Glebe (rugby league team)
|Full name||Glebe District Rugby
League Football Club
|Nickname(s)||The Dirty Reds|
|Founded||9 January 1908 as Glebe|
|Runners-up||4 (1911, 1912, 1915, 1921)|
|Minor premiership||1 (1911)|
Glebe were an Australian rugby league foundation club who played in the New South Wales Rugby Football League's Sydney premiership, the major competition for the sport in Sydney, from 1908 until their exit at the end of 1929. They were formed on 9 January 1908, with some sources suggesting that they may have been the first Sydney rugby league club to have been created. They were nicknamed and well known as the "Dirty Reds" due to the maroon colour of their playing jerseys.
Based in Glebe, New South Wales and playing most of their home matches out of the local Wentworth Oval, Glebe remained a highly competitive team for many years. Though they came close at times, the club was never able to secure a premiership title. After struggling towards the end of the 1920s the club was eventually voted out of the premiership.
At the turn of the 20th century, Glebe was a working-class suburb of Sydney, situated a few kilometres to the west of the city centre. A Glebe team had played in the Sydney second grade rugby competition for a number of years and due to its high popularity was promoted to a new first grade competition which started in 1900. Glebe immediately made a big impact on the district competition, winning all three grades in the inaugural season before taking out another three first grade titles over the next seven years.
When the push for the formation of a new professional rugby league competition began, Glebe was one of the areas considered for the formation of a new breakaway team. The Glebe District Rugby League Football Club was formed as a result on 9 January 1908, possibly the first rugby league club to be formed in Australia. There was much support from both players and locals for the new team and this was considered an achievement in itself for the New South Wales Rugby League. As with the local rugby team, the new rugby league club chose to play in maroon-coloured jerseys; a tradition that had been established by other sporting clubs in the Glebe area over many years. The club therefore often got nicknamed the "Dirty Reds" as a reference to the jersey colour, although this moniker had also been used previously to label other Glebe sporting identities well before the arrival of the rugby league team.
The club began their premiership campaign with an 8–5 victory over Newcastle on 20 April 1908. Throughout the season they either remained close to or on top of the ladder and with one round remaining were on equal points with South Sydney and Eastern Suburbs to lead the competition. In the last regular-season match, Glebe went down 10–5 to sixth-placed Balmain and ended up running third overall, although the match ended up having no impact on who they would play in the finals a week later. In their semi final, Glebe went down 16–3 to minor premiers South Sydney and were knocked out of the competition.
In 1909, the club again lost their final regular-season match against Balmain 10–5 and ended up missing out on a possible finals berth by virtue of the loss. In 1910, the club had a mediocre season and had little chance of ever taking the premiership out. The 1911 season was arguably the most successful in the club's history, taking out the minor premiership outright by two points and winning 11 of their 14 matches on the way. They also secured their first-ever victory over local rivals Balmain, winning 41–2 in the second last regular-season match of the season. However, they came up against an Eastern Suburbs side led by Dally Messenger who had won six matches straight. In the final in which Glebe had a chance to take away the premiership, Eastern Suburbs won 22–9, forcing the first-ever Grand Final to be played since the minor premiers had a "right to challenge" if they were to lose the final. In a match where Glebe were leading almost all the way, Eastern Suburbs fought back and took the lead within the final ten minutes to 11–8, giving them the premiership.
Following Glebe's failure to convert their minor premiership into a premiership in 1911, the New South Wales Rugby Football League decided that no finals would be played from 1912 unless two teams were tied on equal points at the end of the season. In round four, Glebe faced Eastern Suburbs in front of a record crowd of 22,000 at the Royal Agricultural Society Grounds, going down 10–2. After 10 rounds, Glebe trailed Eastern Suburbs by just two points and were to face them the following week with four rounds to go. In a match in which Glebe almost certainly had to win to stay in premiership contention, Eastern Suburbs won a close match 6–4 in front of another record crowd of 25,000 at the Sydney Sports Ground and ended up taking away the premiership four points in front of Glebe at the end of the season.
1913 and 1914 proved to be mediocre seasons for Glebe and despite winning more games than they lost in each year, the club only managed to finish fourth and fifth respectively. In 1915, however, they came close to taking out the premiership. With four rounds remaining and equal with their local rivals, Glebe were to face the undefeated Balmain at the Sydney Sports Ground. Again, however, Glebe failed to win this crucial game, losing 12–2 in front of 20,000 people and allowed Balmain to take a one-match lead. With both teams winning their remaining games, Balmain ended up taking out the premiership. Overall in 1915, Glebe won 12 out of their 14 matches, a club best, losing twice to Balmain.
In 1917, Glebe was involved in a dispute with Annandale for fielding a player that did not reside in Glebe's district. As a result, former Newcastle player Dan Davies received a life ban from all rugby league. The entire Glebe 1st grade squad disagreed and went on strike. All Glebe 1st grade players were suspended. Three of the Burge brothers, including Frank Burge, were banned till the start of the 1919 season (an eighteen month suspension), however many of these suspensions were subsequently overturned or shortened. Further implications came into the Newcastle Rugby League, where the competition was split until 1920.
Glebe finished out the decade continuing to win more games than they lost each season and regularly finished within the top four, but without a finals system in place they were unable to capitalise on this relatively strong position. In 1922, they finally gained another shot at the premiership when they and North Sydney finished on equal points at the end of the season. In the ensuing final, North Sydney easily accounted for Glebe 35–3, again denying Glebe the elusive premiership title.
From 1923 onwards, the club's form started to decline and for the first time since 1910, Glebe lost more games than they won. In 1926, they were given another shot at the premiership when the finals series was reinstated. Finishing second to runaway leaders South Sydney, Glebe were to face off against fourth-placed University for a place in the final. However, they lost this decisive match 29–3 and were sent out of the finals.
