2024 Club Update – Pre-Season

Gudday Cobbers,

Over the years, many of you have stood in pre-game huddles while a red-faced lunatic yelled at you about “history… honour…stitches in a jersey”. And in the midst of spittle-dodging, a few of you probably wondered “Just what the hell is he on about?” Well let me paint you a picture…

See, I believe that whenever you pull on a clubs jersey, you take on its identity, its history, its soul. You aren’t doing the club a favour. The club extends you an invitation to be one of them. And so in accepting that privilege, you accept to add your bit to the fabric of that club. You add your stitch into that jersey, which will then be handed on. Thus from first grade to lowest grade, from Oldies to Under 6’s and back to the clubs first origins, the jersey was woven by those that went before, to be given a stitch by my actions this day, and handed-on to those who will come after.

The only question in all that is what sort of stitch will yours be?

But now you, YOU, get to add stitches into our most remarkable jersey in a most remarkable year – Drummoyne Rugby’s 150yr anniversary. Think about that a moment: William Web Ellis did his thing in 1823 and some 50yrs later our club was first starting its weave. That means our fabric began before New Zealand, South Africa, Wales or Ireland even formed national unions or played a test. So the stitches in our jersey were started a long time ago. And ours are among the oldest.

Down the years, stitches were added by fine folk. For instance, we wear the same jersey as over 80 folk who have worn a national jersey. Within that, a clutch of some of the more notable Wallabies from our ranks would include:

  • Eric & Jack Ford – brothers from Tasmania who racked up 20 tests between them during the 1920’s
  • Doug Keller – from Wee Waa and who played 6 tests for the Wallabies and then 7 tests for the Scots in the 1940’s
  • Arthur McGill – from Drummoyne itself, who played 21 tests in the 1960-70’s
  • Steve Williams – the Narromine farmer who played 28 tests in the 1980’s and is part of Grand Slam folklore

Among the Wallabies who put stitches in our jersey, undoubtedly the most accomplished was Greg Davis. The New Zealand native was born in 1939, and played 27 times for NSW and 109 times for the Wallabies (39 recognised ‘full tests’), including 47 times (16 tests) as Captain.

And of course, let’s not forget Dirty Red Wallaby William ‘Wild Bill’ Cerutti. Wild Bill was a gambling, brawling, poetry-quoting front rower who played the first of his 247 first-grade games at the tender age of 17yrs in 1928 before being capped 21 times. Why is Wild Bill my favourite? Because Bill Cerutti was the toughest front rower of his day, and his day was the Great Depression. That’s enough said.

Plus there are the stitches that came far from home, including from the likes of Meli (Tui) Nakauta who played 9 times for Fiji and was part of our 2000 Kentwell Premiership team, and Sepe Tupuola who was a fearsome lock that played 13 tests for Samoa and won more premierships with us than I can count, but who once whispered to me that his favourite was as part of our all-conquering 3rd Grade Premiership team in 2001. And there have been plenty more, innumerable, from all over the planet, who added their own stitches to the jersey down the years.

And we should also acknowledge our jersey has been showered with fair success as well, with more recent years bringing 8 x Kentwell Cups and 4x Div1 Club Championships, alongside a veritable host of other grade and divisional honours to add to the 2x Shute Shields and other pennants of years lost to legend and lies.

So our stitches are aged, plenty and well-stained as we drank the wine.

But now, here we are. 150yrs or so since the loom first started to weave, we will now add our own stitches in this momentous year. And we have started well with topping our pool and making the quarter finals of the Tailevu 7s, topping our pool and making the semi-finals at Warringah 7s, topping our pool and taking 2nd place overall at the Subbies 10’s, and winning the Aqua Rugby last Friday in Darling Harbour, all aside our pre-season trials. These have all heralded early blasts of a successful year for the club.

So now it falls to you. Now you must don that jersey, this weekend in Round 1 against Colleagues who formed in 1933 (Pffft – light weights). For some it is the first time, for others it’s a time uncounted. And if by its wearing you experience half the joy it has brought me over the years, then count yourself lucky men. But regardless, now it is your turn. As it was for the clubs founders, for its Wallabies, for its legends, for its servicemen, but also for the local plumbers or teachers or welders who wore it, for your dad or your brother or you grandad who wore it, or just because it’s your mate standing next to you wearing it, now it’s your time to add your stitch to the fabric this hallowed jersey, to its history, and to its soul.

It’s time to add the stitches of our 150th year to the jersey Gentlemen. The only question is, what’s your stitch going to be?

Boire le vin.