SUBDUE TIGERS IN GRAND FINAL VICTORY
GOLDEN YEARS III: 1964 - 1966
RECORD BUMPER YEAR AT GATE
Graeme Langlands scores another spectacular try.
Click on the pic for larger image (60Kb)
After 18 rounds of football, Saints were again minor
premiers. 1964 was huge year for the Dragons financially as
well. An average of 20,000 spectators came to see St George play
each week making the red and whites the most followed Rugby League
club in the world. Saints lost just three matches in 1964. The
first being to Norths, then later in the season they were defeated
by the Ken Kearney coached Parramatta Eels and the
Harry Bath coached Balmain Tigers.
'Changa' Langlands had a fantastic season and seemed to save
his best for the new pretenders, Parramatta. After going down
to the Eels in round eight (5-2), Saints returned fire to thrash
the western Sydney side by 36-0 in round 17 with Langlands scoring
three tries and six goals.
Johnny 'Chook' Raper gives Parramatta's Barry Rushworth
a lesson in cover defence.
In the major semi final, Saints humiliated Parramatta 42-0 with
Changa scoring three tries and kicking nine goals. Parramatta's
policy was to try and bash St George out of the match, the Dragons
response was to show no mercy and pile on as many points as possible.
DRAGONS SEE OFF WESTS
Kogarah Jubilee Oval, 22 August 1964: St George have defeated
Western Suburbs 37-10 effectively 'seeing off' their old rivals.
as 'the millionaires', Wests had spent a fortune on players in
recent years but were unsuccessful in their efforts to topple
St George and claim a title. Season '64 was an unhappy one for
Wests as injuries took their toll and the Magpies failed to make
was the final season in the red and white for St George
fullback, Brian Graham (pic left). Graham will go
on to play with Newtown from 1965-67.
In late 1962 and throughout 1963, Graham had his career
with Saints curtailed after being transferred to Korea as
part his oil company work*.
Graham joined Saints in 1955 for a season and resumed playing
again in 1957, playing in five grand final wins. A NSW rep
in 1959, Graham was the Dragon's top first grade point scorer
in 1960, 1961, 1962, and 1964, surpassing Doug Fleming's
point scoring record. Brian played in 114 games for the
Dragons in first grade. He scored 20 tries and 287 goals
with Saints for a total of 634 first grade points. In addition
he played 58
games in Reserve Grade scoring 228 points for a combined
total of 172 games and 862 points. Graham would have scored
more if not for work commitments and Harry Bath being the
main goal kicker in the early part of the Golden Years.
A popular fullback, Graham brought a roar of approval from
the Kogarah crowd when in 1964, he drop-kick a penalty goal
The departure of Brian Graham opens
an opportunity for newcomer, Graeme Langlands.
*Not Papua New Guinea with a banking job as noted in
NSWRL First Grade
4 in semis)
p = Season Premiers
| AFTER 18 ROUNDS
Points For 393
(1st best attack)
Points Against 154
(1st best defence)
Points For 53
Points Against 6
| Points For 446
Points Against 160
Cricket Ground, 19 September 1964: The Dragons have won their 9th
premiership in a row when they over powered Harry Bath's Balmain
GRAND FINAL FULLTIME:
Saints 11 Balmain 6
Scorers (St George) Tries: Johnny King 1
Goals: Graeme Langlands 4
Referee: C. Pearce
turning of the match came five minutes into the second half. The Tigers
were hanging onto a 4-2 lead and defending their own line with some
desperate tackling when they received a relieving penalty from ref,
Col Pearce. Balmain's Bob Boland put in big punt and at
first it looked like a good touch finder.
to Balmain's horror, Graeme Langlands stretched over the touchline,
and caught the ball with his boots only an inch or two inside the field
of play. The champion fullback then raced cross-field towards the Balmain
line and then sent a cut-out pass to his soul mate, Billy Smith
25 yards out from the try line. The centre made further inroads before
channeling a pass to Johnny King who sped down the left wing
for 20 yards to score a diving try. This was the only try of the match
with all of Balmain's points coming from great Southern Division and
Wollongong fullback, 'Golden Boots' Keith Barnes.
