Alf Blair

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Alf Blair
Personal information
Full name Alfred Lewis Blair
Nickname Smacker
Born 1896
Died 28 September 1944
Coogee, New South Wales
Playing information
Position Five-eighth
Club
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1917–30 South Sydney 167 37 120 0 351
Representative
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1919–27 New South Wales 7 2 4 0 14
1924 Australia 1
Coaching information
Club
Years Team Gms W D L W%
1927 South Sydney 16 14 2 88
1931 Waratah Mayfield
1943 Western Suburbs 14 3 11 21
1944 South Sydney 14 7 1 6 50
Total 44 24 1 19 55
Source: Whiticker

Alfred Lewis "Smacker" Blair (1896-1944) was an Australian rugby league footballer and coach whose playing career ran from 1917 to 1930 with the South Sydney Rabbitohs. A skillful five-eighth he made a single appearance for the Australian national team in 1924.

Club career[edit]

Blair played his club football career with the South Sydney, whom he captained to premiership victories in 1925 (undefeated),[1] 1926, 1927 and 1929. He was the 1927 NSWRFL season's top point scorer and was captain-coach of the Rabbitohs that year.[2] He took a year off from Sydney football in 1928 when he traveled to Queensland to captain-coach Longreach.[3] He returned to Souths for his final playing year in 1929, winning a premiership and leading the side on the first tour of New Zealand by a Sydney club team.

After finishing his Sydney career with Souths, he captain-coached the Waratah-Mayfield club in Newcastle in 1931. He finished his career at Cooma before returning to Sydney.[4]

Blair played 167 first grade games for the Rabbitohs between 1917 and 1930 scoring 37 tries and 120 goals for a total of 351 points. The noted journalist Claude Corbett said of him, "He was beyond doubt the finest rugby league captain Sydney club football has ever known. He had an uncanny intuition of positional play."[5]

Representative career[edit]

Blair played seven games for the New South Wales rugby league team in 1919 and 1927. He also played one test match for Australia against the touring Great Britain team in 1924. He is listed on the Australian Players Register as Kangaroo No. 128.[6]

Post-playing[edit]

Blair coached the Western Suburbs Magpies for the 1943 NSWRFL season, after which he was succeeded by Henry Bolewski. He then coached South Sydney for the 1944 NSWRFL season.

Blair had just completed the season coaching his old club, when he died suddenly at his Coogee home on the 28th September, 1944. Up until his death, he was a popular steward at the NSW Leagues Club, and became ill at work a few days before he died.[7] He was survived by his son, Alf. A large funeral was held for Smacker at St. Brigid's Church, Coogee where many past and present members of the South Sydney District Rugby League Football club were present. He was buried at Botany Cemetery on 30 September 1944.[8]

Sources[edit]

  • Andrews, Malcolm. The ABC of Rugby League. Australia: ABC Books, 2006.
  • Whiticker, Alan & Hudson, Glen (2006) The Encyclopedia of Rugby League Players, Gavin Allen Publishing, Sydney
  • Whiticker, Alan & Collis, Ian (2006) The History of Rugby League Clubs, New Holland, Sydney

References[edit]

  1. ^ The History of Rugby League Clubs. Alan Whiticker/Ian Collis.
  2. ^ Encyclopedia of Rugby League Players. Alan Whiticker/Glen Hudson.
  3. ^ The Longreach Leader: "GREAT FOOTBALLER" "Alf (Smacker) Blair Dead" 7/10/1944 (page 20)
  4. ^ Townsville Bulletin. "DEATH OF ALF BLAIR". 2/10/1944 (page 2)
  5. ^ Longreach Leader. "Notable career in sport" 7/10/1944
  6. ^ ARL Annual Report 2005, page 52
  7. ^ Daily Advertiser, Wagga Wagga: "Smacker Blair Dies in Sydney". 30/09/1944 (page 8)
  8. ^ Sydney Morning Herald. 30/09/1944 Death/Funeral Notice, Article