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Legendary administrators short-listed for Hall of Fame

Legendary rugby league administrators JJ Giltinan, John Quayle, Ken Arthurson and H 'Jersey' Flegg are among 11 pioneers nominated for the NRL Hall of Fame.

The Hall of Fame will soon expand to include contributors, with one administrator, print journalist and broadcast journalist to be inducted alongside up to four players during a ceremony at Carriageworks in Eveleigh, Sydney on August 14.

The group of 11 short-listed administrators features some of the most famous names in rugby league, all of whom contributed heavily to the success of the game.

“The formal induction of our players and our contributors will be an extremely special and memorable night,” said NRL CEO Todd Greenberg.

“For the first time, we will acknowledge a representative from administration, from print media and from broadcast media.

“That is an incredibly important element of what we have done in recent years – reshape our Hall of Fame process to appropriately acknowledge the people who have made significant contributions to the game.

“There are some administrators nominated for the short-list who are indelible parts of the game. Even today, so many of us know the likes of JJ Giltinan, Jersey Flegg, Ken Arthurson and John Quayle.

“Their achievements through the course of the game’s history are revered.”

Ken Arthurson

Born: October 1, 1929, Glebe, NSW

  • Former Manly player and coach who took on first administrative role as football club treasurer in 1962
  • Appointed secretary of Manly in 1963 and served fulltime in the role from 1965 to 1983
  • ARL chairman from 1983 to 1997 and NSWRL chairman from 1987-97. Also served as director-general of the International Board
  • Stood alongside NSWRL CEO John Quayle during the greatest upheaval in the game’s history when News Limited organised the Super League breakaway 1995-97
  • Author Ian Heads described Arthurson as “an abundantly likeable man, comfortable at whatever strata of society he happened to be encountering and with all the necessary shrewdness and streetwiseness the job demanded”.
  • Honoured in 1988 as a member of the Order of Australia in recognition of service to rugby league football

Paul Broughton

Born: March 31, 1931, Waverley, NSW

  • Former player (with St George) and long-serving coach (first grade with Newtown and Balmain and Brothers in Brisbane, along with countless junior representative teams)
  • Helped start the National Coaching Scheme in 1962
  • Inaugural coaching director (1986), coaching and development manager, special projects manager and operations manager of the NSWRL and ARL
  • As special projects manager assisted introduction of Wheelchair Rugby League and Hearing-Impaired Rugby League
  • Chief Executive of the Gold Coast Chargers 1995-97
  • Key figure in the establishment of the Gold Coast Titans in 2007 and inaugural chairman (2007-12)
  • Honoured as life member of the NSWRL in 1996, awarded Order of Australia Medal in 2017 and honoured with the naming of the Paul Broughton Medal, awarded to Gold Coast Titans player of the year

Bill Buckley

Born: January 3, 1907, Petersham, NSW

Died: April 17, 1973, Concord, NSW

  • Commenced administrative career with Newtown after retiring as a first grade player in 1928
  • Became Newtown delegate to the NSWRL and after serving in WWII was made a vice-president and head of the game’s Management Committee
  • Served as president of the NSWRL from 1960 to 1973
  • Oversaw major change in the game including introduction of tackle limits (four-tackle rule in 1967, six-tackle in 1971); admission of new clubs to the premiership (Penrith and Cronulla in 1967); introduction of pre-season competition (1962)
  • Popularity of the game reached new heights during his reign through record crowds (1968) and introduction of television coverage from 1961
  • A Sydney Morning Herald profile described him as “earthy and direct in his speech, and his toughness is never far from the surface. He is quick-tempered. You soon know he likes his own way, and is accustomed to getting it. He is a good public speaker and moves easily in any company”.

Henry ‘Jersey’ Flegg

Born: April 6, 1878, Bolton, England

Died: August 23, 1960, North Sydney, NSW

  • Pioneering player in 1908, a hard-working forward who was the first captain of the Eastern Suburbs club
  • Elected secretary of Eastern Suburbs and founding delegate to the NSWRL
  • Became a State selector after retiring in 1909 and was occasional metropolitan and Australian selector
  • Appointed a vice-president of the NSWRL in 1925 and member of the judiciary committee
  • Elected President of the NSWRL in 1929, a position he held until his death in 1960
  • Chairman of the Australian Board of Control from 1941 to 1960Inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 1994

James Giltinan

Born: August 30, 1866, Sydney, NSW

Died: September 6, 1950, Ashfield, NSW

  • Considered the driving force behind the establishment of the NSWRL in 1907
  • Invited Baskerville’s ‘All Golds’ team to play series of matches against the NSW ‘Pioneers’ who had been convinced to break away from rugby union
  • As the first secretary of the NSWRL, he attended the foundation meeting of every original club
  • Liaised with administrators in Brisbane to establish interstate rugby league
  • Organised and underwrote the first Kangaroo tour of England in 1908-09
  • Deposed as NSWRL secretary in 1909 but continued involvement as president of Annandale club
  • Honoured posthumously with the JJ Giltinan Shield, awarded to the premiership winners from 1951 to 1997, when it became the prize for the minor premiership

