WIZARD: Garry Chapman was a formidable fullback for South Grafton in the 1970s and 1980s. PHOTO: CONTRIBUTED
WIZARD: Garry Chapman was a formidable fullback for South Grafton in the 1970s and 1980s. PHOTO: CONTRIBUTED

Fullbacks in the spotlight South Grafton Team of the Century

SOUTH Grafton Rugby League Club will name a Team of the Century as part of the club's 100th anniversary celebrations.

Each week GARY NICHOLS will take a close look at those in line for selection. The fullbacks are in the spotlight for this first instalment.

Over the years South Grafton has been blessed with some outstanding fullbacks, who would shine in any era.

Safe under the high ball, a good kick-return and the ability to make that last-ditch tackle are all important attributes required to make the top grade.

Below are four players high on the selection radar.

RAY IDE

Ray Ide was no stranger to pain and had an uncanny ability to ignore it.

"Poss", as he was affectionately known, was a gifted athlete who revelled in the tough stuff and took plenty of cheap shots without blinking.

A member of the famous Rebels' 1972 side, "Poss" had a short stint with Parramatta before returning to the Clarence Valley.

He played for all three Clarence Valley sides during the 1970s and won a title with each of them.

A champion fullback who often defended in the front line, "Poss" loved mixing it with opposing forwards - the tougher the better.

BRIAN GRAHAM

Not many footballers can boast that they played alongside the likes of Reg Gasnier, Norm Provan, Johnny Raper and "Poppa" Clay. Nor are they likely to have five consecutive grand final victories for St George on their resume.

Brian Graham was a talented goal-kicking fullback who, after learning his craft for South Grafton in the early 1950s, went on to make a name for himself in the NSWRFL competition.

In 1959 Graham was selected to represent his state and, in 1960, he was the NSWRFL season's top pointscorer.

In his last season in first grade (1967), Graham held the honour of captaining Newtown.

GARRY CHAPMAN

Known as the "Wizard", Garry Chapman was arguably one of the best fullbacks South Grafton produced.

His unorthodox running style and ability to sniff out a try saw Chapman top the Group try-scoring list on four occasions during the late-1970s and early-1980s.

A handy goal-kicker, Chapman was almost unstoppable close to the line and was a standout favourite for the winning double.

Equally at home on the wing or at centre, Chapman was an instinctive player who regularly produced the unexpected.

COL MITCHELL

A brilliant goal-kicker, Mitchell joined the South Grafton junior ranks as an aspiring fullback in 1956 before carving out a successful career in the top grade.

A point-scoring machine, Mitchell had an ability to inject himself into the backline, causing plenty of headaches for opposition teams. In 1959 Mitchell played in all three grand finals for the Rebels on the same day, starting with the under-18s followed by reserve grade before coming on as a replacement in first grade.

Other players under consideration in the custodian's role are former Gunnedah and Western Suburbs junior Tony Muller, who picked up the Group player of the Year in 1992; Mark Hooklyn, who gave his heart and soul to the Rebels over a 16-year period; and Kevin Schwager, the man they call "Mr Reliable", who appeared in four first grade grand finals, winning two in 1959 and 1961.

Next week it's the wingers and, with John Ferguson almost certain to snare one spot, the selectors will have their work cut out naming "Chicka's" partner on the flank.



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