Punctuality may be a virtue of the bored – but not on Grand Final Day. Just ask Rabbitohs legend Bob McCarthy, whose normally short commute to the Sydney Cricket Ground on Grand Final day 1965 was hindered by unprecedented interest in the match.
With a young, enthusiastic and talented Rabbitohs outfit bursting at the seams with future legends of the game set to take on the already legendary St George Dragons – then going in search of their 10th straight Premiership – Sydney was caught up in Grand Final fever the likes of which had never been seen before.
The sight of thousands of Rugby League revellers scaling the SCG walls and grandstands for a chance to see the highly anticipated match is a sight that McCarthy will never forget – as much for its uniqueness as for its potential to have made him miss the match.
“I just lived at Redfern in those days,” said McCarthy.
“Normally getting to the Cricket Ground was about 20 minutes straight along Cleveland Street. I always used to leave about one o’clock.
“At 2:20 I started to panic – I got down to the Bat and Ball (Hotel) – we didn’t know what was going on at the Cricket Ground, we didn’t know about the traffic.
“I said to a copper ‘I’ve got to play’. He said park your car here –I took off and didn’t envisage what was going on until I got across ANZAC Parade and saw the crowd walking back.
“I fought my way through the crowd and at about twenty to three I got through. Bernie Purcell – our Coach – was just inside the gate and he was starting to panic a bit.
“This day there were 100,000 there – the official crowd went up to 78,000, but with all the people on the ground and all the people on all the rooves and the stairs at the Showground and the old clock there – it was pandemonium.
“I remember John O’Neil and Bobby Moses had tears in their eyes just prior to the game. I said what’s up? They said ‘I just can’t believe that people have come to watch us play footy’.”
To watch the full interview with Bob, please press play on the video player.
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.