The legends of Lauriston – A Tiny Town & It’s Team That Time Forgot


By Steve Mavin

“Any particular excitement in the community usually came from itinerant sales people. There were of course the regular bread-man; fruiterer and iceman but from time to time came the call of ‘clothes-props’, ‘fisho’ or ‘rabbitoh’.”
Allen Windross

In this aerial photo from 1951 Lauriston Park Estate is visible at the top centre. Also in this image are Ascot Racecourse, Cooks River Bridge & Pucks Wharf. (Sydney Map Shop, Dept of Land & Water Conservation)

On the 15th of March 2021 we featured Souths legend Ernie Hammerton on Rabbitohs Radio Podcast & while researching the segment I discovered that Ernie played for Lauriston United in the South Sydney Junior Rugby League.

This immediately drew my interest because I had never heard of the club.

Who is Lauriston United? Where did they come from? I had no idea but I was determined to find out & after a little bit of digging, a visit to Mascot Library plus some help from friends, old & new we can now shed some light on this subject to reveal a story of a place near the mouth of the Cooks River & it’s rugby league club that deserves to be remembered.

Lauriston Park was situated on land that was eventually consumed by Sydney Airport but to help you understand how, when & why Lauriston (pronounced like Loralston) began we need to look back at the history of the area.

The southern end of O’Riordan Street today leads directly to where Lauriston Park Estate was situated.

In 1770 Captain James Cook sailed into & discovered Botany Bay. He described the Cooks River as – ‘I found a very fine stream of fresh water on the north side in the first sandy cove within the island before which a ship might lay land-locked and wood for fuel may be got everywhere.’

Before Cook arrived the Aboriginal people had called the area Booralee & it was their home for thousands of years. They lived within their tribal boundaries in the Botany Bay area fishing, gathering shellfish, some hunting, and subsistence cropping.

Until 1788, the Cooks River and its environment was relatively undisturbed by man.

Over the centuries however huge changes were made.

Although Botany & Mascot are now considered a mix of residential & industrial zones the area was, prior to development a desirable bayside location. It shared the shores of the Cooks River & was nestled beside the bay with the beautiful freshwater Botany wetlands, native flora & fauna including Grass trees, Banksias, bird & sea life.

Prior to development the area was a desirable bayside location.

I grew up in Botany & often wonder how great it would have been to preserve Botany Bay, the birth place of the nation in it’s original pristine state.

Alas this is but a dream that may never be realised, at least in my lifetime or perhaps ever.

The original mouth of the Cooks River flowed much closer to Botany, Mascot & Lauriston Park than where it does today. The river entrance was moved south of its natural course to make way for the airport. This robbed Botany & Mascot of their riverside locality.

The original mouth of the Cooks River was much closer to Botany, Mascot & Lauriston Park Estate.

The construction of Foreshore Road finally sealed off all of the local area from any water frontage that it had enjoyed for millennia. The original beachside of the Botany suburb where waves occasionally broke for surfers disappeared.

What was once a little slice of paradise became something entirely different.

In 1809, Andrew Byrne, Mary Lewin, Thomas Walker and Edward Redmond were granted land on the Cooks River.

The area was originally divided into four grants, they being Redmond’s 135 acres; Lewin’s 50 acres, Byrne’s 50 acres, and Walker’s 50 acres, which together formed the locality known as Mudbank.

Andrew Byrne collected the shells from Aboriginal middens which were burnt to extract lime and used to make mortar for the building industry.

Simeon Lord was another early settler who dammed a local creek to establish a woollen mill in 1815, creating the Mill Pond.

By the 1820s, Botany Bay mud oysters were taken to Sydney and fishermen had settled at the end of what is now Bay Street. William Puckeridge (born 1802) and his brother John Puckeridge (born 1804) were lime-burners and net fishermen in the Botany area from about 1830 to the 1880s. The family kept their boats on a wharf in the Cooks River near the Engine Pond which became known as Pucks Wharf.

Pucks Wharf was a popular swimming & fishing spot.

Other early families pre 1900 were the Smiths & O’Riordans.

Construction on Laursiton Park Estate began in 1902 & was built for workers from nearby factories or working in trades & labouring.

The land was surveyed by E H Cowdry in September 1902 & soon after cheap land went on sale through Brotchie Real Estate agents in Coward Street North Botany for £15 per lot.

Early residents were of English & Celtic origin. Cottages with names like ‘Brixton’ & ‘Inverness’ lined the tiny village.