Frank Johnson

Born: March 28, 1921, Port Kembla, NSW

Died: March 4, 1993, Manly, NSW

  • Former player with Port Kembla, St George and Newtown, who represented Australia on the 1948-49 Kangaroo tour
  • Founding member of the NSWRL Coaching Panel in 1962 and appointed director of coaching in 1974
  • From 1970 to 1975 worked in remote areas such as Darwin and Papua New Guinea to raise the standard of playing and coaching
  • Honoured with the naming of the Frank Johnson Medal (awarded to best and fairest player in Darwin competition), life membership of the NSWRL in 1982 and with Order of Australia Medal for services to the sport
  • Wayne Bennett said of him: “You can judge a man’s character by what he does for those who can do nothing for him. He was one of the most sincere, caring men I have ever known in the game of rugby league.”

Edward (Ted) Larkin

Born: January 3, 1880, North Lambton, NSW

Died: April 25, 1915, Gallipoli, Turkey

  • Rugby Union international (one Test, 1903) who worked in journalism before joining the Metropolitan Police Force in 1903
  • Appointed first full-time secretary of the NSW Rugby League in 1909
  • Described as “an excellent organiser, he [Larkin] quickly remedied the disordered administration and was a prominent advocate for the new code, believing in ‘honest professionalism as against quasi amateur football’”
  • Persuaded Marist Brothers’ schools to adopt rugby league in 1913
  • Was prominent in introducing the game into new areas, such as Bathurst and Orange
  • According to historian Chris Cuneen: “Under his [Larkin’s] guidance the code came to be the dominant winter sport in Sydney”

Ross Livermore

Born: June 3, 1944, Brisbane, QLD

Died: April 16, 2013, Brisbane, QLD

  • Managing Director of the QRL from 1981 to 2011
  • Long-serving member of the Lang Park Trust, playing leading roles in numerous redevelopments of the venue into a world class stadium
  • Became the leading administrator in Queensland following the death of Ron McAuliffe in 1988
  • Held firm in the face of the Super League war in 1995, fighting alongside southern officials to remain loyal to the ARL
  • Honoured with life membership of the QRL in 2011

Ron McAuliffe

Born: June 25, 1918, Brisbane, QLD

Died: August 16, 1988, Spring Hill, QLD

  • First involvement in administration was Valleys delegate to the QRL in 1951
  • Worked tirelessly to restore the fortunes of the game in Queensland after cashed up Sydney clubs raided playing ranks throughout the state
  • President of the QRL from 1971-88
  • Considered the driving force behind the introduction of State of Origin in 1980
  • Presided over a period of unprecedented success for Queensland in the mid 1980s, paving the way for the introduction of the Brisbane Broncos in 1988 (ironically he supported a rival consortium)
  • Inducted into the Queensland Sport Hall of Fame in 2009 and honoured with the naming of the Ron McAuliffe Medal, awarded to Queensland’s players’ player of the State of Origin series

John Quayle

Born: February 14, 1947, Walgett, NSW

  • Former Australian representative player (three Tests, 1975) who turned to administration with Eastern Suburbs
  • Appointed general manager of the NSWRL in 1983 and served as the game’s leading CEO until 1997
  • Oversaw sweeping changes in the 1980s including the expansion of the competition from 13 to 16 teams in 1988 with the admission of the Brisbane Broncos, Newcastle Knights and Gold Coast Giants and then the introduction of a salary cap in 1990
  • Responsible for the game’s greatest marketing coup via the Tina Turner campaign in 1988
  • Approved the further expansion of the competition to 20 teams in 1995 with the game spreading to new frontiers in Auckland, Perth and North Queensland, and a second team admitted in Brisbane
  • Stood up to the threat to the game’s establishment with the onset of the Super League war in 1995
  • According to author Ian Heads, “Quayle’s outstanding strength as an administrator remained his ability to seek out talented people, draw their opinions – then act.”

Harry Sunderland

Born: November 23, 1889, Gympie, QLD

Died: January 15, 1964, Manchester, England

  • Commenced long career in journalism with the Toowoomba Chronicle after leaving school and his byline later appeared in such journals as the Daily Standard, Daily Mail, Brisbane Courier and Courier-Mail and later still in the northern edition of the London Daily Mail
  • Secretary of the Queensland Rugby League from 1913-22 and guarantor of the League’s financial affairs from 1913-17
  • Ensured the long-term success of the game in Queensland by supporting its continuation through World War I, organising the donation of proceeds from football carnivals to the Queensland Patriotic Fund to appease the public
  • After a period in Victoria, Sunderland returned to Queensland and served as QRL secretary from 1925-38, Queensland selector and coach was a member of the Australian Board of Control from 1925 to 1938
  • Managed Kangaroo teams on tours of England in 1929-30, 1933-34 and 1937-38 and worked hard to establish the game in France
  • A dispute with the Australian Board of Control during the 1937-38 tour led to Sunderland returning to England to become manager of the Wigan club
  • Honoured with the naming of the Harry Sunderland Medal in Australia (currently awarded for players’ player in a Test series or tournament) and the Harry Sunderland Trophy in England (currently awarded to the player of the match in the Super League grand final)