HISTORY: The Gateway to Grade
It is doubtful any of the players that played that first game on the 7th of June 1919, would have had any idea what they started, a rugby league club rich in history with an outstanding record of achievement in developing players and officials.
In this the clubs 95th year, it is proud to say it has produced 83 First Grade players with 6 internationals, won a total of 164 premierships, being PDJRL club champions 11 times, won Junior Incentive Shield 11 times and Modified Shield twice and Club’s Club of the year twice.
It also had former player Graham Murray coach NSW Origin as well as many years in the NRL, Former coach Vic Hey was the Australian coach in 1951, the club has also had 199 players play grade, 445 plays in junior rep teams and 24 Australian School boy players.
The very first team was a B-Grade team which was restricted to players under 8st 7lb (54kg) The First match was against Liverpool Pewits which they won 8-3. Their record for that season was 5 wins, 6 losses, 1 draw. Alderman George Stimpson was the First President of the club which was called Cabravale United as that was what the district was known in the day, it had its own council separate from Smithfield-Fairfield. Vice Presidents included four other alderman including Mayor J Cook, Local saw miller’s The Hirst Brothers, Wilson and Fred who ran Cabramatta’s largest business at the time as during this period of this time there was only a handful of stores supplying the basic needs to what was a rural community most of the area was used for orchids, cattle, chickens and dairy. The roads were little more than dirt tracks as the main mode of transport was horse and cart or push bikes. Steam trains called and this was how timber and produce was transported out of the district. There was no electricity in Cabramatta until the mid 1920’s many homes waited till the mid 30’s for a connection, some of these homes were less than a mile from the station.
The clubs colours were Royal and Sky blue and its home ground was Cabravale Park which was in a poor state to play football on and many complaints were made over the years. The club played in the Southern district comp of the Western Suburbs District Rugby League Club and it covered a large area in the 20’s , stretching from Guildford to Cordeaux Dam and getting to games was always a problem for all clubs, this along with teams being short of players resulted in many forfeits occurring during the season especially in the second round of the competition, one report at the time stated that Fairfield had to forfeit to Hoxton Park owing to the lorry transporting them to the game becoming bogged at Cabramatta.
In 1920 the club fielded A and B grade teams with B-Grade starting the season in fine form winning the first 7 games, but injuries cost them dearly in the latter part of the season losing 4 straight games to finish 4th but the team stuck together becoming the clubs first Premiership team winning in 1921 losing only 1 game and being undefeated in 1922.
The A-Grade struggled for players in 1920 often playing with 9 or 10 men, they forfeited several games during the season and their only wins came from receiving 3 forfeits during the year but on a positive note it produced the clubs 1st President’s Cup player a Mr. R Page, a goal kicking Front Rower.
In the Early days of the game protests were common, they were lodged for many reasons including the referee being incompetent, in 1920 “B” grade beat Camden 2-0. Camden lodged a protest on the grounds that Cabra were late taking the field and the bell was rung early due to poor light, there was no report on the outcome of the protest. The “A” grade played Campbelltown at home in early May 1920, the game was stopped in the first half when it was discovered that we had 15 players on the field, behind 6-3 at half time play was again stopped early in the 2nd half this time we had 14 players on the field [an early CABRA FAIR GO] the game was stopped again when a horse with a sulky bolted, no injuries were reported and the game ended with Campbelltown winning 8-3.
The club struggled to be competitive in A-Grade in the 20’s and 30’s but was always amongst the better teams in B and C-Grades. In 1925, Dave Hey played for the club and was the clubs first 1st Grade player, playing with Wests in 1926. The club did not field any teams from 1926 to1929. It returned to the field in 1930 with A and B-Grade and the Southern District comp now stretched from Ashfield to Liverpool, weights were raised to 9st 7lb (60kg) for B Grade with C Grade being 8st 7lb.
In 1931 A, B and C-Grades were fielded. A-Grade won 1 game during the season, beating Regents Park 11-7. A man named Don Thompson played B- Grade that year; he would go on to be one of the clubs Legends off the field.
It was reported in the Biz Newspaper a game versus Fairfield in July 1931 that the council had to close off access to the ground as the full house sign had been put up, gate takings from that game were 7/14/4 a huge sum of money in those days, considering the depression was hurting everyone. There were many games during this period for the benefit of the local RELIF SOCIETY.
