On our huge show this week we feature 2 of the greatest rugby league players of all time Peter Tunks & Greg Hawick.
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 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!”
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.
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.
- 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
RIP Toni Mavin
Fanatical Fan Friday – Matty Green – RABBITOHS RADIO
Round 3 Rabbitohs V Roosters – Mavo Dives In
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 Rabbitohs forward Junior Tatola, discuss the Zoom boom, mention NRL referee Gavin Badger plus lots more.
On the show we talk about the explosion in popularity of Zoom communication.
We intent to get ‘The Badge’ on the podcast soon for a chat.
NICK LONERGANS SOUTHS JUNIOR TEAM
Fanatical Fan Friday – Matty Green – RABBITOHS RADIO
On the podcast this week we interview two legends, Ian Roberts & Johhny Lewis plus we take a look at plans to kick start the NRL.
On the show we talk about boxing legend Darby Brown the uncle of Les Brown, Brownys dad.
Chris Carpenter & the boys from Crash allowed us to use their new song ‘There’s Many A Slip’ on this weeks show. The words are extremely relevant at the moment “Just get back up…the brightest dawn can follow the darkest night!”.
As we were making the video clip to accompany the music we realised that the bands’ name is actually Crash & The CRAPenters not CARPenters. We just assumed that the band took its name from ‘Carpos’ surname but no they have put a little punk style twist on the word. Carpo has assured us that it’s ok & it happens all the time but we’d still like to apologise to the boys from the band. We have amended the title to the correct spelling wherever it was possible to do so. You can be assured that in the future we won’t be making the same mistake again. Good luck with the new song Crash!
We mentioned on this weeks show that we’d post the song for you to have a listen so here it is.