Western Suburbs Magpies
The Western Suburbs Magpies (legal name: Western Suburbs District Rugby League Football Club Ltd) is an Australian rugby league football club based in the western suburbs of Sydney, New South Wales. Formed in 1908, Wests, as they are commonly referred to, were one of the nine foundation clubs of the first New South Wales Rugby League competition in Australia. The club, as a sole entity, departed the top-flight competition in 1999 after forming a 50–50 joint venture with Balmain Tigers to form the Wests Tigers. The club currently fields sides in the NSW State Cup (Canterbury Cup), Ron Massey Cup (Opens), S.G. Ball Cup (Under 18's) and Harold Matthews Cup (Under 16's) competitions.
|Full name||Western Suburbs Magpies|
|Nickname(s)||The Fibros, Maggies, The Cherry Pickers, Wests|
|Founded||4 February 1908 (foundation club)|
|Exited||formed joint venture in 2000 with Balmain Tigers|
|1999||17th of 17|
|Premierships||4 – 1930, 1934, 1948, 1952|
|Runners-up||8 – 1918, 1925, 1932, 1950, 1958, 1961, 1962, 1963|
|Minor premiership||5 – 1930, 1948, 1952, 1961, 1978|
|Wooden spoons||17 – 1909, 1910, 1912, 1913, 1916, 1933, 1940, 1942, 1953, 1955, 1971, 1983, 1984, 1987, 1988, 1998, 1999|
Campbelltown Stadium, which has a capacity of 20,000, is their home stadium.
The club was one of the foundation members of the Sydney rugby football league competition in 1908. Founded at a meeting on 4 February 1908 at Ashfield Town Hall, they won only one match the following season so were the League's second wooden spooners (after Cumberland in 1908). Though they spent long periods of time as also-rans they did taste premiership success four times in the mid 20th century. They won their first premiership in 1930, beating St George 27–2. Four years later they defeated Eastern Suburbs to win their second title. For the 1944 NSWRFL season Queensland 1910s representative player Henry Bolewski became coach the Western Suburbs club, replacing Alf Blair, who moved to South Sydney. Wests improved slightly on the previous season, finishing 5th (out of 8), but failing to make the finals, and Bolewski was replaced by club great, Frank McMillan.
Apart from these occasions, the club was famous for three successive grand final matches in 1961, 1962 and 1963 against the St George Dragons in the midst of their 11-premiership run. The club boasted footballers such as halfback Arthur Summons, Harry 'Bomber' Wells, Kel O'Shea, Noel Kelly and Peter Dimond. The 1963 grand final was immortalised in a photograph which became known as 'The Gladiators' after St. George captain Norm Provan and Summons trudged off the field together.
A final period of glory beckoned in the late 1970s where they spent a few years at the top or near-top of the table, yet failed to make a grand final. Coached by Roy Masters and boasting such players as fullback John Dorahy, half Tommy Raudonikis, five-eighth Graeme O'Grady, Gavin Miller, Ron Giteau, Les Boyd, prop John Donnelly and five-eighth Terry Lamb. However attractive offers from other clubs and then doubts about the club's viability led to years of exodus of talent. Wests did manage to win the 1977 Amco Cup.
John Ribot, a winger for Wests, was the top try-scorer for the 1980 season. In 1983 the NSWRFL attempted to expel Wests from the competition, but a prolonged legal battle to keep their spot ensued, unlike the Newtown Jets who did not compete that year. Richard Conti appeared against New South Wales Rugby League bosses John Quayle and Colin Love in 1985, successfully advocating to keep the embattled club in the competition. He was later appointed the chairman of the NSWRL Judiciary.
Eventually, Wests relocated to Campbelltown in 1987. Ironically, this was where Newtown had unsuccessfully tried to move to four years earlier.
The club made the semi-finals in 1991 and 1992 under coach Warren Ryan. Wests were NSWRL Club Champions in 1991 when all three grades made the semi-finals. The team also made it to the pre-season Challenge Cup final in 1993 but was beaten by a star-studded Canberra side.
