Wests have been involved in many premiership titles since Rugby League started in 1908.
Wests have won the premiership on 4 occasions. 1930, 1934, 1948 and 1952.
Wests were also runners up in 1918, 1925, 1932, 1950, 1958 and the famous Trifecta against St George 1961, 62, and 1963.
Famous photo from the 1963 Grand Final.
Rare photo from the the SMH.
That’s John Mowbray caring for Kevin Ryan.
A little bit of Rugby League History.
Rugby league in NSW began in 1908, the first premiership deciding game was played at the Royal Agricultural Society Showground, with Souths defeating Easts 14-12. From 1912 to 1925, no finals system was in place, however in 1916, 1922, 1923 and 1924, a match was played as a tiebreaker to decide the season’s premiership winner. From 1926 to 1953, finals were played under the Argus system, which produced a deciding game in two slightly differing ways.
All of these deciding games are now deemed to be grand finals, whether they were referred to as such at the time or not.
From 1954 to the present, using a variety of systems, the deciding match has been explicitly termed a grand final, and no distinction is made between grand finals played under the auspices of the various governing bodies.
A little confusing but that’s Rugby League…..
Lets go way back in time to 1918….Wests were runners up to Souths. Wests won 11 games and Lost 3.
Souths won 12 and lost 2 . Simply system.
St Lukes Oval at Concord was the home ground and Herb Gilbert was the Captain of Wests.
Herb Gilbert dual International.
Note: After leaving Wests Herb was the captain-coach of the St. George Dragons club in their inaugural season 1920, he is considered one of the nation’s finest footballers of the 20th century.
Wests squad 1918, 1919 and 1920.
In 1925 Wests were again runners up to South Sydney. Wests Won 6 but lost 5.
Wests home ground had moved back to Pratten Park and E.Stapleton was Captain.
Souths finished 10 points clear of Wests.
Wests Team. Runners up in 1925.
This was the start of Souths winning 5 premiership titles in a row.
Gordon Stettler .
Wests highest point scorer for 1925
Wests win their first Premiership in 1930.
Jimmy Craig was Captain/Coach of Wests in 1930. Wests won 12 games and only lost 2 during the regular season.
On the way to the title Wests beat South Sydney 9-5 in the Semi Final.
Then Lost the Final to St George 6-14 but Wests were able to challenge due to the fact that they were Minor Premiers.
Game report from the SMH.
On the 4th of October Wests 27 beat St George 2 in the first Grand Final in the Sydney competition.
I think a lot of Wests players and supporters used De Witt’s Pills after this brilliant win.
1932 Runners up again.
Jim Craig was still coach, Wild Bill Brogan was Captain and Pratten Park was Wests home ground.
Wests during the regular season played 14 games. They won 11 and lost 3.
Wild Bill Brogan.
The car Wests supporters preferred to drive!!!
In 1932 Wests were on the other side of the Challenge system. Souths were Minor Premiers and when Wests beat them in the Final 23 to 8.
Action shot of Wests V Souths Final. Wests 23 give Souths 8 a thrashing.
Souths under the rules could challenge Wests the following week.
The game was played at the old Sydney Sports Ground.
The score in the Grand Final Challenge Souths Sydney 19 Wests 12.
After the game it was time for a bit of father and son bonding….1932 style.
Wests – from wooden spoon to premiers.
Wests under new coach and captain Frank “Skinny”McMillan Wests came from the wooden spoon in 1933 and won the comp in 1934.
Wests played 18 games winning 16 and losing only 2 games in the regular season.
Wests and Easts finished on equal points so there was a playoff between Wests and Easts to determine who was the minor premiers.
Wests 7 beat Easts 2. Having won this game it gave Wests the right to challenge if beaten in the Final.
Wests beat St George in the Semi final 16 to 6 .
Easts 19 beat Souths 6 in the other semi but due to bad weather it was 2 weeks before Wests v Easts could be held at the SCG.
The winning Wests team of 1932.
Meanwhile on the other side of the world….our Don is at it again!!!
Only 3 years after the war Wests win the 1948 Sydney Rugby League Comp.
On September 18th at the SCG before a crowd of almost 30,000 Wests 8 beat Balmain 5.
Pratten Park around 1948.
Jeff Smith was the coach and Jack “Duck” Walsh was captain and the Magpies were still playing out of Pratten Park.
Coach Jeff Smith with the glasses.
Jack Walsh on the burst. A very young Bernie Purcell in support.
Wests played 18 games winning 16 and losing only 2 during the regular season.
