Wednesday, 28 September 2011

The First Referee - Edward 'Ted' Hooper (2011)

In 1907, a small group of eight men became the founding fathers of Australia’s Rugby League referee’s. The man leading them into this exciting new future was Edward James “Ted” Hooper.


Born in 1871 in Kent, England, Edward showed great aptitude for sports and fitness at a very young age. He moved to Australia and almost immediately found work with the Randwick Municipal Council, as manager of the surf pavilion at Clovelly beach. A job he loved and held down for many years.

In a time where cars did not exist in Australia, everyone travelled by steam engine, tram or by foot. Every summer, Hooper’s job would be one of the most vital and important as Sydneysiders flocked to the beach and the change sheds. Due to the long hours and physicality of his work, Hooper wisely bought a house on Arden St, Coogee, so that he didn’t have to travel far too and from work every day.

He began playing Rugby Union, initially as a centre. At the ripe age of just 27 he made his first grade debut for Surry Hills, whom he played for from 1899 til 1902. In 1903 he moved to Easts and also, into the second row, where he became renowned as one of the smartest forwards in the state.

In 1903 he was selected in a NSW touring squad that toured the NSW Northern Rivers, before playing an official game for NSW, alongside future Rugby League pioneer Arthur Hennessy. In 1903 Hooper also won his maiden first grade premiership. He left the Easts club at the end of the 1904 season and joined Sydney, before announcing his retirement from the playing field after the 1905 season.

Hooper then turned his hand to refereeing and quickly became one of the leading officials in the state in 1906 and 1907.

In late 1907, when discontent amongst the Rugby Union ranks and talk of a breakaway Rugby code grew stronger, Hooper decided he would switch codes and referee this exciting new game.

On August 28, 1907, Edward Hooper was appointed the inaugural Rugby League Referees Association President. A role he held until the end of the 1912 domestic season.

The NSWRL offered to pay the referees and sideline officials a small sum of money for officiating games. Hooper however moved that the referees not be paid, so that the money could be used elsewhere to ensure the survival of the game. The referees also decided that instead of being paid, they would also donate money to the NSWRL from their own pockets. The referee would donate threepence and the sideline officials gave a shilling each, for every game they were involved in.

On April 20, 1908, Balmain and Wests kicked off in the first Rugby League game under Northern Union rules at Birchgrove Oval. Ted Hooper was the referee in what turned out to be a one-sided affair, Balmain winning 24-0.

On May 2, 1908 Ted then became the first to referee a representative Rugby League game in Australasia, when he officiated the New South Wales vs New Zealand game. By season’s end, Hooper had officiated in 11 club games, more than any other referee that year.

On July 4, 1908, he controlled two consecutive games on the same day. The Newtown vs Norths game which kicked off at 2pm, followed by the Balmain vs Glebe game at 3.15pm, which is surely a true testament to his athleticism and fitness.

Hooper continued to referee in 1909, before deciding to become a part-time referee in the lower grades of the Sydney competition.

At the end of the 1912 season, Ted stood down from his position as Referees Association President and was immediately selected to manage an as yet, undecided Australian representative team that would be the first to tour New Zealand. The NSWRL later decided to send a NSW squad to New Zealand, however it was essentially an unofficial Australian squad.

The tour started with two easy wins for the Blues. In the second game, Sid Deane was charged with an illegal strike on an opponent and the NZRL decided to suspend him for the remainder of the tour. The NSW team threatened to strike, but Hooper stepped in and mediated a lesser suspension for Deane which ensured the tour would continue.

The controversy didn’t end there. Hawkes Bay was to host NSW on Saturday at the same ground the NZRU were using on Sunday. League officials asked to use the newly erected stand that the NZRU assembled at the ground. The Union officials agreed but only if the NZRL and NSWRL would pay an exorbitant price. They declined.

On the eve of the League game, Union officials dismantled the stand and took all the materials with them. League officials arrived at the ground the next morning and saw what happened. Hooper, a number of the NSW and Hawkes Bay players and local residents all chipped in with materials and labour to build their own stand, which was completed in time for the game.

The NSWRL opted not to charge anyone admission for the game for their support. However, after a great match many of the fans donated money to match officials for the game. Hooper gave half the monies from this game to the NZRL.

