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Gordon Willoughby

An athletic winger who played in Manly's initial season in 1947. He scored 61 tries in 134 first grade games for Manly. Willoughby represented NSW in 1951 before making his Test debut against France in the First Test that year. He played in the Sea Eagles' maiden grand final appearance, against Souths in 1951, and made his last Test appearance against NZ in 1952.

Willouuhby was later a long-serving administrator with the Manly club, serving as vice-president, delegate to the NSWRL, chairman of the Board of Directors and Leagues Club Director. The following tribute has been extracted from Smith 1991, p 54:

It is symbolic that Gordon Willoughby is known as "Kandos", or the less salubrious "Cement Head", for he has been part of the foundations of the Manly-Warringah club for a lifetime. Willoughby, parochial in his love of all things Manly, was among the trailblazers who came from parent district club North Sydney to play in Manly's inaugural 1947 season.

"Kandos" had a long playing career. He began at Norths in 1941, spent three years in the Army and resumed playing in 1946. He did not play first grade at Norths, but in 134 games for his beloved Sea Eagles played out over eight seasons to 1954, he scored 61 tries. An intense man, Willoughby's bull-at-a-gate playing style didn't leave much room for error, and he was criticised throughout his playing career for less than secure handling.

But such was his drive and passion for the game, particularly under the skilful coaching of Wally O'Connell that he deserved his two green and gold jumpers against the mighty Frenchmen in 1951 and in the following season against New Zealand.

Willoughby worked devilishly hard to gain success on the football field and was renowned as one of the game's most committed trainers. "Ray Stehr once told me he used to find out how much training his opponents or teammates were doing and if they trained two nights a week he would train four, and I adopted that philosophy," said Willoughby.

"I used to train my guts out and in the off-season I was always in a gym three days a week and I used to run right up until the season started and then I would train four days a week independently. "I would have only missed about nine matches through injuries in all the years I played."

The Willoughby trademark was his flourishing swan-dive for the try-line — it was a legacy of his days in the Army. For three years he was a member of the NSW diving troupe that performed clown-diving routines before the public — he can recall somersaulting demonstrations off the Manly pier. His dives required great skill to avoid injurious landings.

He was the forerunner of players' active involvement in the club's football committee. He became a players'representative in 1949. He went on to become a club vice president in 1956, a delegate to the NSWRL in 1960, a club life member in 1964, deputy chairman in 1970 and chairman of the club's board of directors in 1988. He was also a foundation director of the Manly-Warringah Leagues Club.


Willoughby (right) as a foundation member of the Leagues Club Board

Sources:

Smith 1991, p 54.
Whiticker and Hudson 2002, p 647.


Playing against Balmain late forties.


Charging forward against Easts in 1951


Diving for the line for Sydney against France in 1951


Playing against Newtown in 1954