Farrell accused of biting off a blokes ear
was 1945 and Newtown Rugby League captain, Frank Bumper
Farrell was accused of biting off a portion of an opponents
ear in a Rugby League match on July 28. In its day, this was
a big news story which generated plenty of opinion amongst Rugby
League fans. Almost 60 years later, the incident still has the
ability to raise debate between League historians.
A New South
Wales Police officer, Farrell maintained his innocence when
replying to a signed affidavit from St George prop forward,
Bill McRitchie which accused Farrell of chomping and severing
part of his ear.
was never properly resolved. Despite a determined effort to
bring about prosecution, Farrell was never charged and he was
eventually cleared of any wrong doing.
prop, Frank Farrell was a stoic club man for the Bluebags. Bumper
represented NSW no less than 13 times between 1939 and 1950.
He played four Tests for Australia in 1946 and 1948. He captained
Newtown to premiership glory in 1943. A popular policeman, Farrell
played a then record of 250 grade games before retiring in 1951.
career was less illustrious. From 1942-1945, he played just
40 games for St George before being forced into retirement.
The brother of Test star, Doug McRitchie, Bills career
was undoubtedly cut short by the biting incident which saw him
spend 22 weeks in hospital.
sworn affidavit, read in open League committee, McRitchie stated
that during the game Farrell bit his right ear and that he (McRitchie)
cried, For Gods sake, let go, and that he tried
to free himself and even clawed at Farrell to force a release.
to his feet, McRitchie reported the incident to referee George
Bishop and yelled, Look what hes done to me!
The referee replied that he knew what was going on and if he
caught the player responsible he would, send him out for
life. Both players were cautioned.
profusely, McRitchie left the field and took no further part
in the match. He was treated by an ambulance officer and then
by doctors at Marrickville hospital who told him that there
no hope of stitching his ear back together.
reported to the committee that part of McRitchies ear
was missing and cartilage was sticking out.
defence, Farrell expressed concern for McRitchie and stated,
Bill McRitchie has our sincere sympathy in his unfortunate
accident and it is my own personal wish and the desire of my
team mates is that he has a successful and speedy recovery from
definitely state that I have been unjustly accused when it is
stated that I bit the ear of W. McRitchie.
to say, the Newtown club backed their captain. Club secretary,
Dave Jolley went to the media and launched a scathing attack
against Farrells accusers. We feel that our player
has been unjustly accused and that we are the victims of a state
of affairs that should not exist in Rugby League, said
Jolley. We cannot reconcile such maladministration that
has entered into such a case.
also added the following statement regarding the public perception
of the day: The public point-of-view would seem to be
that a member of my club committed an outrageous misdemeanor.
Not one word of substantiated evidence has been given.
defence for Farrell came when he informed the committee that
he could not have bitten McRitchies ear because he left
his dentures in a jar in the dressing room. Presented with the
extraordinary notion that Farrell would have had to gum
McRitchies ear, the committee exonerated the Newtown skipper
thus saving him from a possible life ban.
Farrell went on to play for Australia and to this day, holds
pride of place as being the only player to have surpassed 200
first grade games for the Bluebags.
on the other hand never wavered from his position that Frank
Farrell had bitten off part of his ear. The public debate continued
as well as both sides argued over the possibility that Farrell
was still able to rip at the fleshy part of a mans ear...
teeth or no teeth.
officials tried to re-open the inquiry a month later, however
the League disagreed, voting 21-2 against further investigation.
Ref: Daily Mirror (Sydney), August 1945.*
*Player Ref: Encylopedia of Rugby League Players.
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