wests winning comfortably by 13-0.

At 1:40pm Newtown took on Easts in a match that saw the Bluebags forwards dominate. Tony Martin scored the sole try of the first half for Newtown, which was converted by Charlie Russell, while Wally Messenger kicked a penalty goal for the tricolours. The change of ends was a blessing for Newtown, who put on two more tries through Wally Collins and Roy Farnsworth to win the game 11-2.

At 2:15pm, the final opening round clash took place between Balmain and Annandale. The Dales were surprisingly good in this contest, with neither side scoring at the change. A great pass from Horrie Balkwell to Jim Brassill, sent the latter on a fine run to score the sole points of the game. Balmain victorious 3-0.

The first semi-final kicked off at 2:50pm with what was regarded as the best match of the tournament between Glebe and Wests. A spirited effort by Wests was not enough to deny the star studded Glebe side who won 13-5. Frank Burge bagged two tries and Tom Leggo one, while Henry Bolewski kicked 2 goals for Glebe while Wests points came from a try to Clarrie Tye and a goal from Athol White.

The second semi then took place at 3:25pm. It was a hard fought battle again decided by just a try. A great bustling run by Balmain’s Jack Robinson from halfway saw him score the sole try which was converted by George Cummins to give the Watersiders a 5-0 win.

A 15 minute spell was granted to Balmain after their semi before they ran out for the final at 4:10pm against rivals Glebe. The game was a terrific contest, with both sides showing plenty of enterprise in attack, but superior defence ensure that no points were scored at the change of ends. A poor kick from Balmain’s Lyall Wall gifted Glebe the ball and Frank Burge crossed for the sole try of the game. Balmain rallied frequently and late, but Glebe’s defences could not be breached. Glebe winning the final 3-0.

A thoroughly entertained crowd of 12,000 people attended the long day of action.