Western Suburbs Magpies

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Western Suburbs Magpies
Wests Magpies.png
Club information
Full nameWestern Suburbs Magpies
Nickname(s)The Fibros,
The Cherry Pickers,
Western Suburbs,
The Magpies
Colours  White
Founded4 February 1908;113 years ago (4 February 1908)
(foundation club)
Exitedformed joint venture in 2000 with Balmain Tigers
Former details
Competition NSWRL/ARL, NRL
199917th of 17
Premierships4 – 1930, 1934, 1948, 1952
Runners-up8 – 1918, 1925, 1932, 1950, 1958, 1961, 1962, 1963
Minor premiership 5 – 1930, 1948, 1952, 1961, 1978
Wooden spoons 17 – 1909, 1910, 1912, 1913, 1916, 1933, 1940, 1942, 1953, 1955, 1971, 1983, 1984, 1987, 1988, 1998, 1999

The Western Suburbs Magpies (legal name: Western Suburbs District Rugby League Football Club Ltd) is an Australian rugby league football club based in the western suburbs of Sydney, New South Wales. Formed in 1908, Wests, as they are commonly referred to, were one of the nine foundation clubs of the first New South Wales Rugby League competition in Australia. The club, as a sole entity, departed the top-flight competition in 1999 after forming a 50–50 joint venture with Balmain Tigers to form the Wests Tigers. The club currently fields sides in the NSW State Cup (Canterbury Cup), Ron Massey Cup (Opens), [1] S.G. Ball Cup (Under 18's) and Harold Matthews Cup (Under 16's) competitions.


Campbelltown Stadium, which has a capacity of 20,000, is their home stadium.


The club was one of the foundation members of the Sydney rugby football league competition in 1908. Founded at a meeting on 4 February 1908 at Ashfield Town Hall, they won only one match the following season so were the League's second wooden spooners (after Cumberland in 1908). [2] Though they spent long periods of time as also-rans they did taste premiership success four times in the mid 20th century. They won their first premiership in 1930, beating St George 27–2. [3] Four years later they defeated Eastern Suburbs to win their second title. [4] For the 1944 NSWRFL season Queensland 1910s representative player Henry Bolewski became coach the Western Suburbs club, replacing Alf Blair, who moved to South Sydney. Wests improved slightly on the previous season, finishing 5th (out of 8), but failing to make the finals, and Bolewski was replaced by club great, Frank McMillan.

Wests won a second pair of premierships, beating Balmain in 1948 [5] and South Sydney 22–12 in 1952. [6] Both times they defeated a club hunting its third title in a row.


Apart from these occasions, the club was famous for three successive grand final matches in 1961, 1962 and 1963 against the St George Dragons in the midst of their 11-premiership run. The club boasted footballers such as halfback Arthur Summons, Harry 'Bomber' Wells, Kel O'Shea, Noel Kelly and Peter Dimond. The 1963 grand final was immortalised in a photograph which became known as 'The Gladiators' after St. George captain Norm Provan and Summons trudged off the field together.


A final period of glory beckoned in the late 1970s where they spent a few years at the top or near-top of the table, yet failed to make a grand final. Coached by Roy Masters and boasting such players as fullback John Dorahy, half Tommy Raudonikis, five-eighth Graeme O'Grady, Gavin Miller, Ron Giteau, Les Boyd, prop John Donnelly and five-eighth Terry Lamb. However attractive offers from other clubs and then doubts about the club's viability led to years of exodus of talent. Wests did manage to win the 1977 Amco Cup. [7]


John Ribot, a winger for Wests, was the top try-scorer for the 1980 season. In 1983 the NSWRFL attempted to expel Wests from the competition, but a prolonged legal battle to keep their spot ensued, unlike the Newtown Jets who did not compete that year. Richard Conti appeared against New South Wales Rugby League bosses John Quayle and Colin Love in 1985, successfully advocating to keep the embattled club in the competition. He was later appointed the chairman of the NSWRL Judiciary.