The game was still in turmoil at junior level, the ‘A’grade playing against Liverpool had 2 players sent off, after talking to the referee the captain lead the team from the field and lodged a protest. The ‘C’ grade lost its semifinal spot when they went to the wrong ground in the last round, the local paper had printed it wrong. The junior league dismissed the protest blaming the newspaper, this in spite of the rules stating that teams check the paper for grounds and times. In 1932 the club only had a “C” grade team which cost 25 pounds to enter in the competition. They lost the last round game 5-3 against Berala , having lead till late in the second half in spite of playing the entire game with 11men.This match decided who was minor premiers, they then lost the semi to Merrylands 3-0.1933 saw another major conflict with the junior league over where games were to be played, the junior league had hired it’s own grounds and wanted all games played at those grounds so they could collect the gate takings, the clubs needed a home /away format so they could fund their own clubs. They shared gate takings with the local councils in lieu of paying an annual fee. The end result was that a breakaway competition called Metro League was formed after 3 rounds with Cabra, Fairfield, Smithfield and Mt Pritchard joining.
The game at junior level was going from one dispute to another, in 1934 the 4 metro clubs returned to the Southern Districts the dispute of last year resolved then the NSWRL stepped in with a new rule that ‘A’ grade be an under 24 year old competition, stating that anyone who had not made grade by that age was of no use to the District Clubs. This lead to only 4 teams in the ‘A’ grade competition, with all of these disputes the writing was on the wall for the competition. The club continued to field teams in the ‘B/C’ grades thru to 1938 .The Southern District Comp folded due to lack of teams in 1937 .The club played in the Western Suburbs comp until 1939 when Pat Dixon lead a deputation to the district club asking that Southern Districts be reformed, this was granted and the club fielded A, B and C-Grades that year. A-Grade won only 1 game that season 16-nil versus Granville Shamrocks, B-Grade were beaten in the final, CGrade lost a playoff for 4th spot. Les (Bert) Bell was a stand out player in B-Grade and went on to become the club’s first 1st Grade player with Parramatta in 1947. B-Grade won the knockout in 1940 and 41 and lost the Grand final in 1941 to Concord Ritz. But lodged a protest that was upheld, A-Grade finally made the Semi’s in 1941 but lost to Lidcombe 19-7. The club did not field any teams from 42 to 45 because of WWII.
The Club returned to the field in 1946 with A,B &C-Grades, and with Parramatta Junior League due to the start the next season, Western Suburbs divided their competitions along the lines of the new boundary’s to come into effect the following year. That year both Southern and Western Districts combined and played in two divisions of 7 teams under the Western Districts JRL. The A-Grade won division 2 and beat St Mary’s (winners Div1) 15 to 8 to advance to the Grand final, where they met Fairfield in the first of many epic battles that would take place over the next three decades, Cabra behind 5-2 at half time, powered home to win 17-5. It’s first A-Grade Title. Les (Bert) Bell won the Best and Fairest award, Nap Alavoine won Best Forward for that season.
In 1947 A-Grade made it a double with an 11-7 win over Blacktown in the first Parramatta JRL Grand final. That same season saw the club move to Lunn’s Paddock to play it’s home games, this change of venue allowed games to be played on a Sunday, something that was not possible on council owned grounds, due to objections from church groups, using this ground did have some draw backs, however, tent’s had to be pitched for changing rooms and serving of refreshments (tea and scones, I’m sure) and the ground had to be cleared of all cows and their dung, Charlie Lunn, owner of the property, used it for his dairy cows. The Club has used this ground ever since except for a few season’s following Charlie’s passing in the late 50’s, when the family was involved in a dispute with the council over zoning issues. 1948 saw the structure of the game change with age groups instead of weight and the introduction of the A-Reserve comp. A-Grade lost only 3 games in that season, unfortunately one of those was to Blacktown in the Final, going down 10-11. Reserve, C and D-Grades didn’t make the Semi’s.
The game was growing rapidly with the introduction of Age Groups; the district now had 28 clubs competing with 20 teams in A-Grade. The 40’s saw some great clubmen join the club, the likes of Pat Dickson, Wal Oglivie, Wal Steadman and Nap Alavoine, just to name a few.
In 1949, A-Grade lost the final to Wenty. Reserve-Grade was beaten in the Semi’s. C-Grade didn’t make the Semi’s. D-Grade Minor Premiers, who lost the Grand Final in extra time. In the late 40’s, early 50’s A-Grade was coached by League Great, Vic Hey. This was a huge boost to the club; post WWII, which led to the A-Grade contesting the playoff’s 10 years in succession. It was also the year that club great, Alan Meadows joined the club playing in the C-Grade team, his association with the club would last 58 years, including being a Board member and President of the club and being elected to Life membership in 1982.