The origin of the name Lauriston is uncertain although it could be named after Lauriston Castle in Scotland. Street names like ‘Melrose’ & ‘Roslin’ often spelt ‘Roslyn’ reflect a Scottish influence.

The village was centred on a few streets. Lords Road, Roslin Street, Channel Road & Government Road which bounded the estate. Melrose Street ran down the middle. The Laursiton Park end of Channel Street was later named Ross Smith Avenue after the famous Aussie aviator. After World War II Roslin & Melrose were named 9th & 10th Street & Government Road became 11th Street (where the DHL factory is today).

Long time resident Linda Buchanan described her backyard as more like a paddock with goats roaming free. ‘My brother in law used to play golf, we had 3 holes & occasionally the goats would eat the golf balls’.

The residents of Lauriston Park settled in & the suburb flourished although amenities were limited & a sewerage pipe pumped waste into the river nearby.

People often made trips to Mascot shops & also went to Ascot Picture Theatre on Botany Road.

Ascot Picture Theatre

The Lauriston United Football Club played an important part in people’s lives with locals turning up each week to cheer the team on in their maroon & sky blue colours.

This story came to life when I was sent this colour image of the Lauriston United team.
Thanks to everyone who sent us these fabulous old team photos.

Origins of the club are unknown but a community hall was built in 1918 after land in Roslin Street was donated by the Alexander family.

An early club supporter & organiser was Jack Hendricks known as Mr Hendricks who owned a shop in Ross Smith Avenue.

Club dances were big events on Saturday nights with women who could afford it wearing long evening gowns. Women would supply the food & men the drinks.

A focal point of the community was the Ascot Racecourse that was situated adjacent to Lauriston Park on the site where the helicopter base sits today. A few large trees are all that have survived as evidence of the tracks existence.

Kingsford-Smith Airport (the original name, Mascot Airport, refuses to die) is now one of the oldest in the world, having started in 1919 as a small private venture on a leased bullock paddock. Much of the site was owned by the Kensington Racing Club, as a hedge against it losing its government-owned site at Randwick. In 1921, the Federal Government purchased 65 hectares of the site to create a public airfield and in 1923, compulsorily resumed all of the racing club’s land (although it didn’t use it all and the old racetrack is still there in the 1943 photos).

In 1948 work commenced to change the course of the Cooks River.

Local residents had a close relationship with the early Mascot Aerodrome, it caused excitement in the village & people were fascinated by the planes & mingled with avaiators Amy Johnson & Charles Kingsford Smith when they visited.

Slowly but surely the residents & the suburb were moved on until they disappeared without a trace.

In 1989 the Federal Airports Corporation announced that the remaining areas of the estate would be set aside for the domestic terminal.

In 1990 the last 2 residents were forced out. Harold Rootsey had lived there for more that 70 years & said he would have stayed if given the choice. John Goold built his house in 1940 after a ‘great deal of trouble’ & was understandably reluctant to give it up. John was the last to leave & with his departure the village of Lauriston ceased to exist.

Families that lived at Lauriston Park include-

The Babbington Family at 51 Melrose Street.

Ronan Byrne grew up in the caretakers cottage for Ascot Racecourse. It was situated near the level crossing before it was demolished. Ronan said ‘It should have been heritage listed and turned into a museum for these memories’.

Michael Cross dad Les Cross played for Lauriston United.

Les Cross was a local but sadly passed away last year & his son Michael tells me that he & Ernie Hammerton were great mates. Michael said it’s a shame we aren’t able to talk to Les because he could’ve filled us in on a lot more of the details in regards to the Lauriston United Club.

I also spoke to Mick & Tim Mcgrath & they told me that their dad Dennis Mcgrath grew up in Lauriston Park also known as ‘Fly Flats’ & he also played footy for the Lauriston club as well as lower grade footy for Souths. Dennis Mcgrath is the grandfather of Harold Mats players Ryan & Cooper Mcgrath.

Other families mentioned as residents include O’Brien, Williams, Bonners, Purvis, West, Cummings, Babbington & Steel.

In an extensive article written by Lauriston Park Estate resident Allen Windross he describes the entire area in fascinating detail & recalls his family home with a picket fence on Lords Road was named ‘Kelso’.

Allen remembers the McGraths house too but this is another McGrath family not Dennis, Tim & Mick.

“Behind Kelso, facing Roslyn Street was the house named ‘Heroic’ owned by the McGrath family. There were three sons: Edward, Frank and George. The eldest two both played rugby league with the South Sydney Rabbitohs and Edward made it to first grade.

Allen continues saying there was 4 shops but no churches, schools or liquor outlets although there was at least one ‘sly grog’.

