Friday, 25 November 2011

Genesis (2011)

In the beginning when Gallen created the heavens and the Shire, the Shire was a formless void covered in darkness. Then Gallen said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light. Gallen saw that the light was good. Gallen called the light Day, and the darkness he called Kogarah. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

And Gallen said, ‘Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, separating the waters from the waters.’ So Gallen made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so. Gallen called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

And Gallen said, ‘Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.’ And it was so. Gallen called the dry land Shire (except for the wasteland he created to the north, he called St.George), and the waters he called Seas. And Gallen saw that it was good. Then Gallen said, ‘let the Shire put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed and fruit.’ And it was so. The Shire brought forth
vegetation: plants yielding seed fruit. And Gallen saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

And Gallen said, ‘Let there be lights in the sky and a bridge on the earth to separate the Shire from the Kogarah; and let them be for seasons, days and years, and let them be lights in the sky to give light upon the Shire.’ And it was so. Gallen made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the Kogarah people. Gallen set them in the sky to give light upon the Shire, to rule over the day and over the night, and the bridge to separate the Shire from the Kogarah. And Gallen saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

And Gallen said, ‘Let the waters bring forth living creatures, and let birds fly above the Shire across the sky.’ So Gallen created the great sea monsters in Kogarah Bay and every other living creature that moves. And Gallen saw that it was amusing. Gallen blessed them, saying, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the Shire.’ And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

And Gallen said, ‘Let the Shire bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and wild animals.’ And it was so. Gallen made the wild animals of the Shire of every kind, and everything that creeps around Kogarah. And Gallen saw that it was good and quite funny.

Then Gallen said, ‘Let us make humankind in the Shire in my image, according to my likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the Shire and over every creeping thing that resides around Kogarah’

So Gallen created humankind in his image.

People from the other side of Tom Ugly’s bridge – they were the scraps remaining that Gallen didn’t need. They existed for Gallen's amusement.

Gallen blessed the humans and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the Shire and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the Shire, including those weird looking things across the bridge.’ Gallen said, ‘See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the Shire, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the Shire, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps in Kogarah, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food and long lasting amusement’ And it was so. Gallen saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

And on the Seventh day, Gallen beat Chuck Norris in an arm wrestle.

This is the word of our Lord.

Up, Up, Cronulla.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Off-Season? (2011)

Tis mid-November, summer is just days away, the thoughts of Rugby League start to siphon from my veins, being replaced by the cricket season.

It is some ungodly hour of the morn, my eyelids which must way all of a few grams each, feel like bricks, as I try to stay awake and watch Australia playing South Africa in the first test. It’s a game full of roller coaster moments for both sides.

But I fall into a deep slumber; I cannot resist the seductive lure of sleep.

My subconscious takes over. My brain longs for Rugby League but is also in some sort of equinoxical* battle with the normality of the beginning of the cricket season. I should have made the transition from League to cricket by now; instead my mind is in a limbo-like middle part.

I start dreaming up some weird fanciful things which certainly don’t help.

I open my eyes again and catch a glimpse of the cricket.

I see Ryan Harris running in to bowl. Just as he is about to start his delivery, striding forward with his front foot, getting side-on to generate as much as pace as he can, I close my eyes and picture Jacques Kallis, the batsmen at the non-strikers end, drop his bat, bends slightly and drives his shoulder into Harris’ exposed hip, pushing with his legs and crunching Harris into the turf, in a tackle that Nigel Plum would be proud to call ‘standard’.

I open my eyes to see Harris complete his delivery, unimpeded by Kallis’ shoulder. The ball is pitched in line with Graeme Smith’s pads. Smith flicks the ball down to fine leg. As Mitchell Johnson runs around to cut the ball off from reaching the boundary, I close my eyes again and see Johnson, scoop up a football one handed, a la Billy Slater, and make a dashing run through the players scattered all around the field, before running off to score a…..

I open my eyes again to see Johnson pick the ball up and casually lob it in to the keeper. I convince myself I should be fully embracing the cricket now. I try for another over to be truly analytical and concentrate hard on the game.

This just tires me faster. As Harris begins his next over, he pitches a ball up, and just as Kallis pushes forward to hit the ball through mid-off, I again close my eyes in yet another long ‘blink’. This time I envisage Kallis putting in a grubber kick behind the defensive line, he runs hard straight through the opponents and picks up the ball which has held a true line but is bouncing along erratically, he collects it and throws a Benji Marshall type no-look flick pass behind his back to Smith who runs away to score …… 4 runs, nice shot there by Kallis, nice straight drive down the ground.

