The Carbine Club of New South Wales is bonded by a couple of simple but very significant affections – for sport, fellowship and community.
The membership list includes champions from many fields of sport, including horse racing, Olympic and Commonwealth Games, Test cricket, rugby and rugby league, surf lifesaving, golf and motor racing. Other members have established their reputation in sports administration, business, politics and the media.
The Club conducts a number of luncheons each year, at which it honours a particular sport coinciding with a national or international event in that sport. All funds raised are used to encourage youth in sport.
The original Carbine Club was founded in Melbourne in 1961 when several sporting friends got together before the then VFL Grand Final for lunch. It was such a success that they repeated the experience before the Melbourne Cup Carnival and the concept of the Carbine Club was away.
At the Derby Eve function in Melbourne in 1976 Al Smith, former TAB General Manager, Keith Robbins, racing journalist and Tim Cox, racehorse Owner and breeder discussed the idea of establishing a similar club in Sydney.
Back in Sydney a meeting was held at the Tai-Yuen Chinese restaurant with an expanded group which included Hugh Gage - racehorse owner, Alan Davidson – Australian Test Cricketer and NSW Cricket President, Kevin Humphries – Rugby League General Manager, and Jim Comans – lawyer and racing enthusiast, where the outline of a proposal to form a similar club was developed.
A further meeting at the TAB confirmed the idea. Al Smith was appointed secretary, thus starting the Carbine Club’s long and very successful association with the TAB which was carried on for many years after his death by Ken Page. The group was expanded to 13 people and the famous quote from Sir Clyde Kennedy, the then STC Chairman “It won’t succeed in Sydney as Sydney is not a Clubby city” was made, but he still felt compelled to join.
Initially the club was named the Tulloch Club but after discussions and assistance from the Victorian Carbine Club President Ken Cox and Secretary Trevor Craddock it was decided to re name the Club the Carbine Club of New South Wales and it loosely followed the Victorian constitution. The NSW constitution was written for approval by Jim Comans and it included several different clauses that were to cause some angst to the mother club in years to come.
In 1977 the NSW Club became the third Carbine Club, after Melbourne in 1961 and New Zealand in 1971. Today there are 15 clubs spread across Australia and around the World.
The original 13 members were Tim Cox (Chairman), Alan Davidson (Deputy Chairman), Al Smith (Secretary), Hugh Gage (Treasurer), Keith Robbins and Noel Robinson (Committeemen) and Ray Alexander, Kevin Humphries, Ken Rowland, Jim Carr and Sir Clyde Kennedy as members. Bart Cummings, a Melbourne member, became a member when he moved to Sydney. This number rose over the next two years to forty members.
The aim of the club was to honour sport and to enjoy good fellowship. Lunches were to be held in conjunction with major sporting events with two of the feature luncheons to be the Rugby League Grand Final Luncheon and the Autumn Racing Carnival.
The first luncheon was held at the RAC in Macquarie Street with guest speaker Tommy Bishop (then Captain of the English Rugby League team) who was later to play many games for Cronulla.
The following luncheon hosted guest speaker American golfer Andy Bean who spoke prior to the Australian Open. He told the wonderful story of how, in one tournament, he had to wrestle a crocodile that wandered across the fairway.
Subsequent speakers included Russell Bartlett, who spoke on motor racing and Peter Falk who was the first speaker on Rugby Union. Over a very short time numbers grew so quickly that lunches had to move from the RAC. Initially venues were chosen that were associated with the sport that was being highlighted. Subsequently major venues such as Tattersalls and Randwick Racecourse were chosen to cope with the ever increasing number of attendees.
Coinciding with our beginnings was the introduction of the raffle at each lunch with proceeds going to junior sport. Over $1million has been donated to junior sport covering many sporting organisations , some well-known NSW Organisations, others less known. The first donation went to Junior Cricket, where the under 17 competition was played for the Carbine Club Cup. The latest group to receive support is Junior Orienteering where the junior New South Wales team is known as The Carbines.