The Nine Network has once again bent rugby league over and showed them who is boss by ordering the round 22 fifty year anniversary match between the Dragons and Wests to a Friday night. Meaning a venue shift from the legendary Sydney Cricket Ground to the ever morbid Sydney Football Stadium.
The year was 1961 and the St George Dragons were on the verge of a record breaking sixth straight grand final triumph. It was the first of three consecutive grand final battles with the mighty Western Suburbs Magpies.
It would be two years later where arguably the most controversial grand final was to ever be played. That Dragons v Magpies clash was to be forever remembered for Norm Provan’s embrace of Arthur Summons and the cheating ways of referee Darcy Lawler.
But the minor premiers of 1961, the Magpies, had premiership glory on their minds. A team led by legendary Magpie Keith Holman who was lacing his boots for the final time.
A crowd of 61,196 saw St George blitz the Magpies 22-0 and secure the premiership for another year. In awful conditions, Wests would play simple football and keep the ball in the middle of the field. The Dragons shocked the crowd and their opponents by playing dry weather footy and blowing the black and white’s away in the opening twenty minutes.
Earlier that year, the very first televised game was played between the North Sydney Bears and the Balmain Tigers.
You would think that a Channel 9 executive would have lynched onto this fact and co-promoted the event with the Wests Tigers and play the game on a Sunday afternoon at the SCG. The true and only real home of rugby league.
But it seems that everything rugby league has given the network means nothing and now the game will be played infront of a crowd of around 25,000 at the generic SFS on a chilly Friday night. 15,000 less than what they would have done next door at the Cricket Ground on a Sunday at 3pm.
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