HARD TRAINER: John Brown (left) accepts the Group One premiership cup from the Member for Clarence Matt Singleton after winning the 1975 grand final.
HARD TRAINER: John Brown (left) accepts the Group One premiership cup from the Member for Clarence Matt Singleton after winning the 1975 grand final.

Rebels mentors have inspired

SOUTH Grafton Rugby League Club is one week away from naming its Team of the Century.

As part of the centenary celebrations, GARY NICHOLS has analysed 100 years of history and thrown up several names that could appear in the side.

This week the focus is on the great Rebels coaches.

Harry Reed

REED was always destined to become first-grade coach for South Grafton after guiding an undefeated Rebels reserve-grade side to a premiership in 1975, and 12 months later featuring in another Group One decider.

Reed took over the top coaching job from John Brown in 1977 where he remained for the next three seasons. A master of getting the best out of his players, Reed steered the Rebels to first-grade grand finals in 1977 and '79. A brilliant communicator and more than handy centre, Reed was arguably one of South Grafton's finest coaches.

Viv Hodge

ALREADY nominated as a prop-forward in the Team of the Century, Hodge made an immediate impact after arriving from Newtown in 1970. He captained-coached the Rebels to a grand final in his first year, going down to rivals the Grafton Ghosts 12-5 in a mud bath at the Grafton Showground.

In 1972 and still at the helm, Hodge guided arguably South Grafton's best ever side to the title, defeating a strong Kyogle outfit 19-6. Hodge had an uncanny ability to mould young inexperienced sides into champions while leading from the front.

John Brown

AFTER serving his coaching apprenticeship under Hodge, Brown progressed from a reserve-grade title in 1973 to a first-grade premiership in 1975. Brown was ahead of his time as a coach. He believed hard training and discipline were key ingredients to being successful on the footy field.

According to those who played under Brown, "most of them would run through a brick wall for him". Brown returned to coach the Rebels in 1988 and in 1989 guided them to the semi-finals.

Athol Haplin

HAPLIN, a former Queensland representative centre, was appointed to the coaching position at South Grafton in 1958, taking the first-grade side to the grand final before securing the title the following season.

Haplin coached all three grades during his tender with South Grafton and also found time to coach local school sides.

Jerry Brien

BRIEN was certainly no slouch when it came to rugby league. He represented NSW in 1925 and 1928 and if not for injury would have worn the green and gold of Australia.

Brien coached the cup team in 1932 and guided a combined Grafton schoolboy team to an 11-0 victory over a NSW representative schoolboy side. In 1947 Brien went on to coach Canterbury Bankstown and NSW before becoming an Australian selector.

  • Apart from the above mentioned mentors, guys such as Charlie McPherson, Adie Lawrence, Ed Purkiss, Dennis Pye and Gary Maguire all had the right qualities for success in the coaching arena.


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