Happy 103rd Birthday to the Mighty South Sydney Rabbitohs

Souths Logo

It was on this day in 1908 that the South Sydney District Rugby League Football Club was founded at Redfern Town Hall, giving birth to the most successful professional Rugby League Club of all time.

South Sydney – also known as ‘The Pride of the League’ – was the third Rugby League club founded in Australia after Glebe and Newtown who unfortunately no longer exist at the elite level.

The Rabbitohs have won 20 premierships over the past 103 years including the inaugural Grand Final held in 1908 where they beat North Sydney 11 – 7 at Birchgrove Oval.

With strategic player recruitment, a strong and successful pool of junior talent, plus healthy corporate and celebrity backing, the Rabbitohs are heading in the right direction to claim premiership number 21.

Glory, Glory to South Sydney! Share

The Botany Gentlemen’s Club

It was the 3rd of November, 2001 and in the beer-soaked front bar of the old Endeavour Hotel five of Botany’s brightest entrepreneurs had gathered to watch the title fight between American loudmouth Zabdiel Judah and the softly spoken Aussie, Kostya Tszyu. The pre-match interviews featured a brazen Judah inflating his own self-importance and declaring that he was about to make history. Tszyu on the other hand simply complimented his opponent’s ability and assured his fans that he had trained well. Zab entered the ring with Mike Tyson in his entourage and an American flag wrapped around his neck.

The Endeavour’s patrons booed.

Judah’s reach was a good two inches longer than Tszyu’s, which tested the Australian’s maneuverability. Kostya ducked and weaved throughout the entire first round and although a few of Zab’s blows found their mark the first three minutes ended fairly even.

Round 2 however was an entirely different story.

It was as if the Aussie boxer had heard the advice of the Botany Entrepreneurs for as soon as the bell went he was up in Judah’s face. The  southpaw New Yorker could not get back far enough to throw a decent punch and with only moments to go in the second stanza Kostya tapped him gently with a left and then planted his right fist flush in the middle of the Brooklyn bragger’s nose.

The Endeavour Hotel erupted as Judah hit the canvas.

History was made that day. Firstly by the diminutive Australia pugilist becoming the first man in thirty years to unify the belts in the Junior Welterweight division, and secondly by the amalgamation of these ‘Captains of Industry’ into the Botany Gentlemen’s Club.

The flamboyant behaviour of the BGC (as they quickly became known) epitomised the Noughties. Frequent revenue raising activities at Randwick Race Course resulted in an equitable distribution of wealth amongst hotel staff, pro-shops, bookmakers and restaurants of the little industrial suburb. Topless waitresses flocked to the Captain Cook Hotel every Thursday so that these local legends could help them with their college tuition fees, whilst meat-raffle merchants knew they could count on the Entrepreneur’s donations.

No social activity was ignored. School trivia nights and Blues Brothers Revivals all benefited from the BGC’s largess, as did the local cricket club with BGC members cajoling the flirty nurses at the Royal hotel to support the boys and girls.

And when the time came to cast the deciding vote that gave Russell Crowe ownership of the mighty South Sydney Rabbitohs Football Club, this League of Extraordinary Gentlemen were on hand to deliver the Bunnies their salvation.

Original Cast.

Formed over packet of Parker’s Pretzels and a schooner of Victoria Bitter, the BGC are indeed twenty-first century versions of Robin Hood and his band of merry men.

But who are the founding fathers of the Botany Gentlemen’s Club? Preferring anonymity to the praise they rightly deserve, these pillars of society can be identified as follows:

El Presidenté: Betting legend and dictator for life the BGC’s beloved President is a prince amongst men. Organiser of Christmas Parties, drinker of beer and member of the Guy Sebastian Fan Club, El Presidenté has never missed a planning meeting or a call to arms. Nor will you see him drunkenly abusing his minions because they refuse to watch that God-awful movie, Blues Brother 2000. El Presidenté is the only man who knows the babes from Bombshells by name and always makes eye contact when he engages them in conversation.

The Treasurer: Paul Keating’s got nothing on this guy. From his chipped little china teapot hidden away at the back of the pantry, the Treasurer managed the barren bankroll during the early days of the BGC, ensuring their financial stability and success for the years to come. As a share holder in Carlton United Breweries the Treasurer became the first man in history to build his children an above-ground swimming pool made entirely out of empty VB beer cans. With his innate ability to sleep standing up, the Treasurer has never shirked his responsibilities donating both his home and his brazier to the BGC’s bonfire requirements.

The Skipper: The BGC’s resident boating enthusiast (who’s afraid to go fishing outside the heads) has a fondness for Tyrells’ Old Winery Cabinet Merlot and James Boags Premium Lager. Although this man lacks a Gilligan he does have his very own Mary-Anne who, upon his command, will fetch him a beer or a sandwich and make sure the BGC members get home ok. The Skipper never thinks twice about paying a little extra at the silent auctions on school trivia nights and will wait until everyone is over the ales and onto the bourbon before he has his shout.

The Burglar: With two solo golf titles to his name and a handicap that would shame Tiger Woods, the Burglar is the youngest of the founding members. His skill at selling meat trays to vegetarians came in handy during those early years of fund raising and his penchant for winning seafood platters fed the BGC at times when their money was all but exhausted. A raconteur of literary repute, the Burglar partnered with the Treasurer to take out the 2010 BGC Pool Championship and, together with the Skipper and the Probie, he recently claimed the Inaugural Ambrose BGC Golf Trophy.

Blisters: So named because he would turn up after the work was done, Blisters went to the pub during one of the BGC’s early camping trips and was never seen again.

