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Larkin, Edward Rennix (Ted) (1880–1915)

from Referee (Sydney)

This man, who, with so many others, has given his life for the Empire at the Dardanelles, we feel his loss so deeply.

'Ted' [Edward Rennix]  Larkin was a native of North Sydney. He completed his education at St. Joseph's College, Hunter's Hill, whither he went from St. Benedict's School. He passed both Junior and Senior Public Examinations, obtaining a particularly high pass in the latter. After a period on the staff of the Year Book of Australia, he joined the Police Detective Department. With St Joseph's (Newtown) Literary and Debating Society he proved a ready and eloquent speaker, and having Parliamentary aspirations, he found this branch of the Civil Service, with its political restrictions, somewhat irksome, consequently when the N.S. Wales Rugby League decided to appoint a professional secretary, he became a candidate, and was chosen for the position. The new body immediately went ahead by leaps and bounds, and its present high standing is due largely to his splendid work. As an organiser he excelled. When the League required a speaker to defend it during its turbulent days, the secretary was an ideal man for the task. With fluency and humor he quickly won over a gathering. Mr. W. J. Howe, ex-secretary of the Metropolitan Rugby Union, at a Glebe meeting had characterised the new code as 'Bung Rules.' Mr. Larkin on the following evening at Annandale retorted that the Union game was 'Gone Bung Rules.' His happy manner was a fine asset to the League. Many junior secretaries with grievances left the office in the happiest mood after a very brief chat with the leading executive official. He was appointed a Justice of Peace and chosen as Government representative on the Board of the Royal North Shore Hospital.

The Labor Party had never won a seat on the northern side of the harbor, but Ted Larkin was not daunted by this. After obtaining the selection for Willoughby he wooed the electors in a whole-hearted manner and accomplished the apparently impossible. It is difficult to say which party was more astonished—the Liberal by the loss, or Labor at the victory. One doubts if anybody else could have won the seat for the Government. It was his personality as much as his policy which made him a member of Parliament, and it is safe to assume it would have carried him far in the legislative arena.

He immediately tendered his resignation as secretary of the Rugby League, but with the visit of the English team in sight he was prevailed on to remain in office. However, at the outbreak of the war he vacated the position, joined the ranks, and was appointed a sergeant. At one time he had been a member of the Irish Rifles and visited Melbourne with the selected detachment that attended at the initial opening of the Federal Parliament by King George.

As an athlete he also achieved success. He played in the five-eighth position for St. Joseph's College in 1896, when the Hunter's Hill boys won the premiership but lost the title through unwittingly including in their team a player over the prescribed age. After leaving he figured as half-back with the Endeavor, a local (Camperdown) R.U. club.

The football knowledge he had imbibed from Fred Henlen, who coached St. Joseph's a year previously, Ted Larkin imparted to his new clubmates, with the result that the team was unbeaten, and rapidly rose to be one of the best fifteens outside senior ranks.

He was chosen as representative half-back for the Juniors in 1899. That side contained Frank Roberts, E. Halloran and Harold Judd, who, with Ted Larkin, played for the State later on. That year he played his first senior football, a few matches with the old Sydney Club. With the coming of the local system he was chosen as vice-captain of Newtown, and in 1903 led the team. This was probably the best team the Blues had until 1908. They played a draw with and defeated Eastern Suburbs, who won the premiership, and their play for a portion of the season was more attractive than any that had been shown since the establishment of district football.

Ted Larkin's knowledge of the game, and his versatility, can be gauged from the fact that he was five-eighth at school, a scrummage half-back later, then again a five-eighth; after five games as centre front row forward, he represented New South Wales against the New Zealand team of 1903, and there were some good 'hookers' that year — F. G. Underwood, W. A. Barton, J. Clarken and others.

His original selection surprised himself. Twelve years ago the New South Wales Rugby Union had not commenced the practice of housing the chosen players. A number of forwards were being instructed in scrummage formation under the light of a gas lamp in Erskineville Oval on the Thursday preceding the second game against Duncan's brigade. The local club (Newtown) were not training to any extent, owing to the lull in grade games. A messenger was sent to the home of the captain, who was just setting out to fill a social engagement. He was told he was required at the training quarters, and a little later learned he was included in the representative team.

He subsequently played for Australia against New Zealand, and also for his State against Queensland. In 1904 he transferred to North Sydney, but his duties now precluded his giving much time to sport, and he dropped out of the game.

Had he followed up other pastimes, he would probably have been equally prominent. At Hunter's Hill he was a good right-hand bowler and left-hand batsman, but played little cricket afterwards. A clever boxer, he was successful in the amateur military tournament which formed part of the celebrations at the inauguration of the Commonwealth. He won some races with the old West Sydney Swimming Club.

His sacrifice was as complete as possible. He had nothing material to gain; on the contrary, much to lose. He left behind a young widow and two little boys. He had just entered the halls of the legislature, which had been his lifelong ambition, and he knew the seat he held required careful watching; yet he did not consider this in the least. He had had military experience, and would assuredly have obtained a commission had he waited for a later contingent, but he did not hesitate. The ranks were good enough from the point of view of one who was so sincere.

Officialdom is moving even more slowly than usual in letting Australians know how their heroes died in the Dardanelles; but as one who probably knew him more intimately than anyone outside, his own relations, I am absolutely certain that the grit and determination I had so often seen him display were shown to the fullest in that awful landing at Gallipoli.

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Citation details

'Larkin, Edward Rennix (Ted) (1880–1915)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/larkin-edward-rennix-ted-7036/text29804, accessed 25 September 2017.

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