The 50’s opened with some heated exchanges with old rivals, Fairfield. Feelings ran high in the round 1 clash, with 3 Cabra and 2 Fairfield players sent off, Fairfield winning the clash 17-9. Round 2 was almost a repeat of their first clash, 2 Cabra and 1 Fairfield players sent off, in which, Cabra won 7-3, The Team would go onto lose the Semi Final to Premiers Toongabbie. Reserve-Grade won the comp, the team contained future 1st Graders, Allan Cameron and Kevin Muller, along with Joe Cox who would go onto be a stalwart of the club and be awarded Life membership in 1966.
C-Grade only lost 1 game that year unfortunately it was the Grand Final and D-Grade were beaten in the Semi Finals.
In 1951 the club was Southern District Premiers in A-Grade, Reserve and D Grades but lost all three Grand Finals to Wenty, C-Grade lost the Semi Final and A-Grade coach Vic Hey also coached the Clive Churchill Lead Australian Team. All was not doom and gloom however, as the club won the club Championship for the first time, it would be another 45 years until that trophy graced the club premises again.
In 1952 the club fielded an under 14-E Grade team for the first time, they along with C-Grade did not make the Semi’s, A-Grade lost the Semi’s to Mountie’s and Reserve Grade lost the Grand Final to Liverpool. An Annual picnic was held in November at Thirroul Beach, this event would continue until the late 70’s.
In 1953, A-Grade lost the Semi’s and Reserve Grade lost in the Final. In 1954, A-Grade again lost the Semi to Liverpool and both Reserve and C- Grade won the competitions undefeated, both completing the Grand Slam.
The 50’s also saw great men for the clubs start their long associations with it, men such as Joe Cox, Bob Jack, Al Forsyth, George O’Malley, Mick Logue and Hal Budd. 1955 saw the AGrade lose the semi’s to Merrylands and Reserve Grade win Southern Division then have 3 weeks without a game before playing the Grand Slam match which they lost 12-5 to Parramatta East. D-Grade didn’t make the Semi’s and C-Grade was disqualified due to a registration error. The C-Grade was by far the best team in the district and the only way to stop them was in the appeals and protest committee rooms. Dissatisfaction with the District club had been building up since 1952 and a break away was not far off.
The 56 season saw the club struggle for players in the open teams. D and C-Grade players were call upon to double up in A and Reserve Grade, so much so that 18 year old C-Grader, Ken Stubbs won the Best and Fairest award in A-Grade, ironically he did not win that award in CGrade, that went to Al Forsyth, needless to say that year A, Reserve and D-Grade did not make the Semi’s but C-Grade won Southern Division. The year 1957 was a year of many changes to the game and the club; it started with the reforming of Southern Districts in which 10 clubs broke away from Parramatta. The NSWRL initially refused to ratify this group. Syd Baines, captain/coach of A-Grade lead a young team to the Final, Reserve Grade didn’t make the Semi’s, C-Grade lost the Semi, D and E-Grades withdrew mid season and for the first time Under 13 F-Grade was played, these boys lost in the Semi Final but did have 9 year old Bill Richards playing in the team, he would go onto play 1st Grade with Parramatta.
At the end of 57 a holding deposit was paid on land at Lunn’s Paddock, the intention was to have a club house and ground. In 1958 the club called for quotes for a club house (old army hut) and moved to register the company Cabramatta Rugby League and Recreation club, which it did in 1959, it also submitted plans for dressing sheds with a concrete floor, which council approved in 1963 (nothing has changed over the years).
In late 59 the club called for debentures and raised 580 pounds which was returned to holders in 1962. In 1960 the club moved to pay the balance of 520 pounds on the land purchase but was advised by the club’s solicitor that no contract existed for said sale. The club also asked council repeatedly to speed up the resumption of land at Lunn’s Paddock, but the problem in this long drawn out saga was the estate of the Late Charlie Lunn trying to get more land available for subdivision than council was permitted to do, after all it is common knowledge that the ground is subject to flood and debris has been found hanging in the cross bar of the goal post after a flood. The club was locked out of Lunn’s Paddock for a few years whilst this was going on and used Hartley’s Oval and St John’s Park during these times but during these frustrating times the seeds were sown for the licensed club we have today.
