History of the Club


THE EARLY YEARS

SUTHERLAND JUNIOR RUGBY LEAGUE FOOTBALL CLUB

Founded in 1912-13 by a man named Jim Brady, Jim was the local barber at the time and a very popular identity, his two sons were well known boxers.

The original colours were red & green bars and games were played in a paddock, which is now known as Robertson Street Sutherland.

Many of Sutherland old pioneer names are associated with these early teams such as Tom & Harry and Tickety Bray, Jack & Tommy Cadet, The Mullins Brothers, The Dwyers, Wally Skeen, Jack Milchrest, Jack Griffin &Tim Thornton still a resident of Heathcote.

The first world war interupted the club,s progress because most of the players were volunteers in the Armed Forces. But after the war and a flu epidemic in 1919, a team was formed again in 1920 and again the bulk of players came from well known Sutherland families such as Harry Brew, Wally Harrison, Harry Richards, Tommy Hays, Billy Blackall, Harry Anderson, The Dwyers and they had a new playing area known as Waratah Park, cleared and marked by volunteer labour.

It was not until 1931 that they really made a name for themselves. By this time their homeground had shifted to Sutherland Reserve knoen now as Sutherland no 2 and the present soccer oval.

They also acquired a new identity , The Sutherland "Grave Diggers" because of the close proximity to Sutherland Cemetery, and many teams were to meet their doom on the gravel pit at Sutherland oval. But 1931 was their year of glory , coached by Sam Wheeler , the Sutherland "B" grade won the St. George Junior Rugby League competition.

This team was to produce some famous names in Rugby League, such as Len Kelly who for years held a record of games played with St George and has been a selector and President for St George for many years. Also Jack Kelly & George Taylor both St George players and referees & International Touch Judges in a record number of Interstate & International fixtures. Noel Hollingdale went to Eastern Suburbs and represented Sydney against New Zealand as hooker.

Other players who played in this winning team will be remembered by many Sutherland residents, such as Billy Shoveller,Watty & Dacy Webb, the McCubbins, Tibby Woods, T Evens and officials such as J.P. McInerney, H. Baker , W. Fenton, Joe Black, whose cry of " tick it intoem Tunderland" will be remembered by many old supporters.

The old grand stand stood in the south west corner of the oval where the basketball courts are now.

Another well known identity who played in the 1931 sides, is Rex King the "C" Grade Captain at the time , he often played when George Taylor was absent. Rex was also a top cricketer and one of the founders of Cronulla J.R.L.F.C.

Our supportes were very vocal when we were playing at home and many free-for-alls breaking out while games were in progress, especially with the Mortdale and Brighton supporters. Not much has changed to this day.

Many great games were played on the old gravel heap, and we always had great support from families like the Bookers, Joe Peters  and Isobel whom used to attack both opposition playes and barrackers, many a winger was brought down by a crook of an umbrella. Jim Johnston, the Gardiners, The Hornby Brothers were also great supportes of the time. A Mr Benn of Hotham Road who had a pig & poultry farm would take us in his cart on our away matches to the St George area at 3d a head, another great supporter.

During this era there were also some great "A" grade sides one from Cronulla All Blacks, Woronora Dam, Bardsleys Blues ( coached by A.Flower ) and " Sutherland Grave Diggers".

In 1937 we were successful with another "B" grade side, coached by Sam Wheeler, winning both St George competion and the Turf Ace Cup and several of these players were later to play grade football. Mick & Sid Shortus with Newtown, Bill Griffin with St George, Tommy Dawson with Newtown.

Again war slowed things down during 1939-1945, but 1946 saw Sutherland back in action with "A" & "B" grade sides and a "B" grade side coached by Noel Hollingdale (1947) won a K.O. competition.

That year St George J.R.L.F.C. "B" grade competion, was abandoned, because right on semi-finals time several teams were found guilty of playing ring-ins - players over age or over weight. In those early days "B" grade was under 21 and under 10st.7lb., there would be very few players make the weight limit these days. Anyway the Junior League in its wisdom abandoned the competition and ran a knock out competion and the "Grave Diggers" won it. We had a few ring-ins our selves but to our great delight they went undetected.

At the end of the season there was a domestic dispute between the players & committee over blazers and a new club was formed down the Woronora with Jim Stansell President and a team entered in the "A" grade comp., it only lasted a couple of years nd Woronora & Sutherland were forced to combine by St. George Junior Rugby League, which brought about a change in colours from the old red & green bars to green with a red and gold V and an S.W. on the chest.

Out of this period was to emerge one of the most famous sparkling names in the district "PROVAN" Norm, Ian, Don and Peter all to play with Sutherland and St. George. Norm to break Len Kelly's record of games played with St. George and represent Australia on many occasions.

From early 1950 to 1978 many great players have come from Sutherland Club. First graders to name a few :-

Henry Holloway, Bob Bugden, George Tailforth, Brian Hendersn, Brian Messiter, Ray Birks, Les Boyle,Arthur May, Denis Stapleton,Paul Taylor, Graham Sams, Steve Rogers , Steve Kneen, Col Rasmussen and seventy other players graded over the years with clubs like St. George, Newtown, Canterbury, Cronulla Sutherland and Eastern Suburbs.

Extracts from Jim McIntyre's Sutherland J.R.L.F.Club history