Those lucky enough to attend the 2018-19 Season Launch, were fortunate to listen to a passionate address by Sydney Uni Cricket legend, James Rodgers. His speech went as follows:
“You may never have heard of JOHN FULLER. He lived into his eighties and he used to wander down to No 1 Oval on Saturdays to watch the games of cricket and Rugby from under the trees.
He was a first year Med student in 1939 when he played as a backrower in the University 1st Grade Rugby Premiership side.
By 1940, at the beginning of the war, he’d enlisted in the army.
In 1942, he was among thousands of Australian soldiers captured by the Japanese in Singapore. For the next three and a half years, he was a prisoner of war…starved, beaten, subjected to unimaginably sadistic torture. When he was asked how he survived those awful years, he said that he had taken in his kitbag to Singapore his Sydney University 1st Grade Rugby Premiership jersey and every night that he was a prisoner of war, until it fell apart, he slept in that jersey to keep his spirits up.
There’s a happy ending to this story. He survived, came back in 1946 to play once again for his beloved Sydney University, represented the Wallabies, and then lived for another 60 years, sustained during his darkest times by just wearing the famous blue and gold jersey.
The second story is not as spectacular.
But…this cap. Of all the things that I’ve ever got from playing cricket, this is my most treasured. It says ‘SUCC. Club Champions, 2000-01’.
Even though this club had been going for almost 150 years in 2001, we had never before won the title ‘Club Champions’ until that year
On the final afternoon, the news crackled around the grounds. We needed two of our teams to win and I was in the field up at St Paul’s Oval when I heard that 1st and 3rd Grades had won. We also went on to win and the celebrations on the outfield at No 1 Oval that night went on for so long into the next week that we lost all four games in the next weekend’s quarter finals.
However, for the last ten years of my career, I always wore this cap in every game, so much did it mean to me, a symbol of playing not just for ourselves or even just for our team, but for the whole club. I’ve won Premiership caps and I’ve even kept my first cap but this is the one that I always wore. It’s a symbol of what this club is about. It’s more than just writing and cardboard and cloth.
It stands for integrity, for spirit and soul and passion in your heart.
It stands for pride in all that we do on and off the field.
It stands for how we play the game and you’ve already heard how many times we’ve won the ‘spirit of cricket’ award in recent times.
It stands for confidence in the way we play.
It stands for respect for ourselves, for our team mates, for our club mates, for our opposition, for the umpires, for the game.
It stands for achievement. Look at how many in this room have played in premierships/club championships for this club.
It stands for enjoyment, and fun and mate ship with others that will last much longer than just our playing career
It stands as the link with our long traditions, with everyone who’s gone before us and everyone who will follow us.
If you’re here for the first time (as are our Green Shield boys and their families), it won’t be the last time.
And if you first played here 40, 50, 60 years ago as did some of those distinguished former players here tonight, then you know what I’m talking about.
Because….that’s what it means to play for this great club!