The Early Years 1908-1930

1910 – Charles “Boxer” Russell kicked the goal that ensured Newtown’s first premiership win in 1910, and he also coached Newtown’s 1933 premiership winning team.

1910 – Newtown’s first grade premiership-winning team of 1910 was definitely a “team of all the talents”. No less than seven members of this team went on to win selection in the 1911-12 Australian Kangaroos touring team that won the Ashes in England.Bill Noble (sitting in the middle of the front row) captained the side although Charles “Boxer” Russell (in the same row as Noble, two in from the left) captained the team in the final competition round. The 1910 premiership was decided on a “first past the post” basis in those early years of the NSW Rugby League.

1910-1920 – Billy Farnsworth, one of three brothers, switched from the Wallabies in 1909 and was a key figure in the success of the 1911-1912 Kangaroo side. His brothers, Vivian and Roy, followed him into the Newtown ranks.

1910-1920 – Dick Townsend and Felix RyanFelix Ryan [right] joined Newtown in 1913 and played with the Bluebags over the next 11 seasons, every one in the top grade. Ryan played for Australia against New Zealand in 1919 and against Great Britain in 1921. Dick Townsend was one of Newtown’s pioneers in 1908, appearing in 3rd grade for the club’s first ever fixture. He made his first grade debut in 1913 and went on to play 127 matches in total, many of them as captain. Like Ryan, he was a Kangaroo in 1921.

Building a Tradition – the 30’s & 40’s

1933 – Newtown’s first grade premiership-winning team was coached by the multi-talented Charles “Boxer” Russell(standing in the middle of the back row). “Boxer” Russell was named as a winger in Newtown’s Team of the Century at the club’s Centenary Dinner in July 2008. 

Newtown defeated St George 18-5 in the premiership final of 1933.

1937 – Newtown’s RLFC first grade City Cup winning team.Frank Hyde is third from the right in the back row. Frank was a stylish and scheming centre-threequarter with the Bluebags from 1934 to 1937 before moving on to Balmain and North Sydney.

1940 – Champion second-rower Herb Narvo gave Newtown great service in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s, and also served with the RAAF in World War II.

1943 – Newtown’s first grade premiership-winning team was captained by the redoubtable Frank “Bumper” Farrell [sitting in the middle of the front row].

Farrell was named as captain of Newtown’s Team of the Century at the club’s Centenary Dinner in July 2008.

1948 – Frank “Bumper” Farrell was without doubt one of the most colourful identities in the long history of the Newtown Rugby League Football Club. Farrell, a rugged and uncompromising front-rower of the old school, served the Bluebags well as a player for more than 15 years and also represented NSW and Australia.

He gained even greater fame as a long-serving NSW police officer and as the head of the Sydney Vice Squad, from where he entered the pages of Sydney folklore with tales of his vigorous law-enforcement exploits.

A whole new world – the 50’s & 60’s

1950 – Stylish centre, Dick Poole, was captain-coach of both Newtown and Australia in his successful playing career that extended over thirteen seasons. He is pictured here in action against Eastern Suburbs.

1954 – The Grand Final was the first of two successive losses to the South Sydney Rabbitohs. The Bluebags lost the 1954 decider by 23-12 and then in a real heart-breaker went down 12-11 in the 1955 Grand Final. Dick Poole is third from the right, front row.


1955 – If you wanted pathos 1955 was the year! Newtown had won the first grade minor premiership and went into the Grand Final as favourites. South Sydney grabbed a 12-11 lead late in the game and the Bluebags narrowly missed a last-minute penalty goal attempt. Dick Poole captained the team and is sitting in the middle of the centre row.

1955 – Dick Poole speeds away from a lunging Rabbitoh. Dick was captain-coach of the Bluebags team that went down to Souths, 12-11, in the 1955 grand final.

 1956 – The victorious Newtown Bluebags President’s Cup team had one player in its ranks who was to achieve Rugby League immortality – the great John Raper. Raper represented NSW Colts against Great Britain in 1958 while still playing with Newtown, and was immediately identified by the legendary British forward Vince Karalius as a champion of the future. And what about John Raper’s 1950’s crew-cut hairdo! [Second back row, fourth from right]

1957 – Australian Rugby League Board of Control supremo, Harry “Jersey” Flegg, presents Dick Poole and Brian Claywith their 1957 World Cup Australian blazers.

1958 – This year saw some of Newtown’s finest play for NSW against the visiting Great Britain team. In this photo, Gordon Clifford hares off down field, chased by the legendary English halfback, Alex Murphy. In 2008, 50 years later, Gordon Clifford was named Fullback in Newton’s Team of the Century.


1958 – John Raper, the man rated by the late Frank Hyde as the greatest player he had ever seen in Australian Rugby League football. Raper was a product of St Joseph’s CBC, Newtown and the famous Camperdown Dragons juniors. He played with Newtown from 1956-58 before transferring to St George and a stellar career in international, interstate and club Rugby League. This Ern McQuillan photo of John was taken at a Newtown training session at Henson Park in 1958.