Eventually, Wests relocated to Campbelltown in 1987. Ironically, this was where Newtown had unsuccessfully tried to move to four years earlier.


Wests began a rebuilding process in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Laurie Freier started the 1988 Winfield Cup season as the club's coach but was replaced during the season by John Bailey. [8]

The club made the semi-finals in 1991 and 1992 under coach Warren Ryan. Wests were NSWRL Club Champions in 1991 when all three grades made the semi-finals. The team also made it to the pre-season Challenge Cup final in 1993 but was beaten by a star-studded Canberra side.

The club then slipped down the ladder and the coaching reins were handed over to caretaker Wayne Ellis. The decision to appoint Tommy Raudonikis as coach for the start of the 1995 season sent a shot of adrenaline into the club.[ citation needed ] Raudonikis took the Magpies to the finals in 1996. However the club could not compete in the player market in 1997 thanks to the Super League war which saw players' contracts soar sky high to unsustainable levels. [9]

In 1998 and 1999, a Magpie team filled with many unknown players struggled to be competitive and twice received the wooden spoon. With the club struggling on-field and trying to compete financially against clubs with News Limited funding, the writing was on the wall. [10]

Joint venture

The well documented Super League War in 1997 between Super League (News Ltd) and the Australian Rugby League (ARL) resulted in a compromise that by the year 2000, the National Rugby League (NRL) competition would be contested by only 14 teams.

With the Wests Magpies struggling on field in the NRL competition, it was decided by the club in the middle of 1999 that to survive the cull they would be required to merge their senior team with another club's team. After initial talks with the Canterbury Bulldogs failed an agreement was reached with the Balmain Tigers on 27 July 1999.

The Wests Tigers first competed in the 2000 competition. The club also merged its playing colours from the two joint venture partners.

Major sponsors

Wests in action in 2008 STUART FLANAGAN.jpg
Wests in action in 2008

Wests Ashfield Leagues have also been key sponsors & supporters of the club since they were established.

Current days

The Western Suburbs Magpies home matches are played at Lidcombe Oval, Lidcombe and their training facilities are near by. The club has state of the art facilities here, and they are regarded as some of the best in the league.

In 2000 the Western Suburbs Magpies Under 20s team were runners up to the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs, captained by Mitch Zammit and Luke Duffy. The Western Suburbs Magpies last title was won in 2002 when the Western Suburbs Magpies captained by Liam Fulton won the New South Wales Rugby League Under 18's competition.

From 2000 to 2012 the Western Suburbs Magpies fielded teams in the NSWRL First Grade competition now known as the NSW Cup.

In 2006 the Wests Tigers on advice from Tim Sheens pushed the notion that the NRL side would be better served with a single NSW Cup side. Western Suburbs board opposed this decision and decided to continue fielding their own team. Wests Tigers then allocated all NRL contracted players to the Balmain Tigers (the Wests Magpies had six junior players in that group, as opposed to one from Balmain), citing the advantages of both the NRL and NSW Cup teams training together at Concord Oval. This continued from 2006 to 2007.

Magpies chairman Kevin Hammond was disappointed at the Wests Tigers decision and informed the Wests Tigers of that in 2008, if the Magpies did not receive a fair share of player allocation from the Wests Tigers, they would form a feeder partnership with rivals Canberra Raiders. The Wests Tigers capitulated.

The Western Suburbs Magpies made the semi-finals in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

In 2012 funding was withheld from the Magpies by Wests Ashfield Leagues Club Directors (not unanimously) as they now supported Wests Tigers proposal for a single NSW Cup side, even though this was done simply because Balmain couldn't afford a side and Wests could.

This also went against the Magpies Football Club members wishes and they organised a Protest Rally through the streets of Campbelltown. [12] Wests Ashfield Leagues Club under pressure reinstated funding late in the off season after the Magpies players had already signed on to play with other teams.

