Question 1: Richard, how did your love for Rugby League start?
Richard: It started 1949 when I began playing in the local competition with Manly and they won the premiership in the district football competition. We won the last two premierships before Wynnum Manly entered the Brisbane Rugby League competition as a whole in 1951.
Question 2: So you were a late starter, what was the reason for this?
Richard: In my younger years my Mum was a cleaner at Manly State School and unfortunately she couldn’t afford for me to play sport as she needed me to help her clean the school. I used to get picked in all the school teams but couldn’t play, because she couldn’t afford it, as she was on her own. I was the oldest and the only one old enough to help her and it kept us out of a home, at the time one of my brothers had asthma and the other was only nine.
Question 3: You were involved in the local Wynnum Manly District competition, if so who did you play for and how did that come about?
Richard: I use to knock around with some of the players that were playing with Manly, the Prickett’s, they were also on the committee. They were mates of mine so I just joined. I started training and I got serious about training and kept myself fit, so I joined the Manly Football Club and I loved it, I loved football. We trained at the park on the esplanade which is now called George Clayton Park, when we went for a run we would do the circuit along the beachfront, through to Lota, up Whites road and down Gordon Parade. Our Coach was Noel Graham.
Question 4: In 1950 Wynnum Manly were accepted into the Brisbane Rugby League Competition, what was the general feeling when that occurred?
Richard: The Wynnum Manly community were all for it, when we first started we had a very good rollup, but even know the local district competition looked good, you have too remember there were blokes getting dragged out of pubs, so the standard of football sometimes looked better than it was. So when we were putting teams together for the three grades we weren’t quit up to the standard.
Question 5: The first game for Wynnum Manly comes along in 1951 and Charlie Perry is selected as the hooker and is sometimes recognised as being the first hooker. How did it come about that you ended up playing as hooker in that first match?
Richard: We played our first game at the Gabba and I was first reserve, the first reserve being the youngest in the team. We waited and waited and waited for Charlie, however he never arrived, so I ran on to the field that day and played hooker for the entire year. It ended up being that Charlie had missed the barge from Stradbroke Island to play and never ended up playing for Wynnum at all. Unfortunately towards the end of the season Wynnum started falling by the way side and struggled fielding three full teams, they were flat out getting players to play. I used to play half a game in C and Reserve grades before backing up for a full game in First grade to make up the numbers.
Question 6: Being a hooker in 1951 is very different to today, what were so of the tricks of the trade to winning the ball in your era?
Richard: My word I would say it is, getting down low I would slide the left arm off however you would be penalised for a loose arm if you were caught by the referee. I would strike with my right foot making sure I was down low, if you had a good front row it would make it much easier. The worst thing about hooking was when the other teams second rowers would give you an upper cut in the scrum, that is why I chose to wear headgear. My two front rowers were Charlie Roff and Keith Blackford.
Question 7: Being in the first Wynnum Manly team in 1951, did you actually understand the importance of the occassion?
Richard: I most certainly did, felt like I was on top of the world, top of the mountain. I never played sport when I was younger, to be so young and to be in that Wynnum Manly side when they played that first game, it made me feel very important. Everyone in Wynnum was waiting for game and very excited that Wynnum were in the competition.
Question 8: In round 11 in the first season Wynnum Manly forfeited their game to Wests, this was the first time a first grade team had done this in the Brisbane Rugby League, what was the reason for this?
Richard: Wynnum couldn’t field a team we were getting to the stage where we were flat out fielding a team and due to so many of the players being fisherman and the mullet were running in Moreton Bay at that stage of the season thus the reason we forfieted. I remember when this happened George Lovejoy the radio commentator was giving the Wynnum Manly club a hard time through the media saying we should be thrown out of the competition. We got George out the back of the cricket club near the old bar and Rusty Johnson, Ginger Clark, Myself and a few others grabbed George Lovejoy took him over to the bin, lifted him up and said “If he didn’t layoff the Wynnum Manly club and stop giving us a hard time and give us a better go on the radio, you are going in head first”, he then softened. Next time he was on the radio George said “I think we should give Wynnum Manly a go to build their team”. He was not very well liked by the locals at that time and he was often banned from the grounds and had to call games on roof tops.
Question 9: Who was the best player you played with?
Richard: Its hard to split Vince Long and Neddy Green. Vince was a wonderful cover defender and good lock forward and gave a 100 percent every time he played. Neddy always gave his all with a special mention for Henry Seaton.
