Robert Bruce (Bob) Clark
The Briars Sporting Club’s co-founder, Robert Bruce (Bob) Clark died September 24, 1994. Bob and a group of 13-15 year old mates formed The Briars Sporting Club in 1918, and so founded an amateur sporting club unique in the Southern Hemisphere. From this humble beginning, meeting in a backyard chook shed in the Appian Way, Burwood, with not even enough members to form a cricket team, the club has grown to what it is today. The history of Bob's life and that of the club are indistinguishable from one another.
Those principles adopted by Bob and his mates, and guided by their parents, have been the backbone of the club for 100 years.
Although born in Mosman, his mother moved the young Bob and sister, Edna, to a property on part of the Appian Way Estate, Burwood, following his father’s death.
Bob was educated firstly at Edgecliff Prep and then Sydney Grammar School. He then commencedwork at Colonial Sugar Refining Co. Limited where he remained until his retirement as Personnel Officer .
Bob was secretary of the club for thirty-two years; a trustee before its incorporation. ; a director for some fifteen years our Patron since incorporation.
He was awarded the B.E.M. ..Order of the British Empire medal ( Civil)/British empire Medal (Civil ) in 1972 in recognition of his service to the community..
The club's main sports were originally focussed on Rugby and Cricket, and it was not long after his return from service that Bob, together with Dave Higgins (Colleagues), Marc Leay (Epping) and Frank Butterfield (Hunter's Hill) re-established the Sub District Rugby Competition.
Bob undertook to be the Competition's first secretary, and was recognised as a Life Member of the NSW Suburban Rugby Union for his endeavours. He made a similar contribution to the post-war return of the Municipal and Shire Cricket Association.
Combining a number of roles as Club secretary, organiser, disciplinarian transport driver, team manager, player and father figure to its members, no decision was made without Bob's approval during those first forty years. All tiers of management were conscious of Bob's interest and assessment, even over his last thirty years after retirement from sports positions.
In many ways Bob was a stubborn, difficult man who was intolerant of fools; particularly those who did not place Briars first in their priority list. It was said by his peers, that he was also intolerant of those whose playing form on the day was not up to his expectations.
However, he looked back with pride on the growth and strength of the Briars but was never complacent about the contribution and unselfish dedication required of members.
He was very quietly a generous man. Over the last ten years of his life Bob sponsored nominated club members to undertake the Outward Bound course. Bob has left the club a legacy to allow this scholarship to be funded indefinitely. He also donated money for an additional cricket turf wicket in Concord for the Club's use. Bob Clark was a true Briar.
The Briars Sporting Club.....Est 1918
In August 1918, eleven Burwood boys’, aged between 9 and 13 years met in an Appian Way backyard chook pen to start a club. This was the humble beginning of a club that this year, celebrates its Centenary.
The name of the Club is “The Briars”, the name taken from its first President’s house.
In the early years, like most boys of the era, sport was everything, and they organized and took part in Athletics and Swimming carnivals and played cricket and rugby amongst themselves. The Briars has always been a family club, as parents and friends helped organise and guide the boys. In 1922 the Briars played in their first competitive Cricket competition, followed in 1923 by entering a local Rugby competition. The club’s original premises in George St, Burwood were leased in 1929 and following the clubs’ incorporation, finally purchased in 1950, gaining a liquor license in 1954.
A steady growth in sporting club membership continued throughout the ensuing years. The nature of the club and its social activities closely reflected the social mores of the day. In the early years a library, debating, lectures and plays were put on by members, always under the guidance of parents. Things became difficult during the 1930’s depression years and the club’s sporting activities remained restricted to Cricket and Rugby.
No less than 157 out of a total membership of 187 members served in the armed forces during WWII, with 16 making the supreme sacrifice.
In the post war years, the clubs’ membership, activities and major sports expanded. Hockey was introduced as a major sport in 1946 and Squash in 1956.
Throughout its history, promoting the benefits of amateur team sport was paramount and up until 2005, it was completely run on an honorary basis. It is also unique, in that to become a full member of the Briars club, it was a pre-requisite for a prospective member to complete playing two years consecutively of a major sport.
Although individual club sports have won many premierships, and some members even represented their country, with Wallabies in Rugby and Olympians in Hockey, successive Briars administrators have always emphasized the importance of participation in sport in a sporting manner.
The later years of the last century and its rapidly changing social and economic environment, presented the Briars with its own challenges and it had to adapt to accommodate these. Womens’ and Junior sports were embraced, with hockey leading the way.
In 2005, The Briars club amalgamated with Greenlees Park Bowling Club, initially to become Briars@Greenleess, now called Briars Sports. This combined club has seen a rapid expansion of sporting membership. Now an expanded sport’s offering, including Mens’ and Womens’ Lawn Bowls and both Senior and Junior Netball.
The club now, not only boasts extensive licensed club facilities, which cater for the whole family, but also sporting opportunities in six major sports for all ages from under 8 to 88+years.
Today, as the Briars club celebrates its Centenary, it has traversed a full circle, it again has more young people than adults playing sport under the Briars banner, just as it did in 1918.. It boasts a total of 1950 active sporting members, 750 of them senior and a staggering 1200 juniors.
Congratulations to the Briars Club on achieving a magnificent milestone of 100 sporting seasons, not forgetting its outstanding contribution in the promotion that great Australian pastime of sports participation..
Obituary - From a Focus in the 1980’s
The Club was saddened to learn of the death this week of one of the club's most valuable members. Someone Else. Someone's passing creates a vacancy that will be difficult to fill.
Else had been with the club since its beginning and did far more than a normal persons's share of the work. Whenever there was a job to do, a ground to mark, a bar to tend or cleaning to be done - even the selling of quadrella tickets - one name was on everyone's lips: "Let Someone Else do it".
It was common knowledge that Someone Else was among the largest contributors of his time to the club -
whenever there was a need for volunteers, everyone just assumed Someone Else would volunteer.
Someone Else was a wonderful person, sometimes appearing to be superhuman. But a person can only do so much. Were the truth known, everyone expected too much of Someone Else. Now Someone Else is gone.
Who is going to do the things Someone Else did?
When you are asked to help, remember- we can't depend on Someone Else
Origins of the Club Name & Club Colours
THE BRIARS SPORTING CLUB, had its remarkable beginnings when fourteen boys, aged from 9 to 13 years, met on the disused fowl-yard at Bob Clark's place on the 7th August 1918.
They were there to inaugurate the Club, which had been the idea of Jack Stone. The first major decision of this gathering was to name the Club. After much debate, the Club was named Briars after Jack Stone’s house “The Briars”. Jack was a distinguished man and the President of the sporting club.
The next important decision to make was on the Club's colours. Mrs Rudd, an aunt of Geoff Whiddon, embroidered a piece of red cloth "T.B.S.C" in gold letters. It is reported that bashfulness on the part of some members caused the red to be changed to maroon, which resulted in maroon and
gold, the colours that the club is renowned for today.
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