This is doing my head in, I can’t do this! I surrender; I need to watch Rugby League. I lift my tired body out of the loving embrace of the lounge and dawdle to the DVD Cabinet and shuffle through the titles, looking for an all-too familiar DVD.

A-ha! Found it! The State of Origin 2009 series. I didn’t pick it for any reason other than it was Rugby League. This should satiate my appetite for Rugby League that my subconscious has seemingly been screaming out for.

I put the DVD on, take my place with the beloved lounge, and get the game started. I feel wide awake again, watching with enthusiasm as players smash into one another.

Soon however, the tiredness comes back. I begin to close my eyes just as Darren Lockyer is about to put up a bomb. As the ball is in the air it surprisingly morphs into a cricket ball and as it falls down, Ricky Ponting takes a catch at gully.

What the hell?!

I awake to see Kurt Gidley catching a ball after a QLD kick-off. He passes to Paul Gallen who catches the short gentle pass and starts to run at full pace towards the Maroons defence. My eyes close once again and Gallen turns into Ryan Harris, charging in to bowl once more.

I give up!

Friday, 21 October 2011

Yappy (2011)

Born in Ballarat on September 11, 1925 to parents whom he never saw and never heard from, Keith Victor Holman had the most distant upbringing from Rugby League that one could humanly have.

Living in poverty as a child, being looked after by a man known only as Holman, who most likely was a relative, but not even Keith knew at the time, Holman grew up during Australia’s darkest days – the post WWI era known as the Depression. For a long time, even Keith’s name was unclear, but after the great generosity he received from this man ‘Holman’ he had his surname changed by deed poll, adopting the name as his surname. It was many years later Keith learnt that Holman was his actual surname anyway.

When the depression struck in the 1930’s, ‘Holman’ took Keith to Sydney, where he resided in a tin shed at Yarra Bay initially, by the people who he considered as his parents throughout his childhood, Mr and Mrs Schofield.

Mrs Schofield sent Keith to De La Salle Brothers School in Surry Hills, where he would go on to become friends with future test team-mate Burnie Purcell.

While at school he was first shown the game of Rugby League and instantly fell in love with it. He was very quick on his feet and very hard for the bigger, cumbersome forwards to catch him. He was quickly put in the pivotal role of halfback and was very quickly representing his school alongside Purcell, under the tutelage of Souths player Jack “Duck” Walsh.

Once his schooling was completed, Holman signed up with the RAAF while still living at Woolloomooloo with the Schofield’s. He was soon posted in Ipswich (Queensland) for training. Holman quickly found a new team to play for in CYM, in Brisbane. He was a chef for the RAAF with the 82 wing.

Keith later revealed he went up to his Chief Officer and said “Excuse me Sir; I’d like to be able to play football Sir, on a Saturday with CYM in Ipswich First Grade.” The CO replied, “I’ll tell you what I’ll do son. You can play on the Saturday, but you’ve got to double-up again on the Sunday and play for the RAAF against the Army and Navy.” Keith was ecstatic, as he later revealed, it meant that he got every weekend off to play footy.

In November 1945, after the Japanese had surrendered in World War II, Holman was sent to Balikpapan in Borneo, with the RAAF, transporting ex-prisoners of war and other Australian Armed forces personnel back to Australia. It was during his time there that he almost lost his life in a bizarre incident.

It was after he’d finished cleaning up in the makeshift Kitchen, two natives where repairing a mechanism used to light the stoves, colloquially known as a ‘choofer’. Petrol was poured down a pipe from tanks outside into a furnace inside. Then a match was sent down the pipe to light the fire inside. On this particular day, the natives were cleaning it, but were unaware it had a leak, and petrol was on the floor inside the kitchen. As Keith was leaving the room, a match was dropped down and the whole room exploded in flames. He received burns to his hands, chest and legs, but fortunately not to his face.

While serving, he was selected at halfback for the RAAF against ‘Rest of Ipswich’ in a curtain raiser game before the England v Ipswich tour game in 1946. He kicked three field goals in the game.

Once his duties with the RAAF had ended, he returned to Sydney and attended a trial for Souths. They told him to come back and try out for a ball boy, because he was so short (5’6” or 168cm) they thought he was a lot younger than he actually was.

