THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION of Never Before, Never Again features two new forewords, by Craig Young and Mark Gasnier. Young, of course, is one of the legends of the Dragons’ modern history: a premiership player in his first season at Kogarah, in 1977; captain from 1979 — when he was again part of a grand final-winning side — to 1988; first-grade coach, Kangaroo, icon.
In the book, Young recalls playing under coach Harry Bath, and with a man who’d been a member of the final four of the 11 straight competition wins …
‘Another of the Saints greats from the premiership run, Billy Smith, was still playing in 1977. In my debut game in first grade, during the preseason, Billy took me under his wing. A halfback showing the ropes to a prop? Yes. Billy hit the ball up like an extra forward. He and Harry taught me to use the ball and put a teammate through a gap.
‘And Billy put me through gaps. He’d run at the defence, draw a man and pass, and he didn’t mind if he got bashed or coat-hangered if he could put you into space. Next thing, I’d be running in fresh air.
‘He was so tough ...’