1966 – Great Britain’s mercurial halfback, Alex Murphy, wore a Newtown jersey on the front-cover of his 1966 autobiography. Frank Hyde always claimed that Alex Murphy and John Raper were the two best players he had ever seen in more than 80 years of following Rugby League.


 1970 – Brian “Chicka” Moore is unquestionably one of the great names of the Newtown RLFC century. He first came to Henson Park in 1962 and linked up with Bobby Keyes to forge a highly successful combination that brought both them and the team great success. After a coaching stint in Newcastle in the 70’s, he returned to coach Newtown in 1983.

The Jets arrive – 1970-1983

1970 – Bill Buckley was the Chairman of the NSW Rugby League throughout the 1960’s and is credited with the rapid growth of Rugby League in that decade. He had played with Newtown in the 1920’s and is pictured at a Newtown Bluebags reunion in 1970 with (among others) John RaperAlf RichardsClem KennedyGeorge DebnamRay Kelly and Don Stait.

1970 – Harry Bath coached Newtown from 1969 to 1972. Pictured here with several of his first graders prior to a match at Henson Park in 1970. Newtown icon Brian “Chicka” Moore is at the right-hand side of the photo.

1973 – A special year for the Newtown club. Newtown made the semi-finals in all three grades and adopted the official nickname of the Jets. Newtown beat St George 1-0 on Saturday, 12th May at the SCG – and long-serving five-eighth Ken Wilson kicked the history-making field goal.

Ken’s career with Newtown extended from 1970 to 1983 and he is the club’s record points-scorer for both his career total and for a single season.

1973 – In addition to winning the NSW Rugby League Club Championship in 1973, Newtown also won the first grade pre-season competition final and the Wills Cup. Played at the Sydney Sports Ground on the night of 17th March 1973, the Jets trailed St George 15-2 at half-time and all seemed lost. Newtown staged an emotion-charged second half revival and appropriately club legend Brian “Chicka” Moore scored the winning try in the last minute, giving the Jets an incredible 17-15 victory. This photo of the Wills Cup winning team has clearly been taken in the Henson Park dressing rooms.Back row: B. Moore, T. Melville, J. Bradstock, P. Parry, D. Gardiner, M. Souter

Middle row: K. Wilson, M. Robertson, D. Oliveri, G Matthews, W. Snodgrass, M. Cohan
Front row: Gary Sullivan, John Bonham, Des O’Connor, N. Pringle, B. Cox

1973 ‘Jack’s Jets’ – Jack Gibson is regarded as the greatest coach of the first Rugby League century and Newtown’s 1973 Club Championship victory is among his finest achievements. For a financially-embattled club like Newtown, with the smallest junior league and supporter base, winning the NSW Rugby League Club Championship and the Fred Flowers MLC Memorial Pennant was claimed by some journalists to be akin to Iceland topping the gold medal count at the Summer Olympics!.Winners of the 1973 Rugby League championship – Newtown or “Jack’s Jets”

BACK ROW: Gary Jenkins, Paul Dawson, Chris Dawson, Warren Snodgrass, Bob Sullivan, Chris Kenne, Peter Gordon, Gary Sullivan, Brian Moore, Grahame Matthews, Henry Williamson, Peter Parry, Bill Coverdale.
2ND ROW: Jack Gibson (head coach), Clarrie Jeffries (coach), Mick Howell, Bob Reece, David Oliveri, Ron Fogarty, Barry Cox, T. Sullivan, Wayne Pinder, Peter Murphy, Col Casey, Denis Gardiner, Mark Cohen, Ian Sartori, Terry Fearnley (Coach).
3RD ROW: Dave Lucas, Mark Robertson, Neville Shoemark, Kevin Bradstock, Barry Wood, John Bradstock, Ken Wilson, Lionel Williamson, Steve Hansard, Tommy Melville, Bruce Pickett Mick Souter, John Davidson, John Bonham.
FRONT ROW: R. Collaro, Kevin Fidock, Paul Haywood, Johnny Floyd, Des O’Connor, Doug Kemister, Phil Flack, Dave Bett, G. Langley, K. Fleming, Neil Pringle, G.Hinkelbein.

1977 – American professional footballer and Oakland Raiders Super Bowl hero, Manfred Moore, had a short-lived but spectacular stint with the Newtown Jets in 1977. Here he is pictured in action against Cronulla-Sutherland at the SCG on Easter Monday, 1977.

1977 – After arriving in Sydney, Manfred trained for a month to learn the rudiments of rugby league. In his first game for the Jets, their Round 1 clash with the Magpies, he leapt high above Wests’ fullback, John Dorahy, to snatch the ball for a try. Here he is seen learning how to tackle with the help of Newtown’s famous, Dawson twins, Paul and Chris.

Geoff Bugden, pictured here in action against South Sydney, was a Newtown Juniors product who played first grade with the Jets from 1979 to 1981 and then transferred to Parramatta. He won the prestigious Rothmans Medal (awarded to the best player in the NSW Rugby League) in 1980 but severe leg and shoulder injuries prevented him from reaching his full potential.