The legendary Cec Blinkhorn saw Holman’s trials and lined him up with Manly, who were stringing together players for the debut season. In 1947 Holman played in Manly’s lower grades. They graded him as a reserve for their third grade side before he was posted to Dubbo later in the year.

It was while he was playing in Dubbo in 1948 that current Wests centre at the time Eric Bennett, spotted Holman and insisted he trial with Wests. Bennett brought Holman back to Sydney and they resided with former Wests player Jack Drew in his Enfield home. Bennett, Drew and another ex-player, Tom McGuinness, all worked together to help coach Holman extra skills for a halfback in attack and defence.

Holman played third and reserve grade for Wests in 1948. In 1949, Holman was graded in first grade, but struggled to get much game time, as he was battling with NSW halfback Neville Hogan for a spot in Wests top side.

Holman appeared in a handful of games in 1949, but the few glimpses that the media and the fans got of him, was enough to convince them that he would be a star in the game’s future. After a starring role in Wests 44-15 annihilation of Easts, which earned him Man of the Match honours, he was already being tipped as a candidate for representative duties later that year. Three weeks later he backed up that performance with another starring role in Wests 23-0 shut-out of Canterbury. It was in this match that his combination with Frank Stanmore started to show.

Deft passing both sides, coupled with the ability to throw long, hard passes, later dubbed “bullet passes” as well as amazing agility, speed and determination in defence meant he was popping up all over the field all the time, making him very hard to ignore.

At the end of 1949, Neville Hogan announced he had accepted a role as captain-coach for Young for 1950. Holman became the number 1 halfback at Wests. Holman moved out of Jack Drew’s home and resided with then Wests secretary Lou Moses and his wife in their Croydon home.

Despite Wests slow start to the 1950 season, Holman had made such a massive impression that he was making strong claims for rep honours while still young and playing in a poorly performing team. Playing in the centres for Wests alongside Holman that year was Jack Walsh, his coach from when he attended De La Salle Brothers.

He was surprisingly omitted from both the Sydney firsts and seconds teams to play against Country, but when Keith Froome wasn’t selected as NSW halfback for the upcoming interstate series against Queensland, Holman had a battle with Col Geelan for the vacant job. The selectors however couldn’t ignore Holman’s ability and they selected him.

After a successful interstate series with NSW, and helping lead Wests to a form reversal, winning 4 of 5 games, Holman was named as halfback in the ‘Probables’ team for their match against the “Possibles” to determine positions in the test side. Holman put in yet another stellar performance. Mrs Moses gave him the good news that he had been selected to play for Australia while he was at home one day.

Holman impressed in his first outing, even though he was targeted heavily by English halfback Tommy Bradshaw all game. Australia lost the game 6-4. The selectors chose to stand by the young halfback.

It was a masterstroke, as Holman lead Australia to a dominant 15-3 victory. So good was Holman that he picked up a number of 'Man of the Match' awards from various judges. It even lead the brilliant 1920’s test halfback and then selector Duncan Thompson to say of Holman, “I’ve seen few halfbacks pass with such rhythm and speed.”

It was Thompson’s advice to Holman at half time in the second test that swung the game Australia’s way. The “Downs Fox” told Holman to run with the ball more and take the line on, as the England defenders were getting tired and starting to hang back when he got the ball.

It was that advice that saw Holman score a try and set up another for a great victory.

Keith’s heroics continued in the third test when he helped guide Australia to win the deciding test and win the Ashes for the first time since 1920. Making his test debut in that amazing third test was Holman’s team mate from De La Salle Brothers, Burnie Purcell.

Holman, along with a number of the test players agreed after the game that they would refuse the bonus payments due to them for winning the game and the series, instead, they wanted to receive trophies.

Holman told the Sydney Morning Herald after the series win, “I would rather have the trophy. I would soon spend the money, but a trophy would give me something to look back on and remind me of the games.” The NSWRL honoured the players wishes.

Holman returned to club football, turning in several 'Man of the Match' performances, which saw Wests win their last 6 straight games to sneak into 4th spot and into the finals. They beat Balmain 28-10 to make it to the Grand Final against the star studded Souths line-up, containing Keith’s long-time friend Purcell.

Souths turned out to be too strong on the day, winning 21-15. Holman was awarded the Sunday Herald ‘Player of The Year’ collecting a trophy and 150 pounds.