Wests were minor premiers which was excellent because Balmain beat them in the Semi Final 8 to 7.
The Challenger system saved Wests again.
The winning team and a few officials !!!
Meanwhile across town big things were about to happen.
It was the start of a new decade and Wests almost beat a red hot Souths at the SCG.
Along the way Wests played 18 games winning 10 and losing 6 with 2 draws.
Wests and Australia’s Dynamic Duo Keith Holman and Frank Stanmore
Jeff Smith was coach again and a young Frank Stanmore was Captain of Wests.
Wests 28 beat Balmain 10 in the Semi Final played on the 9th September at the SCG.
Just down the road at The Old Tin Shed it was on for young and old…
Note: I believe that the Chief won the bout with his famous Tomahawk Chop move.
Souths 30 beat Newtown 4 in the other semi setting the scene for a exciting Grand Final the following Saturday.
Yappy wins the Canteen of Cutlery and 150 quid…not bad.
Souths 21 beat the Magpies 15.
Because Souths were the Minor premiers there was no Challenge to be made by Wests.
Nothing to do with Wests or Rugby League…..this story was on the same page as the Rugby League GF report.
1952 was a Kangaroo Tour year and both Wests and Souths were missing some top line players .
Wests had Keith Holman and Frank Stanmore on tour and Souths had Clive Churchill, Col Donohoe and Greg Harwick.
During the normal season Wests played 18 games winning 14 losing 3 and 1 draw. With that record Wests won the Minor Premiership.
Tom McMahon was Wests new coach . Captain was Peter McLean.
Peter McLean being chaired off after the 1952 Grand Final win.
Col Ratcliffe is on Peter’s left and Ron Watson on his right.
Col Ratcliffe on the right talking to Rick Wayde at the 2017 Pratten Park Magpies reunion.
The Semi Final was played on the 30th of August at the SCG against Souths. Wests 10 were beaten by Souths 18.
Because Wests had won the Minor Premiership they still went into the Grand Final which was played on the 20th of September.
Yes that’s right ….21 days later !!!
Souths 25 beat North Sydney 12 in the Final to be eligible to play Wests in the Grand Final.
I have tried to cover the 2 weeks leading up to the Grand Final to try and get the feeling of what was about to happen on Saturday the 20th September 1952.
Wests went to Maitland to play a game against Maitland during this extended break and the drama of Dev Dines coming back to play in the Grand Final for Wests.
A little bit of drama.
The head lines read…
Saints sink “The Millionaires” .
Lets see what happened in and around September of 1958.
Wests coach was ex – player Vic Hey and the Wests captain was Harry Wells.
L to R. Harry Wells, Vic Hey and Dick Poole.
Wests played 18 games during the regular season winning 12 losing 6.
They finished the season coming 2nd to St George.
Wests played St George in the Major Semi Final on the 30th of August at the SCG before a crowd of over 38 thousand fans.
Not a Millionaire in sight.
Pretty sure they meant Peter Dimond.
Peter Dimond in full flight…scary!!
Because of this win Wests go straight through to the Grand Final .
Below is a few stories leading up to the GF on Saturday the 13th of September.
L to R. Billy Wilson, Ken Kearney, Harry Bath, Bobby Bugden with Monty Porter head shot.
Not sure about Billy Wilson but the rest of the St George pack used these products.
Harry Wells and Alan Davidson at Ashfield Park.
Harry and Alan at a Pratten Park Magpies function.
Time to tune into Tiger Black on 2KY and listen to the 1958 Grand Final.
After the big build up…..disappointment for all. Except Saints of course.
Who knows maybe the Dimond switch was used one game to early??
Some good news on the day Wests won the 3rd Grade Grand Final.
1961 was the start of the 3 years of Wests playing St George in Grand Finals.
Spoiler alert Saints won all three.
Wests had a very good season playing in 18 games winning 15 and losing 3.
Wests came second to the St George Machine.
Jack Fitzgerald counting the stitches on the ball with Ken Bray.
New coach was ex -Wests player Jack Fitzgerald and Nev Charlton was Captain.
Saints by 1961 had won 5 straight Grand Final wins. Would Wests of 1961 be their 6th???
Wests played St George in the Major Semi Final on the 2nd of September.
Nev Charlton makes a break.
After this lose Wests played Balmain in the Final . The winner played St George in the Grand Final.
The “last minute warning” must of worked Wests won…..just!!!
Image of program from the private collection of Rick Fetherston.
Onto Grand Final week….1961 style.