Provan - the last of his line
SAINTS MAKE IT
10 IN A ROW IN FRONT OF RECORD SCG CROWD
Cricket Ground, 18 September 1965:
For the first time, a Rugby League Grand Final went without
the traditional victory lap. At fulltime, St George Dragons
and South Sydney Rabbitohs players were swamped by the huge
Sydney Cricket Ground crowd. Official figures state that 78,056
spectators paid to see the Grand Final but anecdotal evidence
suggests that the real crowd figure was closer 90,000.
In 1965, the
SCG could comfortably accommodate 60,000. With the ground capacity
already bursting at the seams, the SCG staff closed the gates
at 1:00pm thus posting the figure of just over 78,000. But the
surrounding streets and parklands were packed with people and
traffic - an estimated 40,000 people were still trying to get
into a ground! Hundreds chose to break in by storming the Member's
gates. Scores more bought tickets to the Motor Show which was
being held next door in the RAS Showground. From here they took
up vantage points on the Showground Pavilions with good views
of the SCG pitch.
Click on the pic for larger image (218Kb)
more simply entered the SCG and proceeded to climb the Grand Stands,
perching themselves on the roofs. Police were unable to stop this
reckless display of people power and after consultation, allowed
thousands to sit on the ground itself, covering the outer ring
of the oval.
GRAND FINAL FULLTIME:
Saints 12 Souths 8
St George 12 (Smith, King tries. Langlands
3 goals) defeated
South Sydney 8 (Longbottom 3, Simms goals)
Referee: C. Pearce
became even more concerned when the army band played 'God Save
The Queen' and thousands stood up on the Grand Stands roofs
- it was a recipe for disaster.
as luck would have it, the day went by without major tragedy.
At 3:00pm, St George captain-coach Norm Provan, the last
player from the 1956 premiership-winning side, led his Dragons
team onto the field.
PROVAN'S LAST MATCH
one of the all time great Grand Finals, an aging St George team
(average age 27) defeated a much younger South Sydney outfit (average
age 22) by 12-8. Souths had already beaten Saints twice in 1965
and the huge crowd showed up expecting to see an end to the Dragons
decade of dominance.
1st Grade games 256
63 tries, 1 goal (191pts)
Grand Final wins: 10
Tests: 14 (7 tries)
South Sydney fullback, Kevin Longbottom opened the scoring
with a 55 yard penalty goal in the 20th minute - the kick receiving
applause from St George fullback Graeme Langlands. St George
replied with a Billy Smith try. Langlands and Longbottom
exchanged penalty goals with both players booting the ball more
than 50 yards.
(top 4 in semis)
p = Season Premiers
| AFTER 18 ROUNDS
Points For 394
(1st best attack)
Points Against 142
(1st best defence)
Points For 59
Points Against 15
| Points For 453
Points Against 157
It was a tough encounter
and was highlighted by the forward charges from Norm Provan,
John Raper and Kevin Ryan. The brutality of the match
was evident as both teams served up varying degrees of foul play.
Norm charges forward in 1965
in particular were no place for the faint hearted and St George forward,
Kevin Ryan was being unsettled by the Souths' front row.
In one scrum,
after seeing Rabbitohs hooker Fred Anderson reaching into
the tunnel, Ryan stood on Anderson, raked him back and proceeded
to literally walk all over him. The Dragons pack then surged forward
along the ground through the St George second row and out the back of
the scrum. The
'keelhauled' Anderson sat dazed and bleeding on the ground with the
ball still in hand.
At half time, Saints
held a 5-4 lead.
half began with more penalty goals to Langlands and Longbottom. With
13 minutes to go, Johnny King scored and added to his amazing
record of scoring tries in six successive Grand Finals. Souths' Eric
Simms kicked a penalty goal giving them some hope but Saints held
their line and at fulltime the score was 12-8.
had won their 10th consecutive Grand Final. At the sounding of the fulltime
siren, the SCG was invaded by thousands of fans and the ground became
a sea of people any chance of a victory lap was soon overwhelmed.
in his last match was surrounded by strangers and well-wishers. As always,
he spoke as a true gentleman and thanked one and all.
