Eels legends a reminder of when Parramatta could play

David Lord Columnist

By David Lord, David Lord is a Roar Expert

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    Not even Mr Perpetual Motion could move the Eels board forward. AAP Image/Paul Miller

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    Yesterday five-time NSWRL premiership-winning skipper Steve Edge had a building named after him.

    It was fitting recognition for one of the very best leaders in the code, with two premierships for the Dragons in 1977 and 1979 and three on the trot with the Eels in 1981, 1982, and 1983.

    Edge was the bricks and mortar of both clubs.

    When I look back on that era, watching the Eels strut their magnificent stuff is one of my fondest sporting memories.

    They were dazzling for 80 minutes every week, with the bonus in the shed afterwards as they doyen of coaches Jack Gibson dropped one droll one-liner after another.

    The line-up from the back – Paul Taylor, Eric Grothe, Mick Cronin, Steve Ella, Brett Kenny, Peter Sterling, Ray Price, John Muggleton, Peter Wynn, Ron Hilditch, Bob O’Reilly and of course Steve Edge.

    What a line-up, bristling with Kangaroos.

    Right across the park they toyed with opponents. Not only by their own breathtaking brilliance, but bolstered by the coaching genius of Gibson for the finishing touches.

    They beat Newtown in the 1981 grand final 20-11, Manly 21-8 in 1982, and Manly again 18-6 in 1983 – crossing for 12 tries to six.


    Edge was asked yesterday to compare his superstars with the modern era.

    “Other than being bigger, stronger, fitter, faster, more skilful – and they would beat us by 40 points – no (difference) at all,” Edge replied with a big smile.

    Always the realist.

    But I must recall two stories about two legends – Laurie Daley and Ray Price – associated with the Parramatta club.

    One of Daley’s early first grade games for the Raiders was against the Eels at Cumberland Oval.

    The teenager took on the far bigger and far tougher Eric Grothe around halfway. Grothe just picked Daley up ball and all and threw him like a sack if potatoes across the sideline.

    I was the sideline eye for 2KY callers Geoff Prenter and Roy Masters, and Laurie landed right in my lap on the full.

    The modular chair exploded into a hundred pieces with Laurie right on top of me.

    With his hand outstretched he introduced himself – “Hi, I’m Laurie Daley,” – and shook my hand. I replied, “likewise”.

    Laurie untangled himself from me, shook himself clear of the modular debris, and ran back onto the field to continue the battle as though nothing had happened.

    Before he switched codes, Price was on the 1975 Wallaby tour.

    Always a renegade, Ray was reminded by backrower John Lambie to get rid of his chewing gum as the team entered the front door of Buckingham Palace to meet the Queen.

    Happy to oblige, Ray stuck his gum behind the closest Rembrandt.

    I often wonder if that piece of gum is still there.

    David Lord
    David Lord

    David Lord was deeply involved in two of the biggest sporting stories - World Series Cricket in 1977 and professional rugby in 1983. After managing Jeff Thomson and Viv Richards during WSC, in 1983 David signed 208 of the best rugby players from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and France to play an international pro circuit. The concept didn?t get off the ground, but it did force the IRB to get cracking and bring in the World Rugby Cup, now one of the world?s great sporting spectacles

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    The Crowd Says (14)

    • January 30th 2013 @ 11:02am
      Johnno said | January 30th 2013 @ 11:02am | ! Report

      Laurie must of been a skinny thing then. Were talking like 16 or 17 here around 1986 or 87.
      Good memories , David. That Parra team of the 80’s was brilliant.

      • January 30th 2013 @ 9:21pm
        Jake said | January 30th 2013 @ 9:21pm | ! Report

        David they must have been a great team, considering they apparently only needed a starting team of 12 players…

    • January 30th 2013 @ 11:28am
      oikee said | January 30th 2013 @ 11:28am | ! Report

      I”ll tell you what, Parramatta had that team today, gee whiz.
      Now look at the misfits they have , go on, have a look. Most cant even stay on the field for 20 minutes, forget 80.

      Parramatta should be the most powerful club in Australia, they had everything, and it went pair-shaped. Hopefully they will build again, and i have been keeping a eye on Sterlo, he is still blue so i wont be holding my breath either to see them rise again. Pigs might fly first.
      Good read Lordy, was watching the Brisbane comp back then, so did not see much of Parra.

      • January 30th 2013 @ 12:08pm
        Johnno said | January 30th 2013 @ 12:08pm | ! Report

        oikee, you deathride the sharks, but have so much faith in Parramatta , turn it up mate.

      • January 30th 2013 @ 9:55pm
        Andy said | January 30th 2013 @ 9:55pm | ! Report

        Parramatta could have a great team again. All they need to do is find another great coach who has a good eye for potential.

    • January 30th 2013 @ 11:37am
      Arthur fonzarelli. said | January 30th 2013 @ 11:37am | ! Report

      They were a great side . I wonder what a 1982 vintage brett kenny would attract on today’s market – maybe $800 000 a season ?
      Paul mares was a textbook case of potentially stellar career ended prematurely by injury .

    • January 30th 2013 @ 1:30pm
      Dean - Surry Hills said | January 30th 2013 @ 1:30pm | ! Report

      Great premiership wins in both 77 (captain) and 79 with St George.
      The 2 point loss to the Doggies in the 84 GF was not a fitting end to a stellar career. 4 in a row would have been a rare feat and something that any modern day Captain could only dream about.
      Glad to see he is still as humble as ever.

    • January 30th 2013 @ 4:27pm
      Atawhai Drive said | January 30th 2013 @ 4:27pm | ! Report

      Bob O’Reilly wasn’t all that quick, but what a ball player.

    • Roar Guru

      January 30th 2013 @ 4:50pm
      Bazzio said | January 30th 2013 @ 4:50pm | ! Report

      As a Dragons supporter since 1965, ever since the Dragons lost Wynn & Edge to the Eels (Jesus wept!) I’ve watched the Dragons develop or discover so many Great (with a capital G) players that become so good that ultimately they have to leave because the Dragons can no longer afford to keep them. It makes my heart bleed! I can’t begin to name them all it seems there are so so many. I reckon that the Dragons have produced more Great players for Rugby League than all the other clubs combined.
      But then maybe I’m just one-eyed. Or maybe my medication isn’t working.

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