Rawdon Island Football Club Blazer

Contributed by: Port Macquarie Historical Society

Rawdon Island Footbal Club Blazer RIFC Blazer pocket detail RIFC Blazer back view William (Bill) Downes, 1981 William (Bill)  Bede Downes, n.d. Wauchope Football Team, 1923 William Downes back row  third from left Lowe's Ltd Store label Insect damage to  back near left shoulder Staining and insect damage to right sleeve Insect damage to right front Maker's label is sewn to the inside left chest behind pocket Article from the Hastings Gazette Thursday September 17, 1981
  • Australian dress register ID:

    417
  • Owner:

    Port Macquarie Historical Society
  • Owner registration number:

    PMHM 24/98
  • Date range:

    1931
  • Place of origin:

    Rawdon Island, New South Wales, Australia
  • Gender:

    Male
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Object information

Significance statement

This sporting blazer evidences the local rugby league second grade competition final between Port Macquarie B's and Rawdon Island in 1931. The final conducted by the Hastings District Rugby League was won by Rawdon Island and this blazer was presented to the Rawdon Island Football Club's Patron Myles Downes [1881-1969] presumable in recognition of his support and encouragement of the team.

Rawdon Island, a small farming community 20 kilometres west of Port Macquarie was once a thriving community of 27 dairy farms. 2 churches, a school, community store, post office and a football team. Min Ora the Downes farming property was first settled by John and Honora Downes, Myles parents in 1863. As one of the community's long established families it is not a surprise that Myles was Patron the Football Club. Myles younger brother William (Bill) was a member of the 1931 winning rugby league team.

This blazer was handed down to William who it appeared treasured it greatly, wearing it for a photograph in the Wauchope Gazette shortly before his death in 1981 when he was recalling the Rawdon Island team's successes during the period 1928-32.

Rugby League was first played in the Hastings in 1920 when the local competition changed over from Rugby Union. The Hastings District Rugby League supported three grades of competition however in 1933 the Hasting District Rugby League carried a motion which ended the lower grade competitions. The Rawdon Island football club was disbanded and players such as William Downes moved to other local clubs.

This blazer recognises the contributions made by Myles Downes in supporting the Rawdon Island football club' s premiership win in 1931. Given Rawdon Island was such a small community this win must have been quite special to the club and its players. The blazer also reflects the pride of the local football club and the community in achieving the ultimate rugby league sporting achievement, a premiership win.

Author: Debbie Sommers, 6 January 2013.

Description

Red and black striped woollen flannel men's single breasted jacket with a turned down collar and peaked lapels. Left chest patch pocket is embroidered with yellow thread 'Patron RIFC Premiers 1931', there are also two patch pockets on the left and right front at hip level. The centre front opening fastens with two black plastic buttons. The blazer is unlined except for the sleeves.

History and Provenance

Births, deaths, marriages, children or family information

Myles Downes was a son of John and Honora Downes who established a property 'Min Ora' at Rawdon Island, 20 kilometres west of Port Macquarie in 1863. Myles Downes [1881-1969] was a well-known and respected local dairy farmer at the time of this death. He had also been the lcoal post master at one time, a role he acquired from his parents and handed on to his sister Minnie, who also resided at 'Min Ora'.

Myles Downes was also patron of the Rawdon Island Football Club for the years the club was affiliated with the Hastings District Rugby League, believed to be 1928-1932.

Do you have any stories or community information associated with this?

Rawdon Island, named after Francis Rawdon Hastings, first Marquis of Hastings [1754-1826] is actually made up of two islands - Little Rawdon Island and the main island. Now a rich and picturesque farming area, Rawdon Island was once a thriving community comprising 27 dairy farms, 2 churches, a school, community stores, post office and football team. All that remains of the community infrastructure is the old school which now operates as a Heritage Function House.

In 1931, the Rawdon Island Football Club team were the minor premiers of the Hasting District second grade competition playing Port Macquarie B team n the grand-final. Rawdon Island defeated the Port Macquarie team 5 to nil making them the premiers of the second grade competition. The Rawdon Island team celebrated their win with a Victory Ball in the Rawdon Island School of Art on Thursday 1 October, 1931.

The team win was notable because the other teams in the competition had the benefit of a coach to train them whilst the island team was scattered and not in a position to get together for practice or to engage a coach.

