Over the weekend of 23 July, the Lane Cove Rugby Club celebrated its history at the Longueville Sporting Club with the screening of a feature length documentary entitled "It's A Jolly Good Story All The Same". Generations of players and supporters packed the club to the rafters for a Saturday and Sunday showing of their history on the big screen, and the club opened its first trophy cabinet in the Diddy Bar, to showcase their proud history.
Over 60 seasons of Lane Cove Rugby were represented at the event, with 300 club members and friends in attendance. Current players, led by President Casey Whitehead, joined with club pioneers including the Notley brothers, super coach Bertie Rogers and past president Ken Olliver. 1958's U21 State Champions and the club's 1967/8 Kentwell Cup winning sides were well represented, recalling a time when Lane Cove set the pace for Sub-Districts rugby across Sydney, and former foes from Colleagues and Briars Club were on hand to confirm the boast.
Honours for the unveiling of the trophy cabinet went to 33-season veteran Kevin Preston, while club stalwart Bill Currie announced that the Clubman of the Year trophy would be named in honour of the tenacious Maurie Batcheler, who played for the club into his 58th year. Tears, laughter and a good deal of singing then flowed after the film was introduced by Rob Sinclair, who produced the film by Theo Clark Media.
Rugby News reports that the Lane Cove Rugby film is introduced by Gordon Bray and is all about "mateship, grassroots rugby and growing up in Sydney... going back to the early 1950s foundation of the club. Lifelong friendships that were formed through playing for the love of the game are at its core".
From humble beginnings in what was then still a working class suburb, the young men of Lane Cove rose to produce championship winning sides, along the way collecting everything from garbos to plumbers to doctors and lawyers and forging them together into life long friends.
The film was also a rich showcase for the social history of Australian rugby - from the 1953 Wallaby tour of South Africa, to a diplomatic incident on the Queen's table at Buckingham Palace in 1958, and an examination of the rigorous down-the-pub training regime of John Singleton's famous 1977 Judd Cup wining side (dubbed by Rugby League Week "the team that set Rugby Union back 30 years").
All three of the Club's internationals were in attendance - 1950s Wallabies Ken Yanz and Saxon White, and 1990s Kangaroo Greg Florimo. Yanz and Florimo were once Lane Cove Juniors, while White saved the best for last and played for the club after retiring from international rugby. All speak fondly in the film of their days at Lane Cove Rugby and of their adventures playing for Australia.
1950s wonder boy half-back Cliff Harvey admitted to a few tears for absent mates as he watched proceedings: "It's a very special bonding we had playing for Lane Cove. Fifty years after our 1952 under 15 side won the club's first premiership, we had 15 players in attendance at the team reunion," he said.
Order a copy of the DVD HERE.
More rugby club histories by Theo Clark Media