You have skipped the navigation, tab for page content

The start to rugby league Immortal Arthur Beetson's tenure as head coach of the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks wasn't ideal when he succeeded Alan Fitzgibbon at the end of the 1991 season.

Hindered by limited funds, the club failed to make any high-profile signings to replenish a roster that had recently lost key figures David Hatch, Jonathan Docking and Barry Russell.

On April 23 1992, the Leader newspaper reported: "With salary cap restrictions, a NSW Rugby League loan to repay and a commitment to improve a dire financial position in 1992, Cronulla could not chase many of the league stars on offer at the end of last year. However, head coach Arthur Beetson moved quickly to grab the nuggety pair of (David) Trewhella and (Charlie) Saab to give some added size and experience to the Sharks."

Along with Trewhella and Saab, Cronulla added promising young backs Kurt Wrigley, Trevor Schodel and Lindsay Bowne.

To add further frustration to the start of Beetson's tenure, the reconstruction of the Western Grandstand at Cronulla's home ground – now known as PointsBet Stadium – forced the team on the road for their opening five rounds of the season.

Through this period, the Sharks only managed one win, a 20-0 trouncing of the hapless Gold Coast Seagulls.

Leading into their round six fixture with defending premiers the Penrith Panthers, Cronulla sat only two competition points off the foot of the ladder.

Fresh off their maiden premiership success, the Panthers were riding high on the ladder, managing three wins from their opening five matches.                 

But the round six match played during this week, on April 26 1992, represented more than the prospect of two valuable competition points for the Sharks – it marked the official opening of the 'Endeavour Grandstand'.

Demolition of the affectionately known 'Meccano set' commenced at the completion of the 1991 season, however the proposal for the new grandstand was born four years prior when a subcommittee consisting of Jack Stewart, Jim Geraghty and Monty Porter was formed to investigate the possibilities of a knockdown rebuild of the pre-existing stand.

The 1991 Cronulla Sharks Annual Report detailed: "The $2.5 million grandstand will seat undercover more than 1800 people, have 12 corporate boxes and provide players and supporters with the best facilities available in NSW rugby league."

The lead-up to the day was heavily publicised through the Leader newspaper with mention of a march past by many of the club's former greats including Porter, Mick Mullane and Hatch.

Cronulla could not have drawn Penrith at a better time, with the chocolate soldiers having seven players backing up after the annual City vs Country clash played only a few days prior.

A heavy defeat to the Raiders a week earlier saw Beetson make a number of changes, moving Andrew Ettingshausen from fullback to the centres, Chris Quinn to fullback and Darren Higgins onto the wing. Young stars Aaron Raper and David Boughton returned from injury, shifting Trewhella and Robbie Kearns onto the interchange bench.

Those in attendance that day were treated to three matches, high jersey numbers, and the famous call of 'doubles on the main game' as they filed in through the turnstiles.

The games commenced with the Presidents Cup match at 11:30am. The Cronulla team, captained by Trevor Schodel, featured future state representative Sean Ryan. Cronulla won the match 20-18.

At 1:00pm, two reserve-grade sides, chock-full of first-grade experience, battled it out as families filed in through the gates for the main game. Captained by club legend Michael Porter and including Dan Stains, Craig Dimond, Saab and Luke Massey, Cronulla lost the match 19-10.

At 2:30pm, Sports Minister George Souris officially opened the Endeavour Stand before the big boys took the field for the main game.

In front of 10,600 screaming fans, Cronulla put in their finest performance of the season.

Led from the front by inspirational skipper Gavin Miller, the Sharks got off to a dream start with livewire halfback Stuart Topper scoring twice within the first eight minutes.

Penrith rallied with a try to hulking City winger Graham Mackay, but Cronulla went to oranges holding a slender 12-6 lead.

Penrith had all the running early in the second half, with test and Origin star Mark Geyer sending his winger Justin Hair over in the corner to cut the Sharks' lead to two.

Geyer himself scored minutes later and it appeared that the men from the foot of the mountains were set to spoil the Sharks' homecoming party.

But like he had done on so many occasions for the Sharks, captain courageous Gavin Miller shot into an opening, linking with Mitch Healey who in turn found Aaron Raper who raced away to score next to the posts.

The Sharks repelled the defending premiers for the last 17 minutes of the match to send their fans home happy with an 18-14 win.

Despite this momentous occasion in the club's history, Cronulla could only manage a further six wins that year and finished the season in 13th position on the competition ladder.

Acknowledgement of Country

Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

Premier Partner

Major Partners

View All Partners