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St George Dragons Rugby League History
Since 1921 - Our Proud History
Ernie Lapham St George Dragons rugby leagueAnother dark year for St George who finished as wooden spooners
for the second time. Even a rejuvenated University finally managed to defeat Saints, something they were unable to do in 10 prior meetings. The highlight of the year was the Final between Souths and University at the Agricultural Showground. The match drew 20,000 people. Souths won 11-5.
1926 was also the final year for Ernie Lapham [pic left] rated as the fastest forward in the game, 'Curly' Lapham came to Saints in 1921. He later joined Souths and was a NSW rep in 1926-28. In all, he scored 11 tries for Saints in 53 games.
Arnold Traynor St George Dragons rugby league
Despite the disastrous year, St George provided three players for the NSW side in Arthur 'Snowy' Justice, Bill Hardman and Aubrey 'Jockey' Kelly.
Fielding a reasonable team and captained by Arnold Traynor [pic right], Saints were accused of showing a 'lack of enthusiasm in training, discipline and cooperation' by The Rugby League News.
Sydney Cricket Ground, 24 April 1926: In contrast to Saints' team performances were the brilliant individual efforts from hooker 'Snowy' Justice and five eighth and captain Arnold Traynor. In particular, during a round one match against eventual premiers South Sydney, Traynor played the game of his life setting up a number of plays and adding further points with the boot.
The Saints skipper comprehensively out-played his opposite, 'Smacker' Blair but it wasn't enough with St George eventually going down 16-12 in front of approximately 15,000 people.
South Sydney 16 (4 tries, 2 goals) defeated St George 12 (2 tries, 3 goals). Ref: W Neill.

In an attempt to avoid a repeat of the 1926 season, St George have approached retiring Glebe and international forward, Frank Burge. Hooker Snowy Justice urged club secretary Reg Fusedale to meet with Burge and to sign up the veteran as player-coach for the 1927 season.
NSWRL First Grade

(top 4 in semis)
Souths p 32
Glebe 23
Easts 23
University 22
Wests 20
Newtown 18
Norths 18
Balmain 16
St George   8
p = Season Premiers

Saints 1926
Minor Premiership
Points For 169
(9th best attack)
Points Against 307
(9th best defence)
MP Standing

(9 teams)
Frank Burge St George Dragons rugby league

The appointment of international and Glebe forward Frank 'Chunky' Burge [pic right]as St George captain-coach was greeted with controversy with critics noting Burge's already lengthy career and that he had just announced his retirement. Following several meetings, Saints agreed to pay Burge the exorbitant amount of £200; Arthur 'Snowy' Justice, who first suggested Burge's appointment remarked that, "everyone thought we'd gone mad."
Team 1927 - click here St George Dragons rugby league
1927 team:

Click pic for larger image and player names
The critics however were proven wrong when under the guidance of Burge, St George made a remarkable turnaround. Coming from last in '26 to runners up in '27. In 18 rounds, Saints lost just three matches, one to Wests and two to the minor premiers and '27 champions, South Sydney. At the age of 33, Frank  'Chunky' Burge played only the one season with Saints as player-coach but he still scored nine tries in 16 games. Frank Burge will go down in history as one of the greatest try scoring forwards the game has ever produced.
In a first grade career which began in 1911, Frank Burge scored 146 tries (154 games) before retiring in 1927.
It was to become one of Rugby League's most enduring records. No other forward has been able to manage this achievement.

Frank continued as St George's coach until 1930 before going on to coaching other teams. He returned again in 1937 to once again lift Saints' fortunes.

With the competition's best defensive record, Saints finished 2nd in the season proper on 29 points going into the 1927 semi-finals. These were uncharted waters for the club which joined the competition just six years earlier.
NSWRL First Grade

(top 4 in semis)
Souths p 32
St George 29
Wests 22
Easts 22
Newtown 20
Norths 17
Balmain 16
Glebe 12
University 10

Saints '27 record
Win   Loss  Draw Bye
12W, 3L, 1D, 2B
Pts for/against
For 284

Against 141 (1st)

They must have been pleased to learn that their minor semi final against Easts was scheduled to be played at Earl Park where Saints were enjoying a great deal of success. The minor semi-final was played on 27th September, 1927 in front of 5,040 people. Despite being a man down (fullback Frank Meighan was sent off allegedly for kicking), Saints won the match 26-11 scoring six tries to one. Winger Frank 'Fatty' Saunders was the star of the match bagging a hat trick of tries.
Royal Agricultural Showground, 17 September 1927:
The victory in the minor semi-final meant that St George had qualified for their first ever final in their first ever semis
. Saints eventually went down 20-11 to minor premiers, South Sydney but it was a tremendous turnaround for the red and whites who had gone from wooden spooners to runners up in one season.
Playing on a quagmire, Saints confronted the might of Souths in the final at the RAS in front of 12,124 people. The two teams had already met earlier in the season at the Sydney Cricket Ground when Souths defeated Saints 17-14 in front of a massive crowd of 31,500
With heavy rain falling throughout the match, Souths won the decider scoring four tries to three.
Souths 20 (4 tries, 4 goals) defeated St George 11 (3 tries, 1 goal). Ref: W Neill.
Clarrie Tye St George Dragons rugby leagueSAINTS SIGN STAN BRAIN
Another big signing for St George in 1927 was NSW rep player, Stan Brain. A country winger, Brain played in the 1927 Final.

