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Dennis Bradney – recollections of Eastwood

Mrs Frost’s letter  ( me of my first visit to the Eastwood Oval after the family moved to Lakeside Road from Campsie.    I was around 14 at the time and although at a GPS School had shunned Rugby and through an older cousin was going to training at Marrickville Juniors Rugby League.

I wasn’t happy about the move to Eastwood since there was no League to watch but come Saturday afternoon (1948 or 49 as I remember) I couldn’t stay away and walked to the Oval every bit of 200 metres away, and was there in time for the second half of the 4th Grade.

I came through the gate on the Railway Station side of the Grandstand, down the steps, turned right and up into the first bank of seats.   I was disdainful of the game and certainly unfamiliar with it, and didn’t realise that I had sat in the bank of seats that the Woods players set in while waiting for their game.

By the time the Reserve Grade came on I was getting a bit cheeky and making comments about the play I didn’t understand, when a big guy with curly hair next to me said, “Haven’t you ever seen a game of rugby before?”, and when I said no he then offered to tell me what was going on.  He and a couple of his mates treated me very well during the first half and fed me information on the play, until at half time he said. “Sorry mate, we’ve got to go now and get ready for the First Grade”, and got up with his mates to head off to the dressing room.

But he turned back to say to this stranger kid, “Come downstairs after the game and meet all the players.”

He was Brian Ball and was with Ken Smallwood and I think Alf Hickey (or maybe Jim Mathers) and they were true to their word.   I met the type of sportsman I could respect and in comparison with the Marrickville Juniors lot they were of a totally different breed.   There isn’t the great difference between the League and Union players of today as there was then, but from that day on I was a Rugby man and to hell with League.

I did the drawings for the early development of Vimiera for the Club and the erection of the first Clubhouse, by Brian Ball and his partner.   In later years in Papua New Guinea I became involved with former Eastwood Captain Don Westley as organisers of the first competition in Port Moresby, and together with an old schoolmate Sir William Kearney drafted the PNGRFU Constitution and the Constitutions of 4 Sub-Districts.    Don both coached and refereed along with Dick Byers, and the Union President Dr. Kerry Larkin.

Don unfortunately passed away, still in PNG a few years ago, and his son didn’t see the light and played League mainly for the Raiders and I believe now coaches in Cairns.

The PNGRFU made me an Hon. Life Member in 1969, and the PNG Government recommended an honour subsequently.


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