The Cumberland Throw

The Sleeping Giant Awakens – Pete’s Parra History

The coming season promises to be a massive one as the Eels prepare to celebrate their 70th birthday. Here at TCT, our mantra has been to share Parramatta’s rich history and bright future with our readers. What better way to do so than by accessing the memories of fellow fans. Today, we’re proud to publish the first post from Parra Pete – a great supporter with a wealth of memories. We hope you enjoy it.

 

The sleeping giant of the then NSW Rugby League began to stir at the end of the fifties, and by 1962 – the giant finally opened its eyes, giving new hope and encouragement for a huge fan base in the Western Suburbs of Sydney. Finally, after 14 years of no results, a glimmer of what was to become a powerhouse of Rugby League was appearing for Parramatta’s legion of supporters.

Jack Argent, the great Parramatta administrator – the man responsible for the Parramatta Leagues Club (aka The House that Jack Built) realised that for the Rugby League Club to be competitive, it needed to be able to compete on a level financial field.

The Colonel - Jack Argent

The Colonel – Jack Argent

The Club build up commenced in 1960, when Argent, who was Manager of the 1959-60 Kangaroos, signed Kangaroo centre Ron Boden to the Club for the 1960 season and beyond, and added Paul Pyers a goal kicking centre from Queensland.
The pair came into the side coached by South Sydney great Jack Rayner – and included ‘ageing’ stars like Martin Gallagher (ex Souths), winger Kevin Hole (ex St George) a strong front row of Roy Fisher, Billy Rayner, and Noel (Storky) Cornwall. Also in the line-up were two promising locally produced juniors, Robin Gair (half back) and Brian Cox (fullback) and hopes were high for a good season.
Trial form in the lead-up to the competition proper, was excellent – so much so that the Club was granted MATCH OF THE DAY status for the opening round against the mighty St George Dragons – a team laden with internationals – and four consecutive premierships behind it.
Fans turned up at the game full of anticipation and hope – but it took just ten minutes for the hopes to be dashed – with Paul Pyers having his jaw smashed in a high shot by Norm (Sticks) Provan, and going from the field.  With no replacements in those days, Parra had to finish the match with 12 players and paid the price, going down 52 to 0
The dreams of a new beginning after impressive lead up form had been put back to bed, and it was not until round 11 that Parra was able to record its first victory of the season with a 15-7 result over South Sydney. Paul Pyers, who was in his second match back from his jaw injury, scored 10 of the team’s points with two tries and two conversions – tries being worth 3 points in those days.
The win was followed by three more losses, before the team managed its second win for the year – a six tries to two thumping of Canterbury at Cumberland, 30-18, with wingers Freddy Moore (3) and Kevin (Black) Hole among the try scorers, as well as new five-eighth Alan Elsworthy, who later coached in Bemboka on the South Coast,
The team finished with the wooden spoon, again, but the fans were enjoying the few and far between wins, and were starting to add much needed atmosphere to Cumberland Oval.
The old Oval had a speedway track with a high wooden fence around it. As a teenager, my friends and I enjoyed sitting, on the track, with our backs up against the fence.
We loved the Club, and it was great to run on the field at the end of the game and pat our heroes on the back, win lose or draw.
1961, again offered hope, with Ron Boden appointed Captain/coach.
The Club boosted its ranks with the signing of two players who were to become Club LEGENDS – Ron Lynch (from Forbes) and Brian (Grumpy) Hambly) on a two thousand five hundred pound ($5000) transfer fee from Wagga Magpies in the Riverina.

Ron "Thirsty" Lynch

Ron “Thirsty” Lynch

Brian was a current international, and one tough player. He was at home at any place in the pack, but in the early years played mainly second row, with the ‘tough as teak’ Roy Fisher, Billy Rayner. Storky Cornwall and Big Lindsay Armour sharing the front row engine room spots.

