Throw Back Thursday – Thommo Turfed As Tommy Triumphs
Each week, thanks to Cryo, we look back at a significant moment in our rich history. Today, we remember a great Newtown win at Brookvale against the odds.
THOMMO TURFED AS TOMMY TRIUMPHS
Thousands of words have been written about Newtown’s minor semi-final win over Manly in 1981 and its infamous brawl. But it was a clash between the two clubs 13 months earlier that convinced many Newtown supporters that the Jets were a force to be reckoned with under coach, Warren Ryan.
The first Year of the Wok, 1980 started well enough for the Jets, with Newtown winning six of their first nine premiership matches. Feast turned to famine when all the Jets could manage was a win and a draw from the next nine. Once again, Newtown would miss out on finals footy.
Going into the Round 21 fixture, Newtown had won two on the trot but had not defeated Manly in a premiership fixture since 1973. Their losing streak at Brookvale was even longer, stretching back to 1971. Distinguished Sun-Herald journalist, Alan Clarkson gave Newtown no hope in his match preview. Despite Manly missing second-rower Terry Randall and five-eighth Alan Thompson, the Sea Eagles were within striking distance of the top five and needed to win.
Like we saw in 1981 at the SCG, the fisticuffs began from the first scrum. The Jets made a mark where it counted – on the scoreboard. Graeme O’Grady, playing out of position at fullback, effortlessly raced from dummy half to score the opening try. A second try shortly after to hooker Jim Walters saw Newtown up 10-2.
The turning point in the game came at the 25-minute mark when Ian Thomson was given his marching orders by referee, John Gocher for a head high tackle on Tommy Raudonikis. Nevertheless, playing against 12 men was no easy task. Manly had the benefit of a 17-7 penalty count which led to dearth of possession for Newtown.
Despite this, the Jets were able to extend their lead with a second-half try to Bill Noonan and penalty goals to Ken Wilson to run out 19-9 winners and break a near decade-long hoodoo. It was one of four games on the trot the Jets won to round out 1980.
Warren Ryan said after the game, “The story of this match was the fabulous defence of Newtown.” Writing in the Sydney Morning Herald, Greg Growden noted that Newtown’s defence “frustrated the Sea Eagles into constant errors.”
Jets ground announcer, John Lynch was at the game and remembers the match fondly. “After the game, Tommy’s walking back to the dressing rooms and the people in the grandstand were giving it to him. He raised his arms and just started yelling back. It was one of the best days I ever had visiting there.”
Newtown 19 (Graeme O’Grady, Jim Walters, Bill Noonan tries; Ken Wilson 5 goals) defeated Manly-Warringah 9 (Tom Mooney try; Graham Eadie 3 goals) at Brookvale Oval. Referee: John Gocher. Scrums: Newtown 10-8. Penalties: Manly 17-7. Crowd: 9452.
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