As the Rabbitohs and Dragons prepare to do battle at the Sydney Cricket Ground this Saturday, we celebrate 50 years since what is widely regarded as one of the game’s most significant Grand Finals between the two Clubs – the 1965 decider.
The game may have been won by St George by 12-8, but the legacy of that game, played on 18 September 1965 in front of a crowd quite literally hanging from the rafters has gone down in Australian Rugby League folklore.
The match would also prove a significant moment in Rabbitohs history – signalling the beginning of a new era for the Club.
On display that season and that day was the next crop of South Sydney super-stars – players who would take the Club to four Premierships in five years between 1967 and 1971 upon the instalment of limited-tackle football in ’67.
With now legends of the Club and the game such as John Sattler, Ron Coote, Bob McCarthy, Michael Cleary and Eric Simms all taking part in season ’65 in the red and green, there was no doubt even then that something special was brewing at Redfern, and the interest in the Grand Final between seasoned champions St George and the up and comers from Souths was justifiably high.
Officially, the crowd was posted at a ground record 78,056, however, with overwhelming public interest in the match between the at the time nine-straight Premiership winning Dragons, and the brash young challengers from South Sydney, ticket supply was exhausted well in advance of kick-off, and the real crowd figure is estimated to be somewhere in the region of 90,000 – some double today’s official ground capacity.
If the unofficial estimate is true, the crowd would be the largest crowd that South Sydney has ever played in front of – eclipsing the 2014 Grand Final (83,833).
By 1pm, police ordered the SCG gates to be shut on the grounds of safety. But that didn’t stop thousands of Sydney-siders improvising solutions to their Grand Final dilemma.
Rugby League revellers intent on seeing the Rabbitohs take on the might and experience of the Dragons scaled walls, climbed grandstands, positioned themselves on the playing surface – mere metres from play – in an attempt to watch the final game of the season.
Gate takings for the match came in at £15,000 – a record for Rugby League at the time.
Stay tuned to Rabbitohs.com.au this week as we celebrate the historic 1965 Grand Final between the Rabbitohs and St George.
The Rabbitohs will take on the St George Illawarra Dragons at the SCG next Saturday night at 7:30pm. Click here to purchase your tickets.