End is nigh for St George Saints' home - club building to be demolished

MEMORIES came flooding back as Doug McClelland and Bruce Hancock watched workmen prepare to demolish St George Leagues Club’s original home at Kogarah.

Mr McClelland, a former president of the Senate and life member of the club, was a regular visitor after the building opened at the corner of Princes Highway and Rocky Point Road in the 1950s.

Mr Hancock was 19 when he began working there, and is still employed by the club as a driver.

In 1963 the club moved along the highway to its present location at Carlton, and the old building was sold to the Catholic Church, then became Bethany College.

It is being demolished for the development of a new seniors village, to be called St Patrick’s Green.

The club says on its website its  first home was ‘‘a very informal meeting place that encompassed two poker machines, a stage, and one long bar’’.

‘‘Originally, the bar was situated in the cellar, which was the only completed section of the building.’’

Mr McClelland recalled one of Saints’ legends Ken ‘‘Killer’’ Kearney worked behind the bar, and other stars were cellarmen.

‘‘We celebrated my wife Lorna’s 30th birthday there,’’ he said.

‘‘It was a very friendly place and we all knew one another.

‘‘St George was winning the competition, and everyone was talking football.’’

Bruce Hancock said be began work as a cleaner, but after a few days was asked to drive chief executive Arthur ‘‘Snowy’’ Justice into the city.

‘‘From then on, I was a full-time driver,’’ he said. ‘‘I used to mainly drive Mr Justice around.’’

 ‘‘In those days, they used to like a drink.’’

Mr Hancock said on his first day he walked into the toilets to find one of the club’s prominent identities  had ‘‘ironed out’’ another man.

‘‘I was told, ‘You’ve seen nothing,’’’  Mr Hancock said.

‘‘I went home and told my wife, and she said, ‘You can’t keep working there,’ but I did, and it’s the only job I have ever had.’’

Mr Hancock remembered a storeroom where many of the football club’s trophies were kept because ‘‘there were so many of them’’.

A club room in the new seniors village will include memorabilia from Saints’ ‘‘glory days’’.

St Patrick’s Green will have 104 independent living apartments and 88 aged care suites in three buildings.

It is due to be completed in mid-2017.

Stage 1 apartments are being offered from $380,000 to $1.5 million.

Do you have any more stories about the old club?