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St George Dragons Rugby League History
Since 1921 - Our Proud History
War is over
Ray Lindwall - St George rugby league historyWith the end of World War Two in sight, Rugby League was again looking to resume the international arena. Additionally, the NSWRL was looking to expand with the admission of two more teams, Manly-Warringah and Parramatta in 1947 making it a 10 team comp. This gave extra weight to the importance of being a minor premier.
Ray Lindwall [pic right] gave excellent service as fullback for Saints in the 1940s before switching to cricket and achieving greatness as a deadly fast bowler and the spearhead of Don Bradman's Invincibles in 1948.

Hurstville, 11 August 1945: With a number of regular players unavailable, Saints find the going tough in 1945 and fail to make the semis. Not since 1938 has the Sydney premiership played out its semi finals without St George.
Meanwhile, Saints' prop forward, Bill McRitchie played his final year with his home club.

News item - click here - St George rugby league historyBill was hospitalised for 22 weeks in 1945 following a biting incident in a club match against Newtown. Apparently, Bill had part of his ear bitten off by Newtown's Frank 'Bumper' Farrell.
Season Snapshot
In 1945, Saints finished in 7th position on nine points ahead of wooden spooners Souths on two points.
A police officer, Farrell was also disciplined by the NSW Police Force. But at the judiciary, Bumper claimed that he was incapable of biting because he left his dentures in the dressing sheds. He was cleared by 15 votes to 12, while McRitchie was awarded a sum between 200 and 300 pounds as compensation.
St George officials tried to re-open the inquiry a month later, however the league disagreed, voting 21-2 against further investigation.

According to McRitchie and St George, the issue was never properly resolved.
(click on article for full image and story, 366 Kb)
NSWRL First Grade

(top 4 in semis
- playoff for 4th)
Easts p 22
Newtown 21
Wests 17
Balmain 16
Norths 16
Canterbury   9
St George   9
Souths   2
p = Season Premiers

Saints 1945
Minor Premiership
Points For 183
(7th best attack)
Points Against 253
(6th best defence)
MP Standing

(8 teams)
Team 1946 click here - St George rugby league historyDRAGONS CLUB CHAMPIONS, MINOR PREMIERS & GRAND FINALISTS
(click on pic left for larger image)
Sydney Sports Ground, 14 September 1946: In typical fashion, St George have bounced back from the lower end of the ladder to finish the 1946 season as minor premiers. As well, Saints performed well in all grades, claiming the club championship.  After 14 rounds, Saints are 22 points (11 wins, 3 losses) followed by Newtown (20), Balmain (18), Canterbury (17). Saints are firm favourites to take out the 1946 premiership.
Ray Lindwall - St George rugby league historyA crowd of 32,296 saw the Grand Final between St George and Balmain. The fact that the Dragons deserved to win is of no consequence. They were 'robbed' as some observers put it when a series of decisions by referee George Bishop gave Balmain numerous advantages. In particular, two Balmain tries came off forward passes and there was a disallowed try to St George. Bishop's refereeing was described as 'astounding' when Balmain's Joe Jorgenson scored after receiving a ball that was propelled a yard forward.
Despite this, Saints came within a whisker of victory when Jack Lindwall scored in the corner but brother Ray Lindwall (pic left) was unable to convert in the difficult conditions. At the end of the day, one has no choice but to look at the score board. Ray Lindwall was not able to land a conversion at any time throughout the match and despite scoring four tries to three, Saints were unable to come up with their second premiership.
Fulltime score: Balmain 13
(3 tries + 2 goals) bt St George 12 (4 tries + 0 goal).

Tensions of the encounter overflowed after fulltime and the match concluded on an ugly note when Saints forward, Jim Hale went toe to toe with Balmain hooker, Herb Gilbert Jnr. Hale was then attacked by a spectator and an all-in brawl followed. This incident has been rated as contentious as the Earl Park riot of 1928.
(top 4 in semis)
St George 22
Newtown 20
Balmain p 18
Canterbury 17
Easts 16
Norths 10
Wests   9
Souths   0
Saints '46 record
Win  Loss Draw
11W, 3L, 0D
Pts for/against
For 264

Against 203 (5th)

Ray Lindwall gave Rugby League away after the Grand Final of '46. He already had a huge reputation as a killer fast bowler before going fulltime to the St George Cricket Club. In 1948 he became immortal when he was selected on the Ashes Tour to England with Don Bradman's Invincibles.
Herb Narvo - St George rugby league historySt George captain, Herb Narvo (pictured, right) gave his all in the 1946 Grand Final. He was a tough Test forward who originally played Rugby League in Newcastle. Herb was also a fine cricketer and cyclist.
He also held the Australian Heavyweight Boxing title during his football career. During the post war period, he was a household name in Sydney. He originally won his Heavyweight title in 1945 when he defeated Billy Britt in just 23 seconds. He lost the title in 1946 to Jack Johnson and got up the next day to captain St George. Herb played just one season with Saints. In 13 games, he scored three tries and eight goals before returning to his first club, Newtown. He then played out his career in the country finishing up as coach of Newcastle. He died as a result of Cancer in 1958.

Soutther Division rugby league history
Southern Division defeat England 15-12 in 1946 at the Wollongong Showground

Hurstville, 3 May 1947: Saints have given newcomers, Manly-Warringah a thrashing to the tune of 61-11. Saints scored 13 tries to one. The match will be remembered for Jack Lindwall's [pictured] six tries and nine goals for a personal tally of 36 points in the one game, setting a new club record for tries scored in one match and equaling Les Griffin's 1935 record for total points scored by any St George player in one match. Saints' captain for 1947 was Doug McRitchie.