Tough forward, Brian Hambly

Tough forward, Brian Hambly

The Club also signed former Newtown players – goal kicking centre Kevin Considine and lock Peter Ryan but although being ‘handy players’ they were well past their prime.
Good news – and further hope for the future – was the success of the THIRD GRADE TEAM, which became the Club’s first ever grade team to figure in a semi final game.
The third grade team was Geoff Cooney, Maurie Burgmann, Rodger Ludkin, Keith Darwell, Jimmy Semmler, R (Ralph?) O’Leary.A (Alan?) Watkins (capt), Peter Matson, Johnny Gonzo, Jeff Beesley, Al Carroll and Warwick Randell, but lost to Manly 11-0.
The first grade team recorded just three wins for the year, and again finished with the wooden spoon – but the Club’s following was on the rise – and a golden era was about to emerge.
1962 – Was this true? Was legendary coach Ken (Killer) Kearney REALLY going to be coach.  You bet it was…Killer had been a hugely successful Captain/coach with St George and had been replaced by Norm Provan.
Parramatta was quick to sign him.
Ken had played Rugby Union with Parramatta Two Blues before switching to Rugby League, and was part of the famous International front row from the Two Blues of Eric Tweedale, Ken Kearney and Len Wolfe.

Ken "Killer" Kearney

Ken “Killer” Kearney

Eric Tweedale had a bar named after him at Parramatta Stadium and is the Oldest Living Wallaby. (BTW – here is a handy snippet of information – I played Rugby Union with Merrylands in early sixties, and Mr Tweedale was our coach.  Lovely man then, great man now)
Good news followed the signing of Ken Kearney –. Bob Bugden who had figured prominently in the Dragons run of premierships also came along with another Dragon, centre Geoff Weekes.
The  Club added experienced prop Noel (Tombstone) Dolton from Newtown..Big Tombstone had been one of the Bluebags players on ‘strike’ at the time, and Parra was more than pleased to get him on board.
The Club also made a brilliant pick up in five-eight Leo Toohey from South Sydney at bargain price transfer fee of fifty pounds ($100).
Leo was purchased for ‘depth’.He was behind Robin Gair and Bobby Bugden in the pecking order for the halves. It took him seven games to crack a first grade spot, but when he did, he formed a great combination with Bugden.
Leo made his debut at the same time as the Club’s GREATEST EVER signing (in my opinion), the man who was to become known as The Mayor – Ken Thornett. They both played in First Grade for the first time at Leichhardt Oval against Balmain Tigers – and I was privileged to be part of the crowd on that day.
Leo added a spark to the attack – and well, Kenny Thornett – what can I say  – “I have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord”.

The great Ken Thornett

The great Ken Thornett

His presence at the back of the side, his mere physical presence – and his ability to catch and run the ball back at pace (and with the size of a prop), let everyone know on that day, that something special was about to happen. Something that would change the way we saw OUR football Club.
The Mayor was only with the Club for seven games that season, with a six wins and one draw record.
His influence on the side was enough to get it into the Top Four in First Grade for the first time EVER.
However, on his return to Leeds to see out the remainder of his Pommy contract, the team didn’t win another game that season.
Clive Crawley, Keith Griffiths, Paul Pyers and Brian Cox all had a crack at fullback in Ken’s absence – but they could not fill the void left by the Mayor.
Wests eliminated Parra from the final series with a 6-0 win in the semi-final, both Magpie tries scored by Gil Macdougall (father of Adam Macdougall).
Gil was an excellent centre,  moving to the Magpies after playing with the Balmain Tigers.
One game that sticks out in my mind that season, was the game at Cumberland Oval when Parramatta, for one of the very few times in its history, toppled the mighty St George 19-8.
The match was played before a PACKED Cumberland crowd – a record number attended forcing an early closure of the gates. Ken Foord set the joint alight scoring a try from one of his trade mark interceptions, his pommy mate, flyweight Mike Jackson on the other wing also scored, before Brian Hambly crashed his way over to put the full stop on the result.
Second rower Peter Matson had a terrific day with the boot landing five goals (from all over the place) from his five shots.
It wasn’t a premiership, but the crowd reacted like it was.
The famous Parra, CLAP CLAP CLAP chant had the old grandstand rocking. The barracking caused the hairs on the back of the neck to stand on end, and the reception the team received at the sounding of the full time siren was something that I will never forget.
Amazing….it was enough to AWAKEN THE SLEEPING GIANT…

