Today, April 12, marks a historic day in the proud history of the mighty Manly Warringah Sea Eagles.
It was on this day - Saturday, April 12, 1947 - that Manly played their inaugural match in the NSWRL first grade premiership against Western Suburbs Magpies at Brookvale Oval in front of a crowd of 4,200.
Manly were granted entry to the 1947 NSWRL first grade competition on November 4, 1946. Since then, Manly have won eight first grade premierships to become one of the most successful rugby league clubs in the game.
Max Whitehead had the honour in 1947 of being the first Manly captain after having played at North Sydney since 1942.
Although the Sea Eagles scored three tries to one, Wests full-back Bill Keato kicked six goals from six attempts to give the Magpies a 15-13 victory.
Second-rower Keith ‘Megsy’ Kirkwood went down in history for being Manly’s first tryscorer.
Kirkwood recalls the historic try in the book, ‘The Sea Eagles Has Landed’.
“Kelly McMahon broke down the wing and centre-kicked towards Wests posts. I was always schooled at Norths to go up the middle and on this occasion, I caught the ball on the first bounce and scored underneath the crossbar,’’ Kirkwood said.
Manly centre Mackie Campbell – the grandfather of Sea Eagles legend Steve Menzies – had mixed feelings about the first game.
“A first up win would have been great for the club and we completely outplayed Wests on the day, but we were penalised out of it by referee Aub Oxford, particularly for scrum infringements,’’ Kirkwood said in the book.
Having lost their first five matches, the Sea Eagles sacked coach Harold Johnson, replacing him with former Eastern Suburbs international forward Ray Stehr.
Manly Warringah recorded their first premiership victory on May 31 in round eight, a 15-7 win over Parramatta Eels at Brookvale Oval.
Wingers Johnny Bliss and Gordon Willoughby scored two tries each in the five tries to one win in front of a crowd of 3,200.