The NSW team lost to Auckland before defeating the New Zealand test side. The Sid Deane suspension issue arose again, this time the NZRL decided that they would like to reverse the earlier agreement. So as to retain good relations, Hooper agreed. NSW went on to complete the tour undefeated, their tour summary showed an impressive 8 wins from their 10 games. So successful was the tour financially, that the NSWRL decided to do it again the following year.

Upon his return home, Edward Hooper decided to spend more time with his family and stepped down from all duties as a referee. He became a referee selector from 1912 til 1915.

He was again elected as manager of New South Wales as they embarked on their second tour in as many years to New Zealand in 1913. This time though he requested a co-manager, in the event that similar incidents from the 1912 tour were to arise again, they would be able to more efficiently deal with them. Souths secretary S.G. Ball was named as his co-manager.
The tour though was a roaring success, with achievements made that have never since been matched. New South Wales generally annihilated their opponents. Their most impressive performance was in the last tour game against the New Zealand test team. The Blues won the game 58-19.

Returning home, Hooper enjoyed his most relaxed season yet as an administrator before his one last hurrah, when he was coerced into another notable first in 1914, when he managed the NSW team in a tour game against the touring British Lions, in the first game ever played in Victoria. 12,000 fans turned out to see England win 21-15 in a hard fought contest.

The NSWRL disbanded the Referees Association in 1915, meaning that the games controlling body now organised the officials for each game, whereas it had previously been organised by the referees association. They immediately appointed Hooper as a referee selector, a position he held until 1925.

In 1919, the 48 year old Hooper was graded as a first grade referee for the first time since 1909, but he wasn’t required for duty.

In 1925, he travelled with the NSW team to Brisbane for the fourth interstate game. At half-time, a novelty game between the Brisbane and Ipswich referees was scheduled, with Hooper as the honorary referee. Once the 15 minute game concluded, the referees left the field, the crowd applauding Hooper who waved and smiled as he entered the change rooms.

He went to the shower and suddenly, with no warning, collapsed on the floor.

Doctors ran in but they were too late. Edwards James Hooper had died; the cause of death at the time was recorded as shock.

He was just 54.

He died as an honourary life member of the NSWRL.

In 2007, his grandson Edward John Hooper, approached the NSWRL with the intention of donating his grandfather’s referee cap and whistle from 1908, however he never heard back from them. He then informed the SCG trust of the cap and whistle and they jumped at the offer and proudly advertised them as key features of their museum in 2008. The items are still on display today.

*************************************************************************

Many great thanks to Ted Hooper's grandson, Edward John Hooper and his great grandson Ted Hooper, for providing me with great insight and information that would have otherwise been lost to time. Hopefully this piece can help ensure the great generosity, nobility and selflessness of this great man not just to Rugby League, but to society and to his family, will never be forgotten.

****This article appeared in the Men Of League magazine****

Thursday, 15 September 2011

The All-Time Greatest Team (2005)

I know the heading implies a topic that’s been more overdone than a Craig McLachlan dog-humping joke, but this article is a bit different. Anyone struggling for ideas can come up with their opinion of the greatest line up ever for their club. I’m not doing that. What I am providing is a line-up of the greatest supporters. So let’s strap on the stupid wigs, buy some exorbitantly priced food, consume far too much amber fluid in pathetically sized plastic … things, and relax.

Starting at fullback, you need someone safe and cautious, but also explosive at the right time. This person happens to be the mother of the five children, who are all running around like a mob of inmates who just broke out of jail. She is calm and lets them play for a while, but out of nowhere she snaps! Children are bawling, scared and even more bloody annoying than you thought possible when they were walking all over the seats and obstructing your view of the game.

On the wings, speed is the quality required primarily. This would come in the form of the drunken yobbo’s up the back of the stadium, whose comments are so quick witted and brilliant, however, had they said them half an hour ago when the incident they’re referring to actually happened, then they would have been far more entertaining, possibly verging on funny. The man on the other wing is the one who says the same thing all day long, from the kick-off of the under 7’s, to the final whistle in first grade. That one thing is usually “They’ve been doin’ it all day!”

