First up, A big thanks to Jovan Vujesovic for showing me this and allowing me to write something about it!
The Challenge Cup weekend and the RLEF AGM threw up a lot of things to consider and ponder. I got to meet members from all the European nations playing Rugby League, I got to sit in Club Wembley to watch the game and I also was able to go to the post game function and meet the players. I also held the actual Challenge Cup Trophy!
But all of this pales in comparison to something that I was shown on Thursday night by Jovan Vujosevic, who looks after the Eastern European countries for the Rugby League European federation (RLEF). A bit of Rugby League History, little known by many and almost forgotten by most. But this, my friends, this was just absolutely fantastic.
So as I finish dinner Thursday night, Jovan is sitting there with a huge grin on his face. ” Hey Druzik, come here, I want to show you something. Come here, come here”. I was like what is it. “Just come here you’ll be the only one here who will appreciate this.” So I went over and sat next down to Jovan. What he then proceeded to tell and show me just blew me out of the water.
He put his hands into his back pack and pulls out the ORIGINAL score sheet of a Croatian and Serbian club form the days when Yugoslavia were playing league in 1960!
He then pulls out a manual, put out by the Yugoslavian Sports Ministry on how to play Rugby League from THE YEAR 1955!!! Holy (insert a word I can’t repeat) I screamed out. Where the hell did you get this. This is absolutely amazing, a gold nugget in Rugby League, I said.
I was like, “Jovan this needs to get to the Rugby League museum in Huddersfield mate, as soon as possible!”
“Yeah, I know, I think I will. That is a good idea.” he says I asked him how he got this,?
“I got all this documents from the Budimir Tomanovic – Tamba – 80 year old Serbian Rugby League veteran. Budimir was captain and player of the Belgrade teams Radnicki and after Partizan. He was part of Serbian delegation in 1960 who was invited as guest at two games Italy vs Australia.” which leads on to…
“But look at this Druzik, Look what else I have”. Jovan sticks his hand into the backpack once again and pulls out a little diamond! An ORIGINAL match program from when the Kangaroos played the Italians in Treviso on 24th Januarry 1960. My jaw just dropped to the ground. “Oh my GOD, Jovan what the hell?!” I said.
“Look, look at the names in the Australian Squad Druzik, look who’s there. Gasnier, its Gasnier’s Uncle” he said, “Hold on there are two immortals in here, Gasnier and Johnny Raper! “ I responded. This is amazing Jovan.
William Barnes, Darrel Chapman, Edmund Lumsden, Brian Carlson, Donald Parish, Ken Irvine, Reg Gasnier, Harry Wells, Ron Boden, John Ryley, Andrew Brown, Barry Muir, Robert Bugden, Tom Burke, John Raper, Brian Clay, Elton Rasmussen, Rex Mossop, Brian Clinton, James Patterson, William Wilson, Garry Parcell, William Delamare, Dudley Beattie, Noel KellyIan Walsh.
So Saturday night while watching the USARL Grand Final, Jovan pulled all of this out again to show Danny Kazandjian. I got to look at it a second time. Looking through the Italia – Australia program I said something that got everyone saying is controversial.
No we all know how much I have been harping on about the Germans having the world record with 4 brothers that played together in the same match: Jimmy (who played in the Challenge Cup for Leeds), Nick, Marcus and Kristian Keinhorst. But have a really close look at the Italian team list from 1960. See it?
There are 5 Giovanni’s in there! Bortolozzo, Cattaneo, Fiorin, Naddeo, Vigna. Now I have no idea if they are all related as brothers of cousins or what. But if any four of them are brothers, and they did actually play together in the match then they have the world record. There was a look of shock amongst all of us when we all saw this. What an amazing find!
Since then Jovan has sent me some more information and pictures featuring Rugby League in the old Yugoslavia back in the 60s. Photos of Club games and also when French and Yugoslavian teams played against each other.
Some other information can be found here, though it is all in Serbian.
and about Serbian veterans:
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