Vale – Jack Danzey

Born – 9 July 1939
Passed Away – 31 August 2020

Jack Danzey, who passed away on 31 August aged 81, was a highly respected and well-liked Rugby League man. A Newtown junior, he had a lot of success both as a player and then as a referee. A clever five-eighth or centre, he played with the 1958 Newtown Presidents Cup team and towards the end of that season, sat on the bench for the third-grade team and then played with this team in their last two games. In 1959, he moved between the thirds and seconds, finishing the season on Grand Final day at the SCG, as a member of the Newtown third grade side who lost to North Sydney. He began 1960 in reserve grade and made his first-grade debut at Henson Park on 18 June 1960, aged 21 as five-eighth for Newtown against Balmain.

Although the Jets, or Blue Bags, as they were known in those days, lost 13-10 to Balmain, Jack was impressive and remained in first grade for the next six matches. He scored his first try in the top grade against Eastern Suburbs at the old Sydney Sports Ground on 17 July 1960. At the end of 1960, Jack completed a three-year course in Physical Education at Sydney Teachers College and his first appointment was in the Riverina at Narrandera High School in 1961. After the Narrandera club paid Newtown a transfer fee of 400 pounds, Jack played in the local competition. He returned to Sydney in 1962 and Balmain had paid Narrandera 400 pounds for his services. In four seasons with Balmain, he played 50 first grade games, scoring 46 points from four tries and 17 goals. In 1964, he played in the first-grade grand final, when Balmain lost a tight match, 11-6 to St. George. The next year, he captained the Balmain reserve grade team, which won the Premiership when they beat St. George 9-7 in the Grand Final. It was a great experience to play on the 1965 Grand Final day, as the crowd was a then-record of 78.056. although it was probably thousands more as the fans clamoured on to the rooftops of the stands after people jumped the fence to get in despite the police closing the ground.

In 1966, Jack joined the Cronulla-Sutherland club, who finished second on the second division table. He remained with the club after they and Penrith were promoted to first grade in 1967, retiring at the end of 1968. In two first grade seasons with the Sharks, he played 25 games, scoring three tries and two goals. Altogether in his first-grade career with the three clubs, he played 82 games and scored 64 points from eight tries, 18 goals and two field goals.

A couple of years after retiring, Jack took up refereeing in the Newtown Junior league competition. He was graded in 1973 and on 25 May 1973, controlled his initial first grade game between Wests and Manly at Lidcombe Oval. After refereeing the Canterbury-St. George match at Belmore on Easter Monday 4 April 1983, Jack suffered a heart attack. This was very serious and thankfully he recovered but this was his last match as a referee. He finished with 178 first grade games as a referee and also blew the whistle in the interstate games in 1978 and 1980, as well as the City Firsts versus Country Firsts clashes in 1978 and 1982. Throughout his career as the man in the middle, Jack was firm and fair and was greatly respected by all in the game. He was appointed the Referees Co-ordinator for the NSWRL in February 1984. As a teacher over the years at High Schools including Dulwich Hill, Birrong Boys, Kingsgrove North and Burwood Girls, he was very popular with his students because of his caring and friendly nature. Jack’s Father, also Jack, played 26 first grade games with Newtown and Balmain between 1937 and 1944.

Jack is survived by his wife Kay of 61 years, his six children and 13 grandchildren. The celebration of Jack’s life will be held on Tuesday 8 September at 11am. Due to COVID restrictions, the service is by invitation only. If you wish to watch the service on Zoom, here is the link.

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