Centres require good defence and attack. These would clearly be the inconsiderate people who push in front of you in queues for food, or to go to the one toilet cubicle the stadium has available. These people have an inane ability to agitate the tiring and unaware defences of the rest of the general public with their robust runs and strong odour.

Five-eighth requires a playmaker, a ball player, a thinker. This is none other than the little scrawny drunken dork who thinks he is Arnold Swarzenegger. He stands up at the most exciting and important moment of the match, and yells something ludicrously baffling towards no one in particular, then laughs it up. Suddenly he has people hurling abuse at him and telling him rather bluntly to sit down, to which this soup brained nimrod retorts with some more incoherent drunken rambling. The ‘to and fro-ing’ continues until a team scores a try, which everyone misses because they were all distracted by the inebriated idiot.

Halfback: the general. He who controls all. He is the man mentioned in the above who tells others to sit down and shut up. He is usually the size of the whole front row in a scrum. He never stands up to express his hatred for abovementioned idiots standing in his view of the game. He knows that if he did stand up, many more people would be irritated at him blocking their view. This man is very intelligent.

Now we move onto the forwards. These players are big and seem much tougher and powerful when combined with the rest of the forward pack. This six-pack of fat, stupid derelicts, usually have the best seats in the house, arrived at the game drunk, make up extremely irritating, incoherent chants that don’t make sense, aren’t very entertaining and generally taunt the team that played last week. However, it’s this pathetic behaviour that gets the other team members pumped up and performing in their own special ways.

This team has a lot of negative attributes, however their commitment is exceptional. The larger the crowd, the bigger their performances, although they still manage to put on a great showing in the substantially smaller crowds.

It’s hard to surpass this awesome line-up. The only team that could pose a decent challenge would be the great “English Soccer fans” team, which has been performing brilliantly for many years now.

So maybe in a year or two we could issue a challenge to the Poms. All we need is some leniency at customs, a truckload of beer, a referee, a stadium, a heap of power-crazy security officers and some idiots with air-horns and flares, and we have ourselves a spectacle that could possibly be the greatest ever.

Bring it on!

The NRL Cinema (2005)

The NRL Big Screen Plaza Cinema House Pty Ltd, which is located in one extremely inconvenient location in Humula, in Southern NSW, has released this list of movies to hit Australia this winter.

So here for your delight in a cinema nowhere near you, are the following movies:

Mission Impossible 3

Shaun McRae stars in this action packed blockbuster through the streets of Redfern, where he is the one man who has to take a group of talentless and uncoordinated nobodies into the heart of Sydney in an attempt to recover the sacred NRL Premiership Trophy that has been missing from their trophy cabinet for 34 years. A highly entertaining movie with absolutely no guns at all.

Dumb and Dumber and Dumberer and Even Dumbererer

Starring the accountant from the Canterbury Bulldogs Rugby League club along with special cameos from the auditors and a henchman from Germany called Klaus. The cash strapped Bulldogs Club were caught exceeding the salary cap in 2002, three years later they are caught once again. This hilarious romp through bank records and player payments never lets up for a minute.

Terminator 4: Execution

This movie is a non-stop action packed drama with incredible stunts and unbelievable special effects. John Hopoate is a moron sent forward in time to take out Rugby League players with “accidental” manouvers. The Manly league board controls his destiny in League, but can they contain his destruction and maiming of innocent lives outside of it?

The Replacements 2

The much awaited sequel to the American classic, starring Tim Sheens as coach of a group of young footballers who have to try and compete in the toughest competition in the world. With a large group of fans expecting them to become the clubs saviours, the young men have to overcome the pressures and rigours of first grade football. Don’t prepare yourself for the traditional fairytale ending.

Analyze This and That

A successful first grade footballer is sent to a psychiatrist to try and determine what truly is wrong with him. This movie switches between funny to sad to downright confusing at an unpredictable pace. Starring Willie Mason with Anthony Mundine as the psychiatrist and cameo appearances by Anthony Minichiello, Craig Fitzgibbon, and a mobile phone.