(to be continued)

 

Parra Pete

 

38
Click Here to Reply ...

avatar
15 Comment threads
23 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
6 Comment authors
RowdyAlan SuttonTrapped in the 1970'sParra Pete, HayParramatta Tragic Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Grunta
Guest
Grunta

Thanks Pete, a great read.
Looking forward to the next instalment.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

I was at the cricket ground for that match sitting in the m a noble stand and thought the score was 52 to
Nil ???

Parra Pete, Hay
Guest
Parra Pete, Hay

It was 52-0….Sorry, a typo…lol…..

Parra Pete, Hay
Guest
Parra Pete, Hay

wasn’t it an exciting era mate, being a supporter of a team of battlers. Being parochial, loud and proud. I was an ‘early’ teenager and that era certainly shaped the adult I became…giving me a strong sense of mateship and hope…Loved it..

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

After that historic game beating stg 19 ,8 kearney didnt say a word he just walked around the room and helped every player take his boots and socks of and patted them on the head as recognition and thanks , i saw that myself !

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

Mike jackson the pommy speedster used to wear blue footy boots , therin lies the story he showed them to me once and told me they were not footy boots but running shoes , he simply had the spikes removed and replaced by studs

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

Agree mate ,footy was a real game then with real characters and real men , no prima donnas then . God i miss it

Parra Pete, Hay
Guest
Parra Pete, Hay

This is the story of the match that appeared in the Daily Telegraph on Monday May 21, 1962 PARRAMATTA ON A SCORING SPREE A scoring spree in the first 25 minutes yesterday gave Parramatta a convincing Rugby League victory against Balmain at Leichhardt Oval. Parramatta won 26-17 after leading 23-5 at half time. Parramatta streaked to a 20-0 lead with four converted tries in the opening 25 minutes of the game. In this period Parramatta combined superbly to run through a scattered Balmain defence. In the second half Balmain took charge and gradually whittled down the big Parramatta lead. Parramatta… Read more »

Parra Pete, Hay
Guest
Parra Pete, Hay

Mike Jackson. Here is a story on Mike which appeared in Sydney afternoon paper The Daily Mirror May 7, 1962 CURED OF ITCHY FEET Jackson to stay here for good by James Wilesmith Mike Jackson, Parramatta Rugby League club’s globe trotting winger has finally decided to settle down. Jackson has had itchy feet since he completed his stint in National Service in the British Army where he first got his first taste of travel. Coming from the Robin Hood county of Nottinghamshire, like the Merry Men, he like to rove and has been doing so in the English Off season.… Read more »

Bubbles
Guest
Bubbles

On your original post mate re jack argent signing ron boden he did it underhanded while on tour as manager and there was hell to play for it from the other clubs , jack was barred from being involved with rep team again !!

Parra Pete, Hay
Guest
Parra Pete, Hay

Yeah I remember that Bubbles..I remember him getting into strife over it…but I don’t think it worried him too much…;lol.
Thanks for the feedback…

Parramatta Tragic
Guest
Parramatta Tragic

This is great stuff Parra Pete. Thanks very much for your time in putting this together. I was only a youngster in the early 60’s and reading this is a terrific education and thoroughly enjoyable. You mentioned Bob Mara in your commentary. Is that Les Mara’s dad?

