Sharks, the priv­i­lege was all mine

Rugby League Week - - The Mole - By Ge­off Prenter, RLW Found­ing Ed­i­tor

JUST OVER 40 YEARS AGO the Cronulla Sharks ap­pointed me a “priv­i­leged mem­ber”. They is­sued me with a “gold” lapel badge with the num­ber 276 on the back. Priv­i­leges were few – I ac­tu­ally can’t re­mem­ber get­ting any, not even a beer or a newslet­ter, let alone a seat at an event lunch or din­ner. I’d been a staunch sup­porter of not nec­es­sar­ily the club but most def­i­nitely the play­ers. Yes, I prob­a­bly waxed a lit­tle too lyri­cal at times in RLW.

Ad­mit­tedly, Cronulla didn’t have too much to cel­e­brate. The brides­maid in 1973 to Manly and again catch­ing the bou­quet when beaten by the Sea Ea­gles in the 1978 grand fi­nal re­play. My priv­i­leges came from gush­ing over the deeds of play­ers the cal­i­bre of Steve Rogers, An­drew Et­ting­shausen, Gavin Miller, Ken Mad­di­son and “The White Rab­bit”, Tommy Bishop. And there was Cliffy. Mean and nasty Cliff Wat­son. Just as hard for the Sharks as he was for Great Bri­tain. I still have vivid mem­o­ries of the 1970 Lang Park Test when Wat­son re­ar­ranged the fa­cial fea­tures of Aus­tralia’s Jimmy Mor­gan. His mother could’ve been ex­cused for not recog­nis­ing him. Then, an­other priv­i­lege. This one more re­cent – last Sun­day, to be pre­cise. And it more than com­pen­sates for all those that got lost in the post. I saw one of the most gutsy grand fi­nal per­for­mances in mem­ory.

Staring de­feat right be­tween the eyes with only 10 min­utes left only to see their “bad boy” An­drew Fi­fita be­come ev­ery Sharks fan’s hero. It was a try for the ages carved out of brute strength and de­ter­mi­na­tion.

Luke Lewis a wor­thy man of the match, Fi­fita close on his heels and James Maloney only a tackle away in third place for the cov­eted Clive Churchill Medal.

If only Steve Rogers had been alive to see the great­est day in his club’s his­tory.

A player and friend of his stand­ing de­served to be at ANZ last Sun­day, bask­ing in the glory he did so much to es­tab­lish.

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