Western Suburbs Magpies

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Western Suburbs Magpies
Magpies 2009 logo.jpg
Club information
Full name Western Suburbs Magpies
Nickname(s) The Fibros, Maggies, The Cherry Pickers
Founded 4 February 1908 (foundation club)
Exited formed joint venture in 2000 with Balmain Tigers
Former details
Competition NSWRL/ARL, NRL
1999 17th of 17
Premierships 4 – 1930, 1934, 1948, 1952
Runners-up 8 – 1918, 1925, 1932, 1950, 1958, 1961, 1962, 1963
Minor premiership 5 – 1930, 1948, 1952, 1961, 1978
Wooden spoons 17 – 1909, 1910, 1912, 1913, 1916, 1933, 1940, 1942, 1953, 1955, 1971, 1983, 1984, 1987, 1988, 1998, 1999

The Western Suburbs Magpies (originally Western Suburbs District Rugby League Football Club) is an Australian rugby league football club based in the western suburbs of Sydney, New South Wales. Formed in 1908, Wests, as they are commonly referred to, were one of the nine foundation clubs of the first New South Wales Rugby League competition in Australia. The club, as a sole entity, departed the top-flight competition in 1999 after forming a 50–50 joint venture with Balmain Tigers to form the Wests Tigers. The club currently fields sides in the Ron Massey Cup (Opens), Sydney Shield (Opens),[1] S.G. Ball Cup (Under 18's) and Harold Matthews Cup (Under 16's) competitions.

Campbelltown Stadium, which has a capacity of 20,000, is their home stadium.


The club was one of the foundation members of the Sydney rugby football league competition in 1908. Founded at a meeting on 4 February 1908 at Ashfield Town Hall, they won only one match the following season so were the League's second wooden spooners (after Cumberland in 1908).[2] Though they spent long periods of time as also-rans they did taste premiership success four times in the mid 20th century. They won their first premiership in 1930, beating St George 27–2.[3] Four years later they defeated Eastern Suburbs to win their second title.[4] For the 1944 NSWRFL season Queensland 1910s representative player Henry Bolewski became coach the Western Suburbs club, replacing Alf Blair, who moved to South Sydney. Wests improved slightly on the previous season, finishing 5th (out of 8), but failing to make the finals, and Bolewski was replaced by club great, Frank McMillan.

Wests won a second pair of premierships, beating Balmain in 1948[5] and South Sydney 22–12 in 1952.[6] Both times they defeated a club hunting its third title in a row.


Apart from these occasions, the club was famous for three successive grand final matches in 1961, 1962 and 1963 against the St George Dragons in the midst of their 11-premiership run. The club boasted footballers such as halfback Arthur Summons, Harry 'Bomber' Wells, Kel O'Shea, Noel Kelly and Peter Dimond. The 1963 grand final was immortalised in a photograph which became known as 'The Gladiators' after St. George captain Norm Provan and Summons trudged off the field together.


A final period of glory beckoned in the late 1970s where they spent a few years at the top or near-top of the table, yet failed to make a grand final. Coached by Roy Masters and boasting such players as fullback John Dorahy, half Tommy Raudonikis, five-eighth Graeme O'Grady, Gavin Miller, Ron Giteau, Les Boyd, prop John Donnelly and five-eighth Terry Lamb. However attractive offers from other clubs and then doubts about the club's viability led to years of exodus of talent. Wests did manage to win the 1977 Amco Cup.[7]


John Ribot, a winger for Wests, was the top try-scorer for the 1980 season. In 1983 the NSWRFL attempted to expel Wests from the competition, but a prolonged legal battle saw the Magpies keep their spot, unlike the Newtown Jets. Eventually, Wests relocated to Campbelltown in 1987. Ironically, this was where Newtown had unsuccessfully tried to move to four years earlier.


