On the podcast this week we talk to legendary photographer Col Whelan, our Remembering A Rabbitoh is Paul Sait & we check out our newest Rabbitoh Jaxson Paulo.
Famous photographer Col Whelan gives us one of the best interviews we’ve had on the podcast. Cols’ life & times are nothing short of amazing from meeting Nelson Mandela, taking once in a lifetime photos to writing a best selling book on Pubs.
Paul Joseph Sait (Saity) #549 was 4th September 1947. Sait went to school at Matraville Public and also played his junior footy for the Matraville Tigers, he is a South Sydney man through & through. Sait worked his way through the grades at Souths and eventually made his debut in round 4 against Wests at Lidcombe Oval in 1968.
One of the most ferocious players to have ever worn the Red and Green, Paul Sait became a fan favourite among the Rabbitohs’ faithful as a versatile competitor from 1968-1978. In 1969 he come off the bench in the famous loss to the Tigers in the grand final & was unlucky when a controversial no try wasn’t awarded to him late in the game. “Referee Keith Page did us no favours, with the Balmain players going down injured all the time”, he once said.
In 1970 he played in the centres and marked up against rugby league Immortal Bob Fulton and played well smashing Fulton every chance he got. His form in 1970 saw him rewarded with a spot on the winning Kangaroo World Cup squad. Sait again played in the centres in the 71” grand final win over St George 16-10 & also made his test debut in 71” against the Kiwi’s which was a proud moment for Paul & his family.
When Ron Coote left the club in 72” Sait moved into his preferred position of lock forward at Souths. The same year Sait was again a part of the Australian World Cup squad, putting in one of his finest performances against France where he scored a double in the 31-9 win. In 73” He played in all 3 matches again Great Britain.
Ron Coote said of his former team mate “he was a brilliant player, he had to wait to make his mark in first grade but then he did a terrific job, he played in the centres and also in the forwards or wherever you needed him to play. Sait was a fine attacking player and he could defend too. Sait retired in 1978 the same way he started playing against Wests at Lidcome Oval.
Sait was made a life member of the Rabbitohs in 1991 He is a member of Souths dream team He was also named in the Souths Juniors team of the century He captained his beloved Rabbitohs He was a versatile player who could play front row, second row, lock, 5/8 and in the centres.
Pauls son Paul Jnr aka Stich said “Dad coached Souths lower grades and also the Illawarra Red Devils & La Perouse. I also remember going to Souths games and being in the dressing room & being allowed to sit on the sideline. Dad would take us surfing when we were young, he loved surfing, spearfishing water skiing. Now we just enjoy quiet birthday get togethers”.
Thanks again to Marco Sivis & Brad Ryder for their contributions.
I’ve always been fascinated by the year the South Sydney Rabbitohs began in 1908. The focal point of the this tale is Arthur Stephen Hennessy nickname A.S.H & I was immediately drawn to the fact that we share the name Stephen spelt with the PH. ASH is Rabbitoh first grade player #1 & I’m #757, he made his debut in 1908 & mine was 1987 but we are both Stephens & Rabbitohs players so for me we share an affinity. I realise it’s only his middle name, the S in the acronym ASH but the man known as the ‘Father Of The Rabbitohs’ and I both suited up for the mighty Rabbits & didn’t spell our name Steven with the V. (Yes I do answer to the shortened version Steve but that’s beside the point!)
The most satisfying discovery I made was to uncover the fact that the first rugby league game ever played in Australia was held on the 21st of March 1908 at Sir Joseph Banks Park Botany. On this historic day a South Sydney Possibles & Probables trial match was played. I was born & bred in Botany, played for the Botany Rams & still live here today but I never knew about this game that ASH took part in was played at a park that I roamed as a kid.
In The Beginning…
The story of the Rabbitohs inaugural season in 1908 & their eventual victory in the first ever Australian rugby league grand final is a tale that Rabbitohs fans will cherish forever.
Stories will endlessly be told about the clubs Redfern origins, it’s 11-7 victory over North Sydney the first time the team took the field & the march to glory over the Roosters in the grand final at the end of that season.