Parra Pete, Hay
Guest
Parra Pete, Hay

I am pretty sure Bob Mara is Le Mara’s father. TheTigers had Bob Mara and Bob Mack. I am glad you enjoy reading it…As I have posted, the Parramatta Club was such a big part of my life. I have six great mates and we never missed a match..Loved them then, love them still. One of my favourite characters at the Club was Bazil Cohen. Bazil was a great worker for the Club and sold ‘doubles’ at Cumberland on match days. We got to know Bazil very well. He was the son of Norman Cohen, the owner of Lord Fury… Read more »

Rowdy
Guest
Rowdy

Parra Pete, what wonderful history you’ve recalled and collected, thanks cobber I’ve truly loved them all. I also noticed you mention K. Goldsmith which I’m assuming is the same Canterbury goalkicking backrower who I saw make a break down the right side of the field heading for the southwest corner for what he would have believed was a certain try at Cumberland oval in about ’66 or ’67. Well “Thirsty” aka Ronnie Lynch came out of the clouds, as he often did in cover defence, left the ground and nearly put poor Kev Goldspink through the picket fence. They reckon… Read more »

Parra Pete, Hay
Guest
Parra Pete, Hay

I was a business partner with Kevin and Ann Goldspink in a Hotel/Motel here in Hay for over 20 years. Kevin is one of the greatest blokes I have ever known..Humble, caring and great mate to whom I owe a lot. We had great times together in our business which as I said lasted over 20 years. We shared plenty of interests in League, Racing and Rugby Union. Kevin introduced me to many of his former team mates and rivals. He is part of a proud footballing clan from Tumbarumba, which was coached by Don Furner (patriarch of the Furner… Read more »

Parramatta Tragic
Guest
Parramatta Tragic

With your experience and knowledge Parra Pete, what would be your all time legend Parramatta Eels team? I still wonder how on earth Dean Pay is in our “official” legends team ahead of Brian Hambly

Parra Pete, Hay
Guest
Parra Pete, Hay

Me too…It is a joke…RIP Grumpy….

Parramatta Tragic
Guest
Parramatta Tragic

What would be your legend team from 1 to 17 Parra Pete?

Parra Pete, Hay
Guest
Parra Pete, Hay

Too hard…hard to separate players of different eras. Blokes like the Thornetts, Ron Lynch, Brian Hambly could, and would, adapt to any era. I hate putting teams together like that….Billy Rayner, John McMartin, Steven Edge for example played under different circumstances than ‘today’s’ dummy halves..They were required to actually win the ball in the scrum. There were not too many better at winning scrums than Billy and John Macca. BUT I prefer to keep every player in my team of best evers….I have derived much enjoyment out of being a Parramatta supporter – and have been able to make many… Read more »

Parramatta Tragic
Guest
Parramatta Tragic

Great reply PP. One of my favourite Abraham Lincoln sayings is similar to your thoughts. ” The better parts of ones life are made up of its friendships”

Trapped in the 1970's
Guest
Trapped in the 1970's

Nice read Parra Pete. My father hated Norm Provan with a passion and it came about from two instances. The first was in the 1950’s when Provan broke the jaw of his brother-in-law’s brother – Charlie McNamara – and my father had to physically restrain his brother-in-law from jumping the fence to go after Provan. And the other was the incident that you mentioned involving Paul Pyers. The way my father told the story was that Pyers was just starting to make holes in the Saints defence and Provan came in late and broke his jaw. His recount suggested it… Read more »

Bubbles
Guest
Bubbles

Not true one bit ,norm provan put the mongrel into parra and stared the era not fearnley. I used to attend training , fearnley was a stats person and every team he coached lacked mongrel Actually ray higgs blamed and fell out with fearnley over the grand final loss when he wouldnt let them meet fire with fire and he wasnt on his own . Back to sticks ,Old story first training run norm told them all stand in their normal positions so they all went and stood behind the goalposts waiting for the conversion !!

