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Fifty years since Sea Eagles'  first premiership

Manly Warringah Sea Eagles supporters have an extra special reason to celebrate today as the club remembers one of the most historic moments in its wonderful history.

For today - September 16, 2022 - marks 50 years since the Sea Eagles won their inaugural first grade premiership in 1972.

The Sea Eagles recorded a 19-14 victory over the Eastern Suburbs Roosters under Coach Ron Willey and the captaincy of Fred Jones.

After being undefeated in the last 15 rounds of the competition to take the minor premiership, Manly beat Easts 32-8 in the major semi-final to set up a grand final appearance.

It was Manly's sixth attempt at winning a premiership following five grand final defeats in 1951, 1957, 1959, 1968 and 1970 after entering the competition in 1947.

Sea Eagles v Roosters - Grand Final, 1972

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Ken Arthurson, the 'Godfather of Manly', recalled the historic moment in a special feature interview series called 'Arko' with former Sea Eagles player and official, Peter Peters.

Arthurson built up a ‘juggernaut of a side' for 1972 in recruiting John O’Neill and Ray Branighan from Souths, Ken Irvine (North Sydney), Graham Eadie (Woy Woy) as well as a ‘fiery, skillful young Englishman' named Malcolm Reilly from Castleford.

“I remember people on top of the poker machines and the line up outside Manly Leagues Club went on forever,'' Peters said.

“The place never stopped partying for days after."

Arthurson talked about the relief of finally winning the premiership after 25 years of trying.

I was desperate to win a premiership because we had been so close to winning, but not quite making it

Ken Arthurson

“For us to do it, it probably was one of the greatest thrills I ever had.”

Manly Warringah Sea Eagles 

1 Graham Eadie,  2 Ken Irvine, 3 Ray Branighan, 4 Bob Fulton, 5 Max Brown, 6 Ian Martin, 7 Dennis Ward, 8 Bill Hamilton, 9 Fred Jones (c), 10 John O’Neill, 11 Allan Thomson, 12 Terry Randall, 13 Malcolm Reilly. Coach: Ron Willey

Eastern Suburbs Roosters

1 Allan McKean, 2 Jim Porter, 3 Harry Cameron, 4 Mark Harris, 5 Bill Mullins, 6 John Ballesty, 7 Kevin Junee, 8 John Armstrong, 9 Peter Moscatt, 10 Arthur Beetson, 15 Greg Bandiera, 12 John Quayle, 13 Ron Coote (c), bench 16 Laurie Freier. Coach: Don Furner

Match Details

Sea Eagles 19 (Jones, Branighan tries; Branighan 6 goals; Fulton field goal) d Roosters 14 (Ballesty, Mullins tries;  McKean 4 goals), Half-time: 4-4, Sydney Cricket Ground, 16 September 1972. Referee: Keith Page. Crowd: 54,357.

1972 Season Summary

Coach: Ron Willey

Captain: Fred Jones

Biggest home crowd: 18,574 vs Canterbury

Average home crowd: 13,568

Top pointscorer: Bob Fulton (73)

Top tryscorer: Bob Fulton (21)

Most tries in a match: 4 Bob Fulton v Balmain, Brookvale Oval, August 6

Longest winning streak: 11 (Rd 14 - Grand Final)

Acknowledgement of Country

Manly Warringah Sea Eagles respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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