THIS WEEK IN FOOTY HISTORY
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.