Samuel George ‘S.G.’ Ball – The Greatest

Arguably the best coach of all time, Jack Gibson once said that winning starts in the front office. South Sydney Rugby League Club could be held up as an example. In 1953, a cartoonist created caricatures of important members of each of the rugby league clubs. These appeared in issues of THE RUGBY LEAGUE NEWS.

Most of the clubs had just the players featured as you might expect. Souths however, had ‘front office’ people drawn as well as players. This showed the importance they placed on them. One of these, the greatest, was Samuel George ‘S.G.’ Ball. And that tag was well earned.

Samuel George 'S.G.' Ball - The Greatest
S.G. Ball…The Greatest.

A Champion Official

You might be asking, why are they so important? Well a far better scribe than me defined this in 1929. C.J. Davis was one of the best ever league writers. In an issue of THE REFEREE, after Souths had just won five premierships in a row, he made a comment. “Behind the remarkable successes of South Sydney in the Rugby League is a very fine club organisation. Champions come and go, but the officials are ever ready to sort out some bright youngster and give him the chance to make good”. S.G.Ball was in the centre of the photo.

Samuel George 'S.G.' Ball - The Greatest
Souths had just won 5 premierships in a row.

Beginnings of South Sydney

S.G. Ball was the secretary of a Union club called Waterloo Albion Club before rugby league existed. He, and the players went to matches in an omnibus called ‘The Emulator’. Players were tough. One player sustained a huge gash in his leg. A zambuck came on the field and stitched it up there and then. He kept playing.

“They talk about legends of Souths, he was my favourite” Ray Stig on S.G. Ball.

In 1907 he was one of five men who established the South Sydney District Rugby League Football Club.

Samuel George 'S.G.' Ball - The Greatest
S.G. Ball…The Greatest.

In 1908 he was voted treasurer of the club. Samuel did the annual report for that first season which consisted of a financial report. A profit was made of 46 cents – and we were premiers! Times were tough.

Samuel George 'S.G.' Ball - The Greatest
S.G. Ball 1908 financial report.

Appointed Secretary

In 1909 George was appointed Hon. Secretary of the club, a post he held until 1966! He also gave sterling service to the N.S.W. Rugby League in roles such as the Management Committee, a director of the N.S.W. Leagues Club and manager of touring teams.

As secretary of the club, he was involved in ventures promoting the game and more specifically South Sydney. This letter below to C.J. Davis will attest to this. He had a beautiful signature.

Samuel George 'S.G.' Ball - The Greatest
A letter from 1917 to C.J.Davis from the REFEREE.

South Sydney Leagues Club

Over the years , George saw all the wonderful highs and terrible lows the club experienced. He was on the first committee of the newly built South Sydney Leagues Club in 1962.

One can say, without a shadow of doubt, that the wisdom of George was a deciding factor in the harmony of the club, of which he was a life member. George Ball was a household name as far as Rugby League was concerned. He could be regarded as the greatest Rabbito of all time.

Retirement – At Last!

After so many years of outstanding service George retired in 1966. It did not mean he finished with Rugby League though. In 1968 he shared his encyclopedic knowledge of the game by writing some interesting articles on the early history of the game. These appeared in the ‘Rugby League Life’ magazine in 1968.

S.G. Ball Cup

He died in 1969 but the Rugby League continued to honor him. A competition for juniors began in 1965 called the S.G. Ball Cup and has continued to this day. South Sydney has had the honour of winning it 10 times.

In 2022 Bunnies TV interviewed legendary S.G. Ball coach Graham ‘Nigsy’ Hill and created a series from his interview titled ‘The Coach’.

George Ball is a great of our code. A worthy candidate for ‘Remembering a Rabbitoh’.

Samuel George ‘S.G.’ Ball – The Greatest

By Mark Emery for for Bunnies TV.

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