Frank Farrell (rugby league)
|Full name||Francis Michael Farrell|
|Born||16 September 1916
Surry Hills, New South Wales, Australia
|Died||23 April 1985
Warriewood, New South Wales, Australia
|1939–50||New South Wales||17||1||3|
Francis Michael "Bumper" Farrell (16 September 1916 – 23 April 1985) was an Australian premiership winning and national representative rugby league footballer. A prop forward, his long club career was with the Newtown Bluebags from 1938 to 1951 with four Test appearances for the Australian national side between 1946 and 1948. Outside of football he was a policeman in the New South Wales force; he rose through the ranks and was stationed in Sydney's tough inner-city suburbs, where he earned a reputation as feared and revered detective in the Vice Squad.
Frank Farrell is the grandfather of Jack Elsegood, a dashing winger who played for the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles (1993–96) and the Sydney City Roosters from 1997 to 2000 scoring 60 tries in 149 first grade games.
Farrell was the great-grandson of an Irish convict named Patrick Farrell who was shipped to the Sydney in 1837 for stealing a pig. His father, Reginald Francis Farrell (1889–1983), was a broom-maker and his mother, Margaret Theresa Wynne (1886–1977), an ironing lady. His parents were married in 1913. Frank was born at St. Margaret's Hospital in Surry Hills, an inner suburb of Sydney. He was brought up in the tough Sydney city suburbs of Redfern, Tempe and Marrickville. Frank was educated at Marist College Kogarah, and remained a committed Roman Catholic throughout his life.
Frank Farrell married Phyllis Dorothy Read (1912–1981) on 11 November 1944 and had two sons and two daughters.
Farrell was a rugby league footballer with a long sporting career. He played his entire New South Wales Rugby Football League premiership career of over 250 grade games with the Newtown Jets club. He became captain of the club, leading them to victory in the 1943 Grand Final against North Sydney. One of Farrell's closest and lifelong friends, Frank Hyde, was Captain of North Sydney in the 1943 Grand Final.
In a famous incident during a game on 28 July 1945, he was accused of biting off a portion of St. George player Bill McRitchie's ear during a match at Henson Park. He formally denied the allegation at the time. It took seven months for the New South Wales Rugby League judiciary to finalise their inquiry and Farrell was found not guilty.
Frank Farrell was captain in 1944 when Newtown finished the regular season on top of the table. Decimated by injuries and the active-duty call up of servicemen Len Smith and Herb Narvo who had starred for them all season the Bluebags were beaten by Balmain 16–19 in a Final. Newtown exercised their "right of challenge" as minor premiers and called for a Grand final in which Farrell led the side. Balmain again prevailed in a low scoring when their representative centre Joe Jorgenson kicked two late penalty goals to give the Tigers a 12–8 win.
Farrell was captain-coach of the Newtown club from 1946 to 1951 and in that six-year period the club made the finals on four occasions. He retired in 1951 and was at that time the first Sydney top-grade player with 250 grade games for his club. He remains today the only player to top 200 first-grade appearances for Newtown. He later served a long term as President of the Newtown Jets.
He made his state representative debut for New South Wales against Queensland in 1939 and would go on to play thirteen career matches for his state. After the war, he made his international representative debut for Australia in the 1946 Test series against the Great Britain Lions, playing in all three matches of the series. During the brutal exchanges in the first test Bumper was 'King Hit' by Great Britain prop forward Frank Whitcombe when the unfortunate St Johns Ambulance man ran on to treat him a still groggy Farrell lashed out at him mistaking him for Whitcombe. He made another Test appearance against New Zealand in 1948.
While playing football, Farrell was employed in the New South Wales Police Force in a career that lasted from 1938-1976. During his long tenure as sergeant of the 21st Division Darlinghurst (Kings Cross) police station in Sydney he was outwardly respected as an honest and tough member of the community and police force as a member of the Vice Squad.. Farrell became one of Sydney's most famous Policemen and was featured in hundreds of media reports between the 1940s and the mid-1970s. His highest rank was Inspector 1st Class.
