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From humble beginnings to becoming one of the most successful rugby league clubs, the journey of the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles is an incredible story.

Granted entry into the then NSWRL competition in 1947, the Sea Eagles have won eight premierships and will this Saturday night play their 1500th first grade premiership match.

As part of our celebrations, we look back at our first season and the incredible history that followed through historian Sean Fagan.

Manly immediately adopted the maroon and white colours they had used for their Presidents Cup team since its inception. They chose for an emblem the sea eagle - the native bird of prey of the Sydney coastline.

Manly's first premiership game was against Wests at Brookvale Oval on Saturday April 12, 1947.

The first grade team - as seen in this photo -  was back row (l-r) C 'Kelly' McMahon, Merv Gillmer, Keith Kirkwood, Harry Grew, Johnny Bliss (middle row l-r) Jim Hall, A 'Bert' Collins, Max Whitehead (captain), Mackie Campbell, Jim Walsh; front row (l-r) Ern Cannon, Gary Maddrell, Pat Hines.

Despite scoring three tries to one, the Magpies beat Manly 15-13 as Wests' Bill Keato kicked six goals on the back of a multitude of scrum penalties awarded by referee Aub Oxford.

By the end of May, Manly had failed to notch a win from its first six matches. 

Former Souths player Harold Johnson was dumped as coach after just five matches, replaced by Kangaroo and Eastern Suburbs prop Ray Stehr.

By the time fellow new-starters Parramatta arrived at Brookvale Oval for the round seven game, Manly fans were wondering if they would ever register a win. But it did come as Manly delivered five unconverted tries to dispose of the Eels by 15-7.

The season highlight was the 33-0 smacking of the high-flying Newtown Bluebags at Brookvale Oval.

Though Manly only won four games in 1947, it was one more than Parramatta and that was enough to avoid the wooden spoon.

Read more about our great, proud history here



Acknowledgement of Country

Manly Warringah Sea Eagles respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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