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1920 - 1929

As Sydney continued to grow in the 1920s, the men wearing the Red, White and Blue became more concentrated around Bondi, Waverley, Bronte and Clovelly - with names such as 'Seasiders and 'Surfsiders' appearing in local newspapers.

On the field, the Tricolours claimed another title, but also had wavering success throughout, with a number of future legends beginning their careers at the back-end of the decade. 

1920 - Records Made, Lessons Learnt

Played: 14
Won: 8
Lost: 6
Draw: 0
Final Position: Fifth

Rugby League's booming popularity was evidenced by a then-record crowd of over 30,000 attending the match against Wests in Round 5 at the Sydney Cricket Ground, which saw Eastern Suburbs come away with a hard-fought 18-14 win. 

A first-up loss was followed by winning seven of their next eight games, including a massive 30-13 win over eventual Premiers Balmain in Round 10. 

During that period, from Round 4 to Round 8, the Tricolours wore Blue and White barred jerseys, due to a scarcity of wool, leaving the usual Red, White and Blue temporarily unprocurable - which was the first instance of the Club donning different colours. 

Unfortunately, the momentum halted as the side won only two of their last seven matches after holding second place after ten rounds, eventually finishing in fifth position, with a second-round loss in the City Cup to Wests. 

In a positive though, Les Cubitt was named as captain for Australia on the Kangaroo Tour. 

Debutants: Bill Cameron, Ed 'Snowy' Rigney, Fred Hume, Arch Thompson, Les Arthur, Tommy Burns, Jim Crowell, Charles Steel, A.J. Thompson, S Ward

Clever: Easts' Les Cubitt, who spent ten seasons at the Club and captained the 1921-22 Kangaroos.
Clever: Easts' Les Cubitt, who spent ten seasons at the Club and captained the 1921-22 Kangaroos.

1921 - Twice Runners Up 

Played: 8
Won: 6
Lost: 1
Draw: 1
Final Position: Second

With the competition reduced to eight rounds with the expansion of the City Cup, each game proved to be imperative for success, and Easts would find that out the hard way as they won all but two games only to finish second. 

Two big wins against Souths (32-8) and Newtown (30-5) saw Easts flying high - before an 8-all draw with Norths - who would go on to claim the Premiership - and a loss to Balmain in consecutive weeks relegated them to fourth.

The Round 5 match against Norths at the Sydney Cricket Ground which packed in 48,476 spectators was described by JC Davis who said: 'The 48,000 watched the struggle intently, swayed this way and that, mainly sympathetic with the Shoremen, though not demonstratively so, and appreciative of the bulldog defence of the famous combination from the East'.

A three-match winning streak to finish the season including a 55-11 thrashing of newcomers University saw the Red, White and Blue finish agonisingly short, followed by a second-place finish in the City Cup. 

Debutants: Harold Holmes, Bill Ives

1922 - Edging Ever Closer

Played: 16
Won: 9
Lost: 5
Draw: 2
Final Position: Third

Recovering from a 1-2-2 start, Easts gained momentum in the middle of the season with a four-match winning streak, flanked by consecutive losses before another four wins in a row. 

The Tricolours finished in a respectable third place, but were unable to claim the Premiership with a 12-21 loss to Glebe in the final round, while falling short in the final of the City Cup against Premiers North Sydney in an 11-18 loss.

The Under 21's Presidents Cup side, however, claimed their 6th title in their 12th season - which would bode well for the first-grade side the following season. 

Debutants: N Bartley, George Clamback, Arthur Oxford, Billy Ryan, Les Steel, Ray Lewis, Edward Little, John Tandy, George Boddington, William Livio

1923 - Climbing the Summit Once Again

Played: 16
Won: 13
Lost: 3
Draw: 0
Final Position: Premiers

After a decade of close calls, the Tricolours claimed their fourth Premiership in season 1923 - halting the North Sydney juggernaut and topping the table in a thrilling season. 

With three wins from their opening five rounds, the side announced themselves as premiership threats in Round 6, defeating the defending Premiers 16-8 with goal-kicking forward Arthur Oxford scoring two tries and kicking two goals. 

