1967: The first Moorabbin RUFC Premiership Team
How did we get to our first flag?
In 1964 – The Moorabbin Marlins (via Aspendale Technical School) played in the VJRU. (See the Moorabbin Marlins story already published). In December of 1964 at the Moorabbin Council offices a meeting that agreed to found the Moorabbin RUFC was held.
On Australia Day in 1965 the first committee meeting of the club was held and it was decided to field 2 senior teams in 2nd Division and a Colts team as well as wrapping the Marlin junior teams under the “Moorabbin Rugby Union Football Club banner.
Important note: unlike many Victorian rugby clubs the MRUFC fielded junior teams since day one. The senior teams struggled during the first season and dropped to the 4th Grade for 1966 and fielded only 1 senior team and a Colts team.
In 1967 the club won the 4th Grade Premiership.
MRUFC Premiership team 1967 (photo taken at Keys Rd., now Harold Caterson Reserve, in 1968)
THE 1967 TEAM
Back Row from left:
Len Baggott: founding member. Len was President of Kiwis in 1964 when the Kiwis committee and St. Kilda Committee decided to close down the two clubs and set up a new club in Moorabbin. When the parallel meetings to close Moorabbin and Kiwi clubs were held the Kiwi members voted down the proposal against the Kiwi Committee wishes. Len then moved to the new Moorabbin Club as President in 1965. For details see the “Genesis of Moorabbin” already published.
Les Bradbury: founding committee member, ex St Kilda RUFC, he had a son who also played for MRUFC, unfortunately his son died of cancer in his early 20s. Les was a golfing partner with Don Bricker, actually Cr. Don Bricker of the Moorabbin Council. Les managed to get Cr. Bricker to push for the old tip in Keys Rd. to be allocated to Moorabbin Rugby Club as their permanent home. See the Keys Rd story from Tip to Tip Top already published.
Ken Dowman: founding member. Ken was a McKinnon High School student who joined Jack McDavitt’s school team in the VJRU’s Saturday competition, he then played for St. Kilda Colts before coming over to Moorabbin after St. Kilda folded. Ken was a policeman then became a publican and spent some time in Colac, travelling back on some weekends to play. Ken is still at most home games either on the halfway line or behind the goal line. Most recently Ken has been Patron of the club.
Robert Morley: was a McKinnon High School student and in 1959 joined Jack McDavitt’s school team in the VJRU Saturday competition, then played for St. Kilda Colts before coming over to Moorabbin after St. Kilda folded. He went on the Melbourne Uni to study science and teaching. Rob was made Captain of the 1st grade team halfway through 1966 because the previous Captain had committed some indiscretion. (We do not know what the indiscretion was, but if anyone would like to fill us in please drop us a line so we can establish the facts)
Rob went to teach in Boort for 1967 and 68 before returning to Melbourne, he played Australian rules in Boort then came back every other weekend to play rugby. In 1969 he coached the U14s. Rob played regularly through the grades until 1984 a while managing various teams and doing the stats for the 1sts for many years. Famously, he scored 5 tries from the wing in one match. Rob probably played around 500 games over the journey at Moorabbin.
John Sweet: played for the Moorabbin Marlins U18s (see the Moorabbin Marlins story already published), founding MRUFC member, played for both Victorian Junior and Senior teams, the latter part of his career he played for Melbourne Unicorns RUFC first grade – hooker. When first selected in state juniors he was asked: “What position do you play?” John’s reply “what are you short of?” They said a hooker, he said OK. He had never played it before, and played there for the rest of his career!! John worked in Real Estate.
Graham Sweet: Played for Moorabbin Marlins U18, founding member MRUFC, 300+ games (in early days players often played twice on Saturdays when teams were short), one only game as No. 8 and the rest as a lock, his only coaching instruction was on his first game “just run straight at the ball”. Graeme continued playing into the mid 70s when he and Joy purchased a Pharmacy in Warburton and was unable to continue playing. Currently they live on the coast in Southern NSW.
Warren ? – we are not sure if he was a Kiwi by birth or a former member of the Kiwi club or both. Can anyone help with additional information?
Ron Linton: Lock, came from Queensland and worked with Harold Caterson. He had played U19 for Queensland. After a few years he was moved to Sydney with his Company, then on to Queensland and eventually back to Melbourne in various management and directorship roles, he still lives in Melbourne and he re-connected with the club in 2020.
Kelvin Wells: fast, a winger and that’s all we currently know. If anyone can add to this please let us know.
