Middle East Correspondent: Branch’s grassroots work honoured by Sydney clubs

by Rocket Gillett


There has been a proliferation of cups and medals and even sporting venues and facilities named in honour of former club heroes or officials in recent years. I reckon that has been a good thing. It’s great to see people recognised for their contribution to the game. Personally I like to see awards named after people who have “put in” rather than just named after star players.


One such case is the Peter Ramus Cup. It was inaugurated last year in honour of Sydney University Australian National Football Club (SUANFC) stalwart and former Western Suburbs junior official Peter Ramus. It has taken on even greater poignancy with his passing last summer.


In many cases clubs join together to honour two respective club legends (e.g. Hird-Archer Medal) when they play each other but in this case both Uni and Wests wanted to recognise someone who had contributed magnificently to both clubs.


Peter Ramus was known at the uni footy club as “Branch”. He was actively involved in the Sydney University club’s affairs for over four decades after having initially becoming a player. This was followed by stints as captain and coach of the senior team, and then as a long-serving official. More recently, he served on the club’s advisory panel and played a pivotal role in the establishment of SUANFC’s new Under 18 team that is linked to the Collingwood Football Club.
Peter originally played with the
Newtown club, which was then a powerhouse in the Sydney AFL competition. However, he soon developed a strong connection with the nearby varsity club and he would play and coach the Uni. team on a Saturday in the Second Division competition and then play for Newtown
on the Sunday.
He made his first real mark at the university by coaching the inter-varsity teams that would compete annually against other universities at carnivals around
Australia; it takes a particular type to match the competing demands of playing good quality football and extreme sociability. “Branch” was most adapting at it and successfully lead Sydney University
on a number of intervarsity campaigns.
My favourite story about Peter Ramus is how he once “out-coached” former Australian rugby coach Dave Brockoff. “Branch” was training the IV team on the University’s No. 1 Oval which included in its ranks the then first grade Sydney Uni rugby player Greg “Huey” Harris (who later coached
East Sydney
to three Sydney AFL premierships in a row and was chairman of selectors at the Swans under Ron Barrasi and Rodney Eade. He also played rugby league for Cronulla – but that’s another story).  The rugby and AFL teams share then shared the use of the oval for training; Brockoff then coaching the University rugby team spotted Harris training with the Rules team and summoned him to his end of the ground. “Huey” refused and continued to train with the IV team much to Brockoff’s displeasure. Ramus had the lure of a keg after training on offer for his team!
Peter became very highly involved with junior footy in the inner-west after his playing days. He became President of the Western Suburbs junior club and together with the unerring support of his wife Jan they were largely responsible for regenerating the club. With the support of the NSW AFL and Rod Carter in particular, inroads for the code was made into schools in the inner west that have been built on and have provided a solid foundation for further growth of the game in this area thus sustaining the Western Suburbs senior club with local players.


More recently, Peter has been an active member of the Sydney AFL History Committee and was the driving force behind the past player reunions held in conjunction with the Sydney AFL Grand Final. He also provided strong support and practical assistant to the Newtown Junior AFL with the compilation of their historical resources. He was highly delighted with the re-formation of the Newtown club albeit in a junior form.


As a former Sydney Uni player I had a close association with Branch for over 25 years and in between my stints working overseas I always knew I could turn up at No. 1 Oval for a uni home game and find my old mate there by the white picket fence in front of the home rooms vocal in his support for the blue and gold. In recent years we developed an even stronger association through our involvement in the History Committee; we loved talking about the great footballers and teams of the past of which he had a deep knowledge.


I had a chance to visit Peter in hospital just before I left Sydney to return to the Middle East in January this year. He was very sick. I left him a copy of the 2008 Football Almanac to read. He had attended the Sydney launch in 2007. He was ever-ready to enjoy the game in any way. Sadly, he never got a chance to read the 2008 edition as he passed away a few days later.


Last year Peter was present at Picken Oval, just around the corner from the family home in Ashbury, in Sydney’s inner west for the inaugural clash for the Peter Ramus Cup. Among “Branch’s” many friends from the local football community in attendance that day were Greg Harris and Rod Carter. Wests held off a spirited late fight back by Sydney Uni. to secure the cup at its first outing.


The post-match function was held at the Wests’ licenced club that conveniently backs onto Picken Oval where Peter was well-known and popular with members, and noted for his efforts in helping to organise Wests’ annual sportsman’s night held in conjunction with the Collingwood match in Sydney each year. Fittingly, the club hosted his wake earlier this year.


This Saturday it is in contention again with each club hosting the Cup in alternate years. Sadly, “Branch” won’t be there but his memory will live on – not just when Uni plays Wests.







  1. Daniel Ramus says

    It was a great day and congratulations to Wests on winning their second consecutive Peter Ramus Cup. Thanks very much Rod for writing this article about my father. It’s great to see that his memory lives on for you and the Sydney football community just as it does for his family. As his son, I was honoured to present the cup on the day. It’s fantastic to see that this trophy will be contested between the two clubs in the years ahead. Thanks again Rod and your thoughts outlined in the article are much appreciated by Peter’s family. Good luck to both Wests and Sydney Uni for the rest of the season.

    Sydney Uni v Western Suburbs at Sydney Uni No.1 Oval, Saturday May 16, 2009 (Peter Ramus Cup)

    Final score:
    Wests 21.11-137
    Sydney Uni 11.5-71

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