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Title: ... p61 - Brian Poppa Clay - first trip to watch the Saints as a kit - by PMD.. (includes p58, p61,p62,p

The game was the closest thing I had ever seen to grown men fighting up to this point

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PDM, Kindly reproduced with permission from theSaints Immortals website - I recommend you pay a visit to that site.

St George

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07/12/2003

I had been converted, christened and baptized as a Saints fan

My first trip to the 'big smoke' came about because of Dad having to attend a union meeting at the Sydney town hall. We travelled up to Sydney in Dad's old Ford Mainline Ute. We slept overnight near a beach 'somewhere in Sydney'. Dad and Mum in the front of the Ute and my brothers and I under the canopy in the back.

Dad was a pretty keen Rabbitoh's supporter and with the match of the day being Saints and Souths we boys were pretty sure we'd get to see some football. We were disappointed when Dad drove to the town hall, but we needn't have worried because as soon as he had his ticket checked he was out the side door and we were off to the game.

I was a bit of a Souths supporter up to that time. Dad and a couple of my brothers supported them so it just seemed the natural thing to do. I was seated on Dad's shoulders when I saw the teams run out. John Sattler was pointed out (easy because of the headgear), and Dad even had praise for Norm Provan, which was a big statement for him. I can remember Dad telling me how tough Provan was even when Souths had come on 'hard' earlier in the year.

The game was the closest thing I had ever seen to grown men fighting up to this point. The Saints and Souths players had scant regard for the rules and the crowd lapped it up. I remember Pop Clay (who remained a favourite of mine from that day on) tackling everything that wore a red and green jumper. He was as tough as teak and had ball skills a generation ahead of his time. He never stopped directing the Saints around the paddock and whenever he tackled the Souths forwards you could hear the wind being knocked out of them. When he was sent off I felt robbed because the Saints were losing not only the game but also most of the fights.

I remember Gasnier striding on to a ball from Billy Smith and almost gliding over the ground. The entire crowd erupted and for a kid like me (who was usually timed with a calendar, not a stop watch) it seemed as if he was running over the ground, not on it. He was pulled up short of the line in a great cover tackle that had Dad whooping with delight and nearly throwing me off his shoulders and into the crowd behind. Billy Smith and Chang never stopped trying but the game belonged to Souths.

Dad was happy, my brothers ecstatic, and I had been converted, christened and baptized as a Saints fan. I thought the Saints were dynamic in taking so much punishment and to keep coming back for more. Clay had done enough to win me as a fan for life and the sight of Langlands, Gasnier, Raper and Smith throwing themselves into attack and defence stayed with me long after we went back bush.

From that moment on I was Clay or Gasnier in the back yard with my brothers, Sattler, Coote and Branighan usually dishing out similar punishment. But, I had the last laugh that year watching the mighty Saints win another grand final against Dad's rabbits.

PDM - Kindly reproduced with permission from the Saints Immortals website - I recommend you pay a visit to that site. Link appears above


Appears in the following pages ....P58_Billy SMITH, P61_Brian Poppa CLAY, P62_Johnny RAPER, P63_ Changa LANGLANDS, P64_Reg GASNIER, P83_Norm PROVAN, P88_Ron COOTE
Date of posting ... 07-May-2003
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