AS THE STATISTICS SECTION in the new edition of Never Before, Never Again, reveals, the worst losing ‘streak’ endured by St George during their 11-year premiership-winning run was two matches, which happened just three times — once in 1956, once in 1960 and once 1966. They were never out of form for long.
In the book, the great halfback Bob Bugden, who was a key figure during the first six years before transferring to Parramatta, reflects on what made the Dragons of 1956–66 such a unique force …
‘What struck me as a young fellow suddenly a Saint was the pride in the joint … the great lesson I learned at St George was how to win. We didn’t have hypnotists or psychologists psyching us up, but we didn’t need anybody to tell us that we were good. We knew it.
‘We ran onto the field each week believing that we were not going to be beaten. On the occasions we did get rolled, our attitude and self-belief were strong enough for us to put the defeat out of our minds virtually as soon as the final bell went. All that mattered was next week’s victory.
‘Learning to win is a lesson that has benefited me all my life ...
‘When I joined Parramatta in 1962, my main job was making my new teammates believe in themselves. They weren’t fighters like Saints. They’d come off the field after each beating and they’d have their heads down. Ken Kearney, who was non-playing coach, said to me, “These blokes don’t know how to win.”’