FLASHBACK: May 1953

The American All Stars opened their Australian tour with a 34-25 win over Southern Districts/Monaro in Canberra with centre, Alvin E Kirkland scoring four tries. The tour was organised by Mike Dimitro, who took a liking to rugby league when he was based in Australia with the US Navy in World War II. Welshman, Cliff Evans, who played rugby league in England with Leeds and Salford, was recruited to coach the Yanks in the finer points of the 13 man code before they left California. A number of the All Stars were playing union at the time, but had no experience of league.
‘The Courier-Mail’ had this to say about the All Stars early efforts in Canberra.
“Some players, when they got possession of the ball, gave the impression that they did not know whether to kick it, pass it, run with it, or eat it.”
The American’s pen pictures made for fascinating reading, and pointed towards some of their off-field goals.
Ted Grosnan claimed to be a stunt double for movie stars, Clark Gable and Alan Ladd, while Al D. Kirkland (not to be confused with Alvin E Kirkland) described his ‘other sports and activities’ as “going out with girls whenever possible.”
Bill Albans had represented the USA in hop, step and jump at the Olympics, but he couldn’t dodge a stray boot from a Monaro player and finished up in hospital.

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