Missing First Grade Premiership Players Recognised

1st March 2023

The South Sydney Rabbitohs, in agreement with the South Sydney Rabbitohs Historical Society, have corrected the Club’s official first grade player number list, finding six players to have played first grade for South Sydney since 1908 that missed recognition in the first iteration of the list which was developed in 2002.

The original list was compiled in 2002, with a dinner held on October 4 to announce the players and their premiership number and celebarte the occassion. The original list was published in the 2003 Annual Report.

A number of errors however were identified by RL historians as they compiled similar lists. After the formation of the South Sydney Rabbitohs Historical Society in 2021 it was decided to once and for all address this issue. Michael Curin prepared his report at the request of the club and it was discussed and ratified by fellow historians Brad Ryder, Ross Mackay and Mark Sivis who had also identified a similar list of discrepancies. The list was then endorsed by the Football Club and annouced prior to start of the 2023 season.

Missing Players

The six players who have been discovered to play first grade and not included in the original list will be added to the end of the list after the final player to debut in the 2022 season. They are

1183 - Hanna, Alf – 1908 Round 3 debut versus Cumberland. Alf Hanna played in only one first grade game for Souths. Unfortunately, this is the only first grade game which is missing official teams because it was played as a curtain raiser to the First Test between Australia vs New Zealand and the media was not permitted to enter the players dressing rooms. Newspapers only published first half scorers (with Hanna scoring a try) and the final score. Hanna was born in 1888 at Paddington (Sydney) and played rugby union for Alexandria before coming to Souths in the inaugural rugby league season.

1184 - Thompson, Harry 'Hack' - 1911 Round 5 debut versus Western Suburbs. There was confusion between Harry R. Thompson with Hack Thompson, resulting in Harry R.Thompson getting two numbers and Hack Thompson getting none. Harry ‘Hack’ Thompson played as a centre/winger, making his first grade debut at Souths as a 17-year-old, which was noted in many newspapers. He was a local Redfern boy who also played first grade rugby union with Souths in 1910, as a 16-year-old (six games, scoring two tries). He was born in 1894 in Redfern (Sydney) and died at Gladesville Hospital (Sydney) in 1968. Thompson was fast and tricky, though small of stature, and in 1912 had the distinction of touring New Zealand with the New South Wales team – at only 18 years of age. He played another two matches on the wing for NSW in 1915 before finishing his career on the flank in Souths' 5-3 loss to Balmain in the 1916 final. He also represented City in 1913-14 and Metropolis in 1913 and 1915.

1185 - Burke, Dick - 1923 Round 16 debut versus Western Suburbs. Dick Burke played in only one first grade premiership game for Souths when he came on as an early replacement for Hector Courtenay in 1923, and in the same year played twice in Souths’ City Cup side (scoring a try). He was a Souths junior who was born in 1901 at Redfern (Sydney) and died at Hornsby (Sydney) in 1939. He lived at Maroubra while playing for the Rabbitohs. In 1925 Burke moved to St. George, where he played another 8 games in the top grade. He also represented the Combined Sydney-Newcastle side in 1925 against Queensland.

1186 - Breen, Jim - 1924 Round 8 debut versus University. There was confusion between brothers Joe and Jim Breen as publications referred to both as J.Breen. Jim Breen is the younger brother of Joe Breen, who played for Souths in 1915-18 and Mascot in 1919-22 (as club captain). Jim was born in 1899 at Waterloo (Sydney) and died in 1957 at Sydney. He played in one first grade game in 1924 and a further ten games in the top grade in 1928 (all as captain). His Souths career started in 1920 with their Presidents Cup side, which lost the Final that year to Easts by 7-0. He also played for Mascot third grade in 1920-22, winning the premiership with the Mascot Two Blues in 1921-22, with his brother Joe. Jim lived at Alexandria and later at Kensington, working as a tram employee. In the 1930s he coached his junior club Alexandria, and in 1944 he coached Souths’ Presidents Cup side.

