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St George Dragons Rugby League History
Since 1921 - Our Proud History

In the Big League
Persistence finally paid off for St George when they were admitted into the Big League in 1921.
Monday 7 February 1921, Kogarah School of Arts: A meeting was held and the  following officers were elected: patron G.B. Holt; president A.W. Yager; vice-presidents Wentworth, Harper, Judd, Munn, Gosling, Langton, Bowley, Gent, Farmer and Gluyas; secretary J. McGraw; treasurer A. Moymow; representatives to the NSWRL J. McGraw and A. Clark, selectors McCue, Gilbert, Tye, McMurtrie, Jordan, Harper, Burt.
It was decided to enter a first grade and second grade team. A third grade team to be considered at a later date.
St George rugby league team 1921
St George team, 1921 (click on pic for larger image)
Sunday 6 March 1921, Sans Souci: Practice match amongst players. The advertised session came with the following message: "Intending players are reminded to bring their guernseys, knickers, hose and boots, and be punctual, or they might be left."
Tuesday 8 March 1921, Drill Hall, Arncliffe: Training session in a poorly lit hall with no proper training facilities. Council administration had made it difficult to use the Hurstville Oval facilities.

Saturday 26 March 1921, San Souci: Player trials with players from North Sydney attending. Indications are that this was more of a practice session.
The St George Call ran a report that the day was well attended by locals and the trams were packed with people keen to see what the new team had on offer. It was also reported that a number of players tired themselves out and were unable to complete the trials.

NSWRL First Grade

(no semis)
Norths p 17
Easts 15
Glebe 14
Balmain 12
Souths 10
Newtown   8
St George   6
Wests   6
University   2
p = Season Premiers

Saints 1921
Minor Premiership
Points For 87
(8th best attack)
Points Against 124
(7th best defence)
MP Standing

(9 teams)

Saturday 1 April 1921, Agricultural (Sydney) Showground: First recorded trial matches.
Three matches: The first match between St George v Glebe was won by St George 2-0 with a goal to Tom Killiby.
The second match was a 3-all draw.
The third match was won by Glebe, 6-3 with a report of a brilliant try from St George half back, Tommy Burns.
April 1921, Sans Souci: St George players get together for a 'Possibles vs Probables' match.
Sunday 16 April 1921, Sans Souci: Final trial matches. Saints were defeated in all three matches by South Sydney by 3-0, 10-3 and 14-12. Reports are that it took the incredible try scoring skills of South Sydney's Benny Wearing to win the first two matches for Souths.
For Saints, Tony Redmond and fast running forward Ernie Lapham scored tries while fullback Lyall Wall kicked three goals
Saturday, April 23, 1921. Venue: Sydney Sports Ground. Kickoff: 3:15pm
Herb Gilbert Snr St George rugby league 1921Saints' first match was coincidentally scheduled for 'St George's Day', 1921. Their opponents were Glebe, captained by William 'Binghi' Benson who went on to play for Saints in 1927 and featured the mighty Frank 'Chunky' Burge who would later captain-coach St George.
Herb Gilbert Snr (pic left) had the honour of being the inaugural first grade captain and coach. A veteran of 33 years old, Gilbert was regarded as one of the greatest centres in the game. His inspiration and experience brought instant respect to the new club.
Saints went down 4 -3 but kept the more fancied Glebe tryless.
George Carstairs St George rugby league 1921George Carstairs (pic right) had the honour of scoring Saints' first ever try. A standout player for St George was forward, Ernie Lapham who out-performed his rivals.
The inaugural FIRST GRADE TEAM on the day (with numbers)
Fullback:1- Lyall Wall.
Wing three quarters: 2- George 'Bluey' Carstairs;  5- Norman Shadlow.
Centre three quarters: 3- Herb Gilbert (captain-coach); 4- Reg Fusedale.
Halves: 8- Tommy Burns; 9- Frank Gray.
Forwards: 10- Clarrie Tye; 11- Roy 'Bunny' Bossi; 12- Tony Redmond; 13- Ernie 'Curly' Lapham; 14- Sid Field; 15- Jack Clark. Reserves: 6- Lew Heuschkel; 7- A. Bossi, 16- F 'Skinny' Wilkins; 17- J. Morris
The second grade team were also defeated 27-5 by Glebe. First scorers in the earlier match for Saints were:
R. Jackson (try) and Tom Killiby (goal).