Norm Provan & Kevin Ryan are swamped
Provan was the last of the players who played in the 1956 Grand
Final winning team
and with his retirement came the final changing of the guard.
SIGNINGS: Ken Maddison
became hugely popular with the young supporters of Rugby League
in 1965-66. He featured often on 'footy card' swaps of the time.
On the real football field he gained recognition as a fast,
robust and powerful player who could play in the centres or
in the forwards. He went on to be an international and played
in four Tests.
final victory lap
IAN WALSH NEW CAPTAIN-COACH
Cricket Ground, 2 April 1966: The Dragons run on for their
first game of the season against a strong Balmain team. St George
have a new captain-coach in Test hooker, Ian Walsh (pic
right). 'Abdul', a courageous player and widely regarded
as the best hooker forward in the world got the top job unopposed.
Outsiders were surprised that neither John Raper or Reg
Gasnier lobbied for the job but
in reality, most insiders felt that the St George reign
was set to come to an end in 1966. There was a reluctance to
preside over the demise.
There were a number of reasons for this pessimism.
Click on pic for larger image
the main pointer being the retirement of former skipper and
coach, Norm Provan who cast a shadow bigger than the
game itself during the Dragon's decade of dominance. Other reasons
included the number of players who were playing in their testimonial
year or were just a season or two away from retirement. The
team was getting older and the depth just didn't seem to be
there anymore with a number of lower grade players finding comfortable
first grade spots with other clubs. There was also a feeling
that the other clubs had caught up to St George in terms of
fitness, game plans and training techniques. Just as in 1965,
Saints looked to be at the end of their run. Their opening round
match typified this pessimism when they were beaten 19-16 by
REG GASNIER OUT FOR SEASON
Cumberland Oval, 9 April 1966: In a major blow to the Dragons
1966 campaign, Reg Gasnier has torn a cruciate knee ligament
while playing Parramatta at Cumberland Oval. He was later ruled
out for the season. In fact, Gasnier's playing future was put
in serious doubt with two specialists advising that he risked
permanent damage. Saints managed a 12-all draw against an ineffective
Parramatta team and after two rounds, there appeared to be disharmony
in the St George ranks.
In the weeks that followed, Ian Walsh had fall outs with
club officials and team mates. Billy Smith protested
being moved into the centres and John Raper resented
being moved into the front line defence because according to
Walsh, he was 'getting too old' to be a cover defender. Walsh,
as captain-coach also had a vote on the selection committee
and in that role wielded considerable influence. Players who
didn't do as they were told were threatened with demotion to
reserve grade. A number of sports commentators and League followers
had written the Dragons off.
Despite these upheavals, Walsh had the support of Frank Facer.
The skipper was also unwavering and determined in his leadership.
From the outset of season 1966, he enforced a tough training
regime on the players. Walsh commissioned the skills of Changi
survivor, pep talker and physical fitness expert, George
Daldry to get the men into shape. The team soon hit form
and remained the front runners for the rest of the season.
St George did indeed string a few great wins together
in 1966. After a slow start, Saints thrashed the season's battlers,
Easts 26-0. Graeme Langlands was on hand to destroy Wests
30-2. He was magnificent again against Manly (34-15). Similar
score lines were also dealt to Souths and Newtown.
(top 4 in semis,
playoff for 4th)
p = Season Premiers
| AFTER 18 ROUNDS
Points For 331
(1st best attack)
Points Against 156
(1st best defence)
Points For 33
Points Against 6
| Points For 364
Points Against 162
NEW AGE OF
BEST IN 1966
of Saints' best for 1966 was second rower, Dick Huddart
(pic right) who did his best to put to rest the notion that Saints'
were finished without Norm Provan. Combining with John
Raper and Ian Walsh, the ex-British forward often ripped
through the opponent's defensive line. The younger players also
had a tremendous year. Graeme Langlands and Billy Smith
(both 23 -years-old) where the star players of the year and natural
selections for Australia in the 1966 Test series against Great
Britain. Ian Walsh, John Raper and Kevin Ryan
also gained selection as did Johnny King who made
a remarkable comeback to football after nearly severing his foot
following an accident with a lawn mower.
Sydney Agricultural Showground,
22 May 1966: The Souths match in round eight was described by the
Sydney press as the most violent Rugby League match in living memory.
