Warning: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that this story contains the name and image of a deceased Indigenous person.

Eric John Simms, affectionately known as ‘Ecca’ or ‘Golden Boots,’ will go down in history as one of the most significant players in South Sydney’s storied past. A key figure in the Club’s second golden era (1967-1971), Simms holds numerous records, including most points scored in a season (265 in 1969), most goals in a season (131 in 1969), and most goals in a game (11, achieved twice in 1969 against Cronulla-Sutherland and Penrith). He held the League’s all-time point scoring record until 1978 and South Sydney’s all-time club record until 2021 when Adam Reynolds surpassed it.

Simms played 206 games for Souths, amassing 1,841 points through 23 tries, 802 goals, and 87 field goals. His exceptional ability to kick field goals was so impactful that the points awarded for them were reduced from two to one. He also represented New South Wales and was an integral part of the 1968 and 1970 World Cup teams. In the 1968 World Cup, he scored a record 50 points, and in 1970, his scoring prowess frustrated the opposition to the extent that he was punched in the face by a Great Britain winger after the match.

Born on 2 August 1945 at Karuah Aboriginal Reserve near Port Stephens, Simms was raised by his mother, Gwendoline Ping (née Cook), and stepfather, Fred Ridgeway, along with his sister, Beverley, and six younger siblings. Eric attended Karuah Public School and Raymond Terrace High School, where his sports-master, Les Leggatt, taught him the art of goal kicking.


The family later moved to Sydney, settling in La Perouse. Simms’ biological father, Jack, played for the Redfern All Blacks, and Eric followed suit, playing juniors with Raymond Terrace High, Karuah, La Perouse Panthers, Souths’ Jersey Flegg, and the record-breaking Presidents Cup team, winning premierships from 1960 to 1965. Simms joined Souths’ first-grade team in 1965 and made his debut against St George in round 17, playing the remainder of the season, including the Grand Final.

At 19, Simms was a truck driver when he was graded by South Sydney. He made his first grade debut on 14 August 1965 against St George at the Sydney Cricket Ground, where the Rabbitohs won 17-8, with Simms kicking four goals from six attempts. Over the next decade, Simms became an invaluable player, known for his reliability, coolness under pressure and versatility, playing in various positions including wing, halfback, five-eighth, centre, and his most regular position, fullback.

The year 1969 was defining for Simms. He scored a total of 330 points across pre-season, premiership, and representative games. He kicked 11 goals twice in a game that year, including five field goals in just 11 minutes against Penrith. His field goal ability led to the reduction of points for field goals in 1971, and his field goal in the 1971 Grand Final resulted in a one-nil half time score.


Despite the rule change, Simms’ play and character were exemplary. He was never penalised, cautioned, or sent off, embodying the best qualities of a team player. Off the field, Simms was equally admired for his humility, fair-mindedness, and gentle nature.

Simms’ record scoring feats were the result of talent and hard work. Ron Coote recalled that Simms’ kicking ability was honed through rigorous practice. “Eric would get to training and stand on the halfway line, and Clive Churchill would stand under the posts,” Coote said.

“Eric would practice field goals from halfway, one after the other, for half an hour. Bang, bang, bang, straight over. He hardly ever missed.” In 1976, after a disappointing 1975 season, Souths decided not to re-sign Simms, declaring him ‘too old.’ He then became a captain-coach in Crookwell and took up potato farming before returning to Sydney to retire.


Simms was inducted as a Life Member of the South Sydney Football Club at the 68th Annual General Meeting held at the South Sydney Leagues Club in Redfern/Gadigal on 17 December 1975. He was also selected as a fullback in the South Sydney Juniors Team of the Century, announced at the 2008 Centenary Ball at Royal Randwick. Eric Simms' legacy is that of a gentleman and a Rugby League icon whose contributions to the game remain unmatched.


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