John Ross OAM – A Pioneer Parramatta Eel

On a recent visit to Mona Vale Hospital Rehab Section by Welfare officers Norm Pounder, Fred Jackson and Ken Vessey, they were advised by the Nursing Staff that an 85 year old gentleman was a patient who had played over 100 games for the Parramatta District Rugby League Football Club and his name was John Ross. Needless to say no time was wasted in finding John and his wife Gillan and taking part in an interesting discussion about John’s rugby league playing career. John is Men of League Foundation member number 174.

John was a local Parramatta junior player who was graded in 1951 and from the outset he showed great promise and ability as a classy five-eight with the Parramatta Club. He played over 100 grade games, during 1951-1955, for the Club including 33 games in 1st grade and was issued with the Club’s Official Number 52 as the 52nd player to play 1st grade since the Club’s participation in the NSW Rugby Football League Premiership commenced in 1947. For a time he also was involved in coaching teams in the strong Wollongong Rugby League Football competition.

Away from the game of rugby league, John had a highly distinguished and successful career in the NSW Hotel Industry, which started in 1961 at the Macquarie Hotel, Windsor where he was Licensee for 26 years. He then managed the Century Hotel, George Street, Sydney from 1986-1991 prior to becoming the Licensee of the Kings Head Hotel, Sydney until 1997. John also served on the AHA NSW Executive during 1968 – 1993 and was President of the AHA NSW Branch for 11 years plus he served as both Vice President and President of the National AHA. Prior to retiring in 1997 he was the Founding Chairman of HOSTPLUS, the industry superannuation fund for a range of industries.

In 2009 John was admitted to the NSW AHA’s Hall of Fame and has also been honoured with an Order of Australia medal.

We wished John a speedy recovery from his spinal surgery, a return to good health/ long retirement and we subsequently presented him with a Men of League polo shirt plus some extracts from 1951-1952 Rugby League Programs showing him in his beloved Parramatta Club 1st grade teams. John thanked us for our gifts and thoughts and he wished the Men of League continued success.

By Ken Vessey

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