This is a story.
This is a question of which you get asked
"How do you come to be a 100?"
Now you're expected to kind of think
up some ridiculous, funny thing,
which mean nothing.
But I now
Just say to them
"I am under good management".
My name is Eric Tweedale.
I live in Peninsula Village at Umina.
I am 100 years old.
I turned 100 on the fifth of May
this year gone.
I was born actually in England.
A big textile industry
town called Rochdale
only ten miles out of Manchester.
Mustn't have been a very nice place
to live. Chimneys popping up everywhere.
The long rows of tenement houses
and everybody working in the mills.
My father and mother,
they did work in the mills
from twelve years old.
Had they stayed in England,
I would have worked in the mills also.
they decided to come to Australia.
We came, of course, by ship. Everybody,
all the migrants in those days,
came by ship.
The population of the whole of Australia
was just over 5 million people,
and it wasn't a land of milk and honey.
Things were getting very tough.
Employment was hard
to get. My father,
having worked in the mills of Lancashire,
came out here as an unskilled worker,
and so he was looking around
for unskilled employment
which he found working for William
Arnotts - the biscuit people.
Mum and dad bought a place in Merrylands.
Just a cheap little place.
And it was just wonderful to bring up kids
because there was vacant land all over.
There was more vacant land
then there was building over the place.
The area was full of poultry farms,
as far as the children were concerned,
we had a wonderful time.
We went to school barefooted.
We thought that was great.
We had such tons of room
to move around in.
Meanwhile, mum and dad,
they were doing it pretty tough.
Just a few years after that,
of course, The Depression set in.
And of course, that was
that was an absolute terrible
time in the history of Australia,
not only in Australia,
but worldwide, really.
William Arnotts sacked nobody right
throughout The Depression,
but they did lessen their working hours.
So it could be that my dad would work
a week instead of five,
sometimes three days a week.
It got us out of the poverty,
the real depression.
We we still handled it pretty well,
but we didn't have any to put away
for a rainy day,
I could tell you that. I don't think my dad
ever had a bank account
until the day he died.
He lived from day to day.
I was very average student.
From the day
I think I was born
I was meant to be a sportsperson.
Left school at 14
to go and find a job somewhere.
I had to because I was getting a big kid.
I was eating a lot of food.
I was keeping the family poor.
So I had to get a job for myself, which
I got a job with Anthony Horderns.
At 14 years of age, I started at
twelve shillings and a thruppence...
very close to a dollar 30 per week.
When I was 15.
I was a big lad.
I was over six foot tall
and weighed about 13 stone.
I met a man called Bill Cerutti.
Bill Cerutti was the international
front row forward,
one of the finest forwards
Australia has ever seen.
So he said to me, "Eric
have you ever considered playing rugby union?"
I said to him, "Mr Cerutti
I've never even
seen the game played
that's only played in top high schools
and GPS schools,
but I've never seen the game played".
He said, "Well,
you're big and ugly enough".
"Would you would you like me
to take you over to Parramatta
Rugby Union Club on Tuesday
night for training?
We'll see what we can make of you".
And by the time
the season was finished,
I was really rapt in this game,
and by the time I was 17,
I was a permanent member
of the Parramatta District side and at 19
I was the youngest player picked in
the only representative game played
at the start of the war in 1940.
There was no representative
played from then
on until 1946.
Another five years,
I served in the Navy for four years.
Well, at this time I'm no longer the
'the kid on the block' type of person.
I'm 25 years of age
with a burning desire
to play for Australia.
After playing the interstate
games against Queensland,
I made the Wallaby team to
go to New Zealand.
How did I get to know
I was to become a wallaby?
I was working for the shell company.
I knocked off work that day.
I bought a paper,
Wynyard Station, went down to Wynyard,
got on the train,
sat down, opened up the paper...
always started at the back page,
which was the sporting page
and there was the team
to go to New Zealand.
In the back page.
My name was there.
And it said,
this article said that
"the chosen players
will train at Sydney Cricket
Ground Number two
at 4:00 Tuesdays and Thursdays
until the team goes away".
We went over to New Zealand
by Air New Zealand
on Sunderland flying boats.
I was told
at Rose Bay terminal by 6 o'clock
the following Monday morning.
It was just after the war,
very few people had cars.
If they had cars, they had very little
petrol. It was all rationed.
"how am I going to get from Guildford
or Merrylands to
Rose Bay by 6:00.
They as good as said, "Well that's your problem mate".
you've got to remember that the game
hasn't been played for eight years
so we don't know what to expect, really.
We've got a team that's half full of kids
and half full of soldiers or servicemen.
We've never seen the All Blacks play -
8 years is a long time.
The New Zealand team
had been to England
and had just come back
from a tour of England.
They were toughened.
They were hardy and they were
recognized international players
and their passion is so great
that makes them a very difficult team
whether it be in 1946 or 2021.
We played the first Test down in Dunedin.
We got beaten 33 to 8.
