Clubs and district Leagues in New South Wales and Queensland were primed to offer goal kicking forward, Harry Bath big money deals on his expected return to Australia from England in June.
Bath, who was into the third year of his contract with Cheshire club, Warrington, was reported to have booked his passage on the ocean liner, Stratheden, with the BBC’s Eddie Waring reporting that the Brisbane Souths’ product was desperate to play Test football, after having represented Queensland before his move to the UK. Bath was a product of Brisbane Souths.
Bath’s former Sydney club, Balmain was keen to get him back, but the Warwick District Rugby League, on the Southern Darling Downs of Queensland, made it clear they would not be brushed aside.
Warwick secretary, former State forward, Sid ‘Porky’ Jones, said his league would ‘stay with any other bids’.
“When we lost Kangaroo halfback, Billy Thompson this year, our players told us to get the best available player-coach, and we have the backing of local supporters to get Bath,” Jones said.
Billy Thompson signed with Warwick on his return from the Kangaroo tour in 1949, but moved to Toowoomba at the start of the ’51 season.
Warwick had already failed in attempt to sign Kangaroo prop, Duncan Hall for the ’51 season, with Hall opting to play for Valleys in Brisbane, after a year at Home Hill in North Queensland.
State players, lock, Doug Anderson and winger, Len Kenny also signed with Valleys, after playing for Cairns Kangaroos and Winton, respectively. But Valleys lost promising second rower, Keith Martin to Cunnamulla.
Former Brisbane Bulimba Cup representative halfback, Ron Miller was appointed coach of Norths, after being forced into retirement as a player, because of knee injuries.
State winger, Reg ‘Bubbles’ Pegg, who coached at Tambo in 1950, accepted a coaching job with the Mareeba League in North Queensland. He was to be paid 17 pounds 10 shillings a week, tax free; and the club would provide him with a job and free accommodation.
The State Primary Schools Rugby League sought representation within the corridors of power at the BRL and QRL. Secretary of the Schools Association, J H Ross, said they were continually referred to, in a positive way, as ‘the kindergarten of rugby league’, but had no voice in the affairs of the game.
FOOTNOTE: Harry Bath elected to stay in England, and did not return to Australia until 1957. He played for Balmain, and then St George, but never realised his dream of playing for his country. But he coached Australia from 1968 to 1971. Bath did have a stint at Warwick – as manager of the Horse and Jockey Hotel/Motel.
1 Warrington’s Australian skipper, Harry Bath holds the Challenge Cup aloft at Wembley, after a 19-0 win over Widnes in 1950. The other players (from left) are Gerry Helme, Albert Johnson and Albert Naughton.
2 Coach, Harry Bath and skipper, Johnny Raper with the World Cup, after Australia’s 20-2 win over France in the 1968 final, at the SCG.