Rabbitohs legend and chairman of the Men of League Foundation, Ron Coote, shared his memories of the 1965 Grand Final this week ahead of this Saturday’s clash between the Rabbitohs and the Dragons.
In what was Coote’s first ever Grand Final appearance before going on to play in nine across 11 seasons in the top grade – Coote vividly remembers the circumstances of his first foray into the game’s centre-piece match against a record-breaking St George side that would go on to win 11 straight Premierships. The young, up and coming Rabbitohs would ultiamtely go down by 12-8.
“I think we thought we’d go alright – we beat them three times through the year,” said Coote.
“We beat them in the pre-season – and then we beat them in the first round of the competition and the second round of the competition. I think that’s why there were 78,000 people there, because they thought it was the end of the great St George era.
“But they didn’t tell the players that and they were certainly better than us on that day.”
Gallery: 1965 Grand Final Gallery
The sight of an overflowing 1965 Grand Final crowd is still among Rugby League’s most iconic images, irrespective of the very real potential for disaster that day, when thousands scaled grandstand rooves, walls and clocks to watch the match. Thousands of children sat just metres away from play.
“When you see this ground, it’s such a big ground,” said Coote.
“It’s not like your average footy field – it’s so big here that there is space on the edges of the ground and that’s where all the kids were. People were up on the rooves.
“That clock over the back there (at the old Showground), that was all people sitting on the railing on the tower over there watching the game – they were everywhere.”
The Rabbitohs will take on the St George Illawarra Dragons at the SCG this Saturday night at 7:30pm. Click here to purchase your tickets.