Did you know that Western Suburbs Rugby League Football Club started in 1908 after a meeting at Ashfield Town Hall on February 4, 1908.
"There was not one Wests player I did not want to play with... not one dud. I loved Wests. It is the greatest club in the world. To put on a Wests Jumper is equal to wearing an Australian jumper."
Noel Kelly, 1960-69
"I would say to Dallas in the dressing room, "I do not know if you are tough enough to handle these blokes". Dallas blood would boil. There were times when I knew I was one second away from a smack in the jaw."
Western Suburbs Magpies have won 4 first grade Premierships. 1930, 1934, 1948 and 1952.
In 2000, the Western Suburbs Magpies formed a 50:50 joint venture first grade side with the Balmain Tigers know as the Wests Tigers.
Western Suburbs Magpies won the NSWRL SG Ball Under 18s competition in 2002.
Did you know Wests are one of only five surviving Foundation Rugby League Clubs that have operated continuously since 1908 along with Norths, Easts (Sydney Roosters), Souths and Balmain.
Western Suburbs have produced five captains for the Australian Kangaroos. A record they share with St George. They are: Herb Gilbert (1920), Frank McMillan (1933-4), Col Maxwell (1948-9), Arthur Summons (1963-4) and Tom Raudonikis (1973)
Wests relocated from Lidcombe Oval to Orana Park in 1987 (Campbelltown Sports Stadium). Orana is an Aboriginal word for 'Welcome'.
Western Suburbs Magpies record Home Crowd was 21,015 against Parramatta at Lidcombe Oval on the 30th of July 1978
Wests Tigers record Home Crowd was 36,112 against the Eels at Stadium Australia on the 28th of March 2016.
Keith Holman is the most capped Magpie with 203 games. Two more games than Tom Raudonikis who played 201 games in the Black and White.
Noel Kelly was selected in the historic Australian Rugby League Team of the 1960s. He retired from league with an impressive 25 tests for Australia to his name.
Wests made history being the first team to go from Wooden Spoon one season (1933) to Premiers the next (1934)
Wests have been runners up eight times in first grade, including three years in a row in 1961, 62 and 63 to St George.
Western Suburbs Team of the 1970's. Fullback: John Dorahy Wingers: Russell Mullins, Don Rogers Centres: Ron Giteau, Steve Knight 5/8: Graeme O'Grady Half Back: Tom Raudonikis Lock: Les Boyd 2nd Row: John Elford, Geoff Foster Props: Jim Murphy , John Donnelly Hooker: Ray Brown Reserves: Johnny Baker, Bruce Gibbs, Mick Liubinskas, Wayne Smith Coach: Don Parish , Roy Masters
Every time a team raises the NRL Premiership Trophy they are raising a part of Wests.
The famous trophy features an embrace of Arthur Summons (Wests) and Norm Provan (St George) after the wet and muddy 1963 grand final.
Western Suburbs Magpies record crowd at Campbelltown Sports Stadium was 17,286 against St George in 1991.
Wests Tigers record crowd at Campbelltown Sports Stadium was 20,527 against the Cowboys in 2005.
We are the boys from Western Suburbs became the Clubs official song in 1972 but was written in the 1920s
Western Suburbs played in the first game of the NSWRL Competition against Balmain at Birchgrove Oval, on Easter Monday April 20, 1908. Balmain won the game 24-0. They played again on the same ground against Balmain exactly 100 years later. Wests won the centenary rematch 36-24.
"I played every game in 1939 and I got 17 pounds, 7 shillings and 7 pense. We would have played for nothing - the club spirit was fantastic. I loved the blokes I played with. I loved it at Wests."
Jimmy Sharman Jnr
Wests players Harry Wells (2007), Jimmy Craig (2005), Vic Hey (2004) and Keith Holman (2003) are three of the selected few in the Australian Rugby League Hall of Fame
Wests were the first Rugby League Club in Australia to officially adopt a mascot. In 1928 they officially became known as the Western Suburbs Magpies.
Western Suburbs Magpies were first grade Minor Premiers in 1930, 1948, 1952, 1961 and 1978.