The club then slipped down the ladder and the coaching reins were handed over to caretaker Wayne Ellis. The decision to appoint Tommy Raudonikis as coach for the start of the 1995 season sent a shot of adrenaline into the club. Raudonikis took the Magpies to the finals in 1996. However the club could not compete in the player market in 1997 thanks to the Super League war which saw players' contracts soar sky high to unsustainable levels.
In 1998 and 1999, a Magpie team filled with many unknown players struggled to be competitive and twice received the wooden spoon. With the club struggling on-field and trying to compete financially against clubs with News Limited funding, the writing was on the wall.
The well documented Super League War in 1997 between Super League (News Ltd) and the Australian Rugby League (ARL) resulted in a compromise that by the year 2000, the National Rugby League (NRL) competition would be contested by only 14 teams.
With the Wests Magpies struggling on field in the NRL competition, it was decided by the club in the middle of 1999 that to survive the cull they would be required to merge their senior team with another club's team. After initial talks with the Canterbury Bulldogs failed an agreement was reached with the Balmain Tigers on 27 July 1999.
The Wests Tigers first competed in the 2000 competition. The club also merged its playing colours from the two joint venture partners.
- Allied Express
- Victa (1978–1982)
- IPEC Couriers (1984–1985)
- Masterton Homes (1986–1992)
- Goldstar / LG Electronics (1995–1997)
- Signature Security Systems (1998–1999)
- Club Hotels (2000)
- Save Home loans (2005)
- Wests Ashfield Leagues (2006–2015)
Wests Ashfield Leagues have also been key sponsors & supporters of the club since they were established.
- Rebel Sport (Centenary Partner and 2008 Major Sponsor)
- Allied Express (2015)
The Western Suburbs Magpies home matches are played at Campbelltown Stadium, Leumeah and their training facilities, along with offices are at the Whitlam Centre in Liverpool. The club has state of the art facilities here, and they are regarded as some of the best in the league.
In 2000 the Western Suburbs Magpies Under 20s team were runners up to the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs, captained by Mitch Zammit and Luke Duffy. The Western Suburbs Magpies last title was won in 2002 when the Western Suburbs Magpies captained by Liam Fulton won the New South Wales Rugby League Under 18's competition.
From 2000 to 2012 the Western Suburbs Magpies fielded teams in the NSWRL First Grade competition now known as the NSW Cup.
In 2006 the Wests Tigers on advice from Tim Sheens pushed the notion that the NRL side would be better served with a single NSW Cup side. Western Suburbs board opposed this decision and decided to continue fielding their own team. Wests Tigers then allocated all NRL contracted players to the Balmain Tigers (the Wests Magpies had six junior players in that group, as opposed to one from Balmain), citing the advantages of both the NRL and NSW Cup teams training together at Concord Oval. This continued from 2006 to 2007.
Magpies chairman Kevin Hammond was disappointed at the Wests Tigers decision and informed the Wests Tigers of that in 2008, if the Magpies did not receive a fair share of player allocation from the Wests Tigers, they would form a feeder partnership with rivals Canberra Raiders. The Wests Tigers capitulated.
The Western Suburbs Magpies made the semi-finals in 2008, 2009 and 2010.
In 2012 funding was withheld from the Magpies by Wests Ashfield Leagues Club Directors (not unanimously) as they now supported Wests Tigers proposal for a single NSW Cup side, even though this was done simply because Balmain couldn't afford a side and Wests could.
This also went against the Magpies Football Club members wishes and they organised a Protest Rally through the streets of Campbelltown. Wests Ashfield Leagues Club under pressure reinstated funding late in the off season after the Magpies players had already signed on to play with other teams.
The Wests Tigers however decided to cease all support of the Magpies NSW Cup side whilst continuing support for Balmain Ryde Eastwood Tigers. The Magpies failed to win a game in 2012 whilst Balmain Ryde Eastwood Tigers made it to the Grand Final where they were defeated by the Newtown Jets.