In other news, 1927 was the final year for forward, Clarrie F Tye [pic right] who announced his retirement from premiership football. Clarrie came to Saints from Wests in 1921 and played in Saints inaugural first grade match.
A NSW rep in 1919 and 1921, Clarrie Tye captained Saints in 1923.
In all, Clarrie played 78 games for St George scoring 11 tries.
The Red V

Police intervene as Earl Park erupts!
St George Dragons rugby leagueEarl Park, 11 August 1928:
Following a fiery on-field encounter between St George and Balmain, Earl Park has erupted into crowd violence. The match was won 21-3 by St George in front of 6000 people, but not before fighting between players spilled across the ground. An all in brawl followed and spectators got involved. Police intervened using hand cuffs, batons and fists in an effort to quell what the press have dubbed, 'the Earl Park riot'.
According to reports, St George players retaliated when team mate George Carstairs was kicked about the head by a Balmain player.
It appears the source of the crowd's aggravation was referee Brannaghan who lost control of the match when he sent off St George forward Harry Flower early in the second half but allowed Balmain players to stay on the field.
The incident with Carstairs occurred five minutes from fulltime. Earlier, Carstairs had been kicked in the face while playing the ball but on this occasion he was knocked unconscious when kicked in the head by Balmain forward, Tony Russell. Brannaghan's decision to only cautioned Russell brought a strong reaction from players, officials, and the crowd.
St George coach, Frank Burgh and secretary, Reg Fusedale approached Brannaghan for an explanation following an on field brawl amongst the players.
The game continued but another incident at fulltime escalated the already volatile situation. With the match over, Balmain's George Bishop began chasing St George five eighth, Arnold Traynor.
This infuriated sections of the crowd as hundreds invaded the pitch with the intention of seeking revenge on the Balmain players. St George supporters ripped off fence palings to be used as weapons and one witness reported seeing a man running around behind the grandstand with an axe!
Police arrived but not before Russell was badly beaten by the crowd. He suffered leg and head injuries and was put into the same ambulance as George Carstairs where it was reported that Russell attempted to assault Carstairs and ambulance officers had to intervene to restrain him.
Meanwhile police were making numerous arrests and order was eventually restored. A week later, a NSWRL investigation blamed crowd violence and not the players or officials for the disturbance.
NSWRL First Grade

(top 4 in semis)
St George 26
Easts 26
Souths p 18
Norths 16
University 14
Wests 12
Glebe 12
Balmain 10
Newtown   6
Saints '28 record
Win    Loss Draw Bye
12W, 1L, 0D, 1B
Pts for/against
For 200

Against 98 (1st)
St George minor premiers for first time!
Sydney Cricket Ground, 1 September 1928: The St George 'Dragon Slayers' have have secured top position on the ladder after defeating Norths 23-13 in the final round of the minor premiership. Saints were equal with Easts on 28 points but attain top spot by virtue of a better for-and-against. Additionally, Easts had two byes to St George's one bye. Saints had a tremendous season in 1928, losing just one match and posting 12 wins, including a 24-0 drubbing of Glebe.
St George went into the semis with the knowledge that throughout 1928, they had the better of the other three semi-finalists, Easts, Souths and Norths. So far, Saints have played Easts once and Souths twice without loss and have played Norths twice, narrowly losing early in the season but winning comfortably in today's match at the SCG.
Earl Park, 8 September 1928: Despite finishing on top of the premiership ladder with 28 points, St George were defeated by Souths 13-5 at Earl Park in front of a crowd of 14,758 in the sudden death major semi final.
It was a disappointing end to the season for Saints who were well clear of Souths in the premiership standings who only came into the semis with just 18 points.

To their credit, Souths go on to the Final and win the competition by defeating Easts 26-5.

St George Dragons rugby league'DRAGON SLAYERS' HAVE NEW JERSEY
The 1929 season saw Saints run on for the first time with a distinctive 'red vee' on a white background. Now commonly referred to as the 'Dragon Slayers', St George have done away with the previous jersey with it's broad horizontal red bars.

Sydney, 31 August 1929: After 18 rounds of football, Saints finished the season in 2nd position on 27 points and qualified for the semi-finals. On September 7th, Saints lined up against Newtown for the minor semi final at Earl Park. 7000 people were in attendance to see Saints go down by the narrowest of margins, 8-7. Despite missing out on a premiership, Saints can be proud about their early years in 1st grade and are one of the teams to watch in the season to come. 
Also, 1929 was the final year for George 'Bluey' Carstairs who decided to retire from first grade football. A Marist Brothers junior, George played all his 1st grade football with Saints with 79 games including Saints first ever game in 1921 when he scored Saints first ever try.

Playing at centre or winger, the big three quarter scored 11 tries & 79 goals (191pts). He was also a 1921 Kangaroo, playing for Australia 17 times including two test matches. Frank Gray, another 1921 founding player also retired after 33 games for the red and whites.
In other news, '29 saw the end of Rugby League's first club, Glebe. 

In the club's 22 season history, they scored more points than they conceded and were runners up four times. One reason for the demise of the inner city club appears to be geographical while the club's fruitless search for an adequate home ground seemed to be the final straw.
RL Ladder
NSWRL First Grade

(top 4 in semis)
Souths p 31
St George 27
Wests 26
Newtown 24
Norths 19
Balmain 17
Easts 14
Glebe 13
University   9

Saints '29 record
Win    Loss Draw Bye
11W, 4L, 1D, 2B
Pts for/against
For 180

Against 147 (2nd)


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