David Robinson: Started playing rugby at Caulfield Grammar, probably introduced to the game by Jock Duffy when Jock introduced rugby at Caulfield Grammar. Sometimes played No. 8 but mostly played lock. Worked for General Motors Holden (GMH) at Dandenong. Was Secretary of the club for a period of time. Moved to the new Dandenong club as he lived in Hallam or Berwick
Harold Caterson: founding member, along with Jock Duffy they managed the Moorabbin Marlins U18s and rolled them into the new club in 1965. Both sons (Bruce and Ron) played for the club. Harold was in the confectionery manufacturing business for many years and was addressed as Mr. Caterson by the players in those days. See the article on Harold Caterson already published.
Front Row from left:
Arnold Silk: founding member, ex-St Kilda RUFC and best mate of Jack McDavitt. Arnold was a 5/8 and well past his prime when playing at Moorabbin but he did play on to ensure that we could field teams each week. We believe that Arnold and Elaine were originally from Sydney.
Tony McQueen: he was finally identified by Graeme Sweet but sadly we have no further information.
Terry Sullivan: a founding member, played in the Moorabbin Marlins U18s then Colts and on to the Seniors. Played through to the late 70s including the 1974 Grand Final team. Terry was a printer by trade and eventually started his own company which was much more fun than working the machines. Terry was a much loved a larger-than-life character and a generous club man for many years, sadly, he died in a car accident in 2011.
Bill Capstaff: (Captain) founding member, ex-St Kilda RUFC, born in Northumberland, England Bill came to Australia in 1956 to watch the Olympics and returned home. Two years later he returned as a 10 pound pom. He met Thelma who was from Queensland but working in Melbourne and they settled in Melbourne where he worked for Gunnerson’s Timber before transferring with work to Brisbane in the early 70s. He is a life member of the club.
Greg Chapman: founding member, played for the Moorabbin Marlins U18s then Colts and Seniors. Greg did a fitting and turning apprenticeship at Freighter’s Trailers in Keys Rd. After marrying he moved to South Gippsland to work in the milk industry for many years before moving back to work at Vulcan in Bayswater.
Geoff Greeney: founding member, played for the Moorabbin Marlins U18s, was customs officer in Melbourne, then he moved to Darwin and became a policeman.
Ken Lemon: founding member of Moorabbin, ex-St Kilda RUFC, played for Victoria. Taught at Aspendale Tech and ran the school rugby program for many years as well as coaching many junior teams. See the “Ken Lemon” article already published.
NOTE: John and Graeme Sweet are brothers and they started a tradition of brothers playing in 1st Grade Grand final teams together. Ian and Graeme Ray in the 70s and early 80s, Cyril and Wayne Smith 1994, Joe, Tommy and Patrick Iosefo in 1995. Apologies if I have missed any other premiership brothers.
Notes from Graeme Sweet:
1) The MRUFC has always fielded junior rugby teams and this has been of immense benefit to Victorian rugby providing many interstate players starting with John Sweet, Bruce Caterson and Terry Sullivan who started their interstate rugby careers in the Marlins. However in the early days many promising players had to leave the MRUFC to further their rugby careers and transferred to clubs that fielded first grade teams. This drain on talented played delayed the move of the MRUFC into the first grade. But as always The MRUFC Rams were unstoppable.
2) The first juniors coach for the MRUFC was Jock Duffy, a local schoolteacher, who not only coached but organised the transport of the juniors as many of their parents had no idea what rugby was.
3) Ian, my 300+ games is an estimate. The number of teams in the competition/grades varied a bit but bounced around about 10 and we played everyone twice, so about 18 regular games in a season, most (nearly all)seasons we were in the final, so an extra two games per season, then I have added in a couple of intra-club training games per season plus an inter-club training game per season and finally there were at least two or three times most years when we would double up and play a couple of games on the Saturday to make up teams. So I reckoned that I played about 25 games a year from 1965 to 1976 inclusive. On the first weekend that I took Joy out I took her to four rugby games (and played in two of them).There was another occasion when the Monash RUFC was short of players between university semesters and Bruce Caterson (unofficially) fielded a Monash team that was at least 80% MRUFC. We won.
If you have additional information about this team or other aspects of the history of the club please get in contact with us.
With special thanks to Graeme Sweet, Robert Morley, Ron Caterson, Ken Dowman, Russell Atwood, Ron Linton
Compiled and written by