Saturday, 6 December 2014

The Christmas Party (2014)

As the year winds down to its inevitable close, everyone is invited back to Uncle Dave’s place for a big Christmas party and to unwind.

Standing by the door chatting are Anthony, John, Steve, Matthew and Mick.

Price: I thought I had a safe job, I didn’t do anything.
Elliott: That was your downfall, doing nothing.
Griffin: That’s quite hypocritical coming from you Matt.
Elliott: Ah, but I’m a nice bloke you see. How else do you think I made it this far?
Potter: I’m a nice bloke too.
Cartwright: Grant doesn’t seem to like you.
Potter: Nobody does. *looks sadly to the floor*
Elliott: I like you Mick. Cheer up mate, I’ll get you another cordial.
Potter: Thanks Matty, you really are a nice bloke.
Griffin: I thought I had my job nailed down, I even made the finals. *Looks across the room at Wayne* But then HE wanted to come back!
Cartwright: I thought I had the system beat, I signed a 5 year contract. I thought it was foolproof. Turns out I was a fool and there was a clause about not having a fool as a coach. Damn!

Matthew returns with Mick’s drink

Elliott: There you go Mick.
Potter: This is a shoe. I wanted a drink.
Elliott: That’s right, now I remember. Sorry mate. I’ll fix this up. Now, who did I take that shoe off?

Peter is standing in the middle of the room, looking at his shoeless foot.

Elliott: Sorry Pete, here’s your shoe back mate.
Sharp: I don’t really want that shoe. I’m quite comfortable wearing one shoe.
Elliott: You can’t have one shoe on mate. Either put one shoe on, or take the other one off, make a choice.
Sharp: I can’t figure this out! It’s too hard!

Peter takes his remaining shoe off and leaves.

Standing by the Christmas tree are Jason, Wayne, Rick and Shane.

Taylor: Gee Wayne, how is it you always get the biggest present every year in the secret santa?
Stone: Because he takes the biggest present and swaps the names, so that he gets the one he wants.
Bennett: something inaudible
Flanagan: Open your present Wayne
Stone: Shane! Where have you been mate?
Flanagan: I had a bit of a mishap when I visited the doctor. Had to go into isolation for the year.
Stone: Crikey, that sounds bad!
Flanagan: Yeah, I was holed up in this isolation room in the basement, it was very dank. So happy to be out now though.

Wayne opens present. It’s a Doghouse, with a pet puppy inside.

Taylor: Crikey, what a great gift. But you’ve got two dogs now, the one Anthony bought for you last year and this one.
Bennett: I’ll get rid of the other one. I don’t really like it anyway. Do you want it Shane?
Flanagan: Absolutely!

Standing by himself in the middle of the room is Ricky, engrossed in a conversation with himself. No one dares interrupt him. Trent and Ivan are near the drinks, when Anthony arrives to get a refill.

Griffin: Hi Trent, how’s things?
Robinson: Yeah you know, not bad.

James jumps up behind them with a mask on

Shepherd: BOO!

Anthony, Ivan and Trent jump.

Cleary: I should’ve seen that coming

Ivan hears a booming voice from the heavens. It is Go(ul)d.

Go(ul)d: Do unto others before they do unto you.
Cleary: Yes oh wise one!

Ivan grabs a scary mask and then jumps behind the recovering Trent.

Cleary: BOO!
Robinson: ARRGH! Dammit, I’ve been got again!

The food table is circled by Des, Geoff, Craig and Michael

Maguire: Well I should get to choose what I want first, because I’m the best.
Hasler: You’re new here. You’ve got to wait your turn.
Maguire: But I got here before you!
Hasler: We’ve been here for years and deserve to be here before you, You’ve only just got here. We’ve been coming here for years now.
Bellamy: Are there any chicken wings to eat? I’m getting a bit tired of these entrĂ©e asparagus spears.
Toovey: There’s some chilli dip over there. It’s very hot though. I had a hot flush and lost my voice. I think someone tampered with it. Someone should look into that. It could hurt someone.

Standing on their own are Paul and Brad, having a little chat to one another about their first Christmas party at Uncle Dave’s.

Green: Shame this do is so far from home though. Dave probably built his house here intentionally to make it hard for me to come.
Arthur: How can you sit here and try and sympathise with me with your petty travel complaint. I lost my toy plane Christmas present!

Paul tries to console Brad, but nothing seems to work. Standing nearby, watching, are Neil, Paul and Andrew.

Paul: Gee that Brad isn’t coping well with losing his plane is he?
Andrew: It was a pretty special toy though.
Paul: I lost my toy present as well. But I bought myself a new toy earlier in the year, so I’m not really worried. Brad should’ve done the same thing.
Neil: He did, but it’s not as good as the one he lost.

There’s a knock at the door.

Sheens: Can I come in?

Everyone: NO!

Pat Walsh - The Natural (2014)

Born in Cooks Hill on May 3, 1879, Patrick Bernard Walsh attended Newcastle Superior Public School where he received medals for running and in 1895 he received a medal for the best cricket all-rounder.

The following year he left school aged 17, to work as a railway porter. He joined the Norwoods Rugby Union club and was an integral member of their undefeated side who also avoided conceding a point during the 1896 season.

In 1897 Walsh and his team-mates were presented with medals to commemorate their previous season’s feats. While he was walking along a city wharf, the medal fell off his waistcoat chain. He returned half an hour later to find his medal had been crushed by a cart and the gold inlay was missing. Walsh kept the damaged medal remnants which remained one of his prized possessions.

In 1898 a residential system was introduced forcing players to join the team representing the district where they lived. Walsh and other players from the Norwoods and Carlton clubs formed the Newcastle Central team for the 1899 season, who won the premiership that year. Walsh would go on to win another four premierships with the club.

In 1899 he was selected to represent Northern Districts against the touring British side that contained the player Blair Swannell, whom Walsh would have several clashes with in his career.

