Born – 9 March 1930, Passed Away – 20 August 2018.
Member number #30037
Bruce was born at Hillston in Western NSW where his father, Herbert, was a bridge builder. Because of his father’s trade, the family moved all around the state for work and often lived in tents, with Bruce and his sister attending whatever school was nearby.
During the Second World War years, the family moved to Sydney and lived in Woollahra. Bruce left school at 14 years of age and began working in a city butcher shop. From an early age, Bruce had a passion for rugby league and began playing with the Bronte Surf Club in the Eastern Suburbs junior competition. He came into grade in 1949 as a tough and aggressive front rower.
In his first season, he was a member of Easts 1949 reserve grade Premiership winning team. He played with Easts in 1949 and 1950, again in 1952, as well as 1955 and 1956. As Rooster Number 369, Bruce played 34 first grade matches in his five seasons with the club.
‘Digger’, as he was known, made his first grade debut in 1950 and scored his first top grade try at the Sydney Cricket Ground on 22 April 1950 against Newtown. At 21 years of age, in 1951, he was captain/coach of Dirranbandi, just across the NSW border in Queensland and 610kms west of Brisbane, while in 1953 and 1954, he was captain/coach of Bowraville.
In the 1970s, he gave several years of voluntary service to the Dapto Rugby League club as a coach and chairman of selectors. Digger also had a keen interest in greyhound racing and in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, was one of Sydney’s leading trainers. His dog, Brigdale, won the inaugural Wentworth Park Gold Cup in 1969, while Ebony King, Kilbride and Kilcoyne were other notable dogs from Bruce’s kennels in southern Sydney.
Over the years, Bruce has worked as a butcher, then had his own butcher shop and did some SP Bookmaking on the side, while in the 1980s, he ran hotels in Richmond and then Taree. While in Taree, he was elected as President of the Taree Wingham Race Club and is a Life Member of this body.
Bruce met his wife Gwen on Bronte Beach around 1951 and the couple were married in 1953. They have two sons, Greg and Garry, plus three grandchildren and four great grandchildren. The couple were very close throughout their marriage and Gwen worked well beside her husband in the greyhound training days.
Bruce passed away peacefully at his home in Brighton Le Sands, aged 88. He will be missed by many.
Rest in Peace, Digger.