In 2015 the Magpies added a team in the Sydney Shield competition to act as a feeder for their Ron Massey Cup campaign.
In 2016, Western Suburbs made the preliminary final match against St Mary's in The Ron Massey Cup but lost the match in a close tussle.  2017 proved to be a bad year for Wests as The Ron Massey Cup side finished with the wooden spoon and The Sydney Shield side finished second last.
On 5 June 2017, it was announced that Western Suburbs had placed a bid to be included into the Intrust Super Premiership season for 2018.  The re-entry to the Intrust Super Premiership ends the clubs 5-year hiatus from the top level NSWRL competition that it had participated continuously in from 1908 to 2012. For its return the team will be coached by former Western Suburbs 1st grade player Brett Hodgson. In 2018, Wests enjoyed a solid return to the Intrust Super Premiership NSW after finishing in 5th place on the table. In week 1 of the finals, Wests were defeated by the Wyong Roos 18-14 in the elimination final thus ending their season.
St Luke's Park was the home ground of the Western Suburbs club in 1910 and 1911. They started playing their matches at Pratten Park in Ashfield in 1912, but after pressure from local residents there the council refused the club permission to use that ground, forcing them to return to St. Luke's Oval from 1915 to 1919. The Magpies have played at three home grounds since foundation. They returned to Pratten Park in 1920, remaining there until 1966, the club then played at Pratten Park sporadically over the next two decades playing games there in 1971, 1972, 1973, 1977 and 1985. The final ever first grade game to be played at Pratten Park was on 18 August 1985 against Penrith, Penrith won the match by 42–16. They then moved to Lidcombe Oval in 1967. This was due to Ashfield council not allowing the club to play matches on a Sunday (as this was the church day). In 1987, they moved to Campbelltown's Orana Park (located in adjacent Leumeah), which, after a $25 million renovation, is now called Campbelltown Stadium which is now one of the home grounds of the Wests Tigers. The Magpies' lower grade sides play most home games at Campbelltown Stadium, with the occasional game moved to Lidcombe Oval.
Western Suburbs Magpies Leagues ClubEdit
Wests Ashfield Leagues Club is the licensed club responsible for the team. The Leagues club was formed in the 1950s and is now one of the leading community Clubs in Sydney.
District Junior competitionEdit
The Western Suburbs District Junior Rugby League (WSDJRL) was a completely separate entity to the Western Suburbs Magpies DRLFC. They were known as the "Junior Magpies", and administered the junior rugby league on behalf of the Western Suburbs Magpies and the Wests Tigers joint venture. It consisted of a network of affiliated junior rugby league clubs throughout the greater Campbelltown and Liverpool areas of southwestern Sydney. As of 2016 the following clubs were involved in the WSDJRL;
- All Saints JRLFC
- All Stars Glenquarie (formally Macquarie fields hawks)
- Campbelltown City Kangaroos JRLFC
- Campbelltown Collegians JRLFC
- Campbelltown Warriors JRLFC
- Eaglevale St Andrews JRLFC
- East Campbelltown Eagles JRLFC
- Hinchinbrook Hornets JRLFC
- Ingleburn RSL Tigers JRLFC
- Liverpool Catholic Club Raiders JRLFC
- Macarthur Saints JRLFC (ex- St Thomas More JRLFC)
- Minto Cobras JRLFC
- Valley United Vikings JRLFC(formally known as East Valley United and also Green Valley United)
The league was placed into administration in January 2019, with the NSWRL stepping in to manage the competition.
