[Article 8061]The Yanks are Coming. The 1953 American All Stars Tour of Australia.

The 1953 American All Stars Tour, it is just over 65 years since this very ambitious (some say crazy)  event happened.

The story below is more of a pictorial than a written story of this tour.

If you would like to read the full story I highly recommend the book written by Gavin Willacy.

Gavin’s book covers the Australian tour as well as the New Zealand and France Tours by the All Stars.

The book is called  “No Helmets Required”

gavin willacy

Gavin’s book can be purchased via Amazon.


The pictorial begins……

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A mate of mine Steve Dillon went to the Parramatta Rugby League ex players Reunion a few weeks ago to seek out autographs for his collection and  was telling me about the large number the old Parramatta players who were there a few from the 1950’s and I said to Steve jokingly “was Al E Kirkland there ?”.

Alvin Kirkland jumping

That’s Alvin jumping over team mates at Coogee Oval.

Alvin Earl Kirkland was the best player from the American All Stars team and returned to Sydney and played 18 games for Parramatta in 1956.

Harry Wells spoke of Al Kirkland during my interview with Harry and said “he was by far the best of the Yanks”

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Harry Wells around 1953.

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Match report from the SMH .


aas program

april 6

The story above has been taken from the Rugby League News of the 6th April 1953.

Very big news at the time. The other big news was that I was born 6 days earlier!!!!

The American All Stars Tour of 1953 of Australia and New Zealand was the brain child of Mike Dimitro ex wrestler and pro American football player.

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Big Mike in his playing days.

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Flip side of Mike’s card.

Below are some stories about the lead up to the Tour.

dec 15th 1952

april 15

april 18th

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About to board the PAA flight to Sydney, Australia.

april 18

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may 2

That’s one game every 3 days…

may 16thh

may 16th

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Al Abajian doing push ups at Coogee Oval.

 *Photo thanks to Steven Lalich.

may 16

Plenty of pre-tour stories in the RLN.

may 18th

The Yanks are HERE!!

may 19th

may 23rddddd

mix action shot coogee oval

 may 20thh

aas at coogee oval

Vince Jones, Alvin in the middle and Ray Terry.

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The full team stats.

may 20th

may 0000

may 25th

First game, first win.

may 22nd advert Southern d at Manuka oval canberra

Advert for the first official game of the tour.

may 00

alvin kirkland game report v sd at canberra

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Both captains shake hands before the game.

* Photo thanks to Steven Lalich.

may 28thhhh

Our man Al E. Kirkland scores 4 tries.

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Colour Action shot of the Canberra game.

ed demirjian v sothern team @ canberra

may 28th

A very good start to the official Tour.


may 23rdddd

may 27

syd 11

may 30

The All Stars first big game.

may 30th

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An on the spot report of the day….

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Team photo taken at the SCG.

* Photo thanks to Steven Lalich.


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Alvin is everywhere.

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Sydney Walker in the head gear.

* Photo thanks to Steven Lalich.

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Rare colour photo of the All Stars v NSW.

L to R Keith Holman, Jack Bonetti (4),Ted Grossman (2).

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Roy Bull tackles Al D. Kirkland.

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4 Days later the All Stars play NSW at the SCG.

nsw v aas

june 2

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june 4th

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3 more tries to Alvin Earl Kirkland.

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Team Photo taken outside the Old Coogee Aquarium.

* photo thanks to Steven Lalich.

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Coogee Aquarium in 1910.


 No rest for the All Stars, 4 days later they played the NSW Country First at Wollongong Show ground.

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woll 4

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june 13th


3 days later the Yanks meet our Wild West….

Western Division @ Dubbo.

team stats

The full team has arrived.

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dubbo 10

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Bill Albans

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Images below thanks to Jack Lumdsen and Steven Lalich.

1953 Dubbo cover

Cover of the program from the Dubbo game.

1953 Dubbo players facts

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West’s Keith Holman gets a mention in this Dubbo Newspaper report.


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Nice words from Vince Jones.

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Vince Jones shaking hands with the Little Master.


The Show rolls onto Newcastle.

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june 13thh

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Winners are grinners.

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Game 7 and its up to Coffs Harbour in NSW.

