Three sudden death matches in seven days. That was the story of the 1984 Rabbitohs squad as they fought to keep their season alive. Their last, and toughest match, was a glorious come-from-behind win against Manly in a bitter preliminary final at the SCG. It’s a game remembered fondly by Dean Rampling... The man who yelled ‘Henry’.
‘Henry’ was the call Rampling had invented, under the advice of coach Ron Willey, to start off a wild all-in brawl in a scrum and get a psychological edge on their opponents. Rampling claims that Souths were “never beaten” when ‘Henry’ was called.
Results conspired to match-up the long-time rivals in the preliminary final. The Rabbitohs were seventh on the ladder heading into round 26 and were battling with Canberra and Penrith for the last spot in the top five.
Souths beat the North Sydney Bears 29-14 in that round at Redfern oval on a Sunday. With Penrith and Canberra both losing their matches that round Penrith dropped out of the finals race and the Rabbitohs had to face Canberra in a playoff on Tuesday. Winning that match they came face-to-face with a Manly side packed full of internationals in the preliminary semi-final at the SCG for their third sudden death match in seven days.
The boys from Redfern were immediately written off by the media, described as “cannon fodder” ahead of the match. But, in true Souths fashion, they were willing to take pride in their underdog status and go toe-to-toe with the best football players Manly could buy.
Although, Dean Rampling didn’t need much motivation to get fired-up for a match against the Silvertails.
“I think they’re about two inches above Easts - who I despise after they stabbed us in the back. They were the first club to vote us out when we got kicked out of the comp,” said Dean
“Especially after John Satter got king hit by that mongrel Bucknall. I had a gross dislike for Manly after that as a kid. It sort of carried on when I started playing for Souths. As it did with my brother and other players like Craig Coleman, Mario Fenech, Les Davidson.”
The preliminary final match started exactly how Manly wanted it to and they led by 14 after 10 minutes. Souths 1984 season was heading towards the exit. The Rabbitohs forward pack felt it was time to disrupt the Sea Eagles momentum and give themselves a fighting chance.
Rampling called ‘Henry’ in the next scrum and the SCG erupted. Punches started flying in a wild brawl that lasted more than a minute. After that the highly-rated Manly forward pack went missing and Souths stormed back to win the contest 22-18. It was a stunning week for the Grand Old Club.
“We were never beaten when Henry was called,” said Dean Rampling.
“It got blokes more worried about us than football, once they stopped thinking about football you got the upper hand on them. When the time was right I’d call Henry, get stuck into the opposition front rower and everyone else in the scrum got stuck into it.
“That time against Manly it wasn’t just forwards it was backs involved in it too. It was a big blue.”
“Blokes like Mario and ‘Tugger’ were very young. Especially Mario, he’d blow up at the wrong time, so he had to learn how to do it and where to do it.
“You wouldn’t do it every second scrum, you’d leave it and let it go. The longer you let it go, you could see it in their faces every time we packed in a scrum; “Are they gonna bung it on now?”
“While they’re thinking about that they’re not thinking about football.”