Coffs Harbour Rugby Union announces the Team Of The 1970s
COFFS Rugby started the modern era with a bang.
The year was 1973 and that first season in Far North Coast Zone ended in premiership glory when Tony Montgomery kicked a pressure goal moments from the end of the grand final (in extra time) to deliver a 19-16 victory over Lismore City.
The great No.8 is included in the Team of the 1970s released today to celebrate 40 Years Of Rugby Union in Coffs Harbour.
But we're getting ahead of ourselves.
Rugby Union was the code of choice in the settlement which developed along the Mid North and North Coasts in the late-1880s but many clubs switched to the 13-a-side code in the years after Federation.
Competitions came and went but by the beginning of the 1970s, local rugby was usually played among representative sides or in social challenge matches.
In 1971, Coffs Harbour could hardly scrape up a team to play three social games.
However, the giant was stirring and all stops were pulled out to have the club competing within Far North Coast Zone for the 1973 premiership season.
The Advocate-Opinion of Monday, April 30, 1973, reports Coffs recorded its first ever competition win with a 22-12 victory over Richmond Rangers-Mallanganee.
Geoff Wallace scored two tries, with Garry Munday, Mike Gregg and Laslo Kovacs scoring one try each.
Ken Alderman kicked a conversion.
Under coach Dick Laffan - who later went on to become a legend with the NSW state side - the Coffs lads kept on improving ... and improving ... and improving.
During that memorable year their class showed with a one-point win over Brisbane competition leaders Brothers in a "social" match.
That extraordinary run pinnacled with the premiership win in Lismore, televised locally by RTN-8 Lismore and NRN-11 Coffs Harbour.
Apart from Montgomery, Kovacs was the star of the decider, replacing injured Geoff Wallace four minutes into the match.
The premierships piled up throughout the decade.
Eight consecutive titles between 1973 and 1980 earned a nomination for the Guinness Book Of Records and the honour of being regarded as the most successful club in Australia.
Later in the decade, captain Phil Crofts emerged as a major sporting figure in the city, something he has extended with his widespread influence as chairman of Coffs Harbour Sports Advisory Council.
Former player Vic Bird managed to put the feelings from that 1973 season into context with a recent letter to Des Hoy.
"Still involved in rugby as a sponsor of the Goannas with no fear of being dropped," he wrote.
"Seems like only 41 years ago when we kicked off in Mallanganee and surprised everyone including ourselves by winning.
"That was a memorable day and night.
"Next we played Grafton (?) at Brelsford Oval in the mud and won again.
"After that I was transferred to the Far South Coast with my job on the now defunct travelling dental clinics.
"I played again in 1975 when I set up my own practice in Nambucca Heads.
"In 1983 I had a season with the third grade under-23/over-30 side - we made the grand final but lost - and in 1984, played in a "friendly" sevens game which resulted in me being knocked out and waking up in Laffo's car on the way to Coffs Hospital.
"Then I came out of retirement in 1985 to play for the newly formed Goannas for a couple of years and periodically pulled on the boots to make up the numbers until 1990.
"It was all a lot of fun, aching bones and muscles and too much drinking.
"I'd do it all over again.
"I am looking forward to catching up with you and other old mates at the reunion, as long as I don't have to bring my boots."
Coffs Harbour Rugby Team Of The 1970s
Loose head prop (1) Warren Wise
Hooker (2) Peter Kennedy
Tight head prop (3) Dave Simmons
Second row (4) Phil Crofts (captain)
Second row (5) Cliff Lopes
Blind side flanker (6) Bruce Pearson
Open side flanker (7) Charlie Autry-Hall
No.8 (8) Tony Montgomery
Halfback (9) Larry Ryan
Five-eighth (10) John Forsyth
Left wing (11) Geoff Wallace
Inside centre (12) Laslo Kovacs
Outside centre (13) Graham Lockett
Right wing (14) Mark Winter
Fullback (15) Dave Peasley
Coach: Dick Laffan
Manager: Ken Alderman