Scream 17

A horror movie that will leave you asking questions after you’ve seen it. Steve Price stars in this, possibly the scariest movie since Don’s Party and Biodome. Price wakes up in another country surrounded by players that can’t play football at all. He tries to assimilate with this new race and not get noticed, while at the same time, planning his way back home. But he’s being watched…

I Still Know What You Did Last Summer Again

A young football prodigy is caught in a dormitory molesting a young woman. He thinks he is safe and that no one saw him, but someone did. Now his life has turned upside down and he’s all alone…

Charlies Angels 3

Our three ladies, Trent, Mark and Shaun led by Browny are made to try and bring the red dragon back from the dead. However, they have armies of much more skilled fighters to combat against. Can the ladies bring the dragon back to life, or will their efforts be foiled?

Passion Of The Christ: Return

Andrew Johns stars in this film about the rise and fall of God’s modern child. Johns become’s a modern day saviour and saint for the people of Newcastle, until suddenly he falls from the graces of his local minions and is forced from the life he once knew. Also starring Andrew Johns and narrated by Andrew Johns.

Stacey Jones’ Diary

An almost voyeuristic look into the life of one man: a footballer, who was once regarded as the best in the world, now he is a pathetic over rated hack. See into his mind and his life in one of the driest humour films of the century.

Super Duper Size Me

Much like the first movie, this movie also stars a man who was once small, but through binging on fast food, he becomes fat. Owen Craigie’s performance in this film is unbelievable and his transformation from slight framed talented footballer in a successful team to a fat talentless fruit in the worst team is truly horrifying. You just can’t help but watch this movie.

Hopefully these movies will be released on DVD before the cricket season begins, thus avoiding another long boring summer.

Who's Next? (2005)

With the NRL deciding recently to re-admit the Gold Coast into the competition, I started thinking, “Who’s next?”

Not as in who’s going to be the next team brought into our game. More so, which pathetic under achieving team from the past, who has been removed from the competition, is going to be readmitted?

Souths, kicked out of the competition in 1999 for many reasons, including poor on-field performance, poor crowds and finances. Now, Souths still perform poorly on the field, at drawing crowds and the way they are throwing money around at big name, under-achieving players, it can be assumed financial strain will come again soon.

Gold Coast, a team that knows failure better than most other teams, a team that was so poorly run that the ARL had to appoint its own officials to manage the team, a team that had to relocate to try and draw bigger crowds, a team that failed when given substantial support from the games governing body.

Now, they have again been recalled to participate in the NRL.

So which pathetic performing side, which seemingly had no future and was subsequently removed from the competition, is going to be recalled for future seasons?

Lets take a look at the candidates.

Wests – A team that has been booted from the competition twice. A plethora of juniors, large supporter area combined with no money, abysmal crowd attendances and pathetic on field performances should be enough to make them candidate number 1 to be brought back into the competition.

Norths – A foundation club who had no idea how to make it to a grand final, let alone win. The perennial chokers of the competition. Also have no money, which was the main reason for them having to merge with rivals Manly. Fittingly, just like Norths have done in the past, their half of the merger failed, Manly came back and Norths are…well somewhere. All of this makes them a hot contender to be brought back next.

Glebe – The very first team. One of the most disliked teams amongst league officials that ultimately lead to their demise in 1929. They had everything, players, support, money, unhappy officials. This game needs a good ‘us vs them’ between a team and the people who control the game. This rivalry could be the spark to revive waning interest in the game.

Annandale – A team that never achieved. They were cut from the competition for breaking rules regarding players from other areas playing for them, their rough style of play and the simple fact that they were just plain crap. If their bank account from 1920 were to be brought forward, it’d be fair to assume that they might have enough there to buy a mouthguard. The thought of bringing a team so dismal back into the competition, a team that would do nothing for the game, puts them right at the top of the tree to be included once again.

Adelaide – A team made by a media magnate to generate funds for his own bastardised version of our great game. After two years it was decided by News Ltd and the NRL that there was no financial viability in the team and it was shut down. The game wants to expand, as well as reintroducing teams that go broke quicker than a bombed Skase idea, so lets take the game back to Adelaide!

