FLASHBACK: April 1940

Eric Harris (centre) with Leeds' teammates, Welshman, Con Murphy (left) and John Kelly before a match in the 1938-39 English season

Eric Harris (centre) with Leeds’ teammates, Welshman, Con Murphy (left) and John Kelly before a match in the 1938-39 English season

Eric Harris, the man known as ‘the Toowoomba Ghost’, scored four tries in his first match back in Australia after an illustrious career with Leeds in England.
A try scoring legend in England, Harris showed his undoubted class for Wests in their 49-10 win over Easts in the opening round of Brisbane Presidents Cup Rugby League knock-out fixtures at the Gabba. Earlier in the week Harris had been appointed ‘physical organiser of the State Council of Physical Fitness’, a job which carried a salary of 400 pounds.
Harris made his representative debut as a 17-year-old in 1927 when he took the field for Brisbane against Central Queensland at Davies Park in the Brisbane suburb of West End.
He had started in senior football with Valleys in Toowoomba two years earlier, graduating from the local Technical College side to club footy. Harris transferred to Brisbane Wests in 1927.
During his time in England – from 1930 until 1940 – he set new try scoring records for Leeds and represented Other Nationalities against England and a British Empire side against France.
The outbreak of war in Europe saw Australians such as Harris and Fred Hurley (Hull to Newtown in Sydney) return to Australian Rugby League.
Wests’ attacking brilliance, through Harris and the likes of Purtell, Casey, Hunt and MacRae, proved too much for Easts in the Presidents Cup.
Easts featured three indigenous players from the Tweed and Beaudesert – Stokel Currie (the grandfather of Tony Currie), L. Duke and B Coolwell (first names not given in the records).
In the other match of the Gabba double header, Norths beat Valleys 31-7, with 1937-38 Kangaroo tourist, Jack Reardon a star for Norths.
At Oxenham Park Brothers defeated Souths 16-7 with State forward, Jack ‘gunboat’ Ryrie in fine form for Brothers.

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