Wests began a rebuilding process in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Laurie Freier started the 1988 Winfield Cup season as the club's coach but was replaced during the season by John Bailey.[8]

The club made the semi-finals in 1991 and 1992 under coach Warren Ryan. Wests were NSWRL Club Champions in 1991 when all three grades made the semi-finals. The team also made it to the pre-season Challenge Cup final in 1993 but was beaten by a star-studded Canberra side. The club then slipped down the ladder and the coaching reins were handed over to caretaker Wayne Ellis. The decision to appoint Tommy Raudonikis as coach for the start of the 1995 season sent a shot of adrenalin into the club.[citation needed] Raudonikis took the Magpies to the finals in 1996. However the club could not compete in the player market in 1997 thanks to the Super League war which saw players' contracts soar sky high to unsustainable levels.[citation needed] In 1998 and 1999, a Magpie team filled with many unknown players struggled to be competitive and twice received the wooden spoon. With the club struggling on-field and trying to compete financially against clubs with News Limited funding, the writing was on the wall.[citation needed]

Joint venture[edit]

The well documented Super League War in 1997 between Super League (News Ltd) and the Australian Rugby League (ARL) resulted in a compromise that by the year 2000, the National Rugby League (NRL) competition would be contested by only 14 teams.

With the Wests Magpies struggling on field in the NRL competition, it was decided by the club in the middle of 1999 that to survive the cull they would be required to merge their senior team with another club's team. After initial talks with the Canterbury Bulldogs failed an agreement was reached with the Balmain Tigers on the 27th of July 1999.

The Wests Tigers first competed in the 2000 competition. The club also merged its playing colours from the two joint venture partners.

Major sponsors[edit]

  • Allied Express
  • Victa (1978–1982)
  • IPEC Couriers (1984–1985)
  • Masterton Homes (1986–1992)
  • Goldstar / LG Electronics (1995–1997)
  • Signature Security Systems (1998–1999)
  • Club Hotels (2000)
  • Save Home loans (2005)
  • Wests Ashfield Leagues (2006–2015)
Wests in action in 2008

Wests Ashfield Leagues have also been key sponsors & supporters of the club since they were established.

  • Rebel Sport (Centenary Partner and 2008 Major Sponsor)
  • Allied Express (2015)

Current Days[edit]

The Western Suburbs Magpies home matches are played at Campbelltown Stadium, Leumeah and their training facilities, along with offices are at the Whitlam Centre in Liverpool. The club has state of the art facilities here, and they are regarded as some of the best in the league.

In 2000 the Western Suburbs Magpies Under 20's team were runners up to the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs, captained by Mitch Zammit and Luke Duffy. The Western Suburbs Magpies last title was won in 2002 when the Western Suburbs Magpies captained by Liam Fulton won the New South Wales Rugby League Under 18's competition.

From 2000 - 2012 the Western Suburbs Magpies fielded teams in the NSWRL First Grade competition now known as the NSW Cup.

In 2006 the Wests Tigers on advice from Tim Sheens pushed the notion that the NRL side would be better served with a single NSW Cup side. Western Suburbs board opposed this decision and decided to continue fielding their own team. Wests Tigers then allocated all NRL contracted players to the Balmain Tigers (the Wests Magpies had six junior players in that group, as opposed to one from Balmain), citing the advantages of both the NRL and NSW Cup teams training together at Concord Oval. This continued from 2006 to 2007.

Magpies Chairman Kevin Hammond was disappointed at the Wests Tigers decision and informed the Wests Tigers of that in 2008, if the Magpies did not receive a fair share of player allocation from the Wests Tigers, they would form a feeder partnership with rivals Canberra Raiders. The Wests Tigers capitulated.

The Western Suburbs Magpies made the semi finals in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

In 2012 funding was withheld from the Magpies by Wests Ashfield Leagues Club Directors (not unanimously) as they now supported Wests Tigers proposal for a single NSW Cup side, even though this was done simply because Balmain couldn't afford a side and Wests could.

This also went against the Magpies Football Club members wishes and they organised a Protest Rally through the streets of Campbelltown.[9] Wests Ashfield Leagues Club under pressure reinstated funding late in the off season after the Magpies players had already signed on to play with other teams.

