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New chapter added to Fulton's great career

Big League Annual, October 1987, p. 14

SHEER belief in his players and an inbuilt refusal to accept defeat has finally allowed Bob Fulton to climb the Everest of coaching.

Fulton won premierships as a player in 1972, 1973 and 1976 during a fabulous career which rightly earned him a place alongside the late Clive Churchill, Reg Gasnier and Johnny Raper as one of the game's Immortals. In his first season as a non-playing coach Fulton took an Easts' side to a grand final.

Back at Manly in 1983 he repeated the effort, but again his side wasn't good enough to do the victory lap. Fulton was considered by the uninformed to be deemed a failure as a coach until he had coached a side to a grand final victory. That win is now Fulton's to cap an incredible career which started as an 18-year-old with Manly in 1966.

And the victory was rightly acclaimed as Fulton's, although Bozo refused to accept the accolades.

"This is a players' game not a coaches' game," he said. "I know coaches have to be there but very few coaches make players." Fulton timed his team's preparation to the minute. They were superbly fit, confident and fresh despite the heatwave conditions which greeted the players by mid-morning on grand final day.

It was a calm Fulton and a calm Manly side in grand final week and throughout the semi-finals.

Ironically, a last-minute defeat in the second last round of the premiership by North Sydney provided the path to glory for Fulton and his side.

"We were scoring tries at will but were conceding too many into the bargain," Fulton said. The 32-30 defeat by Norths on the bell was like a game of touch football.

"After the loss the defence had to be tightened and from that game on we conceded only three tries — against Balmain, Easts and Canberra to take the title with one try a game against us. "In the end it was our defence which clinched the Winfield Cup."

Fulton refused to single out key players. "They all did their job when it mattered and they are an outstanding side and a pleasure to coach," he said. "To a man they listened and they learned — we all did."

Fulton paid tribute to his coaching deputies Alan Thompson and Max Krilich. "They have maroon and white in their blood and we all worked towards the same cause," Fulton said. "Between us we had notched up more than 800 games for the club so there was one direction we were all going.

"But coaching teams is all about the quality of the players and Manly's were top notch. "The platform is here for the success to continue. "There are young kids coming through who will be fine players.

"The success of David Ronson, Stuart Davis and Phil Daley to come through the junior ranks and be major parts of a premiership campaign is an incentive for all kids in the district.

"If they show promise they will get a chance and this win will ensure that every youngster on the peninsula will strive to get a maroon and white jersey.

"I'm thrilled for the young players and even more thrilled for players like Vautin and Cleal who have been with me for a long time."

Back to 1987 Grand Final Index