The concept of Golden Oldies rugby started in 1979 in Auckland New Zealand . It was said to be the brainchild of a visionary Kiwi Tom Johnson who was a strong believer in the moral values of the game and a defender of the idea of a game “FOR PLAYERS BY PLAYERS”.
Backed by its sponsor Air New Zealand, the first Golden Oldie Festival was held in Auckland in 1979 with a modest 500 people and 15 teams taking part. A second festival was then held in Long Beach LA in the USA in 1981 which further expanded the concept and made it into an “International” festival.
But the concept really came of age in 1983 when it was held in Sydney Australia. The opening ceremony was held at Coogee and the final dinner at Randwick Racecourse and all games played in the Eastern Suburbs, mainly in Centennial Park and surrounding pitches. Australian clubs responded magnificently to the challenge and over 100 teams competed at this festival! Some of the teams came from well established clubs such as the Old Wicks (Randwick) ; The Manly Steamers; The Once a Knights (St George); The Pirates (Northern Suburbs); The Charcoals (Eastwood); The Parraletics (Parramatta); The Dirty Reds (Drummoyne); The Wrinkled Rats (Warringah) and of course Gordon responded with The Gordon Stags.
But there were also several more bizarre teams entered, probably the most aptly named being the Coodabinawallabies entered by the Stoned Crow bar in Crows Nest (in conjunction with Lane Cove Rugby Club)! They actually won the trophy for the most original named team of the festival. John Singleton was one of their “star” players.
In 1983 there were 2 categories – for age groups of up to 45 for those wishing to play reasonably aggressive rugby and the “seniors” for those wishing to play a more social form of the game. Gordon, like several other Sydney clubs, entered 2 teams for the festival – one in each of these groups.
The Gordon Stags President for this occasion was Bill “Bubbles” Manning who had laid his claim to fame as part of the Americas Cup winning team earlier that year. John Freedman from that sailing team was also in the Stags. No one at Gordon really knew what to expect, but Bill was told that the teams would each play 3 games on Monday, Wednesday and Friday so the club would have to be able to produce over 30 players on each of these days. In addition the club was expected to act as host for a visiting team on at least one of the “lay” days between games.
Bill in fact organised a sailing day for at least 20 visitors in 2 boats on one of the days and Neville Jones, another stalwart of the club, hosted an enormous barbecue at his house on another of the days.
Two very competitive teams were organised. The “A” team included such stalwarts as Kent Gamble; Murray Fox; Reverend Brian King; Ray Tracey, well known personality Tim Bristow; Bluey Kable; Snowy Naughton; Don Logan (Wallaby international) and the former Wallaby captain Bob Davidson.
The “B” team included several former club players such as Bob Minnards, Bruce Wood, Bruce Davey (who then became Mel Gibson’s manager in LA), Andy Losurdo and Grahame Treleaven as well as quite a few new “ring ins” from other teams and areas such as Tony Narracott, Doug Jacka, Paul Mooney, John Bennett, Paul Tamplin, Keith Hardwick, Peter Goodman, and the ever faithful leprechaun Pat Serisier, all of whom were to become part of the “hard core” of the club for the next 15 years.
In the first game at Centennial Park the “A” team played against Petersham who fielded not only ex Wallaby and Lord Mayor Sir Nicholas Shehadie but also Johnny Raper! Needless to say it was a draw thus starting a long history of drawn games which has typified the spirit in which Gordon Stags have always played the game.
All teams experienced injuries and by Friday had to be bolstered by whatever reserves they could find. In one game Gordon “B” played against the Horny Derelicts from Hawkes Bay the opposition packed down with an all female front row – quite frightening! And an enormous team from Taupo NZ severely tested the idea of all drawn games.
Notwithstanding this the festival was a huge success and Gordon Stags adopted the concept enthusiastically – in fact so much so that Gordon have had a team representing the club at EVERY International festival since – an envious record which very few other clubs can compete with.
Gordon Rugby Club History.
The original Gordon Rugby Football Club was founded in 1927 on Sydney’s North Shore, playing in the Metropolitan Junior competitions and its home games on Roseville Chase Oval. The club was disbanded in 1930 and the following year many of its players transferred to the newly formed Roseville Junior Rugby Union Football Club whose home ground was Chatswood Oval. The club in the 1935 season won the Metropolitan Junior Club Championship, the Kentwell Cup and its second grade, the Bourke Cup.
Following that success the club was admitted to the Grade Competition in 1936 and changed its name to the Gordon District Rugby Union Football Club, fielding four grade and two junior sides, which participated in the Metropolitan Junior Competition.
By 1939, the 1st XV had won the minor premiership but were defeated in the final by the ultimate premiers. Apart from the 4th grade team winning a premiership in 1946, it was 1949 before Gordon won the Club Championship, the 1st and 4th grade premierships with it four teams in the semi finals.
In that year, the club adopted a new jersey incorporating the colours of the Gordon tartan and its club song “A Gordon For Me”, emphasising the strong Scottish influence within the club.
First grade premierships were achieved in 1952, 1954, 1956, 1958, 1976, 1993, 1995 and 1998. Over the years the lower grade sides have figured very prominently at or near the top of the competition tables with the club winning the Club Championship 13 times.
Many Gordon players have earned representative honours playing for the state and Australia – far too many to list here. Trevor Allan, who has won lasting international acclaim, together with Bob Davidson and Peter Sullivan, have captained Australian touring teams.
In addition to the club’s attractive style of play it is renowned for its dedication to the promotion of the game at all levels, its tremendous club spirit, its enthusiastic supporters and an excellent and supportive administration.
Under the banner of Gordon Rugby, the Gordon Rugby Football Club Ltd currently fields five grade and four colts sides plus reserves and representative junior sides from village clubs Chatswood, Hornsby, Hunters Hill, Killara-West Pymble, Lane Cove, Lindfield, Roseville, St Ives, Wahroonga, and even Mosman, Norths and Drummoyne!
The rugby club has an strong association with the licensed club (Gordon Social & Recreation Club), which is located in the Mandarin Centre immediately adjacent to Chatswood Oval.