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The “Greatest Game of All” or Rugby League as it is known to some has given me nearly a half a century of pleasure and a little pain. In 1966 at the ripe old age of 6 I was introduced to our game when my Uncle Harry moved into the bedroom I shared with my younger brother in a 2 bedroom fibro joint in Rockdale(Dragon Territory). Harry was playing lower grades for Jack Gibson’s Roosters and went on to play for St George in the 1971 Grand Final against my other front rower mate John Sattler and his Rabbitoh’s. By the age of 9 I had memorized every player in the Big League magazine. The game became my obsession. Even if I had not been lucky enough to play over 100 games in the best competition in the world(arguably in any sport) Rugby League was in my blood. As a Rothmans Medal winner (the official player of the year award in 1983 succeeded by The Dally M Medal) I have always been aware of the history of our great game and its effect on society especially in the northern states of Australia. Apart from obtaining a Law degree at Sydney University I studied the Politics in Sport while completing my Arts Degree at Macquarie University.

I believed our game was ahead of sports like baseball, gridiron and basketball that relied heavily on statistics to rate their great players. Ours is a game of passion made for the blue collar working classman relying on guts and determination not on how many yards and minutes someone makes or plays. However as we get older we all like to dig deep into history and see who had the ability and drive to play even one game in the toughest competition playing the greatest game of all. This book does what none other has attempted to do—tell a story using numbers and statistics about our great game. It is something every player and fan would do well to study.

Steve Kane the author of this book could be a reincarnation of Stephen Harold Gascoigne, better known as Yabba whose statue stands proudly at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Yabba was known for his knowledgeable witticisms shouted loudly from “The Hill”, a grassy general admissions area of the SCG. A lot like Yabba “Kaney” can be found every winter Sunday on the hill at Greenfield Park Albury(or away in Junee, Temora or Wagga) cheering his beloved Thunder to victory in the Group 9 Premiership loudly and clearly from 10 am to 5.30pm. In his spare time since breaking his back 7 years ago he has collected statistics on players in the NSWRL (now known as the NRL) dating back to 1908. The first words Kaney said to me was “I have very Rugby League Week ever published” as he showed me his “EELS tattoo”. “You got sin binned once in your career at North Sydney Oval in 1983 or was it 1984?”? I 12 knew I was in the company of a Rugby League tragic. This study of our game will help all of us who love the game and those of us lucky enough to have played it a better insight into the players of the greatest game of all from the top to the bottom.

Written by Mike Eden, who played 110 Games for Manly, Easts, Parramatta and Gold Coast, is Gold Coast Player Number 1, and Won the Dally M award for Player of the Year in 1983

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