After being Grand Finalists in 1965, Souths were back in the gutter
in 1966 following some club in-fighting. For some time, Souths had been
considered the thugs of Rugby League but the similar descriptions were
given to St George in the early parts of their reign.
On a rough RAS pitch, Souths set upon St George from the opening whistle.
The Rabbitohs were without at least seven key players and opted to bash
Saints out of the game. In Cricket, captains set an attacking field
- in 1966 South Sydney Rugby League, they set up a murderous pack and
scrummed down with three props.
In the first half, front rower, John O'Neill was sent off
for kneeing Saints' Barry Beath in the back. Champion back rower,
John Sattler made it his quest to knock out Saints' hooker, Ian
The St George skipper was copping plenty from Sattler's scrum and Kevin
Ryan and Robin Gourley wanted to drag Sattler into the
scrum and deal with him accordingly but Walsh wouldn't have a bar of
it for fear of the match getting totally out of hand. After being head
butted, Kevin Ryan went toe-to-toe with his attacker, Richie
Powell. Both men were sent off. By fulltime, the fight was over
as was the match, won convincingly by St George 33-5.
First win: Round 18, 21-Aug-54, Saints defeated Canterbury
Last win: Round 11, 26-Jun-1966, Saints defeated Parramatta
Number of wins: 55
Number of draws: 1 (in 1959)
LOSS AT KOGARAH
Jubilee Oval, 31 July 1966: In round 16, Wests defeated St George
12-9, marking the Dragons first home defeat at Kogarah since 1954 (Round
is almost certainly a record streak, St George didn't lose a game at
Kogarah for an incredible 12 seasons between 1954-1966.
After 18 rounds of football, Saints were once again in charge
as minor premiers and competition favourites. Despite
this, they still had their critics who pointing to an outfit
which didn't have the 'edge' of previous seasons.
MAKE IT NUMBER 11
WORLD RECORD FOR ANY CODE OF PROFESSIONAL SPORT
Cricket Ground, 17 September 1966: The Dragons completely outclassed
Balmain in the 1966 Grand Final, winning 23-4. Balmain took an early
lead after Keith Barnes kicked a penalty goal but Saints Brian
Clay struck back when he set up a movement which led to a try
to Bruce Pollard.
Click on the pic for names and larger image
The turning point
of the match came soon after when Ian Walsh and Dick
Huddart put on a set move as the Tiger's defence rushed up too early.
Walsh busted through the line and with only the fullback to beat passed
the ball to Huddart who raced 30 yards to score. Minutes later, Billy
Smith sliced through and found Johnny Raper who got
to the Balmain 25 yard line before finding prop, Kevin Ryan in
support. It was a spectacular run from the evergreen forward who out-raced
his pursuers before diving through the air to score and effectively
put the match beyond doubt.
GRAND FINAL FULLTIME:
Saints 23 Balmain 4
Scorers (St George) Tries: Bruce Pollard 1, Dick
Huddart 1, Kevin Ryan 1.
Goals: Graeme Langlands 7. Crowd: 61,129
Also having a strong
game was Graeme Langlands who kicked seven goals.
FROM THE '66 GRAND FINAL
To view video
captures of the 1966 Grand Final, click
(969 Kb) Click speaker to hear the roar of the crowd, fulltime
hooter & the marchin' song.
By the time the fulltime hooter sounded, St George had won their 11th
Grand Final in a row thereby extending their incredible run of premierships
and extending their world record for the most consecutive premiership
victories for a professional sporting team.
Ryan took up the offer to captain coach Canterbury in 1967 after
he was unable to comes to terms with St George. The law student was
regarded as one of the toughest men to ever play the game of Rugby League.
A dual international (League and Union), 'Kandos' was also a Queensland
Amateur Boxing Champion who trailed for the 1960 Rome Olympics.
Kevin represented NSW (1962-64, 7 games) and toured with
the Kangaroos (1963-64, 2 Tests). In all, the the rock hard forward
played 106 games for the Dragons scoring 19 tries.
was to become a practicing lawyer in 1970 and then held the seat of
St George from 1976-84 in the Wran Labor Government.
