Les Brennan: Rabbitoh No. 421
How much is Premiership glory worth to a Rabbitoh? To John Sattler it was a broken jaw, to Sam Burgess it was a fractured eye socket and to Les Brennan it was a crushed vertebrae.
The record try-scoring winger didn’t receive the same plaudits as his Souths peers for his Grand Final heroics but his contribution to our history will always be remembered by the Rabbitohs family.
Les married his childhood sweetheart, Margaret, one week before the 1954 Grand Final and then played in the win over Newtown at the SCG, suffering a lower back injury and concussion early in the second half.
The next day he ended up in Coolangatta, but he couldn't remember anything what happened in the second half of the grand final and how he got to Coolangatta afterwards, until he read the newspaper in the morning that he was part of the winning team. The injury proved to be a crushed vertebrae.
He was told by his doctors that an operation to fix his injury had a very low success rate and if it failed could make it even worse, so he never went ahead with it.
Les always played on the right wing, and his teammate on the opposite wing was none other than Kangaroo winger, Ian Moir. Brennan scored a club record 29 tries in his debut season in first grade in only 19 games, and Ian Moir scored 21 tries in the same season.
Only two other players have scored more tries than Brennan in a season since Rugby League started in 1908 (Dave Brown (Easts) with 38 tries in 1936, and Ray Preston (Newtown) with 34 tries in 1954).
He then chose to become a referee, and refereed in the South Sydney Junior League from 1956-62, until he got tired from travelling from Blacktown to the South Sydney area. He then refereed in the Parramatta Junior League from 1962-65, and Penrith Junior League in 1966-76.
Les told us that his toughest opponent was no doubt Don 'Bandy' Adams, whom he opposed only once when Souths played against Newcastle in 1954 during Country Week at the SCG, and Adams gave him a very hard time in that game. Souths won the hard game by 30-21 in front of 24,539 spectators.
He also mentioned that he received only a modest £189 from Souths as his full payment in 1954, which is a far cry from today’s salaries.
He still follows his beloved Rabbitohs and has been a club member (No. 25544) for 15 years, same as all his children.