Walsh again represented the Northern Districts in 1900 and in September of 1902, was instrumental in their 18-6 victory against the more fancied Sydney Metropolis side.

In 1903 Walsh moved to the Carlton Club where he was soon regarded as one of the premier forwards in New South Wales. He was selected in the Combined Country side that played Sydney Metropolis and the touring New Zealanders, before earning his first cap for NSW when selected to play against Queensland in the interstate series.

On July 2, 1904, Pat Walsh made his debut for the Wallabies against Great Britain. Despite his own good performance, the Wallabies went down 17-0. Joining him in the Australian team that day were future Rugby League pioneers Alec Burdon and Dinny Lutge. Walsh's opponent in the British side was Blair Swannell.

After the test, Walsh lined up for the Northern Districts against the British. During the game he had a collision with British winger Fred Jowett, causing the winger to retire from the match with concussion. The tourists went after Walsh, but he held his own.

During this game it was alleged that British player Denys Dobson swore at referee Harry Dolan. Dobson was immediately sent from the field. England's captain David Bedell-Sivwright was incensed at the decision and ordered his team to leave the field in protest, before soon returning. Walsh was one of five Northern Districts players that supported the referee's decision at an ensuing investigation into the “Dobson incident” by the NSWRU, who surprisingly sided with the English players, claiming the referee had heard wrong. This would prove to be a catastrophic decision by the NSWRU.

Walsh played in the second test at Brisbane but the British were again too strong, running out victors 17-3. Blair Swannell flattened Walsh in what appeared to be a personal vendetta.

The Wallabies lost 16-0 in the third test, where Walsh was one of the few shining lights for the Australians.

Walsh and the British squared off one last time when NSW played the tourists in their last tour match. The game was dominated by very heavy forwards clashes, most involving Walsh.

He retained his place in the state side for the first interstate game of 1905 and was considered one of the best three players in the losing NSW side on the day.

The next week Walsh played a starring role, leading NSW to victory against Queensland. The praise for his performance was great and unanimous, with commentators stating: “Walsh played grandly”, “Walsh played a brilliant game” and opinions suggesting he was one of Australia's best forwards.

However, it was oddly deemed not good enough to see him retain his place in the state side for the upcoming match against the touring New Zealanders. Walsh was replaced by Blair Swannell, the British tourist who was now playing for North Sydney.

His omission to this day is one of the most baffling made in either Rugby code in Australia. The Referee reported that “Walsh's exclusion is simply a Chinese puzzle” after state selectors suggested that Pat Walsh's form had dropped in his last two games.

After the third interstate game, the NSW squad was selected for an end-of-season tour of New Zealand. Walsh was again omitted.

He then captained the Newcastle side to a convincing 30-0 victory, putting in a best-on-field display, scoring three tries. The NSWRU still refused to select him. The Arrow reported:

“If the Australian team to visit New Zealand included Walsh, one would have no fear as to the forwards holding their own against anything in New Zealand. There is no better forward in Australia than Walsh, probably no one quite as good. In the Newcastle district, the “Dobson incident” inquiry is thought to have in some way prejudiced Walsh's chances of being selected. It is clear that the Newcastle forward has not been omitted on the ground of his ability not being good enough.”

Walsh played for Carlton in the Grand Final against Newcastle. Carlton had lost to Newcastle three times during the year, each time they were missing Walsh who was on representative duty.

Ten minutes before full-time, with Carlton holding a 2-0 lead, Walsh gathered the ball and ran twenty yards to score between the posts. Carlton won 9-0.

Pat Walsh then travelled to South Africa and participated in an expatriate Australian Rules competition in Johannesburg to maintain his fitness. He became vice-captain of the Commonwealth Football Team, who in November of 1905 won the Australian Football League Premiership.

Walsh returned to Newcastle early in 1906 where he learnt that the Northern Districts Rugby Union had lodged a protest with the NSWRU regarding his omission from the Australian touring team in 1905, however there was no resolution.

In April 1906, Walsh suddenly departed for New Zealand. Walsh admired the quality of football that the 1903 New Zealand tourists played and wanted to play among who he regarded as the best players in the world.

Upon arriving in Auckland, he was signed by the Parnell club and quickly earned selection in the Auckland Province representative team that toured New Zealand's South Island, a feat he repeated in 1907.

Many believed he should have been selected in the New Zealand All Golds squad that was to tour Australia and England, with one commentator stating “Walsh stood out as being the best player in the senior grade competition.”

In 1908, the Auckland press proclaimed Walsh was the best forward in New Zealand. He was expected to be named in a representative side to face the touring British side; however he was again oddly omitted.

Around this time, Walsh received a cable from James Giltinan in Sydney, who asked Walsh to join the newly formed Rugby League competition, where he could be selected in an end-of-season tour to England. He accepted the offer as he saw it as his last chance to visit England.

He was greeted at Sydney wharf on the Saturday morning of July 18 by NSWRL secretary Henry Hoyle, who took Walsh to the Royal Agricultural Showground. Walsh was given an hour to learn the new game before lining up for Queensland against NSW. Queensland lost 12-3 in Walsh's first game of Rugby League.

He played the last two games of the season for Newcastle, who wore the red and white striped jumpers of the Carlton club, as a tribute to Walsh. 

Walsh was a late inclusion in Giltinan's squad to tour England but was unable to get a ticket with the rest of the squad, so he had to board the SS Salamis instead. It was revealed he had brought a kangaroo with him as a mascot, which he hoped but failed to train to lead the team out carrying the ball. The kangaroo died after the tours completion, on the day before the players left England to return home.

Once in England, Walsh was selected in the Kangaroo's side to play Salford. He started the game very strongly but was moved to the backs later in the game which met with little success.