Question 10: Who was the best player you played against?
Richard: Norm Pope of Valleys he was a bottler, a very good fullback he could run, tackle and kick, he could do anything. He use to kick goals from the halfway line on a regular basis.
Question 11: Who was the hardest player to tackle?
Richard: Souths fullback Marshall Vandervelde (Darrel’s Father) and Souths lock Alan Thompson.
Question 12: Who was hardest tackler?
Richard: There was a bloke called Cootes, he had great big bloody hands, by gee when he hit you, you went back with force.
Question 13: What was your favourite position to play in?
Richard: It was hooker, as a hooker you had to know all the set moves, you were handling the ball all the time.
Question 14: Who was the best player you ever saw wear a Wynnum Manly jersey other than Wally Lewis?
Richard: Gene Miles, he was on the ball all of the time, he had the ability to break the line on so many occasions, Milesy had it upstairs and would break the line when ever he wanted too.
Question 15: What were your recollections of Wynnum Manly winning their first ever premiership in 1982?
Richard: Elated, we ended up with them when the team did their pub crawl the next day. I spoke to a few of players over the next couple of days and congratulated them on a top game. It was good to see the local side finally get there. The district finally got what it aimed for right from when it came into the competition was to win a competition.
Question 16: Name the Wynnum Manly player that never reached their full potential?
Richard: Henry Seaton, Henry was a player that would play a brilliant one week and some games his mind wasn’t on the game. He was a good hard runner and he use to run with his head held high and ducked shoulders and he would break the line frequently, however sometimes he just didn’t seem to have his mind on the job. Should of played rep football.
Question 17: You gave away football in 1955, what was the reason for that?
Richard: I was working with PMG at that time and I was down the Gold Coast, it was an away from home job. I couldn’t reach training as I had no vehicle then. I use to tell Wynnum that I was available and trained with the side at the start of the season, but in the end did not continue. I was also still playing for Police in the Shiftworkers League played at the rugby league grounds at Hamilton where we played in front of great crowds. I got 5 pound a game and I was picked up on Sunday morning by Detective McKeller after they had been to Wynnum Police Station. Before the game I would get taken to Petrie Terrace barracks they would give me lunch and a nibble a drink here and there under hats or coats then they would run me out to Hamilton to play. After the game even though there was a six o’clock closing on the hotels in those days, but the police would have the biggest parties this side of the black stump after the game and all the players would end up there. They would run me to the bus stop after a few drinks and I would catch a bus back to Wynnum.
Question 18: Who do you believe is the best modern day footballer?
Richard: Cameron Munster would be right up there, he has got the ability to sort of spot an opening and he’s got the side step, I would say positional play, he is one of the smartest players in the current game and can tackle. Tedesco is also worth a mention.
Question 19: Were you ever going to leave Wynnum?
Richard: No, Billy Gunn was the local member for parliament here, I was approached by Souths in Brisbane and I was asked if I was interested in playing for Souths. They wanted to give me a unit and payments, which was fine as I only had one child at the time, however the payment was never divulged. They asked me if I wanted to move to the district, as it was district football at the time and you had to play for the club where you lived. They noticed me when I was playing against Vandervelde, Tyquin and Thomson when Wynnum played Souths, Souths must of seen the value in me and wanted to know if I was interested. I mentioned it to Wynnum at the time and Billy Gunn rang me and said “If you stay in the district there is 26 houses to come online around Milfoil Street and the top of Standard Road, I will give you the pick and I am sure I can make that sort of arrangement and I still live in the same house today. I stayed with Wynnum, it suited me because I just loved Wynnum.
Question 20: What has life held for you since you retired from rugby league?
Richard: I had six children in all Julie, Rodney, Gayle, Peter, Richard and Patrica to my first wife who I separated from in 1980. I never intended getting married again, about three years later I met my second wife Rose and she was such a nice person I just said well we will get married. As far as work was concerned I was an inspector with Telecom for 40 years, I was on 24 hour call. I often got called of the Golf Course several times to go to work. I always enjoyed playing golf and tennis which were two of my favourite sports outside football, when I was a young fellow I was a lifesaver with Palm Beach Surf Club with Morrie Webb, etc. I also use to caddie for the Barton’s.
Photo Source: The Lauchlan Family Collection
Interviewer: Paul Comber