The Wests Tigers however decided to cease all support of the Magpies NSW Cup side whilst continuing support for Balmain Ryde Eastwood Tigers. The Magpies failed to win a game in 2012 whilst Balmain Ryde Eastwood Tigers made it to the Grand Final where they were defeated by the Newtown Jets. [13]

The Magpies dropped back to the third tier Ron Massey Cup in 2013, [14] with members voting to field a separate NSW Cup team in 2014, although this did not eventuate. [15]

In 2015 the Magpies added a team in the Sydney Shield competition to act as a feeder for their Ron Massey Cup campaign.

In 2016, Western Suburbs made the preliminary final match against St Mary's in The Ron Massey Cup but lost the match in a close tussle. [16] 2017 proved to be a bad year for Wests as The Ron Massey Cup side finished with the wooden spoon and The Sydney Shield side finished second last. [17] [18]

On 5 June 2017, it was announced that Western Suburbs had placed a bid to be included into the Intrust Super Premiership season for 2018. [19] The re-entry to the Intrust Super Premiership ends the clubs 5-year hiatus from the top level NSWRL competition that it had participated continuously in from 1908 to 2012. For its return the team will be coached by former Western Suburbs 1st grade player Brett Hodgson. [20] In 2018, Wests enjoyed a solid return to the Intrust Super Premiership NSW after finishing in 5th place on the table. In week 1 of the finals, Wests were defeated by the Wyong Roos 18-14 in the elimination final thus ending their season. [21]

At the end of the 2019 Canterbury Cup NSW season, Western Suburbs missed out on the finals after finishing in 10th place. [22] [23]

Home grounds

St Luke's Park was the home ground of the Western Suburbs club in 1910 and 1911. [24] They started playing their matches at Pratten Park in Ashfield in 1912, but after pressure from local residents there the council refused the club permission to use that ground, forcing them to return to St. Luke's Oval from 1915 to 1919. [25] The Magpies have played at three home grounds since foundation. They returned to Pratten Park in 1920, remaining there until 1966, the club then played at Pratten Park sporadically over the next two decades playing games there in 1971, 1972, 1973, 1977 and 1985. The final ever first grade game to be played at Pratten Park was on 18 August 1985 against Penrith, Penrith won the match by 42–16. [26] They then moved to Lidcombe Oval in 1967. [27] This was due to Ashfield council not allowing the club to play matches on a Sunday (as this was the church day). In 1987, they moved to Campbelltown's Orana Park (located in adjacent Leumeah), which, after a $25 million renovation, is now called Campbelltown Stadium which is now one of the home grounds of the Wests Tigers. The Magpies' lower grade sides play most home games at Campbelltown Stadium, with the occasional game moved to Lidcombe Oval.

Western Suburbs Magpies Leagues Club

Whilst no leagues club is called the "Western Suburbs Magpies Leagues Club", the businesses "Western Suburbs District Rugby League Football Club Ltd" is a fully controlled entity of Wests Ashfield Leagues Club. The Leagues club was formed in the 1950s and is now one of the leading community Clubs in Sydney. [28]

Board of Directors

The current board of directors of the Wests Magpies (Western Suburbs District Rubgy League Football Club)

The board of directors comprises 4 members appointed by Wests Ashfield Leagues Club, and 3 members elected by the members of the football club

District Junior competition

The Western Suburbs District Junior Rugby League (WSDJRL) was a completely separate entity to the Western Suburbs Magpies DRLFC. They were known as the "Junior Magpies", and administered the junior rugby league on behalf of the Western Suburbs Magpies and the Wests Tigers joint venture. It consisted of a network of affiliated junior rugby league clubs throughout the greater Campbelltown and Liverpool areas of southwestern Sydney. As of 2016 the following clubs were involved in the WSDJRL;

The league was placed into administration in January 2019, with the NSWRL stepping in to manage the competition.