This article takes you through some key points of this time & highlights the involvement of the ‘Father Of The Rabbitohs’ Arthur Hennessy.
Rugby League broke away from Rugby Union in the late 1800s for the simple reason that players weren’t being paid. The greatest game of all was born in England in 1895.
The beginning of South Sydney traces back to early meetings in the Australian test cricketer Victor Trumper’s shop. Trumper is one of the most important figures in the club’s formation.
Five other men also played huge roles in creating the Rabbitohs – Arthur Hennessy, S. George Ball, Johnny McGrath, Billy Cann & Ed “Son” Fry. Early meetings were held in 1907, plans were hatched then finally a meeting took place on 17th January 1908 at Redfern Town Hall Sydney to form the South Sydney District Rugby League Club.
Arthur Stephen Hennessy (nickname ASH) was born in Sydney on the 24th September 1876. Hennessy played hooker & although only a small man at 5ft 8ins (173cm) & 12st. 6lbs. (79kg) he would become a star rugby union player winning a competition with Souths Rugby Union in 1905 & gaining NSW representative honours.
By the time he finally helped create the NSWRL & the Rabbitohs, Hennessy was 31 years old so his career as a rugby league player was relatively short but he would go on to become the first captain of NSW & the Australian Kangaroos.
A trial match was organised between the South Sydney Possibles & Probables on the 21st March 1908 at Sir Joseph Banks Park Botany as a tune up for the upcoming season but also so the players could learn the rules to this newly created game. Englishman Tom McCabe lectured players and officials on the finer points of the new code. This historic match would be the first ever rugby league game played on Australian soil. Hennessy captained the Probables but they were defeated 9-8 by the Possibles led by Bill Cann.
On the 20th April 1908 the big one happened, the Rabbitohs first ever competition game in the NSWRL. Hennessy took the field for the Bunnies at Birchgrove Oval as an undersized captain/coach. Arthur Hennessy would earn the honour of being named Souths first grade player number #1. This numbering system was introduced by the club in 2003 & Hennessy was allocated his number then. The modern players like myself have embraced this numbering system with pride. Chris McQueen has his number 1070 boldly tattooed on his neck below is left ear.
The first ever try scorer for Souths was winger Tommy Anderson (first grade player #2) in the 11-7 win over North Sydney.
Souths would win their next 2 games before suffering defeat for the first time at the hands of arch rivals Eastern Suburbs 13-12 at the Royal Agricultural Society Showground. The Souths v Easts rivalry has been around for as long as the game has existed.
This would be Souths only loss of the season, they would remain undefeated all the way through to the grand final where they turned the tables on Easts to win the game 14-12. This result secured the competition, the first of the clubs 21 premierships, a record that has allowed the Rabbitohs to be continually described as the ‘Pride Of The League’
Hennessy would only play 5 games for Souths in 1908 before leaving for England on board the RMS Macedonia with the 1908-09 Kangaroos with 2 rounds to go before the finals. When their ship stopped over in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) the Rabbitohs players received a telegram from the team saying a simple message “Premiers”.
The tour robbed both Souths & Easts of their best players for the grand final & condemned the game to a contest without the best talent competing. Notable absentees that went on tour for Souths were Arthur Hennessy, Tommy Anderson & Arthur Butler (first grade player #3) while Easts lost the one & only Dally Messenger, Dan Frawley & Sandy Pearce.
Arthur Hennessy suffered a broken jaw on the Kangaroo tour & didn’t play in a test match. Hennessy played a total of 26 games for the Rabbitohs & would go into coach the Rabbitohs & Kangaroos.
Hennessy would create a institution of “running rugby” at South Sydney. He strongly advocated the no kick principle, emphasizing the importance of ball possession to score tries. This came to be the mark of South Sydney’s football with straight running and backing up. The no kick policy produced fast, open football and for Souths a remarkable winning record.
Hennessy was also caught up in the boundary wars with Easts that forced him to play for the tri colours for a short period.
