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Tom Brock 

Tom Brock Biography
Australian Society for Sports History


Thomas George Brock (1929-1997)

Tom Brock was born in 1929, the youngest of four children to Sidney and Catherine Brock. He was educated at St Mary's Cathedral School and Waverley College and remained a member of their 'Old Boys' until his death.

During his formative years Tom developed a love for sports and a penchant for writing. Some of his short stories and poetry were published in Sydney's newspapers. Later on these two interests coalesced. Tom's early hobbies included philately and short wave radio.

Upon leaving school, Tom's first job was as a clerk with a company involved in animal husbandry. Shortly after he joined the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in a temporary capacity as a clerk in November 1946 achieving a permanent position several months later. Attached to the salaries section of CSIRO, he rose to the position of Personnel (later Human Resources) Manager through dedicated work and relevant professional qualifications gained through additional studies.

After over 40 years of service Tom retired in 1987. During this period he enjoyed both his work and numerous life-long friendships made at and outside work. When he retired Tom was presented by his colleagues with 'The Concise Brocksford Dictionary', a booklet of Tom's sayings. The Dictionary was an acknowledgment of Tom's 'way with words'.

Tom lived his life at Maroubra and in the 1940s Maroubra meant rugby league and South Sydney. Tom became a central figure of the unofficial 'Supporters Club' of avid followers that travelled all over Sydney to watch their beloved Rabbitohs play. During the 1950s Tom began to compile statistical notes of each South Sydney game. Tom's love for the club was infectious and family members were drawn into this supporting network in subsequent decades.

During the 1960s and 1970s the recording of match statistics became an intense preoccupation for Tom. He also expanded his interest in the South Sydney junior ranks. Tom regarded attendance at junior representative, district and school games as mandatory, it was a way of seeking new talent for the South's club. For many years he was a member of the Souths' Schools Committee.

By the 1970s Tom began to research South's players in all senior grades - the number of games played, points scored, representative honours and participation in premierships. His work was recognised by the early 1990s when he was appointed Offical Historian of the South Sydney Rugby League Football Club. Tom welcomed enquiries both from within the Club and also from other clubs seeking information about their players. The research data base, built up by Tom over decades, is unparalleled in rugby league.

Tom continued to write regular match reports and articles that appeared both in South publications as well as local newspapers. He also found time to collaborate with leading sports writers and historians, both in Australia and overseas, in the publication of books and articles on rugby league. Tom Brock collaborated with Ian Heads in the writing of the official history of Souths, South Sydney, Pride of the League, published in 1994 - it was his favourite work, In the Author's Note Ian Heads wrote: 'The intricate piecing together of the book represented another magnificent contribution to the South's "cause" by Rugby League's finest historian, Tom Brock. The task was made so much easier by Tom's tireless efforts in all aspects of its making.'

In 1994 achieved two honours from the South Sydney Club. He was made a Life Member of the Club and was presented with the award of 'Outstanding Service as an Honorary Official'. He was also recognised by South Sydney Junior Rugby League Football Club and the New South Wales Rugby League Club.

In the last ten years of his life Tom was also a member of the Australian Society for Sports History. He attended the Brisbane Conference of the Society in 1995 and helped organise the Sydney branch of ASSH.

While his forte was rugby league, Tom displayed his knowledge and interest in a variety of sports including athletics, cricket, rugby union and swimming. Tom attended the Melbourne Olympics (1956) and the Commonwealth Games at Christchurch (1974) and Brisbane (1982).

Tom Brock was not a top-notch sportsman. He knew his limitations but he was well aware of his 'behind-the scenes' talents. He used these to the best of his abilities, ever striving to achieve the best for South Sydney, rugby league and sport in general.

The Tom Brock Collection has been meticulously recorded by Jennifer Bolton, Master of Information Management-Archives/Records, and it is fitting that it will be well housed at the Library of The University of New South Wales, which is in South Sydney territory. It is a valuable addition to rugby league history.

The Tom Brock Collection is a testament to a fruitful life, enjoyed to the full. Tom Brock was the unassuming achiever. An obituary described him as 'one of nature's gentlemen'.

Written by Brian McIntyre (with some notes prepared by George Franki). Brian McIntyre, a member of the Tom Brock Bequest Committee, is a nephew of Tom Brock.

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