History

 

RYDE-EASTWOOD LEAGUES CLUB LTD
A Short History

 


 

In 1963 ten men joined together to form the Ryde-Eastwood District Rugby League Football Club, their
aspiration to field a football team in first division and to build up support within the community. It wasn’t long
before it was realised that to compete at that level would require the support of a licensed club and thus
also in 1963 Ryde-Eastwood Leagues Club was formed.

 

After securing a lease on premises in Ryedale Rd owned by Simpson Pope Washing Machines, and
previously the home of the Holeproof women’s apparel factory, the board decided to apply for a liquor
licence. With opposition from local hotels, the Club’s application was rejected twice, and the process of
applying for a licence took nearly seven years.

 

A core group of 250 Foundation members whose names are on display in the Club’s foyer, as well as
various NSW Leagues Clubs provided financial support to enable the club to meet its obligations (in
particular substantial legal bills) and survive over these seven years. The board finally won their legal battle
which included a change to case law and were granted a licence. The original premises were purchased by
the NSWRL on behalf of the Football Club and on 19th December 1970 Mr Bill Buckley, president of the
New South Wales Rugby League, opened the Club. The Club had 40 poker machines and was
enthusiastically supported by the local community. By 1974 the Club was able to purchase adjoining
factories and the Club’s membership had grown to 15,000.

 

In 1979 the Club commenced a 3.5 million dollar extension, including additional car parking facilities, bistro
facilities and an auditorium. A gas explosion caused almost a million dollars worth of damage and delayed
the opening of some of the Club’s facilities for almost a year.

Since then the Club has moved along a path of consolidation, purchasing properties in the local area and
trying to ensure that all future plans for expansion are self-funding. The Club was again extensively
renovated in 1990 and in 1992 Ryde-Eastwood Leagues Club won the NSW Club Industry “Club of the
Year” award.

 

In 1994 plans were commenced for the acquisition of an adjoining property (Coopers Tank Works) and a
$22 million project of development and refurbishment. This was completed in 1999. Membership increased
from 22,000 in November 1996 to over 35,000 in June 1999. Current membership fluctuates between
30,000 and 35,000 dependent on the time of the year.

 

In 2002 Ryde Eastwood Leagues Club amalgamated with Eastwood Bowling Club and commenced plans
to redevelop the Bowling Club site. In August 2003 the redeveloped site was reopened as Hawks on
Second Avenue and operated as a satellite club of Ryde-Eastwood Leagues Club. The Bowling Club was
closed at the end of 2011 due to poor trading and will be developed as a housing site in future years.

The Club always has an eye for development opportunities but the main focus is maintaining a high
standard of facilities at the clubhouse in West Ryde, with almost the whole of the club being again
renovated and modernised between 2007 and 2012.

 

Over the years the Club has strengthened its affiliations with the local community supporting many different
sporting groups and local charities. The spirit of friendship, support and determination that brought this club
into being in 1963 continues today.

 

On the football side, the Ryde-Eastwood District Rugby League Football Club successfully competed in
many competitions from 1963 to 2004 in their own right . In 2005 due to ongoing issues with trying to
compete in a competition that penalised clubs without a junior base they formed a joint venture with
Balmain Football club and Balmain / Ryde-Eastwood competed in the NSWRL Premier League reserve
grade and then its successor The State Cup reaching the grand final on two occasions, the last being in
2012 when they were narrowly defeated by Newtown.

 

With Wests Tigers resolving to enter only one team in the 2013 State Cup as West Tigers, sadly the 2012
Grand Final was the last game played under the Ryde-Eastwood name. The Football club now
concentrates on sponsorship of local junior league clubs as well as being major sponsors of the Wests
Tigers State Cup team.

 

While a number of the executive are common to both the Football club and the Leagues Club, the two
organisations operate as separate entities.