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Illawarra Mercury

Davidson's link with Dragons greats

Author: TIM BARROW
Date: 31/10/2009
Words: 724
Source: ILL
          Publication: Illawarra Mercury
Section: Sport
Page: 82
Sporting prowess runs in Hawks forward Larry Davidson's family, writes TIM BARROW

WOLLONGONG Hawks cult hero Larry Davidson has never played a game of rugby league in his life, but he is a descendant of Dragons royalty.

The 26-year-old forward is the grandson of Jack Gilbert, who played in St George's first premiership in 1941.

His great uncle Herb Gilbert jnr played alongside Jack in that grand final victory, while his great-grandfather Herb snr was the Dragons' inaugural captain back in 1921.

But don't ask Davidson to wear the Red V jersey, because he was raised a Sharks supporter.

Growing up in the Sutherland Shire, Davidson's grandfather regularly took him and his mother Patricia to Sharks games, converting them to be supporters of St George Illawarra's bitter rivals in the process.

"Yeah, I've been a Sharks fan ever since I can remember," he said.

"All the family has gone for them since they started because we lived near the ground, I'm a big league fan.

"It's funny how it's worked out, with the family connection, playing down here in Wollongong and the Dragons now being part of St George Illawarra.

"I don't know a whole lot about their careers, there was never any footage back in their day, but we have some of the old jerseys and other memorabilia.

"I know they were very good players though and while I never played rugby league, it's nice to be able to continue the family sporting tradition in some way."

Davidson will take to the court against Perth at Challenge Stadium tonight, attempting to extend the Hawks' stunning start to the NBL season.

Wollongong have surged to five wins from six starts this year to sit atop the NBL ladder.

Davidson's career started with the Hunter Pirates in 2005.

He joined the Singapore Slingers in 2007, before moving to Wollongong last year and becoming an instant hit amongst loyal Hawks fans.

Patricia Davidson said Jack was "befuddled" by basketball as Larry was coming through the junior ranks, but was always supportive of his grandson's sporting endeavours.

However, Jack passed away before he was able to witness Larry play the sport professionally.

"He'd be quite proud of what Larry's achieved," Patricia said.

Jack only played eight games for St George in 1941 and again in 1946.

But he is immortalised as a premiership player after being a late call-up to the Dragons team that beat Easts 31-14 in the decider, after Jack Lindwall - the brother of Australian cricketing great and fellow St George player Ray Lindwall - withdrew with injury.

Davidson's great uncle Herb Gilbert jnr played 89 games for the Dragons, as well as 45 games for Balmain and six representative matches for NSW.

Herb Gilbert snr's career is legendary.

The patriarch of the sporting dynasty, Herb snr started his rugby league career with Souths after switching from rugby union.

He only played the one season with St George - when he was the club's first captain - and later took over as coach, before taking on a role as a NSW and Australian selector.

Herb snr had some brilliant individual battles with Dally Messenger, whose defection from union became the cornerstone for rugby league's development.

The dashing wing or centre toured England with the Kangaroos in 1911-12, before signing a then record transfer fee of #450 to join Hull, winning the Challenge Cup in 1914.

But Davidson isn't the only family member to step away from rugby league as a sporting career pathway.

His cousin Sam Gilbert is a defender for St Kilda in the AFL.

Gilbert played in the Saints' heartbreaking 12-point grand final loss to Geelong at the MCG in September.

Davidson will be shooting to add to the feats of his famous family following the Hawks' brilliant start to the season.

Davidson and the Hawks have surged to top of the NBL tree.

Victory over the second-placed Wildcats tonight would further tighten Wollongong's grip on the competition lead.

And while the Hawks title campaign is still in its infancy, Davidson might continue his famous family's greatness in the NBL play-offs in February.

FAMILY TREE

Wollongong Hawks star Larry

Davidsons famous sporting

relatives

I LARRY DAVIDSON

Basketball

Hunter Pirates: 48 games (2005-06)

Singapore Slingers: 32 games (2007)

Wollongong Hawks: 34 games (2008-09)

I HERB GILBERT SENIOR

Rugby union

Australia: Three Tests (1910)

NSW : Two games (1910)

Rugby league

Australia: Seven Tests

(1911-12, 1919-20)

NSW: Three games (1911-12, 1919)

South Sydney: 23 games (1911-12,

1915) Hull (UK) (1914)

Eastern Suburbs: Nine games (1916)

Western Suburbs: 50 games

(1917-20)

St George: Eight games (1921)

I JACK GILBERT

Rugby league

St George: Eight games (1941, 1946)

I HERB GILBERT JUNIOR

Rugby league

NSW: Six games (1939-41, 1946)

St George: 89 games (1938-43)

Balmain: 45 games (1946-48)

I SAM GILBERT

AFL

St Kilda: 61 games (2006-09)

 
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