It was a try that current stars Jorge Taufua or Tom Trbojevic would be proud to claim as one of their own. The tryscorer was winger Gordon Willoughby. The year was 1947.
Willoughby’s second try at Brookvale Oval on Saturday, May 31, help lift the Sea Eagles to record a historic 15-7 victory against Parramatta Eels.
It was the Sea Eagles’ inaugural win in the NSWRL first grade premiership after being granted entry to the competition alongside Parramatta on November 4, 1946.
Willoughby and fellow winger Johnny Bliss scored two tries each in the win, but it was the style in which Willoughby scored his second try, ‘a screamer’, that is best remembered in the book, The Sea Eagle Has Landed.
‘He latched on to a pass from C ‘Kelly’ McMahon at halfway, fended off two defenders and then turned his hip into the hapless fullback sending him reeling from the impact. He then swan dived over the line in his trademark flourishing style,’ the book states.
The Sea Eagles scored five tries to one in front of a crowd of 3,200 supporters. Following the match, Manly Warringah gained four representatives in the City teams to play Country. Bliss made firsts, Willoughby seconds, with forwards Keith Kirkwood and Max Whitehead in the thirds.
Ironically, the Sea Eagles play the Eels at Brookvale Oval this Thursday night just two days after the historical date of April 12 when Manly played their first premiership match against Western Suburbs in 1947. The Magpies won 15-13 despite the Sea Eagles scoring three tries to one.
Will history repeat itself with a win over the Eels?
Could there be an ‘omen’ with either Taufua or Trbojevic scoring a try, maybe even two?
Kick-off 7.50pm. Buy tickets here.
Round 8, Saturday, May 31, 1947
Manly Warringah Sea Eagles 15 (Johnny Bliss 2, Gordon Willoughby 2, Keith Kirkwood tries) d Parramatta Eels 7 (Keith Gersbach try; Les Bell 2 goals) at Brookvale Oval. Referee: George Bishop. Crowd: 3,200