East Sydney Put the Centenary Flag in the Bag

Back row: James O’Callaghan, Guy Sherrington, Jim Richardson, Grant Luhrs, Stuart Allen, Petar Ruscuklic, Danny Staklum, Stephen Maclure, Wayne Goss, Greg Luhrs, Frank Ward, Reg Dew (team manager)
Middle row: Steve Byrnes, Steve Davis, Rob Claridge (Capt.), Jack Dean (Pres.), Austin Robertson (Coach), Ian Geddes (Vice-capt.), Ted Pleming, Laurie Axford, Lionel Potter (fitness trainer)
Front row: Enzo Corvino, Ian Allen, Jeff Carruthers, Wayne Hardie, Brendan Higgins, Geoff Spaulding, Phil Ingles

By Rod Gillett

East Sydney with mega-star full forward Petar Ruscuklic booting 9 goals cruised to a resounding 121-point win over North Shore in the 1980 grand final at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

It has been the last local competition grand final played at the SCG.

The match was also televised live in NSW on Channel Seven and attracted 120,00 viewers.

A live kick-by-kick radio broadcast was provided by Sydney radio station 2KY with special comments by SFL media and footy stats guru Kevin Taylor.

Final scores were East Sydney 30-24 (204) d North Shore 12-11 (83).

It was a major triumph for East Sydney that celebrated its centenary season in the best style possible by winning premierships in all three grades.

Easts adopted a special strip for the centenary season, a white guernsey with red and blue bands (pictured right), with white hose with red and blue stripes at the top. This was one of the first adaptations in Australian football of a specially designed jumper for a celebratory occasion.

After the disappointment of going out of the finals in “straight sets” the previous year after going through the home-and-away season undefeated, the Bulldogs regained the services of former South Melbourne and Subiaco star full forward Austin “Ocker” Roberston as coach; he had previously coached Easts to the 1976 flag.

And they retained Petar “Snorkel” Ruscuklic who had booted 136 goals in 1979; Petar did not follow the coach, his brother, Alex (ex Fitzroy and Carlton star) to Western Suburbs. East Sydney president Jack Dean ensured that there was a sufficient incentive for “Snorkel” to remain at Easts for the centenary season.

Despite the Bulldogs winning by a then Australian senior league record margin score, they were actually behind by ten points at quarter time but led at half-time by 42 points as a result of an eight goal burst in the second quarter.

According to Lionel Beale’s report in Inside Football (25 September 1980) “…another eight goals in the third quarter and 12 more in the last was champagne football by the best team seen in Sydney for many seasons”.

Easts’ had outstanding players on every line with skipper Robbie Claridge brilliant on the ball taking advantage of the dominance of ruckman Steve Byrnes and former Narrandera follower Stuart Allen.

The best player on the ground was Jim Richardson in the centre with five goals. Originally from Eastakes in the ACT, Richardson had trailed with Geelong but was recruited to Easts for the centenary season from WAFL club South Fremantle.

In defence, Guy Sherrington was “unbeatable”, according to the Inside Football report along with centre half-back Ian Geddes and classy back pocket Ted Pleming (both from UNSW).

Up forward, Petar Ruscuklic was in superb form with nine goals, along with fellow forward Geoff “Hammy” Spaulding (3 goals), centre half-forward Grant Luhrs (4 goals), and Laurie “Wally” Axford (2 goals).

North Shore were best served by defender John Tuckwell, winger Henry Townsing and utility Bruce Wickham.

Unfortunately, captain-coach John Pitura (ex-South Melbourne and Richmond), who was the match-winner in the 1979 decider succumbed to a shoulder injury suffered in the preliminary final win over Newtown and had negligible influence on the game.

Speaking to me by phone from Perth, dual premiership coach Austin “Ocker” Robertson, told me that that the 1980 team was more talented than the 1976 team “…but the 1976 team had more larrikins!”.

“We recruited well from WA where I used my contacts to secure Wayne “Cowboy” Hardie from South Fremantle along with Jim Richardson, Guy Sherrington (Perth), former St Kilda player Enzo Corvino (Subiaco) and Grant Luhrs from Claremont as well as Laurie Axford (Sutherland) who returned from study in WA and playing with West Perth” ‘Ocker’, one of the architects of Kerry Packer’s World Series cricket, told me.

But the star of the show on grand final day was prolific full-forward Peta Ruscuklic, who booted nine goals to take his tally for the season to 156, a new Sydney record, which he subsequently broke the next season with an astonishing 213 goals.

               Grant Luhrs

“Petar was mecurial, unstoppable” according to centre half-forward Grant Luhrs (pictured right), who after playing in the 1976 premiership went to Claremont in the WAFL for three seasons and returned for the centenary season.

“He was such a strong mark, especially one-out against an opponent and such an accurate kick for goal from any angle. He had “The Rat” (Robbie Claridge), “Gossie” (Wayne Goss) and “Richo” (Jim Richardson) pumping the ball forward from out of the middle”, Luhrs told me in an interview for this piece from his Flying Fox recording studio in Wagga.

“We were a group of itinerant and nomadic footballers loaded with talent that were bonded together by the coach (Austin Robertson) and his match committee chairman Jack Dean”.

“Off-the-field we had great support with club stalwart Reggie Dew (team manager), fitness guy “Long Bay” Lionel Potter and electic butcher Glen “Globie” Gasser as the runner”, added Luhrs.

Vice-captain Ian Geddes told me in an interview from Griffith for this piece that it was a great thrill to play in the grand final on the SCG, “We had the chance to play some curtain-raisers to VFL matches on the ground during the season which enabled us to get to know the nuances of the ground; it also meant that we weren’t over-awed on grand final day”.