The Wests Tigers however decided to cease all support of the Magpies NSW Cup side whilst continuing support for Balmain Ryde Eastwood Tigers even though it was continuously reminded that Wests Tigers shouldn't be the ones telling Wests Ashfield what to do, they are employees of Wests Ashfield and Balmain, NOT the other way around. The Magpies failed to win a game in 2012 whilst Balmain Ryde Eastwood Tigers made it to the Grand Final where they were defeated by the Newtown Jets.[10]

The Magpies dropped back to the third tier Ron Massey Cup in 2013,[11] with members voting to field a separate NSW Cup team in 2014, although this did not eventuate.[12] The Magpies playing in the Ron Massey Cup was a great source of amusement to many on the Balmain side of the Wests Tigers, citing how a once great club had fallen so far. Ironically, as recently as 2014, the Balmain Tigers were trying to raise funds to themselves enter a Balmain team in the Ron Massey Cup.

In 2015 the Magpies added a team in the Sydney Shield competition to act as a feeder for their Ron Massey Cup campaign.

In 2016, Western Suburbs made the preliminary final match against St Mary's in The Ron Massey Cup but lost the match in a close tussle. [13] 2017 proved to be a bad year for Wests as The Ron Massey Cup side finished with the wooden spoon and The Sydney Shield side finished second last. [14] [15]

On June 5 2017, it was announced that Western Suburbs had placed a bid to be included into the Intrust Super Premiership season for 2018. [16] The re-entry to the Intrust Super Premiership ends the clubs 5 year hiatus from the top level NSWRL competition that it had participated continuously in from 1908 - 2012. For its return the team will be coached by former Western Suburbs 1st grade player Brett Hodgson. [17]

Home grounds[edit]

St Luke's Park was the home ground of the Western Suburbs club in 1910 and 1911.[18] They started playing their matches at Pratten Park in Ashfield in 1912, but after pressure from local residents there the council refused the club permission to use that ground, forcing them to return to St. Luke's Oval from 1915 to 1919.[19] The Magpies have played at three home grounds since foundation. They returned to Pratten Park in 1920, remaining there until 1966, the club then played at Pratten Park sporadically over the next two decades playing games there in 1971, 1972, 1973, 1977 and 1985. The final ever first grade game to be played at Pratten Park was on August 18 1985 against Penrith, Penrith won the match by 42-16 [20]. They then moved to Lidcombe Oval in 1967.[21] This was due to Ashfield council not allowing the club to play matches on a Sunday (as this was the church day). In 1987, they moved to Campbelltown's Orana Park (located in adjacent Leumeah), which, after a $25 million renovation, is now called Campbelltown Stadium which is now one of the home grounds of the Wests Tigers. The Magpies' lower grade sides play most home games at Campbelltown Stadium, with the occasional game moved to Lidcombe Oval.

Western Suburbs Magpies Leagues Club[edit]

There is no Western Suburbs leagues Club. The Magpies are financially supported by the Wests Ashfield Leagues club.

District Junior Competition[edit]

The Western Suburbs District Junior Rugby League (WSDJRL) also known as the "Junior Magpies" administers junior rugby league on behalf of the Western Suburbs Magpies and the Wests Tigers joint venture. It consists of a network of affiliated junior rugby league clubs throughout the greater Campbelltown and Liverpool areas of southwestern Sydney. As of 2016 the following clubs were involved in the WSDJRL;

  • All Saints JRLFC
  • All Stars Glenquarie (formally Macquarie fields hawks)
  • Campbelltown City Kangaroos JRLFC
  • Campbelltown Collegians JRLFC
  • Campbelltown Warriors JRLFC
  • Eaglevale St Andrews JRLFC
  • East Campbelltown Eagles JRLFC
  • Hinchinbrook Hornets JRLFC
  • Ingleburn RSL Tigers JRLFC
  • Liverpool Catholic Club Raiders JRLFC
  • Macarthur Saints JRLFC (ex- St Thomas More JRLFC)
  • Minto Cobras JRLFC
  • Valley United Vikings JRLFC(formally known as East Valley United and also Green Valley United)

The following clubs also competed in the WSDJRL, but have now folded:

  • Airds Colts JRLFC

" Ashcroft JRLFC

  • Claymore Panthers JRLFC
  • Dayments Dolphins JRLFC
  • Heckenberg JRLFC

" Ingleburn Bulldogs JRLFC

  • Leumeah Wolves JRLFC
  • Liverpool City JRLFC

" Liverpool Titans JRLFC

  • Liverpool RSL JRLFC
  • Macquarie Cobras JRLFC
  • Warwick Farm JRLFC
  • Woodlands JRLFC
  • Sadlier Bulldogs JRLFC

