Two Up on the Wheat Wharf

Two-up kip for tossing the pennies

Australia’s Biggest Two-up School Put Out Of Action

Mirror, Perth, 12 February 1955

AUSTRALIA’S most notorious two-up school was  – and still is – known as Tommo’s, conducted by a man known as Joe Thomas, and in spite of fines, it returned him a fortune. In the opinion of ex-Sergeant Joe Chuck, Joe Thomas had the most look-out men ever used by an illegal gambler.

One of these schools operated on the wheat wharf at Pyrmont, and Joe Chuck gained access to it in his familiar waterfront role of a Greek fish peddler. With old clothes, battered black hat and big moustache, he was known as ‘George the Greek’. The school operated every lunch hour, and had as many as 200 players on pay-days. Police received many bitter complaints from wives of men who lost their wages there. One by one, Chuck infiltrated police into the game, until he had 14 accepted as players.

Then, with Inspector Russell, he planned the swoop.

When Russell and his men appeared by water, the gangsters and players tried to dash from the Shed. But Chuck’s men were well drilled. The exits were guarded by tough-looking young men in old working clothes who had been accepted as fellow gamblers. They were soon in a wild melee. Two were bashed off their feet and thrown into the water, and all the others were manhandled before the mob was subdued and taken to the police station.

With them went George the Greek, locked up with the rest. He knew how roughly he would be dealt with, even in a police cell, if they knew his identity.

Next day he was back on the waterfront with his fish-basket.

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