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Interviews Rugby League

int12 - Interview with Noel Thorton, an old Western Suburbs, Cronulla Sutherland player from the late 60's

Posted by... quigs eraofthebiff - on ... Saturday, June 02, 2012


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Interview with Noel Thorton,
an old Western Suburbs, Cronulla Sutherland player from the late 60's

Visit Tony's website for a great read and memories of the Mighty Old Magpies. Click image above



I spoke by phone to Noel Thornton at his home in Tweed Heads about his days at Wests, it was good to talk with one of my Wests hero's. Noel 'Sailor' Thornton was a true clubman who played 100 % week in week out for Wests. He played 35 first grade games between 1965 and 1967. Remember for two of those three years there were only 10 teams in the comp.

Wests paid the Brisbane team Brothers an 800 pound transfer fee for Noel, quite a tidy sum in those days. Noel had played Aussie Rules as a kid before playing Rugby League for Warwick as a teenager. Noel in his prime would play union on Saturday and league on Sunday. Those were the days Noel… During his playing days with Brothers he played for Brisbane against the French touring team of 1964. Newspaper reports of the day said Thornton dominated scrums to give Brisbane a monopoly of possession. Brisbane beat France 23-17.

NOEL top left with headband next to Tony Ford.

Luckily for Wests Noel was spotted by an ex Wests player Pat Leal. Pat played on the wing for Wests 1946-1953. As an aside….( I was told that Pat kept a comb in his football socks when he played and would comb his hair after ever tackle he was involved in.) Noel decided to give Wests a go so as a fresh faced 25 year old Noel moved to Sydney. Wests that year made the Final of the preseason Cup, which at that time was called the Craven Filter Series. Once again we were beaten by St George. The score Saints 15 Magpies 7. Noels first game in the Sydney big time was at the home of Rugby League the S.C.G. on April 3 1965. Noels two props that day were Denis Meaney and fellow Queenslander Brian Kowald the score Saints 13 Wests 9…Later that year Noel would know victory in the State Cup, Wests beat Parramatta 16 to 14.

In 1966 Wests new coach Noel 'Ned' Kelly was in the front row with Sailor and Alan Allison who was having his first year at Wests had also come down from Brothers. Ned Kelly had taken over the coaching from Ken 'Killer' Kearney. Many youngsters came into grade in 1966 including Dennis Pittard who Noel has chosen as one of the best players from his years at Wests. Noel also spoke of Roy Ferguson and Noel Kelly as being outstanding players and teammates. And as far as the opposition goes North Sydney hooker Ross Warner was more than a handful.

Unfortunately for Noel the 1967 season started off with him having a serious knee injury in a pre season game and a major knee operation was required. He played only a handful of games that year for Wests. Noel was living at Cronulla along with two other ex Wests players Jack Gibson (1963-64) and Monty Porter (1955) so when Cronulla made him an offer to play for them in 1968 he once again teamed up with coach Ken Kearney.

..... Shark Days
Noel Thorton slipping into the dummy half position as Sharks Graham Wilson is being tackled by two Penrith defenders. John Monie is behind Noel, to right "unknown", possibly Rod Urqhardt, and possibly Ray Corcoran

Noel was captain for Cronulla for the 2 seasons he played with them 1968 and 1969. Due to a job offer at the Kurnell oil refinery Noel quit football for the time being.

Noel was appointed coach of Cronulla in 1974 following the departure of Tommy Bishop to Brisbane North's. Noel was chosen over Norm Proven for the job. After an unhappy year at Endeavour Field Noel was asked by Master coach Jack Gibson to coach East's reserve grade. That year of course East's 38 beat St George 0 in the famous 1975 Grand Final.

For the next few years Noel coached in the Illawarra district. During this time he coached Wollongong to win the country championship.

Two of the raw young players that Noel helped along the way were Craig Young and Steve Morris.

THANKS FOR THE INTERVIEW TONY......... "Quigs @ Era of the Biff"
Visit Tony's website for a great read and memories of the Mighty Old Magpies.
Click on image to visit


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