The following clubs also competed in the WSDJRL, but have now folded:
- Airds Colts JRLFC
" Ashcroft JRLFC
- Claymore Panthers JRLFC
- Dayments Dolphins JRLFC
- Heckenberg JRLFC
" Ingleburn Bulldogs JRLFC
- Leumeah Wolves JRLFC
- Liverpool City JRLFC
" Liverpool Titans JRLFC
- Liverpool RSL JRLFC
- Macquarie Cobras JRLFC
- Warwick Farm JRLFC
- Woodlands JRLFC
- Sadlier Bulldogs JRLFC
The WSDJRL has produced many ex and current Wests Tigers players including Brett Hodgson (Eagle Vale-St Andrews & Ingleburn RSL), Dean Collis (Campbelltown Warriors), Bryce Gibbs (All Saints Liverpool), Shannon Gallant (All Saints Liverpool & Campbelltown City) Chris Lawrence (Eagle Vale), and Shannon McDonnell (All Saints Liverpool). David Noaofaluma (Campbelltown Warriors, Campbelltown Collegians) James Tedesco (Eagle Vale St. Andrews) also Camden Rams (group 6, CRL) Other notable NRL players who grew up playing junior rugby league in the WSDJRL are Anthony Minichiello (East Valley United), Mark Minichiello (Liverpool Catholic Club) Frank Pritchard (Campbelltown City)Eric Grothe, Jr. (Eagle Vale), Ryan Hoffman (Campbelltown Collegians), Ben Roberts (Narellan Jets), Sauaso Sue (Macquarie Field Hawks), Israel Folau, Jarryd Hayne, Krisnan Inu, Michael Lett (Ingleburn RSL), Gray Viane, John Skandalis, Ken McGuinness, Kevin McGuinness, Tim Lafai and Mickey & Lopini Paea (all Minto Cobras).
The WSDJRL took over its current boundaries from the CRL Group 6 Northern Junior League and parts of the Parramatta DJRL (i.e. Liverpool) in 1987. They were forced to move out of their traditional territory around the Ashfield and Lidcombe areas of inner western Sydney to be able to then survive in the NSWRL. The old WSDJRL area has since been acquired by the Balmain DJRL and Bulldogs (Canterbury) DJRL. Clubs that used to play in the WSDJRL include;
- Ashfield Colts (now folded) – Also known as the Ashfield Kings
- Burwood United (now merged with Concord in Balmain DJRL)
- Concord United (now merged with Burwood in Balmain DJRL)
- Benedicts Auburn (now Trinity College, Auburn)
- Enfield Federals (When the Magpies first went to Campbelltown they became part of Canterbury, then they folded for a few years before coming in under the Balmain DJRL) (produced Hazem El Masri, Robbie Farah, Scott Gale, Brett Clark, Wayne Smith, Ken Hey, Jim Serdaris, Denis Pittard, Tim Pickup and Brett Gale Leo Epifania)
- Five Dock JRLFC (now in Balmain DJRL)
- Lidcombe Bulls (folded in mid-1980s)
- Berala Bears (now in Bulldogs DJRL)
- Croydon Park (folded in mid-1980s)
- Holman JRLFC (Named after Keith Holman, based at Henley Park, Enfield. Colours were yellow with a blue shoulder saddle, and the emblem was oval shaped with a kangaroo, a football, a kiwi, a rooster & a lion ; signifying that Keith played for Australia against New Zealand, France & England. Folded in mid-1980s)
- Homebush – unsure when folded
- Royal Sheaf Hotel (Burwood, folded in late 1980s)
- Oriental Shamrocks (folded in 1960s)
- Granville Diggers – folded in mid 80s
- De La Salle – Ashfield – again, unsure of when they folded
- Christian Brothers Burwood
- Auburn United – unsure when folded
- Strathfield – unsure when folded
Hall of FameEdit
On Friday 30 May 2008 the centenary of the Western Suburbs Magpies was celebrated with a ball in the Grand Harbour Ballroom at Sydney's Star City Casino. Six inaugural members were also inducted into the Western Suburbs Magpies Hall of Fame:
1997 MIA players
- Wayne Shields
Team of the CenturyEdit
In 2004 the club named its Team of the Century:
The following Western Suburbs Magpies players have represented their countries in international competition.
