From a very young age, Steve Menzies’ heart belonged to Manly.
But his faith was tempted early with an offer from the North Sydney Bears.
“The Bears offered me $5000 to join them. It was very tempting especially when you go from zero to $5000,’’ Menzies said in an interview on the Big Sports Breakfast Weekend show on Sunday.
“I was born in Manly Hospital, I grew up in the area, and my passion was to play for Manly.
“When Norths made the offer, I was definitely interested but then Manly came and said we want to keep you. That was an easy decision for me to make.”
Menzies said some of his best childhood memories came from spending time at Brookvale Oval, now called Lottoland. His favourite player was full-back Graham Eadie.
“Most of my vivid memories was not of watching the footy, but sliding down the back of the hill on cardboard, racing for the corner post, and touching the players when the final siren went,’’ he added.
Menzies also touched on winning his first premiership with the Sea Eagles in 1996 when Manly beat St George Dragons 20-8.
“When you win the grand final, it is more of a relief that you actually achieved it. I suppose you don’t really appreciate how lucky you are to play in grand finals when you are so young,’’ he said.
“Luckily enough we got it done that day. I did sneak over for a try but I suffered a huge cork. I played 10 minutes of the second half and had to come off because I couldn’t run.”
Menzies also reminisced about the magnificent 40-0 victory over the Melbourne Storm in the 2008 Grand Final, which saw him score a try in his last ever premiership match.
“That’s the greatest moment I’ve ever had,’’ said the former NSW and Australian back-rower.
“We got beaten the year before by Melbourne in the grand final. Not knowing whether we win or not in my last game was a scary feeling.
“It was a tough game. It was only 8-0 at half-time and then the tries started flowing in the second half. I was on the bench and rotation wise, I probably wasn’t going to go back on.
“A little bit of luck came my way. (Centre) Steve Matai grabbed his head and he never goes down (laughs).
“Twenty five seconds later, (winger) Michael Robertson passed the ball inside to me. I kept saying to myself don’t drop this and I scored. I was very, very lucky.”
And as for his now famous combination with Manly five-eighth Cliff Lyons, Menzies said it was just a sheer delight to play with such a terrific ball player. A fair majority of his 180 career tries came from running off Lyons.
“It was just one of those things. The first year I played, I was 19, and Cliffy was 32. It (rugby league) is a unique sport in that you can have two guys so far apart in age and yet they click on the field,’’ he said.
“We didn’t really practice many things. Whenever Cliffy called for the ball, I sort of knew what he was going to do.
“He was a player who reacted to the defence. He let then make the first move, whether they be coming in to tackle him or staying out, and then I would react as well.
“If Cliffy wasn’t there, I have no doubt I would not have achieved the things I did for Manly or in the game itself.”