South Sydney legend Michael Cleary played in a time where players wore cotton long sleeve jerseys, footballs were laced in leather, and tries were worth just three points.
The one thing that has remained though, is the importance of Membership, with the former premiership winner reminiscing on how far the Club has come since the 1960’s.
“Rather than Members, they were supporters and I think to be a Member of the South Sydney Football Club that was worthwhile because in those days the five directors of the league’s Club had to come from the Football Club, so with limited Membership of the Football Club those directors had pretty powerful vote to get onto the board, but that was 57 years ago back when I first joined Souths in 1962.”
Cleary represented Australia in three different sports during his remarkable sporting career joining the Rabbitohs while he was trying out for the Commonwealth games. Ironically on this day in 1968, the speedy winger scored a length of the field try in the Grand Final enabling Souths to defeat Manly 13-9 at the Sydney Cricket Ground and win their second consecutive Premiership.
He was a pacey winger with a clinical finish and Cleary describes South Sydney as a big family and how important Members are to the Club.
“I first went there as an amateur because I was trying out for the Commonwealth Games so I played the first year for nothing but Souths means a lot to me, it’s a big family. Today the supporters Club is very important."
Cleary gave his impressions on the next generation of Rabbitohs players, highlighting the difference in size compared to the players of his era, using outside back Campbell Graham as the perfect example of the prototype of modern day rugby league players.
“I’m just amazed at seeing the players today, the size of them. That young bloke from Marcellin who’s just played his first couple of games last week, he is 18 years of age and he is 6 foot 3.
“I don’t believe what’s going on, look at me, I’m six foot but to compare with those, I’m a midget!”
For all the fans that haven’t yet committed to Membership, Cleary has one simple message.
“I say to all of them, try it because it is worthwhile.
“There is so much loyalty at South Sydney that to be a Member of South Sydney is something to be proud of.”