Season - Fulton's Premiership
|Manly recruited well for the
1987 season signing Michael O'Connor and Kiwi
international Darrell Williams. Also signed
for part of the year was Britain's test prop
Kevin Ward who ended up playing a vital role
in Manly's fifth premiership win.
Manly looked strong on paper
with a strong set of forwards including Ward,
Ron Gibbs, Paul Vautin, Phil Daley, Noel
Cleal and Mal Cochrane. Manly also had high
quality backs in Des Hasler, Cliff Lyons,
Michael O'Connor, Darrell Williams, Dale
Shearer and David Ronson.
In round 1 Manly won a
dour, try-less struggle against
St George at Kogarah with Mal Cochrane
kicking a penalty with two minutes to go to
level the match 2 all. Manly showed their
attacking potential in better light in round
two running in 7 tries against Penrith at
Brookvale to win 42 - 18, despite the sending
off of Ron Gibbs. Gibbs was later exonerated.
In round 3 Manly won a
tough encounter against Wests
22 - 11 at Campbelltown and then maintained
their unbeaten record with a stunning 26 -4
win over Parramatta at Brookvale. Michael
O'Connor starred in the 5 try to nil victory
with Ian Barkley scoring 2 tries.
After a bye in round 5,
Manly suffered three defeats in a row. The
first was against Canterbury 6 - 18 at
Belmore, the second against Souths 18-28 at
Brookvale after Phil Daley was sent off in
the first half.
The third loss against Cronulla
at Endeavour Field was surrounded in controversy.
Manly were caned 13-4 by referee Bill Harrigan in the
penalties and with Manly leading 13-12, in the final
minutes Des Hasler was sin-binned for scrum
infringements. Cronulla scored a late try to win
18-13. Coach Bob Fulton was fined $1,000 for his
infamous comment that he hoped referree Harrigan
would get run over by a cement truck.
In the round 9 Anzac day match
at Brookvale against Easts, Manly was again left a
man short when Cliff Lyons was sent off early in the
second half. In the fighting spirit of ANZAC Manly
gutsed out a solid 18-10 win. In round 10 Manly beat
Canberra by the same score at Seiffert Oval, the
match in which Mal Meninga shattered his arm on a
|Manly next accounted for
22 -12 followed by a 30 - 22 win over Norths
at North Sydney Oval in which Mark Pocock was
sent off after a wild all-in brawl. He was
subsequently suspended for 2 weeks for
"running some distance to punch an
round 13 a crowd of 25,448 packed Brookvale
Oval for the much anticipated clash with
competition leaders Balmain. Manly ripped the
Tigers apart scoring 9 tries in a 48 - 14
thrashing. Darrell Williams scored 3 tries
and Michael O'Connor and Cliff Lyons had
Manly won its sixth
game on the trot with a dazzling display of
wet weather football beating St George 20 - 6
at Brookvale. Then at Penrith Park a depleted
Manly hung on for a 12 - 10 win over the
In round 16, Manly was down 12
- 25 against Wests with 16 minutes to play before
ruuning in thre late tries to win 26 - 25 in the last
Manly then beat Parramatta 30 -
22, Canterbury 32 - 2, Souths 16 - 13 and Cronulla 30
- 8 to make it 12 wins on the trot against every team
in the competition, and 6 points clear at the head of
The crunch came at Henson Park
in round 22 when a fired up Easts came out firing
against a jaded Manly. The Roosters raced to 20 - 0
half time lead, and
26 - 0 early in the second half before Manly fought
back to make the score a more respectable 16 - 26.
Manly then narrowly defeated Canberra 20 - 18 and
trailled 4 - 17 with 20 minutes remaining against
Illawarra at Wollongong before storming home for a
remarkable 28 - 17 victory.
In round 25 against Norths at
Brookvale Manly showed brilliance in attack but
brittleness in defence as the Bears upset the Sea
Eagles 32 - 30. After that Match of "touch
football" coach Bob Fulton concentrated on
stiffening the defence and the message could not have
come at a better time. In the final round Manly were
back to their best with a rousing 26 - 8 win over
Balmain at Leichhardt.
Manly finished as minor
premiers on 41 points, 6 clear of second placed
Eastern Suburbs. Manly won a place in the Grand Final
with a tough hard, fought 10 - 6 win over the
Roosters in the major semi final.
Fatty Vautin played an
inspirational role in the semi-final needing six
stitches above his right eye he made a try saving
tackle in the second half. Fatty was hungry for a
premiership stating that: "Winning a premiership
is not a dream anymore, it's an ache in the belly.
It's a real need, something that won't let me rest
easy until I have it".
Manly, of course, did go on to
win the 1987 Grand Final against Canberra, the last
one played on the Sydney Cricket Ground. For that
story click here.
1987 Grand Final
Main sources: Middleton
1988; Smith 1991; Big League Annual 1987.