Small in stature, Tommy Bishop was a giant in regards to his influence on the Cronulla club during its formative years.
As captain coach of the Sharks in the 1973 Grand Final, Bishop took the club within a whisker of their first premiership title in one of the fiercest games ever played.
Known as a brutally tough competitor, Bishop was also a skilful ball-playing number seven having learnt his craft in the UK before making his move to Australia and to the Sharks in 1969.
Appointed Captain-Coach in 1970, Bishop would also play in 1971, sat out the 1972 season while remaining in the head coaching position, before returning to the field in 1973 in the dual role once again.
And this time it was with a beefed-up Sharks side which included fellow English international Cliff Watson, a rising teenage star in Steve Rogers and former club greats such as Greg Pierce, Ken Maddison and Ron Turner, a team which under Bishop’s guidance progressed all the way to the Premiership decider, only to go down to Manly and the genius of Bob Fulton in what is still one of the most talked about Grand Finals of all time.
Bishop left the Sharks after that ’73 Grand Final season, returning to again coach the First Grade side in 1980.
A Great Britain International who played 15 Test Matches for his country, Bishop was rewarded for his efforts at the Sharks when named one of the original club Immortals.
Bishop remains a staunch supporter of the club, even if it is from a distance from the Gold Coast where he now resides and is a regular visitor and guest at Sharks events to this day.
He may not have been Australian, might not be in contention for the Men of League ‘Magnificent 7’ however Tommy Bishop is certainly worthy of being included in the list of the greatest half-back’s to have ever worn the blue, black and white of the Cronulla Sharks.
TOMMY BISHOP FACT FILE
Birthdate: 15th October, 1940
Birthplace: St Helens, Lancashire, England
Representative Honours: Great Britain (1966-69) – 15 Tests
Sharks First Grade Games – (1969-71, 1973) - 60
Tries - 21
Field Goals - 2
Points - 66
NOTE: The Men of League will unveil their ‘magnificent 7’ at a Gala Black Tie dinner to be held later tonight, Thursday, July 16, at Le Montage in Lillyfield in Sydney.
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.