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Veteran Eels: Celebrating Parramatta's ex-servicemen

This week, the Parramatta Eels joins with the rugby league community in honouring the Defence Forces of Australia and New Zealand through this week's ANZAC Round.

Across the Eels’ 76-year history, the club has shared a strong relationship with Australian and New Zealand defence forces. Our deep connection began with the club’s founder, Colonel Jack Argent OBE OAM ED.

Jack Argent was one of the driving forces in establishing the Parramatta Eels in 1947. In World War II, Jack was part of the 2/3rd Anti-Tank Regiment Royal Australian Artillery 9th Division 2nd AIF that fought in North Africa and later in the Pacific theatre.

The Eels’ 2023 ANZAC Round Jersey was designed in his honour, paying homage to his regiment in World War II.

The inaugural Parramatta Eels team had a number of ex-servicemen who served across the various theatres of WW2. Nine veterans pulled on the Blue & Gold in the club’s first ever competitive match April 12, 1947, against Newtown before a crowd of 6,000 at Cumberland Oval.

In partnership with our ex-players association, the Blue and Gold Alliance (BGA), the Parramatta Eels has been undertaking research to identify each of its former players who may have served the Australian or New Zealand Defence Force.

Bill Richards, President of the BGA said “Throughout our Club’s rich history there has always been a strong connection with our defence forces. From our Club’s founder Jack Argent who was known affectionately around the Club as “the Colonel”, to our original team who had so many WW2 veterans right through to the players in the 60’ and 70’s who had served in theatres like Vietnam.

By recognising our players' service with our armed forces, we can ensure that their important contribution to Club and Country will be honoured.”

Player No. Player Name Debut Rank Unit Service Record
1 Keith Gersbach 1947 Private 52 Aust Composite Anti-Aircraft Regiment Here
2 Bert Bell 1947 Private 2/13 Australian Infantry Battalion Here
3 Bob Andrews 1947 Signalman 18 Line of Command Signals Here
4 George Cook 1947 Lead Aircarftman 3 Mobile Works Squadron Here
6 Fred McKean 1947 Lieutenant 19 Battalion Volunteer Defence Corps Here
8 George Robertson 1947 Lead Aircarftman 1 Central Reserve Here
10 Colin Schomberg 1947 Lead Aircarftman 7 Aircraft Depot Tucumwal Here
12 Johnny Smith 1947 Private 16 Aust Heavy Anti-Artillery Battery Here
13 Wally Woodward 1947 Corporal 2/1 Australian Guard Regiment Here
14 Neville Brennan 1947 Lead Aircraftman 2 Stores Depot Here
17 Doug Spurway 1947 Lance Sergeant 114 Aust General Transport Company Here
35 Mitchell Wallace 1949 Corporal 30 Australian Infantry Batallion Here
46 Don Graham 1950 Private 133 Heavy AA Battalion Here
47 Phil McCarroll 1950   133 Heavy AA Btv Here
56 Bill Morris 1951   8th Infantry Batallion Here
58 Jim Boland 1951 Sapper 18 Aust Field Regiment (AIF) Here
59 Col Fussell 1951   133 Heavy Anti-Artillery Battery Here
60 Jack Conley 1952 Flying Officer 2 Air Observer School Here
62 Pat Donnelly 1952 Corporal 67 Infantry Battalion Here
69 Bruce Noble 1952   53 Aust Composite Anti-Aircraft Regiment Here
74 Ron Hawkins 1952 Private Infantry Training Battalion Here
78 Jack Noon 1953 Aircraftman Signal School Here
83 Ron Hubbard 1953 Lead Aircraftman 2 Aircraft Depot Here
153 Ray Preston 1958 Corporal 4 Sec Officers Shop Here
172 Fred Moore 1959 Private 3rd Battalion RAR Here
177 Ron Workman OAM 1959 Lead Aircraftman RAAF Transport Fight Vietnam Here
188 Allen Smith 1960 Private 2/9 Australian Infantry Battalion Here
259 Bill Richards 1968 Major 1 Field Regiment RAA Here
  Jack Argent OBE OAM ED   Lieutenant Colonel 2/3 Tank Regiment Here
Acknowledgement of Country

Parramatta Eels respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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