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St. George Dragons

From Academic Kids

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The Saint George Dragons was a team in the National Rugby League competition in Australia.

Entering the New South Wales Rugby League in 1921, the club won 15 premierships, including 11 in succession between 1956 and 1966, a record for national sporting competitions at the time.

The breakaway of the Cronulla-Sutherland club in 1967 started a drought-like dearth of premierships for the Dragons. The proud club merged with the Illawarra Steelers in 1998, forming the St. George-Illawarra Dragons.

History

St George had its beginnings in Rockdale Town Hall in 1908 when an attempt to launch the Dragons for the first time was unsuccessful. A committee for the St George Rugby League Football Club was elected with Ald. W. Taylor as president. Unfortunately due to pressure from Rugby Union influences only three players signed to play.

In 1910 a St George 3rd Grade Rugby League Football Club finally got off the ground when a team played in the Sydney 3rd Grade Competition. This first historic game took place against Newtown at Sans Souci and as if an omen of things to come St George were victorious 36-0.

It is widely recognised that the St George Juggernaut was launched on November 8th 1920 when, at the Kogarah School of Arts, the St George District Rugby League Club came into being. The first president was A. Jager.

On April 23, 1921 St George Rugby League Football Club made its debut against Glebe at the Sydney Sports Ground. St George went down 4-3 in what was described as a match "not remarkable for its brilliancy".

In 1935 The Dragon Slayers as they were known defeated Canterbury 91-6, which is still the biggest win in the Club's History.

The long wait was over when in 1941 St George defeated Eastern Suburbs 31-14 at the Sydney Cricket Ground to take their first, First Grade Premiership.

All three grades reached the Grand Finals in 1942 but only the Third Grade was victorious. Saints were runners up again in 1946 and were Premiers for the second time in 1949.

St George Football Club came of age in the 1950's. A move from Hurstville Oval to Kogarah Oval saw St George take on Souths before a crowd of 12,500 fans in their inaugural match at this famous ground.

Due to its close proximity to Kogarah Oval, Carlton Hotel became the local watering hole for the players after training.

In 1953 the first St George Leagues Club was built on the corner of Princes Highway & Rocky Point Road. This Club was to become the site of many victory celebrations over the next 10 years.

In 1956 St George began their reign as Premiers. This reign would last until 1966 and would cover an unprecedented 11 victories. Names like Provan, Langlands, Gasnier, Raper and Smith would become household names. The 1959 team remained unbeaten throughout the season.

In 1963, a photo titled "The Gladiators" became an icon when Saint's Norm Provan and West's Captain Arthur Summons exhibited wonderful sportsmanship after St George defeated Wests 9-6 in one of the muddiest Grand Finals ever.

On the afternoon of August 24, 1963 Saints won the Grand Final in all three grades First Grade 8-3 Wests Reserves 5-4 Souths Thirds 12-2 Canterbury

1963 saw the opening of the now famous Taj Mahal. This modern Leagues Club became the hub of social life in the district.

St George set another record in 1965 when a crowd of 78, 056 League supporters packed the SCG to see them take on Souths.

The end of Saints reign in this era came in 1966 when St George won their 11th Premiership defeating Balmain 23-4.

In the 70's, Goodwin, Edge, Beath & Rocket Reddy were now the names St George supporters had on their lips.

During 1970, St George became the first club in any code of Football to provide 3 International Captains in the same season - Graeme Langlands, Phil Hawthorne & Billy Smith.

A year of injuries in 1974 saw St George miss the semi finals for the first time in 23 years.

In 1975, Graeme "Changa" Langlands wore white boots in the Grand Final against Easts. Langlands had problems with a groin injury and although he battled on, St George were defeated 38-0. A record loss in a Grand Final.

In 1977, St George met Parramatta in a thrilling Grand Final, which went into 20 minutes of extra time. Nerves were felt amongst players, officials and supporters. It was the first time Rugby League had a drawn Grand Final. The game was locked at 9-9 and a rematch was scheduled for the next week. In the rematch St George proved too strong defeating Parramatta 22-0.

1977 was also Saints best year financially. The crowd average was over 19,000 and Kogarah Oval was about to be updated.

1978 was the year the St George Secretary Frank Facer passed away with cancer. A special piece of the Club was lost with his passing.

In 1979, Saints got back into the swing of things and won the Grand Final against Canterbury 17-13. As it turned out this would be the last Premiership St George would win to this day.

In 1985, Saints were represented in all three Grades. After winning both the lower grades, Saints were defeated in First Grade by Canterbury 7-6. At the end of this year, plans to build a new stand were deferred. A decision to move from Kogarah to the SCG had supporters and even some officials very disheartened.

In 1986, with the SCG as their new home ground, Saints missed the semi finals in all three grades for the first time in 50 years.

A decision was made at the end of 1987 to move St George from the SCG to Belmore in 1988 with the hope of returning to Kogarah Jubilee Oval at a later stage.

In 1989, Saints returned home to Kogarah Jubilee Oval and a new Grand Stand was built in 1990.

The 90's saw St George on a roller-coaster ride. They made the Grand Final in 1992, 1993 and 1996, but were unable to take a Premiership.

1998 saw the formation of the competition's first Joint Venture team when St George joined with Illawarra to form the St George Illawarra Dragons.

2001 saw St George Football enter its 80th year in the Sydney First Grade Competition. Since its inception the St George Club has been at the forefront of Rugby League. Its rich history and loyal supporters will always ensure that the St George Legend lives on.

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