Monday Milestone: 1930s Rugby League – Dave Brown

Filed in Other by on August 11, 2013

1930's Rugby League
As we head towards the rugby league finals, the Milestone takes the Delorean forward another decade this week, this time focussing on rugby league in the 1930’s.

This Week in History:
August 12
Dave Brown scores six tries and kicks ten goals for a personal tally of 38 points as Eastern Suburbs defeat Canterbury-Bankstown 65-10.

When it comes to rugby league, who do consider as the greatest player of all time?

Perhaps it is Dally Messenger – the man that started it all by coming across from rugby union? Or perhaps it is Andrew “Joey” Johns? Recently inducted as the eighth Immortal? Or perhaps it’s someone else. Perhaps your answer lies somewhere between these titanic rugby league bookends?

But perhaps surprisingly, one of the all-time greats, and a name that is too oft overlooked, dominated rugby league in the 1930s. In an age that conjures up the stereotypical images of the long dole queues as people scrambled for food in abject poverty during the Great Depression, or the rise of the marching Nazi Germany, as they beat the drums of the Second World War, here at Making the Nut, we think of Dave Brown.

David Brown was, almost undisputedly, the greatest rugby league player of his time. Nicknamed the “Bradman of rugby league” the centre for Eastern Suburbs was so prolific during the 1930s that a number of his rugby league point scoring records still stand today. In fact whilst his six tries and ten goals for Easts in this week in August 1935 highlights just how remarkable he was, the feat is made even more impressive by the fact that it wasn’t his highest points tally in a match for that season.

Brown’s earlier 45 point haul against the new Canterbury-Bankstown Berries in May 1935 still remains an individual point-scoring record. His five tries and fifteen goals in the 87-7 drubbing is unlikely to be bested any time soon.  And it typified the year Brown had. The dashing centre, whose trademark headgear covered his baldness (rumours suggest he’d worn a hairpiece until it was thrown overboard on the boat to England during a Kangaroo Tour) would go onto score 38 tries and kick 65 goals that season in a mammoth, record breaking year.

Thirty-eight tries in fifteen matches is simply astonishing. To give some perspective – in the modern length season, this equates to 60 tries, and 104 goals (despite not being first choice goal kicker). Last year’s leading try-scorer Ben Barba, scored 22.

And it was central to the giant success of Eastern Suburbs. Two weeks after Brown’s 45 point haul, The Tricolours would begin the longest undefeated streak in rugby league history, spanning thirty five matches. They would not be defeated again until 1938. Brown would play for state and country with aplomb, and win three premierships.

Today Dave Brown is too often forgotten due to the 1930s not being a particularly memorable decade of rugby league, although prior to the striking of the Clive Churchill Medal for best afield in the Grand Final, it should be noted that players contested for the Dave Brown Medallion.

He was a complete try scoring machine, and truly one of the greatest rugby league players to lace a boot. And whilst perhaps Dave Brown isn’t who many deem to be the greatest rugby league player of all time, surely he must be at least considered.

Milestone Five: Dave Brown’s finest efforts

5.    1932 – Mere days after his nineteenth birthday, Brown is named captain of Eastern Suburbs.

4.    1935 – Dave Brown scores six tries and kicks another seven goals against Balmain to take his season total to 244 points – a record that would last for a generation.

3.    1935 – Brown is named as the youngest ever Australian captain aged just 22 years and 117 days.

2.    1935 v Canterbury Bankstown – Brown scores 6 tries and kicks 10 goals as Eastern Suburbs defeat the newcomers by 65-10. It is still second most points by an individual of all time.

1.    1935 v Canterbury Bankstown – Brown scores 5 tries and kicks 15 goals (still a record) as Eastern Suburbs enjoy a record win, defeating Canterbury-Bankstown 87-7. This record of 45 points still stands today.


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