How does this garment relate to the wider historical context?

Organised Rugby Union was first played in the Hastings area in 1891 and continued until 1920 when the code was changed over to Rugby League. The first Rugby League competition in Australia was held in 1908.

Between the 1928 and 1932 seasons three grades made up the Hastings District Rugby League competition. Teams from Hamilton, Byabarra, Long Flat, Telegraph Point and Rawdon Island competed against the stronger Wauchope, Beechwood and Port Macquarie Clubs.

In 1933 the League carried a motion that ended the lower grade competitions, leaving six teams to contest the first grade, two from Wauchope, two from Port Macquarie and one each from Beechwood and Byabarra.

At that point the Rawdon Island football club was disbanded.

Wikipedia defines a blazer as a type of single breasted jacket resembling a suit coat but cut more casually. Where the blazer is part of the dress of a school, college or sports club it is common for a badge or emblem to be sewn or embroidered to the chest pocket.

Blazers were also once commonly worn playing or attending traditional 'gentlemen' sports, but remain in only occasional use now by tennis and cricket players worn for example by the team captain during the coin toss at the beginning of international cricket matches. Also by sporting teams as part of a formal uniform such as those worn by Olympians in the opening ceremony.

Where did this information come from?

Hastings Shire Gazette and Hastings Gazette.

This garment has been exhibited

The blazer was last exhibited in 2008 for 'Recreation' at the Port Macquarie Historical Museum.

  1. Place of origin:

    Rawdon Island, New South Wales, Australia

  2. Owned by:

    Given to Myles Downes, Patron of the Rawdon Island Football Club in 1931 to mark the team wininng the the Hastings District Football League second grade premiership. Handed down to his brother William (Bill) Downes, a member of the winning team, probably on Myles death in 1969 and then donated to the Port Macquarie Historical Society by William's niece Marse Coghlan in 1998.

  3. Worn by:

    Myles Downes and William Downes.

  4. Place:

    Rawdon Island and Wauchope near Port Macquarie, NSW.

  5. Made by:

    Edgar Doctor & Co. 106 Goulburn Street, Sydney, NSW. A maker's label is sewn inside the left chest behind the pocket.

    Lowes, founded in 1898, is a family owned national leading Australian menswear retail chain comprising over 150 stores and operating for over 110 years. Lowes website describes the company as maintaining a simple down to earth integrity which has seen them grow from a traditional value for money menswear store to a well-known Australian icon.

  6. Made for:

    Lowe's Ltd, Sydney Newcastle London

Trimmings / Decoration

Embroidery

Front chest pocket is machine embroidered in yellow thread with 'Patron RIFC Premers 1931'

Fibre / Weave

Red and black striped woollen flannel used for the entire jacket.

Black polished cotton has been used to line the sleeves.

Yellow thread machine embroidery on chest pocket.

  1. Natural dye
  2. Synthetic dye

Manufacture

The blazer is entirely machine sewn. The back neck facing has been finished with large pinking shears.

Label

Made by Edgar Doctor & Co. 106 Goulburn Street, Sydney NSW.

  1. Hand sewn
  2. Machine sewn
  3. Knitted
  4. Other

Cut

  1. Bias
  2. Straight

Fastenings

Two plastic buttons are used to fasten the front opening.

  1. Hook and eye
  2. Lacing
  3. Buttons
  4. Zip
  5. Drawstring

Stiffening / Lining / Padding

The jacket is unlined except for the sleeves which are lined with a black polished cotton.

Measurements

blazer
Girth
Chest 1100 mm
Cuff 320 mm
Hem circumference 1125 mm
Vertical
Front neck to hem 610 mm
Back neck to hem 700 mm
Sleeve length 605 mm
Horizontal
Neck to sleeve head 155 mm
Cross back 440 mm
Underarm to underarm 540 mm
Convert to inches

Fabric stripes are 1.5cm wide.

Additional material

Articles, publications, diagrams and receipts descriptions

The photograph of William Downes wearing the blazer and a related article was published in the Wauchope Gazette on Thursday September 17, 1981. William Downes died late the following month.

Condition

Insect damage

There are insect holes on most parts of the blazer, particularly the sleeves.

State

  1. Excellent
  2. Good
  3. Fair
  4. Poor

Damage

  1. Holes
  2. Stained
  3. Worn

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