The Sydney Roosters have extended their condolences to the Blundell family, following the passing of former player, Barry Blundell (Player No. 407).
Barry represented the Eastern Suburbs Club between 1952-1956, with the Centre playing 33 games and scoring 2 tries.
His funeral will be held on Monday, February 3 at 10.00am at St Brigid’s Church, Coogee, with a wake to follow at St Michael’s Golf Club, Little Bay.
The below words are courtesy of David Middleton and Ian Heads:
Barry Blundell’s rugby league career kicked off in a vastly different era to today’s high-powered, highly professional NRL. Blundell, who passed away this week at the age of 81, emerged at a time when junior football in Sydney’s eastern suburbs reigned supreme. Writing in the Roosters’ official history, author Ian Heads described a golden period in which “a crackerjack A grade competition (featuring one year, 19 clubs!) regularly [outdrew] the district club in Sunday matches played at Waverley Oval and the Sports Ground.”
Blundell played for the famous Celebrity Club, the outfit bank-rolled by colourful gambling identity Joe Taylor. “Oldtimers still talk of crowds as big as 10,000 at suburban Waverley Oval, and bumper crowds too at the Sports Ground,” Heads wrote. At fulltime, Taylor would treat Blundell and his team-mates such as Jack Gibson, Maurie Kermond, Don Dillon and Ron Taylor to a third of a 27 gallon keg of beer before the rest was sold to the public. “At that time Norm Erskine was playing with the Paddo Colts and Joe would get him to sing,” Blundell recalled in From Where the Sun Rises. “It kicked off ‘Erko’s’ career [as a jazz and nightclub singer]. Officials of the district club viewed the success of the juniors through jealous eyes and they reacted by calling a handful of the players up to the grade ranks. “We all refused to go initially,” Blundell said. “Maurie Kermond and I both worked on Saturdays – but the club [Easts] wouldn’t relent – and we had to go up.”
Blundell was a reluctant first-grader when he debuted in the top grade in 1952 and after establishing himself as the club’s permanent lock forward in 1953 he drifted away the following season as performances declined and morale hit rock bottom. He was one of a number of first grade players who left for bush club Grenfell. He joined Kermond, Gibson and Taylor on ‘walkabout’ before returning to Easts the following season. Blundell played on until 1956, figuring in 33 top grade games before work and family commitments took precedence.