In 1951, Holman was named vice-captain of Wests and his form continued from the previous year. He was no longer a hopeful selection, he had become the first picked. He played all 3 tests against a touring French team, regarded as one of the greatest teams to ever tour to Australia.

He again lead Wests to the finals, but they bowed out in the first week after a heavy 37-9 loss to Manly. Holman was voted the NSW Player of the Year in 1951, a testament to his performances at all levels of the game. It would not be the last time he won the coveted prize in his distinguished career.

1952 saw Holman and Wests start the season in very strong form. Wests won their first 9 straight games. Holman’s selection in the Test side to play New Zealand saw Wests lose consecutive games.

But it was the second test against the Kiwi’s which had fans concerned.

During the first half, New Zealand winger Cyril Eastlake made a break down the sideline. Holman attempted a diving tackle but missed and his head caught Eastlakes boot as he ran past the attempted tackle.

Holman was knocked out briefly, before regaining his feet, somewhat groggily. At halftime he collapsed in the sheds before regaining consciousness again. He decided to continue playing, but his grogginess severely hampered his usual brilliant self, and the Kiwi’s ran away with the game, winning 49-25.

The selectors were very harsh of the team and cut several players from the third test line-up, including Holman. Keith regained the confidence of the selectors after starring in 4 straight wins for Wests which saw him named in the Kangaroo squad to tour England and France. Keith was presented with a gold watch, travel case and rug from Bebarfalds Ltd.

While en-route to England, Wests defeated Souths in the Grand Final. It would be the only Grand Final Wests would win during Holman’s playing career. His only true regret as a player.

The 1952 Kangaroo tour is sadly remembered for the atrocious refereeing by the French officials against the Australian team, mostly directed at Holman for trivial scrum infringements.

The issue had been going on since the first tour game in France and by the time the Third test rolled around, the Kangaroo’s were sick of it. In that Test, Holman was dubiously penalised for feeding a scrum incorrectly. Then referee Rebas sent off Holman for allegedly swearing at him. Holman strongly denied the allegation and Australian captain Clive Churchill interjected, but the referee was insistent. Angered by the decision, Churchill motioned for his team to walk off in protest, before team manager Norm “Latchem” Robinson came onto the field with an interpreter to try and discuss the matter with the referee; however Rebas just walked away from them.

Holman remained on the ground and once play resumed, he tried to dive over for a try. While he was on the ground, French player Louis Mazon leapt on Holman with both knees after the tackle had been made. Rebas cautioned Mazon and ordered a scrum, before going on to ignore further French infringements and penalising the Australians for trivial issues. France won the game 13-5, and the series.

In 1953, Holman was hampered by injuries and Wests had lost a lot of players from the previous season. They were a very young and inexperienced side who struggled to compete, and they finished the year with the wooden spoon the year after they won the Premiership.

Holman was named Wests Captain-Coach for 1954, but injuries interrupted his season, however he still managed to gain selection for NSW. It was while playing for NSW against the touring England side that he became the victim in a brutal incident which saw the referee walk off the field, having lost control of the game, and the match was abandoned due to fighting.

Holman was alleged to have tripped England half Ray Price. Soon after from a scrum, Holman picked up the ball and ran into the ruck. He was tackled and held by two English forwards and then a third player ran in and punched Holman heavily in the face. The sideline official ran onto the field and reported the incident. Referee Aub Oxford, cautioned Price. Price spoke back to the referee, unhappy with the caution, and Oxford sent him off.

Price walked off the field and kept talking to Oxford who was defiantly pointing sternly to the dressing sheds. When play resumed, the English players were tackling, high, with cocked fists and punching the NSW players. It quickly turned into a massive all-in brawl and no matter what Oxford tried to do he couldn’t bring the fighting under control, so he walked off the field, leaving the players fighting on the pitch.

Holman played a pivotal and starring role in the Australian teams’ retention of the Ashes, albeit playing with an injured hip in the third test which saw him limping for the entirety of the game, he was still able to play well enough to be considered one of Australia’s best on field.

Just a few weeks after the brutal NSW v England affair, Wests played in a fiery match against Easts which saw two players from both Easts and Wests sent off. Holman finished the game bleeding from the mouth and had a graze on his left cheekbone. Wests failed to reach the finals that year.

