Clive Churchill

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Clive Churchill
Clive Churchill 1952.jpg
Churchill in 1952
Personal information
Full nameClive Bernard Churchill
Born(1927-01-21)21 January 1927
Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia
Died9 August 1985(1985-08-09) (aged 58)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Playing information
Height175 cm (5 ft 9 in)
Weight76 kg (12 st 0 lb)
Position Fullback
Club
YearsTeamPldTGFGP
1946–47 Central Newcastle
1947–58 South Sydney 15713770193
1959 Norths (Brisbane)
1961Moree Boars
Total15713770193
Representative
YearsTeamPldTGFGP
1948–55 NSW City Firsts 823114
1948–57 New South Wales 27415348
1948–56 Australia 37010020
1951 Sydney Firsts 10000
1959 Queensland 10000
Coaching information
Club
YearsTeamGmsWDLW%
1958 South Sydney 18601233
1959 Norths (BRL)
1964 Canterbury-Bankstown 1811166
196775 South Sydney 21113637264
Total247143410058
Representative
YearsTeamGmsWDLW%
195263 Australia 291511352
1959 Queensland 320167
Source: [1]

Clive Bernard Churchill AM (21 January 1927 – 9 August 1985) was an Australian professional rugby league footballer and coach in the mid-20th century. An Australian international and New South Wales and Queensland interstate representative fullback, he played the majority of his club football with and later coached the South Sydney Rabbitohs. He won five premierships with the club as a player and three more as coach. Retiring as the most capped Australian Kangaroos player ever, Churchill is thus considered one of the game's greatest ever players [2] and the prestigious Clive Churchill Medal for man-of-the-match in the NRL grand final bears his name. Churchill's attacking flair as a player is credited with having changed the role of the fullback. [3]

Contents

Background

Clive Churchill was born in Newcastle, New South Wales, and was a star schoolboy five-eighth at Marist Brothers, Hamilton where he won five premierships while at school. The brothers at his school banned him from playing with Central Newcastle juniors and as a result he only appeared for them a handful of times. [4]

Playing career

In 1946 Churchill was graded with Central in the Newcastle Rugby League competition as a fullback. He represented for Country Seconds in 1946 and came to the attention of Sydney talent scouts. He was signed to South Sydney by their patron Dave Spring and moved to Sydney at the start of the 1947 season. Like many top Australian players, Churchill attracted the attention of English clubs, and was signed by Workington Town for £10,000. [5] However, an international transfer ban imposed by the ARL in 1948 meant Churchill had to stay in Sydney. [5]

Under captain-coach Jack Rayner, South Sydney reached the 1949 season's grand final against St. George and Churchill played at fullback in the Rabbitohs' loss. Souths reached the grand final again the following season, this time against Western Suburbs, and Churchill played fullback in the Rabbitohs' victory.

Nicknamed "The Little Master" [4] [6] Churchill was selected to captain Sydney's representative team when they hosted France during the 1951 French rugby league tour of Australia and New Zealand. The match ended in a 19–all draw. At the end of the 1951 season South Sydney reached their third consecutive grand final, this time against Manly-Warringah and Churchill played at fullback, scoring a try in the Rabbitohs' second consecutive victory. Churchill missed South Sydney's fourth consecutive grand final in 1952 as he was away on the Kangaroo tour to England.

South Sydney reached the 1953 season's premiership final, their fifth in succession, and Churchill played at fullback, kicking a goal in the Rabbitohs' victory over St. George. Souths won the 1953 premiership without the need to play a grand final, but this would be the last time such an outcome was possible with the mandating of a grand final to determine the premiership from the following season onward.

At the 1954 Rugby League World Cup, the first ever rugby football world cup, Churchill captained the Australian team, however they failed to reach the final. He would play for the Rabbitohs as they defeated Newtown 23–15 in the first mandatory grand final in 1954. Churchill played Souths' second last regular game of the 1955 season against Manly with a broken arm, winning the game with a successful sideline conversion kicked after the full-time bell with his broken arm wrapped in cardboard. However he was forced to miss the finals in 1955 due to injury.

Churchill played his final Test for Australia on the 1956–57 Kangaroo tour. He captained South Sydney in 1957 and captained-coached them in 1958, which would prove his last season playing for the Rabbitohs. Churchill spent twelve seasons at Redfern, playing 164 games and winning five premierships: 1950, 1951, 1953, 1954 and 1955.

In 1959 Churchill captain-coached Brisbane Rugby League club Norths to a premiership, and was also selected as captain-coach for the Queensland team. He retired from playing at the end of that season, but in 1961 he played a swansong season in the northwestern town of Moree, New South Wales. Churchill had played 34 Tests for Australia and the 1954 World Cup series. He captained Australia in 24 Test matches over a period of six years which including three series against Great Britain. He also played 37 games for New South Wales the standing record for most games by a player for the state.