Frank "Skinny" McMillan played 13 seasons with Wests. He would play 161 First Grade games, make two Kangaroo tours, the second as captain, and was captain-coach of Wests 1934 Premiership winning side.
Legendary centre Herb Gilbert played four seasons with Wests from 1917 to 1920. He went on to lead Wests to their first trophy, the 1918 City Cup, and become the clubs first Australian Captain.
The Magpies have won the NSWRL Club Championship four times. 1948, 1960, 1961 and 1991.
Western Suburbs won the very first, First Grade Grand Final. After being defeated 14-6 by St George in the Final, Wests as Minor Premiers were entitled to a rematch to decide the Premiership. The Magpies turned on a powerful desplay to defeat Saints 27-2 with winger Alan Brady bagging a hat trick of tries.
Peter Dimonds 83 tries in 155 games is a club record.
Wests first win in First Grade came on July 25, 1908 when they defeated Newtown at Wentworth Park. It was to be their only win of the season.
Western Suburbs have produced 41 players for Australia. They are Jim Abercrombie, Les Boyd, Bill Brogan, Tedda Courtney, Bill Carson, Arthur Clues, Arthur Collinson, Peter Dimond, John Donnelly, John Elford, Viv Farnsworth, Cec Fifield, Herb Gilbert, David Gillespie, Kevin Hansen, Darcy Henry, Vic Hey, Keith Holman, Ian Johnson, Noel Kelly, Steve Knight, Jim Leis, Bob Lindner, Frank McMillan, Col Maxwell, Les Mead, Ian Moir, Kel O Shea, Don Parish, Cliff Pearce, Clarrie Prentice, Tom Raudonikis, John Ribot, Alan Ridley, Jim Serdaris, Kevin Smyth, Frank Stanmore, Arthur Summons, Dick Vest, and Harry Wells.
Wests Tigers have produced 6 players for Australia. Scott Prince (2005) Robbie Farah (2009-10,12-14) Lote Tuqiri (2010) Chris Lawrence (2010-11) Keith Galloway (2011) Aaron Woods (2014-16)
Peter Rowles holds the club record for most points in a season. In 1978 he scored 215 points from 8 tries, 94 goals, and 3 field goals in 24 matches.
Wests Tigers won their first Trophy in 2014. The World Club Sevens.
Magpie Legend John "Dallas" Donnelly passed away in the surf at Byron Bay on February 22, 1986. A lovable rogue Dallas was often in trouble with the officials but had the skill to play in the Front Row for Australia. In his 10 year career at the Magpies he played 147 First Grade games scoring 6 tries, 6 goals, and an amazing 4 field goals!
Wests played their first match, a 10-0 trial game loss to Newtown at Rosebery Park.
Trevor Cogger holds the club record for grade games. He played 308 games for the Magpies (157 in First Grade). TC as he is affectionately known was the ultimate clubman, only ever playing for two clubs, his junior side Berala Bears (12 years) and the Magpies.
P Curl was the first player to score in any grade for Wests. He kicked a penalty goals in Wests reserve grade loss to Balmain at Birchgrove Oval on April 20, 1908.
Wests started the 1933 season in fine style winning 4 and drawing one of their first 6 matches. It was then that the Kangaroo tourists left for England and they won the Wooden Spoon.
Western Suburbs hold the record for coming last the most times in First Grade. Wests gathered 17 wooden spoons from 1908 - 1999.
Magpie great Vic Hey was one of the greatest 5/8s the game has seen. Selected for NSW and Australia after only 5 First Grade matches, Hey was marked for greatness early. He spent most of his illustrious career in England, but returned to coach Wests to the 1958 Grand Final.
Jim Leis and Bob Cooper played in the first State of Origin match for NSW in 1980. The Blues were captained by Magpie great Tom Raudonikis who had joined Newtown that season.
