Pre-Twitter Rugby League stories that would’ve broken the Internet, by @ItsMitchell180

By @ItsMitchell180

If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is around does it make a sound? More importantly, if social media isn’t around does rugby league become embroiled in a salacious crisis?

While we cannot categorically confirm the tree in the forest…

[Yes we can, we can just put a microphone in the damn forest. We can put microphones on referees, why not on a conifer? – JJ]

… we can confirm (not sure if happily or sadly) that before the world of social media, footy players and referees most definitely found themselves in some interesting situations.

#Lulham #TheMilfMan

If Twitter had existed in 1953 the name “Bob Lulham” would have trended for at least two months. It’s a story that puts most storylines in soap operas to shame, because it’s doubtful even Home and Away would go near a storyline like this.

His mother in law was charged with trying to poison him, but that’s not even the best part of the story. He was also having an affair with her. We just spent a week coming up with euphemisms for Konrad Hurrell’s exploits – not doubt Twitter would have gone into meltdown had Lulham been playing just 50 years later.

His mother in law was found not guilty, and Lulham retired from footy that year having played 85 games and scoring 85 tries for Balmain. Here’s the story:



No scandal list is complete without Julian O’Neill – and limiting his inclusion to just one scandal was damn hard.

Trying to set a boy on fire would have been a social media sensation, but the infamous “poo in the shoe” would have broken the Internet. Before Nate Myles took a dump in a stairwell, a not-so-sober Julian O’Neill had already taken non-toilet pooping to another level when he, ahem, relieved himself in the nearest round hole he could find: his team-mate Jeremy Schloss’ shoe. What’s best is that he clearly did it for fun – evidenced by him telling another team-mate, proudly:

“I just shat in Schlossy’s shoe!”

#DrHoppa #Proctopoate

It’s still famous now, but the efforts of Dr John Hopoate made waves across the globe. Had Twitter and Facebook been around then, though, Hoppa would be as much of a global household name as Michael Vick because, sometimes, pictures tell a thousand words:


Source: News.

It’s clear that Cowboys players Glenn MorrisonPeter Jones and Paul Bowman didn’t appreciate the free prostate exams Hoppa was dishing out. Maybe if John used his finer for good rather than evil — making Swiss cheese, perhaps? — we’d remember him differently.

But probably not.

#DarcyFarce #RefsFault

Don’t know the name “Darcy Lawler”? Well, if you love a refereeing #crisis – who doesn’t? – or blaming a ref for a loss, go back to the 1963 grand final in which Wests were denied a try controversially, and Dragons star Johnny King scored a controversial try in which Wests claim that he was held and King said the ref yelled out “play on”.

Yeesh, can you imagine Twitter during THAT grand final?!?!?

#ARUinDECLINE #DallyMercenary

Code wars keep some websites open and people on Twitter in a constant battle over which code reigns supreme, but the biggest “code war” of them all was Dally Messenger crossing over for the cash.

Without doubt, this would have caused epic meltdowns on social media on both sides of rugby, with trolls and the like claiming Dally was a #mercenary and that “Loyalty is Dead”.

That would have meant we’d have a century without the “loyalty is dead” line being used whenever a player leaves a club, because Dally would apparently have killed it in its infancy.

#NSWRLinDECLINE #PrideOfTheForfeit

Social media really missed a lot in the early years, and 1909 offered a scenario which still gets brought up when footy banter is in full swing.

[You’re speaking my language now Mitch – JJ.]

First up, a schedule #crisis kicked off the day of the Grand Final with a cross-code match between the Kangaroos and Wallabies to be played on the day, with Souths and Balmain slated as the warm-up game prior to it.

Both Wests and Souths reportedly agreed not to play, but Souths – according to Balmain historians – burshed the agreement, turned up, kicked off against no-one, regathered the kick and scored, thereby winning by default.

[I always wondered what would have happened had the kick not gone the 10…– JJ.]

#CourtneyOUT #Courtnius

Some say Ricky Stuart is under pressure, and on Saturday Twitter was in overdrive when his Raiders suffered another big defeat — but he has nothing on Ed “Tedda” