In 1939, the legendary player and coach, Jim Craig returned to Wests to coach Wests First Grade team to try and turn the fortunes of the Club around. Craig was renowned for his dour style built around a strong defence.

Legendary Player/Coach Jim Craig returned to coach in 1939

His previous success at Wests in 1928, 1930 and 1932 is supported by the statistics from those years. The for-and-against statistics for those years was 258 F/153 A, 237 F/130 A, and 321 F/156 A. It was even suggested that Jim Craig had an unofficial coaching role with Wests in 1934 when Wests were premiers and Jim was a State Selector. The for and against record for 1934 was 263 F/158 A.

If anyone was likely to improve the playing standard of Wests in 1939, then there wouldn’t have been a better choice than Jim Craig. However, Wests was very much a different team from those of the early 1930’s. In Craig’s own words, he said: “they are young, but the material is good. I don’t say that we will win the premiership, but we will be in the final four.” Wests didn’t make the top four in 1939, finishing sixth on the competition table, but the team was somewhat unlucky in that they lost quite a number of close games.

The shining light for Wests was the Third-Grade team that once again became premiers.

Jim Craig (Coach) at pre-season training 1939 assembling “pupils” for a “lecture.”

Western Suburbs President’s Cup Squad 1939 – Finalists

 C Ginn (Manners Athletic), F Blake (Ashfield Kings), K Woodcroft (Homebush), N Alavoine (Fairfield), G Bond (Manners Athletic), L Farquharson (South Strathfield), J Douglas (Fairfield), T Marchant (Cabramatta), J Brady (Ashfield Kings), S Cotterill (Fairfield), E Cranney (Ashfield Kings), F Rae (Ashfield Kings), B Thompson (Homebush), R Fitzpatrick (Cabramatta), W Steadman (Cabramatta), A Bosley (Liverpool), F Costello (Manners Athletic), J Spooner (Homebush) L Clancy (Homebush), V Brown, G Wells (Abattoirs)

At the junior level, a meeting was held at Cabramatta at the start of 1939 to make an application to the District Club to reform the Southern Districts Junior Rugby League. Representatives from junior clubs, Glenfield, Liverpool, Cabramatta, Mt Pritchard, Fairfield, Guildford, and Merrylands attended the meeting, along with Wests officials.

Ernie McFayden, Secretary of the District Club, said that he was pleased to come along and would do all he could to revive the Southern Districts Junior League. Only for mismanagement in the past, he said, the southern competition would still be going strong. He said a district that could produce the world’s champion footballer (Vic Hey), surely would find other good players.

In 1939, the Southern Districts area was considered a neutral zone and players wanting to further their career would have to do so either with Western Suburbs or Western Districts President’s Cup teams.


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