2010 12th TOM BROCK LECTURE
The 12th Annual Tom Brock Lecture was delivered by The Hon. John Fahey AC, on Thursday, 23 September 2010. The topic of the talk is Tries and Tribulations:
Based on a 50-year association with rugby league, Mr Fahey reflects on how a magnificent game, that regularly attempts self-destruction, survives and grows to new levels of excitement with each passing season. Rugby league, he suggests, is often exasperating but is always exhilarating. But is it indestructible?
Former NSW Premier and Federal Finance Minister, Mr Fahey was a player with Canterbury-Bankstown and Camden and Oakdale in the Group 6 Country Rugby League, being captain-coach of the two latter clubs. He later served in Group 6 administration as club president, group vice president and member of the Referees Appointment Board. He has also been a patron of the Bulldogs since 1993. After retirement from politics, he has continued to be active in rugby league and since 2002 has served as inaugural patron and director of the Men of League Foundation and chairman of Australian Rugby League Development Limited, the governing arm of junior league development throughout Australia. He was also a member of Rugby League’s Centenary Committee. Mr Fahey remains active in the corporate world as a director of three large companies. He has been the president of the World Anti-Doping Agency since 2008 and has been rated by the London-based Sport Business International as one of the world’s 20 most influential sports administrators.
2009 11th TOM BROCK LECTURE
The 11th Annual Tom Brock Lecture was delivered Mr Terry Williams on 23 September 2009. The Lecture was entitled The Lost Tribes of League – the fate of axed and merged clubs and their fans.
Since 1908 twelve clubs from the top level of club competition in what is now the NRL have departed. Some died of natural causes, some were kicked out and some of them continue to exist in merged entities. Why did they each start up? What factors led to their demise? What lessons can we learn from their dashed hopes and smashed dreams? How do those casualties reflect the game at that particular stage of its development and wider social trends in a local and national context?
Terry Williams is the author of Out of the Blue: The History of Newtown RLFC (1993) and founded the Sydney League News (1995) before spending a decade with the NSWRL/ARL where he acted as Communications Manager and oversaw the establishment of the Jim Beam Cup, the ARL Hall of Fame and the Centenary Committee. In 2007 he compiled the photographs for the official ARL history of the game publication and the National Museum’s Centenary RL exhibition ‘League of Legends’. In 2008 he compiled Above All For Rugby League: 100 Years of the NSWRL Referees Association and Through Blue Eyes: A Pictorial History of Newtown RLFC. He is currently working on a book on rugby league during the First World War.
2008 10th TOM BROCK LECTURE
The 10th Annual Tom Brock Lecture was delivered by renowned rugby league commentator and author, Mr Lex Marinos, on 6 November 2008. The Lecture was titled From a Federation Game to a League of Nations.
The history of modern Australia is the history of migration. Waves of migration have indelibly imprinted themselves on sport as well as the economy, arts, culture and fashion. How have these cycles of migration found expression in rugby league? What impact have they had on the game? What is the future of this league of nations game?
Lex Marinos was born in Wagga Wagga into a family of Greek café owners. After receiving his BA with Honours in Drama from UNSW, he worked in all areas of the entertainment industry as an actor, director, writer and broadcaster. Awarded OAM for services to the preforming arts, he was Director of Carnivale, Sydney’s multicultural arts festival from 1996 to 1999. Lex has reported on rugby league for ABC radio and co-edited League of a Nation in 1996, a series of articles on rugby league. He was part of the Gurwood St Primary School 4 stone 7 premiership team of 1960. ‘Sadly’, Lex noted, ‘he failed to fulfil that early sporting promise, and everything since then has been an anti-climax’.
2007 9TH TOM BROOK LECTURE
The 9th Annual Tom Brock Lecture was delivered by Mr Sean Fagan, whose presentation was entitled ”Nothing But a Nine-Day Wonder”: The founding of rugby league—Australia’s first professional code.
Rather than being a ‘Nine-Day Wonder’ as one journalist described it, rugby league and the NSWRL is about to celebrate its centenary. By just its third season, rugby league had not only survived, but gained domination of winter sport in Sydney, in the nation’s largest metropolis. How did it all happen so quickly? While the League’s opponents were decrying professional football as an abhorrent evil, what was it that made the ‘new rugby’ code so immediately popular with the public and footballers alike? After a decade of simmering discontent, a heady mix of star footballers, private speculators, player payments, profit sharing, club structures, 13-a-side rugby, internal bickering, and public sentiment, all combined to bring about the founding of Australia’s first professional football code: rugby league.
Sean Fagan is a sports historian and writer, specialising in rugby league and 19th century rugby union. He is the author of the highly acclaimed book The Rugby Rebellion—The Divide of League and Union (2005) and has just completed writing The Master: The Life and Times of Dally Messenger—a biography on Australia’s greatest rugby league player. His work can be found on the internet at RL1908.com and ColonialRugby.com.au. He is a member of the NRL and ARL Historians Committee, helping to plan for the code’s centenary in 2007 and 2008.
2006 8TH TOM BROCK LECTURE
The 8th Annual Tom Brock Lecture was delivered by Professor David Rowe, whose presentation was entitled: The Stuff of Dreams, or the Dream Stuffed? Rugby League, Media Empires, Sex Scandals, and Global Plays.
