The South Sydney Rabbitohs have built a jersey that honours those who served both the Club and the armed forces in WWI, WWII and the Korean War.
Club historian Michael Curin, the man behind the research, said: “In total there are 340 names from all three grades also including the affiliated clubs from Souths in that era from 1908 to 1925. We have 177 first grade players on that list, which 17 represented New South Wales and 11 that were internationals.”
Out of the 340 men who served, 338 served in either the Australian Army (A.I.F), Royal Australian Navy (RAN) or Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). The two remaining members served in the British Army, British Navy and RAF (‘British’ Royal Air Force).
Where it all began
Mr Curin first began research for the ANZAC jersey last year, searching through an incredible amount of records.
“Russell Crowe rang our C.E.O Blake Solly in June of last year and asked him if there was such a list of former Souths players and the affiliated clubs, who served in the armed forces,” said Mr Curin.
Mr Curin got to work on the compiling the information he needed to create the list, which was no easy task.
“It is a difficult task whenever you do a list like this, obviously we are dealing with newspaper reports which aren’t always reliable,” said Mr Curin.
“Lower grade team lists don’t exist like they do these days and in a lot of cases even when they put them down a lot of times they only put the surnames down and not their initials.
“It did take a long time but I thoroughly enjoyed it as I always do doing historical work for my Club.”
While searching through an immense amount of research, Mr Curin discovered a collection of fascinating stories from some of the players who represented their country and the Rabbitohs.
“Syd Leadbeater was born in England and sailed over here in 1921 as a UK merchant and navy seaman. He decided to stay in Sydney and got married in 1921. He played his early football for Mascot and he then appeared in South Sydney’s City Cup winning side of 1924,” said Mr Curin.
“In those days players were given gold medals when they won a competition but, unfortunately, he had to sell his during the depression to feed his family.”
“The Darmody brothers who were four brothers who enlisted to fight in World War I,” explained Mr Curin.
“Three of them played for Souths and they were Bill, Frank and Steve. Steve would become an international later on. The oldest, Frank, died from tuberculosis while at sea in September 1915 while he was aged only 26.”
“Vince Mahboub was the first ever player of Lebanese background to play in first grade rugby league in Australia. His father Michael Mahboub was one of the first Club Members to ever join our club in 1908 when it was formed," said Mr Curin.
“According to one of his descendants, he donated five shillings to the club when he joined.”
Why is the jersey is unique
The Rabbitohs have a number of alternative jerseys that they use throughout the season but for Mr Curin, the ANZAC jersey is just that little bit more special.
“What makes this jersey unique is that this is the first time our club has included any names such as this on a jersey and it’s the first time that any football code has included players from a club that has served in the armed services,” said Mr Curin.
“The jersey looks great, I like that it resembles our foundation jersey with the red and green bars, I think the names work really well, I'm very proud of it and I hope the members get behind it as well.”
As well as players who represent the Red and Green in first grade there are those who also played for Souths in the second grade and third grade competitions as well as South Sydney's affiliated clubs.
Here is a list of all the affiliated clubs of those who served represented.
Teams highlighted in bold were Premiers that year.
|1909||South Sydney Federal|
|1910||South Sydney Federal||South Sydney Kinkora|
|1911||Redfern, South Sydney Federal||South Sydney Federal, South Sydney Kinkora, Waterloo|
|1912||Redfern, South Sydney Federal||South Sydney Federal, South Sydney Kinkora, Surry Hills|
|1913||Redfern||Alexandria, South Sydney Federal, South Sydney Kinkora, Surry Hills|
|1914||Redfern||South Sydney Federal, South Sydney Kinkora,|
|1915||Surry Hills||Alexandria, Redfern United, South Sydney Federal, South Sydney Kinkora|
|1916||Alexandria, Surry Hills||Redfern United|
|1917||Alexandria, Mascot, Redfern United, Surry Hills|
|1918||Mascot, Redfern United|
|1919||Alexandria, Mascot, Redfern United|
|1920||Alexandria, Mascot, Redfern United|
|1921||Mascot, Redfern United|
|1922||Mascot, Kensington, Redfern United|
|1923||Kensington, Mascot, Redfern United|
|1924||Kensington, Mascot, Redfern United|
|1925||Bunnerong, Mascot, Redfern United|