Any particular excitement in the community usually came from itinerant sales people. There were of course the regular bread-man; fruiterer and iceman but from time to time came the call of ‘clothes-props’, ‘fisho’ or ‘rabbitoh’.

There was always a local starting price (SP) bookmaker. If you wanted a bet on the upcoming race in Sydney or Melbourne on a Saturday afternoon you waited for the ‘runner’ who came past on a bicycle before race start time. Bets were recorded on paper slips. At the SP house these slips were pinned on the inside of a roller blind in the kitchen. If the gaming police made a raid the blind was raised so the bets disappeared from sight.

There were no regular organised school sports although we sometimes had a rugby league game against another Catholic school. These matches were played at Booralee Park Botany.

Summer school holidays there was often the opportunity to have a swim in the Cooks River adjacent to Puck’s Wharf or even to do some ‘prawning’ in the river at dusk. Then there was the later excitement of Empire (Cracker) Night in May and the bonfires and fireworks. Saturday afternoons were spent at the matinee run by the Ascot Picture Theatre on Botany Road.

At church my father would point out the presence of some of the star players for the Rabbitohs. In a wardrobe at Kelso was a football jumper in the maroon and blue bars of the Lauriston Park team. I assume this was given to my father by one of the McGrath boys

Mic Brad Lee told me his grandfather Tom O’Brien ‘Lauro’ played for Lauriston United (he was nicknamed Lauro because of who he played for) & he actually asked his grandmother Betty O’Brien about her memories of the suburb for this article.

Mic said ‘Chatting to my grandmother made her laugh and smile so it was great. Betty said they used to fish for yellow tail at Pucks Wharf. They lived in aircraft hangers that were vacated by the British after World War II. There was no electricity however they had water and kerosene lamps’.

Mic gave us a pic of a name tag from a Laursiton United blazer pocket that was signed by some legends of rugby league including the Little Master Clive Churchill.

William Annesley better known as Bill (aka Shakers) played second row for Lauriston Park. He appears in the same team photo as Les Cross and Ernie Hammerton.

The view from 11th Street in 2021

Today very little if any trace remains of Lauriston, I drove around the site & could find absolutely nothing of the former village. The only place the name appears close by is Lauriston Park a small park with a few swings on the corner of Middlemiss & Coward Streets Mascot.

All you will find in 2021 is a car wash, Maccas, a jet base & a huge DHL building where Lauriston once was.

Government Road is now called 11th Street today.

‘A rich procession of activity took place within the bounds of a few streets’.

Lauriston Park aka Fly Flats pre 1950

With thanks to:

Lauriston Park
The Forgotten Village
Georgina Keep & Genie Wilson
Botany Historical Trust

Mascot Library

Nina Walton

Lost Sydney
Lauriston Park Estate

Civil Aviation Historical Society Inc

Allen Windross
Mick Mcgrath
Tim Mcgrath
Stephen Downes
Boro Mihaljevic
Jeff Burt
Bill Annesley
Mic Brad Lee
Tom & Betty O’Brien
Michael Cross
Bill Annesley
Linda Buchanan
The Puckeridge Family

Thanks also to everyone who commented, shared & liked the posts we made on Facebook asking for help & to anyone else I may have forgotten to mention. Your assistance putting this story together was much appreciated.

The Official Podcast of the South Sydney Rabbitohs, Rabbitohs Radio Podcast is hosted by Steve Mavin, Darren Brown & Grant Chappell.

We can be found on the Rabbitohs Podcast Network.

Search for us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, YouTube & all your podcast apps.

A View From The Stands by Browny & Mavo

This Review & Preview was written by Darren Brown & Steve Mavin for The Warren website.

Rabbitohs 60 v Roosters 8 – Round 20, 2020 Review by Darren Brown

The rivalry between the Sydney Roosters & the South Sydney Rabbitohs rugby league teams is regarded as the fiercest and oldest in Australian sport, and last weeks game was no different.

The Ron Coote Cup was built up to be a one sided affair with all the experts predicting an easy victory to our arch rivals.

However someone forgot to tell that to Wayne and the boy’s from Redfern.

The Rabbitohs went into the game with a huge underdog tag after a disappointing loss to the bottom of the table Bulldogs the week before, unlike the Roosters who were looking to notch up their 6th straight win.

Missing from our line up was enforcer Jaydn Su’A and from the outset the Roosters took full advantage. The Chooks got off to a fast start scoring after 3 minutes and nearly crossing the line a short time later. For the first 10 minutes we were on the back foot and struggled to compete with the 2nd place Roosters.

