MAGNIFICENT ‘7’ | Terry Hughes
A clever half-back and a consistent goal-kicker, Terry Hughes came to the Sharks from the Wentworthville club in Sydney's Second Division prior to the start of the 1967 season, the clubs first in the elite-level NSWRL competition.
Hughes didn’t miss a match during Cronulla's first two seasons, however his greatest accolade may have come at the end of 1968 when he was named the inaugural winner of the Rothmans Medal as Best and Fairest player.
Voted on by the referees and the equivalent of the Dally M Medal of today, Hughes beat the legendary John Raper by one point to win the award.
The Rothman’s Medal was later awarded to four other Sharks players in Ken Maddison, Barry Russell, Steve Rogers and Gavin Miller, with a who’s who of the game including Tom Raudonikus, Michael Cronin, Ray Price, Peter Sterling, Alan Langer and Ricky Stuart also amongst those to claim the prestigious prize.
The Rothman’s Medal ceased to exist after the 1996 season, with current Tigers coach Jason Taylor the last winner.
Hughes played a leading role for the Sharks in their first season, running out for all 21 games in 1967 as a member of a team led by Monty Porter and also consisting of Warren Ryan, who would go on to coach Premiership winning teams, and long-time first grade referee Jack Danzey.
Against all odds the Sharks beat the Roosters, then known as Eastern Suburbs, 11-5 in their first ever match, with Hughes playing at halfback.
“Our main thought was that we were going to be competitive and at least prove that we deserved to be there,” Hughes told NRL.com.
“It's probably a big step up from second division, your first game in first grade. You're looking at it and hoping that you're good enough to play at that level and that as a team you're going to be competitive.”
"I think it was relief to say that we didn't make a fool of ourselves."
"We won that first game and... I don't think we thought we were going to be world-beaters, but at least we felt we deserved to be there, and that we were going to be competitive during the year.
They may not have set the rugby league world on fire in that first season, however the Sharks were born as an elite rugby league club and as their number-seven and goal-kicker, Hughes played an integral role during those formative years.
The signing of legendary Englishman Tommy Bishop in 1969 saw Hughes afforded limited game time in 1970, before he would return to finish his playing days with his former club Wentworthville.
Now a volunteer worker for the Men of League Southern chapter, Hughes was recently at Sharkies Leagues Club for a special fundraising event run on the back of the first Sharks v Dragons local derby.
The clubs’ first half-back back in 1967, the first-ever Rothman’s Medal winner in 1968, as well as a character and player of immense quality, Terry Hughes is extremely worthy of inclusion on the list as one of the Sharks ‘Magnificent 7’.
Previous Club – Wentworthville
First grade record at Sharks – 1967-1970
11 field goals
NOTE: The Men of League will unveil their ‘magnificent 7’ at a Gala Black Tie dinner to be held at Le Montage in Lillyfield in Sydney on July 16.
In all 14 former players have been nominated, with the Men of League to narrow that group down and announce the seven half-backs who they believe to be the best of all time.
Former Sharks star Brett Kimmorley is one of the 14 Magnificent 7 nominees.
For more on Terry Hughes see an NRL.com article from earlier in the year – Remembering the Sharks Maiden Win – CLICK HERE
And for a list of the Rothman’s Medal winners – CLICK HERE - http://www.rugbyleagueproject.org/awards/rothmans-medal