50TH ANNIVERSAY OF THE 1967 SHUTE SHIELD GRAND FINAL – GORDON v RANDWICK
1967 was a watershed year for Gordon Rugby Club. Following an outstanding period of dominance of the Sydney Grade Rugby scene in the late 1940’s and the 1950’s, the fortunes of the club went into somewhat of a decline from the early to mid-1960s. In 1966, club legend, Bevan Wilson returned to the club to take up the position of club and 1st grade coach to rectify this situation. He had immediate success, when the first-grade team finished at the midpoint of the competition table, compared to the wooden spoon position the year before, while the 3rd grade team were beaten in the grand final by Randwick, in a very close match. Bevan Wilson’s change of policy to fifteen man rugby flowered for all to see in 1967. It was a season of youthful experiment and excitement, a season of stimulation and success. The 1st Grade reached the Grand Final, Bob Twible led the 3rds to the premiership and practically every club record was broken on and off the field, including the individual point scoring aggregate by John Sheerin (188 points), the minor premiership aggregate of points (458) and the individual try scoring record by Rod Batterham (20 tries). Including the play off’s, Sheerin finished with 217 points from two tries, forty four goals and forty one penalty goals.
1967 1st Grade Grand Final Side
Most club supporters would be aware of what eventuated in 1967, where the club 1st Grade side emerged as a marvellous team, taking all before them, only to lose the grand final in a fantastic game to Randwick, aided by the brilliance of Ken Catchpole. The 1st Grade received accolades for their performance from everywhere, and the brilliance of many of the new players was widely applauded, and it was strongly suggested that this year would provide the platform for a grand era for the club, which indeed it did.
The team that played in the Grand Final was: –
Full Back – Terry Rigney
Wing – Kent Gamble
Outside Centre – Ross Prowse
Inside centre – Warwick Moss
Wing – Rod Batterham
Five eight – David Leckie
Half back – Rex Batterham
Breakaway – Warwick Allen
Lock – Alan McGlynn
Breakaway – Alastair McTavish
2nd Row – Hugh Trollope
2nd Row – David Shepherd (c)
Prop – John Sheerin
Hooker – Bruce Taafe
Prop – Quentin McIntyre
Coach – Bevan Wilson
Gordon only qualified for the final four on percentages, but they upset Manly in the semi-final and accounted for Sydney University in the final 20-12’ after being beaten for possession by the international-laced University pack. Gordon came into the Grand Final as 12-1 outsiders. Randwick eventually won 19-16 but nothing could be taken away from Gordon’s outstanding performance. They scored three tries to two only to be beaten by the brilliance of Ken Catchpole, who was playing in extreme pain from a badly abscessed tooth and suffering an adverse reaction from penicillin injections. Randwick were laden with Wallabies – Catchpole, Hawthorne, Brass, Smith, Cole, Outterside, Johnson, Francis to name a few.
Gordon’s forwards drove into the rucks and mauls with a grim, incessant fury. They harried and hustled, battered and bustled. The Gordon men trooped off the Sports Ground into the dressing room tunnel amid as much jubilation as disappointment. Skipper David Shepherd, draining blood and sweat, looked at prop McIntyre and enquired “Care for a cup of tea, Quentin?”
Coach Bevan Wilson said later “ We almost beat them at their own game. You would have thought we had won there was so much cheering for us after the game”.
The 1967 Gordon side was one of the greats of the club. Captain and Wallaby David Shepherd was a leader par excellence and at aged 31 was the elder statesman of the side. Terry Rigney at age 26 was the veteran of the backline. Hooker and future Wallaby Bruce Taafe had developed into an outstanding hooker-forward and in future Wallaby Rod Batterham was a three quarter of pace and bristling enterprise. Half Rex Batterham was outstanding, brimful of flair in attack and strong in defence. Props Quentin McIntyre and John Sheerin were just them men you wanted to have up front, as were Hugh Trollope and Alan McGlynn. Alastair McTavish and Warwick Allen were devastating backrowers, fast tough and mobile. David Leckie a most skilful pivot who orchestrated the side around the park. The three quarter combination of Ross Prowse and Warwick Moss, a physical pair who troubled the best of centres with their cleaving runs and rugged defence. Kent Gamble, the prince of pace could sniff out a try from minimal space, and at fullback the mercurial Terry Rigney, an absolute club legend.