After weathering the storm and once we gained some quality field position Cody Walker crossed for the first of his 2 tries off a great pass from skipper Adam Reynolds down the right edge to lead 6-4.

Then as they say…the rest is history.

In my opinion it was the best performance by a team this year and arguably the best game by an individual player, that being Cody Walker.

Cody was instrumental in everything we did scoring 2 tries, 3 try assists, 167 run metres, 7 tackle busts, 2 line breaks and 3 line break assists. A 10 out of 10 performance.

Adam Reynolds was over shadowed by his halves partner but also had a superb game playing a leading role. Reyno had a hand in several tries and built pressure with his ever so accurate kicking game.

There were multiple milestones achieved in this battle including 50 career tries to Cody, 100 to Alex Johnston & Reyno securing the top NRL point scorer for 2020. It was beautiful to watch us orchestrate a great win against one of the favourites to win the title.

The 60-4 win was set up by an 84% completion rate which gave our spine the opportunity to play some great football. The attack that was on display was second to none with us scoring some spectacular tries and our prolific try scoring machine AJ achieving yet another milestone scoring 5…yes 5 tries to top the try scoring list with 20.

The most memorable try of the game was when we sent an attacking raid down our left edge, AJ then drew the fullback and put Corey Allan on his way to the try line. Then all of a sudden Corey hears AJ calling for the ball so he can score his 4th try but more importantly join Kyle Feldt at the top of the try scoring list with 19 tries for the season. It’s what this club is all about, unselfishness and team morale. Well done to Corey Allan.

Special mention to Allan who I thought played exceptionally well and had his best game for the club to date. His involvement and ability to be around the ball was exciting to watch.

Our forwards, led by Liam Knight with 181 running metres absolutely dominated the opposition pack with some powerful running and brutal defence. Junior Tatola returned from injury and Cameron Murray moved to the right edge giving Liam the opportunity to start at 13.

Keaon Koloamatangi was once again a standout coming off the bench, he ran for big metres with an impressive post contact stat which set the team up for our attacking raids.

With the finals around the corner, it was important that we got back to winning form and there’s no better team to do that against than the Chooks. They had no answers for us once we clicked into gear.

Our performance was a shot across the bow of every team in the finals series.

Bring on the Knights next week.

1st Elimination Final: Rabbitohs v Knights ANZ Stadium 4pm Sunday 5th October 2020 Preview by Steve Mavin

Since the current 8 team finals system was adopted in 2012 no team from outside the top 4 has won the premiership. In 2017 the 8th placed Cowboys managed to make the grand final only to be rolled by the Storm juggernaut. It’s not impossible to do but being asked to win 4 finals games in a row against all the best teams is extremely difficult to say the least.

It’s never happened but some day surely it will & 2020 could well be the year if the Rabbitohs keep producing the scintillating form they conjured up in their final round dismantling of the Chooks.

This dreaded Corona virus has changed the world as we know it so a history making run by the Rabbitohs would be a shining light in a year filled with darkness.

The Rabbitohs host the Knights in a sudden death battle at ANZ this Sunday & it’s a game they are expected to win after flogging the back to back premiers in the final round of the season.

Throw in the fact that the Knights were smashed 36-6 by the resurgent Titans & it’s hard to make a case for anything other than the Bunnies cruising into the second week of the finals.

Finals footy does however not always follow the script, this is a new week, a new game & the team can’t afford to be complacent in the slightest. Master coach Wayne Bennett will ensure this won’t happen.

The Bunnies are well aware of what the Knights can do after they were beaten by Kaylin Pongas men in round 10 at Bankwest Stadium. The Novacastrians shot out to a 20 nil lead that could’ve been even higher if Ponga had converted more than one goal. The Bunnies failed to score a point until the 65th minute of the game on their way to a 20-18 defeat.

Since then both teams have had their ups & downs with only a single point separating them at the end of regular season, the Rabbitohs on 24 & the Knights 23.

Souths come into this clash riding a tidal wave of confidence with star performers throughout their lineup. The Knights limp into the game picking up the pieces of a season that promised so much but has begun to crumble when it matters most.

The Knights let the Titans score 7 tries against them last week & now face a Rabbitohs team that scored 10 tries when they embarrassed the Chooks.

Campbell Graham didn’t play in the round 10 loss to the Knights & his 10 tries in the last 7 games makes him the form centre of the competition.

