1Eyed Eel

Parramatta Eels Supporters Website

 I thought I would venture down memory lane  and if anything offer some light relief by listing ‘my toughest' players( not in any order) that played for the Eels, this is from not only media reports , but from watching these guys in person. Please feel free to add to my memory banks as to who you may think are the toughest hombre’s that ever pulled on the Blue and Gold jumper. Forwards are often the first players to think of and for good reason, but I have included some backs here as well. I have listed 20 here but would have like to have included more Please feel free to add, debate and above all have fun with this guys!!

 

  1. 1.     Ron Hilditch (“Hit Man”). Ron was an oversized rugged hooker that developed into a fully-fledged prop. Ron earned the name “Hit Man” for very good reason. His front on defense in the early 80’s was shattering to say the least. Who could forget his performance in the 81 GF, when he and forward partner Kevin “Stumpy” Stevens literally pulverized the Newtown forwards and had them looking for their mothers !, I was there on the hill at the SCG for that one and you could hear the thuds. Anyone who dared to stand in the rucks too long was fair game. In the publication (Rugby League hit men) it was quoted by an opponent ‘that when Hilditch hit you it was like the roof of your mouth caved in’. A true champion with mongrel.

 

  

 

  1. 2. Ray Price ( “Perpetual Motion”). Despite Pricey going down with sponge antics to milk penalties in the early days. He was one of the toughest forwards to ever play the game, and one the greatest lock forwards to grace the field. A fine exponent of the “Cumberland Throw” so developed in his Union days as a tactic to bring down the huge All Black and Welsh forwards.  A high work rate forward one of the few that successfully converted from Union .Was extremely mobile and fast in open play, it was his front on defense that was punishing as well. The 83 GF against Manly springs to mind. Price pulled off some of the most unbelievable tackles I have seen, two on a rampaging Chris Close and a crunching driving tackle on Noel Cleal who was making a very dangerous wide run. When Paul Vautin (On the Sunday Footy Show, a few years back) mentioned to former Manly tough man Terry Randall that Price thought he was the toughest man he played against. Randall replied “that’s funny I thought the same thing about him”. “He was so hard to bring down”. The man is a legend, good on yah Pricey!

 

 

  1. 3. Bob (“The Bear”). Eel’s stalwart and former international, Bob O’Reilly was at a career crossroads when taken under the great Jack Gibson’s wing in 81. The Bear literally re-invented himself at 32 years of age by way of a strict conditioning program designed by Jack Gibson and club trainer Mick Souter. The decision to back the ‘bear” in team selection was widely criticized by the media almost laughed at, particularly by Peter Peters! But the Bear proved them wrong and was a key figure in the Eels GF win over Newtown. I could not forget Les Boyd’s attempts to bash O’Reilly into submission in an early season game against Manly in 81. But the Bear just kept taking the ball up, bruised and battered he was still there at the final whistle and reminded all and sundry the great player he still was. An Eels icon.

 

 

 

  1. 4.  Mick Cronin (“The Crow”) big, physically strong and exceptionally gifted centre was often the target of cheap shots and other questionable tactics designed to take him out of the game; such was the concern over his ability to offload “money balls” in heavy traffic. But rarely if ever the “Crow” showed hurt, at times he was punched, elbowed, gouged across the face, you name it, but never complained and rarely put of his game. A rugged individual who was extremely difficult to put to ground due to his phenomenal strength. Tougher than many may think. One game I was at, the SCG in 1978 semifinal vs Bulldogs, the entire Bulldogs pack had a set on him, belted him, pulled his jumper over his head and belted him again, but he still offloaded. He set up two tries, scored one himself and got “man of the match” The “Crow” was one cool dude and tough as teak.

 

  1. 5.  John Baker. Lightweight 85kgs “ringing wet”,  former Magpies forward who played for the Eels in the 70’s and was part of the Eels march to the GF,s in 76 and 77. A no nonsense player who punched well above his weight in defense and attack. Baker had a head like a “robbers dog”           (sorry John), but never took a backward step and stood up to the toughest opposition forwards of that era, figuring heavily in some nasty encounters with who else but Manly! one very tough man.

