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Title: ... p53 - Tommy Bishop on 1973 Grand Final inc link to Cliff Watson interview

I (Quigs) Just stumbled onto this recent interview with Tommy Bishop and Cliff Watson discussing the Cronulla - Manly 1973 grand final. (23/9/2013)

Interesting comment from Cliffy about why Peter Peters was holding his crown jewells when Cliff was trying to rip his head off.

(See the famous pic) 

Apparently moments before Cliff wrapping his huge arms around Peters head, Sir Thomas Bishop had put the slipper into the groin area of the Manly Prop.

It is part of a article / interview with Tommy Bishop prior to last Friday Nights Semi Final game between The Sharks and Stinking Manly. (played 20/9/2013)

Source of Tommys Interview and Cliffs video interview.


 Tommy Bishop still haunted by Cronulla Sharks' 1973 grand final that got away

The Courier-Mail
September 19, 2013 12:00AM

RIGHT across Queensland, the seventh-tackle fiasco that shot down the Cowboys and buried six officials has elicited emotions ranging from mourning to malevolence.

In one sunny corner of Robina, though, a cheeky grin breaks across the face of a little old man from Lancashire, just as it did in the days when he was picking fights for Cronulla in the most brutal grand final ever played.

Tommy Bishop, all 155cm of him, can’t hide his glee at the turn of events that sees the Sharks, and not the Cowboys, face Manly tomorrow night in the chase for the NRL premiership.

“Well, we need a bit of luck don’t we,’’ Tommy says. “I still think Cronulla deserved to win that match but I can understand the Cowboys being upset. I would be upset if it was the other way around.

“The whole video ref thing is disappointing. The NRL should get back to basics and just have one referee.’’

Like in Tommy’s 1973 grand final for instance, when thewhistleblower Keith Page tried to sort out two brawling teams and then offered to sort out Peter Peters at the back of the Sydney Cricket Ground after the portly Manly prop called him a cheat.

Tommy has spent more than 40 years hoping the Sharks would jag a premiership – ever since the club ­offered him a lifeline when he arrived in Australia with no job and no home.

It was 1969 and, after 29 years of life under an umbrella in the north of England, the captain of St Helens and Great Britain had been lured Down Under by the prospect of warm weather and the aroma of all that fresh decimal currency wafting around Bondi.

He played the game with a flair inspired by the brilliance of Alex Murphy, the best player who ever lived, Tommy says.
Grand final 1973

Disappointed players including Cliff Watson (L) and Tommy Bishop (front) after Manly-Warringah defeated Cronulla-Sutherland in 1973 first grade Grand Final at SCG in Sydney.

In 1966 he toured Australia as halfback in a Great Britain side that confronted Reg Gasnier, Graeme Langlands, Johnny Raper and a boyish Artie Beetson.

“In 1969 the Roosters offered me a good deal, so I filled out the immigration papers, resigned from St Helens, packed up my wife and four little kids and left everything behind,’’ he says.

“After that long, long flight to Australia my friend (sportswriter) Ernie Christensen met us at the airport and broke the bad news. The Roosters had reneged. They didn’t want me any more.

“You think I was stressed? I didn’t know what to do.

“Then Cronulla offered me a start. They’d only just come into the competition (in 1967) and I thought ‘bloody hell I’ve gone from captain of England and St Helens to the worst team in Australia’.

“It turned out to be the best move I ever made.’’

Tommy was the Sharks’ captain-coach in 1973. He had brought his Great Britain teammate Cliff Watson to Cronulla as a headkicker and had 18-year-old speedster Steve Rogers in the centres. It was game on against Manly in the premiership decider.

Tommy started the fights and Watson, charging into the fray like a crazed buccaneer, finished them as rugby league’s showpiece became a bar-room brawl.

The Sharks’ prime target was Manly’s baby-faced ­assassin Malcolm Reilly.

“Malcolm broke more jaws than (boxer) Sonny Liston,’’ Tommy says. “He was a great player but a dirty player. Early in the season at Endeavour Field, Malcolm split our hooker Ronnie Turner from chin to eyebrows with a late tackle.’’

Turner squared up in the grand final, smashing his knee into Reilly’s side. Reilly was forced off but the wounded beast returned 10 minutes later panting for revenge. Gang warfare raged.

In the end, Bob Fulton burst through the body count twice as Manly won 10-7 and broke Tommy’s heart. On his last legs, he came to Queensland to lead the Norths Devils to the 1974 minor premiership.

He had further coaching stints at the North Sydney Bears, the Sharks and back in Britain before putting down his anchor on the Gold Coast in 1988.

Now a grandfather of eight and great-grandfather of one, he helps raise funds for the Men of League Foundation which hosts its annual lunch next Thursday at Brisbane’s Royal International Convention Centre. The guest list includes Wayne Bennett, Darren Lockyer, Petero Civoniceva and Alfie Langer.

Tommy will be cheering for Paul Gallen and the latest Shark hitmen the Sharks tomorrow night as they face Manly again and says they “have a great chance’’ to win the title this year, 40 years after his side came up short.

“Cronulla have been playing a very rugged and disciplined game,’’ he says, “and they have some match-breakers even if Todd Carney isn’t there.’’

He says he escaped the 1973 bloodbath without stitches, something of a rarity in his playing days, but the deep, painful wounds remain.

“You know I still have nightmares about it,’’ he says. “Forty years on I still think about the premiership that got away.

“I’ll dream about it and toss and turn about it. But every time I wake up the bloody ­result is still the same.’’

Appears in the following pages ....P53_Tommy BISHOP
Date of posting ... 23-Sep-2013
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