THIS WEEK IN FOOTY HIS­TORY

Rugby League Week - - Letter Of The Week -

1983 HITMAN HILDITCH SLAMS FOOTY BOSSES

Ron Hilditch was renowned as a hit mer­chant in his 157 games for Par­ra­matta – and he didn’t miss his mark af­ter re­tir­ing, ei­ther. The veteran quit in early Fe­bru­ary 1983 and told RLW that NSWRL of­fi­cials “just don’t care about the play­ers”. In a swipe that would still have cur­rency among to­days’ foot­ballers, he went on: “There are good men down there but gen­er­ally the League ex­pects too much of play­ers these days. The sea­son is much too long. I don’t think they have the play­ers’ wel­fare at heart at all. They talk about play­ers get­ting paid too much but when you see the work they have to do, I don’t agree.”

1990 DRAFT WAR LOOMS

The NSWRL’s pro­posed draft looked set to kick off a “long, bloody bat­tle” with the play­ers as the 1990 sea­son kick-off neared. St Ge­orge and Bull­dogs le­gend Kevin Ryan ( right), a lead­ing bar­ris­ter and pres­i­dent of the Play­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion, headed the fight against the plan. His main ob­jec­tions to the scheme were that it would be a re­stric­tion on the play­ers’ right to ne­go­ti­ate with whomever they wished, would re­strict their earn­ings and meant they’d be forced to move against their will. He was pre­par­ing a court chal­lenge at the time and added that “a large num­ber of play­ers would be pre­pared to strike over the is­sue”. In July the League adopted it any­way, but it was killed off by a Fed­eral Court de­ci­sion in 1991.

1998 MARY SPRUIKS A MERGER

Illawarra skip­per Paul McGre­gor must’ve had a touch of the Nostradamuses when he spoke to RLW be­fore the ’98 sea­son. He led calls for Syd­ney clubs to merge with the Steel­ers, with the NRL look­ing to cut sides from the re­uni­fied, 20-team comp. But he had one con­di­tion: “If we have to merge, we must play out of Wol­lon­gong . . . we would have a large sup­porter base to draw upon and the me­dia cov­er­age is ex­ten­sive.” The gun cen­tre’s crys­tal ball was work­ing, but he was off about one facet of the plan. Of course, the Dragons joined the Steel­ers in league’s fi rst merger on Septem­ber 23 that year, but while they play some games out of the ’Gong, the bulk are played in Syd­ney.

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