1980 – The way we were – Newtown Jets first graders [left to right] Phil SigsworthPeter RyanCraig EllisJohn Mackayand Mick Pitman are all dressed “fit to kill” in this 1980 photo that captures the era so perfectly.

1981- The 1981 Final was played at the famous Sydney Cricket Ground on the 13th September between Newtown and Manly-Warringah. This elimination semi-final will always be remembered for the notorius all-in brawl with the main combatants Newtown’s Steve Bowden and Manly hardman Mark Broadhurst. Bowden was marched for the incident and was unable to take part in the Preliminary Final against Eastern Suburbs and the Grand Final against Parramatta.

1981 – Phil Gould moved to the Newtown Rugby League Football Club in 1981 where Warren Ryan was still honing the innovative coaching approach that transformed the way that top grade rugby league would be played in Australia throughout the next decade.After being also-rans for many years a turnaround was achieved in 1981 when Newtown made the Grand Final against Parramatta, the “Battle of the Battlers”, which slipped away from Newtown’s grasp in teh second half for a final losing score of 20-11.

1981 – Tom Raudonikis was signed from Western Suburbs at the end of the 1979 season and he immediately instilled a fiercely competitive and winning culture into the Newtown club. The Jets narrowly missed the playoffs in 1980 and were one of the front-running clubs for the 1981 season.Raudonikis is pictured here celebrating the try he scored from the scrum base early in the second half of the 1981 title decider. He is flanked in this photo by Phil “Gus” Gould on the left and John “Chicka” Ferguson on the right.Tom was named as Newtown’s greatest ever imported player at the club’s Centenary Dinner at the Petersham Town Hall on the evening of the 5th July 2008. Raudonikis remains a favourite son of both Western Suburbs and Newtown, the two 1908 foundation Rugby League clubs to which he rendered magnificent service.

1982 – Newtown Jets second-rower, Colin Murphy, was a hard-working forward and successful coach in his long association with the Newtown Jets. He is pictured here taking on the Balmain Tigers defence in a 1982 match at Leichhardt Oval.

Back to life – 1991 to the new centruy

Glen “Bumper” Dwyer, the Newtown RLFC’s Media Officer and prolific writer-commentator on the Jets and rugby league, played with a range of country clubs, including Lockhart, Wagga Kangaroos, Maitland and South Newcastle. Glen is seen here with John Raper and Colin Murphy at the club’s 2000 Season Launch at the SCG.

2004 – Five former Newtown RLFC first grade coaches gathered together at Henson Park in August 2004. From left to right: Brian Moore [1983], Jack Gibson [1973, when Newtown won its only NSWRL Club Championship], Clarrie Jeffreys[1974-76], Warren Ryan [1979-1982, including the 1981 Grand Final] and Dick Poole [captain-coach 1955-1958 and non-playing coach 1966-1968]. Dick was also captain-coach of the victorious and undefeated 1957 Australian Rugby League World Cup winning team.

2005 – The Newtown Jets VB Premier League team of 2005 with the coveted Frank Hyde Shield. Newtown Jets head coach, Colin Murphy, is wearing a cap at the right hand edge of the photo and team manager and statistician, John Little, is in the white shirt. Both men played significant roles with the club between 2000 and 2005. The Frank Hyde Shield is contested on an annual basis between the Newtown and North Sydney clubs.

A foundation partnership – 2006-…

2007 – The Newtown RLFC entered into a five-year partnership agreement with the progressive Sydney Roosters club (formerly Eastern Suburbs) at the end of 2005. A large number of talented youngsters have played with Newtown in the past three seasons and have moved on to become established NRL contracted players with the Roosters. Mitch AubussonShaun Kenny-Dowall and Shaun Foley are pictured here celebrating a Newtown Jets try against the Newcastle Knights in 2007.

2007 – Danny Williams with redoutable club Directors, Terry Rowney and Barry Vining. Danny was just one of the heros when a youthful Newtown Jets team took on a full-strength North Sydney team to contest the Frank Hyde Shield, May 2007. Danny had his nose badly smashed in the game’s first half but stayed on as a wonderful inspiration to his team-mates.

2008 – Newtown was well-represented in the 2008 NSW Residents team that defeated Queensland Residents 24-16 at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, 11 June. From left to right: Bobby Jones [Sydney Roosters, Team manager]; Mickey Paea,Shaun FoleyByron FordGreg Matterson [Newtown RLFC VB NSW Cup coach and NSW Residents coach].

2010 – The Newtown Jets of 2010 travel further afield for their competition matches than did the Bluebags of 1908, the club’s foundation year, or 1910, the year of the club’s first First Grade premiership.The modern-day Jets are pictured here in Melbourne on the occasion of their first away match against the Melbourne Storm 10 July 2010. The Melbourne tram in the background gives proof to their location.

Take a moment to browse a gallery of some of the players and officials who together wrote the history of the great Newtown Rugby League Football Club across the decades.

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