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fm118 John Dallas Donnelly Memorial Day (and other related facts)

Posted by quigs eraofthebiff - Monday, March 06, 2017

#26 - John Dallas Donnelly Memorial Day (and other related facts)


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From Joe Camilleri, Sydney, Australia

Western Suburbs Magpies




John Dallas Donnelly Memorial Day (and other related facts)
Story kindly presented (upon request from Quigs) by Joe Camilleri of the Western Suburbs Magpies Fanatics
1st March 2017
You can visit the Western Suburbs Magpies Fanatics here and perhaps join the group

  - https://www.facebook.com/groups/westernsuburbsmagpiesfanatics/

You can visit the Dallas Donnelly Biff Page here

John “Dallas” Donnelly was a larger than life figure in the world of rugby league with the Western Suburbs Magpies.  

A Gunnedah boy who was down to earth and a bit of a larrikin..

On the field, Donnelly was as tough as they come and in an era where “biffing” became part of the game, and was getting out of hand.

Donnelly and co. called this the softening up period. In 1978 and under coach Roy Masters, the Magpies were Minor Premiers.

When Jim Coman, a former Judge was given the job of cleaning up the game he was put in charge of the review board for the NSWRL judiciary committee. Jim’s main task was to clear up the violence on field and along with Donnelly, Bob Cooper (Wests), Les Boyd (Wests/Manly) and Steve Kneen Cronulla, they felt the brunt of Coman’s Lengthy suspensions.

After Dallas’s time at Wests had come to an end, he went on and played a season in England before returning to Australia and taking up the job to captain coach at Byron Bay on the north coast of NSW.

On the 22nd of February 1986 Dallas whilst enjoying the local surf with some of his new team mates, suffered an epileptic seizure and tragically drowned.

The Rugby league fraternity was in mourning, players, officials, and fans alike.

Back in 2008 with facebook becoming the medium for catching up with long lost friends, creating groups from music to rugby league..Scott Morris started a group for magpie diehards called the Western Suburbs Magpies fanatics. By 2013 the fanatics page had 600 members sharing photos and stories of past moments..

The fanatics started producing their own merchandise and some magpie gear from mugs to stickers.

Now the group has over 3,500 member and have become the heart and soul behind a magpies revival as they help push a return to the NSW Cup 2nd tier..

The fanatics have gained popularity through reports in the local papers and in helping on occasion by raising funds for those in need..

The Fanatics hold an annual Back to Campbelltown Day where past players attend with magpie faithful to tell many varied stories of their time at Wests.

In 2015. The Fanatics next mission was to raise funds for the struggling Gunnedah Bulldogs, the home of John Donnelly. Gunnedah also produced two other great league players in Cronulla’s Ron Turner who became Cronulla’s first Kangaroo and Souths and Manly forward and hardman John “Lurch “O’Neill. Lurch was a 6 times premiership winning front rower.

But none is closer to the heart of the Gunnedah locals than Dallas where the family clan still resides.

Back in 2015 a formal function was held in Gunnedah on the Friday night (5/05/2015) with many a former Wests player in attendance. Jim Leis, Tommy Raudonikis, Peter Young, Bruce “The Sloth “ Gibbs just to name a few. The next day (Saturday) the Gunnedah team had a homegame. The Bulldogs whose usual colours are Red, White and Blue but were permitted to play this home match in the Wests jersey to commemorate John Donnelly.

The CRL were not in favour of the change, eventually agreed to allow this to happen.

John’s Mum Gloria who never ventures out at night, made an effort to attend this special Gunnedah Memorial Match and was presented with a jersey with Donnelly 708 (his First grade number at Wests). Overcome with joy, Gloria accepted the jumper with much emotion. Prior to kickoff for the match, jumper 708 was placed on a sideline chair with the Gunnedah Bulldogs passing on their way onto the paddock replicating the famous 1986 photo of Bruce “Bruiser” Clark striding past Johns Jersey.

The bulldogs lost the match on the night, but it was a night that will never be forgotten by the fanatics and Gunnedah residents. Much needed funds were raised with sales of the memorial jumper selling over 60 units to the magpie faithful with all funds passed onto the Gunnedah Bulldogs.

The Western suburb football club in honour of the fanatics will have their name on the official club sock in 2017..

For the past two years and to keep Dallas memory alive, the Fanatics hold A Dallas Remembrance Day at Dallas’s favourite watering hole, The Railway Hotel in Lidcombe.

Players & fans alike share and remember the great memories of John “Dallas” Donnelly.

From Quigs: "Many thanks go out to Joe Camilleri of the Western Suburbs Magpies Fanatics for taking the time to compile this story for The Biff."