Trapped in the 1970's
Guest
Trapped in the 1970's

I didn’t think was true either Bubbles, but once you were on the wrong side of my old man there was no coming back.

Bubbles
Guest
Bubbles

Ha ha ,bit that way myself mate

Bubbles
Guest
Bubbles

Actually in 75 when norm took them from the bottom to the semis there was a 3 way tie for fourth place so there had to be a playoff no points for against then ,parra ,balmain and wests , some one was going to have to play twice so they went into hat ,naturally parra got the short end of stick so the had to defeat both teams during the week to get in which they did then backed up to defeat canterbury at the old sports ground ,i was lucky to attend all 3 games ,we actually won 3… Read more »

Parramatta Tragic
Guest
Parramatta Tragic

Apart from the premierships, the 1975 playoffs are my fondest memories. I posted some film of the playoffs on 1ee Bubbles so i hope you caught it.

Rowdy
Guest
Rowdy

Good memories Bubbles, I was at those three games too. Didn’t we always get dudded when we played Manly during the 70’s? I also recall a bloke named Bubbles “on the door” when Billy Raynor was coach of the reggies, would that be you mate? When Sticks coached I remember he brought a bloke across named Ray Strudwick brother of Ross who could play and I don’t recall who the good halfback was who couldn’t get a start because Sticks always picked Strudwick, was it the little general Graham Murray? We also had a red headed maniac named John Baker… Read more »

Trapped in the 1970's
Guest
Trapped in the 1970's

I remember those playoff games in 1975 like they were yesterday…..but its remembering what happened yesterday which is my issue now! I went to all of those games including the SF against Manly when Branigan took an intercept from a mile offside.

1975 was an excellent year, a real catalyst for what was to happen for the next decade. The Bear was in great form towards the end of the year and sadly that was the last game for some favourites, John McMartin, Keith Campbell, Dennis Pittard and The Bear until he returned in 1980.

Bubbles
Guest
Bubbles

Anyone on here remember 1961 keith holman testimonial at sports ground , we won it but some apects of it escape my memory , easts brought brian bevan out from england so they and wests were the preferred winners but parra rainned on both there parades , any memorys. ???

Anonymous
Guest
Bubbles
Guest
Bubbles

We hung around for the presentation ,never have i seen a trophy more begrudgingly handed over to anyone, it was a setup for wests or easts and we spoiled thier day , gotta love that.

Parra Pete, Hay
Guest
Parra Pete, Hay

I remember Brian Bevan lining up in this…I didn’t go, but from memory it was a Sevens tournament… Had forgotten all about it until you posted the Program. I remember Parra won it…but that’s about as far as I can go back..Surprisingly I have NO clippings of the day, which is strange as I kept plenty of records – they are very fragile now (clippings etc) I did my First, Second and Third Years High School (in those days it was Intermediate Certificate at Auburn Marist Brothers in 1958, 1959, 1960 before doing 4th Year at Parra Marist in 1961,… Read more »

Alan Sutton
Guest
Alan Sutton

Parra Pete These stories really bring back some really good memories. I used to sit in theNorth east stand every home game and loved seeing Kenny Foord take those intercepts The game I remember or maybe should forget was against Easts (I think) maybe St George at cricket ground when we led 4 nil after a penalty kick hit the cross bar and bounced back into Parras hands and week scored but that was the end of the Eels scoring and we got trashed. Parra Pete you didn’t happen to work for the Lands Department where I started my first… Read more »

Parra Pete, Hay
Guest
Parra Pete, Hay

Al Pal….there is only one Al Pal in the Lands Department….AND that was you Alan…and yes that was me..Good old Crown Land Accounts….Hope you are well Al Pal…

Alan Sutton
Guest
Alan Sutton

PP
Obviously my memory is shot – I have obviously got two matches mixed up in my fuddled mind. 0-52 against Saints and the goal kick hitting the cross bar in another game. Oh well they were still good times as the Eels started to as you so well described it as an awakening
ARS