Hennessy moved to Maroubra where he invested in the Maroubra Speedway and in mini-golf, and partly owned the Amusu cinema, Maroubra, living in a cottage opposite the theatre. Survived by his wife, Hennessy died on 19 September 1959 and was buried with Anglican rites in Botany cemetery.
After a 43 year drought the Rabbitohs won their 21st premiership in 2014. This victory meant that their legions of fans could celebrate the ‘Pride Of The League’ once again & sing the song ‘Glory Glory to South Sydney….South Sydney marches on’.
On Friday 26th June 2020 an image was posted in our newly created Facebook group ‘Rabbitohs Radio Podcast Listeners’ by legendary photographer Col Whelan.
Beneath the photo Col asked the question “Any idea who these blokes are”?
The next day we had our answer thanks to Chris Isouard. In the picture stood three Rabbitohs legends Albert Clift, George Treweek & Eddie Root.
“Albert mentioned this day in a couple of his interviews over the years” said Chris. “Treweek and Root visited him in the early 80s and presented him with some of their playing memorabilia. Like many, Albert was a hero of mine and inspired me as a kid to collect everything Souths”.
Albert Clift was a former player for South Sydney, former official and director, was the Club’s first mascot back in 1968, held an amazing collection of Rabbitohs memorabilia including the famed timekeeper’s bell from the first game in 1908 & is a Life Member of the Football Club.
Eddie Root (first grade player #139) 109 games & 34 tries was a starting forward in the Rabbitohs golden era of 7 premiership wins between 1925-32. Root had a brilliant career & is rightly regarded as one of the greatest ever Rabbitohs.
The 1931 Rabbitohs
The 1931 South Sydney Rabbitohs defeated the Eastern Suburbs Roosters 12-7 in the NSWRL grand final. Eddie Root was the hooker & George Treweek played second row.
George Treweek (first grade player #153) 119 games & 40 tries was a starting forward in the Rabbitohs golden era of 7 premiership wins between 1925-32. He is a legendary attacking player who was rated as the finest second row forward the game has produced.
The Rabbitohs have certainly been through a tumultuous time of late. We lost Sam & George Burgess, GI & Sutto leaving us with a depleted roster. Richo goes but not before we gain Latrell & a couple of surprise forwards in Sele & Mago.
Then it’s one drama after the next. Latrell, Jimmy & Cody put the team in the headlines then GI drops a bombshell. If ever we needed some footy to get us back on track it’s now!
Beaten by the Broncos
It’s been a long time between drinks thanks to the dreaded Covid shutdown. When the Bunnies run on the field this Friday it will be 10 weeks to the day since their last game when they were rolled by the Broncos at Suncorp on the 20th March.
This is a loss we’d rather put behind us, it was frustrating to watch & a Stagg hat trick spoiled any chance the Bunnies had of winning the game.
The Broncos lost Croft in the 11th minute & were down to 16 men so we had them on the ropes but didn’t land enough blows to put them away.
Latrell chimed into the back line early with a class quick hands ball to Graham who just failed to score but then the Broncos took charge.
Stagg exposed some brittle defence on the left edge then the Milf carved us up in the middle making it all look too easy. The Broncos forwards were rolling, they were cruising at 10-0.
To their credit the Rabbitohs steadied the ship. A super Cody Walker cutout pass to Graham put us on the board & then a Latrell short pass to Jimmy The Jet saw Cody back up to level the score. A penalty goal handed us a surprise 12-10 halftime lead.
The 2nd half started like the 1st with Stagg finding the stripe with too much ease then Herbie goes bananas to help Stagg bag a treble.
AJ injected some spark off the bench & we somehow found ourselves with a late chance to score & produce an unlikely comeback. This of course didn’t happen & we’ve had an extra long wait to lament where we went wrong.
Friday night v the Chooks @ Bankwest
I only have fond memories of clashes with the Chooks when I was playing for the Rabbitohs in the late 80s. In 7 games we won 5 & I scored 5 tries. I couldn’t tell you one thing about the losses but the wins & tries remain embedded in my brain in my happy place as a pleasant highlights package. My favourite is round 2, 1988 when I scored a try on full time to seal the Rabbitohs first win at the the new Sydney Football Stadium. Scoring a try for Souths is great, scoring against the Chooks is unreal, scoring a try to win the game against the Chooks is the ultimate (just ask Adam Reynolds).
