Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Pearce, Sidney Charles (Sandy) (1883–1930)

by Kristine Corcoran

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, (MUP), 1988

Sidney Charles (Sandy) Pearce (1883-1930), footballer, was born on 30 May 1883 at Double Bay, Sydney, sixth child of Henry John Pearce, English-born waterman, and his Sydney-born wife Susan, née Chamberlain. Known as 'Sandy', he left Double Bay Public School early to join his father's business as a fisherman, boat proprietor and fish agent. The Pearces were a well-known local sporting family: his father and his nephew Henry Pearce were notable scullers; of his brothers Ernest played Rugby League for Eastern Suburbs and Arthur and Walter were cyclists; his sister Lily sailed skiffs. 'Sandy' swam, sailed, sculled, boxed (sparring with Les Darcy) and played Rugby Union for Eastern Suburbs.

Joining the breakaway Rugby League in 1907, Pearce played three games against a visiting New Zealand professional team (under Rugby Union rules). From the club's formation in January 1908 he played 176 first-grade matches for Eastern Suburbs. In 1908-21 he represented New South Wales against such foes as the Maoris, the Wallabies, New Zealand, Queensland and England. He played for Australia in 16 Tests: 3 against New Zealand (1908 and 1909) and 13 against Britain (1908-09, 1914, 1920 and 1921). He toured Britain in 1908-09 (with the Pioneers) and in 1921, but like his friend 'Dally' Messenger, he chose not to tour in 1911-12 with the Kangaroos. He had married Ethel May Burns on 9 July 1910 at Woolloomooloo.

Playing both hooker and prop-forward positions, Pearce was a man of 'prodigious strength' and endurance but, basically a gentle man, he sometimes had to be stirred into action by a surreptitious punch from his own side. He retired after breaking his leg in England in 1921, but coached the University of Sydney's Rugby League forwards in the 1920s.

Pearce died of myocarditis on 14 November 1930 outside the Royal Oak Hotel, Double Bay, and was buried in the Anglican section of South Head cemetery. His wife, two sons and a daughter survived him. His elder son Sidney ('Joe') played 150 first-grade Rugby League games for Eastern Suburbs and eleven Tests in 1932-38; they were the first father and son to represent Australia in Rugby League.

Select Bibliography

  • J. J. Jervis, The History of Woollahra (Syd, 1960)
  • D. Middleton, Rugby League Week Book of Records (Syd, 1983)
  • G. Lester (ed), The Sun Book of Rugby League (Syd, 1983)
  • Rugby League News, 23 July 1921
  • Sun News-Pictorial (Melbourne), 16 Nov 1930
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 17 Nov 1930
  • Daily Mirror (Sydney), 25 June, 23 July 1966
  • private information.

Citation details

Kristine Corcoran, 'Pearce, Sidney Charles (Sandy) (1883–1930)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/pearce-sidney-charles-sandy-8000/text13939, published in hardcopy 1988, accessed online 18 September 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, (MUP), 1988

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