CHATHAM resident Keith Hardy uncovered a bit of local rugby league history while doing a touch of spring cleaning recently.
In an old shoe box he found the Taree Old Bar Rugby League Club’s 1936 balance sheet. Keith’s dad, Alan – a long serving official with the club later known as The Lifesavers, was the treasurer.
Taree Old Bar was one of the rugby league powerhouses here between the wars. The club was then Taree’s sole representative in competitions that included the Manning League and the Lower Manning League while cup football was a lucrative money spinner for clubs.
According to the ledger Old Bar played games at places including Coopernook (Gully Cup matches), Moorland, Wherrol Flat and Sidebottom. The club took a bus to these games – the cost was 3 pounds 10. Nomination and registration of players incurred an impost of 3 pounds 15. A football bladder set the club back 1 shilling 9 while Mrs Hardy was paid 1 pound 16 to wash the football jumpers. Four pairs of football socks cost 11 shillings 8. Benzine for P Fraser’s trips to Coopernook cost 6 shillings.
The club relied heavily on gate takings which tallied 11 pounds 18 for the season. It was decades before sponsorship became part of the rugby league scene, however, the then publican of the Royal Hotel, Bill Scahill, gave the club 2 pounds 2 shillings, although the reasons for his largess aren’t noted.
Profits from doubles amounted to 7 pounds 7.1.
Football clubs tended to be the epicentre of social life back then, as proceeds from dances run on Saturday June 27, Monday June 29 and July 4 also contributed to Taree Old Bar’s financial well being.
In all the club operated on 30 pounds 7.1 for the year.
It was around this time that Old Bar applied to the Taree Show Society to play Sunday cup games at the Taree Showground. It was reported in Taree Old Bar's reunion book released from 1994 that Mr Scahill told the MR Times in 1937 that he intended to import players and field on of the strongest cup teams on the North Coast for cup matches
“It was a statement which was to have unforeseen results on the Taree Old Bar club the next year,’’ the book said.
Taree Old Bar was disqualified for life by the Country Rugby League following an exhibition match against Gloucester that was never played at Taree Showground on August 28 1938. Old Bar named a side that included two 1937 Kangaroo tourists, a centre from North Sydney and two Newcastle representatives. The biggest pre-war crowd for a rugby league game had turned out to watch the game. Gloucester took one look at the Old Bar side and refused to take the field. Then the gate keeper absconded with the takings. But that’s another story.