On 3 September, 2008, South Sydney Football Club was named the National Trust’s (NSW) inaugural ‘Community Icon’ at the gala preview of ‘League of Legends: 100 Years of Rugby League in Australia’ at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney.
The National Trust’s Community Icon program is an initiative that celebrates bodies that have made a significant, longstanding contribution to the State’s culture and life, and in return, are highly valued by the community. It complements the Trust’s flagship National Living Treasures program, which recognises outstanding Australians who have played a leading role in a range of fields and endeavours.
The Rabbitohs are a culturally significant organisation, held in high esteem by their supporters and by the community at large. The Club is the oldest and most successful club playing in the elite Rugby League competition in Australia, having won a total of 20 first-grade premierships including the first ever premiership decider in 1908. The South Sydney Football Club was also celebrating its centenary season in 2008, having been established on 17 January 1908.
National Trust (NSW) Executive Director, John Neish, said the Rabbitohs team is deservedly the Trust’s first Community Icon.
“The value of the Rabbitohs to the community and its contribution to sport was clearly demonstrated in November 2000, when an estimated 80,000 people marched from Redfern to Sydney Town Hall to protest against the Club’s expulsion from the National Rugby League. This rally and the massive groundswell of support from Club supporters and the general public, was unprecedented in Australian sporting history,” he said.
“Community Icon status is a way of acknowledging the place the Rabbitohs has carved out in the hearts and minds of the people of NSW over the Club’s 100 year history”.
Mr Neish said: “It is also fitting that the passionate commitment of one the Trust’s National Living Treasures, Rabbitohs co-owner Russell Crowe, has been behind the Club’s revitalisation over the last few years.”
Rabbitohs Club Chairman, Nicholas Pappas, said, “I could not imagine a more fitting tribute to our great Club in this, its centenary year, than to be selected by the National Trust (NSW) as Australia’s inaugural Community Icon. I know that our legions of supporters and sponsors will value this honour as a significant and timely recognition of South Sydney’s important and unchanged role on the Australian sporting and cultural landscape over the last century.
“It is particularly gratifying to see that the award also acknowledges the Club’s proud links to Australia’s indigenous communities, something that we value deeply at the Rabbitohs.”
The South Sydney Football Club is the first body to be accorded National Trust’s (NSW) Community Icon status, with other significant organisations to be recognised in future years.