The 11th game of the tour saw Australia face Northern Union champions Hunslet, whose forward pack contained the formidable “terrible six” and was led by champion Albert Goldthorpe. Walsh was a star performer, helping Australia to an impressive 12-11 victory.

Walsh played in all three of Australia's test matches against England. The first test was a 22 all draw, the second, a 15-5 victory to the English who also won the third test 6-5. Walsh played in 29 of the exhausting 45 game tour, including an impressive performance in an exhibition match in Glasgow where he scored “a skilful dribbling try.”

While on tour, he became the first Australian player approached by an English club and accepted an offer from Huddersfield, whom he would play 6 games for at the end of their 1908-09 season, after the Kangaroo tour concluded.

Kangaroo tour manager James Giltinan stated at the time that Walsh was “the finest forward in the Northern Union.”

In the 1909-10 season, Walsh suffered a knee injury in a game against Hull on a frozen field at Craven Park. Huddersfield paid for him to travel to London to have an innovative and rarely performed operation on his knee.

His first game back was against Hull Kingston Rovers at Fartown where he managed to get through the first half, displaying his trademark unrelenting defence, but just before full time he re-injured the knee.

Walsh then travelled to Liverpool where he had the damaged cartilage successfully removed. He revealed years later “The club regarded me as something of a guinea pig. When my operation proved successful, they sent three other players along to have their cartilages removed. They'd been on the crock list and weren't game to have the operation. I had it only because I knew that if I didn't take the risk with a surgeon in England, there was no one in Australia who could help me.”

He played 7 games for Huddersfield in the 1910-11 season before returning to Australia with his future wife Rebecca Eve, a lady he met while she was playing piano at post-match functions during the Kangaroo tour. Upon his arrival in 1911, Pat Walsh joined the Newcastle Central team and three weeks later captained the Northern Districts team on their tour to Queensland, winning all three of their games.

Walsh moved to Queensland, first working in a Brisbane Post Office, then with the railways at Townsville where he briefly coached a local side.

Early in 1915, Pat and Rebecca married before the outbreak of war. Walsh enlisted with the 12th Light Horse Regiment and was promoted to Corporal two months later before being transferred to a railway construction unit. His younger brother Clem, also enlisted for service and was promoted to Major and later earned a Military Cross.

Pat suffered a number of illnesses while on duty; one caused paralysis in his legs which saw him require metal callipers on his legs and crutches to get around.

During the great depression, Pat would sit on his front veranda and talk to passers-by, offering them into the house for meals if they were hungry, much to the dismay of his wife. Pat's brother Clem would often take him sailing around Newcastle.

In 1922, his son John Patrick Walsh was born. John became a Rugby Union player for the Newcastle Wanderers, earning selection in a Newcastle representative side, but his career was unable to reach the lofty heights of his father. John later became secretary of the club.

Pat Walsh passed away on May 22, 1953, 3 weeks after his 74th birthday.

While at Huddersfield he was described as “a grim, gaunt forward, with a deadly embrace, tackles with scrupulous fairness and proportionate effectiveness.”

James Giltinan succinctly described Walsh as “a generous-hearted, able forward and a sterling character.”

His mistreatment fuelled a simmering groundswell of animosity by some players against the Rugby Union which eventually led to the birth of Rugby League in Australia. Despite this mistreatment, he never complained. He became a successful player in three football codes across three different countries.

A true legend.

********This article appeared in Rugby League Review Magazine************

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Glebe - The First Club (2014)

On January 9, 1908, a meeting at the Glebe Town Hall containing the Metropolitan Rugby Union’s best side, Glebe, their officials and board members, politician Henry Hoyle and businessman James Giltinan lead to the iconic club deciding to switch codes and join the breakaway Rugby League for the upcoming season.

The club’s decision to switch codes was the catalyst for Balmain, South Sydney, Eastern Suburbs, Newtown, North Sydney and Western Suburbs to also abandon the MRU and join the Rugby League. It was just as integral to Rugby League’s birth as the procurement of star player Dally Messenger.

The story behind Glebe’s decision is very closely and heavily linked to the rise of professional Rugby in Australia.

In 1899, Glebe board member Lewis Abrams is made President of the MRU in its debut season of 1900. Abrams was an Alderman for the Glebe Council from 1893 til 1898. He was also Secretary of the Glebe Cricket Club from 1892-1900, President of the Glebe Bicycle Club and Secretary of the Glebe Free Trade & Liberal Association.

Abrams was largely responsible for the introduction of what was called ‘electoral cricket’, which was essentially the residential rule which would later be used in Rugby Union and Rugby League for many decades. Abrams was also a key man involved in the creation of the MRU in 1900.

In 1900, the MRU announced that clubs from Sydney University, Eastern Suburbs, North Sydney, Glebe, Newtown, Western Suburbs, South Sydney and Balmain would field teams in all three grades of competition. Glebe was one of the first teams entered into the competition as it was seen as “a stronghold of sport.”

Glebe’s side in the new MRU saw them change their jersey colours from Blue, Black and Yellow, to their iconic maroon (or Dirty Red as they would later be referred to). Abrams accepted the role of Glebe Club Secretary. The club patron was none other than Sydney Mayor, Sir Matthew Harris.

Sir Matthew Harris was a very valuable man to have on board, as he wasn’t just the Mayor of Sydney, but also president of the Wentworth Park trust, a ground which had never had a game of football played on it, but would become Glebe’s home ground for the 1900 season. Harris was also Vice President of the Royal Agricultural Society, whose ground was considered a marquee venue at the time as well.

Glebe’s dominance over the competition combined with an area full of talented and gifted athletes was proven when in the MRU’s debut season, Glebe won all three grades.

On July 23, 1904, Australia played Great Britain in a test at Brisbane’s Exhibition Ground. Glebe’s talented forward Alex Burdon, playing in his third consecutive test for the Wallabies, scored the opening try that gave the Wallabies a 3-0 lead at halftime. During the second half, he suffered a very heavy knock to his shoulder which forced him from the field. In typical Burdon style, he returned to the field 17 minutes later. Great Britain went on to win the game 17-3.