Roosters supporters are a different breed, they have this inferiority complex & feelings of envy that will never go away when it comes to the mighty Rabbitohs. It must be tough to be forever in the shadow of the pride of the league & the banter I enjoy with my numerous Rooster mates will never get old.
The most fantastic news from the early 2020 NRL season is that the back to back premiers suffered back to back defeats & that leaves them with an 0-2 start.
The loss of Cooper Cronk & Latrell Mitchell had an immediate effect as did the absence of Boyd Cordner. No Cronk has pointed the spotlight on the Roosters new halves pairing & whether their kicking game is up to scratch. Alarm bells are ringing at Bondi & if the Bunnies can extend their losing streak to 0-3 panic may set in.
My predicted scenario for this game is Latrell Mitchell to play well & we win. The bear has been poked so I’d love to see him go out & ravage the opposition. This would rub salt into the wound. Even better would be a try from Latrell in a win or if I dare to dream a Latrell match winning try (think Adam Reynolds/Steve Mavin).
We’re going to miss Cody Walker but there’s big wraps on Troy Dargan so here’s hoping he has a blinder on debut, we definitely need it against a Chooks team frothing to bounce back & get a win on the board. The Morris twins reunite & the return of Cordner strengthens an already ridiculously talented Roosters team.
The key to victory for the Rabbits lies in a tightened defence & our forwards laying the platform for our backs to shine. We saw some good signs in the first 2 rounds from Burgess, Knight, Tatola & Sua. We know what Cook & Murray can do so they just need to go out there & produce. Magos return is a further boost, his early form before he tore his pec was encouraging.
The new 6 again ruck rule might allow Cook to explode into action with more regularity. There’s no better sight than seeing our Kangaroos hooker darting into the clear. I think we can win but we’ll need to be at our best & get all the little things right. Complete sets, control the ball & play disciplined footy. Get to our kicks & don’t give away penalties. It’s a simple formula but if they can manage to achieve that then we have the squad to compete with anyone.
I went with the missus to Souths first game at the new Parra Stadium aka Bankwest in round 12 last year when we lost to the Eels 26-14. I was curious to check out the arena & now that it’s the Rabbitohs new home ground for a while, here’s a summary for when the crowds can return.
We decided to stay overnight at the Mantra which is only about a mile away from the ground. There’s limited parking at Bankwest Stadium but there’s quite a few parking stations in the area & we parked at the hotel car park.
We went to Parra Leagues before the game, went upstairs & found a great table overlooking the stadium at Pablos Cantina Y Cerveza. The food was alright but the highlight was the beer brewed on site by Jacks Brewery. I do love a good craft beer, there’s something special about a pint or 3 of freshly brewed pale ale before kickoff.
We decided to check out the rest of the club & this turned out to be a mistake. On this busy evening the sports bar was packed, the auditorium is now filled with pokies so it was standing room only. We left & went to the ground.
The amenities at Bankwest are quite good, we bought higher category seats & the view of the action was great. You can also walk down & watch the game around the 20 metre line behind the disabled seats. It’s standing room only but it’s an awesome view there. The variety of food is nice but even though there’s plenty of bars we still had to line up too long for my liking & it wasn’t a sell out crowd (21645). My other gripe is that they only sell mid strength beer which I’m not a fan of. This trend across stadiums in this country is ordinary as far as I’m concerned. If they want people to come to games then let them drink quality beer not the watered down stuff. Anyway I found a loophole, the cider & red wine is full strength so that’s what I tucked into.
After the game we drowned our sorrows in Church Street which was surprisingly vibrant on a Friday night. There’s some decent pubs & eateries along this strip & its just a shame that we weren’t celebrating a win.
The betting is Roosters $1.35 Rabbitohs $3.20 so yet again the evil empire is favoured to win. I say bring on the Chooks, Souths by 4.