Fourth Premiership: The 1923 Eastern Suburbs Premiers back row from left: J Solomon, H Flegg, F Kinghorn, J Bennett; third row: C Steel, A Plumb, H Kelley, J Levison, R Batchelor, J Quinlan; second row: F Haron, E Rigney, A Oxford, W Ives, H Holmes, W Richards, W Webb; first row; C Abotomey, J Dawson, S Kaufman, H Somer, J Watkins, L Steel, E Connerton; sitting down: G Agar, G Wright; absent: H Caples (captain), T Molloy, T Fitzpatrick
Fourth Premiership: The 1923 Eastern Suburbs Premiers back row from left: J Solomon, H Flegg, F Kinghorn, J Bennett; third row: C Steel, A Plumb, H Kelley, J Levison, R Batchelor, J Quinlan; second row: F Haron, E Rigney, A Oxford, W Ives, H Holmes, W Richards, W Webb; first row; C Abotomey, J Dawson, S Kaufman, H Somer, J Watkins, L Steel, E Connerton; sitting down: G Agar, G Wright; absent: H Caples (captain), T Molloy, T Fitzpatrick

With nine rounds played, Easts, Norths and Souths shared the spoils on equal competition points, before North Sydney fell away in the later rounds - and with the Red, White and Blue tragically losing in the penultimate round, a mid-week Final against South Sydney decided the Premiers for 1923.

Easts held a 7-5 half-time lead, but the second stanza proved to be a thrilling contest, with the 14,000 crowd witnessing a spectacular finish to the match, which saw captain Harry Caples burst through to scored two memorable tries to seal a 15-12 victory.

The Club finished in the City Cup semi-final against Glebe, before Caples departed for Melbourne - albeit in unceremonious circumstances. 

Debutants: Jack Dawson, Tom Molloy, Bill Richards, Cecil Abotomey, Frank Egan, Vernon Kennelly, Tom Fitzpatrick, Jack O'Donnell, Robert Wittrien, George Agar

1924 - A Forgettable Season

Played: 8
Won: 3
Lost: 5
Draw: 0
Final Position: Sixth

With the competition once again changing format and returning to a finals system, and with a number of players absent from the 1923 triumph, Easts struggled to gain a foothold on the competition.

Opening wins against Newtown and North Sydney showed signs of promise, before a surprising loss to University in Round 3 was backed up by a 15-2 victory against eventual Premiers, Balmain. 

But things went pearshaped for the seasiders as they lost the final four matches of the season, finishing in sixth position. Another semi-final finish in the City Cup showed what could have been, but ultimately it was a disappointing year, which was compounded by the departure of several players including Arthur Oxford.

Debutant: Martin Cunningham, C Tuckey, Clarrie Hincksman, T.J. Molloy, Leo Baggott, Andy See

1925 - Inconsistency Reigns

Played: 12
Won: 4
Lost: 8
Draw: 0
Final Position: Eighth

With just four wins in twelve matches, season 1925 was one that didn't garner results, but would be followed up by stronger campaigns. 

Easts' form was inconsistent during the year, never once earning back-to-back victories but never losing more than two matches in a row either - and with close scorelines, there were signs of a side with potential for the future.  

The silver lining of the season came in the emergence of Nelson 'Bill' Hardy - a fullback of great promise who was described as 'His general play was as fine an exhibition at fullback as one has seen in club football since H.Hallett was in his zenith'.

Debutants: Harry Finch, Nelson Hardy, Harold King, Horace Moxon, James Peoples, Norm Christie, Hugh Byrne, J Lawler, Robert Booth, Harry Kavanaugh

Sharpshooter: Arthur Oxford was one of the great goalkickers after World War I, playing seven seasons at the Club and kicking three goals to sink Souths - his former club - in the 1923 decider.
Sharpshooter: Arthur Oxford was one of the great goalkickers after World War I, playing seven seasons at the Club and kicking three goals to sink Souths - his former club - in the 1923 decider.