South Queensland – Habitual losers, heavily relied on funding by the ARL for survival and was an all round stupid idea. They never showed promise; all they did was improve every other teams for and against record. They attracted nobodies, fielding teams of nobodies and surprisingly, did nothing. If you want a team that never should have been, look no further than the inappropriately named Crushers. If the NRL aim to be consistent in recalling the worst teams they’ve cut, then surely the Crushers would be high on their list.

Perth – Another of the failed teams from the 1994 ‘lets expand the game’ idea. Strangely though, this team was not the victim of financial issues, poor crowds or lack of junior development. It wasn’t due to pathetic on field performances either, as they were consistently mid table finishers. The NRL closed the door on the Reds for God knows why. They wouldn’t be high on the “lets bring back a pathetic team that should never have been brought back” list, as they actually hold promise. We should probably keep quiet about this one.

So, who’s next?

An Idiots Guide To Being A Rugby League Writer (2008)

Index

1 – Getting Started
1.1 – Pre-requisites
1.2 – Understanding the game
1.3 – How to work with facts

2 – Journalistic Integrity
2.1 – What is it?
2.2 – What do I do with it?
2.3 – How do I obtain it?

3 – Writing your piece
3.1 – Ignoring facts
3.2 – Opinion over Information
3.3 – Purpose of your article

Chapter 1 – Getting Started
1.1 – Pre-Requisites

Pre-requisites are skills and tools in your arsenal which are strongly required to carry out your duties as a Rugby League writer successfully. These pre-requisites will also be relied upon from time to time in your duties to announce to the world your wisdom on said topics in an effort to get yourself out of some massive hole you dug for yourself, via some unintelligible diatribe you splurted out while half drunk at an important official ceremony.

1.2 – Understanding the game

Information about rugby league is readily available everywhere you look in Australia, so even if you have little to no understanding of the game, you can quickly and easily find out. In most careers, an understanding of the business you are about to enter into is a pre-requisite, luckily for you though, this is not the case for rugby league writers. In fact, the less you know the better equipped you will be.

1.3 – How to work with facts

Facts are very useful at times, but can get in the way of a very good article at other times. You need to understand the delicate balancing act of fact usage. The best and simplest policy, which will always see you in good stead, is this: If it’s a bad fact, use it, if it’s a good fact, then you aren’t writing a rugby league article.

Chapter 2 – Journalistic Integrity
2.1 – What is it?

Journalistic integrity for Rugby League writers is somewhat of an unknown entity, and is another facet normally attributed to pre-requisites, which is not required at all. However if you do happen to have journalistic integrity, you will soon be rid of it once you start getting work published, so don’t fret!

2.2 – What do I do with it?

Hopefully you won’t have any to do anything with, however if you are unfortunate enough to have some journalistic integrity, the best thing to do is to rid yourself of it very quickly. Let it be said and known very clearly and early, that the biggest enemy of any rugby league writer is integrity. You are not hired to be a good journalist. You are hired to write trashy articles which rubbish the game. I’m sure you can see the contradiction with being a reputable rugby league writer.

2.3 – How do I obtain it?

If you are intent on being a respectable journalist, then rugby league journalism is not the avenue you should be attempting. The only rugby league writers to be reputable are well known players, although their integrity stems from their performances on the field, not through their writing.

Chapter 3 – Writing your piece.
3.1 – Ignoring facts

Facts should only arise when discussing a controversy in the game. The facts you use should be clear, repeated as often as possible and should make the people involved in said controversy to come across as worse people than anyone could ever believe. If you are faced with a situation where the parties involved have never been in trouble before, you must immediately link them with the few people who are known offenders. While executing this, you must completely ignore all known facts, opting for whatever you feel seems viable and makes the first time offender appear like a repeat offender.

3.2 – Opinion over information

There are times when important information comes to light which contradicts your opinion on a person and/or situation. In these instances, you must make a very brief mention of the fact, then completely wrap it up in your biased, unsubstantiated, uneducated, hype-riddle d opinion. What you write will determine a player’s credibility. The more players you can defame, the more secure your job will be.

3.3 – Purpose of your article

Rugby league writers must perform contrary to standard journalism practices (ie - provide unbiased factual information for the public). You are to appeal to prejudices, make gross exaggerations, and put players up on pedestals before cutting them down on a regular basis.

