Remembering a few rugby league pace demons


The saying goes that you would be able to’t coach pace and that’s most likely true. However uncooked pace alone isn’t sufficient to carry a spot in first grade.

There’s nothing higher than watching a few of the trendy video games pace males tearing down the sector, leaving opposition defenders of their wake, and the sport has been blessed with quick and proficient gamers since day one.

Once I began watching the sport within the mid ’60s, almost each workforce had their marquis pace males, able to carry the group to their ft and scorch down the sideline when the ball got here their method. In these days, these flyers invariably performed on the wing, though at instances pace retailers like Reg Gasnier discovered themselves enjoying within the centres.

Many of those quick males grew to become legends of the sport, particularly in the event that they performed for a membership with sufficient sense and skill to get the ball into their arms.

On this article, I look again at two of the quickest and most enjoyable ball runners I’ve seen. They each got here from Queensland to the massive time in Sydney, lit the sector up each time that they had the ball of their few years within the prime grade and have now most likely pale from view. Whereas they didn’t play for Australia or ever actually hit the heights, to me, they’ll all the time stay two of one of the best pace males to play the sport.

Stan Gorton
Stan Gorton got here to the St George Dragons from Cairns as a 20-year-old in 1966. In all, he had six injury-interrupted years with the Dragons, performed 56 first grade video games in that point, and scored a complete of 37 tries within the prime grade.

He had one unforgettable season although, in 1968, when he completed because the league’s prime attempt scorer with an unbelievable 22 tries. Boy, did he ever gentle it up that yr.

Stan didn’t appear like your typical footballer, and primarily based on look, he most likely wouldn’t even get a trial recreation for first grade right now. He was tall and lean with sturdy legs, possibly weighing 80 kilograms, all the time impeccably turned out, and had a brylcreamed, combed-back hair fashion which was trendy on the time.

I recall at some point at Kogarah Oval the place he was required to make a uncommon deal with leading to his hair being mussed up. I watched him rise to his ft because the play continued, slowly take away a comb from his sock, return his jet black hair again to its former perfection, and put the comb again the place it got here from.

(Photograph by Albert Perez/Getty Photos)

Stan wasn’t recognized for his defence, nor was he required to make too many tackles for that matter. By 1968, the Dragons’ 11-year run of premierships had come to an finish, however they nonetheless had a formidable workforce, with gamers like Graeme Langlands, Billy Smith, Johnny Raper, Tony Branson, Phil Hawthorne and Barry Beath all enjoying inside him.

After which there was Ken Maddison. Maddison was as brutal a centre as you’ll ever need to see, and he typically performed alongside Stan. Ken was a punishing defender and barely missed his man, and was additionally very tough to include in assault, invariably bumping off the primary defender, and creating many alternatives for his speedy wing man.

It was all the time a match spotlight when the ball acquired to Gorton, and the Dragons followers invariably rose as one as he flashed down the sideline. I can’t recall him ever being run down by the opposition, and he had a devastating full pace swerve that turned defending fullbacks into greedy spectators. Gorton at full flight was a sight to behold.

Sadly, recurring accidents meant that he by no means recaptured his 1968 type and he finally retired from the massive time on the finish of the 1971 season.

Stan’s sadly now not with us – he handed away in 2013.

Arch Brown
In contrast to for Stan Gorton, try-scoring alternatives had been few and much between for Parramatta’s Arch Brown. Tall and athletic, he joined Parramatta from Queensland in 1965, after enjoying 4 video games for his state in 1964, being the one exterior again to be chosen for Queensland in every match that yr.

Sadly for Brown, he arrived on the Eels throughout a interval the place they not solely had little success – Parra made the finals solely as soon as within the 5 seasons he was there – but in addition a time the place their recreation plan was primarily a forward-based affair.

The Eels primarily performed the sport up the center, utilizing Check forwards Ron Lynch, Dick Thornett, Bob O’Reilly, Brian Hambly and Keith Campbell to nice impact, however didn’t present too many alternatives for his or her proficient backs like Brown, centre Barry Rushworth and winger Dave Irvine. Irvine himself isone of the quickest wingers to ever play the sport.

Brown was very fast, and spent a good bit of time on the skilled dash circuit. Most likely the one sooner wingers going round on the time had been Irvine, knowledgeable dash champion, or Dave Irvine’s extra well-known cousin, the legendary Ken Irvine from North Sydney.

After which, making up a really sturdy discipline, had been Manly’s phenomenal Nick Yakich and his teammate Les Hanigan, Newtown’s Reg Hatton, Johnny Mowbray from Wests, Balmain’s Paul Cross, Gorton, Warren Thompson from Norths, and naturally Souths’ Mike Cleary, a former Commonwealth Video games sprinter. Fairly a line-up, and imagine me, there wouldn’t be many faster gamers working round right now.

Brown didn’t have the blinding acceleration of the a few of these sprinters, however as soon as he hit full stride, there was no catching him. Mike Cleary famously tried to run him down one afternoon at Cumberland Oval, however he did not make any impression.

Brown was all the time a Parramatta crowd favorite, and in addition a wonderful objective kicker, able to touchdown them from the midway line, and that’s with the outdated leather-based ball simply sitting on a pile of dust dug out of the sector.

He stays fifth on Parramatta’s all-time level scoring checklist, having simply been overtaken final season by Mitchell Moses.

Sadly, Arch Brown handed away in 2018.

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