Immortalised: The great career of Clive Churchill

BIOGRAPHY

Some say that Clive Churchill is the greatest Rugby League player to have ever laced a boot.

Making his way through the grades in the Newcastle competition, Churchill joined the Club in 1947, making his debut in a close 25-20 loss against Newtown at fullback in the number 18 jersey, kicking three goals.

With the ball in hand, Churchill was known to be an unpredictable runner of the ball, specialising in support playing and playmaking - effectively revolutionising the role of the fullback.

He was just as effective in defence, consistently chopping down opponents more than twice his size and acting as a great cover defender. This was particularly impressive considering he stood at just 176 centimetres tall and weighed less than 80 kilograms throughout his playing career.

In just his second season, Churchill made his debut for City, NSW and Australia, despite Souths finishing in the bottom half of the competition, and in 1950 he earned the Australian Test captaincy, leading the Kangaroos to their first Ashes win against Great Britain in over three decades.

Churchill then became an integral member of the national side and one of the star players in the NSWRL competition. He helped to lead Souths' second 'Golden Era' in the 1950s, winning premierships in 1950, 1951, 1953 and 1955, earning his nickname 'The Little Master' by legendary forward Ray Stehr.

He finished up at South Sydney with 157 career games and four premierships and continued to work in Sydney as a taxi driver, eventually returning to the Club in 1967 as head coach.

He proved himself just as handy with the clipboard in hand, winning four premierships in five years from 1967-1971, mentoring fellow Club Legends John Sattler, Ron Coote, Eric Simms and Bob McCarthy and further etching his name into Rabbitohs folklore.

In 1981, Churchill was honoured as one of the inaugural 'Immortals', and in 1985 was rewarded with the Order of Australia Medal for his contribution to the sport of Rugby League.

Churchill sadly passed away in 1985 after a long battle with cancer, with thousands attending his funeral at St Mary's Cathedral in Sydney's Central Business District.

So great is his legacy in Rugby League, that the Clive Churchill Medal has been awarded to the man of the match in each Grand Final since 1986, appropriately presented by his wife, Joyce, and son, Rod.


Hall of fame Induction: 

2002  Date of Birth:  21 January 1927 

Birthplace:
 

Newcastle, NSW  Nickname:  Little Master 

Debut Team:

Country Seconds  Date:  08 May 1947 

Opposition:

City Seconds  Venue:  Sydney Cricket Ground                     

Representative:
 
Country, City. Sydney, Brisbane, New South Wales, Queensland, Australia  Clubs: Central Newcastle, South Sydney, Norths Brisbane

CAREER MILESTONES

Premierships  1950-51, 1953, 1954
Kangaroos' Tour Captain  1952-53 
Kangaroo Tours  1948-49, 1952-53, 1956-57 
Australian Captain  27 Tests 
NSWRL Player of the Year  150-51, 1953 
Sun-Herald Best and Fairest 1952
Grand Final Man of the Match* 1954
Immortal 1981
Australian Rugby League Team of the Century 2008
New South Wales Team of the Century 2008
NSW Country Team of the Century 2008
Rated No.1 in Rugby League Week's Top 100 Players 1992
Named in NRL Team of the 1950s 2007

  CLUB CAREER

Team Competition Year Start Year End Played TriesGoalsPoints
Central Newcastle  Newcastle Rugby League  1946 1947   - - - -
South Sydney  Premiership   1947 1958  157  13 77 93
Northern Suburbs Brisbane  Brisbane Club Competition   1959 1959  13  3 29 67
Moree  Group 5 Competition   1961 1961  - - -

 REPRESENTATIVE CAREER

CITY - COUNTRYOpponent Year Start Year End PlayedTriesGoalsPoints
Country Seconds  City Seconds  1947  1947 1 - 4 8
City Seconds  Country Seconds   1948  1948 1 - - -
City Firsts Country Firsts  1948  1955 8 2 4 14
Sydney  Touring Sides   1951   1954 3 - 7 14 \
STATE Competition OpponentYear Start Year End Played TriesGoalsPoints
New South Wales  Interstate Series Queensland  1948 1957  27  4 18 48
New South Wales  - Touring Sides  1950 1955 10 1 13 29
Queensland  - Touring Sides  1959 1959 1 -  -  -
INTERNATIONAL Competition Year Start Year End Played Tries Goals Points
Australia  Tests and World Cup  1948  1957  37  10  20
Australia  Tour Matches  1948  1957  54  39  96

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