100 Years of Rugby News: The last time God Save the Queen played at Chatswood Oval
By Norm Tasker
The 1950s was still the era of Empire, when kids sang Rule Britannia on Empire Day, we all had bonfires on Empire Night, and people still stood up at the pictures when they played God Save the Queen, at the time still Australia’s national anthem.
At Chatswood Oval in those halcyon days, it was also a tradition that God Save the Queen rang out over the loudspeakers as players left the field after the first grade game.
That all ended one balmy evening in 1958 when the anthem provided an opportunity not to be missed for the Gordon flanker Ken Yanz. As the anthem started and the players stood to attention after a particularly torrid game against Sydney University, Yanz found himself standing almost shoulder-to-shoulder with a University player with whom he had been in some dispute during play.
Yanz couldn’t help himself.
He let go with a short left jab that caught his adversary flush on the jaw and dropped him like a stone. Yanz immediately resumed his stance at rigid attention, arms locked to his side, and nobody moved until the anthem had finished. Then there was a flurry of activity, though it must be said everybody was so shocked they didn’t know quite how to react.
Referee Arthur Tierney insisted the game was over and his jurisdiction was done, although Tierney, a lifelong stutterer, struggled to get the words out. After some fruitless remonstrating, the felled player was hauled back to his feet, the players traipsed into the dressing rooms, and the beer flowed as both clubs joined the traditional Gordon sing-song.
The aftermath was significant however. Yanz was cited and suspended. The anthem never again was played at Chatswood Oval.