Austin Sarsfield Ireland Gralton
- 7Wallaby Number
When Austin Sarsfield Ireland 'Grally' Gralton died in the Brisbane influenza epidemic in 1919, aged 48, he was eulogised as a “brilliant footballer in his younger days”. The youngest son of Henry and Margaret (née Dobbins) Gralton, ‘Grally’ was born in Kempsey, NSW, on 9 February 1871. He played halfback for the Alhambras, Boomerangs (later North Brisbane) and Christian Brothers’ clubs in Brisbane, and represented Queensland in 29 matches in his career between 1895 and 1903 (second only to Paddy Murphy, who wore the State colours on 36 occasions).
Of Gralton’s total as a Queensland player, 25 matches were against NSW, three against New Zealand, and one against Great Britain. He was on the Queensland team that toured New Zealand in 1896, and was named to the “Gallery of Great Players” on the occasion of Queensland Rugby Union’s jubilee in 1932. 1899 was a memorable year for the “tenacious halfback”. In the match between Great Britain and Queensland that year, he contributed to Queensland’s 11-3 victory by converting Poley Evans’ try.
On 24 June 1899 he represented Australia in the first-ever international Test, against Great Britain in Sydney, won by the locals 13-3. He also played in the final of the four Test matches against Great Britain that winter, in which Australia lost 0-13. In 1903 he again represented Australia in an international Test, this time against New Zealand in Sydney on 15 August. Another player, Jack Davis, summed up his career and attitude: “dour defender, never beaten, lives for football”. Gralton married Elizabeth Goddard on 2 August 1902, and fathered one child, a son who was also named Austin Sarsfield, born on 10 June 1903. Following his retirement, he served Queensland Rugby as a selector and coach. He worked as a joiner, and for the last ten years of his life was the licensee of the Albion Hotel in Albion, Brisbane. Gralton died on 26 June 1919, and was buried at Toowong Cemetery.