For Burdon though, it was the start of an extended lay off from playing and from work. He would return for the following season. His injury, like in sport today, was just an unfortunate risk every player took when they ran out onto the field.

However, Rugby Union was strictly amateur which meant players were not paid to play. Nor were they financially supported if their Rugby Union injury prevented them from working.

On July 14, 1906, Glebe hosted Auckland City at the Sydney Cricket Ground. In a close fought match, Glebe trailed 11-8 with 10 minutes remaining when Glebe’s George Riddell and Auckland’s George Little collided heavily when they both attempted to kick a loose ball. The collision saw both players suffer an horrific broken leg each. The sight of the injuries was so severe that the referee and players agreed to call the game off early and the players were sent to St.Vincents Hospital. Coincidentally, the same two players collided with each other in a game just 12 months prior which resulted in both players suffering broken collarbones.

The Glebe club decided to hold a benefit concert to raise funds for both players. Glebe officials asked the NSWRU to support their campaign; however the request was declined because the NSWRU would not support any activity that gave players money for their involvement in Rugby Union. Glebe went ahead with the fundraising and managed to raise £45 for each player (approximately 3 months wages).

Former Glebe Rugby Union board member Joe McGraw publicly criticised the NSWRU for their not helping Burdon in 1904 or Riddell in 1906. The NSWRU shortly after agreed to provide extra financial assistance to Riddell and Little.

In 1907, the MRU decided to abolish its insurance cover for players, instead leaving insurance up to the clubs. On May 4, Sydney played South Sydney in a match at the Sydney Cricket Ground. It was towards the end of this game when Burdon infamously broke his arm. With no insurance to cover him while he was injured and unable to work, Burdon’s feeling of anger towards the Rugby Union for twice failing to help him reached its peak. Burdon began attending meetings at Test Cricketer Victor Trumper’s sports store. The meetings were frequently attended by James Giltinan, Trumper, Henry Hoyle and some players who were regular attendees included Trumper’s friend Peter Moir (Glebe), Arthur Hennessy (South Sydney), Bob Graves (Balmain) and Jim Moir (Glebe).

Two weeks after Burdon’s injury, Peter Moir received a telegram from George Smith in New Zealand, who was asking if a team of players in Sydney could be assembled to play against a professional Rugby team from New Zealand who would be visiting Australia en-route to England where they would be partaking in a tour against the professional Northern Union clubs.

Moir took the telegram to Trumper’s shop and a brief meeting was held and the request by Smith was accepted.

Professional Rugby started to become a reality and a great attraction for many disgruntled players. Glebe RU board members who were delegates that sat on the MRU committee actually supported the Rugby League movement and made it clear that they felt that a player revolt towards professionalism was the fault of the Rugby Union for treating the players with such contempt and insincerity.

On August 17, 1907, New Zealand played against New South Wales in a game under Rugby Union rules, but where all players were paid in what is considered the first game of Rugby League in Australia. A huge crowd of 20,000 turned out for the match, which was won by the visitors 12-8. Two more games were played in the following 6 days, with New Zealand winning both. Glebe fullback Charlie Hedley and forward Peter Moir represented NSW in all three games.

The MRU held a meeting shortly after the series finished. Lewis Abrams proposed that the Rugby Union should give its players the same entitlements that Rugby League planned to, as it would ensure that the players would not leave their code. The committee ruled his comments out of order and he was forced to deny that his intentions were to turn Rugby Union professional. The committee then ruled that all players who participated in the games against the visiting New Zealand professionals would be disqualified.

And so on January 9, 1908, Glebe agreed to become a Rugby League club. Many of their board members supported this decision, including the most important of them all at the time, Sir Matthew Harris.

Harris’ switch of allegiance saw the Rugby League gain exclusive use of both Wentworth Park and the Royal Agricultural Showground.

At Glebe’s landmark meeting, Tom McCabe was made a member of the management committee and future Prime Minister Billy Hughes was appointed as club patron. Alderman Percy Lucas was elected as the clubs first President.

On April 11, Glebe played their first game as a Rugby League Club, losing a trial against Western Suburbs 10-9.

On Easter Monday, April 20 at 3.15pm, Glebe kicked off their first official game against Newcastle in front of 3,000 fans at Wentworth Park. Glebe won the match despite playing quite poorly, by 8-5. Glebe went on to win their first 5 straight games before falling to a dominant South Sydney side 21-5. They won the next two before dropping their last game of the season against neighbouring rivals Balmain.

On May 6, 1908, Glebe fullback Charlie Hedley and forward Tom McCabe were selected to play in Australia’s first test match against the visiting New Zealand side. Australia lost 11-10.

On July 11, Hedley and McCabe also played in the first interstate game of Rugby League, when they represented NSW against Queensland. NSW romped home 43-0, with McCabe scoring 2 tries.

Glebe finished the inaugural season third, winning 7 of their 9 games, but the loss of their star first grade players Alex Burdon, Albert Conlon, Arthur Halloway, Charlie Hedley, Tom McCabe and Peter Moir to the pioneering Kangaroo tour to England, saw them lose 16-3 to eventual premiers South Sydney in the semi-final.

The Kangaroo tour was a failure, on and off the field. By the time they returned, Giltinan and Trumper had been sacked and Hoyle had stood down amidst allegations of corruption. Messrs Weymark (Glebe) and Fry (Souths) were heavily amongst the animated discussions to depose the founding trio, when they were given the right to vote on behalf of the Newcastle side at the Annual Meeting, despite there being no official documentation stating such. This incident drew the ire of board members from other clubs and saw about the abrupt ending of the meeting and a second Annual Meeting planned, which sealed the fate of the games founding fathers. This turmoil and financial uncertainty of the code necessitated a change of epic proportions in 1909 to keep the Rugby League alive. So began the purchase of the Gold Medal winning Wallabies players, led by test captain and Glebe’s champion half, Chris McKIvat. The secret meetings between League and the Union players took place at the Shearers Hotel on Bay St, Glebe.  