1926 - Returning to the Finals

Played: 17
Won: 9
Lost: 7
Draw: 1
Final Position: Semi-Finalists

A top-four finals system was introduced with a 'right of challenge' for the Minor Premiers if they were defeated in a semi-final or grand final. 

Despite a patchy start to the season, which garnered four losses in the opening seven matches, the Tricolours recovered with wins over Wests and Balmain, and would be undefeated in their final six matches to finish in third place.

The sixteen-game season ended with a 5-21 loss to eventual Premiers Souths in the semi-final, but the seeds were beginning to be sown as the side returned to the top half of the competition for the first time in two years. 

Debutants: N Fitzpatrick, George Harris, George McGee, Vince Oliveira, Arthur Toby, Larry Hedger, Bill Phillips, George Hall, Cyril Massey

1927 - Near Miss

Played: 17
Won: 8
Lost: 7
Draw: 2
Final Position: Semi-Finalists

From Rounds 3-11 Easts were undefeated and comfortably in the top four with six wins and two draws - including a 17-16 win against South Sydney - however, season 1927 was one where it was just not meant to be on the football field. 

Two wins in the final seven rounds - despite the side holding onto third position - saw Easts finish their season with three consecutive losses, including a drama-filled semi-final against St George who had a player sent off in the early stages for kicking. 

Debutants: Tom Barry, Rick Bevan, Norm Pope, Dick Brown, Arthur Robinson, John Barratt, Paddy Burton, Vic Webber, Jack Coote, Fletcher Jeffries, Geoff Keys, S Sharp, Alfred Carter

1928 - Bridesmaids

Played: 14
Won: 12
Lost: 2
Draw: 0
Final Position: Runners Up

With a number of stars in the backline, many critics expected Easts to run away with the Minor Premiership in 1928 - and with wins in the first six rounds it was looking likely.

Tied at the end of the 12 regular season matches with St George on 26 competition points - the only side they had lost to all season - the side surged through to the Final with a 26-13 semi-final win over North Sydney.

But the Tricolours would have to settle as runners up, with Souths overcoming them 26-5 in the final in a cruel end to an otherwise stellar season. 

Easts created further history in 1928 by participating in Rugby League's first night game in December of that year.

Staged between two motorcycle races as the main attraction of the night at the Agricultural Ground, Easts played in a 9-a-side match against Souths, and despite going down 10-6, the match proved to be entertaining according to the latest edition of The Referee

"The game, though short, was very fast. Every minute of the play was exciting and the rushes at times had the crowd yelling...Souths won, 10 points to Easts' six." 

Debutants: Sam Bryant, Joe "Chimpy" Busch, Gordon Fletcher, Bill Dyer, Tom Trotter, Bill Cole

Minor Premiers: The Eastern Suburbs team of 1928 from left: A Toby, N Hardy, L Steel, G Harris, J Barrett, N Pope, L Hedger, W Ives, T Fitzpatrick, R Brown, A Oxford, G Clamback, G Boddington.
Minor Premiers: The Eastern Suburbs team of 1928 from left: A Toby, N Hardy, L Steel, G Harris, J Barrett, N Pope, L Hedger, W Ives, T Fitzpatrick, R Brown, A Oxford, G Clamback, G Boddington.

1929 - Sowing the Seeds of Success

Played: 16
Won: 4
Lost: 10
Draw: 2
Final Position: Seventh

While the decade ended in a seventh-place finish for Easts, who won just a quarter of their matches, the year signalled a positive change for the Club, in particular with personnel. 

Harry Caples made a short-lived comeback to the Club, which ultimately ended mid-season as his form had deteriorated, while an ageing Arthur Oxford called time on his seven-season career at the Club in what was a true changing of the guard. 

In contrast, though, two promising teenage players named Sid Pearce Jr and Ray Stehr made their debuts that season, who would both feature prominently in the next decade. 

Debutants: Bill Shankland, Ray Stehr, George Torpy, Billy Hong, Joe Pearce, Bernard Bakewell, Fred Davies, Morrie Boyle

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