Holman was named in Australia’s inaugural World Cup squad and set sail for England for the tournament. He was then selected to play for the Anzac’s side to play Great Britain in an exhibition game at Bradford. Australia finished third out of the four competing teams in the World Cup. They then toured with the New Zealand team to Los Angeles where they played an exhibition game, which Australia won. Holman was declared Man of the match and awarded the Dick Hyland trophy.

Most notably though, it was in 1954 that Keith Holman ‘earned’ his now famous nickname ‘yappy’. At an interview in 2000, he revealed how the name came about:

I was captain of Western Suburbs and naturally being the captain, when a decision was made by the referee I'd say "excuse me sir, what was that for? excuse me sir, what was that for?". The bloke that gave me the nickname "Yappy" happened to be Darcy Lawler (prominent Rugby League referee of the 50’s). I don't think I can say what he told me, he said "for Christ's sake Yappy shut your #%$*&@ mouth" and that's how it stuck.”

In 1955, Holman was controversially omitted from the NSW side to play the touring French side, along with Clive Churchill; however both were recalled for the test series, which was narrowly lost by the Kangaroo’s.

Wests again struggled in 1955, finishing the year at the bottom of the ladder. Upon Keith’s recommendation, his school coach and former team mate, Jack Walsh was made coach of Wests in 1956, so that Keith could focus on playing football.

Despite his club’s poor season, Holman still managed to win the New South Wales Player of the Year Award in 1956.

Wests managed to sneak into the finals in 1957. It was not all thanks to Holman though, who was hampered by leg and knee injuries throughout the year, however his fitness always seemed to come good when the representative season rolled around.

Holman played a supporting role beside Greg Hawick, who was sublime in NSW’s 49-11 demolition of Queensland. Their dominant showing earned them automatic selection for the Australian side to play in the World Cup that year on home soil. In the first game, Holman was sandwiched in a heavy tackle and twisted his knee. He spent most of the game limping, but managed to finish the match. He was unable to pass future fitness tests and didn’t play again in the cup.

Wests managed to sneak into the finals that year, thanks to victory in a play-off for fourth against Newtown. Their premiership aspirations were dashed when a red hot Souths side walloped them 45-7 a week later.

Keith’s colourful career added another extraordinary chapter, when he was banned from being a ‘second man’ for his good friend, boxer George Barnes, in his British Empire championship title defence.

1958 saw Wests reach the finals, but they were again eliminated in the first week of the finals. At the end of the season Walsh stood down as coach and Wests appointed former Test player, coach and club legend Vic Hey as head coach. It was his appointment which saw the start of the epic and frequent grand final battles between St.George and Wests of the late 50’s and early 60’s.

Holman played in all 3 tests against Great Britain on home soil that year. After a stellar performance in the opening game, where Holman was again one of the best on field, Australia won 25-8. But the form could not be replicated again in the series, Australia losing a closes second test before the Lions trampled them 40-17 in the decider. It would be Holman’s last test.

Despite being a member of the Test side which lost the Ashes, Holman still managed to win his third NSW Player of the year title.

The New Zealand team toured Australia in 1959 and with Holman’s career seemingly near it’s end, the Test selectors opted for a new halfback, selecting the 21 year old Queenslander Barry Muir as his successor. Holman’s test career was over after a whopping 35 tests.

In 1959 Wests won 13 of their 18 games, finishing a distant second to St.George, who finished the year undefeated. Wests lost both their finals games and failed to reach the Grand Final.

In 1960, Wests struggled for most of the year and as Holman had started to struggle over the last few years with recurring injuries, he had begun to consider retirement. But a strong run over the last 6 weeks, where Wests won 5 games, made him reconsider. Wests made it into the finals but again failed to reach the Grand Final.

The 1961 Wests side was quite dominant, losing just 3 of their 18 games. They made it to the Grand Final but were no match for a rampant St.George side, who won 22-0. Holman pulled a muscle in his leg in the first half, but continued playing. A stray swinging arm by Reg Gasnier narrowly missed Holman’s head. The full time siren sounded, ending the stellar 13 year career of Keith Holman.

After the game, Keith spoke with Gasnier, saying “I wish to Christ you’d have hit me!” Gasnier replied “Why?” Keith replied “I would have rather been carried off than walked off after that game!”

Despite the convincing defeat, the fans gathered at the ground on that day and gave an emotional and thorough ovation to Holman as he left the field for the last time as a player.