The following clubs also competed in the WSDJRL, but have now folded:

The WSDJRL has produced many ex and current Wests Tigers players including Brett Hodgson (Eagle Vale-St Andrews & Ingleburn RSL), Dean Collis (Campbelltown Warriors), Bryce Gibbs (All Saints Liverpool), Shannon Gallant (All Saints Liverpool & Campbelltown City) Chris Lawrence (Eagle Vale), and Shannon McDonnell (All Saints Liverpool). David Noaofaluma (Campbelltown Warriors, Campbelltown Collegians) James Tedesco (Eagle Vale St. Andrews) also Camden Rams (group 6, CRL) Other notable NRL players who grew up playing junior rugby league in the WSDJRL are Anthony Minichiello (East Valley United), Mark Minichiello (Liverpool Catholic Club) Frank Pritchard (Campbelltown City)Eric Grothe, Jr. (Eagle Vale), Ryan Hoffman (Campbelltown Collegians), Ben Roberts (Narellan Jets), Sauaso Sue (Macquarie Field Hawks), Israel Folau, Jarryd Hayne, Krisnan Inu, Michael Lett (Ingleburn RSL), Gray Viane, John Skandalis, Ken McGuinness, Kevin McGuinness, Tim Lafai and Mickey & Lopini Paea (all Minto Cobras).

The WSDJRL took over its current boundaries from the CRL Group 6 Northern Junior League and parts of the Parramatta DJRL (i.e. Liverpool) in 1987. They were forced to move out of their traditional territory around the Ashfield and Lidcombe areas of inner western Sydney to be able to then survive in the NSWRL. The old WSDJRL area has since been acquired by the Balmain DJRL and Bulldogs (Canterbury) DJRL. Clubs that used to play in the WSDJRL include;

Notable players

Hall of Fame

On Friday 30 May 2008 the centenary of the Western Suburbs Magpies was celebrated with a ball in the Grand Harbour Ballroom at Sydney's Star City Casino. Six inaugural members were also inducted into the Western Suburbs Magpies Hall of Fame: [29]

2010 Inductees

1997 MIA players

2012 Inductees

Team of the Century

This painting of the Western Suburbs Magpies Team of the Century hangs in Wests Ashfield Leagues Club. Western Suburbs Magpies Team of the Century.jpg
This painting of the Western Suburbs Magpies Team of the Century hangs in Wests Ashfield Leagues Club.

In 2004 the club named its Team of the Century: [30]

1 Flag of Australia (converted).svg FB Frank McMillan
2 Flag of Australia (converted).svg WG Peter Dimond
3 Flag of Australia (converted).svg CE Harry Wells
4 Flag of Australia (converted).svg CE Cliff Pearce
5 Flag of Australia (converted).svg WG Alan Ridley
6 Flag of Australia (converted).svg FE Vic Hey
7 Flag of Australia (converted).svg HB Keith Holman
8 Flag of Australia (converted).svg PR John Donnelly
9 Flag of Australia (converted).svg HK Noel Kelly
10 Flag of Australia (converted).svg PR Ed "Tedda" Courtney
11 Flag of Australia (converted).svg SR Kel O'Shea
12 Flag of Australia (converted).svg SR Arthur Clues
13 Flag of Australia (converted).svg LK Les Boyd
14 Flag of Australia (converted).svg RE Tommy Raudonikis
15 Flag of Australia (converted).svg RE John Dorahy
16 Flag of Australia (converted).svg RE Neville Charlton
17 Flag of Australia (converted).svg RE Bill Carson
Flag of Australia (converted).svg CO Roy Masters

International Representatives

The following Western Suburbs Magpies players have represented their countries in international competition.

