Posts Tagged ‘Penrith Panthers’

OK, kids. If anyone asks
“Where’s Roger?”, ..

On alert!

Roger’s secret trip to South Africa.*

Freeing Mandela?

No, … scouting for Panthers.

Phone rings, race to answer,

Wanting our place

In his clandestine mission.

Not 24 hours later

Back page headline,

Revokes our role.

No secrets in Rugby League!


* There were 4 people on this trip – Roger, Leo Trevena, Bob Boland, and Pat Russell.

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Preparations at Derby St

Freshly carpeted friend’s home.

Lounge room cleared

Cushions & stereo remain.

Small gathering, closest friends only.

Around the corner, my home

Bigger party preparations,

F & B deliveries all day for

Panthers Directors’ Christmas Party …

A sumptuous night, that can overflow.

Parallel parties, different worlds?

Different parties, parallel worlds?

The Locations

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Western side,

Steeeply banked hills,

Attracting screaming kids

With cardboard sheets

Careening towards the fence below.

Parents shout at kids, then at the ref.

Were ordered to stop, then …

Amusement from

The bloke in the singlet,

Shouting, shadowboxing, shouting

T-i-i-i-i-ge-e-e-rs, Go T-i-i-ges

Leichhardt Oval.

Tigers v Panthers, again.

Kevin Yow Yeh scores.

Phil smiles.

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Sunday, trip to footy.

Bus leaves from outside club,

Dedicated fans travelling.

Today, cyclonic weather.

Empty seats aplenty

Arriving at Redfern Oval*

Umbrellas blown inside out.

Even the grandstand can’t shelter,

Redfern Oval Grandstand 1967

Panthers fans huddle together.

Souths fans admire our devotion.

We cheer.

We lose.

Long trip home.

Soaked, sad …

But staunch.


* This game late in the 1967 season at Redfern Oval had one of the smallest attendances (1,772) I’ve witnessed. The score was Souths 14 (T: Jones, Coote; G: Simms (4)) def Penrith 7 (T: Johnstone; G: Landers (2)).

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Dragons run out:

Gasnier, Smith, Langlands, Raper, Walsh …

Stellar line-up, stellar team.

Now, the Panthers:

Moran, Fagan, Landers, Peckham, Workman …

Red V legends up-close excites locals.

Excitement intensifies as unexpected unfolds.

Final whistle.

Panthers victory!

Magical victory.

Field invaded.

Kids mob immortals**, pat their backs,

Get autographs,

Then pretend to be them.


* 23rd April 1967 – the date of perhaps the most famous (non-Grand Final) victory in the history of the Penrith Panthers. I don’t know if it is possible to adequately describe that victory here – no, it is not. The Panthers between the reigning premiers St George by 24-12. St George had been premiers for the previous 11 consecutive years, and they were the favourite team of many locals (especially before Penrith’s promotion).  Unfortunately, Reg “Puff the Magic Dragon” Gasnier – one of the original immortals – broke his leg early in the game. Apart from the moment it was an emotionally magical day. In backyard games it was no longer “I’m Reg Gasnier” it was now “I’m Grahame Moran” or “I’m Wayne Peckham.” That was an important shift.

* *Yes we mobbed the visiting legends in red and white but the real stars were the boys in brown and white – they attracted even more attention than their illustrious counterparts. Here is a picture of one of ,my favourites in action. I am not sure this is from the same game but it is a shot that characterises Wayne Peckham’s approach to defence. And for that reason it is one of my favourite images in the annals of RL.

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3rd Sunday in April, 45 years ago.

Official opening of Penrith Park.

The 1960’s mega-stars of RL

The great St George Dragons – 11 successive Premierships.

Playing in our own backyard.

Backyard is right …

Shifting sandy surface, brick block for a grandstand.

Early aerial image Penrith Park (later Stadium).

But it was still ours – Penrith’s.

We loved it then … and now!!