A bright note before I go is that the leadership structure at the Rabbitohs looks solid now going forward. With Blake Solly at the helm, Wayne Bennett in charge & Jason Demetriou waiting in the wings we are in good hands. The club is also as closely aligned with the Juniors as it’s ever been & once this Covid fog clears that partnership will continue to flourish.
On Rabbitohs Radio podcast this week we speak to Souths CEO Blake Solly, if you haven’t listened yet please give us a go.
On the podcast this week we speak to Souths CEO Blake Solly, check out our debutant Troy Dargan & look at the moster clash with the Roosters at Bankwest Stadium.
Newly appointed Rabbitohs CEO Blake Solly is a fine administrator & in our dealings with him he has only ever been welcoming & friendly. We spoke to The Juniors Chairman Keith McCraw about Blake. Keith has put a lot of work into building a close relationship between the junior & senior clubs. Keith said “Blake is an absolute champion & a good operator, we are in good hands”.
Troy Dargan is a 22 year old former Australian Schoolboy and NSW U20s representative as well as representing Cook Islands at Test level. Dargan played for the Guildford Owls, Wentworthville Magpies, Parramatta Eels, Brisbane Broncos & Norths Devils before arriving at Souths. A highly-regarded junior coming through the ranks at the Eels, Dargan played in the 2014 Australian Schoolboys team alongside the likes of Latrell Mitchell, Brock Lamb and Jayden Brailey and in 2016 was the Eels’ NYC Players’ Player and halfback in the NYC Team of the Year.
In 2018 it was reported that Dargan was considered for the starting half role in Round 1 for the Broncos but his NRL dream wasn’t realised. Dargan said at the time “My dad played footy and I just grew up with a football in my hand. Mum and Dad always say one of the first steps I took as a child was walking to try and kick a footy”.
“Mum and Dad said I used to sleep with a ball under my arm every night so I just grew up with a footy and then when you turn 6 and 7 that’s when you start playing and never looked back.
Take a look at his highlight package in the 2019 QLD Cup (below) & you can’t help but be impressed. Dargan is quick, runs the ball, has magic ball skills & a great left foot kicking game. If he can bring that form to the Rabbitohs he’s going be a star in the NRL. On the podcast last year in Season 1 Episode 12 Grand Final Heroes, Scott Sattler praised Dargan, saying he is a speedy halfback & Wayne Bennett is a big fan.
We spoke to Michael ‘Gibbo’ Gibson about his life as a Rabbitohs supporter. Gibbo is a regular at Bourke Street Bakery & says “If you like mochas and hot chocs you will love the Bourke Street Bakery ones because they use real chocolate buds in there instead of chocolate powder, hardly any joints do that”.
“I’m an inner city boy fell & in love with Rabbitohs in late 80’s while living at Woolloomooloo. I grew up in The Rocks/Millers Point (Ex Rabbitoh Chris Caruana is from same area).”
“My mother and family are Carrions & grew up in Douglas and Mount Streets in Redfern. My uncles Ray and Roy Carrion were Souths fans.”
“My favourite Souths players over the years are Phil Blake for his individual brilliance and Tugger for his craftiness in the late 80’s. I also loved watching Tricky Trindall in the 90’s, he was probably my favourite player to watch of all of them, he was a standout when we were doing it tough. I liked watching John Sutton come through mid 2000’s especially at 5’8, I loved his skill set and left hand offload & more recently watching Cam Murray in attack and defence has been amazing.”
“I haven’t got a favourite moment but just having a quality team to follow each year is my highlight and one that my kids are excited to follow especially after those dark years we had, that’s what I’m happy about. I predict another grand final win before Wayne retires.”
“My kids Chloe and Blake are now mad Rabbitohs fans even though we moved out of the Souths area 2 years ago. My son Blake loves Cody Walker and wants to be him all the time, even my daughter pretends to be John Sutton when they are running around tackling each other.”
“I walked out to my first amateur fight with Reggie Rabbit leading me out to the sounds of Glory Glory. This was a highlight of my sporting life by far.” Michael Gibson
The Juniors is opening its doors on Monday 1st of June 2020