Magpies Test Captains

Coaching register

No.NameYearsGWLD %PremiershipsRunners-upMinor PremiershipsWooden spoons
1 Tedda Courtney 1923
2 Albert Johnston 1924844050%
3 Clarrie Prentice 192718108056%
4 Chris McKivat 19281248133%
5 Jim Craig 1929–1930, 1932, 1939664022461% 1930 1932 1930
6 Frank McMillan 1931, 1934, 1936, 1945613821262% 1934
7 William Brogan 19331449129% 1933
8 Jerry Brien 1937835038%
9 Cec Fifield 19381449129%
10 Merv Gray 194014311021% 1940
11 Les Mead 19411468043%
12 Albert McGuinness 194214212014% 1942
13 Alf Blair 194314311021%
14 Henry Bolewski 1944715114%
15 Paddy Bugden 1944733143%
16 Jack Walsh 1946, 1956–1957532625249%
17 Frank Burge 194720128060%
18 Jeff Smith 1948, 1950–1951593819264% 1948 1950 1948
19 Col Maxwell 194919127063%
20 Tom McMahon 195220154175% 1952 1952
21 Peter McLean 195318513028% 1953
22 Keith Holman 1954–1955, 1977581641128% 1955
23 Vic Hey 1958–1959402613165% 1958
24 Dudley Beger 196022139059%
25 Jack Fitzgerald 1961–1964805325266% 1961, 1962, 1963 1961
26 Ken Kearney 196518612033%
27 Noel Kelly 1966–1969854340251%
28 Ron Watson 1970–1971441033123% 1971
29 Don Parish 1972–19761135057644%
30 Tommy Raudonikis 1976, 1995–19991163976134% 1998, 1999
31 Roy Masters 1978–1981945636260% 1978
32 Terry Fearnley 1982271611059%
33 Len Stacker 198326519219% 1983
34 Ken Gentle 1984–198548640213% 1984
35 Steve Ghosn 1986–1987481332327% 1987
36 Laurie Freier 198816213113%
37 John Bailey 1988–1990501533230% 1988,
38 Warren Ryan 1991–1994843743344%
39 Wayne Ellis 1994725029%


Club honours

Youth/Pre-season honours

  • NSWRL Club Championships: 4 – 1948; 1960; 1961; 1991
  • State Cup / Jersey Flegg U20s: 1 – 1965
  • Ampol Cup: 1 – 1963
  • NSWRL Reserve Grade: 3 (1936, 1961, 1981)
  • NSWRL Third Grade: 9 (1936, 1938, 1939, 1944, 1958, 1961, 1967)
  • Under 23 Premiership: 1 (1977)
  • President's Cup: 1 (1925, 1947, 1958, 1992)
  • Flegg Memorial Trophy: 2 (1961, 1981)
  • NSWRL SG Ball U18's: 2 (1971, 2002)

Largest crowd:

Biggest defeat: 67 – 0 vs South Sydney (Agricultural Showground, 23 July 1910)

Biggest win: 62 -5 vs Balmain (Lidcombe Oval, 31 March 1974)


Most First Grade Games

  1. 201 – Tommy Raudonikis (1969–1979)
  2. 200 – Keith Holman (1949–1961)
  3. 161 – Tedda Courtney (1909, 1911–1924)
  4. 161 – Wayne Smith (1976–1984)
  5. 160 – Trevor Cogger (1981–1991)
  6. 155 – Peter Dimond (1958–1967)
  7. 148 – John Donnelly (1975–1984)
  8. 148 – Steve Georgallis (1993–1999)
  9. 144 – Darren Willis (1992–1998)
  10. 143 – Nev Charlton (1954-1961)
  11. 141 – Frank McMillan (1921–1924, 1926–1935)

Most Tries in a Match: Alan Ridley, 6 vs Newtown, Pratten Park, 11 July 1936

Most Tries in a Season: Alan Ridley, 18 in 1932 and Paul Smith, 18 in 1994

Most 1st Grade Tries For Club: Peter Dimond, 83

Most Tries For Club (All grades): Trevor Cogger, 88

Most Goals in a Match: Les Mead, 12 v Canterbury, Pratten Park, 31 August 1935

Most Points in a Match: Les Mead, 27 ( 1 try, 12 goals ) v Canterbury, Pratten Park, 31 August 1935

Most Points in a Season: Peter Rowles, 215 ( 8 tries, 94 goals, 3 field goals ) in 1978

Most Points for Club: Bill Keato, 776 ( 6 tries, 379 goals )

All Time 1st Grade Numbered Players List

Below is a list of all players that played for the Western Suburbs Magpies in the NSWRL, ARL and NRL First Grade competitions from 1908 to 1999.

Notable fans

See also

Related Research Articles

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Further reading