Additional Article in The Northern Daily Leader
Gunnedah's Dallas a legend larger than life
By Geoff Newling - 14 May 2015,

fm117 Memories of Wembley Trips - from David Noble_Doncaster_Yorkshire GB

Posted by quigs eraofthebiff - Monday, January 14, 2013
My first vist to Wembley was in 65 Huslet and Wigan as a Trinity fan was expecting to go to see Trinity but Hunslet spoiled the party.

The next time i went to Wembley was 68 the water splash final and we were robbed even before don foxs missed kick.

An obstruction try the ref gave was never obstruction while i've got a hole in my arse. The ref decided that gary cooper had pushed john atkinson.

That changing room end of the pich was covered in water, it was like a paddling pool. The game should never been played but they had to play it because gb were flying out to oz that week to tour and the FA cup final was the following saturday.

A few weeks later the ref Mr Hebblewaite of York was found dead in a caravan. He had comitted suicide.

Trinity were the cup kings of the 60 62 63 and should have been 68

fm116 Welcome to Rugby League Scott Quinell - from David Noble, Doncaster, Yorkshire GB

Posted by quigs eraofthebiff - Monday, January 14, 2013
Scott Quinell was a big signing from welsh rugby union to the mighty wigan.  He made his debut for wigan as a 2nd half sub against doncaster.

He drove the ball in for his first ever touch off the ball in rugby league with the welcoming committee was waiting for him. Nothing dirty just a hard tackle. He got up and played the ball to doncaster.

He was seeing stars more than on the wigan team that night.

fm115 - memories of the 63 GF - going with Dad by Lawrence Walker

Posted by quigs eraofthebiff - Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Back in the 70's Geoff Foster flew under the radar a bit but he was a big favourite with me and the Lidcombe faithful. He actually made tackling really exciting and entertaining. Like he just seemed to absolutely relish the hunt, and chase his man down and throw him around.

Most people say they like to see the runing and passing. But you had to love watching Geoff Foster play in defence like he was just loving every second.

My story is one I'm hoping your readers might help with.

My Dad's passed away now but when I was about 13 we went to the SCG to watch our beloved Maggies in the Grand Final against St George. Of course it was the infamous Mud Bath (MBGF) and the st George player slides in the tackle, and instead of playing the ball just gets up and runs on to score a try.

Right under our noses in the crowd. So we went home pretty depressed.

Anyway, decades later I saw a late night show on ABC about Cinesound Newsreels and they're showing the crowd at the MBGF and you guessed it, there's shots of me and Dad with his felt trilby shouting our heads off in the crowd above the white fence.

I was at Dad's place and I thought of running back to wake him up, but you know, by the time he'd of got out of bed, but blow me down if we weren't on it again and again.

I've tried to track that footage down but can't find it anywhere. It'd make a great little souvenir for me and a great Dad who used to take me to the Boxing and Wrestling at The Stadium and all the big events of those days.

(see this link for match highlights - Thats' League in the 60's - [Quigs "I belive Lawrence's highlights appear around the 9.40minute mark)

fm114 - 1980, Radio Humberside phone in shortly before the challenge cup final between Hull KR and Hull FC

Posted by quigs eraofthebiff - Thursday, May 17, 2012

Paul Johnson
Hull Kingston Rovers .. is the club I follow



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1980, Radio Humberside phone in shortly before the challenge cup final between Hull KR and Hull FC .

A Hull FC  supporter phones in with a question for Bill Land the Hull KR  chairman.

The Hull fan asks in his thick Hull accent , Mr Land, why is it Hull FC get 10,000 supporters for a home game and Hull KR get only 5,000 supporters for a home game?

Back comes the reply from Bill Land...Well son , I will have to refer you to the bible to answer that question, brief pause, it says in the good book for every wise man there are two fools.

Phone line went dead.

Radio Humbersides studio was filled with laughter.

Game, set and the match.


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fm113 - Memories of West Hulls prop forward Kevin BoBo Watson

Posted by quigs eraofthebiff - Thursday, May 17, 2012

Paul Johnson
Hull K R .. is the club I follow



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1985  Amature club West Hull made it through to the challenge cup and where drawn at home against first division Castleford then being coached by the great Mal Reilly,and incliding in the team the Beardmore twins Kevin and Bob both Great Britain internationals at scrum half and hooker.

West Hulls line up included at prop forward Kevin BoBo Watson an ex Hull kingston Rovers second rower who had retired from the professional game and had gone back to the amature game,and had subsiquently gained a few pounds.

