1933–34 Kangaroo tour of Great Britain

The 1933–34 Kangaroo tour of Great Britain was the fifth Kangaroo tour, and took the Australia national rugby league team around the north of England, to London and Paris. The tour also featured the 11th Ashes series which comprised three Test matches and was the first to be won by Great Britain in a clean sweep. The squad's outbound journey was marred by tragedy when Sydney University centre Ray Morris contracted meningitis en route and died in hospital. The tour match played at Stade Pershing in Paris on New Year's Day 1934 was the first rugby league international played in France.

Touring squadEdit

Mick Madsen, 2nd Test captain
Vic Hey, three Tests at five-eighth
Dave Brown set an unsurpassed touring score record

Frank McMillan was named as captain-coach of the touring squad after his Queensland counterpart Herb Steinohrt declared himself unavailable to tour. George Bishop and Ernie Norman were selected but ruled out of the tour before the squad left Sydney. Vic Hey and "Mick" Glasheen took their places.

Name Posit. Club Tests
Dave Brown centre Eastern Suburbs 3
Alan Ridley Winger Queanbeyan 2
Wally Prigg Lock Centrals (Newcastle) 3
Sid Pearce Second row Eastern Suburbs 2
Fred Gardner Winger St George Dragons 1
Vic Hey Five-eighth Western Suburbs 3
Jim Gibbs Second row South Newcastle 2
Jack Why Winger South Sydney 2
Joe Doyle Second row Brothers (Toowoomba) 1
Frank O'Connor Front row South Sydney 2
Cliff Pearce centre Western Suburbs 3
Les Mead Halfback Western Suburbs 1
Fred Laws Halfback Newtown (Toowoomba) 1
Ray Stehr Front row Eastern Suburbs 2
Frank McMillan (c) Fullback Western Suburbs 2
Mick Madsen Front row Brothers (Toowoomba) 3
Bill 'Circy' Smith Fullback Starlights (Ipswich) 1
Viv Thicknesse Halfback Eastern Suburbs 2
Frank Doonar Rialto (Ipswich) 0
Arthur Folwell Hooker Newtown 2
Fred Gilbert Valleys (Toowoomba) 0
Dan Dempsey Hooker Booval 1
Melville Glasheen Estates (Townsville) 0
Fred Neumann Winger Fortitude Valley 0
Frank Curran Front row South Sydney 0
Henry Denny Forward Westerb Suburbs (Brisbane) 0
Jack Little Hooker Fortitude Valley 0
Les Heidke Second row Tivoli 0
Ray Morris centre University 0

The journeyEdit

Les Heidke was suffering from leg ulcers before the squad left Sydney and Dan Dempsey was brought in to take his place. The Queenslanders in the squad all contributed £10 to enable Heidke to make the tour as a private citizen and to perhaps recover in time to play. Heidke sailed with the squad from Sydney on the SS Manduna bound for Melbourne where they boarded the SS Jervis Bay for England. At sea Heidke's condition did not improve and he was put off the ship in Perth and headed home.

Exhibition matches were played in Colombo, Sri Lanka and in Egypt. Sydney University centre Ray Morris contracted an ear infection at sea. In the Mediterranean his condition worsened and he was put off the ship in Malta and hospitalised in Valletta. Two days later he died of meningitis.[1]

Test VenuesEdit

The three Ashes series tests took place at the following venues. Two of the tests were played at Swinton.

Swinton Leeds
Station Road Headingley
Capacity: 60,000 Capacity: 40,000

1st TestEdit

7 October 1933
The Lions   4 – 0   Australia
Jim Sullivan (2)
Station Road, Swinton
Attendance: 34,000 [2]
Referee: F Peel
The Lions Posit. Australia
Jim Sullivan (c) FB Frank McMillan (c)
Alf Ellaby WG Alan Ridley
Gus Risman CE Cliff Pearce
Stan Brogden CE Dave Brown
Stan Smith WG Jack Why
Billy Davies SO Vic Hey
Bryn Evans SH Viv Thicknesse
Nat Silcock PR Ray Stehr
Les White HK Dan Dempsey
Jack Miller PR Mick Madsen
Martin Hodgson SR Sid Pearce
Bill Horton SR Frank O'Connor
Jack Feetham LF Wally Prigg

The Australian team enjoyed an eleven match winning streak on the tour matches leading into the first Test. For the first sixty-five minutes of the match there was no score in the muddy conditions, then Lions fullback Jim Sullivan proved the difference with two penalty goals.[3]

2nd TestEdit

11 November 1933
The Lions   7 – 5   Australia
Jack Woods
Jim Sullivan (2)
Dave Brown
Dave Brown (1)
Headingley, Leeds
Attendance: 29,688 [2]
Referee: F Peel
The Lions Posit. Australia
Jim Sullivan (c) FB Bill Smith
Jack Woods WG Fred Gardner
Billy Dingsdale CE Cliff Pearce
Gus Risman CE Dave Brown
Barney Hudson WG Alan Ridley
Stan Brogden SO Vic Hey
Bryn Evans SH Viv Thicknesse
Nat Silcock PR Mick Madsen (c)
Les White HK Arthur Folwell
Jack Miller PR Frank O'Connor
Martin Hodgson SR Jim Gibbs
Bill Horton SR Joe Doyle
Jack Feetham LF Wally Prigg

3rd TestEdit

16 December 1933
The Lions   19 – 16   Australia
Barney Hudson
Jack Feetham
Stan Smith
Jim Sullivan (5)
Vic Hey
Wally Prigg

