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Sincere thanks to David Gronow for permission to publish the following article and photographs.

Try Machine

Albert Rosenfield

Albert Aaron Rosenfeld was born into a Jewish family on 28 July 1885, beginning his working life as an apprentice tailor under his father, who had emigrated to Australia from Poland in the 1880’s.

He began playing rugby union at the age of fifteen around 1900 in the eastern suburbs of Sydney, virtually unaware that another form of the game - Northern Union - existed on the other side of the world.

He played for about seven years for Eastern Sydney Borough, but when the rugby revolution in New South Wales broke out in 1907, Rosenfeld turned to the new type of rugby football.

In August 1907 the rebel New Zealand touring team, Baskerville’s ‘All Golds’, who were on route to play the teams of the Northern Union in England, docked in Sydney to play three matches against New South Wales - none of the New Zealanders had ever played the new game and the series was played under rugby union laws.

Rosenfeld played at five-eighth (stand off) in the first game at the Royal Agricultural Ground on 17 August, NSW losing 8-11 before a crowd of 22,000  - in doing so, Rosenfeld and his team-mates effectively banned themselves from ever playing rugby union again.

By the time the New Zealanders had returned from the tour of the Northern Hemisphere, rugby league football had become established in New South Wales and a nine-team competition had formed.

Virtually as soon as the new code started up the ‘All Golds’, on their return from Britain, were in Sydney to play a three-match series - they were the first Test matches to be staged in the Southern Hemisphere, Rosenfeld appearing in all three games, scoring a try in the first Test on 9 May albeit in a 11-10 defeat by New Zealand.

Rosenfeld had joined Eastern Suburbs, and his name went down in history as one of the men to play in the initial games of rugby league played in Australia on Easter Monday, 20 April 1908, appearing at stand off in Easts’ 32-16 win over Newtown at Wentworth Park.

Easts did well in their first season, losing in the Premiership final to Souths on 28 August, but Rosenfeld and five of his team-mates missed the encounter, they had left Sydney on 15 August on HMS Macedonia en-route to England with the first Kangaroos.

He was not originally included in the 1908/09 tour squad and was only added after an outcry over his omission.

Australians’ first tour of England, 1908-09
Standing: Sid Pearce; J Jones; Dan Frawley; Albert Rosenfeld; Larry O’Malley;
Sitting: Dally Messenger

When Rosenfeld arrived in England he was twenty-three years old.

He was taken primarily as a stand off who could play centre, and did not have a particularly eye-catching tour, appearing in only the second Test at St James’ Park , Newcastle, on 23 January 1909.

He suffered his share of injuries, playing in only fifteen games, scoring five tries, however, one of his best games was at Everton on 18 November when the Australians beat a powerful Northern Rugby League XIII by 10-9, playing at left wing three-quarter, maybe a sign of things to come?

Two days after the Australian’s tour game with Huddersfield on 20 February 1909, the Huddersfield Examiner  announced:

The committee of the Huddersfield Club on Saturday added to the bewildering variety of nationality represented in their players by securing the signatures of two of the Australian Northern Union players.

The Fartown team, despite its general excellence, has shown the want of a wing three-quarter and another good forward……these have now been secured in Albert Rosenfeld and Patrick (Paddy) Walsh respectively.

Rosenfeld went back ‘down under’ with the Australians, who played a couple of games against the Rest of New South Wales and turned out for Easts again.

He represented New South Wales, scoring four tries and landing a goal in a 26-21 triumph over New Zealand in Sydney on 5 June, and two days later scored a try and a goal as NSW beat the Kiwis again 27-20.

By August 1909, he was back in Huddersfield and had more reason to return other than joining the Fartowners.

During the 1908/09 tour he had fallen in love with Ethel, a young woman from the town and intended to marry her.

Unlike the Australian selectors, Huddersfield saw him from the start as a specialist winger.

It was as such that he made his debut against Broughton Rangers at Fartown on 11 September 1909 - playing on the right wing he scored the first two of the many tries he was to register for the ‘Claret and Gold’.

Most of his other games during that first season were at centre owing to the illness of Wagstaff, but it was at right wing that Rosenfeld later made rugby league history.

Although on the small side - barely 5ft 6in and 12 stone - he was a very strong runner and adept at the art of the short kick and re-gather.

He scored 22 tries from 35 appearances in 1909/10 and 35 the following season (1910/11) then established a new try record in 1911/12 when he ripped up the record books with seventy-eight tries, eclipsing the record for tries in season which stood at 49 jointly held by Wigan’s England winger Joe Miller and Halifax’s Welsh international Billy Williams who both performed the feat in 1908/09.

Rozzy played twice for a Colonial XIII against the returning 1910 Tourists, his only representative games during his time in England - at Headingley on 19 September in a 31pts-15 win, and at Wigan on 27 December, Rosenfeld scoring his first hat-trick of tries on English soil in a 22pts-40 loss.

On Boxing Day 1911, he performed his best match feat in registering eight tries against Wakefield Trinity.

The 1911/12 season saw Huddersfield emerge to greatness, setting and maintaining standards that no other club side had reached.

Rozzy - as he was affectionately known by Huddersfield supporters - began to score tries at an alarming rate - 269 in 158 in the next four seasons.

In 1912/13 he managed a mere fifty-six, but the following season he was to cut loose in a manner that has never been equalled before or since.