On April 21 1908 27 players from the Western Suburbs Rugby Club met at the Horse and Jockey Hotel Homebush. 23 of these players paid to join the NSWRL, but refused to join Wests. They were eventually admitted to the competition as its ninth team Cumberland. Playing in Blue and Gold they debuted in round three, but only lasted the single season when they were amalgamated with Wests.
Flying centre or winger Dick Vest joined Wests in 1914. He would go on to play 82 games and play for Australia. Vest whose real name was Gregorio Richard Bernard Vicarena Veserema was the son of an exiled Austrian aristocrat. His father changed the family name to Vest to avoid internment during the First World War.
Jimmy Craig, perhaps the best utility player of all time, joined Wests in 1929. Already a legend from his premiership winning days at Balmain, Craig was nearing the end of an illustrious career that had started in 1915. Despite this he still had enough flair and imagination to lead the Magpies to their first Premiership in 1930. Craig played Fullback, Centre, and Halfback in test matches, every backline position in First Grade, and even played Hooker in a NZ tour match.
Les Meads 12 goals in Wests 65-11 win over Canterbury at Pratten Park on August 31, 1935 is the most in a game for Wests.
Wests Black and White club colours were taken from the colours of the Ashfield Metropolitan Rugby club from where many of Wests first players originally came.
Wests first international was Front Rower Jim Abercrombie who went on the 1909 Kangaroo tour and played in the first two tests, despite being initially overlooked for selection. A blacksmith by trade, Abercrombies real name was James Maskell, but the reason for the nom de plume is a mystery.
The name Jimmy Sharman is most famous for the travelling boxing troupe that was a part of country shows for 70 years. Jimmy Sharman jnr was also a fine fullback who would become Wests First Grade captain in 1938. He retired to work full time as a journalist in 1939 before taking over the boxing tent from his father in 1955. Despite this he maintained a close association to the club that continues to this day. Jimmy Sharman was made a life member of Wests in 2004, 70 years after his first grade debut. Jimmy died in 2006
Wests first try in First Grade was scored by R Gormley in Wests Round 2 loss to Souths in 1908. Jim Abercrombie was the clubs first point scorer with two goals in the 42 - 7 loss.
Wests Tigers won their first NRL premiership in 2005 defeating the North Queensland Cowboys 30-16 at Stadium Australia in front of a 82,453 strong crowd.
Wests City Cup team won the clubs first title in 1918
"The meeting of the newly-formed professional New South Wales Rugby League was held at Batemans Hotel last evening... All clubs are represented with the exception of Western Suburbs and University"
The Sydney Morning Herald August 13, 1907
"Training was conducted in the twilight, and dressing room amenities consisted of one shed - with one cold shower recess. Light was provided by either kerosene lamps or by candlelight. The wives of Ted Mead and Bill Elliot took it in turns to supply the candles."
Rugby League Wests Style 1908
The great Tedda Courtney retired in 1924. A survivor of the early game, he stayed long enough to play alongside his son in the same first grade team, the only such event in Rugby League history
"I got a chap to see if 'Pony' Halloway would coach us in 1928, but the committee chose Chris McKivat, mainly because 'Pony' drank too much. McKivat could not coach... a great player but hopeless as a coach.
L.A.Hayes, Wests forward 1927
Wests Test Halfback Les Mead was NSW Rugby Leagues first official ballboy.
Before adopting "Magpies" as their official mascot, Wests were known as the "Westerners", the "Blacks" and the "Fruitpickers" or "Cherrypickers" due to the number of farmland and orchards that surrounded Ashfield.
The St George, Canterbury Bankstown, Parramatta and Penrith clubs districts once belonged to Western Suburbs.
Western Suburbs Team of the 1960's. Fullback: Don Parish Wings: Dave Barsley, Roy Ferguson Centres: Peter Dimond, Gil McDougall Five Eight: Dennis Pittard Half Back: Arthur Summons Front Row: Bill Carson, Dennis Meaney Hooker: Noel Kelly Second Row: John Hayes, Kel O'Shea Lock: Kevin Smythe Reserves: John Armstrong, Barry Bryant, Neville Charlton, Jim Cody, John Elford Coach: Jack Fitzgerald
John Skandalis played 185 First Grade games for the Wests Tigers from 2000 - 2010 and 64 games for Western Suburbs Magpies (1996-1999). A total of 249 first grade games for Wests.