The Second Grade team: G. Williams, R. Swanson, G. Turner, H. Harper, H.J. Sherringham, G. Miller, W. Jordan, T. Killiby, T. Molloy, H. Antilla, S. Buttel, R. Jackson, A. Clarke (captain).
2nd grade reserves: Grainger, McMurtrie, Lynch, Wilson, Leahey.

St George rugby league 1921 Moymow Johnston and Carstairs
Pic above: Treasurer, Arthur Moymow with 1921 Kangaroos, A 'Ricketty' Johnston (left) and George Carstairs.
Sydney Sports Ground, 21 May 1921:
In just their fifth appearance in the NSWRL first grade, St George have posted their first ever win by defeating Newtown 11-9.
In the first half, Saints were denied a number of scoring chances as they wore down a tiring Newtown defence who were often guilty of infringements as they tried to hold Saints out.
The referee responded by penalising Newtown within range of their posts giving St George fullback, Lyall Wall ample opportunities.
Leading 6-5 at half time, Saints lost the lead and at one point found themselves with a 9-6 deficit. But the red and whites hit back following a spectacular second half try to winger Norman Shadlow.
In a eventful match, referee Barrow sent off forwards Tony Redmond (St George) and Townsend (Newtown) for fighting.
Saints scored soon after following a movement set up by Ricketty Johnston, Herb Gilbert and Reg Fusedale, and then to Shadlow who finished well against the cover defence to score just five yards in from touch.
With 10 minutes to go and the scores locked up at 9-all, Wall lined up the difficult conversion attempt from out wide while looking into the wind. Described as a 'Bobby Dazzler' (St George Call), the kick sailed across the uprights and then veered in enough to add the extras.
In the remaining minutes, Newtown maintained possession and attacked the St George line but the Saints' defence held firm.
Full time score: Saints 11 (Shadlow try, Wall 4 goals, 7 attempts) bt Newtown 9 (1 try, 3 goals).
Hurstville Oval, 28 May 1921:
St George, competition nomads in 1921, played just two home matches throughout the season due to Hurstville Oval being unfenced.
10,000 were in attendance to see Saints defeat University 19-16 but only 643 actually paid to get into the unenclosed ground.
As a result, the gate takings of £34/13/- were disappointing.
The match itself was an exciting affair which saw play often swing to both ends of the field.
St George rugby league Clarrie TyeAt half time, Uni led 11-6. In the 2nd half, George Carstairs moved  from wing to five eighth, swapping with Frank Gray who was having an off day. Both men played well in the 2nd half, Gray scoring a try, and Carstairs setting up one for lock Ernie Wilson who successfully chased a Carstairs' kick.
Five minutes from fulltime, Saints were trailing 16-14. Tommy Burns, playing on the wing, intercepted a pass & found skipper Herb Gilbert backing up who found Clarrie Tye (pictured right) in support on the inside and the front rower dived over for the match winning try.
Lyall Wall converted to make it 19-16. It was a classic football moment and the perfect start to St George's association with Hurstville Oval.
St George players gain rep honours
St George rugby league team 1921 Kangaroos
Saints begin a tradition of providing representative players with 'Ricketty' Johnson (half ) and George Carstairs (winger) selected on the 1921/22 Kangaroo tour. In the above picture, Carstairs is circled. This UK tour match photo taken at Barrow also shows Frank Burge standing left with arms folded.
Saints and the Goulburn 'blizzard'
July 1921: In what was the beginning of a long tradition, Saints ventured south into the Illawarra and beyond to play what was their second country match.
On a sunny winter's morning, they caught the Goulburn train via Moss Vale but sunshine soon gave way to rain and by the time they arrived at their destination, Goulburn was enveloped in a snowstorm!
In near blizzard conditions, Goulburn managed to score three tries and at half time were in front 13-0. Saints' captain Herb Gilbert, wanted to change ends immediately and continue but the freezing, ice-hard pitch was taking its toll. Despite holding a handy lead, the locals refused to return to the field, forfeiting the match to St George.
Earlier in the year, Saints also played in Bathurst defeating the locals 31-7.
1921: Summary on first year in the Big League:
St George District RLFC successfully completed their first premiership season with 2 wins, 1 bye and 6 losses. Norths eventually won the 1921 competition with Saints finishing 7th ahead of Wests and wooden spooners, University.
The biggest gate was against Norths, St George receiving £75/2/8 Total income: £700/15/8 ($1,401.50). Bonuses £353/6/9 went to the players.
(average weekly wage for adult males in 1921 was £4/15/10).
The payout night was in a church near where Arncliffe Scots club now stands.