Jaydn Su’A (who we spoke to on the podcast this week) has emerged as an enforcer & played a pivotal role in a Souths pack that has silenced many of its early season critics. Bayley Sironens elevation to a starting back rower on the left edge has seen him perform at a consistently high level on a weekly basis.

Keaon Koloamatangi forced his way onto a solid bench & has now become an integral member of the team with his powerful running & hungry work rate.

Cody Walker is in superb form & is almost unstoppable at the moment. Adam Reynolds is also back showing the form with the ball & boot that took us all the way in 2014.

Corey Allan has been brilliant at the back & is starting to realise the talent that he promised as a dazzling young star player.

We’re also lucky enough to have 2 of the best players in the NRL, our Origin heroes Damien Cook & Cameron Murray. Both of these blokes have the ability to turn the game in our favour, Cooky with his blinding speed out of dummy half & Cam with his equally impressive ability to play the ball quickly & give his team the jump on retreating defences.

We have plenty of big guns ready to fire on a Knights team playing away from home but aside from all of that perhaps the most important thing the Rabbits need to remember is that defence wins big games & any team containing a young superstar by the name of K. Ponga is a dangerous proposition.

The Bunnies just need to get the simple things right like defence, holding the ball & completing sets. If this occurs then the entertaining rugby league that we all love to see will charge through the opposition like a 309 bus hurtling down Botany Road.

I tip the Rabbitohs to make another statement with a convincing victory & roll on into a big finals run.

The Knights should start preparing for yet another Mitchell Pearce led Mad Monday celebration & if any of the Knights players happen to be reading this then don’t worry boys there’s always next year.

Steven Marsters, Les Brennan & The Rabbits Roll On

On the podcast this week we speak to Rabbitohs rookie Steven Marsters, feature Bunnies legend Les Brennan & preview Thursdays huge Ees clash.

Click image to listen

Steven Marsters #1161

Steven Marsters Wikipedia

Steven Marsters – South Sydney Player Report

Steven Marsters Career Stats

Bennett sacking ultimatum brings Marsters back to the light

Les Brennan #421

Les Brennan – South Sydney Player Report

Les Brennan: Rabbitoh No. 421

RABBITOHS 56 – SEA EAGLES 16 – ROUND 15 – SATURDAY 22ND AUGUST 2020

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Mr There and Back: How Col Whelan got hitched to Souths, photography and life on the road

Colin Whelan was a rugby league photographer for 34 years. He’s also an author, traveller and brilliant story-teller. Steve Mavin, co-host of the Rabbitohs Radio Podcast, so enjoyed listening to Col’s yarns on the show that he wrote up a yarn so good it needs three parts. This is the first one. It begins with Whelan hitch-hiking across Australia, ends with a favour from “Break Even” Bill Mordey. Enjoy the ride. 

During my career playing for the Rabbitohs in the late 80s and early 90s, Col Whelan was always on the sideline taking pictures. 

Although I’d say hello we never really got to know each other, and it’s only since he joined our Facebook group Rabbitohs Radio Podcast Listeners that we began to regularly communicate. 

Col has also graciously shared many old Souths images from his lifetime behind the lens, and we’ve been lapping up the interesting commentary it generates.

The Rabbitohs Radio Podcast team – Grant ChappellDarren Brown and myself – interviewed Col in our studio in June. As soon as our chat began we knew it was going to be a great one.

And while it’s very hard to do justice to telling the stories of a master story-teller, I’m going to have a crack.

Colin Whelan was born in Sydney in 1951 but grew up without rugby league in Adelaide and then in Perth. In 1963 the Whelan family moved back to Sydney, lived in Kensington and Col enrolled at Sydney Boys High where in 1964 he discovered rugby and rugby league.

And hitch-hiking.

Col started hitching from an early age after being inspired by Jack Kerouac‘s On The Road. Aged 13, to honour a bet with a mate, Col stuck out his thumb to see if he could hitch rides from Sydney to Perth and back. He completed the feat in eleven days. He had his mother’s blessing.

The adventure instilled a love of travelling in Col and an appreciation for “the intimacy of the road”.

Les from La Perouse was Col’s first mate at school. Les had only one stipulation about their friendship: “You have to barrack for Souths”. So Col did and they remain good mates to this day. 

The night before the famous 1965 grand final between the Dragons and Rabbitohs – the one that saw a record crowd of 78,056 cram into the SCG – Col and Les left school, walked across Moore Park in their uniforms, and slept behind the Brewongle Stand. In the morning the boys emerged undetected and watched the game. So the crowd figure should be 78,058!

