Founded by mates.
Living on through community spirit.
What we now call Club on East has a proud history, as Sutherland United Services Club Ltd (SUSC). Take a look at the wall and it will tell you that 1947 was the year SUSC was incorporated. But ask any digger, and they’ll tell you that it was much earlier than that.
It was the 1920s, when those returning home after the First World War sought out the mateship that had helped them endure their unspeakable campaigns overseas, and the only ones who could now relate to such trauma and brutality. The Sutherland Shire Council of the day donated a block of land during this time and a corrugated tin shack was built – to serve as an informal (and unlicensed) clubhouse for these returned heroes to meet.
What was supposed to have been the ‘War to end all Wars’ simply became the first, and mateship came to the fore once more as Australian servicemen endured World War II both across the seas and on our own shores. These men found solace in their mates, bonded by an unspoken trauma and forged in survival against all odds.
At the end of the War, the club became licensed in 1947, voting to welcome both returned and ex-servicemen. Volunteers helped transform the tin shack to a larger clubhouse, some loading bricks from the demolished cemetery railway station by hand into a truck, while others cleaned them six days a week, as this band of hardworking volunteers created a legacy.
The 1960s welcomed women (and their ladies auxiliary fundraising) to the club, and later the arrival of poker machines enabled revenue streams for future growth. The club remained largely unchanged up until the late 1990s, when the first of a series of refurbishments took place to bring SUSC into the 21st Century. These modern facilities helped it stay in touch with an ever-growing competitive market.
The latest chapter has perhaps seen the biggest shift, with a name change to reflect the growing community spirit that the club encompasses. (Club on East generously supports more than 80 community groups and clubs.) And while today’s focus is on a community club model as part of its charter and future plans, its origins are never forgotten.
The enduring legacy of the original Sutherland United Services Club is to “look after your mates”. As Club on East forges ahead into the future, it is always with acknowledgment of those servicemen who endured unspeakable suffering to create a bond of mateship that continues to this day.