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Alexander Henry “Arthur” McCallum

Australia Military Forces

HERITAGE No: 49

BIRTH: 29 August 1879
Port Chalmers, NZ
DEATH: 5 June 1972 Kensington, NSW
DEATH: 5 June 1972
Kensington, NSW

OCCUPATION: Police Constable

RESIDENCE: Queen St, Newtown, NSW

GAME HISTORY

  • North Sydney RU 1903
  • Eastern Suburbs RU 1905, 1907
  • Marcus Clark RU 1903, 1904, 1905, 1906 (Wednesday Competition)
  • South Sydney RL First Grade 1908
  • Wests RL First Grade 1909
  • South Sydney RL 2nd Grade 1909, 1910
  • South Sydney Federals RL 1910

Alexander

The South Sydney First Grade Past Players site, lists this player as Arthur McCallum and indicates that he came across to South Sydney Rugby League Club in 1908 from the South Sydney Rugby Union Club. However a search of public records does not identify an Arthur McCallum in the South Sydney District nor is there any record of a McCallum playing for the South Sydney Rugby Union Club in 1907 or any time prior to that. The Wests First Grade Master List records this player as R. McCallum.

A broader search identified an Arthur Thomas Carlton McCallum of the right age but this person was living outside the District and there was no obvious connection between this person and rugby league or rugby union. Given that, it is a reasonable conclusion that Arthur may not have been this player’s real forename.

South Sydney Rugby League team had plenty of talent in 1908 and were the inaugural premiers. While Arthur McCallum only played two First Grade games in 1908, he would nevertheless had to have been a reasonable player to make the South Sydney First Grade squad. Therefore a search was undertaken to identify players with the surname McCallum, who were playing at the elite level and were residing in or near the South Sydney District.

There were two players identified and these were brothers Alexander Henry McCallum b. 1879 and Donald James McCallum b. 1880, both born at Port Chalmers New Zealand. Both brothers can be traced playing for the Marcus Clark Rugby Union team in the Wednesday rugby union competition, circa 1903 to 1906.

Alexander McCallum was Captain of the Marcus Clark team and also on the organising committee. The Marcus Clark team was effectively playing in a business house competition and each team could have up to four First Grade players in their ranks. Over the period the Marcus Clark team had some very good players join their ranks.

The brothers can also be identified playing for the Eastern Suburbs Rugby Union team from about 1905 until 1907. Alexander McCallum also played rugby union for the North Sydney Club in 1903 prior to his marriage when the family was living at St Leonards on Sydney’s north shore. The family moved to Queen St Paddington in the Eastern Suburbs in 1904.

It is unclear where the name “Arthur” came from. It may have been a nick name for Alexander McCallum or simply an error in recording on the South Sydney rugby league team list. That list is the only place where the name Arthur was recorded. So for the purpose of discussing this player the listed name of Arthur McCallum will be used.

Arthur McCallum played for both South Sydney and Western Suburbs in 1909. The records from the time reveal an interesting story. Arthur McCallum and his mate Tommo Thomson, also a South Sydney player, played only one game for Wests in 1909 at that was against North Sydney, at the R.A.S Showground in Sydney. Wests and Norths were the early match in a double header with South Sydney and Eastern Suburbs playing the later game.

An article in the Sunday Times on 11 July 1909 reported; “The Western Suburbs – North Sydney match timed to commence at 2 o’clock did not start till 2.23, the former having difficulty in getting a team together.”

The delay in the start of the Wests – Norths match would have setback the start of the Souths – Easts game and so they would have been finishing the later game in the dark. Arthur McCallum and Tommo Thomson were not selected in the Souths First Grade team that day and so it appears that to get the game under way, both McCallum and Thomson were “loaned” to Wests for that day. The Sydney Morning Herald on 12 July 1909, reporting on the match, noted; “Western Suburbs had the assistance of Thom(p)son and McCallum, who greatly strengthened their pack in the first half. The former eased off for a while in the second term.”

Wests beat Norths 7-3 but the match was described as; “one of the tamest displays of First Grade football seen on the ground. It was in reality a farce, the capers some of the players cut, and particularly Thom(p)son, a man of immense proportions, who was eventually sent off, being ludicrous.” While Wests started the 1909 season with an influx of players, towards the end of the season they had to “borrow” players on at least three occasions.

There must have been some discussion after the match with Arthur McCallum about joining Wests as “McCallum” appeared as an emergency in the team list for the match against Newcastle in Newcastle the following week. However Arthur McCallum did not turn out for the Club in this match or any others and continued playing 2nd Grade with South Sydney. Wests could have used his services in Newcastle as once again they were short of players and had to “borrow” players for the match.

Alexander Henry McCallum married Grace Medley Scott in 1904. Grace was a sister of Wests player #77, Gilbert Basil Scott. Alexander McCallum and Gilbert Scott were therefore brothers in law. Alexander McCallum’s father, Alexander Wright McCallum was the Captain of the Eastern Suburbs Rifle Club. The Referee newspaper in September 1915 reported on the Annual Dinner of the Eastern Suburbs Rifle Club and noted that an; “opportunity was taken to warmly welcome home Mr Gilbert Scott (wounded at the Dardanelles).

Alexander McCallum enlisted in March 1917 at sea. He was posted to the No. 2 Australian Hospital Ship, HMAS Kanowna. During the First World War, the Kanowna was initially used as a troop transport, but in 1915 was converted to a hospital ship which transported ill and injured Australian troops back home from England. He returned to Australia in September 1917, where he remained. He was discharged in March 1918 with the disability of rheumatism.

Alexander Henry McCallum lived his life in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs and died at Kensington , NSW in 1972.

 

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