Magpies Test CaptainsEdit
|No.||Name||Years||G||W||L||D||%||Premierships||Runners-up||Minor Premierships||Wooden spoons|
|4||Jim Craig||1929–1930, 1932, 1939||66||40||22||4||61%||1930||1932||1930||—|
|5||Frank McMillan||1931, 1934, 1936, 1945||61||38||21||2||62%||1934||—||—||—|
|15||Jack Walsh||1946, 1956–1957||53||26||25||2||49%||—||—||—||—|
|17||Jeff Smith||1948, 1950–1951||59||38||19||2||64%||1948||1950||1948||—|
|21||Keith Holman||1954–1955, 1977||58||16||41||1||28%||—||—||—||1955|
|24||Jack Fitzgerald||1961–1964||80||53||25||2||66%||—||1961, 1962, 1963||1961||—|
|29||Tommy Raudonikis||1976, 1995–1999||116||39||76||1||34%||—||—||—||1998, 1999|
- Premierships: 4 – 1930 beat St George; 1934 beat Easts; 1948 beat Balmain; 1952 beat South Sydney
- Runners Up: 8 – 1918; 1925; 1932; 1950; 1958; 1961; 1962; 1963
- Minor Premierships: 5 – 1930; 1948; 1952; 1961; 1978
- Amco Cup: 1 – 1977
- City Cup: 2 – 1918; 1919
- NSWRL Club Championships: 4 – 1948; 1960; 1961; 1991
- State Cup / Jersey Flegg U20s: 1 – 1965
- Ampol Cup: 1 – 1963
- NSWRL Reserve Grade: 3 (1936, 1961, 1981)
- NSWRL Third Grade: 9 (1936, 1938, 1939, 1944, 1958, 1961, 1967)
- Under 23 Premiership: 1 (1977)
- President's Cup: 1 (1925, 1947, 1958, 1992)
- Flegg Memorial Trophy: 2 (1961, 1981)
- NSWRL SG Ball U18's: 2 (1971, 2002)
- Lidcombe Oval: 21,015 vs Parramatta (30 July 1978)
- Campbelltown Sports Ground: 17,286 vs St George (2 August 1991)
- Pratten Park: 12,407 vs St George (15 June 1964)
Biggest defeat: 67 – 0 vs South Sydney (Agricultural Showground, 23 July 1910)
Biggest win: 62 -5 vs Balmain (Lidcombe Oval, 31 March 1974)
Most First Grade Games (150 or more)
- 203 - Keith Holman
- 201 – Tommy Raudonikis
- 162 – Trevor Cogger
- 160 – Wayne Smith
- 157 – Tedda Courtney
- 155 – Peter Dimond
- 150 – Frank McMillan
Most Tries in a Match: Alan Ridley, 6 vs Newtown, Pratten Park, 11 July 1936
Most 1st Grade Tries For Club: Peter Dimond, 83
Most Tries For Club (All grades): Trevor Cogger, 88
Most Goals in a Match: Les Mead, 12 v Canterbury, Pratten Park, 31 August 1935
Most Points in a Match: Les Mead, 27 ( 1 try, 12 goals ) v Canterbury, Pratten Park, 31 August 1935
Most Points in a Season: Peter Rowles, 215 ( 8 tries, 94 goals, 3 field goals ) in 1978
Most Points for Club: Bill Keato, 776 ( 6 tries, 379 goals )
All Time 1st Grade Numbered Players ListEdit
1 Jim Abercrombie
28 A Abbott
55 W Barclay
82 George Duffin
97 Tom Alpen
115 S Carr
144 Harold Leddy
157 A McPherson
198 Tedda Brooks
221 George Daisley
246 Allan Adams
277 R McMillan
281 Vic Hey
327 Don Gulliver
333 Fred Baber
342 Fred McKean
352 Bruce Brown
367 Harry Grew
386 Begley J
400 S Ball
460 Arthur Collinson
476 W Smith
489 Neville Charlton
507 Bill Bailey
518 Darcy Henry
531 Doug Hambilton
581 Bob McLaughlin
604 John Elford
635 Tony Antunac
641 Dick Timbs
651 John Heyward
696 Doug Lucas
739 Garry Dowling
751 Arthur Mountier
761 Peter Burgmann
781 Gerald Celarc
800 Greg Duval
822 Alan Burns
836 Phillip Duke
848 Cameron Blair
870 Stephen Funnell
886 Tony Cosatto
902 Stephen Burns
916 Mark Bell
930 Justin Dooley
950 Darren Brown
977 Jason Austin
989 Des Hasler
1002 Scott Coxon
1023 Adam Bristow
- Doug Sutherland, mayor of Sydney (1980–87)
- Trooper Mark Donaldson VC