The WSDJRL has produced many ex and current Wests Tigers players including Brett Hodgson (Eagle Vale-St Andrews & Ingleburn RSL), Dean Collis (Campbelltown Warriors), Bryce Gibbs (All Saints Liverpool), Shannon Gallant (All Saints Liverpool & Campbelltown City) Chris Lawrence (Eagle Vale), and Shannon McDonnell (All Saints Liverpool). David Noaofaluma (Campbelltown Warriors, Campbelltown Collegians) James Tedesco (Eagle Vale St.Andrews) also Camden Rams (group 6, CRL) Other notable NRL players who grew up playing junior rugby league in the WSDJRL are Anthony Minichiello (East Valley United), Mark Minichiello (Liverpool Catholic Club) Frank Pritchard (Campbelltown City)Eric Grothe, Jr. (Eagle Vale), Ryan Hoffman (Campbelltown Collegians), Ben Roberts (Narellan Jets), Sauaso Sue (Macquarie Field Hawks), Israel Folau, Jarryd Hayne, Krisnan Inu, Michael Lett (Ingleburn RSL), Gray Viane, John Skandalis, Ken McGuinness, Kevin McGuinness, Tim Lafai and Mickey & Lopini Paea (all Minto Cobras).

The WSDJRL took over its current boundaries from the CRL Group 6 Northern Junior League and parts of the Parramatta DJRL (i.e. Liverpool) in 1987. They were forced to move out of their traditional territory around the Ashfield and Lidcombe areas of inner western Sydney to be able to then survive in the NSWRL. The old WSDJRL area has since been acquired by the Balmain DJRL and Bulldogs (Canterbury) DJRL. Clubs that used to play in the WSDJRL include;

  • Ashfield Colts (now folded) - Also known as the Ashfield Kings
  • Cumberland colours.svg Burwood United (now merged with Concord in Balmain DJRL)
  • Glebe colours.svg Concord United (now merged with Burwood in Balmain DJRL)
  • Annandale colours.svg Benedicts Auburn (now Trinity College, Auburn)
  • Western Suburbs colours.svg Enfield Federals (When the Magpies first went to Campbelltown they became part of Canterbury, then they folded for a few years before coming in under the Balmain DJRL) (produced Hazem El Masri, Robbie Farah, Scott Gale, Brett Clark, Wayne Smith, Ken Hey, Jim Serdaris, Dennis Pittard, Tim Pickup and Brett Gale Leo Epiphania)
  • Australian colours.svg Five Dock JRLFC (now in Balmain DJRL)
  • North Sydney colours.svg Lidcombe Bulls (folded in mid-1980s)
  • Balmain colours.svg Berala Bears (now in Bulldogs DJRL)
  • Western Suburbs colours.svg Croydon Park (folded in mid-1980s)
  • Cumberland colours.svg Holman JRLFC (Named after Keith Holman, based at Henley Park, Enfield. Colours were yellow with a blue shoulder saddle, and the emblem was oval shaped with a kangaroo, a football, a kiwi, a rooster & a lion ; signifying that Keith played for Australia against New Zealand, France & England. Folded in mid-1980s)
  • Homebush - unsure when folded
  • St. George colours.svg Royal Sheaf Hotel (Burwood, folded in late 1980s)
  • Oriental Shamrocks (folded in 1960s)
  • Granville Diggers – folded in mid 80's
  • De La Salle – Ashfield – again, unsure of when they folded
  • Christian Brothers Burwood
  • Auburn United - unsure when folded
  • Strathfield - unsure when folded

Notable players[edit]

Hall of Fame[edit]

On Friday 30 May 2008 the centenary of the Western Suburbs Magpies was celebrated with a ball in the Grand Harbour Ballroom at Sydney's Star City Casino. Six inaugural members were also inducted into the Western Suburbs Magpies Hall of Fame:[22]

2010 Inductees

1997 MIA players

  • Wayne Shields

2012 Inductees

Team of the Century[edit]

This painting of the Western Suburbs Magpies Team of the Century hangs in Wests Ashfield Leagues Club.

