Just like the “Mighty Magpies’ the story of the licensed Asquith Rugby League Club Ltd is full of guts, grit and determination, disappointments and jubilation, community support and local heroes. Our story begins on the 5th May 1979. The day Asquith was informed it had a liquor license. To take you back to 1953 and tell the full story from the beginning of the Asquith Sports Club would take a book…. which it has! “Where the Stars meet Under the Stars” – Asquith Rugby Leagues the first 50 years by Adam Hawse contains a complete account of the struggle that lead to the granting of the liquor license. Adam has, in great detail, retold the club history using first hand recollections from the Club & Football Team members that lived through the drama of the name change from Asquith Sports Club to Asquith Rugby League Club Ltd, the frustration of finding a suitable, affordable site for the licensed premises that Hornsby Shire Council would agree too. The ultimate pooling of resources and the partnerships needed to be formed to raise the money to commence construction of the chosen and Council sanctified site at Lot 11-19 Alexandria Parade, Waitara.
From A Team To A “GIANT”
February 1979, eleven years and eight days after Asquith Rugby League Club Ltd was established from Asquith Sports Club, work began on the licensed premises. For the group of 30 jubilant people, champagne in hand, that stood on the vacant lot at the pre-commencement ceremony on 22 February 1979, it was the end of over a decade of hard work and twists and turns and the beginning of a vision about to be realised. Asquith Rugby League Club was to be built in four stages at a cost of almost $700,000. A single-storey building containing a dining room, auditorium and bar was to be completed by August 1979. The Official Opening, with guest of honour, Mr Kevin Humphries, President of the NSWRL & Australian Rugby League, took place on November 16, 1979. Licensed trading had commenced a month prior. Right up to the doors being open for the first time, workers were still laying the carpet! Architectural foresight had seen that the original building could be expanded to six times this original size with the concrete structure designed to support two upper levels. This foresight allowed the 1998, $8.5 million renovation of the present day club premises.
The Dark Days…
All that had gone before to get Asquith Rugby League Club to the point of opening its licensed doors was only a faint memory during the events that followed. $30,000 extra needed to be spent on air-conditioning as was discovered very quickly in the middle of summer. Frequent visits by the local police after closing due to the activation of the alarm system, found to be all false alarms. The culprit was eventually uncovered… the air-conditioning! Complaints from the neighbours about the increase in noise sparked a petition to Council and the threat of opposing the renewal of the clubs license. To ensure this didn’t happen a further $70,000 was spent on sound reduction initiatives which involved removal of windows, bricking of openings and outside concrete barriers. In 1980 the Asquith Leagues purchased the Waitara Squash Courts property next door to expand the club but when interest rates hit 20% the drain on funds forced the sale of this property at a loss of $255,895. The mid 80’s, the club struggled and was forced into voluntary administration for five years. Leaky ceilings and holes in the carpet were common place but funds for any refurbishment were out of the question. Magpie Spirit Shone Through… With a strong commitment by the board, patron loyalty and the guidance of the current General Manager, Ray Agostino, Asquith Leagues overcame all obstacles culminating in the now Award Winning*, community orientated club of present day * 2000 ClubNSW Club of the Year Awards – Most Improved Club.
The Tip Of The Iceberg…
We have only highlighted key points in minimal detail of the Asquith Leagues history. All the information has been gleamed from the 50 year Commemorative Book “Where the Stars Meet Under the Stars” by Adam Hawse This 136 page biography of the club contains the full history in living memory detail from the humble 1953 beginnings to the 2003 success story. Covering all the associated sports and social activities. Copies of this milestone publication can be purchased from Asquith Leagues Reception ~ $25.00
Graham ‘Grubber’ Jordison
When you talk about Asquith Rugby League history you must include Graham ‘Grubber’ Jordison. Grubber was there right from the very beginning. In 1949 a group of close mates, Grubber included, were having a few quite ales and talking football in Hornsby’s Railway Hotel. An event happened that session that was the catalysis to the eventual formation of The Asquith Football team ‘The Mighty Magpies’…. A challenge to the drinkers of the Railway Hotel to a game of footy! Grubber played in all the social games against any team that would take them on as a lead up to their inclusion in the 1952 North Sydney Junior Rugby League Competition. Grubber hosted the first ‘ How to get in’ meeting in his family’s home and played in that very first Asquith Magpie Team. The fact is as you look back in all the recorded history of the Club Graham ‘Grubber’ Jordison’s name will be there either as an official, committee member, club representative, mentor, motivational speaker, award presenter or on roster to sell the tickets for the Thursday night Football raffle. Sadly, Grubber past away on 1 June 2009. He will always be in the player’s hearts every game they play. They will be “Doing it for Grubber!” And why the nickname ‘Grubber’ …. Well you can find the answer between the covers of “Where the Stars meet Under the Stars” – Asquith Rugby Leagues the first 50 years.