‘What, might you ask was the Eastern Suburbs Club, the tri-colours or the Bulldogs, doing in 1946?
Strange, because I just happen to have some information which might be of interest.
The Eastern Suburbs Club received an invitation to visit Narandera to play a series of matches over the June long weekend. Wait, wait. The spelling of Narandera? Well, thats how it was spelt in the official reports. Not only that, that’s how the title of the newspaper we read, the ‘Narandera Argus and Riverina Advertiser’ spelt their name – why then the change?
The team left from platform 3 at Sydney’s Central Station on the 11:00pm Riverina Mail on the Friday Night, travelling 584 kilometres to Narandera by train. They arrived at their destination about 12 noon on the Saturday where they were greeted at a civic reception at the Town Hall hosted by the mayor, Alderman W J Gammage. Also present was the president of the South West League, W H Logan and Ald T Gordon, president of the Narandera Imperials Football Club.
Following the reception the group proceeded to the Memorial Gardens where Mr Les Horton, President of the Eastern Suburbs Club, placed a wreath in memory of the fallen
That afternoon, East met a strong South West District Representative Team and after a splendid game emerged victors, 8-10 (58) to 6-14 (50). They were the first visiting team to defeat the League since 1907!
The locals were very pleased with the football and were loud in their praise of the game which was followed by dinner at the Star Hotel and a dance plus euchre at the Railway Institute. Some of the players attended the local greyhound meeting while others visited the Soldiers’ Club and these were the days before poker machines and licensed clubs.
The following morning the team visited several places of interest which were arranged by the local officials. All of the touring side were very complimentary about the hospitality showed by the Narandera people.
Then Easts backed up on the Sunday, after you can imagine what was a heavy Saturday Night for some, and they repeated their performance this time against the Narandera Team itself at the Sports Ground winning 9-14 (68) to 5-10 (40). It was in this game that Easts introduced a number of their junior players giving them a taste of senior football.
Easts outstanding players in the two games were captain-coach, Jim McCallum, Doug Edgeworth, Vic McGuinnes, Arthur Kemp, Fred Edwards and a young Frank Horton.
The gate receipts for both matches totalled an incredible two hundred pounds, “easily,” the locals said “the best football figures here for many a day. A further report said that “last weekend was reminiscent of the halcyon days of football in this district and the £200 gate receipts for the two matches indicated that the Australian code had lost none of its popularity. When it is taken into consideration that the League could not charter special trains to bring the people to Narrandera, the attendance of so many people was really remarkable.”
The contingent left Narrandera at 9:00am on the Monday Morning, “all very happy and cheerful after one of the most pleasant and successful trips ever experienced by any club.” Some players remained behind to compete in the local league’s long weekend knock-out competition.
Easts were knocked off in the 1946 preliminary final by St George and this was only a few years before the club went through a wonderful period of premierships in the 1950s. Narrandera on the other hand were defeated by Ganmain in the SWDFL grand final by 22 points.