- Paul Gerantonis (1969 – current)
- Malcolm T. Elliott (radio broadcaster)
- John Singleton (entrepreneur, businessman and horse racing identity)
- Steve Waugh (former Australian Cricket captain)
- Ken Callander
- John Coates (Australian Olympic Committee chairman)
- Michael Clarke former Australian Cricket Captain
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- "Dragon-Killers! Who'd a Thought It?". The Truth. Sydney: National Library of Australia. 5 October 1930. p. 6. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
- "League Punters Who Bet On "Stew" Left With Briefs". The Truth. Sydney: National Library of Australia. 9 September 1934. p. 6. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
- "Balmain Dispute Wests' Try". The Truth. Sydney: National Library of Australia. 19 September 1948. p. 16. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
- "Wests' Rough League Final". The Sun. Sydney: National Library of Australia. 21 September 1952. p. 28. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
- "Missed goal cost East Amco Cup". The Canberra Times. Canberra: National Library of Australia. 18 August 1977. p. 28. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
- Sarno, Tony (12 August 1988). "The battle heats up for 15th spot". The Sydney Morning Herald. Australia. p. 47. Archived from the original on 24 January 2013. Retrieved 18 September 2010.
- "Super League: 20 years on, former CEO John Ribot opens up on the deals, the money, the mistakes". Courier Mail.
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- "Inner West Courier - News Local Newspaper - Daily Telegraph - News Local Newspapers Inner West Sydney - Local Community News NSW - Inner West Courier - Balmain Village Voice - Daily Telegraph". dailytelegraph.com.au.
- "NSWRL Live - powered by Statedge". live.nswrl.com.au.
- "NSWRL Live - powered by Statedge". live.nswrl.com.au.
- "Magpies Become Tigers Feeder For 2018". nswrl.com.au. 15 November 2017.
- "Canterbury Cup NSW ladder". NSWRL.
- "Canterbury Cup NSW Rd 24". NSWRL.
- westsmagpies.com.au. "Home Grounds". Wests Archives. Western Suburbs Magpies. Archived from the original on 27 January 2014. Retrieved 19 February 2014.
- Ashfield Municipal Council (2008). Pratten Park Plan of Management (PDF). Australia: ashfield.nsw.gov.au. pp. 6–7.
- Ferguson, Shawn Dollin and Andrew. "Pratten Park - Results - Rugby League Project". www.rugbyleagueproject.org.
- "Wests Archives – Club History". Westsmagpies.com.au. 4 February 1908. Archived from the original on 27 January 2014. Retrieved 15 December 2013.
- westsmagpies.net (2008). "Western Sburbs Magpies Hall of Fame". Wests Archives. Western Suburbs Magpies R.L.F.C. Archived from the original on 14 October 2008. Retrieved 28 November 2009.
- "Western Suburbs Team of the Century". Wests Archives. Western Suburbs Magpies R.L.F.C. 2008. Archived from the original on 11 April 2013. Retrieved 28 November 2009.
- Goodwin, Dorothy (26 September 1982). "Eels Premier Tip". League Souvenir. Sun-Herald, The. Retrieved 27 September 2009.[dead link]
- Lester, Gary (1995). Clouds of dust, buckets of blood: the story of the Western Suburbs Rugby League Magpies. Playright Publishing. ISBN 9780949853523.