It was during the late 50’s that a meeting was called weather to pay the A-Grade match payments, as has always been the case, all the players were members of the club and in attendance at the meeting where the President, Secretary, Treasurer and about 30 players, needless to say the motion was passed 30 to 3. In 1958 A-Grade were paid 2 pounds a win and there was a weekly fee of 3/ to go towards players compo funds which was 10 pounds married man and 8 pound single for any player unable to work due to injury.
The A-Grade lost the Semi that year, Reserve and C-Grade did not make the Semi’s, E-Grade lost the Grand Final and F-Grade was beaten in the Final. In 1959 the last season of Southern District the club entered 6 teams which was the highest number of teams it had fielded. A and Reserve Grade lost the Final as did E-Grade, D’2 and F-Grades failed to make the Semi’s and D’1s were minor Premiers but lost the Grand Final to Guilford.
1960 saw the club return to Parramatta District RL who still held resentment towards those involved in the breakaway competition, barring officials and even referee’s from the district. AGrade lead by captain/coach George O’Malley saw the need early in the season for a tough Front Rower, he coaxed Bruce Mann out of retirement (giving up his own match payments) this would work out well for the A-Grade who went onto win Division 2. Graham (spud) Murray scored a record 10 tries in a game against Canley Vale that season. Reserve Grade didn’t make the Semi’s, C-Grade lost the Semi’s , D-Grade lost the Grand Final and F-Grade won the competition lead by Len Stacker and Bill Richards playing in his fourth year of F-Grade.
1961 saw the club do it tough financially, A and Reserve Grade failed to make the Semi’s in Division 1, C-Grade lost the Semi and F-Grade were beaten in the Final.
From the late 50’s to the mid 60’s more age groups were being catered for as the population grew. The Club decided to enter teams from under 15 years and up, Cabra Vale Diggers who had been financial supporters of the club since the early 50’s would enter teams in the other age groups and use Lunn’s Paddock as its home ground. 1962 saw A, Reserve and F-Grade unable to make the playoffs, E-Grade lost the Final and C-Grade Undefeated Premiers, this team produced Bob Eldridge and Barry Boss, both of whom would go onto play 1st Grade.
1963 opened with a record breaking day. A-Grade win 106-2 over Westmead with Barry Shearer contributing 58 points from 6 tries and 20 goals, they went onto make the Final that year. Reserve Grade finished minor Premiers but lost the Grand Final, D, E and F-Grades didn’t make the Semi’s. 1964 saw Alan Cameron return to the club to captain/coach A-Grade which went onto win the Premiership, Reserve Grade made it a double avenging the previous years lost to Mt Pritchard.
1965 was an unsuccessful year on the field with the A, Reserve and C-Grades failing to make the Semi’s, but on a positive note for the club having spent 1500 pounds on building dressing sheds etc, the electricity was finally connected and floodlights installed at the ground.
The mid 60’s were a trying time for all Junior clubs with the second division district teams having the right to call up players to their teams, there was a lot of resentment towards Liverpool calling up players and disrupting our club’s chances of playing in the playoffs as most people saw little value in going up to play for these second division clubs.
1966 saw the A-Grade under Gordon Hughes win the division 1 title, the following year AGrade would bow out in the Final with Reserve Grade going down in the Semi’s. 1968 all three Grades failed to make the Semi’s but the second push to get a licensed club up and running was gaining momentum.
A new company was formed in September 68. The club applied for and was granted a license in 1970, local publicans appealed and were successful the club appealed that decision and won and was granted a license in early 1975. The court action took more than 4 years to complete and some of the men who worked long and hard to raise funds for this project were Bob Jack, Artie Osbourne, Alan and Col Forsyth , Eddie Paul and Joe Cox just to name a few. The Banks wouldn’t look at giving the club a loan until the licensed club was up and trading, therefore all the money to buy the land ($36,807) and building ($187,866) fit out of club ($122,118) which included 32 poker machines at a cost of $64,000 and legal fees ( 1975-76 $15,000) was raised by issuing Debentures in the club. In 1970 some $25,000 had been raised and by the time the club opened the total had grown to $160,000. It was then a bank loan of $52,000 was obtained.
When the club opened in September 1975 there was no air conditioning, in early 1976, Neville Jack proudly announced that it would be installed with $20,000 coming from club funds and $16,000 raised through debentures.
In 1969 the club fielded A – E Grades with only A- Grade making the Semi’s losing to Fairfield. In 1970 the club entered 7 teams including G-Grade an Under 14 age group for the first time, A and D-Grades were the only teams to make the Semi’s, both losing to Wenty.
