Premiers at Last!
Saturday September 16
1972 is a day revered by all Manly faithful. That
day, at the Sydney Cricket Ground, Manly finally won
the Grand Final at the sixth attempt and 25 years
after entering the competition. Manly went into the
match on the back of an unbeaten run of 14 matches
and was hot favourite to win its first premiership.
The 19-14 score flattered the Roosters, who were
trailing 19-4 with 11 minutes left. .
Easts made much of
the early running and Alan McKean kicked the Roosters
to a 4-0 lead after 12 minutes. Ray Branigan kicked
two goals to level the score at half time and kicked
two more penalty goals early in the second half to
give Manly an 8-4 lead. Malcolm Reilly was starting
to make his prescence felt and hoisted a bomb in the
58th minute for captain Fred Jones to score a crucial
try for a 13-4 lead.
Bob Fulton added a
field goal and in the 69th minute the match was
sealed when Branigan scored after lead up work from
Graham Eadie and Bill Hamilton for a 19-4 lead. Easts
pulled back two late converted tries but it was all
too late, the sea eagle had flown and the champagne
corks were popping.
Manly were champions
at long last. In the words of Bob Fulton
"everything that Ken Arthurson had done for the
club had fallen into place. It was an unbelievable
feeling. It was so exciting to finally be the
premiers. My first ever premiership was something
The celebrations on
the peninsular were enormous. As Malcolm Reilly
recalls in his biography. "We went back to the
Leagues Club and it was a very emotional occasion for
everyone. The whole district was over the moon. We
got up on the stage and said a few words and the
supporters cheered themselves hoarse. ... I went back
to the Leagues Club that Monday afternoon and some of
the boys had still not been home since
Saturday night. The celebrations were still in full
"It was just amazing. There were blokes crying,
blokes with their arms around each other. ... The
atmosphere was one of unbelievable elation. ... The
trip back across the bridge on the team bus was a
wonderful experience. ... The reception that awaited
the team was little short of amazing and the night
that followed long and liquid ..."