Glebe’s 1909 season was quite poor compared to the previous year, winning just 4 of 10 games and finishing fifth and consequently missing the finals.

In 1910, the NSWRL introduced a team from Annandale, which automatically impacted on the region that Glebe once had to obtain players. They won 6 of 14 games in 1910 and again finished fifth on the ladder.

Glebe however had picked up former Wallabies Chris McKivat and Jack Hickey for the 1910 from the previous seasons coup. Both were named in the first test side to face England in the first test between the two nations in Australia. Hickey scored the first try for Australia but it wasn’t enough to overcome the British side, who won 27-20.

1911 saw the Glebe club finish the season as Minor Premiers, winning 11 of their 14 games, as well as scoring more points than any other club and conceding less points than all the other clubs as well. The finals system in place at the time was to be a final between first and second. As South Sydney and Eastern Suburbs were both equal second, they had a play off to determine who would play Glebe in the final. Easts had not lost any of their last 7 games and star player Dally Messenger was in vintage form. Easts accounted for Souths 23-10, Messenger scoring 20 points. Easts then defeated Glebe in the final 22-9. This meant that Easts and Glebe were now essentially equal first on the ladder and so a second final was played, which was also won by Easts 11-8. Glebe was without test half Chris McKivat and test forward Peter Moir, who were both on a boat with the Australasian touring side to England.

1911 was also the year that their greatest ever player, Frank Burge, made his debut, aged just 16. He was so impressive that he was seriously being considered for the 1911 Kangaroo tour to England, but it was his young age that prevented him from being selected.

The first final was also declared a testimonial match by the NSWRL for Alex Burdon, Bob Graves and Arthur Hennessy, to thank them for their roles as selectors in 1908. Each man received £152 each.

Glebe also played a representative match against a representative team from Newcastle, winning 12-10. They were the only Sydney team who managed to defeat the Newcastle side.

Glebe continued their run of good form in 1912, when they won 11 of 14 games, finishing second on the ladder. Glebe also managed to reach the final of the inaugural City Cup competition, but were convincingly beat by Souths 30-5. In August, Glebe President Thomas Keegan, a Labor member of the NSW Legislative Assembly, mentioned his displeasure at the omission of Tom Gleeson from the NSW side selected to tour to New Zealand. He also was very critical of the NSWRL for their omission of Chris McKivat from the tour. Keegan finished with a final attack on the NSWRL when he stated that the Glebe players Fritz Theiring and Jack Redmond received very severe suspensions in comparison to Easts Arthur Halloway.

The Glebe club won their first title, when they won the 1912 reserve grade competition.

Champion Glebe centre Jack Hickey is admitted to the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital suffering from typhoid fever, of which he eventually made a full recovery.

September 6, 1913, the day when Glebe’s 10-8 defeat of North Sydney at the Sydney Cricket Ground, gave them their first and only ever first grade title, when they won the City Cup. In the premiership, they slumped, winning 8 of their 14 games and finishing fourth.

In January 1914, the NSWRL announced that it had completed a review of club boundaries, after a request by Glebe the previous year for more territory, as they were finding themselves fighting with Balmain and Annandale. The NSWRL decided that no boundary changes would be made in the short term. March 1914 saw the creation of the Glebe Junior Rugby League.

1914 saw the club slip to fifth on the ladder, winning 7 of their 14 games. In their defence of the City Cup title, they faced Easts in the semi-final, going down 26-9 at the SCG.

January 28, 1915 saw Glebe defeat Balmain 3-0 to win the ‘Australia Day’ Carnival. Frank Burge also won the 100 yards race for Rugby League forwards on the same day.

The outbreak of war saw around 95 players and officials from the Glebe club alone, enlist for service over the duration of the conflict, 66 of whom signed up in 1915-16 alone. Despite this immense loss, the competitions continued and Glebe was in a hard fought battle for first place with neighbours and rivals, Balmain. Both clubs finished the season with 12 wins from 14 games, however, Balmain drew their other two games, whereas Glebe lost theirs, giving Balmain their maiden premiership. In the City Cup, Glebe again reached the final after defeating Balmain 18-13 in the semi-final. They were outclassed by Easts 22-3 the following week.

1915 also saw legendary forward Frank Burge top the try scoring list for the competition, amassing 20 tries.

Burge again topped the try scorer’s board in 1916, this time with 22 tries. Glebe finished third behind Balmain and Souths, who were equal first with 11 wins from their 14 games. Glebe had 10 wins and a draw, The City Cup final was again played out between Easts and Glebe and again, Easts were victorious 18-15. Glebe finished the year playing against Newcastle, but were outclassed 25-6.

The first game of the 1917 could arguably be the start of the demise of Glebe, when they constantly battled with the NSWRL over a number of issues. Round 1 saw Glebe play neighbours Annandale. Glebe had recruited a player from Newcastle, Dan Davies. Davies moved to Sydney and lived with relatives, in Annandale. Glebe changed his address in the hope that no one would notice. But officials from the Annandale club did and after the game, in which Davies scored a try and helped lead Glebe to a convincing 26-5 win, issued a protest to the NSWRL demanding that Glebe’s 2 competition points be taken from them and given to Annandale. The NSWRL decided to strip Glebe of their points for the win only. Then they banned Dan Davies from playing Rugby League for life. Davies returned home to Newcastle to return to his job in the mines.

Events came to a head in July, when Glebe officials complained to the NSWRL that a number of their players were harshly treated by the referee in their Round 12 game against Newtown, when a number were sent off for seemingly minor indiscretions.

