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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 special".

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 swing".

Arko remembers: "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 ..."

Smith 1991
Whiticker 1994
Reilly 1998
Athurson 1997
Christensen 1973


Graham Eadie, Ken Irvine, Ray Branigan, Bob Fulton, Max Brown, Ian Martin, Dennis Ward, Malcolm Reilly, Terry Randall, Alan Thomson, John O'Neill, Fred Jones (c), Bill Hamilton.

Crowd: 54,357
Referee: Keith Page
Scrums: Manly 11-5
Penalties Manly 9-8
Man of the Match: Dennis Ward