 

  1. 6.     Steve Sharp. Steve Sharp was possibly one the most underrated forwards in Eels history. Lightweight by standards Sharp was the quintessential high work rate forward that was favored by Jack Gibson at the time. Sharp was another player that rarely showed hurt, fearless in attack and defense and under recognized for his ability to throw a good pass. “Sharpy” would rather take a tackle than throw a bad ball, but when he did he often featured in promising attacking movements. Bled for the Eels, one of the club’s greats.

 

 

 

  1. 7. Graham ("Shovel’s") Olling. Came to the Eels after a moderate career with Easts. But after a controversial training program that was later revealed involved steroids, built himself into a formidable prop forward who went on to represent Australia. He was an Eels stalwart who took it up to opposition forwards, characterized by his tattooed physique not common at the time was an imposing fiure, he was a powerhouse to be reckoned with.

 

 

 

  1. 8. Geoff Gerard. ("Jethro"). Superb, hard running, tackling, and skillful ball playing forward. Integral to the Eels march to the finals in 76, 77 and 78. Noted for his ruggedness and durability. Formed a much feared prop forward partnership with Ron Hilditch in 1980 characterized by sheer brutality in defense. In 1978 was named by Open Rugby as the best second rower in the world. On the 78 Kangaroo Tour he and a young Les Boyd literally tore the Englishmen apart in the deciding test. The tragedy of “Jethro” is that he left the club before the arrival of Jack Gibson and was sadly denied a premiership Guernsey. The irony he played in the Manly 82 and 83 sides that lost to the Eels.Les Boyd was quoted as saying he is “my most respected opponent” in 78. Rarely if ever down with injury or showed hurt, a truly tough man.

 

  1. 9. Brian Hambly. I was lucky enough to see Hambly toward the end of his career. My dad used to take my brother and I to as many Eels games as possible then and made special stools so we could see above the crowd. From what I saw as a kid and stories my dad told me he was a very physical no-nonsense forward who had the respect of other great forwards of the day. Represented Australia in 59-60. And 63-65. A part of Parramatta’s history and probably the Eels version of St George’s Kevin Ryan.

 

  1. 10.  Geoff Bugden (“Buggo”). Big Geoff Bugden came to the Eels from Newtown in 1982 and was just what the doctor ordered for the Eels pack. A big, hard running forward with punishing front on defense. Stood tall in the 82 grand final with his “yardage eating” running and powerhouse tackling. One moment in particular stands in my mind is when he leveled Les Boyd with a right cross, after he dog shotted Steven Edge following a scrum collapse. Bugden with Terry Leabeater formed the other half of the famous “bookends” in 1986 taking on the might of the feared Bulldogs pack. Steve “Blocker” Roach used to have unusually quiet games when facing “Buggo”. Unfortunately injuries cut short his career. Deserves a place as one the Eels toughest.

 

 

 

  1. 11.  Eric Grothe (“The Guru”). Probably going to be a controversial selection of mine if his vulnerability to injury be taken into account. The Guru’s attacking feats are well known, but it was his fearless charges into opposition forwards that impressed me as well, particularly when you saw a hapless defender go “skittling” out the back shaking his head. Would often take the heat off the Eels six with these rhino like charges. Truth is a man that size running as fast as he did was always going to succumb to knee injuries eventually. A robust ,physical defender, especially in cover. In my books very tough, and I don’t care what anyone says.

 

  1. 12.  Peter Sterling ( “Sterlo”).  Again enough said about his deeds as one of the greatest halfbacks of the modern era, no question about that. But his toughness as a front line defender no matter the size of the opponent made him the complete package. Once upon a time a measure of a half backs mettle were if they could last the distance with Tommy Raudonikous. I lost count on both fingers the amount of times that Tommy belted Steve Mortimer and even KO’d him at times, other halves struggled to go the distance with Tommy as well and “you know Tommy” he treated them with contempt. In a game against Newtown at Cumberland Oval in 1981 I saw Tommy throw everything but the kitchen sink at "Sterlo", belting, niggling, even reefing at his blond locks and jamming his head into the turf. But "Sterlo" just smiled at him and kept playing the ball. I knew then he was something special. Also rarely showed pain, a very tough little customer.

 

  1. 13. Peter Wynn. Wynn was a rising star in 1979, the far better of the two brothers in my book. But was the recipient of one of the worst “off the ball” incidents I have ever seen. I was there at Cumberland Oval in 1979 when Kurt Sorenson hit him with an elbow in back play, knocking him senseless and almost ending his career. Suffered from bruising of the brain it took him some time to recover. Wynn never gave up in his quest to return to first grade and was duly rewarded when he took the field in the 1983 grand final against Manly. On that day he was one of the Eels best forwards. My fond memory of that day was when tackling Chris Close, Close threw an arm up in a punch like fashion only for Wynn to beat him to it and promptly flattened him, penalty to Parra yoh !. A big defender and runner of the ball. One of my favorite players and tough.

 

  1. 14. Dean Pay. What can I say about Pay !!. Huge defender and the only guy to knock Glenn Lazarus into Disney land with a legitimate tackle, alas it wasn’t whilst he was with the Eels. But having said that Pay gave the Eels great service. One of the true tough guys of the game. Never said much, feared no one . and was a handy if not underrated, ball playing, running forward in open play. Played from whistle to whistle never ever giving up. Struck fear into opposition forwards who were often seen quickly off-loading when seeing Pay lurking around the rucks. Wiped his arse with barbed wire and spat six inch nails into solid oak tree’s that’s how tough Pay was !.

 

 

  1. 15.  Ray Higgs. Ray was another Eels tough man that stood up well above his weight against the toughest forwards of the era. Brutal defender not unlike Gillmeister. Was also part of the Eels pack in 76 and 77. The Eels in 76 had some very tough free for all encounters against Manly and Higgs was always in the thick of the action giving as good as he got. The Eels were unlucky in the 76 GF against Manly and Higgs was the recipient of a cheap shot from Terry Randall which broke his jaw, but Higgs attempted to play on, such was his toughness. He was one of the Eels that felt shackled by allegedly being told to not respond in kind to St George’s dirty tactics in the 77 GF, but that’s another story. Anyhow Higgs deserves a place in my Eels toughest.

 

 

 

  1. 16.  Bob Jay. Many may not have heard his name but Bob was a very tough human being. In 1978 Jay cemented his place in the Eels top line up with his ferocious shoulder charges and general rugged prop forward play, mixing it with the likes of Randall and John Harvey, Jay was not out of place in top company. Jay could match it with anyone, barrel chested a throw back from the old English forwards. Jay was a prop forward we needed at the time and delivered. One of my favorite Eels. Tough as !

 

  1. 17.  Paul Taylor. You ask why ?. Man this guy could tackle around the legs and run into the teeth of the defense, doubled for "Sterlo" on many occasions. Would tackle a telegraph pole if you asked him. Huge defender and so lightweight. Used many a time as a forward replacement by Jack Gibson. Could make a break through the ruck and pass like a halfback. Noel Cleal tried to monster him in the 83 GF against Manly but Taylor kept on coming. Wiry slight build punching way above his weight. Another rarely down hurt, or showed it. 50 Tackles against the Roosters in 81 at Cumberland in the mud. There is a classic pic of this anyone ???. Tough +++ and an all-time favorite of mine.

 

  1. 18.  Stan ( “The Man”) Jurd. Came to the Eels from North Sydney. Hard running exceptionally strong prop, who was surprisingly mobile for his size. Could defend with vigor and played the game of his life in the 83 GF,repeatedly bumping off Manly defenders and offloading. Was one of the Eels contingent in the 83 Origin game in Sydney and acquitted himself well. Another to rarely show hurt and a yardage eater. A real character of the game and hard as nails.

 

  1. 19.  Kevin ( “Stumpy”) Stevens. Another player who’s career was literally resurrected by Jack Gibson. Jack was ridiculed by the media (again) should he persevere with and eventually pick Stumpy in the GF. I could have sworn Gillmeister copied his tackling style from Stumpy. A brutal front on defender who hurt quite a few opposition players as well as Newtown forwards in the 81 GF with his crunching hits. Small for a forward, and remember him literally hobbling around Parra Leagues such was the state of his knees and hence the name “Stumpy”. After seeing that I could not believe he could play a game of footy let alone work up a canter. Truly tough man who never took a backward step and delivered the goods when needed.