Last but not least, don’t forget the Golden Rule:

If you think it, then it’s fact.

Good luck!

The Camping Trip (2008)

“Okay boys, have you all got your bags packed? It’s time to go!”

Cartwright: I don’t wanna go!
Cleary: Neither do I, I hate leaving home!

“Come on boys, it’ll be fun. You have fun at home all the time, it’ll be just the same on the camping trip”

Stuart: Yeah come on you two, stop whinging and get on the bus!
Hasler: WHO F***ING DIED AND MADE YOU F***ING BOSS!
Stuart: Stop whinging.
Hasler: I’M NOT F***ING WHINGING. YOU ARE!
Stuart: Dessie’s picking on me!

“Okay you two that’s enough. All the bags are here except one. Where’s Jason?”

Taylor: Down here.

“Oh there you are. Okay everyone on the bus! Let’s go!”

The bus arrives at the camp site and the boys put up their tents.

“Who’s crying? Tim what’s the matter”

Sheens: I’ve got all the pieces in their right spots, but it just won’t work!

“Let’s have a look here. Okay Tim, the most important piece here is the centre pole. Where is it?”

Sheens: It’s there!

“Tim that’s a shoe, why would you use a shoe when you have a perfectly good centre pole right there”

Sheens: I like that shoe.

“Tim, use the pole you have and stop throwing tantrums. Now what’s going on over here Steve?”

Folkes: I’m buying Ricky’s bent tent peg.

“Why do you want a bent tent peg?”

Folkes: Well I don’t have any good tent pegs to use, so I’m buying bent ones. If you know anyone with some spare pegs lying around that they don’t need, let them know I’ll pay good money for them.”

“Okay Steve, I’ll keep that in mind. Jason, what’s happening here buddy? Everyone elses tents are almost up except yours.”

Taylor: It keeps falling down

“Let’s have a look here. Jason, you have a heap of pieces but none them are from the same set and all these poles and pegs are rusty. Why didn’t you buy a new tent set?”

Taylor: I thought this one was new.

“Unfortunately not. You’ll have to share with someone else. Graham, can Jason share your tent?”

Murray: I just got kicked out of my tent.

“Kicked out! Well where are you going to sleep?”

Murray: I was going to share with Jason.

“Oh dear, this is not good, unfortunately there isn’t a spare tent, you two will have to sleep on the bus tonight. Wayne, what are you doing?”

Bennett: I’m bored with my tent, I want Nathan’s.

“But your tent is the best tent here, Nathan’s isn’t very good at all, why would you want his?”

Brown: He can have it, I don’t mind.

“But where are you going to sleep Nathan?”

Brown: I don’t know, I’m just happy to have had the tent and to get the chance to be here.

“Well that’s nice Nathan, but you still have nowhere to sleep.”

Brown: Maybe I can sleep in Wayne’s tent.
Bennett: No you can’t.
Brown: Well why not, you’ll be sleeping in my tent.
Bennett: No I won’t. I’ll be renovating your tent so that it becomes my old tent.
Brown: Well I’ll go and sleep under the bus until someone offers me a tent, or a jacket.

“Neil, what are you doing? You haven’t finished putting up your tent.”

Henry: I’m going to sleep in Graham’s tent. He’s not using it anymore.

“What are going to do with your tent?”

Henry: Don’t care, I like this tent better. Can I stay here?

“You should sleep in the tent you brought”

Henry: I don’t like it anymore.

“Well okay then. Brian, Michael why are you fighting?”

Hagan: He’s trying to get stuff out of my tent.
Smith: It used to be my tent, it still has some of my things in it.
Hagan: Your tent used to be mine too remember.
Smith: No it didn’t, it’s always been mine, you just borrowed it
Hagan: I hate you!
Smith: I hate you too!

Fighting breaks out between Brian and Michael. Craig comes over and puts Brian in a chicken-wing hold and he stops fighting.

“Thank you Craig. You can let him go now. Brad why are you smiling? Is there something you’re not telling me?”

Fittler: Jason doesn’t have a tent ha-ha!

“That’s not very nice Brad”

Fittler: Steve doesn’t have any tent pegs either, I took them from him ha-ha!

