Last week I had the great honour of sitting down and chatting with a Manly, NSW and Kangaroo legend.
It was none other than Manly backrower Terry Randall, or as he is known around the northern beaches, ‘Igor’. For those of you who are too young to have witnessed this superstar play the game, I’ll fill you in.
Terry is considered one of the toughest blokes to ever pull on a Manly jersey, though you wouldn’t pick it upon meeting him. Seemingly gentle, very polite, a smile from ear to ear, yet a handshake that made my knuckles crack. A subtle reminder of just how rugged this guy was.
To be brutally honest, I was a little nervous upon meeting Terry, considering this is a bloke that boasts 208 appearances for Manly, 13 caps for NSW and 11 Tests for Australia – an incredible achievement – and not one of his games for the Sea Eagles was off the bench. He is regarded as one of the most brutal, hardest hitters and most technically proficient defenders in the history of the game.
Predominantly a centre early in his career, Terry made a wildly successful switch to the backrow. It was a move that proved very rewarding; he earned selection on the 1973 Kangaroo Tour as a 22-year-old. Unfortunately, a broken thumb kept Randall from making his debut. Terry would in fact have to wait until the 1975 World Series competition to get his full international opportunity. It was in front of a packed Lang Park when it finally arrived, Australia thrashing the Kiwis 36-8. Terry played a starring role, scoring a try.
The 1970s was a golden era for the Manly club – the Sea Eagles were without a doubt the team of the decade. Competing in the 1972-73, 1976 and 1978 Grand Finals, Manly won all of them after failing to win a title in the club’s first 25 years of existence. Terry played a major role in each of the successes. The 1978 season was arguably his greatest. In a 19-5 win over rivals St George during the regular season, Randall became the first player to receive a perfect ‘10’ rating from Rugby League Week magazine.
As successful as 19 78 was for Terry, it also took a major toll on his body. Manly entered the gruelling finals series as favourites and went on to win the premiership. But it wasn’t an easy feat. In the lead-up to the Grand Final, Manly would be forced to play six games in 24 days, followed up by the now-infamous drawn decider against Cronulla, having to play again for a result just two days later. This was taxing on ‘Igor’ both mentally and physically. A certainty to tour with the Kangaroos at season’s end, Terry withdrew from selection due to exhaustion – a decision he later regretted.
The 1982 season saw the end of Terry Randall’s illustrious career, in what can only be described as a modest exit for a player of his stature. Manly would again contest the premiership decider, this time around though, they came off second-best to a brilliant Parramatta outfit. Terry announced his retirement right there and then, telling teammates he had simply had enough. There would be no press conference, no interview and no fuss – a true testament to Terry’s character and the way he went about playing the game: tough and unassuming.
Retirement may have seen Terry giving away the game he loved. But he did not walk away from his beloved club. Post-retirement, he moved into the administration side of footy, where he continued to play a major role as a long-serving member of the Manly board.
So it was off to Brookvale I went, not to the spiritual home ground of ‘Silvertails’, but to a small industrial estate where Terry now runs his successful excavation business.
We talked all things footy, from how Manly will finish the year, to the problems with big names not being retained. I of course did not leave out the very famous incident of 1987, when a packed Brookvale Oval hill brandished a sign suggesting ‘Rambo’ Ron Gibbs should ‘GIVE BACK RANDALL’s JUMPER’ after the Sea Eagles firebrand signed with the Gold Coast Giants.. It was a moment Terry remembers as very humbling, despite his myriad achievements at the highest levels of Rugby League.
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