FLASHBACK: July 1969

JULY 1969
REFEREE, Henry Albert showed ‘admirable restraint’ by not sending anyone off, in a wild Lang Park Brisbane Rugby League fixture between Wests and Brothers, with the crowd of 16,000 loving every minute of the torrid struggle.
Wests won 18-16 thanks to a last minute by Ian Robson.
There were plenty of punch-ups, and lots of cautions, but Albert, Australia’s most controversial referee, let both sides finish the match with 13 men.
Wests’ dynamic second rowers, Robson and Richie Twist scored a try each, Twist crossing just before halftime, while Robson scored the match winner, after a break by Twist.
The Courier-Mail’s Jack Reardon thought Brothers were the better side, and although he wrote in glowing terms about glamor boys, Twist and Robson, he said the real crowd pleasers were Wests’ halfback, Des Lea and Brothers’ outside backs, Peter Skerman and Brian Milburn.
“Skerman, spindly legged and thin all over, won the hearts of the fans, with his courage, and with some splendid football, as well as his tackling,” Reardon wrote. “Milburn was another another favorite, particularly when he broke through four tackles in a run of 60 yards, which led to a try by prop, Steve Lean.”
Milburn made his block busting run after Skerman had fielded Wests’ kick-off, behind his own goal line, and then ran elusively for 40 yards across field, before linking with Milburn.
In the Saturday Lang Park match, underdogs Souths made a late surge to beat top side Easts, with centre, Tony Scott scoring the match winner, after young fullback, Howard Fullerton made a break.
Scott had scored another try, and also kicked two field goals, one a 40 metre effort.
Souths’ best forward was Jim Murphy, while for Easts, fiery Ipswich product, Des Morris was always dangerous.
Reardon rated Souths’ five eighth, Graeme Atherton the most skilful player on the field. Reardon, a former Australian representative, and Atherton, were both products of Lismore Marist Brothers. Atherton would go on to play for Queensland in 1970.
Norths’ former Australian rules fullback, Barry Spring kicked two field goals and also employed the drop kick, successfully, for a penalty shot at goal, his kicking proving the difference in the Devils’ 11-6 win over Wynnum-Manly at Wondall Road, Wynnum. Spring gave an almost faultless display at fullback, with outstanding positional play, handling and attack.
Wynnum’s star was centre, Ron Ellis, with ‘The Courier-Mail’s Lawrie Kavanagh describing him as the most consistent player on the field. Ellis and Norths’ crash tackling centre, Bob Richards were flatmates.
Valleys scored two tries in the last four minutes to snatch victory from Redcliffe at Neumann Oval in the other match of the round.
Valleys’ centre and skipper, Mick Retchless scored the first of the tries, while prop, Arthur Miers scored the clincher, after great lead-up work by fellow prop, John Payne and winger, Mike Norris. Fullback, Norm Clarke kicked five goals for Valleys and centre, Ron Gurnett a field goal.
Photo: Graeme Atherton tests his New South Wales rival, Dennis Pittard at the Sydney Cricket Ground in 1970.

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