Former Manly enforcer Mark Carroll has opened up about his move to the Sea Eagles in order to fulfill a burning desire to become a premiership winning player.
In a fascinating autobiography, 'Spudd - the Mark Carroll Story', the former NSW and Australian player tells about his decision to leave South Sydney at the end of 1993 to play under Manly Coach Bob Fulton.
Carroll said the decision to join Manly came after a phone call at home from Fulton.
"When he called he was straight to the point.‘I want you to sign for Manly,’' Carroll says in the book.
We agreed to meet and I took Dad along as my manager. Sea Eagles chief executive Frank Stanton was there too. Stanton was a big figure in the game, as a player, coach and administrator. He was known as ‘Biscuits’ and ‘Cranky Franky’. When I walked into that room, I’m convinced he had no idea who the hell I was.
Bozo sat me down and said, ‘How are you, son?’ ‘Boze, I hate losing. It cuts me. I’m sick of losing.’
He looked at Stanton and said, ‘Told you, Frank. We’ve got to sign this bloke.’
Bozo looked back at me. ‘How much money do you want?’ What a great question for a player to hear. Especially at Manly. The Sea Eagles had a long-held reputation for having an open chequebook and it’s why, even now, they are one of the most hated clubs in the premiership.
‘I’m not worried about money,’ I told him. ‘Who else are you signing?’
‘We’re signing David Gillespie and Terry Hill.’ ‘Great – where do I sign?’
‘Don’t you want to know about the money?’
I told Bozo the cash wasn’t my priority, because I knew the money would be there later if we got the right results. After four really lean years at Souths, I just wanted to win so badly. The problem was I still had a year to go on my contract at Redfern and word soon got out about my talks with Manly.
Carroll said he reached out to Souths chairman and club legend George Piggins, who unlike Rabbitohs supporters, encouraged him to take the offer.
‘Son, take the deal,’ he told me.
It was more money than what I was on at Souths, but George knew this was about more than the cash. Winning a comp at Souths just wasn’t on the radar and he didn’t want to stand in my way, even though he was within his rights to say, ‘Bad luck – honour your contract.’ George’s stance just added to my respect for the man.
The fans weren’t quite as understanding.
In those days I had a white VN Commodore with the ‘SPUDD’ numberplates. It was parked in the members carpark at the SFS on game day and you couldn’t miss it.
When Souths fans heard I was leaving to join Manly, they made a beeline for my pride and joy. After a game in late ’93, I walked through the carpark to find my beloved ride covered in gollies. They just hammered me.
Souths have incredibly passionate fans and hate losing players – especially to Manly. But that incident was a small price to pay as I chased the real prize – premiership glory."
Carroll went on to achieve his premiership dream in 1996 when the Sea Eagles beat St George 20-8 in the Grand Final.