Experiences like this, Whelan said, meant he was “bitten by the red and green monster, and there was no antidote.”

In 1969 Col became the first (and still only) Prefect to be expelled from Sydney Boys High because of his refusal to stop protesting against the war in Vietnam.

Col had begun drinking in pubs after school and became a regular at Jim Buckley’s Newcastle Hotel on George St, The Rocks. At this establishment he met several brilliant authors who would shape his life.

At the Newcastle Col met Donald Horne who’d written The Lucky Country in 1964, Germaine Greer whose breakout book The Female Eunuch came out in 1972, and Frank Hardy (below) whose Power Without Glory is one of the most infamous books in Australian history.

Frank Hardy left his Marx on the sands of the northern beaches ...

Col was taken under Frank’s wing and learned the etiquette of pubs; about drinking and of shouting. He learned about telling yarns. He learned the difference between telling stories and sharing them. He learned to listen. 

Col went to work at the Commodore Tavern in North Sydney which he described as “a working-class pub that was very rough”.

One day George the publican asked Col to check what was blocking the toilet. Col discovered a Beretta pistol was hidden in the pull-chain cistern. George told Col to leave it there. A few days later it was gone, no-one the wiser about its owner.

The highlight of Col’s working week was when the beer truck arrived each Thursday with Paul Sait and Ron Coote delivering the amber fluid.

“I’d see two of my heroes and they were just normal blokes, real down-to-earth guys,” Whelan said. “I was working once a week with my idols, the guys I’d watch play on the weekend.”

Col went to Macquarie University from 1970-72 and played rugby union. When he left he hitchhiked (of course) from Burma (now Thailand) to Copenhagen in Sweden, a trip which took him across Afghanistan and other places now off limits.

He hitchhiked to North Africa and the Middle East. He followed the Grateful Dead’s tour of Europe and developed a love of opium and hashish. He spent five months working on an opium farm in Turkey and six months on a hashish plantation in Lebanon’s Beka’a Valley.

He was briefly held by the Syrian secret police for photographing where he shouldn’t have been. He headed to Jordan and Israel. He worked with Bedouins. He lived on a kibbutz in the Negev desert.

In 1976 Col returned home to Sydney with an Israeli woman, Naomi, who became his wife and the mother of their twins, a boy Jesse and daughter Natalie who were born in 1988 through IVF. 

And he wondered what to do.

“I came home and thought what do I want to do?” Whelan said. “I had an interest in football and photography so I started teaching myself how to take photos.

“I started snapping pics at rugby games but at first I was terrible. So I would just give my photos away to players. There was no money in it.”

One day a phone call came from Gary Pearse that would change Col’s life. Pearse, a former Wallabies backrower, worked in marketing for Winfield, needed a photographer for the company’s new Winfield Cup sponsorship. After seeing Col’s action shots, a job offer came from John Quayle at the NSWRL followed by an opportunity at Big League Magazine thanks to “Break Even” Bill Mordey.

And a super sports snapper was born.

Stay tuned for Part 2 in which we talk to Col about his adventures as an NRL photographer, and Part 3 in which we talk about his cracking book about bush pubs. You can follow Col Whelan on Facebook at Nothing But The Pub or email him to say hello at idrink@nothingbutthepub.com.

Or have a listen to the chat with the man here:

Special thanks to Matt Cleary from League Whistle

Col Whelan, Paul Sait & Action Jaxson

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.

Listen to the full episode here

Col Whelan

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.

Legendary Snapper Col Whelan Calls It a Day

Historic Tattersalls pub in remote NSW burns down weeks after 93-year-old owner sells up

93-year-old publican calls time at remote New South Wales hotel

The late Mary Crawley. Mary once said “I had never heard of Russell Crowe. Of course if he had been a race horse it would have been different.”

Paul Sait – Rabbitoh #549

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.

Paul Sait Wikipedia

Paul Sait Career Stats

Win At All Costs: Paul Sait

Paul Joseph “Saity” Sait – South Sydney Player Report

Jaxson Paulo

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Frank v Steve Articles

Rabbitoh Gallery

We Have Moved To The Rabbitohs Podcast Network RABBITOHS RADIO

Rabbitohs Radio have moved to the Rabbitohs Podcast Network so you'll no longer find our new episodes here. Please make the switch with us & subscribe or follow our new location. We've provided all the links you need below. Thanks for listening & we'll see you at our new home where we have a new episode 'Gary Wright, Ian Moir & The Storm' coming soon. Website – https://www.rabbitohs.com.au/podcasts/rabbitohs-radio/ Apple – https://podcasts.apple.com/au/podcast/rabbitohs-podcast-network/id1554791262 Spotify – https://open.spotify.com/show/4zHauDZbitlibvcvsJXA9P
  1. We Have Moved To The Rabbitohs Podcast Network
  2. Rabbitohs Radio Podcast – Connecting The Rabbitohs Community – Christmas Special
  3. Les Bridge, Chris Smith, Ash Harrison, Kye & the Rabbitohs
  4. Jed Cartwright, Freddy, Bernie & the Panthers
  5. Damien Cook, Michael Cleary & The Eels
Thanks to Munkimuk for permission to use his song

