For Brian Cox and Terry Hughes the memories may be diminishing but their contribution to the Cronulla cause will never be forgotten, with the pair from the Sharks first-even first grade game back in 1967 paying a visit to Sharks training today.
Cox, the fullback and Hughes, a clever goal-kicking half back who would go on to win a Rothman’s Medal the following season, played in that first game exactly 48-years ago to the day (April 2), in a match against the very same opponent the Sharks will face this Sunday.
Hughes kicked four goals in an 11-5 Sharks victory, their first match and first win in the premier NSWRL competition. The win came against a Roosters side coached by the late, great Jack Gibson.
“I don’t remember too much about the game to be honest, only that their captain came into our sheds afterwards to say ‘I’m not sure who needed the win more, you or us’,” Hughes said, referring to the fact that the Roosters had been winless throughout 1966.
The Roosters would go on to qualify for the finals in 1967 under the guidance of Gibson, making the first-up victory more meritorious.
Finding the going tough in that inaugural season the Sharks would finish with the wooden spoon in 1967 after recording three wins and a draw from their 22 games. Their other victories came against Parramatta and North Sydney, the draw in a match with the Balmain Tigers.
Hughes would finish 1967 as the Sharks leading scorer with 139 points on the season, while playing in all 22 matches. Cox ran out in 15 games in 1967, scoring two tries.
Some notable rugby league names such as Warren Ryan, who would become a respected and successful coach, referee Jack Danzey and the late Monty Porter were members of the 1967 Sharks side.
However for both Cox and Hughes there were a couple of teammates who stood out from the rest during that 1967 season.
“Eric Barnes and Dave Cooper, they were both 80 minute players with huge work rates,” Cox said.
Hughes added; “I loved playing with Eric Barnes. There wasn’t much of him and he played lock forward, but he was non-stop in attack and defence.”
While visiting Sharks headquarters the pair met some of the current NRL squad, while taking a tour of Remondis Stadium, bringing back plenty of memories.
“We played out of Sutherland Oval in 1967 but when we came here it was called Endeavour Field and the grand strand was just scaffolding and the dressing rooms were both in the same shed out the back with a thin wall dividing the two teams,” Hughes said.
“You could hear what the other coach was saying at half time.”
And imparting some wisdom on the current Sharks team, Hughes had some simple words of advice for Jeff Robson and his 2015 teammates.
“They have a good team, I just think everybody is trying too hard. They need to play as a team, not to try and do it all themselves as individuals,” he added.
Winners 48 years ago to the day, the Sharks are hoping the result from that match at the Sydney Showground way back when is something of an omen for a successful outing at Allianz this Sunday.