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By Madeleine Gray on June 5, 2017 in News

The Clovelly Crocs team of 1935; does anyone recognise any of these blokes? Photo: Adrian Lam

It’s hard to define what it is that makes a community. People, surely. A general location. A sense of spirit. They’re all necessary factors, but not quite enough. There has to be an element that draws all of these disparate people together, and cements their loyalty to each other. In most communities that element is a sports club, and in Clovelly it’s the Clovelly Crocodiles Junior Rugby League Football Club.

This year the Crocs are celebrating their 100-year anniversary, which is no mean feat. Over the past century the Eastern Suburbs has been home to many different rugby league clubs, but now, in 2017, there are only four remaining.

As part of the club’s centenary celebrations, local amateur historian Nicholas Carroll has compiled a forty-minute long documentary about the history of the Crocs, which is set to premier at the club’s 100 Year Gala Dinner on June 17 at the Australian Turf Club in Randwick.

“It’s more than just the history of a club – it’s a social history too,” Mr. Carroll said.

“Through the lens of this small club, we get to see the history of rugby league in the Eastern Suburbs, and the social progression of Clovelly and surrounds.”

Mr. Carroll told The Beast that while Clovelly is now known as a wealthy, middle class suburb, that was not always the case.

“Clovelly used to be called ‘Poverty Point’ and everyone living here post-WWI was really poor,” he said.

“That’s when rugby league really started here – when soldiers were returning from war. The tram line came out here in 1913.”

In the process of making his documentary, Mr. Carroll has interviewed 19 present and past members of the Crocs about their memories of playing for the club.

“It’s not just about the sport; it’s a social hub,” he said.

“Old men I’ve interviewed in their 70s and 80s still tear up remembering their time in the Crocs and the coaches they had, who were more like mentors and father figures to them.

“For example, a few blokes talked about Keith Goodsell, who coached in the 60s and whose team won five consecutive grand finals. They loved him.

“And then when he was in his 80s, he came back to coach again.

“It’s about that loyalty.”

Current club president Andrew Monaghan stressed the sense of direction that being part of the club provides for teenage boys.

“We provide an environment with good role models, structure, sport, and friendship,” he said.

While the club is open to both sexes, Mr Monaghan confirmed that at present there are only “three or four girls”. This imbalance is something that the club intends to work on improving in the future. If the raw talent of St Anthony’s girl Pearl Collins, who is currently playing centre in the under 10s side, is anything to go by, it would be silly not to follow through on that intention.

Regardless, 100 years is something to celebrate. The Crocs have produced some of the best professional rugby league players in this country, but more than that, they’ve facilitated life-long friendships and community, which is priceless.