Our Rabbitohs Radio Sponsors

Peter Tunks, Greg Hawick & the defeat of the Dogs

On our huge show this week we feature 2 of the greatest rugby league players of all time Peter Tunks & Greg Hawick.

Peter Tunks

Peter Tunks Wikipedia

“Blocker Always Started It”: Peter Tunks Recalls His Fierce Rivalry With Steve ‘Blocker’ Roach

2SM Talkin Sport

Greg Hawick First Grade Player #397

Greg Hawick Wikipedia

Vale Greg Hawick

The Ultimate Utility: Greg Hawick

Greg Hawick Museaum Of The Riverina

GREG HAWICK MEN OF LEAGUE

Alexandria Rovers “Best Of” Team

Greg Hawick Rugby League Project

Thanks to Brad Ryder who knew Greg & his wife Maureen well & Marco Sivis for their contributions on Greg Hawick. Click the link below to visit Marcos SSR Almanac Greg Hawick player profile-

Gregory Rawson “Greg” “Megsie” Hawick – South Sydney Player Report

Rabbitoh Gallery

Pinocchio’s

Rabbitoh Of The Week Andréa Mandadakis

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Click image to visit the EFS site
Click image for locations

We Have Moved To The Rabbitohs Podcast Network RABBITOHS RADIO

Rabbitohs Radio have moved to the Rabbitohs Podcast Network so you'll no longer find our new episodes here. Please make the switch with us & subscribe or follow our new location. We've provided all the links you need below. Thanks for listening & we'll see you at our new home where we have a new episode 'Gary Wright, Ian Moir & The Storm' coming soon. Website – https://www.rabbitohs.com.au/podcasts/rabbitohs-radio/ Apple – https://podcasts.apple.com/au/podcast/rabbitohs-podcast-network/id1554791262 Spotify – https://open.spotify.com/show/4zHauDZbitlibvcvsJXA9P
  1. We Have Moved To The Rabbitohs Podcast Network
  2. Rabbitohs Radio Podcast – Connecting The Rabbitohs Community – Christmas Special
  3. Les Bridge, Chris Smith, Ash Harrison, Kye & the Rabbitohs
  4. Jed Cartwright, Freddy, Bernie & the Panthers
  5. Damien Cook, Michael Cleary & The Eels

Arthur Stephen ‘ASH’ Hennessy – Rabbitoh #1 & the 1908 Bunnies

Preface

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.

Pictured – Billy Cann, Arthur Hennessy, SG Ball, Johnny McGrath
Redfern Town Hall in 1871

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.

A view of the Sir Joseph Banks Hotel at Botany Bay

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.

Rabbitoh 1070 Chris McQueen

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.

Birchgrove Oval, Sydney the birthplace of the Bunnies

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.

Maroubra Speedway

Glory Glory

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’.

Steve Mavin

Albert Clift, George Treweek & Eddie Root

Albert Clift, George Treweek & Eddie Root (image courtesy of Col Whelan)

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

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.

Albert Clift
Albert Clift & Russell Crowe ring the famous timekeepers bell in 2002
Russell Crowe purchased the bell for $42000 to ensure it stayed in red & green hands

Eddie Root

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.

Eddie Root

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.

Second row: Eddie Root, Jack Morrison, Frank O’Connor, George Treweeke (vc), Frank Curran, Harry Eyers, Benny Wearing.
Front row: Jack Why, Jim Tait, Carl Eggen, Paddy Maher (capt), Albert Spillane, Jim Deeley, Perce Williams.
(Picture courtesy of SSR Almanac)

George Treweek

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.

George Treweek was once described as “all arms & legs”
George Treweek played 7 tests for the Kangaroos
George & Eddie visit Albert

South Sydney Rabbitohs Victory Song

The South Sydney Rabbitohs broke their 3 game losing streak on Saturday afternoon 13th June 2020 at Bankwest Stadium, Sydney with a 32-12 victory over the Gold Coast Titans.

