HORSES AND FOOTBALL DO NOT MIX
Smithfield club history – written & researched by Sean Fagan
Smithfield briefly had a rugby club in the mid 1930s. Talks in 1962 lead in February 1963 to the formation of the Smithfield Rugby Union Club under the Parramatta District.
Representatives from Fairfield Boys and Hurlstone Agricultural High Schools were in attendance and encouraged the club’s founding as an opportunity for its boys.
Junior teams were fielded, along with U18s and U21s. Smithfield played home matches at Fairfield Showground on the inner field within the trotting track (kindly bestowed the title of ‘Bossley Bush Oval’).
The first games proved a major hazard as horse training continued around the playing field. Some seriously dangerous incidents eventuated and injuries to the footballers and spectators were only averted by good luck.
The club called on Fairfield Council who quickly banned the trotting from continuing while the rugby games went on, citing:
Smithfield won its first premiership title in 1965 when the U16s team defeated Westmead 5-3 in the grand final of the Parramatta junior competition.
The club also celebrated its biggest victory to date in late May 1966 when the U20s lowered the colours of a previously undefeated Eastwood rugby club with 3-0 win.
In 1967 (possibly earlier) Smithfield’s senior teams had changed their playing strip to bottle green jerseys with a band of sky blue and white.
By 1968 the club had ten teams for players from 8 to 20 years old, plus three senior grade teams. A proposal put forward by the club to Fairfield Council that year resulted in the Smithfield garbage tip being redeveloped into sports playing fields, now Brenan Park, which became the home ground.
The club won ‘The Reliance Club Shield’ in 1974 for Second Division club champions under the NSW Suburban Rugby Union competitions.
The success resulted in Smithfield the following season being granted entry into the Sydney district club Second Division competition which at that time included among its clubs Bankstown, Canterbury, Dundas Valley, Hawkesbury Agricultural College, Hornsby and Mosman.
In 1982 the Warthogs had a permanent home field with a grand stand at the newly built Rosford Street Reserve in Smithfield. By that time the club were a mainstay of the Second Division competition, which in the early 1980s included at various times matches against Sydney University, Eastern Suburbs, Northern Suburbs. Drummoyne, Campbelltown, Port Hacking, St George, Hornsby, Mosman and Penrith.
In 1986 Smithfield were dropped to Third Division as player numbers began to fall away. A dispute in Sydney club rugby before the start of the 1987 season ended the division system (promotion/relegation) and left the Smithfield club on the outer.
The club re-emerged in the NSW Suburban Rugby Union’s Division Four competitions and gained trophies in their debut season, winning the 1987 Jeffrey Cup (first grade) and Noice Cup (second grade).
In 1990 Smithfield won the McLean Cup (for first grade champions in Third Division) and followed as joint-premiers in 1991 with Rockdale. The club won the Walker Cup (Third Division) in 1992.
By the middle of the 1990s the club had disbanded. The demise of the Warthogs occurred silently and unseen amidst the tumult of the arrival of open professionalism to rugby.
New money had come into the sport but none of it filtered into the lower grade amateur competitions and Sydney’s outer suburbs, reinforcing the theory that the game’s big wigs had little interest in anything west of Concord Oval.
(c) 2012 – Sean Fagan.
The author played in Warthogs lower grades, 7s, colts and juniors teams 1980-84.