After a brief respite from the game, Holman did what very few athletes in the world had ever considered, let alone done and turned his hand to officiating. In 1962 he became a referee, but it wasn’t until 1965 that he made his first grade referee debut. He spent half the year officiating lower grade games. He controlled just 3 first grade games in 1966 and 6 games in 1967. In 1968 he became a regular first grade referee.

 In 1970, Holman officiated 3 ‘match of the round’ games. He went on to control the third grade finals series that year as well.

1971 was when his career as a referee hit its peak. He refereed the City v Country game, the second Interstate match between NSW and QLD as well as the 1971 Grand Final, which Keith recalls, was the highlight of his career as a referee.

However there was a low point to his career as a referee in 1971, and it came during his only game as referee in an interstate game, at Lang Park. In a fiercely fought battle, Holman sent off 4 players, 3 of them Queenslanders, for stiff-arms, punching and kicking. The last player to be sent off, Russell Hughes (Queensland) happened within the last 10 minutes of the game and was met by a barrage of beers cans and bottles being thrown onto the field by seething fans, described in the media as a near-riot.

In 1972 he again controlled the City v Country clash along with his first Test matches, the first and second tests between Australia and New Zealand, making him the first man to play and referee at international level, a record that still has not been equalled.

He was again the referee for the City v Country game in 1973 and then refereed in every round of 1974 before hanging up the whistle.

From 1964 to 1967 Holman also toured Papua New Guinea as part of the National Sports Foundation, lecturing and coaching about Rugby League. In 1974 he was made a life member of the Papua New Guinea Rugby League.

Keith’s endurance on the field, as a player and referee, was down to his strong discipline in fitness, health and training. He became good friends with athletes George Barnes (boxer), Alan Davidson (cricket), Marlene Mathews (track and field) and Gloria Cooke (also track and field). He regularly trained alongside them. Keith believed that being physically fit lead to being mentally fit and vice versa.

His retirement from the game was again short lived, as he took up a post as coach of Port Kembla for seasons 1975-76. He then took on the head coach position of the 1977 Wests side. His return to coaching at Wests was initially very fruitful, winning the pre-season AMCO Cup competition.

However, the joy was short lived as Wests won just 7 of their 22 games in 1977. Holman stepped down at the end of the year signalling an end to his career, and his third retirement in 16 years. Holman was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for his services to Rugby League in 1977.

Keith took on a position as chairman of the NSW Coaching Panel from 1981 til 1986, after having previously been a board member back in 1962.

In 1991, Holman was inducted into the ‘Sport Australia Hall of Fame.’

Keith though was never one to sit back and reminisce. His passion for the game, that had given him so much, when he came into the world with absolutely nothing, drove him to continue giving back to the game. He worked tirelessly with juniors in the Western Suburbs. His work was recognised in the greatest way possible when he became the first player to have a football team named after him (Holman JRLFC, based at Enfield)

In February, 2000, he gave an interview to the members of the Western Suburbs Magpies Supporters Club, a very humbled Holman reflected about the awards and achievements in his life:

“I feel that to achieve these things, for people to think that well of you, to give you those rewards, I couldn't believe it. I had the arse out of my pants as a kid, now I've got a lovely home and a lovely wife. I couldn't wish for anything more.”

Keith Holman was then inducted into the Australian Rugby League Hall of Fame in 2003.

A panel of experts selected Holman as halfback in an Australian ‘Team of the 50’s’ in 2007.

In 2008, Holman was named as one Australian Rugby League’s top 100 players in the Centenary celebrations. He was also named as halfback for the Western Suburbs team of the century and as halfback in the Wests Tigers (a team of the best players from Balmain, Western Suburbs and Wests Tigers since 1908) team of the century. He was also one of the 6 inaugural players to be inducted into the Western Suburbs Hall of Fame.

Keith Holman’s life and being was best summed up by Keith himself when asked what it was about the Magpies that kept him involved with the club for over half a century:

“I was an orphan and people gave me a chance, and I want to give the kids a chance. I think that's the beautiful part of it. Mr and Mrs Schofield gave me a home, I've got a wonderful family, I've got two daughters and a son, I've got seven grandchildren and everything I do I want them to be proud of me.”

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, Easts and Newtown kicked off in the first Rugby League game under Northern Union rules at Wentworth Park. Ted Hooper was the referee in what turned out to be a one-sided affair, Easts winning 32-16.

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)


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!
Stuart: Stop whinging.
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."