This victory song has traditionally been sung by the team for decades dating back to the Bunnies glory days. We can’t give you the exact date it began to be used but perhaps there’s a Bunnies historian reading this now that could enlighten us. Mavo & Browny love singing the tune because it brings back memories of wins with their mates.

The songs lyrics are-

“Now that we’re all around the bar
And the captains declared it a quorum
We’re drinking our way through the night
And we’re having the time of our lives
Throw the empties away start again, start again
For the boys of South of South Sydney are together
And we’ll drink til the dawn breaks again
May the sessions of South Sydney last forever
Up the Rabbitohs!”

Keaon, Cody, Pati & the Jet

On this weeks show we talk to our newest Rabbitoh, first grade player number 1157 Keaon Koloamatangi & welcome back Cody Walker & James ‘Jimmy The Jet’ Roberts. We also look forward to the debut of another rising star in our forward ranks Patrick ‘Pati’ Mago.

Keaon Koloamatangi

Keaon Koloamatangi Wikipedia

Keaon “Big Mac Daddy” “Koala” Koloamatangi – South Sydney Player Report

Keaon Koloamatangi Official Profile

The family connection Souths fans can thank for Keaon

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Rabbitohs v Titans 3pm Saturday 13th June Bankwest Stadium, Sydney

Rd 5 team analysis: Cavalry arrives for battling Bunnies as stars race the injury clock

Patrick Mago

Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski

Ziggy is one of the touch judges in the Titans clash, lets hope he listened to our Ziggy podcast last week!

Remembering A Rabbitoh

This weeks Remebering A Rabbitoh is first grade player number 153, 5 time premiership winner the legendary George Treweek.

George Treweek Wikipedia

George (Albert George) Treweek – South Sydney Player Report

South Sydney Rabbitohs First Grade Players – By Debut Year

Malcolm Richard Spencer – South Sydney Player Report

Malcolm Spencer Rabbitoh number 411

Rabbitohs Dream Team

  • Fullback Clive Churchill
  • Winger Harold Horder
  • Centre Herb Gilbert
  • Centre Paul Sait
  • Winger Ian Moir
  • Five-eighth Jim Lisle
  • Halfback Bob Grant
  • Lock Ron Coote
  • Second row Bob McCarthy
  • Second row George Treweek
  • Prop John O’Neill
  • Hooker Elwyn Walters
  • Prop John Sattler (c)
  • Reserve Greg Hawick
  • Reserve Ray Branighan
  • Reserve Ian Roberts
  • Reserve Les Cowie
  • Coach Jack Rayner

Rabbitoh Of The Week

Matthew Cheeseman

Mikey Siciliano nominated his mate Matthew Cheesman (Cheese) “without this guy I wouldn’t be the mad Rabbitohs fan I am to this day. I met Matt by chance as I was walking my dog down the street and he was walking his. We went to the same school together back in the day but were never really close. Anyway, as I started to chat with him it turns out we had something in common, we were both massive Rabbitohs fans. He told me that he made it to pretty much every Rabbitohs game each year with his family and invited me to join. Ever since then we’ve become best mates and haven’t missed a home game in Sydney since, even traveling to the Central Coast for home games and Mudgee for the Charity Shield. I owe Matthew my passion for NRL and the Mighty South Sydney Rabbitohs to him”. Mikey also credits Cheese for making him a Rabbitohs Radio podcast listener so thanks for that Cheese!

Beanies For Brain Cancer

RIP Toni Mavin

We Have Moved To The Rabbitohs Podcast Network RABBITOHS RADIO

Rabbitohs Radio have moved to the Rabbitohs Podcast Network so you'll no longer find our new episodes here. Please make the switch with us & subscribe or follow our new location. We've provided all the links you need below. Thanks for listening & we'll see you at our new home where we have a new episode 'Gary Wright, Ian Moir & The Storm' coming soon. Website – https://www.rabbitohs.com.au/podcasts/rabbitohs-radio/ Apple – https://podcasts.apple.com/au/podcast/rabbitohs-podcast-network/id1554791262 Spotify – https://open.spotify.com/show/4zHauDZbitlibvcvsJXA9P
  1. We Have Moved To The Rabbitohs Podcast Network
  2. Rabbitohs Radio Podcast – Connecting The Rabbitohs Community – Christmas Special
  3. Les Bridge, Chris Smith, Ash Harrison, Kye & the Rabbitohs
  4. Jed Cartwright, Freddy, Bernie & the Panthers
  5. Damien Cook, Michael Cleary & The Eels