Sydney Sports Ground, 27 August 1947: St George finished the season in equal 4th but were unable to reach the semis following their loss in the playoff for 4th place against Wests. Saints went down 10-5.
Saints have signed Frank Facer to a three year contract beginning with season '47. 'Fearless' Frank Facer, a North Sydney junior, was lured to play Hooker by Saints by club secretary, Arthur 'Snowy' Justice. Another player who became a Dragon in '47 was Noel Pidding.
(top 4 in semis
- playoff for 4th)
Canterbury 27
Balmain p 24
Newtown 23
St George 22
Wests 22
Norths 19
Souths 18
Easts 11
Manly   8
Parramatta   6
Saints '47 record
Win  Loss Draw
11W, 7L, 0D
Pts for/against
For 353

Against 272 (3rd)

Sydney Cricket Ground, 11 September 1948: St George were defeated by Balmain 13-12, a score line which reminds us of the '46 Grand Final. On this occasion, Saints are eliminated from the semis and Balmain go on to meet the powerful Wests team in the decider. The Dragons had previously beaten Newtown 20-8 at the SCG (Sept4) in the minor semi. St George are placed third in the '48 comp but coming into the semis they held the ladder position of 4th with 21 points.
Before a crowd of 37404, the St George forwards were battering Balmain in the qualifying final. But the Tigers were inspired by winger, Arthur Patton who played the match with a broken leg. Balmain held a lead of 13-7 before L Evans scored and winger Stan Root converted putting Saints just one point behind.
In the dying minutes, Matt McCoy put Root into the clear and with only the Tigers' fullback, Dave Parkinson to beat. But Parkinson was equal to the task in bring Root down and Balmain won narrowly 13-12.
Also in 1948, Saints captain, Doug McRitchie plays for NSW thus joining a long list of 1940s rep players from St George.
(top 4 in semis)
Wests 32
Newtown 26
Balmain 26
St George 21
Canterbury 16
Easts 16
Souths 15
Parramatta 11
Manly   9
Norths   8
Saints '48 record
Win  Loss Draw
10W, 7L, 1D
Pts for/against
For 332

Against 262 (5th)
St George 1949
The premiership winning side of 1949
(click on the pic for larger image)
Back row (L-R): M. McCoy, J. Munn, R. Roberts, J. Holland, G. Jardine. C. Banks.

Front row: D. McRitchie, C. Langton, F. Facer,

J. Hawke, N. Hill, N. Pidding, D. Fleming.

Ballboy: Warren Sanders
Sydney Cricket Ground, 10 September 1949: In a brutal encounter, the St George Dragons ran in five tries and overcame South Sydney 19-12 to claim the 1949 premiership in front of 56,534 people.
Coming into the semis, Saints finished third on the ladder (23 pts) after 18 rounds of football. To get the Grand Final, Saints first defeated minor premiers Souths in the major semi-final 16-12 (August 20), and then Balmain in the preliminary final 18-7 (September 3).
In the Grand Final, St George were led masterfully by their victorious captain, Norman 'Johnny' Hawke. Controlling all aspects of the match, Hawke took the game away from Souths who only got back into the contest when Hawke was forced from the field with injury. Also injured was forward, George Jardine who played the match with a broken wrist.
After some treatment, Hawke returned to the field and set up the play for victory. 'Johnny' Hawke was dubbed 'man of the match' and 'the player's player' in a team of stars which included the season's leading try scorer (25 tries) and newcomer, Ron Roberts and Noel Pidding. Both wingers scored two tries each.
Dragons first grade coach for 1949: Jim Duckworth.
Scorers for St George
Tries: Ron Roberts 2, Noel Pidding 2, Matt McCoy. Goals: Matt McCoy, Noel Pidding.
Referee: G. Bishop.
(top 4 in semis)
Souths 27
Wests 24
St George p 23
Balmain 22
Parramatta 20
Newtown 19
Canterbury 14
Manly 13
Norths 11
Easts   7
Saints '49 record
Win    Loss Draw
11W, 6L, 1D
Pts for/against
For 345

Against 231 (3rd)

ALSO IN 1949: Doug McRitchie toured with the Kangaroos, playing in two Tests against Britain and another two Tests against France. He was joined by fellow centre, Matt McCoy who was signed in 1948 after being spotted in Bega, NSW.
1949 was the first year as a Dragon for goal kicking fullback, Doug Fleming. Only 19-years-old, Doug actually forced Test star, Noel Pidding onto the wing and played in the 1949 GF win.

The 1949 Grand Final was the last match for Jack Lindwall. Without a doubt, Jack Lindwall was one of the greatest footballers to ever wear the red and white. A brilliant attacking winger and centre, Jack set numerous club records including most  tries in a match (6 pts vs Manly 1947) and  most points in a match (36 pts Vs Manly 1947). In a career which began in 1938, Jack played 133 games and scored 110 tries and kicked 99 goals for a personal career tally of 528 points.


The 1940s in summary: Rugby League prospered during the decade despite the loss of players. In 1943, with the pressure of war ever present, Sydney turned to the game and crowd numbers went 'through the roof'. The Grand Final of 1943 attracted over 60,000 people which was extraordinary in a city which was still being referred to as 'Sydney Town'.
Saints went from strength to strength in the 1940s with some real heroes emerging from their ranks. Apart from winning two premierships, Saints appeared in all the semi-finals of the 1940s with the exceptions of 1945 and 1947 when they missed out narrowly. Saints were fantastic in the 1940s. But the best was yet to come...

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