Coaching career

Churchill, widely renowned for his coaching career, was appointed non-playing coach of the Australia national team for their 1959–60 Kangaroo tour. [7] On the tour the Australians lost the Ashes series to Great Britain but won both test matches against France.

Churchill commenced his NSWRFL Premiership coaching career with Canterbury-Bankstown in 1963. The club finished with the wooden spoon the following season and Churchill was replaced by Eddie Burns.

In 1967 Churchill was appointed coach of South Sydney. He had immediate success, the Rabbitohs winning the premiership in his inaugural year as coach. He steered the Rabbitohs to four premiership victories out of five grand final appearances between 1967 and 1971. Churchill resigned as coach of the Rabbitohs during the 1975 season.

Churchill also had success in coaching the Queensland and Australian teams. Churchill was also commemorated as one of Australias most successful coaches.

Accolades

On 10 June 1985 Churchill was honoured as a Member of the Order of Australia "in recognition of service to sport, particularly Rugby League Football and to the community". [8] Also that year he was selected by the respected publication Rugby League Week as one of the initial four post-war "Immortals" of the Australian game alongside Fulton, Raper and Gasnier. [4]

In 1986 the newly built Clive Churchill Stand at the Sydney Cricket Ground was named in his honour. He is one of six sportsmen and only two rugby league players to have a stand at the SCG named after him. The Clive Churchill Medal has, since 1986, been awarded annually to the player judged best on ground in the season's Grand Final. A plaque in the Walk of Honour at the Sydney Cricket Ground commemorates his career as not only a great player but as an all-time great coach.

In 2002 Churchill was inducted into the Australian Rugby League Hall of Fame and was later named in the South Sydney team of the Century.

In 2007 Churchill was selected by a panel of experts at fullback in an Australian 'Team of the 50s'. [9]

In February 2008, Churchill was named in the list of Australia's 100 Greatest Players (1908–2007) which was commissioned by the NRL and ARL to celebrate the code's centenary year in Australia. [10] [11] Churchill went on to be named as fullback in Australian rugby league's Team of the Century . Announced on 17 April 2008, the team is the panel's majority choice for each of the thirteen starting positions and four interchange players. [12] [13]

See also

Related Research Articles

The Clive Churchill Medal is the award given to the player judged to be man-of-the-match in the National Rugby League's annual Grand Final. The award was created to honour Clive Churchill, one of the greatest rugby league players in Australian history, following his death in 1985. A prestigious honour in the NRL, the medal's recipient is chosen by the selectors of the Australian national team and announced and awarded to the player judged best and fairest on the ground at every post-grand final ceremony.

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References

  1. Clive Churchill. Rugbyleagueproject.org. Retrieved on 2018-07-15.
  2. Century's Top 100 Players Archived 25 February 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  3. Middleton, David (2008). League of Legends: 100 Years of Rugby League in Australia (PDF). National Museum of Australia. p. 31. ISBN   978-1-876944-64-3. Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 January 2010.
  4. 1 2 3 "Famous deeds, names mark NRL golden age". TheHerald.com.au. 5 February 2008. Retrieved 9 August 2009.
  5. 1 2 See Chesterton, Ray; Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright: The Story of the Balmain Rugby League Club, p. 111 ISBN   0949853712
  6. Creswell, Toby and Trenoweth, Samantha (2006). 1001 Australians You Should Know. Australia: Pluto Press. p. 654. ISBN   978-1-86403-361-8.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  7. Ricketts, Steve (27 August 2009). "Darren Lockyer to overtake Clive Churchill on Four Nations tour". The Courier Mail . Queensland Newspapers. Retrieved 31 August 2009.
  8. "Clive Bernard Churchill". Australian Honours Search Facility, Dept of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Retrieved 21 September 2020.
  9. "Team of the 50s named". The Daily Telegraph . Australia: News Limited. Australian Associated Press. 1 August 2007. Retrieved 6 October 2010.
  10. Peter Cassidy (23 February 2008). "Controversy reigns as NRL releases top 100 players". Macquarie National News. Archived from the original on 25 February 2008. Retrieved 23 February 2008.
  11. "Centenary of Rugby League – The Players". NRL & ARL . 23 February 2008. Archived from the original on 26 February 2008. Retrieved 23 February 2008.
  12. Todd Balym (17 April 2008). "Johns, Meninga among Immortals". Fox Sports Australia. Archived from the original on 7 September 2012. Retrieved 17 April 2008.
  13. "Team of the Century Announced". NRL & ARL . 17 April 2008. Archived from the original on 31 May 2010. Retrieved 17 April 2008.
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Keith Froome
Flag of Australia (converted).svg
Australia
Captain

1950-54
Succeeded by
Ken Kearney
Preceded by
Norm Robinson
1958
Flag of Australia (converted).svg
Australia
Coach

1959-1960
Succeeded by
Keith Barnes
1960