Norman John (Johnny) Hawke was born in Queanbeyan in 1925 and like many Queanbeyan sportsmen, he played Australian football on Saturdays and rugby league on Sundays.
He played in Queanbeyan’s Senior Australian Football team in 1940, aged 15, but later worked at the Government Printing Office in Canberra and, like many of the workmen at the Printing Office he played Australian Football for Eastlake. He won Eastlake’s best and fairest award in 1945. In 1946 he was captain of the Eastlake team that lost only one match that season – the Grand Final. He also represented Canberra against Queensland in that same year.
However, it was as a rugby league player, particularly as a five-eighth and centre, that he is better known. He played for Queanbeyan in 1946 but transferred to Canberra in 1947. He began the 1948 season in Canberra and, despite inducements to play with Newtown and Manly, remained with Canberra for a fee of six pound per week. He was selected for Group 8, Country, New South Wales and finally in the Australian team that toured England in 1948-49.
Hawke left Canberra in August 1948 buoyed by a gift of just over 10 pounds from the Canberra Rugby League. It was sorely needed. Hawke exhausted all his leave entitlements in order to play for Group 8 and then Country. When he applied for additional leave to play for New South Wales against Queensland in Brisbane, virtually the selection trial for the Kangaroos, his application was refused. Nevertheless, he went to Brisbane and was selected in the Kangaroo squad party, but when he returned to work at the Printing Office he was dismissed for being absent without leave. Hawke played two Tests against Great Britain and two against France on that Kangaroo tour. During the tour he accepted an offer to play with St. George. In his first year he was appointed captain and led his team to win the premiership, which they won for the next three years.
Hawke captained New South Wales against Queensland several times in the period 1949-51. He was captain of New South Wales in the State’s match against England in 1950, and was expected to be appointed captain of Australia in that season’s Test matches, but injured his knee in the State match and did not recover in time to play in the Test matches.
AFL & RUGBY LEAGUE
Born: 7 May 1925
Deceased: 10 January 1992