1187 - McWilliams, Bob - 1958 Round 12 versus Canterbury-Bankstown. A similar confusion occured between brothers Bob and Bruce McWilliams. Bob McWilliams is the younger brother of Bruce McWilliams, who also played for Souths. Bob was born in 1937 in Sydney and played his junior football with Alexandria Rovers. He played two first grade games for Souths in 1958 and then joined Canterbury in 1961. Bob was a regular in Canterbury’s reserve grade side and received his opportunity in first grade against Newtown in 1961, when Ray Gartner was injured (round three). After a late start to the season in 1962, Bob only played two further games in third grade for the Berries before retiring.

1188 - Kay, Darren - 1990 Round 22 versus Canberra. Darren Kay came on as a blood bin replacement against Canberra in the last round of 1990 season. He is listed in the 1990 Annual Report, and match events confirmed directly with him. He was on the field for only 2-3 minutes and that’s why none of the newspapers or magazines noted him in their match reports or line-ups. Kay is the second cousin of Johnny Kay, who also played for Souths. He was born in 1969 at Crown Street Women’s Hospital (Sydney), playing his junior football with Mascot Jets and Carrington Cougars.

Duplicate Players Numbers

Ten players who were duplicated in the list will see their second numbers deleted from the list and those numbers will not be replaced. This allows for any correction if further information comes to light. It also ensures that players who have already been given a first grade player number will maintain that number for perpetuity. The duplicate players are -

Jack Coxon (No. 18) and Max Coxon (No. 49) are the same player. His full name is Maxwell Wallace Coxon and some newspapers called him Jack. He was enticed to switch codes when the first Australian Kangaroos left our shores on their tour of Great Britain. Coxon was born in Cobargo (near Bega) in 1882 and died in 1948 from a massive heart attack while at work. He lived in Lithgow before coming to Sydney, where he played rugby union for Souths in 1906-08 (24 games scoring four tries), as a hooker. He was considered a great replacement for our club captain, Arthur Hennessy, who was part of the First Kangaroos.

Harry Thompson (No. 31) and Harry R. Thompson (No. 66) is the same player. He played in the forwards, starting with Wests’ rugby union side in 1907 (two games), then switched codes to play for Easts in 1908, and Souths in 1909. The following season he went back to Easts (playing lower grades), and in 1911 he moved to Wests. He came back to Souths to finish his career in 1912-14. Newspapers started using H. R. for his initials while at Wests in 1911 because South Sydney had another Harry Thompson playing at the time. Our 1912 City Cup photo included both H. Thompson’s. "Sydney Sportsman" newspaper gave him a full name in 1911 Harold Romeo Thompson.

J. Reynolds (No. 48) and G. Reynolds (No. 74) is the same player. This is George Reynolds, who was probably the first indigenous player to have played first grade football in Sydney. He was called up into First Grade in 1911 and there was a typographical error in the newspapers which was common at the time when a person's running writing was be being translated into type set. The 'Sydney Sportsman' newspaper referred to him as "Darky" Reynolds, reporting on the 1914 Metropolitan team when it referred to him as "the representative from La Perouse". Laidley Burge (ex-Glebe player) said this of Reynolds in Max Solling’s book "An Act of Bastardry" (History of the Glebe RLFC): "Reynolds was a five-eighth with great pace, who played 17 games for Glebe in 1918-19, as a player of Aboriginal descent." Reynolds played for South Sydney Federals in 1909-12 (17 games in second grade and nine games in third grade), as well as for Souths when needed. He transferred to Annandale on loan in 1913 (13 games, two tries), and Glebe in 1918-19 (17 games, three tries). For Souths he played in 1911 and 1914-17 – nine first grade games (scoring one try), and 16 reserve/second grade games (scoring a try and a goal). He also represented Metropolis while at Souths in 1914. Reynolds was born in 1889 at Sydney and died in 1962.

