The South Sydney Rabbitohs are mourning the passing of former first grade player, Mr Joseph ‘Neville’ Hannah, first grade player number 509, who passed away on Wednesday at Warnervale Gardens Nursing Home, at the age of 84.
Mr Hannah was born as Joseph Hannah in 1936 in Cessnock. His father wanted to name him Neville, but his mother wanted Joseph instead, and in the end she won out. His father died when young Joseph was only three and ever since then everybody called him Neville, even though this created many problems in the future with some legal documents.
The talented half-back played all his junior football with Cessnock Goannas and he was even a lower grade captain of the Goannas. In 1959 he played one season with Armidale, but the following year returned to the Goannas when they won the Newcastle first grade premiership against Maitland.
In 1961 he represented Country Seconds against City Seconds, which ended in a 5-all draw. The following year he represented Newcastle against the touring Great Britain Lions side and defeated them by 23-18, in front of a near capacity crowd of 22,750 at Newcastle Sports Ground. The coal city also included Les Johns at fullback, Don Adams and Bob Horne on the wing, Don Schofield, Billy ‘Bags’ Owen, and a 19-year-old John Sattler, who was playing his first ever representative game. Two Lions players were sent off in the violent game, with John Shaw getting his marching orders in 56th minute for using a ‘rabbit-killer’ punch in a tackle. And the second player was Jack Wilkinson, who was sent off in the 78th minute, for using a stiff-arm tackle on Hannah. The late Frank Hyde was calling the game on radio and he gave his man of the match award to Hannah after the game.
At the end of that season Souths signed three players from that great Newcastle side, with Hannah, John Sattler and Billy ‘Bags’ Owen all agreeing to wear the red and green. Hannah’s sign-on fee was £750, while Sattler’s was only £650.
Mr Hannah made his first grade debut in 1963 against Canterbury in round one along with Sattler, Owen and five others. The club got him a job on the wharves and the two years he spent with Souths were spoiled by many on-going injuries, but he still managed to play in 41 grade games (scoring one try). Eight of those games were in first grade, and at the end of 1964 he retired from playing.
Mr Hannah then received an offer to work on the Warragamba Dam in the coalmines, and he spent the rest of his life working in the coalmines. More recently he was struck with dementia in 2013, and then had heart problems and bowel cancer.
He was a very proud man and stayed a loyal Rabbitohs fan right to the end. His funeral will be held on Tuesday 7 September at 11am at Palmdale Lawn Cemetery and Memorial Park. However, as only 10 people are allowed to attend funerals owing to Covid restrictions, you can watch it here on Livestream: https://palmdalegroup.com.au/scheduled-funerals-palmdale/. Scroll down to Tuesday and find Hannah, Joseph to connect.
On behalf of everyone connected with the Rabbitohs, we offer our deepest and most sincere condolences to the family and friends of Mr Joseph ‘Neville’ Hannah.