FRANK FACER, ST GEORGE’S secretary during the 11 straight premierships, didn’t make many mistakes. Perhaps his worst was to let Kevin Ryan leave for Canterbury in 1967, though the reality is that Ryan wanted to coach and Ian Walsh was entrenched in the role at the Dragons. Facer’s other major error came later, in 1972.
As Saints long-time treasurer Glyn Price (pictured) explained to Larry Writer in Never Before, Never Again, ‘Steve Rogers came to us when he was a teenager. Told Frank he wanted to play for us, because his father was a great St George supporter, but Frank told Steve, “You’re not ready, son, now go back to the juniors for 12 months and then we’ll take you on.” Steve ended up at Cronulla and became one of the best centres of all time.’
Rogers was struck by Facer’s ‘businesslike aura’. He commented: ‘Frank told me I was a bit young and advised me to go back to the Gold Coast juniors for a year. I was very disappointed because my dad and I were so keen to see me in the red and white, but Frank gave me no choice.’
Cronulla have never won a premiership. They have only been runners-up twice — in 1973 and 1978 — with Rogers, unquestionably the club’s greatest ever player, a key figure on both occasions. It’s hard to believe that the Sharks would have reached either grand final without him.
Cronulla are currently celebrating their third appearance in a premiership decider, which will occur this Sunday when they take on the Melbourne Storm. Had the great Frank Facer not made one of his rare misjudgements, most likely it would be their first.