November 20, 1946: A special day

"Nobody paid anybody because there was no money around. The only way you could get an outside player was to get him to live in the district six months prior to the season.”

They were the words of Jack Martin in 1946, a leading Manly Junior League administrator who went on to serve two decades as secretary-manager of the Manly Leagues Club.

Martin was referring to the first Manly-Warringah District Rugby League Football Club meeting held on November 20, 1946 – 69 years ago today.

The meeting was held at a packed Luana Hall on Pittwater Road, Dee Why – now the site of the Dee Why RSL Club.

In the book by Robert Smith, ‘The Sea Eagles Has Landed’, Martin recalled only eligible and available players under rugby league’s residential qualification rule were discussed at the meeting.

Following Manly being granted entry into the 1947 NSWRL competition on November 4, 1946, 20 Manly juniors left neighbouring club, North Sydney Bears, to return ‘home’ to play for the Sea Eagles in their inaugural season.

Walker says there were no guarantees of payment in the first season.

“Finances weren’t discussed at the meeting, because in those days, just after the (Second World) War, you cut your suit according to your cloth, whatever you raised through the gate that’s what you paid out at the end of the season,’’ Martin says in the book.

“The only committees they elected to raise extra money were in relation to football doubles and raffles and who would work on the turnstiles at Brookvale Oval on match day.

“Whatever amounts we had from the gates at the end of the season it was split up amongst the players, something like 75 per cent of it went to the first graders.

“We got good support from Warringah Shire Council on the use of Brookvale Oval for training and matches.

“The meeting went on till about 11.30pm when one of the last buses to Manly appeared – most people travelled by bus in those days and they were anxious to catch it when they saw it coming around Long Reef.”

The Sea Eagles celebrate their 70th Year Anniversary in 2016. Supporters wishing to become a 2016 Member have until 5pm today to join or renew their Membership if they want to receive their Membership pack in time for Christmas. All Membership packs are branded with the exclusive 70th Year Anniversary logo.