New Recruits.

With the groundwork done the founding fathers (sans one) refused to rest on their laurels and expansion quickly came to mind. The BGC’s notoriety had spread to soccer clubs, netball squads and touch football teams so a recruitment program was quickly put into place. Identification of possible candidates though was no mean feat. Selection criteria included the ability to drink beer from both aluminium cans and plastic bottles (if the need arose), an unfailing support of the South Sydney Rabbitohs and a like-minded, yet somewhat evil, sense of humour. Wannabes were culled thick and fast but the following outstanding applicants were successful.

The Signmaker: A humble, giant of a man with a passion for surfing and bonfires, the Signmaker brought brazier destruction and Bundaberg Rum to the BGC. With calloused hands harder than steel the new member could feed razor sharp palm fronds into the fire faster than the Flash. A misspent youth and wicked stories to match made the Signmaker a welcome addition to the BGC team.

Mr Email: Mr. Email is the only member who can simultaneously shut down the servers of several major international corporations with a simple electronic communication. His fondness for g-strings and the height impaired is legendary, as is his winning try for the BGC touch footy team. Unfortunately he talks a better pool game than he plays and his penchant for effeminate cocktails and wanting to ‘spoon the Probie’ frequently causes the Founding Fathers to look sideways at him.

The Probie: The newest addition to the BGC likes to brew his own beer and listen to doof doof music. He also has a man crush on ex Rugby League player Brett Kimmorley and only supports the Rabbitohs as his second side. In spite of his rugged good looks and rakish charm the question still remains how he got past the review committee.

With new talent on board the BGC quickly began to spread their wealth up and down the NSW coast. Una Voce, Gwandalan and Culburra were identified as towns in need of patronage and the BGC obliged. Cash was flashed at jukeboxes, bars, coffee shops and RSL clubs by loyal BGCers as their goodwill rampaged north and south. Discarded building materials and unwanted fence posts were properly disposed of in thirty foot infernos that provided warmth to all the local inhabitants whilst beer kegs were emptied and refreshed in all the regional bowling clubs.

So what’s next for this philanthropic band of brothers?

Following on from a successful stint as backing vocalists for Richard Clapton and The Neil Diamond Show there was a very real possibility that this charismatic cadre would go head-to-head with the rock star wannabes on Australian Idol. However, the BGC have always made it their mission to provide support for those that need it most and with the current condition of the Wallabies Rugby Union side and the NSW State of Origin team you can bet that interstate and indeed international expansion is certainly on the cards.

We call rest assured though that whatever happens it will be for the benefit of the lucky community that the BGC next sets their sights upon.

God bless you boys!

Souths v Easts

Oh the humanity!

Last night I witnessed a game of Rugby League with more passion and commitment that any of the three State of Origins played this year.

Souths Logo

The brutal intensity of the clash between century old foes will undoubtedly eclipse the 50 point victory that the Panthers will inflict over the Tigers in the 2010 Grand Final when Benji and Robbie have simultaneous ‘off’ days.

I’m a Souths supporter. Have been all my life. So it really pains me to admit that the Roosters were the better side on the night. But they were. That’s not to detract from our boy’s performance. They too were fantastic. There are six other sides in the top eight, and a couple of hopefuls just outside it, that are sitting back saying ‘Holy shit! If they can do that to each other, what are they going to do to us?’

All thirty four players can walk away without their heads held high and their eyes on the late September prize, and the four point margin was a perfect indication of the difference between these two exceptional teams.

‘Arrgghhh’, or ‘Pardon me for a moment while I vent a little.’

What has become blatantly evident of late is the inability of the match officials to rise to the occasion. Both the Rabbitohs and the Roosters were victims last night of head-shaking, shoulder-shrugging, ‘what the’ decisions that had the propensity to impact upon the final outcome. Easts were robbed of a brilliant try in the first half and Souths were penalized out of the game with two minutes to go.

I’m not suggesting for a minute that my team deserved to win but in these times where Rugby League athletes are earning 3, 4, or $500,000 a season, do we not deserve a better class of referee?

As a fan it frustrates me to see dodgy decisions affect the outcome of crucial matches every week. As a one eyed Souths supporter I can name numerous indiscretions against us. I’m sure you, the reader, can name just as many for you own club.

Give the guy a break.

Ok, now that I have got all that angst out of my system I’m going to change tack. I am not going to turn this post into a witch-hunt because I can tell you dear reader that being a referee of any sporting code is a tough job. I know this from experience. My father refereed Rugby League for some seventeen years (that’s him in caricature) and my two oldest sons have both gone to the park with whistle in hand. I spend every wintry Sunday morning sitting in the stands, grinding my teeth and resisting the urge to punch the blithering idiot next to me who seems intent on denigrating my boys performance regardless of the fact that he is only fourteen and still on his ‘L’ plates.

The referee has a truly difficult task ahead of him, or her. With one pair of eyes they police the ten metres, watch the offside and generally try to keep tabs on twenty six large, fast moving men and the plethora of diminutive, gnat like, trainers that constantly invade the pitch. All the while trying in vain to block out the abusive elucidations from the unhappy, not so sober fan who has the benefit of video replays.

No sir, being the man in the middle is certainly no picnic and although I may disagree with some of their decisions from time to time, I respect what they do and I hope that they get the training, support and whatever else is needed from their association and the NRL in order to do a better job.

Get to the point!

The point is I just watched the best game of Rugby League this year.

Congratulations Roosters.

Glory, Glory to South Sydney.

Matthew Green. 9th July 2010

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