 

  1. 20. Terry Leabeater ( the other half of the book ends). Terry was a very powerful forward who came to the Eels from the magpies. Formed the other half of the famed “Book ends” in 86 and served it up to the much feared Bulldogs pack. Had a modest career with Wests but gave the Eels great value with his hard no nonsense running and defense. Was much underrated and was not afraid to mix it with the opposition tough guys. Once saw him give a good account of himself against Les Davidson, normally not a healthy pastime as Les was noted for throwing some deadly knuckle. Anyhow Terry gave as good as he got and was still standing at the end to tell the tale and that was enough for me to rate him as one of the Eels toughest.

 

Others that I had not included that deserve a mention are Chris Phelan, Mark Laurie, Jim Porter, Paul Mares and the great Arthur Beetson who had seen better days when at the Eels but was very tough and enough said of the great man who’s record speaks for itself.

 

 

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bloody great blog matchreport....

top list there....

im going to add to that MICHAEL MOSLEY,  ""THE FACE OF COURAGE''.

Mick was a tough under rated player, that gave his all in every game he played, he was a gutsy bloke, n played with another bloke you have their the great PAUL TAYLOR....

And im going to add the great man NATHAN HINDMARSH in there for the courage ,commitment, n massive ticka he has...

This blog is a great one mate, youve put heaps of effort into it, im gonna have to read it a few times to take it all in n add a few more aswell...

this is a TOP BLOG for sure....

Just updated it mate, had trouble with the cut and paste thing and he didn't show up lol. Thank god you brought it to my attention or the young blokes and others on this site would be all over me like a cheap suit lol. Agree with you on Mosley, funny that I was thinking the same thing. I used to play my junior footy with Muggo, before I went to "Enfield Federals" as a second rower in West's juniors. Muggo was tough and a great defender with a handy hard running game, he was a big mother f#&ker for his day !!

How bout JOHN MUGGLETON, he was a hard nut defender, n all round tough nut.

Noted you have a few of those there matchreport, n i love you choice of Paul Taylor, mate for such a little bloke he was a real tough bloke with a massive heart n tonnes of courage

My apologies guys when I cut and pasted this Nathan Hindmarsh was part of it and it went missing. So here goes

Nathan Hindmarsh (" Hindy") 21 saved the best for last !

Just when you thought you would not get another like Ray Price along comes Nathan Hindmarsh. Not only an equal but better. Tough as teak and has never taken a backward step, or has gone down infinitum under the "magic sponge". If Hindy showed hurt then he was really hurt, which I have rarely seen. One of the Eels greatest and a true gentleman of the game. The "thank god for Hindy Mantra" is often repeated when considering the points that could have been scored against the Eels if he were not on the field. Gus Gould's comments "NATHAN HINDMARSH" speak volumes of his regard for this man's commitment to the game. Also a superb running passing forward in his hey day and could hurt you in a front on tackle. Has been playing the latter part of his career with arthritis in his feet, but true to form no complaints from the great man. An Eels legend and is a "shoe in" for my Eels toughest !

and i think FUI FUI deserves an honourable mention aswell, he has tonnes of heart n courage....

Agree x 10 on Fui!

 Agree with FUI . Glad he signed up again. RS wont be glad but only proves that he is wrong again.

Roberts should play first grade.

 Sorry , that should have been Robert should not play 1st Grade.

I have no problem with Fui and am glad you guys are adding to the blog, thats what its for. Any up and coming prop/ second rower could do a lot worse than learn from Fui on how to take the ball up with venom. I have not seen a more ferocious runner of the ball since Geoff Robinson ( the wild man) who played for the Bulldogs years back and he was a real crowd pleaser too !

Wow, amazing blog matchreport. Thank you!

I was a big fan of Michael Mosely too, Snake. 

From memory Mosely got pushed out of Parra very suddenly. Does anyone remember why?

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