However articles including two published by the ABC, and oral history interviews with long term residents of the Kings Cross precinct uncover the dark underside as the community remember and recite Farrell's legendary status for his harassment and intimidation of local business people and residents, particularly anyone considered "bohemian", "Some of the gambling dives were chockablock with thuggish cops, like Bumper Farrell, whose reputation for turncoat behaviour was legendary. Farrell hunted vagrants (and anyone he didn’t like the look of, myself included) to boost the score of arrests at Paddington Police Station, while turning a blind eye to grander villainy".
"The Darlinghurst police back in those days with Bumper Farrell, they weren't very nice. They'd put you in a steel-built cabinet and rock you round the room. Then they'd get you out and throw you on the ground and get telephone books and jump on top of the phone books. But they'd never leave a mark". Debra Deveraux, George Negus Tonight, ABC, 2004.
"Bumper Farrell was in cahoots with Betty Malmo, who was (known as) "The Canary" – a New Zealander who had a hair-dressing salon (named) the Tiki Salon in Roslyn St under Les Girls (and) who (also) operated Brothels in the lanes off William Street. He collected a share of her takings for years and she gave him much information (for his use). Bumper was a sadist who thought nothing of torturing drag queens (and) the phone book story above is accurate. I had that (done to me by him) as well as being hung out windows (at the police station). – Jacquie Grant, 2012
In the 1950s a scandal was quickly quashed when the cover of Melbourne newspaper Truth ran the headline "Sex Chocolates: Anna Hoffmann Strikes Again" Anna Hoffman was a supposed vagrant working as a prostitute, when she allegedly spiked Farrell's food with marijuana during a tryst with him, and recorded the event with equipment placed under her bed. This wasn't Hoffman's first experience with the legal system; after a few run-ins with the police force and allegedly threatening to expose details of corruption, this was second time around in a court room for her since 1955. She was allegedly deported, never to set foot in Australia again. The incident was efficiently brushed under the carpet in record time.
Bill Jenkings, a well-known Australian writer and newspaper reporter, refused to believe allegations about the involvement of Frank "Bumper" Farrell in corrupt activities - having known him personally for 40 years. Jenkings said in his biography As Crime Goes By.. (Ironbark Press, 1992) that the Queens of Sydney's underworld, Tilly Devine and Kate Leigh, constantly earned Bumper Farrell's wrath. "He'd run them in every chance that he got."
A biography about Frank Farrell called “Bumper. The Life and Times of Frank Bumper Farrell” (2011), by author Larry Writer states "he enforced law the 'Bumper' way, with his fists and boots, and by his own moral code, which while terribly politically incorrect, was certainly effective. He was the toughest, roughest street cop that Australia has ever seen."
Frank Farrell died suddenly of a heart attack at his home on 23 April 1985. His funeral service was attended by many police and football colleagues and was widely reported in the national media. He was later buried with at Mona Vale Cemetery on 26 April 1985. Frank Farrell was survived by his four children and many grandchildren.
Frank Farrell was awarded the Queen's Police Medal for Distinguished Service on 1 January 1976.
- Larry Writer, Bumper, The life and times of Frank Bumper Farrell Published by Hachette,Australia. 2011. (ISBN 978 0 7336 2489 6).
- Canberra Times. 31 July 1945. "Footballer's Ear Nearly Bitten Off". (page 4)
- Collis/Whitaker p96
- Collis/Whitaker p97
- Alan Whitaker & Glen Hudson. The Encyclopedia Of Rugby League Players . Published by Gary Allen Pty Ltd, Australia. 1995 (ISBN 1 87516957 1)
- Michael Sharkey, Overland, No. 180, Spring 2005
- Frank "Bumper" Farrell at eraofthebiff.com
- Bumper Farrell accused of biting off a bloke’s ear - showroom.com.au
- Frank Farrell stats at rugbyleagueproject.com
- Frank Farrell at yesterdayshero.com.au
- Whiticker, Alan & Collis, Ian (2006) The History of Rugby League Clubs, New Holland, Sydney
- Larry Writer. BUMPER - The life and times of Frank 'Bumper' Farrell., Published by Hachette, Australia. 2011. (ISBN 978 0 7336 2489 6).
- Terry Williams. THROUGH BLUE EYES - A Pictorial History Of Newtown RLFC . Published by Ligare Books, Sydney. (2008)