In 2004 the club named its Team of the Century:[23]

No. Position Player
1 Australia FB Frank McMillan
2 Australia WG Peter Dimond
3 Australia CE Harry Wells
4 Australia CE Cliff Pearce
5 Australia WG Alan Ridley
6 Australia FE Vic Hey
7 Australia HB Keith Holman
8 Australia PR John Donnelly
9 Australia HK Noel Kelly
No. Position Player
10 Australia PR Ed "Tedda" Courtney
11 Australia SR Kel O'Shea
12 Australia SR Arthur Clues
13 Australia LK Les Boyd
14 Australia RE Tommy Raudonikis
15 Australia RE John Dorahy
16 Australia RE Neville Charlton
17 Australia RE Bill Carson
Australia CO Roy Masters

International Representatives[edit]

The following Western Suburbs Magpies players have represented their countries in international competition.

Magpies Test Captains[edit]



  • Premierships: 4 – 1930 beat St George; 1934 beat Easts; 1948 beat Balmain; 1952 beat South Sydney
  • Runners Up: 8 – 1918; 1925; 1932; 1950; 1958; 1961; 1962; 1963
  • Minor Premierships: 5 – 1930; 1948; 1952; 1961; 1978
  • Wooden Spoons: 17 – 1909; 1910; 1912; 1913; 1916; 1933; 1940; 1942; 1953; 1955; 1971; 1983; 1984; 1987; 1988; 1998; 1999
  • NSWRL Club Championships: 4 – 1948; 1960; 1961; 1991
  • Amco Cup: 1 – 1977
  • City Cup: 2 – 1918; 1919
  • State Cup / Jersey Flegg U20's: 1 – 1965
  • Ampol Cup: 1 – 1963

NSWRL Reserve Grade: 3 (1936, 1961, 1981)

NSWRL Third Grade: 9 (1936, 1938, 1939, 1944, 1958, 1961, 1967)

Under 23 Premiership: 1 (1977)

President's Cup: 1 (1925, 1947, 1958, 1992)

Flegg Memorial Trophy: 2 (1961, 1981)

NSWRL SG Ball U18's: 2 (1971, 2002)

Largest crowd:

  • Lidcombe Oval: 21,015 vs Parramatta (30 July 1978)
  • Campbelltown Sports Ground: 17,286 vs St George Campbelltown (2 August 1991)

Biggest defeat: 67 – 0 vs South Sydney (Agricultural Showground, 23 July 1910)

Biggest win: 62 -5 vs Balmain (Lidcombe Oval, 31 March 1974)


Most First Grade Games (150 or more)

  1. 203 – Keith Holman
  2. 201 – Tom Raudonikis
  3. 162 – Trevor Cogger
  4. 160 – Wayne Smith
  5. 157 – Tedda Courtney
  6. 155 – Peter Dimond
  7. 150 – Frank McMillan

Most Tries In a Match: Alan Ridley, 6 vs Newtown, Pratten Park, July 11, 1936

Most Tries In a Season: Alan Ridley, 18 in 1932 and Paul Smith, 18 in 1994

Most 1st Grade Tries For Club: Peter Dimond, 83

Most Tries For Club (All grades): Trevor Cogger, 88

Most Goals In a Match: Les Mead, 12 v Canterbury, Pratten Park, August 31, 1935

Most Games missed [ Wayne Shields] v Everyone,All locations 1997

Most Points In a Match: Les Mead, 27 ( 1 try, 12 goals ) v Canterbury, Pratten Park, August 31, 1935

Most Points In a Season: Peter Rowles, 215 ( 8 tries, 94 goals, 3 field goals ) in 1978

Most Points For Club: Bill Keato, 776 ( 6 tries, 379 goals )

All Time 1st Grade Numbered Players List[edit]

Below is a list of all players that played for the Western Suburbs Magpies in the NSWRL, ARL and NRL First Grade competitions from 1908 to 1999.

