• 18th Tom Brock Lecture

    12 August 2016
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    The Tom Brock Committee is delighted to announce that Dean Widders will deliver the XVIIIth Tom Brock Lecture with a presentation entitled: My Game, My People.

    Date: Tuesday 20th September 2016
    Time: 6 for 6.30 pm
    Venue: “99 on York”, 95-99 York St, Sydney NSW 2000


    Indigenous footballers have contributed more to rugby league than perhaps to any other Australian sport, and the game is a huge part of Indigenous communities. Participation in rugby league has brought many positive outcomes for Indigenous communities but there have also been some challenges along the way. Dean Widders will examine the place of rugby league in those communities through his own experience and look at the ways the game can affect a positive change.


    Dean Widders grew up in Armidale in country NSW where rugby league gave the Indigenous community a chance to make progress provided a strong voice of unity to the Indigenous community. As a player he spent nine years in first grade with the Roosters, Parramatta and South Sydney before finishing his career in England with Castleford. His passion for the game and for helping the Indigenous community has combined to provide him with great opportunities to learn more about the power of his culture. This power motivated him in his career on the field and still motivates him today in his career off the field where he works as an Indigenous leader in rugby league. These days he is employed educating Indigenous players about their responsibilities as role models to our communities, but also seeks to ensure they are armed with the skills and knowledge to have a strong positive voice to create a better Australia.

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  • Maher Cup History

    5 June 2015
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    ASSH members may be interested in Neil Pollock’s Maher Cup website, which explores the social history of rugby league in the southwest slopes and northern Riverina between 1920 and 1971.

    The project’s objective is to improve our understanding of the importance of the Maher Cup and rugby league football generally to the life and history of twelve towns of the NSW south west slopes and northern Riverina – Tumut, Gundagai, Cootamundra, Harden-Murrumburrah, Young, Junee, Temora, Barmedman, West Wyalong, Cowra, Grenfell and Boorowa – between 1920 and 1971.

    The Maher Cup was simply different from other rugby league competitions. It permeated deep into the psyche of the citizens of these towns. The events around it were dramatic, the passions deep; it was about much more than football. Match attendances frequently exceeded the population of the home towns. Pioneering the professionalism of Rugby League, local businessman enticed internationals to play and coach, bringing quality entertainment to small places. This Cup persisted long after other challenge cups folded.

    Most of the “literature” to date focuses on the drama of the Cup: the violence of players and crowds, the interminable protests, bribery, playing in snow or dust, the Cup being stolen, locked up for its safety and so on. This site wants to break from the hyperbole of the tabloids and develop a more nuanced approach, focused on answering the simple question –  “why was the Maher Cup such a phenomenon?”

    The site currently includes, for the first time anywhere, team lists and scorers for the 727 matches played and information about more than 3000 players. Thirty articles about the Cup have been developed so far, as well as a rapidly growing picture gallery and some contributor stories. Neil is currently developing biographies, focusing not on the big-name imports but on local stalwarts.

    The site seeks to blend sports history, social history and family history to ensure that the Cup and the memories of those days in these towns is not only preserved but promoted, both to the aged who still remember and to those too young to experience the glory days of local rugby league.

    The website now includes:

    • A list of all 727 Maher Cup matches played with hypertext links from individual matches to any available online information about that match
    • Team lists for those 727 matches – along with scorers.  These lists are more than 97% complete and account for more than 99% of men who have participated in the Maher Cup
    • An alphabetical list of over 3,300 players with the years they participated in the Maher Cup.

    The main focus for the next few months will be on improving the quality and completeness of the above information on players and developing short biographies.

    All assistance, advice, interest and information is warmly appreciated. Email Neil directly if you are interested in helping out or have information to share.

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  • 17th Tom Brock Lecture 2015

    5 June 2015
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    The Tom Brock Committee is delighted to announce that Ross McMullin will deliver the XVIIth Tom Brock Lecture with a presentation entitled: Retrieving Ted Larkin (1880–1915): Outstanding footballer, acclaimed organizer, original Anzac

    Date: Wednesday 16th September 2015
    Time: 6 for 6.30 pm
    Venue: 99 York Street Club, 95-99 York St, Sydney NSW 2000


    Rugby league in its earliest years displayed clear potential, but success proved elusive until a capable administrator, Ted Larkin, was handed the reins in 1909 when he became the league’s first full-time secretary. Larkin is little known today, but it was under his leadership that rugby league advanced from the unpropitious plight it was in when he took over and rapidly became the most popular winter sport in Sydney and beyond.

    The 2015 Tom Brock lecture will analyse the vital role of Ted Larkin. It will illuminate how he came to be in charge of rugby league; evaluate how and why he made it successful; underline how strenuously the rugby league officials tried to retain him even after he moved into another sphere with a spectacular triumph;
    and outline what happened to him afterwards — a sequence of events that stirred profound emotion among those familiar with the circumstances.


    Dr Ross McMullin is a historian and biographer whose main interests are Australian history, politics and sport. His book Pompey Elliott won awards for biography and literature. Another biography, Will Dyson: Australia’s Radical Genius, was commended by the judges of the National Biography Award. He also wrote the commissioned ALP centenary history The Light on the Hill, and another political history So Monstrous a Travesty: Chris Watson and the World’s First National Labour Government.

    His latest book, Farewell, Dear People: Biographies of Australia’s Lost Generation, is a multi-biography of ten exceptional Australians who died in World War I. Among them is Ted Larkin, who played a significant role in the early years of Rugby League. Farewell, Dear People has been awarded the Prime Minister’s Prize for Australian History and the National Cultural Award.

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  • Tom Brock Scholarship 2012: Call for Applications

    7 October 2011
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    The Tom Brock Bequest Committee was established by the Australian Society for Sports History to promote research and writing on the history of Rugby League, with a major focus on the South Sydney district. One of the Committee’s functions is the award of an annual scholarship intended to assist early career researchers.

    The scholarship will be awarded to assist in the completion of a relevant project in the field of history or a related humanities or social science discipline, preferably related to:

    • The social history of rugby league in Australia, OR
    • The history of the relationship of rugby league to other sports in Australia

    For more information and details on how to apply, please click here. The closing date for applications is 4 November 2011.

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  • Tom Brock Scholar 2010

    7 December 2010
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    The Tom Brock Bequest Committee is delighted to announce that Dr Mark Falcous from the University of Otago will be the 2010 Tom Brock Scholar. Mark’s project is entitled “Policies and People in the Marginalization of Rugby League in Aotearoa New Zealand 1908-1995” and will examine available primary data to identify the socio-historical contexts of rugby league in New Zealand.

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