Sport and big business are not identical, but the sooner clubs understand that the NRL is a multi-million dollar industry and they need to run their businesses accordingly, the better our sport will be.
As a global collective all red-heads reckon they have more fun. And, if you’re like me, then who’s to argue? I’ll drop anything to watch red-heads for fun.
So thanks to an extensive backlog of footy cards, let’s sizzle along together with this team of flamin’ legends.
1. Mal McLachlan (1970-78 – North Sydney)
Said too fast and this former custodian sounds like a glamorous sports reporter. Thankfully for both the retro Bear scored the louder thatch.
Sadly for Norths fans, though, no fullback was busier. Mistaken by teammates for a red light to stop tackling, McLachlan plugged what he could. But it wasn’t enough and the Bears missed the finals in every year of his tenure.
2. Brett Dallas (1992-99 – Canterbury, North Sydney)
Apart from blistering pace, Brett Dallas also shared an uncanny resemblance to Beavis, the snarly ginger in the cartoon Beavis and Butt-Head.
And that painful Beavis squint? Well from time to time it vanished, like in 1995 when the flyer’s head glowed like an after-burner across the MCG to wrap up an unlikely Maroons series victory.
3. Joel Monaghan (2001-2010 – Canberra, Sydney Roosters)
English supporters rarely miss, so the beacon-topped Joel Monaghan never stood a chance. Warrington fans barked en masse whenever he touched the ball, and if he substituted, it was usually for ‘Seamus the builder’ in the ugly Irish gag.
And just like the sheepish Irishman, the Canberra junior’s good deeds are now largely forgotten. Five Test jumpers, three Origins and over 250 career tries all gone, thanks to one dog!
4. Ben Jones (2008-11 – Sydney Roosters, North Queensland)
The Ben Jones file should be marked, ‘never judge a book by its cover’.
Firstly, he’s not the one-time Raider forward of the same name. And despite first appearances, Roosters scouts didn’t spot the teenage star after flicking through your mum’s Welsh folk album collection.
And what about in 2010? That was him following Preston Campbell down the tunnel for the Indigenous All Stars! Flamin’ Ben Jones – legend.
5. Scott Donald (1998-2005 – North Queensland, Parramatta, Manly)
Pale-faced Scott Donald must have sizzled like a shrimp on a barbie during his early days in Townsville. But the stringy speedster’s form only got hotter as the temperatures dropped on route to Sydney and Leeds.
With a tidy 64 NRL tries to his name, Donald’s nous for the stripe delivered the Rhinos another 92, all just as memorable as his Manly exit.
With more than a waft of Des Hasler humour, ‘the Duck’ played his last in a jumper backed by two little mates, 22.
6 Greg Florimo (1986-98 – North Sydney)
Don’t stand within earshot of Greg Florimo and mention the Bears’ hibernation is nudging two decades. With a club record 285 matches, the red grizzly’s jaw still remains clenched to the hope of a Bears return.
And with more games under his belt than any other red-head, Flo also calls the shots for this fiery XIII.
7. Michael Neil (1983-94 – Western Suburbs, Balmain, Illawarra)
Another pound of flesh and Mick Neil’s wiry ankles might have carried Balmain to the 1989 title.
Poor little ‘Ginger Meggs’. He was everyone’s favourite underdog, but sadly his greatest achievement passed largely without notice.
Like a deadly ginger-ninja, Meggsy cleverly transitioned between three clubs where each jump proved a better blend than the last. Magpie black to Tigers gold and eventually on to Steelers scarlet – a curls perfect match.
8. Brad Meyers (2000-11 – Brisbane, Gold Coast)
Bad luck robbed Brad Meyers a premiership ring in his first season, although fortunes reversed a year later when the clean-shaven Bronco earned Test and Origin selection.
Then after a two-year Bradford sojourn, ‘Red’ returned as a foundation Titan where he rapidly evolved into a human fireball.
Now it’s time to pay homage. And what better way to honour the wild inferno than to reward the season’s best ginger the Brad Meyers Medal.
9. Peter Wallace (2005-18 – Penrith, Brisbane)
Cue the bagpipes. Under different circumstances Peter Wallace’s allegiance to the tartan could well have carried less weight. The Scottish international has always personified the attributes of both rough-nut and blood-nut. But mono-nut?
Almost! If not for smart work on the tongs, his ruptured testicle for the Blues in 2008 would’ve finished on a plate.
10. Keith Galloway (2003-2015 – Cronulla, Wests Tigers)
In 2005 the mere presence of Keith Galloway turned Brookie into a crazed coliseum. Possessed by red, John Hopoate zeroed in like a crazed bull and cracked his elbow on the young Sharks blood-nut.
For the volatile Hoppa it spelt the end and he never played again, but for ‘Big Red’, well, he found test and Origin fame despite the anonymity of a waxed-scalp.
11. Tom Symonds (2009-16 – Sydney Roosters, Manly)
Tom Symonds and Steve Southern are more red than a newspaper, but in this side there’s only room for one.
On the field it was ‘Bluey’ Southern’s Cowboys who won their only head-to-head clash, but that alone failed to address the pointy end of the spectrum.
So to make it easy, it was Tommy’s sauced-up image that was first to empty the red printer cartridge.
12. Lance Thompson (1995-2008 – St George, St George Illawarra, Cronulla)
No Lance Thompson story washes its face without word of his blunder at the feet of Nathan Brown almost 20 years ago. If you missed it and unco-slapstick makes you wheeze, then alert the ambos. You’ll welcome the tip when ranga first, Thomo flounders into Browny’s pass.
But surely one man’s luck couldn’t get any worse. It did, thanks to a career-long Origin snub.
13. Alan Tongue (2000-2011 – Canberra)
Tenacious and big-hearted is one thing, but maintaining a low profile with a ginger mop and the surname Tongue is another.
And back in Round 25 of 2010 Canberra fans made sure their hero’s 200th game would be no place to hide. Front and centre among the sniggering faithful was the wittiest banter ever committed to a bed sheet: “Who needs a big willie when you have a great tongue?”.
Massive laughs aside, all it did was force the rusty Raider deeper inside the obscurity of his own headgear.
Coach: Paul Vautin (1979-1991 – Manly, Eastern Suburbs)
These days he’s more faded strawberry than tomato, but with over 50 years championing the cause there’s no better front man.
So there it is, Roarers. Now it’s over to you. Where’s the missing colour?