Harry Cameron won club premierships in Sydney, Brisbane and Ipswich and represented his adopted State of Queensland five times in the 1970s.
A crowd favourite in a star-studded Brisbane Wests’ team, Cameron was signed by the Panthers after winning a Sydney premiership with the Eastern Suburbs’ Roosters in 1974.
Originally from Narrabri in country New South Wales, Cameron died on June 19, aged 73. He was the third member of the champion Roosters’ outfit of the mid-1970s, to have died in the last 18 months, having been pre-deceased by Mark Harris and Barry ‘Bunny’ Reilly.
Cameron and Harris were centres in Easts’ 1972, 19-14 grand final loss to Manly-Warringah at the SCG, with Don Furner the Roosters’ coach and Ron Coote the skipper. Man of the match was Manly halfback, Dennis Ward, who went on to become Queensland Director of Coaching.
In the 1974 grand final, Cameron came off the bench to replace dual international, John Brass in the Roosters’ 19-4 win over Canterbury-Bankstown. Arthur Beetson was Roosters’ skipper on this occasion, under the coaching of Jack Gibson.
At Wests in Brisbane, Cameron won premierships in 1975 and ’76, under the coaching of Ron Raper. Cameron scored a try in the 1975 decider, with Wests holding on for a thrilling 26-24 win over Redcliffe, in front of a crowd of 41,000. In 1976, Wests beat Easts 16-1, with the crowd 37,000.
Cameron played outside dual international five eighth, Geoff Richardson, with the Panthers regularly drawing crowds of over 20,000 for home games at Lang Park, such was their appeal. Cameron’s centre partner in 1975 was Mick Flesser, while Steve Crear was the other centre in 1976.
Cameron played two matches against New South Wales in 1975, and another three against the Blues in 1976, with the legendary Barry Muir as coach. Cameron also represented Brisbane against England at Lang Park in 1975, with Redcliffe’s Peter Leis his co-centre in a 21-10 win over the tourists.
In 1976, Cameron was joined in centres by young Brothers’ star, Graham Quinn in the South Queensland side for a match against New South Wales Country at Lang Park.
“Cameron and Quinn successfully held opponents, Mick Cronin and Peter Kennedy in check,” wrote The Courier-Mail’s Jack Reardon.
“I had roomed with Harry in the State side when we went to Sydney in 1975,” Quinn recalls. “He was a top bloke, and it is sad to hear of his passing.”
In 1979, Cameron captained West End to an Ipswich premiership, scoring the match winning try in a 13-9 win over Norths, who boasted State representative, Larry Brigginshaw at halfback.
Cameron coached Wests Mitchelton under-17s in 1981, and continued to be involved with rugby league at different levels. His son, Dean is treasurer of Brisbane Brothers Junior Rugby League.
Cameron was affectionately dubbed ‘That Man Harry’, by Brisbane television commentators, George Doniger and Mick Veivers.
Doniger explains how it came about.
“In the 1975 grand final, Wests led 26-9 early in the second half, but Redcliffe hit back and scored three tries. It was the first year of the five-team semi-finals set-up, and Wests, having advanced straight to the grand final with a win over Norths in the major semi-final, had played only one game in four weeks.
“They were running out of petrol, and had it not been for Harry Cameron and Geoff Richardson, I reckon Redcliffe would have scored more tries and run them down. Harry and ‘Richo’ were the only two Wests’ players still going as strong at the end, as the start, and they made a number of crucial tackles.
“After Cameron made one such tackle, ‘Farmer’ (Mick Veivers), said: ‘There’s that man Harry again’.
The ‘That Man Harry’ tag stuck.”