Favorite Moments - 026 -050 Your fun memories from EOTB

fm44 - Saints and the Goulburn Blizzard 1921 - by Willow @ League Unlimited

Posted by... quigs eraofthebiff - on ... Monday, May 14, 2012
Willow @ League Unlimited
Gold Coast
St George .. is the club I follow

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Saints and the Goulburn 'blizzard'

It was in 1921 when the motion picture, "The Kid," starring Charlie Chaplin was released. In the same year, the Australian Cricket team completed 5-0 drubbing of England while Albert Einstein was busy lecturing in New York on his new theory of relativity. It was also in 1921 which saw the beginning of a long tradition as the St George Dragon Slayers ventured south, into the Illawarra and beyond.

In what was the new club’s second ever country match, St George found themselves bound for Goulburn, 120 miles away.

It was a period when less football was played and there were fewer first grade teams. There was no State of Origin, no long seasons and in 1921, no semi-final series.

By accident or design, the season saw a North Sydney team narrowly head off Eastern Suburbs to be declared the premiers after just nine rounds. Subsequently, the NSWRL Sydney Rugby League competition was over in June and with this, the ‘off season’ demanded that more football must be played.

The records of late July 1921 show that it was a sunny winter's morning when the St George District Rugby League Club assembled players, friends and officials on a Sydney railway platform. It was Saints’ first year in the big league with players such as Lyall Wall, Ernie Lapham, and Clarrie Tye in attendance.

We can imagine the brisk atmosphere with passengers chatting amongst themselves as they observed the excursion train bound for Goulburn being shunted along the track and towards it's terminal.

The lads hopped on board and it wasn’t long before they were approaching Moss Vale where sunshine soon gave way to rain. Then, as they neared their destination, the wind was picking up and snow was falling.

By the time the players arrived in Goulburn, near blizzard conditions had enveloped the area. A journalist for The Call, “Rambler”, described the conditions as: “The worst I ever saw for football in all my 34 years experience.”

Needless to say, it was intensely cold as a full blown snow storm swept across the field. The Goulburn team managed to score three tries against a shell shocked visiting side and at half time, the locals were in front 13-0.

Sid Thompson played the game and recalled the first half: “It was absolutely freezing and the ground was icy and hard. I remember a loose ball behind the line and Reg Fusedale calling to me, ‘Dive on it!’ I replied, quick smart: ‘Dive on it your bloody self!’”

With an ice hard pitch to contend with, neither side fancied the notion of being repeatedly delivered to the turf. It wasn’t long before they were bleeding from cuts and wearing the bruises of an uncompromising expanse. So harsh were the conditions that it appeared unlikely that the game could continue. But with the half time called,

Saints' captain Herb Gilbert [pictured] - one of the toughest bastards to ever play the game - then ordered his players to change ends and continue.

The freezing conditions however, were also taking its toll on the locals. Despite holding a handy lead, Goulburn refused to return to the field, much to the relief of most in attendance. They looked to the sheds and just kept walking, thereby forfeiting the match to a St George side who stood like desperate monoliths on the mud, snow and ice.

”Scrum-Half”, a journalist for The Propeller wrote: “[Herb] Gilbert wanted to change straight around and continue but the Goulbournites refused to go any further with the game, and left the field – saying Saints could have the match.”

Later that afternoon in the hotel, the bath and the heater was in great demand. Players’ gear stood stiff and frozen as the team members remembered the Goulburn blizzard.

“Rambler” who traveled with the team was there as well and later wrote, “It’s a wonder any St George player is alive to tell the tale.”


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