St George glory days do not fade for Evans

George Evans at home.  Picture: CHRISTOPHER CHAN

George Evans at home. Picture: CHRISTOPHER CHAN


Provan, Gasnier, Langlands, Raper ... and Evans? Don't worry, he doesn't blame you either if you can't quite make the connection.

"Most of the times there were 11 internationals, one state player ... and me," laughs George Evans, poring over old photos and newspaper clippings of St George's glory years. "So I never got many accolades."

Yet this rugby union convert, who sat on the bench four times for the Wallabies as Ken Catchpole weaved his magic, was every bit a part of the Dragons' 11 straight premierships between 1956 and 1966 as anyone else.

And he has a few ripping yarns to tell about them too.

Like the time he worked in the morning before the 1965 grand final, tried to drive himself to the Sydney Cricket Ground but ended up legging it through a myriad of cars and pedestrians after he dumped his vehicle miles from Moore Park. Just made it in time before kick off, too.

packed crowd in front of grandstandDragons, Rabbitohs in squeeze of 1965 grand final

packed crowd in front of grandstandDragons, Rabbitohs in squeeze of 1965 grand final

"All the cars were going nowhere then I see everyone's walking out," Evans recalls. "I'm there with my suit and tie and they said the gates were shut.

"There was an agitated official of ours looking for me. You could see as soon as you walked in - the crowd was unbelievable."

There was 78,000 to be exact, all crammed into watch St George topple Souths for their 10th straight premiership. It was only half of Evans' tale that day.

Wife Denise was rushed to the hospital for the anticipated birth of son Peter. She reckons it's the only game she's ever missed.

But instead of delivering a baby, she was told to come back tomorrow morning.

So how did she pass the time? She asked Johnny Raper's wife Carol if she could borrow a maternity dress to don for the evening's grand final dinner.

A healthy baby arrived the next morning.

So just as we celebrate Heritage Round and the heroes of yesteryear with a Dragons-Rabbitohs special at the SCG, perhaps it's best to remember how things were back in an era where a TV set in most households was just starting to become the norm.

Evans, proudly kicking back in his humble Corrimal home, reckons he darted so fast down the blindside in the 1963 grand final to score for St George against Wests that the news reels struggled to pick him up.

The match is remembered for the "Gladiator" image of Provan and Magpies captain Arthur Summons embracing in the SCG mud on full time.

How about 1964? Evans remembers Langlands haul in a Balmain penalty touchfinder close to his line; the play ended up with freakish grand final tryscorer Johnny King racing over in the opposite corner.

It's 50 years since that epic and not even the most minor detail escapes Evans, self-confessed as having the easiest job in that great St George side.

"We had an international backline who could do anything with the ball," Evans says. "My job was to win the ball, pass the ball and back up. That's all I did. It was easy as there were so many star players."

Evans' last of four grand final wins came in 1965 as King crossed once again in a 12-8 win over Souths.