Notable fans[edit]

  • Doug Sutherland, mayor of Sydney (1980–87)[24]
  • Trooper Mark Donaldson VC
  • Paul Gerantonis (1939 - current)
  • Malcolm T. Elliott (radio broadcaster)
  • John Singleton (entrepreneur, businessman and horse racing identity)
  • Steve Waugh (former Australian Cricket captain)
  • Ken Callander
  • John Coates (Australian Olympic Committee Chairman)
  • Mike Bailey (broadcaster/weatherman)
  • Michael Clarke (former Australian Cricket Captain)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ http://www.westsmagpies.com.au/home/001/php/
  2. ^ "Premiership Records". nrl.com. Retrieved 29 December 2014. 
  3. ^ "Dragon-Killers! Who'd a Thought It?". The Truth. Sydney: National Library of Australia. 5 October 1930. p. 6. Retrieved 24 February 2017. 
  4. ^ "League Punters Who Bet On "Stew" Left With Briefs". The Truth. Sydney: National Library of Australia. 9 September 1934. p. 6. Retrieved 24 February 2017. 
  5. ^ "Balmain Dispute Wests' Try". The Truth. Sydney: National Library of Australia. 19 September 1948. p. 16. Retrieved 24 February 2017. 
  6. ^ "Wests' Rough League Final". The Sun. Sydney: National Library of Australia. 21 September 1952. p. 28. Retrieved 24 February 2017. 
  7. ^ "Missed goal cost East Amco Cup". The Canberra Times. Canberra: National Library of Australia. 18 August 1977. p. 28. Retrieved 24 February 2017. 
  8. ^ Sarno, Tony (12 August 1988). "The battle heats up for 15th spot". The Sydney Morning Herald. Australia. p. 47. Archived from the original on 24 January 2013. Retrieved 18 September 2010. 
  9. ^ http://macarthur-chronicle-campbelltown.whereilive.com.au/news/story/magpies-rally-for-saviour/
  10. ^ http://www.foxsports.com.au/league/newtown-jets-defeat-balmain-ryde-eastwood-tigers-in-nsw-cup-to-kick-off-nrl-grand-final-day/story-e6frf3ou-1226484766040
  11. ^ Dean Ritchie (2012-12-05). "Magpies flutter back to Bundy Cup to live another day". News.com.au. Retrieved 2013-12-15. 
  12. ^ http://inner-west-courier.whereilive.com.au/sport/story/balmain-tigers-to-unite-with-wests-magpies-for-now/
  13. ^ http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/newslocal/the-standard/sport/saints-march-into-inaugural-ron-massey-cup-grand-final/news-story/38032f7afa218f3db8044bac1b019478
  14. ^ http://live.nswrl.com.au/comp/1986a31db4a830017
  15. ^ http://live.nswrl.com.au/comp/c309857252e51868f
  16. ^ http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/newslocal/macarthur/sport/western-suburbs-magpies-look-to-return-to-elite-second-tier-rugby-league/news-story/93e43765add2e7bbd29052142a90792c
  17. ^ http://www.nswrl.com.au/news/2017/11/16/magpies_become_tiger.html
  18. ^ westsmagpies.com.au. "Home Grounds". Wests Archives. Western Suburbs Magpies. Retrieved 19 February 2014. 
  19. ^ Ashfield Municipal Council (2008). Pratten Park Plan of Management (PDF). Australia: ashfield.nsw.gov.au. pp. 6–7. 
  20. ^ http://www.rugbyleagueproject.org/venues/pratten-park/results.html?page=2
  21. ^ "Wests Archives - Club History". Westsmagpies.com.au. 1908-02-04. Retrieved 2013-12-15. 
  22. ^ westsmagpies.net (2008). "Western Sburbs Magpies Hall of Fame". Wests Archives. Western Suburbs Magpies R.L.F.C. Archived from the original on 2008-10-14. Retrieved 2009-11-28. 
  23. ^ "Western Suburbs Team of the Century". Wests Archives. Western Suburbs Magpies R.L.F.C. 2008. Retrieved 2009-11-28. 
  24. ^ Goodwin, Dorothy (1982-09-26). "Eels Premier Tip". League Souvenir. Sun-Herald, The. Retrieved 2009-09-27. [dead link]

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]