Former Magpie greats, Kel OShea, Harry Wells and Keith Holman were named in the ARL Team to the 50s.
In 2012 the Wests Tigers won the National Youth Championship (U20's) defeating the Canberra Raiders 46-6.
In 1983 the NSWRFL attempted to expel Wests from the competition, but a prolonged legal battle saw the Magpies keep their spot, unlike the Newtown Jets. Eventually Wests were pressured to relocate to Campbelltown to avoid expulsion.
On the 5th of February 2012, a Protest Rally was held in the streets of Campbelltown to ensure the survival of Western Suburbs Magpies senior teams due to mounting pressure to disband them from the Wests Tigers and Wests Leagues Club Boards.
Tom Raudonikis and Noel Kelly were selected into the Jim Beam Rugby Leagues Toughest 12 of all time, announced in 2007
A panel of 68 judges selected the 100 Greatest Australian Rugby League Players of all time in 2008. Fourteen players on the list have played First Grade for the Western Suburbs Magpies. Frank Mcmillan, Ted Courtney, Vic Hey, Arthur Clues, Keith Holman, Harry Wells, Kel OShea, Arthur Summons, Noel Kelly, Tom Raudonikis, Terry Lamb, Jim Craig, Viv Farnsworth and Herb Gilbert.
"We're going to be competitive and we're going to find that Western Suburbs spirit. We are going to make clubs hate coming to Campbelltown... they'll just hate it."
Tom Raudonikis - First Grade Coach 1995 to 1999
Noel Kelly was selected as Hooker in the NRL Team of The Century named in 2008.
The team consisted of other legends, Fullback: Clive CHURCHILL Wings: Brian BEVAN, Ken IRVINE Centers: Reg GASNIER, Mal MENINGA 5/8th: Wally LEWIS Halfback: Andrew JOHNS Lock: John RAPER 2nd Row: Ron COOTE, Norm PROVAN Prop: Duncan HALL, Arthur BEETSON Hooker: Noel KELLY Reserves - Graeme LANGLANDS, Bob FULTON, Herbert MESSENGER, Frank BURGE Coach - Jack GIBSON
"There is nothing sweeter in the world than the smell of silvertail blood through a broken nose"
J. Donnelly, Lidcombe Oval 1978
Wests Tigers were the first team since Souths in 1908 and Newtown in 1910 to win a Premiership in their first finals appearance.
In 2016 the Wests Group took 75% ownership of the Wests Tigers due to Balmain Tigers financial hardship.
To celebrate the centenary of Wests and Balmains first ever premiership match, Wests Tigers staged a historic Ball Relay from Birchgrove Oval to the Sydney Cricket Ground on the 20th of April 2008. The Ball was used in the NSW Cup match between Balmain Tigers and Western Suburbs Magpies and was relayed in an Olympic style fashion to the SCG by players of the two foundation clubs to be used in the Wests Tigers v South Sydney NRL match.
Wests announced their 25 years in Campbelltown team in 2012. Fullback: Brett Hodgson Wingers: Darren Willis, Graham Mackay Centres: Chris Lawrence, Andrew Farrar Five-eighth: Benji Marshall Half-back: Jason Taylor Lock: Bob Lindner Second-rowers: Gareth Ellis, Liam Fulton Front rowers: John Skandalis, Bryce Gibbs Hooker: Robbie Farah Bench: Trevor Cogger, Paul Langmack, Steve Georgallis, David Gillespie Coach: Tim Sheens
In 1908 the Royal Monarch was Edward VII, the Prime Minister was Alfred Deakin, The Coat of Arms of Australia was approved, the first visit by the U.S. Navy to Australia arrives in Sydney, Canberra is chosen as the the capital of Australia, woman are granted the right to vote in Victoria. Life expectancy was 55 for males and 59 for females. Australia's population was just over 4 million people, and the Western Suburbs Magpies were established!