It is now over a decade since the Super League War confirmed all the worst fears of those who see contemporary sport as a wholly owned subsidiary of corporate commercial media. Rugby league has recovered on the surface with a unified league, open competition, and respectable crowds, television ratings and sponsorships in the usual places. It loudly asserts that the house rent in twain in the last century is in good order for the current one. But is such optimism justified? Despite official assertions that the Super League cataclysm is a thing of the past, it continues to stalk the code like Banquo’s Ghost at a Macbeth family dinner. The scars of the Murdoch-Packer collision are still visible, a constant reminder that the ‘people’s game’ can be turned upside down if media capital with big ego so decrees. Frequent sexual misconduct scandals have required the code to resort to gender re-education, and financial improprieties commend similar courses in business ethics. The iconic South Sydney club has been re-instated to the competition, but on public relations rather than firm legal grounds, and is subject to internecine warfare, with few of its ‘big day out’ demonstrators now witnessing their frequent losses. The ‘world game’ of (association) football once known as soccer is resurgent, with Frank Lowy as a Packer for the new millennium, a ticket to the 2006 World Cup finals and the Asian Football Confederation, and a shiny new pay TV contract. Professionalised rugby union, with abundant cash and impeccable city connections, raids the ranks of League’s best players, promising serious international competitions that make a mockery of League’s claim to be of much significance beyond eastern Australasia and northern England. The now genuinely national Australian Rules Football, with even less of an international presence than League, successfully brandishes its socialistic draft and massive $780 million, five-year TV rights contract. Rugby league in Australia and a small number of places, then, is alive and kicking, but confronting a diminished place in the hierarchy of Australian sport. It is not so much threatened with extinction as sporting subordination. Does its trumpeted dream seek to conceal the recurring nightmare of the permanent wooden spoon among the four football codes?
Professor David Rowe is Director of the Centre for Cultural Research (CCR) at the University of Western Sydney, which he joined in March 2006 from the Cultural Industries and Practices Research Centre (CIPS) at the University of Newcastle. He is a frequent commentator in print, electronic and online media. He has many academic publications on the subject of sport and media, including Sport, Culture and the Media: The Unruly Trinity (second edition, 2004) and the co-authored Globalization and Sport: Playing the World (2001).
2005 7th TOM BROCK LECTURE
The 7th Tom Brock Lecture was delivered by Mr Roy Masters. The lecture was titled The Great Fibro versus Silvertail Wars.
Following careers as a schoolteacher and coach of leading rugby league teams, Wests and St George, Roy Masters became a journalist with the Sydney Morning Herald and a television and radio commentator. He was the first coach of the Australian Schoolboys’ team, which was undefeated on its 1972 tour of England. Masters is also an inaugural member of the Board of the Australian Sports Commission.
2004 6TH TOM BROCK LECTURE
Novelist Tom Keneally delivered the 6th Tom Brock Lecture in 2004. The lecture was titled No more bloody bundles for Britain: The Post-World War II tours of the British and French Allies.
2003 5th TOM BROCK LECTURE
Tony Collins delivered the Tom Brock Lecture on the subject of ‘”Ahr Waggy”: Harold Wagstaff and the making of Anglo-Australian rugby league culture’, on 4 July 2003.
Why has rugby league been such an enduring link between Britain and Australia? The 1914 ‘Rorke’s Drift’ test match set the tone for all subsequent Anglo-Australian rugby league clashes; at the centre stood British captain Harold Wagstaff. More than anyone else Wagstaff embodied rugby league’s self-image: working-class, democratic, antagonistic to authority and convinced of its superiority to all other codes of football. It is this cultural link, and Wagstaff’s role in creating it, which is responsible for the sporting bond that exists between Keighley and Kogarah.
Tony Collins is a Research Fellow at International Centre for Sports History and Culture at De Montfort University, Leicester and is the archivist of the Rugby Football League. His publications include Rugby’s Great Split, a social history of the origins of rugby league. He is currently working on a history of league and union in the twentieth century.
2002 4th TOM BROCK LECTURE
Alan Clarkson delivered the Tom Brock Lecture on the subject of The Changing Face of Rugby League
Mr Alan Clarkson OAM was the chief League writer for the Sydney Morning Herald and the Sun Herald from 1967 to 1989, having worked on both papers from 1954 when he had the privilege of being the second string League writer to the great Tom Goodman. Alan Clarkson covered five Kangaroo tours and a tour to New Zealand in 1969 and the World Cup in England in 1970. He also reported on three Olympic Games, including the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games and covered other sports such as tennis and swimming. In 1990 he was awarded an OAM for services to sport in journalism.
2001 3rd TOM BROCK LECTURE
Mr Alex Buzo: Sydney: The Heart of Rugby League
One part of the lecture dealt with The Roy Murphy Show, the first play reviewed by Rugby League Week (in 1971). Opinion was divided about whether the central three characters; Roy Murphy, Clarrie Maloney and Mike Conolly – were based on Ron Casey-Frank Hyde-Mike Gibson or Rex Mossop-Ferris Ashton-Alan Clarkson, depending on whether you watched Channel 7 or Channel 9.
Alex Buzo is a writer who has long been a devotee of the folklore of rugby league. His play, The Roy Murphy Show, deals with that great institution, the television football panel. Buzo’s book Tautology records the idiom of the code, which he has written about for The Sydney Morning Herald, as well as contributing a chapter to League of a Nation.
2000 2nd TOM BROCK LECTURE
Mr Ian Heads: Gang-gangs at one o’clock” … and Other Flights of Fancy; A Personal Journey through Rugby League
1999 1st TOM BROCK LECTURE
Dr Andrew Moore: Jimmy Devereux’s Yorkshire Pudding: Reflections on the Origins of Rugby League in New South Wales and Queensland