1971 saw the 6 tackle rule introduced, Bob Eldridge was the captain/ coach, Bobby first played with the club in 1957 and played 14 seasons for the club before retiring in 1974 he played 1st grade in 1970 and was elected a life member in 1981, he was the first director to play A grade while serving on the board. Dwayne Brown is the only other to do so in 1987. Wal Ogilvie, Wal Steadman, Alan Forsyth and Bob O’Malley also played A Grade while holding executive positions in the club. A, Reserve and C-Grades lost in the Final, F-Grade went down in the Grand Final and E-Grade won the comp undefeated. This team contained 5 players who went on to play 1st grade.
In 1972 the club set a record winning 5 Premierships – A, Reserve, D, F and G-Grades. This was the year that 17 year old Geoff Gerrard was called up at the eleventh hour to play in the AGrade Grand Final, Jethro went onto be the clubs first Australian test player and the first player to play 300 1st Grade games. Mickey Hartas was the coach who made the call to bring a D grader to replace the captain Theo Kubica who pulled out with injury on Saturday, Mick had already called up from C grade Rod Doyle to replace the suspended Milo Vodagas. The grand final was an epic one leading 9-3 with 10min to go Hills came back to level the score 9-9 at full time. Gary Doyle broke the deadlock with a barnstorming try in extra time; the final score was 22-9 Ares also beat Hills 17-2. 7 players from the A and Res grade of 1972 went on to 1st grade.
1973 was another record setting year for the club having 12 players in the Parramatta Jersey Flegg team and 7 in Presidents cup. The A- Grade lost the Grand Final to Fairfield, Reserve, D and G-Grade was Premiers and the C-Grade lead by Graham Murray won the Premiership Undefeated. Milo Vodagas who joined the club in 1972 from Villawood where he debuted in A Grade in 1964 as a 17yo set a record of sorts, being sent off 6 weeks in a row he got off every time and found out that the judiciary had a fondness for KFC which was only too happy to supply.
1974 was a very wet season with 6 of the first 10 rounds washed out causing a redraw to be done, all 6 teams played in the Grand Final, F-Grade were the only team to win a Premiership going through the season undefeated, Reserve, C and D-Grade all only lost one game that season, The Grand Final. A-Grade lost to Fairfield again and D-Grade went down 10-5 to Toongabbie.
1975 saw the A-Grade avenge the last two season’s Grand Final defeats, beating Fairfield 9-7 to win the Premiership, Reserve and C-Grade went down in the Finals and the young G-Grade under the coaching of Alan Meadows would win the first of 6 successive Premierships. This coaching record of Alan’s would stand until Bruce Cameron won his 7th in 1999. 3 Players of this great under 14 team of 1975, Michael Meadows, Andy Luc and Gary Nurthen would go onto play in 8 Premiership teams in a row, a record which stands today.
1976 was a year that saw 16 players from the club play grade with Parramatta and 11 play SG Ball for Parramatta, F-Grade win the Premiership undefeated, Reserve Grade lose the Grand Final, C & E-Grade go down in the Final. In 1977 the club made the decision to field teams in younger age groups starting with Under 12’s and Under 7’s. G-Grade set a new record in beating Cartwright 119-Nil on their way to winning the Premiership. E-Grade won the comp, Reserve and C’2s lost the Grand Final with C’1s going down in the Semi, A grade went down in the grand final of the midweek comp the KFC cup.
The Club had grown to 12 teams in 1978 with 5 teams winning the Premiership, Reserve Grade winning the first of 5 successive Premierships other teams to win were C’2, D’1, E & G Grades, A-Grade lost the Semi Final and C’1 went down in the Final. In 1979 the club won Reserve, C’1, D’1 and D’2 Premierships with E-Grade losing the Final.
The 80’s were a decade of contrast with the first half of the decade flushed with success on and off the field. The club completed an extension of the club late 1981 doubling its size at a cost of $500,000 of which $80,000 was raised through the issue of debentures and the balance coming from a second mortgage on the club. In 1980 the club fielded 12 teams, ‘A’ grade lost 14-16 in the final, Res, ‘C’ and U12’s won the competition. The 17’s, 15’s, and 11’s were runners up and the club finished 2nd in the club championship.