During the week, leading up to their Round 13 clash with rivals Balmain, which was scheduled to be played at the SCG, the NSWRL instead switched it to Balmain’s home ground, Birchgrove Oval. This meant a much smaller gate and far less funds for Glebe.

This time the players had decided to revolt, choosing to go on strike for the game against Balmain. Glebe fielded a reserve grade side that was thrashed 40-9. The NSWRL then decided that all players who abandoned the match would receive a 12 month suspension. Glebe lost their last game of the year against perennial strugglers Wests 33-16 to finish the season sixth. Glebe also failed to reach the finals for the City Cup.

After much negotiating, the NSWRL agreed to overturn their month suspension on 12 of the 14 Glebe players by seasons end. Frank Burge and Alby Burge had to wait until May 1918 to have their suspensions lifted.

The 1918 season Glebe finish third, with 9 wins from their 14 games. They also made the finals of the City Cup, but this time they lost their semi-final to Wests 12-8. Burge again scored more tries than anyone else in the competition, this time scoring a club record 24 tries for the season.

Glebe’s reserve grade side picked up their second premiership.

In a match against Easts in 1919, the crowd, angered by the officiating, rushed the ground and upended the referee. It was the same game that also saw Frank Burge score his 100th try for Glebe. The year again saw Glebe again finish third with 9 wins from 14 games. However in the City Cup, they reached the final, against Wests. Defending their title, Wests went on to defeat Glebe 14-10.

Glebe’s reserve grade side won their third premiership.

In 1920, Frank Burge scores a club and competition record 8 tries in a game, when Glebe defeats new club University 41-0. Burge scored 32 of his side’s points in the match. Glebe finished the year second behind rivals Balmain, with 8 wins from 13 games. They failed to reach the finals of the City Cup.

The year also saw Glebe’s long serving official Mr CHJ Upton resign from his role due to a health issue with his eyes. Upton had been a long respected official and his departure saw communication between the club and the NSWRL suffer immensely.

Glebe’s reserve grade side won their third straight title.

On October 13, 1920, the NSWRL decided to axe Annandale from the competition. This decision gave Glebe some of their old territory back and seemed certain to ensure their future.

Glebe finished third in 1921 despite winning 6 of their 8 games. They lost to Souths 28-14 in the semi-finals of the City Cup. Their reserve grade side won their fourth consecutive Grand final.

The 1922 season finished with Norths and Glebe equal first and thus a final was played. It was the first premiership final Glebe had played in since 1911. However they were completely outclassed by a star studded North Sydney outfit, who ran away 35-3 winners. Glebe lost 21-3 to Easts in the semi-finals of the City Cup.

Glebe celebrated their favourite son, Frank Burge, with a testimonial match against Souths in Round 11 of 1923. The match was played at the Sydney Sports Ground in front of 15,000 fans. Souths won 10-0 in a tough contest. There were suggestions made at the time that the NSWRL tried to schedule other events on at the same time to try and minimise the gate for Glebe, however if it were the case it failed. The testimonial match attracted 15,000 fans, while the other three games of the round attracted a combined total of 9,500.

Just three weeks later in Round 14, was the infamous game where North Sydney’s Test halfback Duncan Thompson was sent off for allegedly kicking Glebe forward Tom McGrath. Thompson was illegally held back after passing the ball and was trying to free himself when he accidentally struck McGrath in the face. Many supporters from both teams supported Thompson’s response that it was an accident; however the NSWRL suspended him for the rest of the year. When they wouldn’t overturn the decision, Thompson returned to Toowoomba and vowed to never play in Sydney ever again.

It would turn out to be the single event that brought North’s two year reign undone.

Glebe finished the season sixth on the ladder, winning 6 of 16 games; however they managed to reach the final of the City Cup, against rivals Balmain.

At fulltime, the scores were tied at 5 all. An extra 8 minutes of extra time was played, however the scored remained unchanged. So another 12 minutes of extra time was ordered, but the duration of the match seemingly took everything out of the Glebe players as Balmain ran in 20 points to win 25-5 in the competition’s first game to last 100 minutes.

1924 saw Glebe climb back up the ladder, finishing third with 4 wins from 8 games. Glebe failed to reach the finals of the City Cup.

Glebe won just 5 of 12 games in 1925; however they managed to reach the City Cup final against a remarkable South Sydney side that had not lost a single premiership or City Cup game all year. They continued that run with a 15-8 win over Glebe in the City Cup final.

1926 was Frank Burge’s last year playing for Glebe, as he decided to accept a captain/coach role with St.George for the 1927 season. In his Round 8 game against University, Burge got badly injured and was carried off the field. Glebe finished the season equal second with Easts, having won 9 of 16 games (with 1 draw). Glebe however lost to finals debutants University in the first semi-final 29-3.

At the Glebe Annual Meeting on March 18, 1927, Alex Burdon suggested that the club consider importing players to improve their results and performances on the field, just like Norths did a few years earlier. His suggestion was met with great opposition and was refused. Consequently, the season saw Glebe turn out their worst season ever, winning just 4 of their 16 games, only one more than the last placed University. Glebe’s administration had become quite poor, as had the coaching. It wasn’t long before the on-field performance dropped immensely as well.

Glebe’s third grade side won their maiden title, giving the club 7 titles over all 3 grades, but the first grade side being the only one not to win a premiership.

In 1928 Glebe won 4 of their 12 games and finished sixth. They also lost their long-time home ground of Wentworth Park at seasons end. A match against Easts at the Agricultural Showground saw angry scenes amongst the crowd.

On June 8, Lewis Abrams died. Some people at the time suggested that the heart and soul of Glebe died with him.