1922 NSWRL First Grade

(top 2 in final)
Norths p 28
Glebe 28
Easts 24
Souths 23
Balmain 22
Wests 16
Newtown 15
University 14
St George   8
Saints '22 record
Win   Loss  Draw Bye
2W, 14L, 0D, 2B
Pts for/against
For 140
Against 316 (9th)
Hard times to better times
Arthur 'Snowy' Justice - St George rugby leagueDespite a promising start in 1921, St George had a terrible second year in the Sydney Premiership. 1922 saw 18 rounds played, twice as many as the year before. In one of St George's biggest ever losses, Glebe thrashed Saints 41-0. Eventual premiership winners, Norths handed Saints another hiding 41-8. On the bright side, Saints scored the biggest win of the season when they romped all over University 45-2 but by the season's end, St George were languishing at the bottom of the table as wooden spooners.
Saints signed a new prospect, rugged hooker, Arthur 'Snowy' Justice (pic right).


Saints defeat Souths 28-5

Sydney Cricket Ground, 30 June 1923: With 7000 people in attendance, St George scored six tries to one to defeat premiership front runners, South Sydney at the SCG. This was a major win for the new club who for intents and purposes were showing up for a thrashing.
Saints acquitted themselves well in 1923 and lost by narrow margins on a number of occasions.
Additionally, Saints appear to have the wood on University with two more wins in 1923, bringing their head to head record to 5 - 0. In what has been their best year yet, Saints finished 7th on 14 points, ahead of Newtown and University.
1923 NSWRL First Grade

(top 2 in final)
Easts p 30
Souths 30
Balmain 25
Wests 22
Norths 20
Glebe 16
St George 14
Newtown 14
University   9
Saints '23 record
Win   Loss  Draw Bye
5W, 11L, 0D, 2B
Pts for/against
For 168
Against 236 (8th)

NSWRL First Grade

(top 2 in final)
Balmain p 15
Souths 15
Wests 10
Glebe 10
St George 10
Norths   8
Easts   8
University   7
Newtown   7
Saints '24 record
Win  Loss Draw Bye
3W, 3L, 2D, 1B
Pts for/against
For 94
Against 125 (7th)
Saints beat last year's premiers
Sydney Sports Ground, 14 June 1924: St George will no longer be taken lightly after their defeat of 1923 premiership winners, Easts. Saints held Easts scoreless in their 9-0 win at the Sports Ground in front of 1500 people. This year, Saints also had wins over Wests and Glebe, draws with Newtown and University plus 2 byes. The 9 round season finishing with Saints in 5th position.

Saints best year yet
Marrickville Oval, Arncliffe, 27 June 1925: Saints have defeated Newtown by 23-12 (5 tries to 2) at Marrickville Oval in front of 3500 people. The referee was J. Murray.
1925 saw Saints with 5 wins, 5 losses, one draw and 2 byes.
With the 5th best attack record in the comp, Saints have had their best year yet.
St George finished the 13 round season in 5th position.
NSWRL First Grade

(no semis)
Souths p 26
Wests 16
Balmain 15
Norths 15
St George 15
Glebe 12
University 11
Easts 10
Newtown 10
Saints '25 record
Win  Loss Draw Bye
5W, 5L, 1D, 2B
Pts for/against
For 132
Against 141 (6th)
St George rugby league team 1925

Earl Park, Arncliffe, 16 May 1925: Since joining the first grade premiership, Saints were without a true home ground. Hurstville Oval was not an acceptable football ground and the search was on for somewhere suitable.
In 1925, St George found a home at Earl Park in Arncliffe and it soon became a popular venue for the growing St George support base. 
Their first game at Earl Park on May 16th  was in front of 5,000 people who came to see Saints defeat Wests 6 - 5, Saints scoring two tries to one. The referee was W. Neill.
St George had a great year at Earl Park also defeating University (twice) and Easts. Saints only loss at Earl in 1925 was to eventual premiers, Souths in a tight match which saw Saints score two tries to one but go down 11-10 in front of 8000 people.

Pic: St George players pose for a photo shoot at Earl Park
Click on the pic for larger image

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