In their final three seasons, Glebe struggled at the bottom of the premiership after the departure of their long-time player Frank Burge. Out of nine teams they finished eighth in 1927, seventh in 1928 and eighth in 1929. At the end of the 1929 season for reasons unknown, the New South Wales Rugby Football League General Committee voted 13–12 to expel Glebe from the competition. One theory is that Balmain made a deal with South Sydney to remove Glebe as a means of consolidating both of their local territories. However, others suggest that the local area was changing in such a way that the club was probably on a road to its demise anyway. Glebe never played another match.
Statistics and records
As an individual, Frank Burge holds all of Glebe's records. His eight try tally in a match against University on 19 June 1920 is not only a club record, but also the standing Australian premiership record for most tries in a game. It was in that same game that he managed to claim the club record for most points in a game, kicking four goals in addition to his eight tries for a total of 32 points. A month earlier he scored eight goals in a match against Annandale, a club record later equalled by Jack Hickey in 1927.
In 1918, Frank Burge scored a club-record 24 tries in a season and in 1920, broke the club record for most points in a season with 110. Overall he scored 137 tries and 49 goals for the club in a career spanning 16 seasons and 138 games, which were also club records. As a forward, his record tally of 146 tries (including nine later scored with St. George in 1927) remained unbroken until Steve Menzies managed to do so in 2004, almost 80 seasons after Burge had retired.
The team's biggest victory was a 59–3 victory over North Sydney at Wentworth Oval on 17 July 1915. Its biggest ever loss was against Eastern Suburbs when they went down 36–0. Overall, Glebe are also statistically one of the most successful clubs to have played in the premiership. Out of the 33 teams who have made an appearance over the years, Glebe has the fifth-best winning percentage. From 297 games played, 163 were won, six drawn and 128 lost for a winning percentage of 55.89%.
During their 22-year presence in the New South Wales Rugby Football League premiership, the club managed to produce 12 internationals. Those twelve players were Alex Burdon, Frank Burge, who was probably the best player they ever had, Peter Burge, Albert Conlon, Bert Grey, Arthur Halloway, Charlie Hedley, Jack Hickey, Tom McCabe, Chris McKivat, Peter Moir and Les Cubitt. A third Burge brother, former Wallaby tourist Albert Burge was also a Dirty Red. Alex Burdon and Chris McKivat had the honour of captaining their country, from 1908–09 and 1911-12 respectively and Les Cubitt captained an Australasian side in 1921.
In 2008, to celebrate the Centenary of Rugby League in Australia, a panel commissioned by the Australian Rugby League and National Rugby League voted four Glebe players into a group of "Rugby League's 100 Greatest Players". These players were Frank Burge, Les Cubitt, Arthur Halloway and Chris McKivat.
The side that played in the 1911 New South Wales Rugby Football League Grand Final is shown below.
The side that played in the 1922 New South Wales Rugby Football League Grand Final is shown below.
- New South Wales Rugby Football League First Grade runners-up: 4
- 1911, 1912, 1915, 1922
- New South Wales Rugby Football League minor premierships: 1
- City Cup: 1
- City Cup runners-up: 6
- 1912, 1915, 1916, 1919, 1923, 1925
- Reserve Grade: 5
- 1912, 1918, 1919, 1920, 1921
- Third Grade: 1
- Note that this figure is based on the assumption that a record crowd of 20,000 achieved in a 1915 match against Balmain was also the maximum capacity of the ground. "Rugby League Tables / Venues / Wentworth". Rugby League Tables & Statistics. Retrieved 2008-03-08.
- "Rugby League History - RL1908.com - Glebe RLFC". RL1908. Retrieved 2008-03-09.
- "Rugby League History - RL1908.com - Club Histories - New Speculations". RL1908. Retrieved 2008-08-07.
- "Rugby League Tables / Season 1908". Rugby League Tables & Statistics. Retrieved 2008-03-10.
- "Rugby League Tables / Season 1909". Rugby League Tables & Statistics. Retrieved 2008-03-10.
- "Rugby League Tables / Season 1910". Rugby League Tables & Statistics. Retrieved 2008-08-14.
- "Rugby League Tables / Season 1911". Rugby League Tables & Statistics. Retrieved 2008-03-10.
- "Rugby League Tables / Season 1912". Rugby League Tables & Statistics. Retrieved 2008-03-10.
- "Rugby League Tables / Season Summary / Glebe". Rugby League Tables & Statistics. Retrieved 2008-03-11.
- "Rugby League Tables / Season 1915". Rugby League Tables & Statistics. Retrieved 2008-03-10.
- "Rugby League Tables / Season 1922". Rugby League Tables & Statistics. Retrieved 2008-03-10.
- "Rugby League Tables / Season 1926". Rugby League Tables & Statistics. Retrieved 2008-03-10.[dead link]
- Gould, Phil (9 March 2008). "The Rivalry That Will Never Die". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2008-03-09.[dead link]
- "Sydney Clubs -- Defunct Clubs". The Vault. Archived from the original on 29 August 2005. Retrieved 2008-03-08.
- "Rugby League Tables / Win-Loss Records / All Teams". Rugby League Tables & Statistics. Retrieved 2008-03-11.
- Jancetic, Steve (22 February 2008). "Rugby league names greatest 100 players". Wide World of Sports. Retrieved 2008-03-09.[dead link]
- Up until 2002, the second division of rugby league in New South Wales was Reserve Grade/Presidents Cup/First Division Premiers; since then, it has been the Premier League.