It was a real drubbing, really,
but we weren't expecting to win, really.
We played the second test
at Eden Park in Auckland,
and we got beaten too, 14 points to ten
and we scored
two tries to the All Blacks one.
So this was giving you some indication
that this team of ours, with all its
inexperience, was learning very quickly,
and the team that they took to England
was a good team.
one of the best teams ever
to represent Australia
on a long tour.
We played 30 matches.
We won 25.
We convincingly beat
and we beat England eleven to nil.
As I say, Wales beat us six
to nil. Two penalty goals to nil
and didn't have a try scored
against us in the four test matches.
No other international team has ever done
We had our first match
when we went to England in 47.
This is a beautiful photograph.
Charlie Eastes is a winger.
We were convinced that we scored tries.
Their way of playing football
was to combine the two or three:
they had tries, conversions and field goals.
Now that type of football wasn't
the way we played at all.
You can imagine
there's been a scrum over here
and the ball was whipped out
across the back line
as the outside
center there and Charlie Eastes...
They liked our
type of play and slowly
but surely over the years that have gone past,
they now play
more of a game
like the way we used to play it.
There's not a tight forward
until you get someone way back here.
Of course, in those days - 46,
the game was patterned.
We played to a pattern we had with
we had a scrum here with a line out there.
The ball was supposed to go
out to the winger
and the winger went down there, passed
it back in, picked up the forwards here
and away we went.
the forwards and the backs get
mixed up together. We had a fella by the name of
He loved to get out
amongst the backs. He was a breakaway,
but they wouldn't
pick him in an Australian side because
he had no business
to be out there in the first place.
If I went down to Sydney
and spoke to the powers
that be down there,
they'd probably say
that rugby is being played
more now than ever before
of the inclusion of women's rugby
and the popularity of the Seven's side.
It's quite apparent
that women's rugby is here to stay.
they've played it for a number of years.
But in the doldrums, you might say.
Now, they're up and going
and they're quite a force to be reckoned
And I believe the women...
the sport itself
will be reliant as the years go by
on the women's participation
as well as the men.
I'm a very sentimental type of person,
I am very much
aware of the value of the women I've had
throughout my life.
From the time
I was a kid to the present time -
different women coming in,
It just seems so remarkable
that these kind of things could happen.
Now, of course, I've lost
so many loved ones, wonderful,
And the fact is that I, I
hope that I'm going to be reunited
with them sometime.
This is my
first wife, Isabel,
who as a child,
I fell in love with as a kid.
From the time I was about ten or eleven
we used to sit
with each other at the local Saturday
when we were still going to school,
where we left school, we parted.
We went our different ways.
I met a girl called Enid Wagner,
and I fell in love with her.
That was in 1939.
We got engaged
and I joined the Navy.
The world was in an uproar
that particular time.
just different, shall we say.
Enid and I decided that we would
call off our engagement until such time
as we could do something about it.
That was in 1942.
So we broke off the engagement.
During the War years
I met my old girlfriend from
way back - my school girlfriend.
I made up with her again
and we were married in 1944
and we had 20 years of happy marriage.
She was taken away with a disease
which is a disease of the kidneys,
which they couldn't do
anything about. My only child was born
while I was playing
football in New Zealand.
I haven't forgotten that.
That's my daughter, myself...
That’s when we were going to England.
I put football
before the rest of my family
I don't dwell on it,
but I'm very conscious of the fact
that I should have given
a little more attention
As I say,
Isabel passed away in 1962
and I was married to
to Phyllis in 1966.
My lovely Phyllis,
so from America.
So we had 42 years
of wonderful, wonderful, happy life,
and she passed away
13 years ago now.
Phyllis died and Enid
came back from 62 years
later and came into my life again.
I received a phone call from a lady
asking me would I go to a reunion
of the Merrylands
RSL Younger Set.
And she said to me,
there is a lady that I contacted.
She lives in a
retirement village at Cromer,
and she would like to come along, too.
Her name is Enid Wagner,
my old girlfriend, from 62 years before.
I often wondered
whatever had happened to Enid.
And here it was.
She was then in her mid eighties.
So too was I.
And we met
under the big clock at Central Station,
where everybody in our youth used to meet.
We never married.
We never, ever slept together.
But it was an amazingly close
that we had... Twelve years
we were spared and we had a lovely time.
And about eight years ago,
we both came into
into this village.
We both had individual
we were so, so happy.
She developed dementia
and she passed away in...
In January of this year.
And 99 years of age, as
I was when when Enid passed away
that my life is in that direction
is finished, you know.
So there we are.
I don't think the 'good ol' days'
were ever good.
The average life span
was very much less,
probably 50 or 60. Now
a life span goes up to somewhere in the late
and people are living not only longer,
but they're living much healthier
than they were
going back 100 years, for instance, a
time that I was born.
I've had a wonderful life
and I wonder if I could say the same
if I was stayed in that old
town in Lancashire.
Working in a cotton mill.