He went on to become the president of the Players Association
and in 1991 won an important court victory for the players to defeat
the NSWRL draft system.
Porter signed with the new Cronulla Sutherland Sharks club who are
scheduled to be in the first grade in 1967.
The prop come second row forward was an integral part of the St George
first graders. Originally from Tamworth, Monty also played for Southern
Division club, Thirroul. He also played with Wests in 1955 before finding
a home with St George. In 1960, he was a rep for NSW.
From 1958-1965, Monty Porter made 119 appearances for St George (118
games + 1 replacement), scoring 13 tries.
Lumsden originally from Kurri Kurri, first came to Saints in 1957.
The best winger of his time, Eddie was the competition's
leading try scorer in 1958 and 1962 and often notched up a hat trick
of tries throughout his career (including three tries in the 1959 Grand
A NSW rep and
Test player, Lumsden retired from Rugby League in 1966 with 136 tries
and 17 goals in 158 games for the Dragons. He later got involved in
League administration and eventually became an Australian selector.
BARRY BEATH - a quick and robust forward who hailed from
Eugowra (as did Ian Walsh). Barry had already represented
Australia in the 1965 tour of New Zealand.
DENIS PRESTON - a goal kicking winger was also signed
to replaced the outgoing Eddie Lumsden.
Gourley, a former Irish rugby union international forward came to
Saints in 1963.
He left the club after 1966 Grand Final and played in the bush after
moving to Wauchope. In all, Gourley played 35 games for the Dragons
scoring seven tries.
The sad news of the passing of George
Carstairs reached St George Leagues Club in November 1966.
'Bluey' Carstairs played 79 games for Saints between 1921-29. A local
junior from Marist Brothers, Carstairs scored 11 tries and 79 goals
for a first grade career total of 191 points.
He has the honour of being the first ever St George player to score
a first grade try when he crossed in 1921
against Glebe. In the same year Carstairs became the first ever St George
junior to play for Australia when he was selected on the 1921-22 Kangaroo
tour, playing in two Tests.
George was also at the centre of an all in brawl in a 1928 match which
became known as the infamous 'Earl Park
A digger in both World Wars, Carstairs' death was prematurely reported
whilst he was fighting in the Middle East in World War Two.
THE END OF THE GOLDEN YEARS
marked the end of St George's golden reign when they won 11 premierships
in a row, a world record in first
grade for an elite team in any sport, and
an achievement that will most likely never be equaled.
This remarkable run was achieved at a time when winning a rugby
league grand final was harder than ever before. Souths, Balmain
and Easts have claims to being great clubs of the 20th century
and their respective records speaks volumes. But a quick scan
of the statistics will show that they won the majority of their
premierships in less competitive times and often when there wasn't
a semi-final system in place.
From 1956-1966, the St George Dragons were a class above the competition.
How they maintained their dominance
for so long is one of the great sporting questions.
The players say that they felt a sense of confidence which only
comes from belonging to a well run family. They point to the weekend
BBQs and the after game drinks (at Carlton's Royal Hotel) as being
the fundamental reason behind this incredible success story. They
also point out the support of their families and in particular
the wives and girlfriends of the footballers.
As well, St George had become a rich
club which was managed in a totally professional manner; a fact
that must have had a bearing on their success.
there's the 'success breeds success' factor with almost every
young player wanting to be part of the best team and wear the
Wins 183, Losses 34, Draws 5
Total points for: 5109 (average 23.01 / match)
Total points against: 2153 (average 9.70 / match)
There is of course, the the Red V itself. Players of past
and present often say that when they pull on a St George jumper,
they feel 10 feet tall. Perhaps, it's the Red V on white background
that makes a man look larger than life or perhaps it's the tradition
which empowers the imagery. Whatever the reason, there is no doubt
that St George jersey has a strong effect on players and their
supporters. Even in the first years of the 21st century, you can
still go to the bush and find young rugby league players who want
to wear the Red V football jumper.
Although the unparalleled success of St George placed future teams
under unfair pressure, it has to be said that the golden years
set the pace for the 1970s and beyond thus ensuring that Saints
would be forever known as the MIGHTY DRAGONS without contradiction.