In 1929 Glebe won 3 of their 16 games and finished second last again. A NSWRL special committee revealed its report regarding revised boundaries on November 4. When NSWRL Secretary Horrie Miller unrolled a map of the boundary changes, all of Glebe’s territory had been absorbed by neighbouring club and rival, Balmain. The meeting grew very animated and an adjournment was made, whereby the matter would be readdressed in a weeks’ time,

On November 11, 1929, a ballot was held to determine if Glebe should be axed from the competition. The result was 13 votes to 12 in favour. The NSWRL stated that there were a number of reasons, but most prominent were Glebe’s recent poor form, a lack of home ground, low crowds and a growth of interest in soccer in the area. It’s also suggested that Glebe’s many battles with the NSWRL hierarchy helped sway the decision against Glebe’s favour.

Local politician Tom Keegan, who had been a member of the NSW Legislative Assembly since 1910, lobbied the community in the week between the two meetings, in a bid to get the Glebe team reinstated for the 1930 season. He managed to obtain 3,000 signatures which Messrs E.Lloyd and F.Benning presented to the NSWRL, along with a provision that Glebe be retained. The petition and the request were ruled out of order by Harry Flegg. Non-voting delegates from nearly all the clubs sided with Glebe (including the benefactors of Glebe’s demise, Balmain) and suggested that if Glebe were to be given some of South Sydney’s territory, then they would stand a chance of not only survival, but prospering once again.

But the NSWRL stood by their decision and Glebe were no more.

On November 18, a public meeting was held at the Glebe Town Hall, convened by the Mayor of Glebe with the intention of forming a protest against the NSWRL decision. But despite their efforts and good intentions, the decision would not be overturned.

The decision decimated the area and its interest in Rugby League died off very quickly. It was such a proud sporting area full of very loyal and passionate athletes that when it was announced that Glebe would no longer compete, almost their entire squad of players from the 1929 season retired from game. Syd Christensen moved to Balmain and helped lead their resurrection in the late 1930’s. When he retired at the end of the 1937 season, he was the last man that had played for Glebe left playing.

And it was on Armistice Day, 1929, that the NSWRL finally got their peace with the Glebe club. A team whose history was integral to Rugby League’s birth and growth had given way to plans for an expansion to the Belmore region of Sydney. In fact, it would take 6 years before a team from that area was introduced into the competition.

****************This article appeared in 2 parts in the Rugby League Review Magazine***********************

Friday, 26 September 2014

The Halftime Spray #21 (2014)

Recently, Manly coach Geoff Toovey commented that the Minor Premiership is undervalued, especially given the length and toughness of the modern competition. And he is absolutely right.
From 1910 til 1925 the team who were Minor Premiers were instantly awarded the Premiership. It was deemed that being the best side over an entire season was worthy enough of the title of Premiers. The only time a final was played was when two teams finished the year on the same competition points (Points differential was not used to determine premiers). Since then the glory of Minor Premiership success has been whittled down.
From 1926 until 1953, a finals system was employed (with the exception of the 1937 season which was cut short to accommodate the Kangaroo's tour). In this finals system, the Minor Premiers would play the third placed side and second would play fourth. The winners would square off in the final.
If the team, who was the minor premier in this time, lost their finals match, they had the right to challenge the winner of the final in a Grand Final.
It was 1954 that saw the worth of the Minor Premiership after a year of toil and being the benchmark, get downgraded. The Minor Premier and the second placed side would play each other in the first week of finals and the losing side would get a second chance and remain in the finals series, while the winner would advance to the Grand Final and get a week off. This system remained in place up until 1972.
From 1973 til 1994 the game moved from a top 4 system to a top 5. The Minor Premier received the first week of the finals off. If they won their first finals game they advanced straight to the Grand Final. If they lost they got a second chance and another week off, while the team that beat them advanced directly to the Grand Final.
As the game expanded to 20 teams in 1995, the finals system did too, with 8 teams vying for premiership glory. Under this system, the teams in the finals were split into two groups, the top 4 and the bottom 4. The Minor Premiers played the fourth placed side. As in the previous finals series, the Minor Premiers still received a week off if they won their first final match or a second chance if they lost.
In 1999, the newly formed NRL adopted the McIntyre system which granted the second placed side the same privilege as the Minor Premier, being that they could both lose in week 1 of the finals and get a second chance, or
win and a get a week off.
It's time that the Minor Premiership was made to be much more rewarding.
So you guessed it, here's my proposal and it is simple.
Keep the current top 8 system, but re-introduce the old rule whereby the Minor Premier could challenge the Grand Final winner for the Premiership.
You could essentially see two Grand Finals in a year. That's bound to make some big coin. It most importantly gives the Minor Premiership an immense amount of importance.

The Halftime Spray #20 (2014)

