GRAEME LANGLANDS: Thanks Chang, you were the greatest!

MIGHTY MAN:  THE LEAGUE IMMORTAL, GRAEME LANGLANDS, IN ACTION IN 1972. PHOTO: THE SUN-HERALD. Below: GRAEME LANGLANDS IN THE 1974 TEST MATCH AGAINST ENGLAND AT THE SCG. PHOTO: FROM THE BOOK, GOLDEN YEARS. Below: HOP, STEP, JUMP – LANGLANDS ON THE FLY. PHOTO: THE SUN-HERALD.

He came from Wollongong and the public were told Langlands would be as good as Churchill.

FRANK FACER talks to ALAN CLARKSON     

Adapted by Frank Morris

One of the Wollongong officials, Joe Fitzgerald, a great mate of mine, told me that Langlands would be as good as Churchill. That gave me the loophole I wanted. I told them if they thought he was that good we would pay 1000 pounds transfer and give the club 100 pounds every time he represented Australia.

Our negotiations speeded up when we heard Manly were prepared to meet Wollongong’s asking price. We got our cheque and I raced into the League to lodge it; and Langlands was ours. I have seen many great players turn out for our club; I have seen great players compete against us.

But I rate Langlands as one of the code’s greatest players; one the best ever produced.

Langlands was a fantastic footballer. He could do marvellous things on the field: turn the tide of a match with a run or a tackle, he could inspire his teammates through his own brilliance. As a club man, there have been few better.

GREATEST ENEMY -- LANGLANDS

I have seen him go out onto the field and play when he was so badly injured. But that’s the type of man he was.
Since his retirement I have been asked to pinpoint his greatest game – but I am afraid it’s really impossible. Some games do stand out. Generally, there was something in nearly every game he played that made it outstanding.

Probably Graeme’s greatest enemy in football has been himself. He is a bit of an introvert with a rather brash exterior. Yet when you really know him he is a tremendously shy person. As a competitor, Langlands had this tremendous will to win and a great amount of pride in his own ability.

PLAY A BLINDER

It was pride that made him play again this year when he had every intention of hanging up those white boots after the grand final against Eastern Suburbs.

But, through the accident with the needle he had which, in a million to one chance, hit a nerve, he played badly in that grand final and he wanted to come back and prove he still had it. I told him to play this year, if he wanted to – and as soon as he had played a blinder -- announce his retirement.

Being a realist, he could not see that game coming so he decided to retire after the match against Western Suburbs. I have watched sport for a long time, I have read a lot about sport, but I have never previously come across the acknowledgment the crowd gave him in the 1974 Test match against England.

I will never forget the crowd chanting “Chang Chang”. It was one of finest sporting memories I have. But that is all past, his career is over. You were the greatest.

<< Adapted by Frank Morris from Golden Years published by Forsyth Publication; 1976. Editorial Manager, Frank Morris.

*Graeme Langlands died on January 20, 2018. Frank Facer became secretary of St League Leagues’ Club in 1956. Facer had been Langlands’ adviser since that day in 1963 when the South Coast fullback agreed to join the club.

Next week: Graeme Langlands and St George’s 11 straight grand finals; Langlands winning chart.


Johnny Rapers, one of “league’s immortals”, has dementia

HARD WORK: JOHNNY RAPER WENT ON TO PLAY 33 TESTS FOR AUSTRALIA. PHOTO: FROM THE BOOK, GOLDEN YEARS. Below: RAPER WAS ALWAYS THERE WHEN HE WAS NEEDED. PHOTO: FROM THE BOOK, GOLDEN YEARS.

FRANK MORRIS

It emerged last weekend that Johnny Raper, one of the Saint’s immortals, has dementia and has been in permanent care for the past three or four months at Caringbah, NSW. “It’s not the Johnny Raper as we’d like to remember him,” a former teammate” said.

A weekend newspaper said, “Raper is fighting the same illness as Langlands.”

I had only been waiting a few minutes when the one of the “world’s finest” league footballers stepped into my office at the Daily Mirror. My name is Johnny Raper, he said. I introduced myself. With Johnny Raper, I noticed he had a bent for definite ideas on how to always keep trim and fit.

“I am a physical fitness fanatic,” he said with the usual “Johnny Raper” smile.

In 1968, Rugby League was being boomed as the “greatest game of all”. “The Mirror special writer, Pat Farrell, said, “Rugby League is a game that gives the best and therefore it deserves the best.” And “one of best” I had just met.

PEAK FITNESS

I was editing for the Daily Mirror the book for the 1968 season and Raper, who was now team captain, was one of the golden names who have become legends. So I let Raper talk.

“It is not enough in modern football to practice running, passing, handling and all the other essentials. To get to the top, you must be prepared to push yourself to peak fitness.”

According to Raper, a player’s build-up program starts gradually.

“Don’t try to do too much at the start or you’ll pull a muscle or suffer chronic stiffness which will put you out of action for days,” he said.

HOT AND SWEATY

“Don’t compromise with your exercises – do them properly. If the exercise demands that you touch your toes – touch them! Be care for chills. Don’t stand around in a breeze when you are hot and sweaty.”

I ended the piece with: “Exercises without the aid of costly equipment – are simple. They will help you iron-out some of your physical shortcomings.”

Raper then listed his ideal exercises – the press-up, leg-raising, anchor bends, pull-ups, the bicycle and hamstring stretcher – with 10 lines descriptive copy on each.

<< The Daily Mirror League Year Book, 1968.


Shopwindow: Leader of the pack! Come, watch the dogs perform

THE DOG, THE MASTER: MOLLY DOES A QUICK TURN TO COMPLETELY CORRAL THE SHEEP.

FRANK MORRIS

Molly, an Australian Sheep dog, burst a like a streak of lighting to form a corral around a pack of sheep on the move. Some of them must be thinking, “What we do next?” The dog’s only responsibility were the sheep; he is prepared to wait. The action at Molong, during NSW Sheep Workers Championship, is considered “one of the most prestigious working dog events.” This year’s championship will run from March 20 to 24, 2018.


HAVE FUN WITH FOOD. Okra or okro, known in many English-speaking countries as Ladies’ Fingers. Ochro is a flowering plant in the mallow family. It’s valued for its edible green seed pods.

 

Posted in: Grand Years with Frank Morris at 02 February 18

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