The Golden Oldies movement started in New Zealand and the first Festival was held in Auckland in 1979, an Event was organized in Long Beach California for the 1st Overseas Festival, teams stayed in the Queen Mary which is permanently birthed at Long Beach in California USA.
Plans were formulated for the 3rd. International Festival in Sydney in 1983, the challenge was out and EDRUFC responded with a team made up of retired players, officials, coaches and other Rugby flotsam from the main bar at TG Milner Club.
Eastwood had a bit of an advantage as we already had a group of Rugby Nuts running around in the loosely termed Coarse Rugby Social League, teams from most Major Rugby Clubs, Subbies and the occasional Ethnic team such as the Armenians, Alis Oasis and various groups, who wishing to have a not to serious run on Sundays with most skills shown, in the after game drinking and bonding sessions (aka Boat Races)
Channel Nine Musical Director Geoff Harvey had formed the much lauded
“Eastwood Frothonians” in the early 70s for just that reason, the Froths played many games over a 10 year period, playing teams such as the “Old Golds” a team formed by Rugby Immortal Ken Catchpole and having in their team John Thornett Peter Crittle John Brass and other Randwick greats, Parramatta, Norths, St George and Wests had teams that enjoyed the full laws of the game but were played purely as a social game with Port and Beer at every break in Play. Games were played on Sunday mornings.
And so the 1983 Festival was awarded to Sydney and almost every Grade Club in Sydney entered a team, The Taylor Brothers decided Eastwood needed a team and proceeded to contact players from the Froths, Eastwood Stalwarts and players from Stubbies to Grade to express their interest, only stipulation was, you had to be over over the age of 35 and a Woodie!!!
The Sydney Festival was a great event, surprised Air New Zealand Excutives, who had sponsored the event, were amazed at the number of teams represented from all over Australia. Games were played at various fields around the Eastern Suburbs, Eastwood’s Charcoals played Port Mc Quarie in the first game at Navy Park, it is interesting to note the The Charcoals still travel each year to play the Port Mc Quarie Pirates for a hotly disputed Gold Cup Trophy.
The Charcoals have travelled to London 1985, Auckland 1987, Toronto 1989, Perth 1991, Dublin 1993, Capetown 1995, New Zealand 1997, Adelaide 1999, Toronto 2001, Brisbane 2003, San Diego 2005, Edingburgh 2008, Sydney 2010, Argentina 2014 and have plans in place to attend the 25th anniversary Festival in Cardiff in 2016.
During the 32 years from its foundation the Charcoals have played almost 350 games against teams from all over Sydney and NSW.
The Charcoals host a GALA DAY of Rugby, held each year in June since 1987, it is regarded as the best event in Australia attracting between 21 and 29 teams from Sydney and outer towns. Eastwoods TG Milner has 3 fields and these are all in action over a 7 hour period. The Awards at the end of the day are keenly contested.
The Club has over 10 players with 100 games to their credit and 2 players over 200 with those two Originals, Bryant “Cecil” Feltham and Ian “Gunna Hay” still turning up for an occasional appearance, it is rumoured its just for the Port. A Trophy Cabinet in the Licensed Club holds many Trophies and Memorbilia from the foundation years of this a wonderful advertisement tor the Game Played in Heaven “Rugby”.
Woods, Woods, Woods !