1981 the club had 9 teams, the ‘A’ grade won the grand final in an epic battle with Wenty, under pressure for most of the first half, they had some possession late in the 1st half scoring twice in the last 3mins to take a 8-2 at half time. They defended stoutly the entire 2nd half with little possession as Wenty won the scrums 11-5 and penalties 10-3, Wenty scored a converted try in the 60th min, the last 20min was played in the Cabra half and the players were exhausted but managed to hold on with Chris Holman charging down a last minute field goal attempt to win 8-7in a thriller. Res grade made it a double winning 14-9 against Ryde, the ‘C’ grade and u14’s were runners up.1982 saw the club enter 12 teams and finish 3rd in the club championship, ‘A’ grade beat Ryde 22-16 to claim the title, Res grade beat Mounties 17-12 and the 17’s beat Fairfield City 18-8 to win the titles, ‘C’ grade and the 15’s finished runners up.1983 saw 9 teams take the field, ‘A’ and Res grades lost in the final, ‘C’ grade won the comp thanks to a Marty Potter sideline conversion late in the game 20-18,the 16’s came from 4th spot to beat a red hot Wenty team 8-6 the 13’s also won and only one team failed to make the semi’s. 1984 the club had 8 teams the 14’s were the only team to win with the ‘A’ grade losing the final And the 17-1 and 17-2’s losing the grand final. In 1985 the club entered 5 teams with the 14’s winning and the 16’s runners up, A, Res and C grades finished 5th. 1986 saw 10 teams entered with the ‘A’ grade winning the midweek competition and finish 3rd in the premiership, the 8’s won the competition and only 2 teams failed to make the playoffs. Trading at the club saw a sharp decline in cash flow late in the year due to the disco losing patrons to intense competition from other local clubs.
In 1987 the 9’s won the premiership, 4 other teams made the semis from the 10 teams entered. During the year the cash flow of the club was not improving, the board and management cut costs and tried a variety of promotions to arrest the problem to no avail, late in the year it had no option but to place the club in administration with debts of 500k and assets of about the same. Ferrier Hodgson was appointed with the club’s future in their hands. Football funding stopped naturally and the 88 season saw men such as Bob Quinn and Gordon Dunn beg and borrow to get the Two Blues on the field, this was a minor miracle as the club was in debt to all it’s suppliers, but they got 4 teams on the field in Junior age groups and won 2 Premierships, the 14’s and the 11’s, the 10’s came 2nd and the 13’s finished 3rd , a remarkable effort of all those involved.1989 was much the same with 4 junior teams,2 of which made the semi’s. 1990 was a good year , of the 4 teams entered 14’s and 13’s won the comp ,the 12’s lost only one game the grand final and the 8’s were runners up also. In 1991 the club returned to A Grade and finished 6th, none of the 4 junior teams made the semis but all teams were in Div1.
The club was trading at a profit and the backlog of debts had been settled, a small amount of funding was going to football again. All clubs and pubs in the area were trading well as the areas large Asian community had started to embrace the pub and club culture. In 1992 Res grade was added but none of the 4 teams made the semis. It was not all bad news for the club however as the club was discharged from administration , with the club in good financial shape having no debt and $1000000.00 in the bank Bernie Beck staying on as CEO, the board could look to the future again.
1993 was when the board and management put in place plans to expand the club both on and off the field. Bob Quinn approached Westfields Sports High with an offer of sponsorship which was accepted with the club’s name adorning their jerseys and training gear. In the years that followed many of the students would play with the club leading to an increase in the quality and quantity of the club’s teams, of the 7 teams entered that season the ‘A’ and Res grades both went down narrowly in the grand final and a new group of boys played in the under 11’s, they won the premiership and went on to win 7 in a row to set a club record for a team and coach.
