In 1982 a Country Police side visited Sydney for the first time to play against a City representative Police side. This initial team consisted of Rob 'Evil' McDonald and Gary Butt who went on to organise and manage the Police Country side for many years to come. Australian Rugby League legend Brian 'Chica' Moore was involved in coaching the country side in the early days. Players like, Chris Kennedy, Brian Bartlett, Jeff Regent, Petter Natty and Peter Parsons gave great service to the Country Police side. City based SWOS hard man Jim Brazil, took over the coaching role for many years.
The afternoon before doing battle with the 'city slickers', the country boys would assemble at the old Police Academy at Redfern. After introductions, Jim would organise a game of touch footy and a ball work session to work on the combinations, and ensure we didn't have too many 'imposter's and cripple's' claiming they were the hidden 'Benji Marshall's' of the bush! Anyone who ever had the pleasure to play under Jim Brazil's coaching would remember his catch cry, "Just stick to the basics (pronounced BAASICKS)". He kept the game plan simple due to the short time duration available to work on combinations, but ensured the defence was tough. After the short academy session, the country boys adjourned with Jim to the CIB (Cleveland Inn Bar), to build some camaraderie and partake in a few cold beers. The majority of the team were playing regular first or second grade in their respective country GROUP's, so fitness at that time of year was never a problem, and as those who have played in the bush at group level know, there weren't too many softies or imposter's. 'Evil' was constantly on the lookout to entertain the boys with his weird sense of humour and practical jokes.
In the following years, other regulars such as Pat Carney, Wayne Inness, Greg Penfold, Paul Hill, Peter Nissen, Mick Weir, Mark McGuire,Owen King, Chris Kelly, Jeff Pearce, Glen Chalker, Ray Beecroft, Damon Hughes and resident funny man and social organiser Keith Caldwell formed the nucleus of the country team. It was always a great experience to wear the maroon and gold and represent the 'Bush Police'. Andrew McCullough was also a 'part of the furniture' during these city country gigs, and gave his time as a trainer and strapper.
The Country verses City games ceased in the mid nineties, until 2001 when it was resurrected at Kogarah oval. City organiser and stalwart Terry Cameron asked Peter Nissen to organise a team with an assurance that two country players would gain selection into the Australian Police team, which would travel to England and compete in a three test series against a Great Britain Police side. Country Police were contacted via email and telephone calls by Nissen and Matt Dennis. Not knowing how many would turn up to play, it was refreshing when twenty players and two trainers presented themselves at Kogarah oval on the morning of the game. Without a training run the country boys listened to astute veteran forward Matt Dennis devise a game plan. With experienced ex South Sydney 'Rabbito' Ross 'Harro' Harrington directing the boys around the field from the five eight position. The country boys who enjoyed a monster forward pack to provide momentum, scored an upset, defeating the city slickers wearing a borrowed Tweed Heads Seagulls kit. Chris Sullivan and Brock Wills were subsequently selected to tour England with the Australian Police side.
Below, the 2001 NSW Police Country side wearing a borrowed Tweed Heads Seagulls kit.
In 2005 a combined Country Police side participated in the first State Championships held at Narrabeen Fitness centre. The side coached by Chris Sullivan and Peter Nissen won the tournament. The Country side contained new faces that have now formed the nucleus of the Country North and South teams that compete each year in the Interstate challenge at Port Macquarie. Trevor Kraus, Aaron Weatherley, Mickey Ricketts, Dylan Coleman, Bob Davidson, Jon Newton, Rod 'Rocket' Morris, Greg Ryan, Justin Baker, Matt Kennedy, Josh Lee, Craig Ryan, Scott Swain, Phil Parker and Matt Walsh are now the nucleus of the Police Country teams. In 2008 players from the State Championships were selected to play a City verses Country game at Newcastle. This game was tested to assess whether this format would be adopted to select the NSW State Squad. Since that date, the NSW State Squad has been chosen by a panel of selectors during the State Championships at Port Macquarie. Recognition needs to go to Paul Wallace who first appeared up at the Narrabeen Fitness centre in 2005. Paul is a professional and accomplished trainer who also works with the Newcastle Knights. Paul's influence has raised the professionalism with Police Country Rugby league. The squad now has warm ups, warm downs, recovery sessions, ice bathes, and has the best treatment for minor injuries through Paul's knowledge and commitment. The Country North and South teams are looking forward to the forthcoming interstate challenge at Port Macquarie in 2011. Thanks to all those involved including 'MAXIMA' who have sponsored the Country teams competing at Port Macquarie during the past three years.
Below is a photograph of the successful Country PRL team who defeated City by 22-16 at Concord Oval on the 23rd of August 1989. Stalwarts, Geoff Loy Far left, 'Evil' McDonald white shirt, Gary Butt far right wearing Grey shirt next to Jim Brazil Jumper and tie. Pat Carney (now deceased) holds the shield in the front row. Below, the Country and City teams who participated at Newcastle in 2008.The successful 2005 Country side who won the inaugural State Championships at Narrabeen. Below, 2005 Captain Rod 'Rocket' Morris and Coach Chris Sullivan. Rod is now the Country North Cowboys Captain Coach. Below, the 1988 Country Police Rugby League team who defeated City Police at Redfern Oval.