ST GEORGE’S GRAND FINAL opponents in 1966 were Balmain, who were coached by Harry Bath. As one of the great thinkers in league history, a man who had helped design Saints’ winning blueprint, Bath was almost uniquely placed to counter the Dragons. He would go on to coach the first-grade team at Kogarah, winning premierships in 1977 and 1979.
In 1966, not even Harry Bath could prevent an 11th straight St George premiership. Fifty years to the day after this extraordinary achievement was completed, here is how the Old Fox remembered the lead-up to the match when talking to Larry Writer for Never Before, Never Again …
‘I told my blokes before the 1966 grand final to keep the ball away from Saints, eliminate mistakes, put yourselves in a position where [Keith] Barnes could kick a goal. [David] Bolton, [Peter] Provan and [Arthur] Beetson were our only top-class attacking players, but we had Golden Boots Barnes, who’d kicked us to victory over St George before.
‘The other thing I told each man to concentrate on was tackling his opposite number out of the game. If everyone did that job, we’d have no problems. Of course, against St George, this was easier said than done. In attack I told them they’d be wasting their time trying to crash through the brickwall defence and that the only way to penetrate was to run off each other, lengthen the pass, throw cut-outs to confuse their straight line.
‘In the end, we tried hard, but we didn’t have the class.’