By 1994 the club had grown to 12 teams, with A grade taking the title, Res grade losing the grand final in extra time, the 13’s and 12’s both won with the 10’s and 11’s runners up.1995 the club had 14 teams with the Res, 14’s 13-1’s and 9’s taking out the premiership, the 13-1’s were outstanding finishing undefeated with a record of 656 for – 56 against. The ‘C’, 15’s, 13-2’s and 12’s were runners up and ‘A’ grade finished 4th. The club won the Club Championship for only the second time the first being way back in 1951, this was the start of an outstanding period of success for the club, winning the Club Championship in 1995-1999,2001,02,07,08 the Junior Incentive Shield 1996-2003,2007-2009 and the Mini Mod in 2007-08
The Club embarked on a massive building project in 1996, more than doubling the size of the club a project that involved demolishing the existing club, and was completed in November 1997 at a cost of about 12 million of which only 1 million was borrowed and repaid inside a year. Football was growing rapidly and the club appointed a full time Football administrator in Bob Quinn, the club entered 15 teams with the ‘A’ grade being minor premiers but losing in the final. The 14-1’s, 14-2’s, 11’s, 9’s, and 8’s were premiers with Res, 16’s, 13’s, and 12’s runners up. The 14-1’s bettered the performance of last season scoring 902 to 84, the 9’s were not far behind scoring 808 to 84 .1997 the club had grown to 16 teams with 5 winning, the Res,17’s 15’s 12’s and 8’s, 6 other teams made the semis with the A grade finishing 3rd. The club was producing an increasing number of junior and schoolboy representative players with 8 making NSW teams and 3 Australian teams. 1998 of the 15 teams entered 13 made the playoffs with 6 teams winning A, Res, 16’s, 12’s, 11’s, and 9-1’s. 1999 saw the club field a record 20 teams and post a $3 million profit,15 of the 17 teams eligible for semi’s contested the playoffs with 6 winning the title, Res,16’s, 15’s, 12-1’s, 9-1’s and 8’s.The A grade went down in the grand final. The board was starting to look at how to improve the standard of the club’s teams and facilities. They committed to build a grandstand and top quality lighting at the ground at a cost of 1.1 million dollars they also made the decision to enter the NSWRL Metro Cup in 2000. Former 1st graders David Riolo, Peter Clarke and Shane O’ Grady were signed, both A and Res grades performed well making the final. In the junior teams every side made the semis with 7 teams winning 17’s, 16’s, 15’s, 12-2’s, 10’s, 9’s, and 8’s. 5 other teams finished 2nd , the 12-2’s did an amazing job having to win a playoff for 4th and 4 sudden death games to claim the title.
2001 the club entered 20 teams with only 1 team failing to make the playoffs, the A grade finished minor premiers but lost in the final, and Res grade went better winning the premiership The club also won the Metro Club Championship,4 junior teams won premierships 13’s, 11’s, 9’s, and 8’s, 6 other teams finished 2nd including the C grade whose only loss that year was the grand final. The Metro comp folded in 2002 and the club returned to the Parramatta a grade, the 2 year venture in Metro Cup had cost 1.1 million. The club’s bottom line took a huge hit following State Government tax increases and posted a profit of only $12,000 and would report loses in 4 of the next 5 years. On the field the club had tremendous success with only 1 team not making the semis. 7 teams won their comps the A, C, 13’s, 12’s, 9’s, 8-1’s, 8-2’s. 6 teams were runners up including the Res grade whose only loss that year was the grand final And the 12-2’s who were beaten 24-25 by the 12-1’s. The 2003 season saw the club enter 21 teams of which 2 failed to make the semi’s, NSWRL reformed it’s 3rd tier comp and the board took a wait and see approach the A grade stayed in the Parramatta competition finishing 2nd 5 teams won premierships C, 15’s 10’s, 9’s, and 8’s. The under 7’s won the Tommy Bishop Shield and 5 teams finished 2nd. The 9’s had an outstanding season being undefeated scoring 908-90, the 15’s were the same with a 564-133 record .This team contained future Australian Test players Jarryd Hayne and Tony Williams and City representatives Kris Keating and Trent Hodkinson.
In 2004 the club entered the NSWRL Jim Beam Cup and finished 4 th ,all the club’s junior teams made the semi’s with 4 winning 13’s, 12’s, 9’s, and 8’s, 6 teams finished 2nd . 2005 saw Terry Lamb coach the A grade who missed the semi’s on a countback,12 teams made the semi’s and 9 make the grand final , only the 9’s and 15’s were successful , the 6’s won the Jason Taylor Shield for the second year straight and the club had 16 schoolboy reps and 21 junior rep players. 2006 was an incredible season with 20 teams of which 2 failed to make the playoffs, the club won the Club’s Club of the Year and reversed last season’s grand final results with 7 wins and 2 runners up. The 8-2’s, 10-1’s , 11-1’s, 11-2’s, 12-1’sand 15’s all undefeated and C grade who appeared to down and out in the final ,behind 19-0 with 15min to play produced an amazing effort to win 23-19 and continued that form into the grand final winning 28-4. The A grade had a slow start to the season going 0-4 under Jason Alchin before Warren Beaumont took over and they won 10 straight ,the side went on to lose in the final.