Big Kel shortly before his death in 2015.
It does start to get a little boring…….
The St George fans were sitting in their cars listening on their New Pressmatic Car Radio to Frank Hyde on 2SM.
For a change Wests finished 3rd in 1962 behind St George and Newtown. Wests played 18 games winning 12 losing 5 and drew 1.
Coach was Jack Fitzgerald and Kel O’Shea (C.)
Kel O’Shea .
Wests played St George in the last round of the comp at the SCG.
The New 1962 Holden.
Just for the record Wests played at the SCG 7 times in 1962.
Because Wests came 3rd they had to play Parramatta in the Minor Semi.
Thanks to Rick Fetherston for his help obtaining these rare programs.
Gil McDougall scores 2 tries and Wests win.
Newtown 9 had been beaten by St George 30 in the Major semi.
Now the Blue Bags faced Wests to see who would play St George for the J.J. Giltinan Shield.
Thanks again Rick….pity about the autographs .
Wests have a convincing win against the Blue Bags.
Words of advice from an old Magpie.
The Grand Final week in 1962 was full of surprises. Nothing much has changed!!!
Col Pearce was not Happy!!!
Union convert George Evans, Kevin McDonald and Coach Sticks Provan.
Ken Bray gets the “Oranges” call from Arthur Summons.
L to R. Ken Bray, Denis Meaney and coach Jack Fitzgerald.
Thanks to Ken Bray for giving me permission to use these photos from his personal collection.
Jim Cody and Ken Bray at the 2017 Pratten Park Magpies reunion.
L to R. Jim Cody, Gil McDougall, Ken Bray, Jack Fitzgerald and Johnny Mowbray.
Note: Not sure why Mowy was there he was not in the 1962 G.F. side ???
Two changes Ken Bray for Don Parish and Garry Russell for Kel O’Shea.
Arthur Summons was Captain.
Not even PD could change the outcome.
Thats Johnny Greaves on the deck.
Pat Thomas and John Greaves at a PPM reunion.
Just after in happened…Billy Wilson (bald head) and Young Jim Cody in front of him on the ground …
Watch the highlights on You Tube of the 1962 Grand Final.
Click on link below.
Little did Wests and their thousands of supporters know that 1963 would be the last time Wests were involved in a First Grade Grand Final.
1963 was a Kangaroo Tour year but with the advent of modern aeroplanes there was no need for the players to leave our shores before the Grand Final was played.
Wests were runners up (AGAIN) to St George.
Winning 14 and losing 4 out of the 18 games played in the regular season.
Jack Fitzgerald was coach and Arthur Summons was Captain.
Aerial photo of the SCG area . This is were all the drama was about to unfold.
Just for the record…Top to Bottom…Syd Sports Ground, SCG No 2, The SCG and the Showground.
Because Wests ran second they played St George in the Major Semi at the SCG on the 10th of August.
John Mowbray. Size did not matter to Mowy.
A little different from to-days team chats…..no baseball caps, no tatts, ……
Wests now go straight to the Grand Final to play the winner of St George and Parramatta.
Saints just beat Parramatta. St George 12 Parramatta 7.
Almost an Eels v Magpies Grand Final.
The week of the Grand Final begins.
Even at training its a scary sight.
Chang and Mrs Raper.
Arthur Summons talking about the 1963 Grand Final. And signing Wests jumpers with Rick Wayde.
Noel Kelly and Don Hall are behind Arthur.
The photo below was taken just before Wests ran onto the SCG.
Top L to R. Chow Hayes, Jack Gibson, Kel O’Shea, Denis Meaney, Ned, Jazza.
Bottom L to R. Kevin Smyth, PD, Gil Mc Dougall, Arthur Summons, Podgy Mc Guinness, Irish Malone, Don Parish.
The 3 men retiring from Rugby League run onto the SCG first.
A little about the Famous Fake tackle below….taken from the Sun Herald game report.
As Jack Palance would say “Believe it or not……
The Famous photo.
From a different angle.
Big Norm Provan chaired off by I think LtoR Chang, Monty Porter and Johnny King.
My favorite photo of the 1963 Grand Final.
On a personal note my late Mum and I were standing behind the posts at the Randwick end of the SCG cheering on our beloved Magpies.
It was raining, very wet and cold and the only time we could see the game was when the players came down to the Randwick end.
Both mum and I agree Peter Dimond did score that try ….
* Marks the spot where Mrs Lewis and her 10 year old son Tony stood on the 24th August 1963
Thanks for taking me mum.