19.06.2008 – Graham Croker

Keeping up with the production line that is Sydney University sport has been a difficult task – difficult enough to take 155 years to compile.

But thanks to Professor Geoffrey Sherington, former Dean of the University’s Faculty of Education and Social Work, and Steve Georgakis, program director of the Human Movement and Health Education program in the Faculty of Education and Social Work, a book celebrating the achievements of sport at the University has finally been publish.

Indeed, while the book was being launched last week and in the days that followed, the University had male and female rowers, water polo players and women’s basketballers competing at international competitions in the hope of earning berths for the Beijing Olympic Games.

Then there was second-rower Dean Mumm, who ran on against the All Blacks in the First Test in Melbourne on Saturday night to become the Sydney University Football Club’s 103rd Australian rugby union representative.

While the names of Mumm and the would-be Olympians obviously don’t appear in the new book chronicling the history of sport at the University, the names of many other sporting luminaries can be found in the 390-page tome.

Titled Sydney University Sport 1852-2007: more than a club, and publish by Sydney University Press, the book was officially launched by Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Gavin Brown, in the Grandstand Bar on Thursday evening, with a host of University Blues and Golds in attendance.

“Sport and sporting competitions have been an intrinsic part of the university experience from the early days of the University of Sydney,” the authors say. “Having the oldest rugby football club and some of the oldest cricket, boating, tennis and athletic clubs, the University played a decisive, pioneering and previously undocumented role in the development of these and other sport in Australia.

“Over the years, the University has provided many of the elite players and administrators in sport in Sydney, NSW and Australia. From the ideals of amateurism and athleticism entrenched in the Victorian age, sport at the University has evolved to become professional and business-like.

The book contains many a gem, including the story of Australia’s first prime minister Edmund Barton, who rowed in the University eight at the first intervarsity regatta.

The book launch also provided Sydney University Sport and Fitness the opportunity to farewell Professor Brown, who retires next month, and thank him for his contribution to sport at the University during his tenure.
SUSF President, Bruce Ross, said as well as having a new pavilion – to be built between No.1 and No.2 ovals – named after him, the Boat Club has also decided to name a new boat after the Vice-Chancellor.

“The V-C’s support and contribution to sport at the university has been immense,” Mr Ross said. “The University stepped in when the VSU Bill was passed, robbing us of funds, and the university has committed to a substantial capital spending program. We now have new lights on No.1 Oval that will allow us to play night football.

“He has also supported our Sporting Scholarship program, Elite Athlete program, Travel Grants and Scholarship funding.”

Sydney University Sport 1852-2007: more than a club, 390pp, Sydney University Press, www.sup.usyd.edu.au.