In 2007 23 teams played for the club including a women’s A grade who won the premiership, 5 other teams won, 8-2’s, 11’s, 12’s, 14’s, and 15’s, with 6 teams runners up. It was an outstanding season with only the Res grade missing the playoffs and having teams in 9 of the 11 division 1 grand finals, winning 4 of these titles. The under 11’s were the standouts with an undefeated record of 608-52, not far behind were the 12’s with 600-64, the 13’s were minor premiers but lost in the final and the 17’s only loss for the year was the grand final. The club won the newly introduced Modified Shield to go with the Club Championship, the A grade finished minor premiers and lost in the final.
2008 was an eventful year; in February 3 days before the International 9’s competition the ground was flooded with 600mm of water covering it, and ground staff did an amazing job having the ground ready for the day. The club had record 28 teams represent it this season and won the Club- Junior – Modified Championships. The rain returned for the junior grand finals with much of the grounds covered with surface water, the club had teams in 10 of the 11 division 1 grand finals winning 5 the 9’s, 11’s, 12’s, 13’s and 17’s, with the 9-3’s and 15-2’s winning Div.2 titles. The 12’s were undefeated with a record of 583-98 and the 13’s not far behind with 590-106. The A grade ran 4th and the Res, C, 15’s, 14’s, 13-2’s, and 10’s finished 2nd .At end of the season the club started to run a 7’s competition for under 10’s and 11’s called the Krisian Inu Shield and Matt Keating Cup, 35 teams played in the competition . 2009 there were 29 teams entered with 6 teams winning the premiership, 8-2’s, 10-1’s, 12-1’s, 14-1’s, 14- 2’s, and 15-1’s. 10 teams finished 2nd including the A grade now playing in the Bundy Cup. The 13’s won the Coca-Cola knock out and the 10’s won the Inu Shield with 51 teams playing on the day.
In 2010 the club entered 30 teams, with the board looking to the future it endeavored to enter the next level up of competition the NSW Cup in a joint venture with Cronulla, but this was not approved by NSWRL and with all the uncertainty over this many of the club players left the club, and the A grade finished a disappointing 7th , the club did win 5 premierships that season the 8-1’s, 13-1’s15-1’s, 16-1’s, and 16-2’s, 3 teams were runners up and a total of 19 teams made the semi’s. 10 players from the club were in the Parramatta Harold Mathews team and an incredible 13 former players played in the NRL plus 1 in Super League. 2011 the club had 27 teams and became a feeder club for Newtown in the NSW Cup, this arrangement worked well for both clubs resulting the A grade winning the Bundy Cup, the 12-1’s and 17-1’s also won premierships with 5 teams finishing 2nd and a total of 15 teams making the semi’s. The club fielded 2 teams in division 1 in 5 of the 10 age groups, the 11’s won the Keating Cup. 2012 saw the A grade finish 3rd , the 10-1’s, 12-2’s 13-2’s win premierships with 8 teams finish runners up, the 10’s win the Inu Shield and 11’s the Keating Cup. In 2013 the club fielded 29 teams with 5 teams winning the premiership the 10-1s, 11-1s, 11-2s, 12-1s, 14-1s, 5 other teams were runners up and 7 other teams made the semi’s, including the Massey Cup team who were minor premiers. The 4 division 1 premiership teams contested the first Battle of the West Cup against the Penrith teams and were all successful , the under 11-1s also won the Keating Cup to complete the season undefeated .
In 2008 the club saw 7 former players play together 1st Grade with Parramatta a record for the club who had 7 of the 17 players used in the game. 2009 saw Jake Fraser complete a record 15th season playing with the club. Since 1995, the Club has been expanding the number of teams. It’s proud of what has been achieved in this time with 96 Premierships, 9 Club Championships, 216 Junior Rep Players, 76 grade, 31 first graders.
In the 66 seasons the club has fielded an A-Grade teams since it first made the Semi Finals in 1941, it has only failed to make the playoff’s 13 times, won 14 Premierships , Runners-up 6 times , Finalist on 17 occasions and Semi Finalist 16 times.
The club has always aimed to play in the highest standard of competition available to it and is proud of its motto GATEWAY TO GRADE. To this end the club has worked towards giving the players the best facilities it can fund and are proud to say it has arguably the best set up of any Junior Rugby League club. A Far cry from 1947 when it first used the ground and game day set up consisted of pitching tents, marking lines and picking up cow dung. In 2014 the club will field teams from 6 years to Massey Cup and is committed to developing the men and boys that represent it and the game of Rugby League as it has done for the past 95 years and as Alfie would say “Come on Cabra”.
written by Dwayne Brown