The game was a fearce encounter with Castleford eventually winning it and going on to lift the Challenge cup that year beating Hull KR in the final at Wembley.

During the game Watson carried out a heavy tackle on Bob Beardmore whilst he was on the ground sliding in to his back with his knees ,Beardmore was carried form the pitch,[and was injured for the rest of season and only returning in the challenge cup final its self].

Cas where awarded a penalty but there was no red card shown to Watson ,who carried on relentlesly driving the ball in to the Cas forwards and dishing it out to them in the tackle.

Mal Reilly was porwling the touch line and could be hard screaming at the top of his voice Kill that fat bastard and directing his gestures toward Watson who oblivious to this carried on with his own brand of Rugby league.

The game over, hand shakes all round and every one ajorned to the showers and then eventually the bar.Watson was standing in the bar with a pint of John Smiths bitter in his hand talking to team mates about the game,with a bang the bar door was thrown open and in stormed Mal Reilly,looked around saw Watson and headed straight for him,stook out his hand ,shook it and said that was a great game you played there son and promptly offered Watson a trail for Cas.

Watson declined and told him his pro days were over.

Proving there is always room for a hard running forward who can take it and dish it out.

Kevin BoBo Watson was a tough and uncompromising opponent on the field but a complete gentleman off it.

He died early this year of a heart attack at the age of only 47.

Over five hundred people attended his funeral including a full Hull KR team from the eighties with such greats as Phil Lowe,Mike Smith, Flash Flannigan,Steve Crooks and Cliff Wallace in attendance.Along with a host of amature and lesser known local ex-proffessionals from both sides of the city black and white and red and whites.

He left a widow and five children from 2 marrages,including twin boys who are now starring for West Hull under 12s, in the scrum half and hooker positions.


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fm112 - Memories of Keith Gittoes an Aussie Playing for HULL in the 50's.

Posted by Jeff Quigley - Thursday, May 17, 2012

Keith Gittoes,
Balmain Tigers and Hull.. is the club I follow



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I played for Hull from 1948 to 1952 and 1956 to 1957.

In the intervening 3 years I returned to Australia and played for Sydney Club, St. George, and later coached in country NSW at Barmedman being involved in the Maher Cup Competition.

When I arrived in Hull in September, 1948, George Watt was Club Captain, he came to Hull, with Bruce Ryan, in early 1947 after playing for Australia against Great Britain in 1946 in Australia. He was a great hooker, and I suppose he could be described as a personality; he lived life to the full. He still lives in Hull - he lost his wife 2 years ago, and his own health is not very good. My wife and I visited him last September.

Also with Hull in 1948 were the great Hull stalwarts, Freddie Miller and Charlie Booth; both played for England pre-war. Freddie Miller is probably the best kicker of a football I've ever seen. I'll never forget his attempt at a field goal at Batley, from his own 25-yard line, passing by the right upright with plenty of height. His success with Featherstone was based on his all-round kicking ability.

It was with players of the quality John Whiteley, Colin Hutton, Ivor Watts, Mick Scott, Tommy Harris, Bryan Cooper, Bernard Conway, the Drake boys, that Hull started to make its presence felt.

I have great memories of my time in England and every day I give a thought to Cec.(Dickie) Fifield who signed me up for Hull.


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fm111 - Memories of two Leigh Legends, Aussie Trevor Allan and Jimmy Ledgard, both sadly no longer with us

Posted by quigs eraofthebiff - Thursday, May 17, 2012

Spud Yates,
Leigh Lancs Country:
LEIGH.. is the club I follow



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In the pest week we here at Leigh have heard the sad news of the passing of two heroes, naely our favoutite Aussie, Trevor Allan and our Favourite Yorkshireman, Jimmy Ledgard. Both were outstanding players and for those of my age group true heroes. J.L. could back heel the ball over the sticks from 25 yards (or so we belived). He was the world's best full back and at£1750-00 the costliest player ever. Trevor Allan, a centre who could catch pidgeons and run through walls spent two years with us, such was his impact that we oldies used him as our yardstick, to be rated as "nearly as good as Trev", was praise indeed and a sign of true quality. Now as we mourn their loss, we who remember can still think back and smile as we replay our favourite moments from their time with us. Thanks fellers, we miss you, just be ready to play when it's my turn, and make sure that you're both wearing the Cherry and white hoops of the team we love to cheer. .


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fm110 - Memories from a young Pom watching the 1963 Roos

Posted by quigs eraofthebiff - Thursday, May 17, 2012

Kevin Blackwell
HULL KINGSTON ROVERS.. is the club I follow



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2/5/07 - SCROLL DOWN THIS PAGE TO READ KEVIN'S COMMENTS ON AND AROUND THE LAST TIME THE POMS RULED THE LEAGUE WORLD. it is a great knowledgable read... thanks Kevin for putting it together - Quigs

The 1st test series I remember was as a small boy reading about the 1962 series.