Last weekend the Newcastle Knights staged a magnificent victory against the Melbourne Storm, scoring a try after the siren sounded to level the scores, before the boot of Kurt Gidley sealed the miraculous victory.
It prompted Craig Bellamy to go into a tirade against one of the two on-field referees, Ashley Klein, claiming Klein had some sort of vendetta against the Storm.
Bellamy said: "Ashley Klein obviously doesn't like the way we play our footy. We've had that many times when we've had him this year and the penalty count, it hasn't even been close. Every time we have Ashley we always seem to be on the wrong side of the penalty count and a fair way on the wrong side."
Craig, your abysmal sportsmanship aside, you are completely wrong, on several points.
If Klein doesn't like the way you play and has an issue with the Melbourne Storm, why is it that your team has won 14 of 24 games played under Klein's control?
Klein has officiated 6 of Melbourne's 20 games this year. They were:
Round 2 - Melbourne def Penrith 18-17. Melbourne won the penalty count 11-10
Round 4 - Canterbury def Melbourne 40-12. Penalties were drawn 7 all.
Round 8 - Warriors def Melbourne 16-10. Warriors won the penalty count 5-4
Round 12 - North Queensland def Melbourne 22-0. Cowboys won the penalty count 7-4
Round 16 - St George-Illawarra def Melbourne 24-12. Penalties were drawn 3 all.
Round 22 - Newcastle def Melbourne 32-30. Newcastle won the penalty count 11-3
Prior to last weekends game, Melbourne had won 1 penalty count, drawn 2 counts and lost 2 counts. They had received 29 penalties to their opponents 32, in games refereed by Klein this season.
Hardly 'a fair way on the wrong side.'
Melbourne has a long history of introducing ugly wrestling tactics to ball carriers to slow down the play the ball or disable opponents. So proficient were they that the NRL brought in laws against the crusher tackle and the chicken wing.
Melbourne's latest tactic has involved a defender lifting up one leg of an attacker as high as they can in an attempt to halt their momentum and turn them around.
Given how badly one of their lifting tackles went earlier the year on Newcastle Knights player Alex McKinnon, you would think the Storm would abandon this particular practice.
It's grubby, it's ugly, it makes the game look unattractive, it injures players and even laws have had to be made to restrict the usage of some of their tactics.
Klein has every right to not like their style of football.
And to learn that Klein has been punished and dropped to lower grades after Bellamy's outright lies is utterly disgraceful.
Bellamy's comments were no doubt a ploy to get referee's to officiate in a manner more favourable toward the Storm.
And that is as deplorable as Melbourne's wrestling tactics.

Monday, 4 August 2014

The Halftime Spray #18 (2014)

Call me old-fashioned, but if someone told me something in confidence and in private, that's where I'd leave it.
People calling Gorden Tallis ‘honest' for claiming Robbie Farah said Wests Tigers coach Mick Potter can't coach, some 15 months ago, are deluded beyond belief. It's not honest to breach a person's trust or reveal something they said in private.
On Monday night, Tallis revealed that he felt compelled to stick up for his mate Potter when news reports began surfacing some weeks ago that Potter's position could be terminated early.
Rumours about Potter's future were coupled with allegations that there was a player revolt against him. This revolution has been reported as being just one man to as many as ‘the senior playing group' (also known as a wild guess).
‘Honest' Tallis criticised Farah for being quiet while rumours of player unrest towards Potter were fuelling speculation Potter would be sacked. However the week before Tallis made this claim, Farah was reported as saying in the Sydney Morning Herald "There is no player discontent."
Potter backed this up by saying "I have not had one issue about the players."
He also spoke of the uncertainty about his career at the Tigers as being "a little distracting."
Hardly the words of a man who needs any PR assistance.
Tallis decided to reveal his big story anyway, despite it being over a year old and quite very possibly entirely irrelevant.
Did ‘honest' Tallis bother to confirm if Farah's alleged beliefs were still true? No.
After the drama on Sunday at the Tiger's post-match press conference, Farah clearly stated that "Mick has the support of the playing group and will continue to have the support of the playing group, that has never been an issue." Shortly after, the Tigers board agreed to not sack Potter, but to let him see the season out.
Given that Tallis suggested his interest was in defending Potter, one has to wonder how ‘honest' that statement is, given that 24 hours after Potter was saved from the sack, Tallis continued pushing his agenda.
Surely if Tallis was trying to look after Potter, then shutting his gob would help to take the pressure off Potter. His courageous crusade to try and help a bloke (who never asked for his assistance) should have ended when it was announced that Potter would get to see out his contract.
Instead Tallis ironically decided to carry the story on. The ‘honest' Tallis said to Farah after a recent game "Robbie you can have your say, it doesn't worry me."
Yet Tallis is the only one of the two constantly bringing this story up and dragging it out. Clearly it worries Tallis.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

The Halftime Spray #17 (2014)

With just seven weeks until the NRL Finals commence, everyone's focus is firmly on the premiership ladder and whether their team will make the cut.
At the end of Round 19, there is just three wins separating 2nd and 13th on the ladder. Every year it seems the competition is getting tighter and tighter. This is clearly a good advertisement to the benefits of a properly functioning and policed salary cap.
But it highlights another issue. The NRL's policy for determining which sides make the top 8 if there are 2 or more teams outside the top 8, tied on competition points with a team inside the top 8.
The first method used is sensible: points difference between points scored and points conceded.
If the teams are still tied, the second method is a convoluted and pointless equation that proves that the team with the best defence will be ranked higher.
If this method doesn't separate the sides, then the side with the most tries scored, then most goals kicked, then most field goals kicked.
If by some chance the teams are still tied, and this is the really amateur part, the toss of a coin will decide.
Oddly enough, there's no protocol to deal with the issue of the coin landing on its side.
So it's with these facts that I decided to break the system based on the current NRL ladder and predicting the outcome of the remaining games.
With only 10 of the 56 predicted score lines relying on the winning side scoring 40 points or more, it's not too unrealistic.
The Final ladder ended up with just 2 wins separating first and last, with 10 teams tied for fourth.
Brisbane were minor premiers with 30 points and a points difference of 126. Melbourne were second with 30 points and a points difference of 12. Wests Tigers were third on 30 points and with a points difference of -9.
Manly, Gold Coast, Sydney, Newcastle, St.George-Illawarra, Souths, North Queensland, Penrith, Canterbury and the Warriors were all tied at 4th on 28 points, with 450 points for and 450 points against.
Canberra, Cronulla and Parramatta rounded out the table on 26 points.
This example is quite extreme clearly, but it raises the question. If a coin toss decides who makes the finals and who misses out, how do they decide which teams square off in the coin toss in this situation?
Or do they just play heads or tails, where a delegate from each tied club has to choose if the coin toss will be a head or a tail by putting their hands on their hand, or their bottom, with the process continuing until enough sides have been eliminated?
That comment could almost be considered sarcastic if it weren't so frighteningly close to a possibility.
There's a lot of merit to play-offs to determine which teams make the finals and it is the only fair way to determine which side is better.
A coin toss to determine a sides season is disgraceful.