Bob Fulton heads my team of the century

By Nick Hartgerink
Updated November 6 2012 - 12:29am, first published July 18 2011 - 7:08am

Every kid has a sporting hero, and mine was Bobby Fulton. It was back in the days before wall to wall games on television. The match of the day was the big thing - every Saturday afternoon at the Sydney Cricket Ground.Fortunately for me, the boy next door’s dad used to take him to the SCG most weekends - and more often than not I’d get to tag along. We used to watch from the concourse in front of the old Brewongle Stand, and I saw some of the best footy players of the era.It was the second half of the 1960s, and big Kevin Ryan had just left St George to captain-coach the Berries, as Canterbury were known in those days. Les Johns was his fullback, and what a player he was. Souths had Bobby McCarthy and John Sattler and St George had Reg Gasnier, Billy Smith and Graeme Langlands.But Manly had Bobby Fulton and he was my hero, with his dazzling pace off the mark, side-step and sheer match-winning brilliance.So when I sat down to pick my Illawarra Rugby League Team of the Century to see how my side measures up against the experts whose team will be named at Wednesday night’s centenary dinner at the WIN Entertainment Centre, Fulton’s was the first name I put down. Not a bad player to build a side around!It’s near impossible to compare players from different eras, but having had the pleasure of editing sports historian Gerry Doyle’s excellent Nursery of Champions - the history of rugby league in the Illawarra, I at least know about the exploits of the legendary players of earlier times.So here, for what it is worth, is my team of the century and my reasons for picking them.Fullback: Graeme Langlands. Sorry Joe Cool, it has to be Changa. He is an Immortal after all.Wingers: Peter Dimond. If Pete ran as hard and straight as he still hits a golf ball at Kiama, then he must have been some winger. And he was. Rod Wishart. The Wishy Workhorse was just that, a whole-hearted player with more than a dash of brilliance.Centres: Paul McGregor. Had more natural talent in his little finger than a lot of players have in their whole body. Harry Wells. I’m taking Gerry’s word on this one. Wells was apparently very good, but it was hard to leave a player like Shaun Timmins out.Five-eighth: Bob Fulton. The one and only Bozo, of course.Halfback: John Simon. This is a tough one, because I’m leaving out some real champions including Trent Barrett and Ben Hornby. But Simon in his prime was something special. He should never have left the Steelers.Lock: Noel Mulligan. Again, I’m taking Gerry’s word for The Count. But 10 Tests and 10 games for NSW, not to mention a string of premierships with Port and stints in Sydney with St George and Newtown speaks volumes.Second row: Ron Costello, tough and creative. Craig Fitzgibbon – could never understand how the Dragons let him go, and our loss was definitely the Roosters’ gain.Front row: Craig Young. An out and out champion in any era. Chris Walsh. He beats a lot of good props for the other spot on the grounds that he was my favourite player when I was a young reporter for the Mercury and he was a tough kid playing with the men for Port Kembla. He went on to a great career with St George and the Steelers.Hooker: Dean Schifilliti. Sorry Bolta, you were one of the most whole-hearted players to ever pull on the Steelers’ scarlet, but Schif was all class.Coach: Allan Fitzgibbon. Great coach and great guy.

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