The All Stars play against a combined Northern Division / North Coast team.


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Below is the Northern New South Wales team that played the All Stars.

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Time to catch the fast train to Brisbane and the start of the Queensland leg of the Tour.

9 games in total the first one was against QLD Firsts at Brisbane.

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QLD winger Bob Buckley scores a try . All Star player number 12 is Sol Naumu.

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The next game is against Far North Queensland played in Cairns.

This time they traveled by plane.

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june 27th


The All Stars now head South to Townsville to play North Queensland.

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Note: Future Wests player Kel O’Shea playing for North Queensland.

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Two Magpies. Big Kel O’Shea and Yappy Holman.

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Hardly Thrashed!!

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Jack Bonetti and Bill Albans.

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Good news.


Game 11 of the Tour was played at Longreach Queensland against Central West QLD.


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al abajian plus two

Longreach 2

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longreach 5

longreach 3

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 Next stop was the town of Rockhampton.

The Boys were getting tired and carrying many injuries.

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The All Stars return to Brisbane to play a Brisbane First team.

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Bad news for Big Mike. The night game could of have been a financial Bonanza.

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bris july 7

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Alvin is still by far the best player in the All Stars Team.

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At last a break for the All Stars.


The Ipswich game was played a short week later on the 11th July 1953.

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july 18th

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At last the Yanks win.

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BUT the show must go on…..

july 12th


The All Stars Show rolls onto Toowoomba, Queensland.

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The Tour goes ahead until the final game in Sydney.


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Help is on it’s way.


The last game in Queensland.

It’s against a Wide Bay team @……


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There was other entertainment happening in Maryborough that weekend.

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With the Queensland section of the All Stars Tour complete it was back south to Gundagai in New South Wales.



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A very good Rugby League side.

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One of the more colorful All Stars. Frank Mandulay.

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Frank Mandulay .

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Note: Darcy Henry playing five – eight.

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One or two turn into four.

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The rings ins came from the third grade Balmain team.

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It’s time for the All Stars and a few other players to return to Sydney and play their last game on Australian soil against a New South Wales Team at the SCG.

Let the fun begin.


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A very young Jack Gibson.

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alan hornery

Alan Hornery played for Wests Sydney between 1948 and 1951.

Mick Crocker

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Not sure if Alec Watson played.

july 25thh

Not all would agree!!

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There was a lot happening in Sydney on that day.

july 25th

The weather report on the front cover states Fine, sunny, light south westerly.

Ground Hard.

 july 25thhh

Four Queenslanders are helping the Yanks defeat NSW.

july 25thhhhhh

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Ed Demirjian.

* Photo thanks to Steven Lalich.

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sydney walker

The American player replaced by Alan Hornery.

july 25thhhh

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Harry Wells, Tommy Ryan and Ken McCaffery in 2016.

All three men played with or against the All Stars.

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And then the American All Stars Tour of Australia was over…..well almost.

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Duncan Hall.

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july 25thhhhhh

 The Yanks as they were called back in 1953 headed across the ditch to New Zealand and their Tour continued.

Before I wrap up this story I will give the almost last word to Vince Jones the U.S. Captain.

aug 1st 1953

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Vince Jones and Ted Grossman.

1957 the after math

4 years later this story appeared in the SMH.

ips 8

  Was Don Lowth one of the “Mystery men” and how many other Aussie players played for the All Stars ???

gavin willacy

If you would like to read the full story I highly recommend the book written by Gavin Willacy.

Gavin’s book covers the Australian tour as well as the New Zealand and France Tours by the All Stars.

Yank Jumper 2018

This All Star jumper mainly worn by Gary Kerkorian sold recently for $850.

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 This story all started with a conversation with Steve Dillon about Al E. Kirkland.

Note: A big thanks to all who helped me source the material for this story.

Steven Lalich, Ken Vessey, Warren Thompson, Terry Williams , Steve Dillon and Mr Goggle.

If you have made it this far congratulations.

* The link below will take you to the excellent website of the NFSA which is short for National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.

The old film clip shows the All Stars training at Coogee Oval shortly after they arrived in Sydney.


The NFSA has a huge collection of all things Australian.




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