Here’s what the ground looked like in around August 1966 when improvement work was in full swing.

And here is how it look in about November 1966.

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The game was tense.

Solid crowd.


A commotion – the northern hill.

St John’s Ambulance men,

Running, balancing black bags,

From sideline to hill.

Whispers spread about the fate of the fan.

Sadness shaded the spine-tingling game.

Ex-Tiger Mara kicks a field-goal.


A point.

Tigers out of 1968 finals contention.


* It was heard that the fan who was attended by the St Johns boys was a Balmain Tigers fan, that he had had a heart attack.

Penrith vs Balmain at Penrith Park 11th August 1968.

Penrith 18 – Tries: Bob Mara, Mick Leary; Goals: Bob Landers (5); Field Goal: Bob Mara

Balmain 17 – Tries: John Spencer, Terry Parker, Len Killeen; Goals: Len Killeen (3); Field Goal: John McCarthy.







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It is nearing full-time.

Grand Final.

After leading,

After being the best all season.

We’re 1 point behind.

The 1966 G-grade team. See below* for the names that I can recall and a story from the PRLFC Journal.



My hands go up, props support.

Second-rowers link.

Scrum packs.

I whimper.

Opposition hooker:

“Yeah cry ya big sook, we’re the champions. SUCKED IN!!”

H-grade: Penrith vs Riverstone, Windsor Oval.

Toughen up!!!


* Here’s the names of those in the photograph that I think I can remember (would be grateful if anyone can help me):

Standing (l to r): Mick Harpley; ??; Max Cowan; Paul Bardon; Jon Trevena; Graham Leggett; John Loughnan(?)
Kneeling (l to r): Ian McDonald; Steve Cameron; Kenny Marshall; Greg Mobbs (?); ??; ??.

* The last paragraph in the story below is about the what I have remembered above. I have said H grade above  – though we may well have played G-grade for a couple of years running, I think many of us did. Other interesting points in the story are: Bruce Cameron scoring 4 tries for C-grade (Bruce is from the Cameron’s Bakery family); and a player in the E-grade scoring 2 “spectacular” tries – Des Hasler was his name. And, of course the 2 gentleman pictured … Teddy Cullen & Jim McGoogan are legends in the history of te club.

Page from May 1966 Journal of the Penrith Rugby League Football Club

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My first team – J-grade**,

Our jerseys: blue – royal blue,

3 horizontal white stripes – thin, thick, thin.

Club*** badge sewn to left chest:

Naive black panther leaping through red P
Encased by a football – blue & white,
All bounded by a blue circle,
“Penrith Panthers” in red,  circular.

Remains my favourite sporting symbol.


* Naive – because of its simplicity. It is almost childlike.

** I think it was J-grade but may have been H-grade when I made my footy debut – I can’t recall playing in an I-grade.

*** We were the Penrith Panthers until 1967 when, we changed to Penrith Waratahs. At least that is my memory – fallible as it is. One thing for sure, I played under this symbol.

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Three days after my birthday,

The Northern Hill at Penrith Stadium

The Panthers had won their previous 2 –

Possibilities(?) against the Premiers?

Manly – studded with stars.

We score first,

Then …

A procession.

Even Zorba scored!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The day the Panthers joined the Boeing Club**.

I heard the final whistle – resilience? dopiness?



* The score in last night’s between the Premiers – Manly  – and Penrith was 30-0 (Manly won). Not in the same league as the “Boeing Club” game – but nevertheless disappointing, at best. This memory was always going to be somewhere in the 365, the score last night made now seem the right time.

** The Boeing Club was, I believe, coined by the Panthers players themselves and was a humorous reference to the final score of that game – 70-7.  (Boeing 707). Mind you if tries were worth the 4 points they are today we would not have the Boeing Club – the score would have been 84-8!!

*** Perhaps there’s a need for some Focus … or perhaps some Hocus Pocus. Hocus Pocus Focus – This was released the year the Panthers joined Boeing.

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