1963 was the first series I saw on TV.

The 1st test was played at Wembley, but only highlights were shown on TV, although I think Reg Gasnier scored 3 tries.

The match at Swinton was the first test I saw live.

It left an indelible imprint on me, which remains to this day.

Australia have never played better in my opinion. Langlands, Irvine, Gasnier, Raper would walk into any greatest team that I could think of.

The abiding memories are of Ken Irvine's chase down of Neil Fox, with John Stopford scoring a try.

But watching Australia that day was like watching the Harlem Globetrotters.

Raper never played better. Chang wasn't far behind. Still the best team I've ever seen.

As memorable was the 3rd test (Battle of Headingley) when the fists flew. Noel Kelly was indeed a very hard man. A scrum broke up and he delivered a couple of beauties on one of the English props.

Cliff Watson got sent off in the same game.

I have highlights of the 63 Tour on DVD and it's a prized possession.

See Memorable Matches No2

THE THOUGHTS OF KEVIN --- a great read.

We even had the Balmain Pie Eater for a few months in 1968, and Rovers fans mention him in revered tones even to this day, particulary when he chinned Ian Van Bellen in an A team game. For me McTigue and Artie were the greatest ball handlers of them all. My fave all time player is Malcolm Reilly; for Aussies it would be Artie or Ron Coote. All forwards!!! The best back threequarter was Gasnier, but I still think the greatest player I've ever seen is Alex Murphy. His try in the 3rd test in 62 is absolutely unbelievable.

It's would seem strange that we nearly whitewashed in 62 and was then on the receiving end in 63, but there are a number of circumstances why that should be. In 62 many of the English had been on Tour in 58. They had the experience, a settled team, trained every day etc. A unity of purpose. In 63 the team was breaking up and as John Whiteley said there was political decision by selectors to have in players to help different selectors. Consequently, they chopped and changed instead of selecting the 62 side en bloc. However, that doesn't diminish what the Australian 63 team achieved. Thery were the forerunners of the success Australia has achieved since.

I think the 63 team threw off the yoke, perhaps subliminal, that they were destined to be beaten. They were unlucky on the 59 Tour. Has there been a better centre partnership than Harry Wells and Reg Gasnier? I don't think so. A case of the rapier and the bludgeon. In 63 one of the main ingredients was Langlands. I know he had mightily impressed the 62 tourists when they played down in Woollongong. What a great player, plus Irvine, Gasnier and Raper.

I was too young to remember the games in the 50's and many of the early 60's, but luckily I've managed to get hold on video the series from 54 in Australia to 63 in England.

My all time Oz 13


Having to leave out Bob Fulton was the hardest, but I think Kenny was a better footballer and Sterling the best team player I've ever seen. As a partnership they were fantastic. On the 82 Tour they ran amok and remember that Kenny kept Wally Lewis out of the test team.

For England it would be:


Hardest decision was to leave out Cliff Watson. Would have him on subs bench with Hanley. I think the best 2nd row partnership I've seen was Huddart and Edgar in 62. There were plenty of good locks around at that time such as Whiteley, Karalius, Turner; but I feel that Reilly's all round game was better. For all Karalius was a tough player, Malcolm was a better ball player, could run and pass like Whiteley and was quick and hard like Derek Turner.

I believe the reason we won the 70 Series (our last) was we had a great half back partnership with Hepworth and Millward, the front row was the best we've had (Hartley, Fisher, Watson); but I believe that Reilly was brilliant. What a great player, beauty and the beast wrapped up in the same package.


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fm109 - Memories of the Jimmy Thompson - Featherstone Legend.

Posted by quigs eraofthebiff - Thursday, May 17, 2012

Featherstone Rovers.. is the club I follow



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Jimmy Thompson
Featherstone Rovers, Bradford Northern, Great Britain.

Super tough Prop forward joined featherstone in 1967, a wembley winner of the same year and in 73 unfortunately losing in 74.

During this time he appeared 20 times for great britain before moving in 75 to bradford where he continued his career helping bradford win regal trophy division 1 and and yorkshire cup awards.

Jimmy is still the only featherstone player to win the ashes against australia and as a team the the last tourists to win since 1970.

Where now?

Jimmy lives local to pontefract and can be seen occasionally at featherstone matches since his retirement as a financial advisor.

Jim still has a big interest in rugby league and will admit he would still like to
play if only his knees would let him


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