1952 NSWRFL season
The 1952 New South Wales Rugby Football League premiership was the forty-fifth season of the rugby league competition based in Sydney. Ten teams from across Sydney contested for the J. J. Giltinan Shield during the season which culminated in a grand final between Western Suburbs and South Sydney.
|1952 New South Wales Rugby Football League|
|Premiers||Western Suburbs (4th title)|
|Minor premiers||Western Suburbs (3rd title)|
|Top points scorer(s)||Ron Rowles (178)|
|Top try-scorer(s)||Peter O'Brien (20)|
The tail-end of the season was played without star players selected to go on the Australian national team’s 1952-53 Kangaroo Tour.
Ground: Leichhardt Oval
Coach: Arthur Patton
Captain: Stan Ponchard
Ground: Belmore Oval
Coach: Alby Why
Captain: Ken Charlton
Ground: Sydney Sports Ground
Coach: Ernie Norman
Captain: Ferris Ashton
Ground: Brookvale Oval
Captain-Coach: Wally O'Connell
Ground: Erskineville Oval
Coach: Frank Johnson
Captain: Gordon Clifford
Ground: North Sydney Oval
Coach: Ross McKinnon
Captain: Bob Sullivan
Ground: Cumberland Oval
Coach: Vic Hey
Captain: Ian Johnston
Ground: Redfern Oval
Captain-Coach: Jack Rayner
Ground: Jubilee Oval
Captain-coach: Johnny Hawke
Ground: Pratten Park
Coach: Tom McMahon
Captain: Peter McLean
The 1952 season saw North Sydney reach the finals for the first time since 1943.
|Date and Time||Venue||Referee||Crowd|
|North Sydney||36-8||Manly-Warringah||27 August 1952||Sydney Cricket Ground||8,770|
|Western Suburbs||10-18||South Sydney||30 August 1952||Sydney Cricket Ground||Jack O'Brien||34,181|
|St. George||9-21||North Sydney||6 September 1952||Sydney Cricket Ground||George Bishop||41,976|
|South Sydney||26-12||North Sydney||13 September 1952||Sydney Cricket Ground||Jack O'Brien||44,166|
|Western Suburbs||22-12||South Sydney||20 September 1952||Sydney Cricket Ground||George Bishop||41,060|
|South Sydney||Position||Western Suburbs|
|Don Murdoch||FB||George Bain|
|John Graves||WG||Bill Callinan|
|Malcolm Spencer||CE||Col Ratcliff|
|Frank Threlfo||CE||Gerry Lowe|
|Cliff Smailes||WG||Jack Fitzgerald|
|Norm Spillane||FE||Dev Dines|
|Ken Brogan||HB||Leo Trevena|
|Denis Donoghue||PR||Kevin Hansen|
|Ernie Hammerton||HK||Hec Farrell|
|Bryan Orrock||PR||Bill Horder|
|Ken Macreadie||SR||Don Schofield|
|Jack Rayner (Ca./Co.)||SR||Ron Watson|
|Ray Neilson||LK||Peter McLean (c)|
The rl1908 reference transcribes Sean Fagan’s 2002 interview with Souths captain-coach Jack Rayner fuelling the suggestion that dubious refereeing decisions cost the Rabbitohs the 1952 title and prevented Souths from stringing together all six premierships of 1950 to 1955. However it cannot be argued that the Western Suburbs club were themselves a force of the 1950s, and their 1952 achievement was undeniably remarkable as they played the whole second half of the season and the finals without their stars Frank Stanmore, Keith Holman and Arthur Collinson who had all left with the touring Kangaroos to England and France.
Wests finished as minor premiers due in great part to their undefeated nine-game streak in the first full round of the 1952 season. In the Final they met Souths who were seeking their third premiership in a row.
The controversy centered on a disallowed Rabbitohs try early in the game. Souths’ Frank Threlfo made a break and slipped the ball to Ken Macreadie who was in under the posts. Referee George Bishop ruled the pass forward and disallowed the try. In the interview Rayner also comments on the lopsided penalty count.
However the record-books show that Wests scored six tries to two, winning the match 22–12 and the club’s fourth premiership. Wests’ Hec Farrell and Souths’ Bryan Orrock were sent-off for fighting and went before the judiciary charged with kicking. Wests' coach Tom McMahon became the first coach to win a premiership in his debut coaching season.
Ironically, ten years later Wests would again threaten to break a string of premiership wins – the 1962 and 1963 Magpie sides both came close to ceasing St. George's long run – but again several refereeing controversies would affect the outcome. Both the 1962 and 1963 Grand Finals have been said to have been decided by questionable calls from referee Darcy Lawler and on those occasion Wests would be on the wrong end of disputed rulings.
Western Suburbs 22 (Tries: Schofield 2, Fitzgerald, Dines, Bain, McLean. Goals: Bain 2.)
South Sydney 12 (Tries: Smailes, Macreadie. Goals: Graves 3.)