A win by 121 points was a clear manifestation of East Sydney’s superiority on grand final day on the SCG.

Family & Work Land Temora a Flag in 1960

By Dr Rodney Gillett

1960 premiership Mal Reid Jnr wearing
the original guernsey with son Adam, in jumper
worn in 2012-2013 premierships

The Reid family connections run deep at the Temora footy club with direct links to the 1959-1960 and 2012-2014 premierships that have nourished the club and its supporters between flags.

In 1960 Mal “Nugget” Reid led Temora to a grand final victory over Marrar in the Central Riverina Australian National League at Bolton Park, Wagga, 9-6 (60) to 4-3 (27).

It was Temora’s second premiership in a row; the green and golds also beat Marrar in 1959 when “Nugget” coached from the sidelines while playing for Coolamon in the neighbouring major league, the South West DFL.

Mal and his twin brother “Jacko” were members of former South Melbourne captain Ian “The Heap” Gillett’s Coolamon’s premiership team that defeated Leeton before a record crowd for Australian football in the Riverina at the Narrandera Sportsground of 12,000.

A key member of the 1960 premiership team was Bayden “Ben” Krause, now aged 85 who had only started playing football a few years before but had a break-out year booting 80-odd goals and being awarded the CRL Player of the Year.

“We went through the season undefeated. We were all so super-fit, we worked hard on farms and we were well led by Nugget”, “Ben” told me in an interview for this article.

“We were very close, all good mates, we nearly all worked on farms or were shearers or timber-cutters, the only player who wasn’t worked at a bank in town” Ben said. “I remember working with eight team-mates in our shearing shed” added Ben.

The other place the Temora footballers congregated at was church as so many of the team were Lutheran. The Hartwigs, Noel and Ron, Frank Terlich, Brian Wehrsedt, and Alan, Brian and Barry Block as well as the Krauses, Ben and younger brother Wayne (aka “Mousie” (record games holder) went to the Lutheran church at Trungley Hall, 20 kms north of the town.

The Lutherans mainly from South Australia came to take up land after the pastoral runs were opened up for settlement in the early part of the 20th century.

The first football club was first formed in Temora in 1893 (Sydney Mail and NSW Advertiser 13 May 1893), but the club has not always been in continuous existence.

In fact, Temora has been a battleground since rugby league was introduced in 1912 by a school-teacher according to the history book, Temora: Yesterday and Today, 1880-1980.

This accords with the thesis that it was the “3 Cs – the chalkies, the coppers, and the civil servants” introduced the game to the major towns in the Riverina.

But the small towns and villages held onto the football that their descendants had bought with them from the southern areas of Australia when closer settlement of the land was undertaken.

What emerged in the research for this article was the separation of town and district – with historically, the farmers, farm hands, and shearers played the indigenous game, and the “townies” played the rugby codes depending on their social background.

For most of the pre-WWII period Temora played against district clubs such as Tara, Pucawn, Mimosa, Springdale, Bectric, Rannock and Winchendon Vale (Ariah Park News (31/5/1923). However, research by Peter Clark (the author of the forthcoming book on the History of the Rannock FC) shows that for part of the 1930s there was a Temora and district league but no Temora club!

1960 Temora National Football Club – Premiers

This is supported by Temora footy legend Phil “Hawk” Reid, who told me in an interview over the phone in the paddock in the rain delirious with joy that the crop was off, that his grandfather Malcolm Reid snr, known as “Mike” captained Mimosa in the Temora competition.

Another former Temora captain-coach Garry Richardson, son of 1959-60 premiership hero Jim Richardson, who coached in 1983 recalled that most of the players came from farms.

After the war, the Temora footy club resumed in the local district league, then transferred to the Ariah Park & District FL, but when that was disbanded the club went into recess from 1952-54.

It was Mike Reid and Jim Richardson among others that revived the club. Jim had gone to Temora to work as a guard at the RAAF base towards the end of the war and stayed on to become a shearer and was joined by his brother Peter, the full forward in the 1960 premiership team.

Temora entered the Wagga and District League and found immediate success by beating Junee by 3 points in the 1955 grand final, but two players who had played all season were deemed ineligible and the club refused a replay. The club made amends by sweeping to victory in 1956.

Both Marrar and Temora joined the Central Riverina league in 1957 when the Farrer league was formed taking in Wagga Tigers, North Wagga, Mangoplah and The Rock in a major shake-up to local competitions. New club Cootamundra and Junee joined the CRL (Central Riverina Football League) in 1960.

Buoyed by success in 1959-60 Temora joined the Farrer league in 1961 and had almost immediate success but were runner-up in 1963 and 1964 losing to Culcairn and Holbrook respectively.

It was when Temora entered the Farrer league that the club changed to blue and white vertical stripes to avoid a clash with Holbrook.

But premierships eluded Temora until 2012, in between Phil “Hawk” Reid, who won ten club best and fairest awards, played in seven losing preliminary finals. Phil also played in a losing grand final team whilst assistant coach at Ariah Park Mirrool in 1985.

However, his sons, Adam (2012-13), Daniel (2013), and Jason (2013-14) were prominent players in Temora’s historic hat-trick of premierships that finally broke the drought.

Adam’s son, 8 year old son Max, is set to continue the Reid tradition at Temora having started Auskick while Daniel’s twin babies, Felix and Teddy, have maternal grandfather Richard Colless planning for them to play in red and white.


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Gary and Robyn Tagliabue, Peter Clarke, Garry Richardson, Bayden Krause, and Phil Reid