The aspirations and working of the Briars Sporting Club during the War years may be best summed up by the following statement from the 1941/42 Annual Report: “Our main aim during the period under review has been to maintain what we have, against the time when a large number our members, who are in the fighting forces, will return to hearth and home”.
Although in the 1940/41 season the Briars were able to field two Cricket and two Football teams, by the 1941/42 only cricket continued to be played. Football returned in 1944, when a team was entered in the Metropolitan District Junior Rugby Union Competition. In 1945 the Club entered a team in the 4th Grade District Competition. The Sub-District Competition for the Kentwell and Burke Cups was re-established in 1946. This was to a large extent due to the efforts of our Club’s representations by the Hon. H.W. Whiddon and Messrs R. Clark and D Walker.
During the war years the activities of the Club were not just restricted to those members left at home. The Club conferred Honorary Membership upon all Club members on active service. By 1943 out of a total of 194 members, 134 were on active service. A War Comforts Fund was established in co-operation with the Ladies Committee. Theatre parties, cocktail parties, card evenings, etc. raised monies, and parcels of knitted and other goods were sent to each member overseas on several occasions for the duration of the War. This fund was wound up in 1946. In the six-year period of its operation over 600 parcels were sent. In order to keep the members on active service up to date on Club news, “The Briars Letter” was established in 1942. During the years of hostilities the letter was sent at regular intervals.
At the cessation of hostilities, it was obvious that the price paid in fallen comrades was grievous – sixteen Briars sportsmen had paid the supreme sacrifice. In their memory, a memorial service was held at St. Annes Church, Strathfield on Sunday, 30th October 1949. At this service a tablet was dedicated as a shrine to the fallen. It still hangs in our Clubrooms today.
The Briars Sporting Club had now survived the Great Depression and the Second World War, and as the committee reported in 1946: “There is the realization that we must prepare for the future, a future which we are sure holds for the Club a bright destiny”.
In 1945 the rules were amended to allow the admission boys while still at school. In that same year cricket again fielded a team in the Western Suburbs District Cricket Association competition.
The Club reopened negotiations with Concord Council (which had been deferred because of the War) about the laying of a turf wicket at Rothwell Park and the possibilities of Briars using the park during both the winter and summer for football and cricket respectively. The council agreed to carry out the necessary improvements if Briars supplied the labour.
The reintroduction of tennis, golf and table tennis as Club activities were somewhat restricted, as post war shortages and embargoes affected the supply of necessary equipment; for example, tennis balls and shoes were unavailable. However, thee managed to expand and by 1946 two teams from Briars represented the Club in B1 and C2 grades of the Men’s Sunday morning Tennis Competition. The following year golf was re-established when a tournament was played. In 1947 another minor sport appeared, basketball. Members competed in two competitions. The summer competition was very popular and enthusiasm high, however, the winter competition failed to maintain interest and this sport was short lived.
Another important facet of the Club’s development in the years immediately following the war was the introduction of Hockey. It was decided to enter a team in the 1946 Metropolitan Hockey Association’s competition. However, as this was only open to district clubs, the Briars were not eligible. However, due to the generosity of the Western Suburbs District Club, our team was entered under their banner. Nevertheless, the Briars autonomously controlled the team. In 1948 a new sub-district Hockey Association was formed. The Briars were able to enter a team under the Briars name and in the Club’s colours. The Hockey won their first premiership in 1950.
Football and Cricket began to revive their pre-war structures in the late 1940’s. The A Shire’s premiership was won three years consecutively in 44/45, 45/46 and 46/47 and again in 49/50.
Rugby strength also increased in the late forties. In the 1948 season the Briars were able to field a Kentwell Cup team, a Burke Cup team and two Whiddon Cup teams. This increase in strength did not go unrewarded. The Club Championship was won three times in the forties and the Kentwell Cup was won in 1949.
If sporting activities expanded after the war, then so did the Club’s dimensions. Membership increased from 192 in 1941 to 278 in 1949.
The Library’s operation expanded in the late forties and continued to supply literature of a high standard to the members.
In 1947 a Development Committee was established and immediate steps were undertaken to paint and modernize the facilities of the Club.
In 1949, an important problem had arisen about the tenancy of the Clubrooms. “Our application for renewal of the lease could not be dealt with as the mortgagors were negotiating with the mortgagees for a redemption of the mortgage.” The implications were uncertain. At a special general meeting on 19th December 1949 it was decided that action should be taken towards the purchase of the building. To enable this to be done the club formed into a company limited by guarantee. It was decided that the sale of debentures to members and Club supporters and the remainder should obtain the necessary finance by bank overdraft. A final agreement with the owners was made and the Club acquired the buildings at a cost of 4,750 Pounds ($9,500). At the close of the year, the sale of debentures had realised 3,100 Pounds ($6,200). Two-thirds of this was taken up interest free.
The J H Stone Trophy was first presented in 1950. This trophy holds pride of place because it is named after the Club’s first President, whose boyhood home. ‘The Briars’ was the origin of the Club’s name. Also because it is awarded to the member under 25 years of age who makes the greatest contribution the Club’s welfare each year.
At the 30th Annual General Meeting the Club elected its first three Life Members: Hon. H. W. Whiddon, Mr E. J. Siddeley and Mr R. W. May.
Some of the socials included on the Briars calendar in thee years were the Christmas Eve Parties, New Years Eve Parties at Allambie House, Annual Balls and End of Season Dinners
In 1946, a Cricket Trophy was introduced. This trophy is presented to the cricket player who makes the outstanding contribution to his club and to his team. It was donated by the Hon. H. W. Whiddon and commemorates the fallen of the Second World War.
Although these years may be looked back on as years of expansion and can be regarded as a proud era for the Briars, there were times when the committee were displeased. These notes come from the 1948/49 Annual report: “Far too many members at present are having their sole interest in playing sport each Saturday or in availing themselves of the amenities and facilities available at the Club rooms. They fail to realise that they owe their enjoyment to a comparative few of their fellow members who receive little thanks for their efforts. This spirit of selfishness must be eradicated if the club is to prosper and everyone must do his share of the work that has to be done”.