“You took Steve’s tent pegs? Are you going to give them back?”

Fittler: Nup. Ha-ha!

“You boys are a bloody handful!”

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Now that’s a controversial fight! (2011)

In the first twenty years of Rugby League’s existence, there had been some insanely erratic decisions regarding player suspensions and the like for their discrepancies and misbehaviour.

In 1917, Glebe’s Dan Davies played a game against Annandale which Glebe won. Glebe attempted to lie about his place of residence but a complaint by Annandale, who Davies should have been playing for according to the residential rule at the time, saw Glebe stripped of their two competition points for the win against Annandale.

The NSWRL suspended Davies indefinitely, as this was the first intentional breach of the residential rule they had to determine a penalty for Glebe’s and Davies’ deception. In a later game that year, three Glebe players were dubiously suspended. The NSWRL penalised Glebe by moving their top of the table match against neighbouring rivals Balmain, from the Sports Ground, where gate takings would be very high, to the significantly smaller Birchgrove Oval.

Incensed by the decision, Glebe’s first grade team went on strike. Balmain flogged Glebe’s second string side and the NSWRL suspended all the Glebe players until 1918. Dan Davies, for his earlier indiscretion, was banned for life.

Davies returned to his hometown Newcastle and started playing again. When the NSWRL found out, they banned nearly all the Newcastle competitions’ players and administrators for life. A decision they reversed when a rebel code in Newcastle began shortly after.

In 1923, one of the fairest players of the game, Duncan Thompson, was charged with kicking a player in the face. Spectators and media sided with Thompson. But despite never being involved in any unsportsmanlike behaviour previously, the NSWRL suspended him for the rest of the year. After appealing the charge the NSWRL shortened the suspension. Thompson dissatisfied and insulted, left Sydney and moved to Toowoomba, never playing in Sydney again.

Then there’s the flip side.

August 11, 1928 – the equal first St.George took on the equal last Balmain in a spirited encounter at Arncliffe’s Earl Park.

From midway through the first half the game was littered with spiteful clashes, scuffles, foul play and cheap shots. An alleged elbow by St.George forward George Carstairs broke Balmain’s Tony Russell’s’ nose midway through the first half.

Referee Mick Brannaghan did nothing.

In a scrum late in the first half, St.George’s Arnold Traynor reeled out of a scrum with blood freely flowing from his nose.

During the second half, Russell kicked Carstairs in the face while the latter was picking himself up from a tackle to play the ball.

Referee Mick Brannaghan did nothing.

Later, a scuffle between two players saw Harry Flower from St.George intervene to help out his team mate. Surprisingly, after much serious incidents had lead to cautions or no action at all, Flower was sent off.
The crowd went from frustrated to furious.

With five minutes remaining in the game, Russell again kicked Carstairs in the head knocking him unconscious, this time nowhere near the action.
Former Test player turned touch judge, Charlie Hedley, ran onto the field to inform the referee of the incident.

Referee Mick Brannaghan did nothing.

The crowd was incensed, yelling out “We want Russell!”

As fulltime sounded an end to the atrocious play, Balmain’s George Bishop set after Traynor.

St.George coach, Frank Burge and Secretary Reg Fusedale ran onto the field to assist the unconscious Carstairs.

The crowd had seen enough and they spilled onto the ground, practically following Burge and Fusedale. Some spectators ripped off fence palings and made a bee-line for Russell. There was even one spectator allegedly seen with an axe!

Police at the scene, used batons, handcuffs and their fists to rescue Russell and rush him to the dressing room.

He was then taken to an ambulance suffering injuries to his face, back, ribs, arms and legs. He allegedly met a revived Carstairs and they began fighting before the ambulance driver intervened.

The NSWRL announced a full inquiry into how the riot happened and what penalties needed to be delivered. In the most confusing decision yet, the NSWRL blamed the fans for the riot and no reason to punish any of the players.

Russell declared he accidentally kicked Carstairs with the side of his boot as he stepped over him, while Carstairs, unsurprisingly, couldn’t remember what happened.

After that day of violence and rioting, the most amazing words came from the seemingly oblivious official, Mick Brannaghan.

"It was one of the cleanest games I’ve ever refereed."