Cleary Recalls the 1965 Grand Final

Rugby League has produced plenty of stories that are now part of the game’s folklore and Rabbitohs 1965 Grand Final winger Michael Cleary has plenty of his own.

The former sprint champion, Wallaby, Kangaroo, politician, model, wrestling commentator and Rabbitohs Premiership winning winger vividly recalls 1965 and the Rabbitohs’ stoush with a St George club on their way to a record 11 straight Premierships.

From knocking himself out, to being on the end of a Kevin Ryan beauty and celebrating a memorable season all the way through to the small hours of the morning at a local pub, 1965 may not have been the year of the Rabbitoh, but it would lay the platform for the future success of that young Souths outfit.

“We had no fear for them (St George) because we’d beaten them in the pre-season, we’d beaten them in two games during the comp and we were favourites to win the Grand Final,” says Cleary.

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“We were overawed from the excitement – we’d never seen anything like that. But they kept their pattern and kept what they had to do (and) controlled the game.”

After going down by a respectable 12-8, the Rabbitohs speedster recalls the aftermath.

“We all went to the Cauliflower Hotel,” recalls Cleary.

“We stayed there Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and we had 2SM that was playing all music for us – the poor old publican came down on Monday morning at six o’clock and said; ‘you’ll get me arrested! You’ve got all these cheerio calls coming over the air!’.”

“We went and got Bernie Purcell out of bed actually on the Saturday night – we went and got him at about three o’clock in the morning and dragged him over to the Cauliflower. He was still in his pyjamas.”

 “We had no fear for them because we’d beaten them in the pre-season, we’d beaten them in two games during the comp and we were favourites to win the Grand Final,” says Cleary.

“We were overawed from the excitement – we’d never seen anything like that. But they kept their pattern and kept what they had to do (and) controlled the game.”

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.