Friday, August 5, 2011


It might be 50 years since the 1961 Grand Final decider but Noel Kelly and Arthur Summons can clearly recall the great battles between Western Suburbs Magpies and St George Dragons.

Wests Tigers will commemorate the 1961 Grand Final, won 22-0 by the Dragons, at the Sydney Football Stadium this Friday, August 5, as part of its pre-match entertainment for the clash against St George-Illawarra Dragons.

The Magpies and the Dragons were the two best sides of 1961 after the preliminary rounds as equal leaders.

Western Suburbs claimed all but the first grade premiership in 1961, winning the reserve grade and third grade titles as well as the club championship for the second straight year.

Kelly and Summons spoke to this week about the ’61 Grand Final and recalled some of their great memories.

Wests Tigers will wear a commemorative Wests Magpies heritage strip for the game.

We won everything in ’61 but the first grade title. Jack Fitzgerald was the coach but you will find that Harry Wells, Kel O’Shea, Nev ‘Boxhead’ Charlton and Mark Patch were all about to retire. I had a crook knee and it was my first year after coming down from Qld.

It was my second year at Wests. I couldn’t make first grade because I kept losing the ball.

He couldn’t feed the scrum (laughing).

I never improved either (laughing)…’61 was a pretty hard year for me because I was re-learning the game after going to rugby union. I played league as a kid. In rugby, as soon as you hit the ground you let the ball go because they would ruck over you.I was pretty ordinary at retaining the ball when I came back. I had to improve in ‘61 or they wouldn’t have put me in any side. They swapped Keith Holman from half to five-eighth in ’61. I can’t believe its 50 years already.

The older you get, the quicker it goes too Arthur.

Noel told me once after losing a series of scrums to Souths hooker Freddie Anderson that I was the worst half-back he had ever seen. I had to agree with him (laughing). I didn’t know where to put the ball in.

I forgot to tell you one thing, Arthur. Hookers are never responsible for the ball unless they win it. I would blame the prop and then blame the bloody half-back.

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I’ll admit we got beaten fairly solidly in the ’61 grand final. They were the better side and it was the same in ’62. We should have beaten Saints in the 1963 grand final though in the mud. We had beaten them in the two rounds, beaten them in the semis, and went straight to the grand final. They were lucky to beat Balmain in the final.

I thought the mud was very good for my complexion.

You didn’t want to get any scratches from that Bulli soil. You would have had an infection for bloody months. I was worried about getting bogged because of my short legs.

You wouldn’t have found him either!

1961 Grand Final Teams
Western Suburbs Magpies: Don Parish, Dave Barsley, Bill Brown, Bill Martin, Peter Dimond, Keith Holman, Arthur Summons, Kel O’Shea, John Hayes, Bill Carson, Mark Patch, Noel Kelly, Nev Charlton (c).

St George Dragons: Brian Graham, Eddie Lumsden, Reg Gasnier, Dave Brown, Johnny King, Brian Clay, Bob Bugden, Johnny Raper, Norm Provan, Kevin Ryan, Billy Wilson (c), Peter Armstrong, Kevin Brown.

By Wayne Cousins
4/08/2011 9:49:58 AM

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