FLASHBACK: December 1937

Australia’s touring Kangaroos played an extraodinary three matches in four days on their tour of Britain, and not surprisingly finished on the wrong end of the scoreline in two encounters.

It all started at fog shrouded Headingley Stadium in Leeds on December 1, with pressman forced to use torches in the ‘pea souper’.

Leeds, with Australian Vic Hey one of their stars, won 21-8 after leading 7-6 at halftime.

Noted journalist, Claude Corbett reported that on the resumption of play in the second half, the light was so bad, torches were needed to see to write in the open air press area

“The players eerily flitted about in the fog,” wrote Corbett.

The try of the match (his second) was scored by Leeds’ Australian winger, Eric Harris (The Toowoomba Ghost) who short punted and beat four defenders in a race to the ball.

The next day, the Australians played a ‘Combined St Helens’ side, chosen from the top flight St Helens’ club and St Helens’ Recs, a team chosen from the workforce at Pilkington Glass.

Australian won this match 15-7, and then had the luxury of a day off before playing Cumbrian outfit, Barrow.

The home side won 12-8, but amazingly, Australian co-manager, Harry Sunderland rated it the Australians’ best game on tour.

“They stuck to the passing game on a muddy ground, with a greasy ball,” Sunderland wrote in a special report for ‘The Courier-Mail. “The only weakness was that they were unable to counteract several clever dribbling rushes in close formation. The huge Barrow forwards were as skillful as if the ball was attached to their boots with string. They got both tries in this fashion, kicking the ball through. The game was a perfect thriller and the greatest exhibition I have ever seen in the mud.”

Giant Barrow forward, Bill Burgess asked for a rematch when the Australians made a brief return to the UK from the French leg of their tour.

“This match will be talked about for generations,” Burgess said.

Barrow’s Mayor, Mrs Pickthall presented Australian player, Ernie Norman with a toilet set, a rattle and a dress for his new born daughter.

News reached the Australians of the passing of noted sportsman, W S Noble in Brisbane.

Barrow (white jerseys) play Featherstone at Wembley in 1967.

Barrow (white jerseys) play Featherstone at Wembley in 1967.

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