The NSW Leagues’ Club celebrates its Centenary on Monday 8 December – exactly 100 years to the day back in 1914 when the decision was made to take over the unexpired lease of the United Services Club at 169 Phillip Street Sydney and change the name to the NSW Leagues’ Club.
Members elected to the First Board included John Joyton Smith MLA who became the first Chairman.
The naming of the Club as Leagues’ the Board also had in mind the inclusion of supporters of various other sporting leagues in the fields of swimming, sailing, foot racing and cycling. Rugby League however was the main focus and for the first time since its inception in 1908 the game had a base in a prominent part of the Sydney landscape.
As the decades passed the NSW Leagues’ Club responded to a growing membership base and the effects of war and only twice for short periods of refurbishment and the requisition by the Government for the American Red Cross during WW2 remained along Phillip Street.
The NSW Leagues’ Club is the Historic Home of Rugby League and up until 2012 was the base of the NSWRL, ARL and CRL. Over the years the Club hosted many touring teams and functions and supported the NSWRL financially particularly in the area of schoolboy and junior rugby league.
As part of its Community conscience the Club donated in excess of two million dollars to organisations both sporting and recreation and those organisations that help those in need within the Sydney City region.
The NSW Leagues’ Club was appropriately named the ‘mother of all clubs’ by veteran administrator S.G Ball in the 1950’s as it supported the financial stability of many growing clubs by loan and acting as bank guarantor. Many Clubs would not be in existence today without that support.
Membership of the Club exceeded 30 000 in the seventies as the Club thrived as the entertainment centre of Sydney. A NSW Leagues’ Bowling Club as well as a heavily supported Fishing Club ensured its popularity.
Club Chairman Dennis Spagarino said today ‘the celebration of 100 years in any aspect of life is a rare achievement. The fact that the NSW Leagues’ Club has provided a safe and attractive environment for its members, guests and the people of Sydney and NSW is certainly noteworthy’.
‘Over many decades Phillip Street was the place to be and the place to be seen. It was the entertainment precinct of the Sydney CBD’.
‘I acknowledge also those many people who held Board, Management and Staff positions over the past Centenary and commend over 200 000 members who supported and continue to call this club – their club.’