Dave Brown (5)
Station Road, Swinton
Attendance: 10,990 [2]
Referee: F Peel
The Lions Posit. Australia
Jim Sullivan (c) FB Frank McMillan (c)
Barney Hudson WG Cliff Pearce
Gus Risman CE Dave Brown
Arthur Atkinson CE Fred Laws
Stan Smith WG Jack Why
Emlyn Jenkins SO Vic Hey
Billy Watkins SH Les Mead
Nat Silcock PR Mick Madsen
Thomas Armitt HK Arthur Folwell
Jack Feetham PR Ray Stehr
Martin Hodgson SR Sid Pearce
Jack Miller SR Jim Gibbs
Bill Horton LF Wally Prigg

In winning the match which was played in thick fog, England became the first team to post a 3–0 clean sweep in an Anglo-Australian Test series.

Matches of the tourEdit

Opposing Team F A Date Venue Attendance Status
1   St Helens Recs 13 9 26 Aug 1933 City Road, St. Helens 8,880 Tour match
2   Leigh 16 7 30 Aug 1933 Mather Lane, Leigh 4,590 Tour match
3   Hull Kingston Rovers 20 0 2 Sep 1933 Craven Park, Hull 7,831 Tour match
4   Bramley 53 6 6 Sep 1933 Barley Mow, Bramley 1,902 Tour match
5   Oldham 38 6 9 Sep 1933 Watersheddings, Oldham 15,281 Tour match
6   Yorkshire 13 0 13 Sep 1933 Headingley, Leeds 10,309 Tour match
7   Barrow 24 5 16 Sep 1933 Craven Park, Barrow 12,221 Tour match
8   Lancashire 33 7 20 Sep 1933 Wilderspool, Warrington 16,576 Tour match
9   Wigan 10 4 23 Sep 1933 Central Park, Wigan 15,712 Tour match
10   Castleford 39 6 27 Sep 1933 Wheldon Road, Castleford 4,250 Tour match
11   Halifax 16 5 30 Sep 1933 Thrum Hall, Halifax 10,358 Tour match
12   The Lions 0 4 7 Oct 1933 Station Road, Swinton 34,000 Test match
13   Bradford Northern 7 5 11 Oct 1933 Birch Lane, Bradford 3,328 Tour match
14   Warrington 15 2 14 Oct 1933 Wilderspool, Warrington 16,431 Tour match
15   Hunslet 22 18 18 Oct 1933 Parkside, Hunslet 6,227 Tour match
16   Salford 9 16 21 Oct 1933 The Willows, Salford 15,761 Tour match
17   Widnes 31 0 26 Oct 1933 Naughton Park, Widnes 6,691 Tour match
18   Wakefield Trinity 17 6 28 Oct 1933 Belle Vue, Wakefield 5,596 Tour match
19   Bradford Northern 10 7 30 Oct 1933 Birch Lane, Bradford 3,328 Tour match
20   English League 5 7 1 Nov 1933 Clarence Street, York 3,158 Tour match
21   Swinton 4 10 4 Nov 1933 Station Road, Swinton 13,341 Tour match
22   The Lions 5 7 11 Nov 1933 Headingley, Leeds 29,618 Test match
23   Keighley 14 7 14 Nov 1933 Lawkholme Lane, Keighley 3,800 Tour match
24   Huddersfield 13 5 18 Nov 1933 Fartown, Huddersfield 7,522 Tour match
25   London Highfield 20 5 22 Nov 1933 White City, London 10,541 Tour match
26   Broughton Rangers 19 0 25 Nov 1933 Belle Vue, Manchester 5,527 Tour match
27   Leeds 15 7 29 Nov 1933 Headingley, Leeds 5,295 Tour match
28   St. Helens 20 11 2 Dec 1933 Knowsley Road, St. Helens 5,735 Tour match
29   Rochdale Hornets 26 4 5 Dec 1933 Athletic Grounds, Rochdale 3,603 Tour match
30   Cumberland 16 17 9 Dec 1933 Recreation Ground, Whitehaven 5,800 Tour match
31   The Lions 16 19 16 Dec 1933 Station Road, Swinton 10,900 Test match
32   York 15 7 23 Dec 1933 Clarence Street, York 6,500 Tour match
33   Hull F.C. 19 5 25 Dec 1933 The Boulevard, Hull 16,341 Tour match
34   Wales 51 19 30 Dec 1933 Wembley, London 10,000 International
35   England 63 13 31 Dec 1933 Stade Pershing, Paris 5,000 International
36   Oldham 38 5 10 Jan 1934 Watersheddings, Oldham 4,000 Tour match
37   England 14 19 13 Jan 1934 Redheugh Park, Gateshead 15,576 International

Tour firstsEdit

  • The first Australian side to play a rugby exhibition match in Ceylon and Egypt.
  • The first Australian side to play a match under lights.
  • The first English side to win the Ashes in a clean sweep.
  • The first rugby international to be played in France.
  • Dave Brown's tour point-scoring record of 285 points (19 tries and 114 goals) remains unsurpassed.

Published sourcesEdit

  • Whiticker, Alan & Hudson, Glen (2006) The Encyclopedia of Rugby League Players, Gavin Allen Publishing, Sydney
  • Andrews, Malcolm (2006) The ABC of Rugby League Austn Broadcasting Corpn, Sydney


  1. ^ Whiticker p96
  2. ^ a b c Andrews The ABC of Rugby League
  3. ^ Whiticker p97