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The Ultimate Sacrifice- The Scullin Brothers

Three brothers went to war, none returned. It is a common enough story for an Australian World War I history, in which Australia suffered disproportionate losses. But these three were three of our own – “The Scullin Brothers — Pat, Jack and Mines Rovers legend Dan” — all died on the Western Front between July 1916 and September 1917.

The Scullin family lived in Pirie Street Boulder in a crowded house of four boys, two girls and two of Mr Scullin's brothers from Ireland. The three eldest boys John, Dan and Pat played for Mines Rovers prior to the first world war with the whole family would turning out on a Sunday to cheer the three champions on.

Of the three, Dan Scullin was the most celebrated of the three brothers to play senior football for Mines Rovers, tall, athletic and a superb kick, he was a key reason for the team’s re-emergence as a power, culminating in its first premiership for eight years in 1914. That same year, Scullin travelled to Sydney as a member of Western Australia’s carnival team, and but for the intervention of war who knows what he might ultimately have achieved in football with the Mines Rovers.

But in 1914, the war broke out. John, a grocer, immediately joined the 28 Battalion and was quickly followed by Patrick, a labourer and Daniel, a battery hand, who went to the 51 Battalion and the three sailed for overseas. Their destination was Gallipoli, but the prayers of their devoted Catholic mother saw them safe until the evacuation and the three brothers were then taken by troopship to France. In 1916 Father Donogher, the family priest, learnt that twenty three year old John had been killed in action on 29 July at Pozieres, France and with a heavy heart he brought the news to Mrs Scullin. In a little over a year Father Donogher could not believe it when he was informed that both Daniel, 25 and Patrick, 22 had been killed, side by side, in Polygon Wood, Belgium on the 26 September 1917 and he had to again make the trip to Mrs Scullin's doorstep.

Meg, their sister, wrote ‘the saddest day of our lives was to see all the boys come back and none of them ours. It was a terrible, sad time. Our parents had us and they knew they had three young children to rear and by clinging to us it helped them along. But the boys were missed all right, terribly missed” As it was, all three Scullin brothers signed up to travel abroad in the service of ‘King and country’, and none returned home to Australia, The Scullin family had made the ultimate sacrifice. Today, as you drive through May Drive near Saw Ave you will see the only tree in Kings Park that has three plaques at its base, they wanted to keep the Scullin boys together.

Today, all in the GFL salute the Scullin Brothers, who made the ultimate sacrifice so that for decades later, we could all play and enjoy the great game of Australian Rules Football.

Sources – Gravel Rash – Les Everett,,,

Anzac Day football fixtures have become a treasured part of our football seasons throughout the country and the GFL is no different. So, to have our first games being played on such a weekend makes it very special start to the GFL.

Our Anzac Day fixtures sponsored by the Kalgoorlie RSL. The RSL has supplied the league last year with some perpetual trophies sure to be treasured year to year by the winners of these matches. Teams will also listen to the last post before each game, the reading of the ode and have a minute’s silence with members of the Kalgoorlie RSL in attendance. There are also best on ground awards for each grade.  The GFL thanks the RSL for their continued support of this very important weekend of football.  I am sure the clubs will all be attending the Monday morning Anzac Day services as I know they value them and how important it is that their players and members attend.

So many sacrifices were made during war times, and we all enjoy the life we do because of these sacrifices. In fact, during our World Wars, football was paused in the GFL as many of our players, volunteers and supporters headed off to fight for their country. Interestingly there was in fact a women’s competition formed during this era of which there is a story in the budget this weekend.  We also have a story on the three Scullin brothers one of which was Dan Scullin, a GFL Association Fairest and Best winner and legendry footballer, who all went to war and never returned to their families or the league along with that of former Carlton & Mines Rovers player Albert Patterson as well. Interesting reading for everyone.

This season we are looking forward to an exciting year, especially given we will have a WAFL game here on May 21st between our WAFL Host Club in Subiaco and Swan Districts. Even better it will be Sir Doug Nicholls Round to celebrate all our wonderful Indigenous players and the contribution they make to football. We have lots planned for the week leading up to the game and the day and we will talk more about that next week.

The season commences with games at Sir Richard Moore Oval, with games between Railways and Boulder, with Colts, reserves, GFLW and the league under lights at 6pm. All at Pantherland would be excited to have their womens team about to play their first game against the reigning premiers no less, and this should be a great leadup game to the league fixture. The league game promises to be a great one, with both clubs having been busy in the off season to bolster their stocks. Interestingly former team mates from Perth in Boulders Corey Yeo and Railways Jordan Reid and Jack Steel will now be opponents and facing off. There will be a host of recruits playing but we will also want to acknowledge a local product and home-grown Tiger in Jorden Hooks, a player who has come through the Boulder junior ranks, played in a league premiership and is playing his 100th game. Well done Jordy, a great feat at only 24 years of age, with many more games to be played yet.

Sunday footy returns the next day out in Kambalda with games being played in the nickel town for the first time on a Sunday in a few years with Kambalda taking on reigning premiers Kalgoorlie. Kambalda have done a huge job just to get teams up and running, it’s been tough and I thank them for the work they have done and must acknowledge the other 4 GFL clubs for supporting them and being so patient as we worked through many things and finally got the fixtures out. There is still much work to be done and as a league we need to stick together and work through it all. But this weekend we will all just be relieved to play three games of football in Kambalda.

This weekend we are hoping for some great weather and even better crowds enjoying all that football has to offer. It has been a difficult off season with the spectre of COVID looming and I think the decision made by the Commission with the full support of all 5 clubs to delay the start has been a wise one. We have witnessed club training being impacted by COVID and I am really hoping we won’t be disrupted too much more. Thanks to our football community for their patience and understanding and working as one for the betterment of our league.

There has also been challenges with a new operating system rolled out by the AFL, that has tested us all, I must mention the hardworking registrars, secretaries, and volunteers at clubs, who give up their time and are increasingly getting asked to do more and more to help run a football club. Not all hero’s wear capes or in our case a footy jumper each week, and in the GFL they are operating a laptop negotiating this to get players registered and do a mountain of work behind the scenes to get footy played. All of you are the true hero’s and we salute you all.

Lastly, I would like to thank Steve Wojtowicz, GFL Vice Chairman, Susan Stirling, GFL Treasurer, Eshe Christie, GFL Secretary & Womens Football, Jeff Turner, GFL Commissioner Men’s Football, Brent Gouge, GFL Commissioner Rep Footy & Juniors, Jerry Virieux, GFL Commissioner Umpires, Kyran O’Donnell GFL Commissioner Governance & our very hardworking Operations Manager Nardia Turner, Brendon Simpson, our WACFL board member and also Gemma Harrison our WAFC Regional specialist for  the work they all put in and the assistance and support they give me as Chairperson, I can’t thank them enough and the GFL Community should be thankful we have people so invested in the future of footy here in the Goldfields.  We do have vacancies for two Commissioners to come on board to assist Brent with Juniors and look after our sponsors. So, if you would like to be part of the team please get in touch.

This weekend it is fitting that as we honour those who fought for us so fiercely and our clubs go into battle against each other. Enjoy your GFL Anzac Weekend Football and wherever you may be remember to honour all those brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for us to all enjoy the freedoms we have today.

Lest We Forget.

Graeme Borchet

GFL Chairperson

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