In 1913/14, his total of eighty tries from 42 games set up a rugby league record that is likely to stand forever - the closest tally was by Brian Bevan who scored seventy-two in 1952/53.

He was the perfect running machine at the end of an inspired back line, and scored 7 tries in a 119-2 demolition of Swinton Park in a Challenge Cup-tie on 28 February 1914 - the ‘Team of All Talents’ winning all four trophies available to them in that record-breaking season of 1914/15, Rozzy ending it with a tally of 55 tries.

In his career at Fartown, he scored 5 tries on twelve occasions, 4 tries eight times and 3 tries twenty-seven times and topped the Rugby League try-scoring charts in four successive seasons from 1911/12 to 1914/15.

During the Great War of 1914/18, he was a member of Major Stanley’s famous Army Service Corp rugby union XV at Grove Park along with Douglas Clark and Ben Gronow, scoring 30 tries for them in addition to a dropped goal, before eventually being sent to Mesopotamia (Iraq) where he saw out the hostilities.

It will always remain a matter of conjecture as to what other feats he might have achieved, but for the intervention of the First World War who knows what Rozzy may have accomplished?

On 2 April 1921 he played for Huddersfield for the last time in a home cup-tie against Leeds.

He had played in 287 games ,scored 366 tries and kicked 2 goals, for a total of 1102 points - not for nothing was Rosenfeld described in an article by Huddersfield Examiner as the wary, nippery, slippery little Australian.

His compatriot, Lionel Cooper, eventually broke Rozzy’s Huddersfield club record of 366 tries, finishing with 420 (1947-55).

On 15 September, 1921, he was transferred to Wakefield Trinity where he played for two seasons.

Although approaching 40 years of age Rosenfeld was again transferred, this time to Bradford Northern on 11 December 1923, his first match for them coming four days later at Wakefield Trinity.

Rosenfeld played for Bradford in seasons 1923/24 and 1924/25, scoring his last-ever try in a 12-8 home win against Wigan Highfield on 26 January 1924.

After retiring from the professional game he coached local amateur club Rastrick for some time, after that his contact with the game was watching Huddersfield’s home games, plus keeping an eye on the schoolboy rugby careers of his two grandsons - his major interest outside of sport was repairing radios.

His occupations in private life were not the sort that you can imagine appealing to the record-breaking, truly great Rugby League player, or for that matter a current Super League player! - for many years he drove a Huddersfield Corporation refuse cart, and, well into his seventies, also worked locally as a Dyer.

One form of continuing recognition was the way that the Australian Rugby League authorities never forgot him.

When an Australian team was due to tour the UK, they would kit him out with a blazer - not an ordinary one, but a special one with the word ‘Pioneers’ on the badge.

In 1964, Albert and Ethel celebrated their golden wedding anniversary by travelling around the world,  culminating in a four month visit to Sydney where he was born - the first time in fifty-five years for him - he was welcomed and feted wherever he went.

Six years later he passed away on 4 September 1970 at the ripe old age of 85 years, in the same house in Huddersfield he that he had occupied all those many years ago as a player  - he was the last survivor of the 1908/09 Kangaroos.

E.E.Christensen in the Sydney Daily Telegraph remarked:

‘Rosenfeld achieved football immortality in Australia and England and was a remarkable man both in youth and old age.

His record has never been approached and , nowadays, English club wingers feel proud of themselves if they can manage thirty tries in a season.’

The Huddersfield Daily Examiner simply quoted:

‘He was one of the most famous of all Rugby League players.’

He was inducted as one of the original nine entrants into the Rugby Football League Hall of Fame on 24 October 1988, similarly one of 21 initial players introduced into the Huddersfield RL Club Players Association Hall of Fame on 22 April 1999.


Debut:  11 September 1909 v Broughton Park (h)







36 22 - 66


29 35 2 109


40 78 - 234


36 56 - 168


42 80 - 240


40 55 - 165


3 - - -


36 31 - 93


25 9 - 27


Last Game:  2 April 1921 v Leeds (h) cup


Debut:  17 September 1921 v Bradford Northern (a)







27 - 1 2


38 16 - 48


1 - - -


Last Game:  20 October 1923 v Batley (h)


Debut:  15 December 1923 v Wakefield Trinity (a)







19 1 - 3


7 - - -


Last Game:  20 December 1924 v Wigan Highfield (a)


Australia 10 New Zealand 11 1908 Sydney (try)
Australia 12 New Zealand  24 1908 Brisbane
Australia 14 New Zealand 9 1908 Sydney
Australia 5 Northern Union 15 1908 Newcastle


NSW 8 New Zealand 12 1907 Sydney  (played under rugby union rules)
NSW 18 New Zealand 10 1908 Sydney
NSW 26 New Zealand 21 1909 Sydney (4 tries, goal)
NSW 27 New Zealand 20 1909 Sydney New Zealand   20    1909   Sydney







Huddersfield 287 366 2 1102
Wakefield T 66 16 1 50
Bradford N 23 1 - 3
Colonial XIII 2 3 - 9
  278 386 3 1164

Rosenfeld also played 15 games for the Australians in England and Wales in 1908/09, scoring 5 tries.
He played 12 games for Eastern Suburbs (1908 and 1909) scoring 6 tries, 18 points.

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