Parramatta Leagues Club is the house that Jack built – and also the house that another Jack found. Two stalwarts of the Club, Jack Argent and Jack Boyle played significant roles.
It all began in 1956, in the middle of the Football Club’s less than successful era, when it was decided to form a committee to investigate establishing licensed premises.
The search began for a suitable site and Jack Argent, on the way to training one night, noticed a ‘For Sale’ sign outside a semi-detached house in Ross Street, Parramatta. He immediately put a 10-pound provisional deposit on the home, which would only hold the property for 24 hours. That night he told the provisional committee of his action and they agreed to buy the house. The house was bought and an application for a liquor licence was submitted. Unfortunately the application was denied and the search for a more suitable venue began.
Jack Boyle, long time committee member and popular character in the Football Club, saw a more suitable site in O’Connell Street, which was up for sale. The block was much larger and backed onto Parramatta Park, only a hundred metres from Cumberland Oval. Jack Boyle immediately contacted Jack Argent and that day a deposit was lodged. But as in the dealing with the previous property, developments were not without drama.
Two weeks after Jack Argent and Club President of the time, Stan Simpson, inspected the large brick house, the owner died. The home was being used as flats by three couples – one of which was the owner’s son-in-law. The committee had arranged for one couple to move into the Ross Street property and was helping the others find alternative housing, when the son-in-law wanted to stop the deal. The home would have been lost if not for the foresight of Mr Argent the day he first saw the house. Other than paying a 25-pound deposit, he also had the owner sign a contract of intentional sale – which was a watertight agreement that sank the son-in-law’s intentions.
Subsequently, it was discovered that the son-in-law had received an offer for the home from an oil company, which wanted to build a petrol station on the block and the offer was more than double the 6000 pounds Mr Argent and the man’s father-in-law had agreed upon. The perfect site had been found and Mr Argent, a builder, agreed to build a single story Clubhouse for cost and labour only, amounting to 34,000 pounds. Construction began in February 1959 and the doors to a modest, but neat brick building opened on 22 August 1959.
Without his fellow committee members’ knowledge, Mr Argent built double foundations in anticipation of further additions rather than have to bolster the foundations later. Two years later a second story was added, costing 77,000 pounds and after an adjoining property was bought in 1964, the Club extended south and the massive third floor auditorium was built at a cost of 413,000 pounds. Mr Argent’s building company completed both works.
The Club is a centre point of the Parramatta district boasting excellent facilities for its members and their guests.