H. Groves (No. 50) and Bill Groves (No. 59) are the same player. This is Billy ‘Corey’ Groves and our 1911 Annual Report and lower grade match reports confirm they are the same player. He first appeared in Souths’ first ever Presidents Cup side in 1910, and in the same season represented NSW Juniors in three games (scoring a try). The following season he was graded by Souths and in his ten seasons with the Rabbitohs he played in 67 first grade premiership games (scoring eight tries), six City Cup games, 56 second/reserve grade premiership games (scoring five tries) and one League Cup game. In 1921 he moved to Newtown, where he played in another four first grade premiership games (scoring a try). Groves was a Souths junior, born in 1890 at Glebe (Sydney) and died in 1964.

J. Smith (No. 51) and A. Smith (No. 65) is also the same player. His name was Alfred Smith and the newspapers published his initial incorrectly when he made his debut. Our Annual Report confirms we only had A. Smith play for us, while 'The Sun' newspaper published this about Smith and George Reynolds in 1912: "G. Reynolds and A. Smith also represented South Sydney First Grade team when the Australasian team went away, and acquitted themselves well." Smith played lower grades for South Sydney Federals in 1910-14, and filled in for Souths when they needed him, including two first grade premiership games and three City Cup games (scoring a try). He was born in 1891 at Redfern (Sydney) and died in 1952.

A. Sheehan (No. 98) and Bill Sheehan (no. 110) are the same player. This is all Bill Sheehan and our 1917 Annual Report confirms it’s the same person. Newspapers published his initials incorrectly. He started his playing career with South Sydney Kinkora in third grade in 1915, where he played in eight games (one as captain), scoring three tries and a goal. The following season he was graded by Souths and in the next eight seasons with the Rabbitohs he played in five first grade premiership games, three City Cup games, 57 second/reserve grade premiership games (scoring five tries and 20 goals), nine League Cup games (scoring two tries and seven goals), and nine third grade games (scoring two tries and five goals). Sheehan was a Souths junior, who was born in 1895 at Redfern (Sydney) and died in 1946. Bill was the older brother of Charlie and Vincent Sheehan, who also played for the Rabbitohs.

Harold Holmes (No. 101) and E. Holmes (No. 110) is the same player. This is Harry Holmes as confirmed by our 1918 Annual Report and newspaper reports. He made his Souths debut in 1918 (Round 2), but originally came from Wests where he made one first grade appearance in 1917, and later played for Easts. Holmes was born in 1894 at St. Peters (Sydney) and died in 1955.

Murphy (No. 120) and Pat Murphy (No. 130) are the same player. Our 1920 Annual Report confirms this is all the same player. He first played for Alexandria in Third Grade in 1916 and 1919 (six games, scoring three tries). His Souths career started after WWI in 1919-26, where he played in 40 first grade games (scoring four tries), and 42 games second grade games (scoring eight tries). He also represented NSW four times in 1925 (scoring a try), Metropolis in 1923 and the Probables in 1924 (scoring a try). Murphy was a Souths junior, born in 1899 at Paddington (Sydney) and died in 1959.

G. Funnell (No. 121) and Fred Funnell (No. 126) is the same player. Our 1921 Annual Report confirms this is all Fred Funnell after newspapers had a typrographical error when he debuted. He played in 30 first grade premiership games for Souths (scoring four tries), 12 City Cup games (scoring three tries), 25 second/reserve grade premiership games (scoring three tries) and five League Cup games (scoring a try). He also represented NSW in two minor games in 1921 (scoring a try). Funnell was a Souths junior, born in 1897 at Waterloo (Sydney) and died in 1945.

G. Potter (No. 207) and A. Potter (No. 238) are the same player. His full name was Arthur Augustus Potter and our club Annual Reports and other publications printed his name with one A and AA, as well as G (which was short for his middle name – Gus). Potter was born in 1910 at Mangaweka (NZ) and died in 1984. He was living in Coogee while playing for Souths. Potter played in five first grade premiership games for Souths, three City Cup games, 34 reserve grade premiership games (scoring four tries) and 11 third grade premiership games (scoring a try). He first played rugby union in the Kentwell Cup before coming to the Rabbitohs.

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