They’ve been the subjects of perhaps the fiercest off-field debate in Rugby League history – and 110 years on, Australian Rugby League’s two oldest clubs will finally join forces in NSWRL competitions.
On 8 January, 1908, an overflow meeting at Newtown Town Hall cemented the Newtown Rugby League Football Club’s place in history, as administrator James Joseph Giltinan confirmed their entry into the inaugural NSWRFL Premiership. Four months later, “Bluebags” winger Jack Scott became the competition’s first try scorer as the Jets began their journey of more than a century.
Around the same time came the formation of the Glebe District Rugby League Football Club, breaking away from an existing rugby union side in the region. While the Dirty Reds would be forced from the competition at the conclusion of the 1929 season – making Newtown the undisputed longest-running team in Australian Rugby League – both sides still lay claim to being first to enter the 13-man code.
While the debate of Rugby League’s origins will rage on for years to come, both franchises are proud of what they’ve contributed to the story of the Greatest Game Of All. That story reached a new, heart-warming chapter in 2017 when, after 87 years of non-existence, Glebe made their return to NSWRL competitions. The Dirty Reds teamed up with the Concord-Burwood Wolves in the Ron Massey Cup, donning their traditional strip at times throughout the season.
Now, the Dirty Reds’ resurgence has received an even greater boost – and it’s come via their foundation club brothers. Glebe has officially been announced as the feeder club for Newtown in 2018, with the pair looking to play a number of double-headers at Henson Park. Remarkably, the first double-header will come at Wentworth Park, the Dirty Reds’ historic home, for trial matches on 11 February. It will mark the first time in 90 years that Rugby League has been played at the traditional greyhound racing venue.
Both sides will hope to improve on their 2017 fortunes with the partnership, after disappointing ends to the Ron Massey Cup and Intrust Super Premiership NSW respectively. Before a ball is kicked in its 110th season, however, it’s already a win for Australian Rugby League.