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The events leading up to Manly's eventual win in the 1978 Grand Final replay have been the subject of much controversy and innuendo. It has been claimed ad nauseum that referee Greg "Hollywood" Hartley favoured Manly throughout Manly's long finals campaign but there is no real evidence to suggest that Hartley (a well known Bulldogs fan) was biased towards Manly.

As Arko said at the time: "They (Parramatta) winged after last year's grand final (against St George), they winged after our first semi and they are still at it. "In this game you have to learn to accept your defeats with your victories". Coach Frank Stanton said: "It sits badly with me that our win remains qualified by innuendo which is totally unwarranted. There was a lot of raw courage in that premiership, and I really resent suggestions that it was anything but a fine win." [Smith 1991, page 133.]

Manly finished equal second on the table with Cronulla, three points behind Minor Premiers Wests. Cronulla beat Manly 17-12 in the preliminary final and from then on it was sudden death. The following week Manly came from 13-3 behind to draw 13 all with Parramatta, seting up a mid week replay. In the replay Parramatta again led, this time 11-2 before Manly stormed home with 3 tries in 10 minutes to win 17-11. Manly had to back up a few days later to play a fresh Wests who had only played one game in the finals to Manly's three.

Down, but not out

'"Guts" and "courage" were key words in Manly's struggle with Wests. ... Stanton played a central role in coaxing the maximum out of his exhausted players. He was able to whip enthusiasm to such a pitch that Manly became supermen. On the field Alan Thompson was inspirational as the Sea Eagles strained for that little bit extra to reach the Grand Final. ... There were times when Manly almost buckled under the sheer weight of the odds.' [Smith 1991, pages 133-134.] But Manly triumphed 14-7 and were in the Grand Final.

In the Grand Final Cronulla went to a 9-4 lead in the second half before Manly again came back to hit the front 11-9 before a Rogers penalty squared it at 11-11. The exhausted players would have to do it all again on Tuesday, Manly's 6th game in 24 days.

'A hearty mid-week crowd of 33,552 returned to the SCG but the match was all but over at half-time after Eadie had produced a devastating first half display which completely routed the hapless Sharks. Cronulla had no answer to Eadie's blind side bursts. ... Manly went to the break holding a 15-0 lead ... with the only points in the second half coming from a field goal by Eadie'. [Whiticker 1994, page 158.]

True and worthy champions

'Manly's effort in coming through six finals finals matches in 24 days ranks as one of modern football's outstanding achievements. Under the inspiring leadership of captain Max Krilich and coach Frank Stanton, Manly built an irresistable momentum that enabled them to ignore injuries and weariness and power on to achieve their goal. With such men as Krilich, iron man Terry Randall, the cool and classy five eighth Alan Thompson and fullback Graham Eadie as their kingpins Manly were true and worthy champions.' [Heads 1992, page 375.]

Smith 1991
Whiticker 1994

19 September 1978, (Grand Final Replay).

Venue: Sydney Cricket Ground.
Crowd: 33,552.

Graham Eadie, Tom Mooney, Stephen Knight, Russel Gartner, Simon Booth, Alan Thompson, Steve Martin, Ian Martin, Terry Randall, Bruce Walker, John Harvey, Max Krilich (c), Ian Thomson.
Replacements: Ray Branighan for Simon Booth; Wayne Springall for Ian Martin.
Coach: Frank Stanton.

Manly Sea Eagles - 16 (Gartner 2, Eadie tries; Eadie 3 goals; field goal) defeated
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks - 0.
Referee: Greg Hartley.

Grand Final day 1972, from Whiticker 1994 between pages 104 and 105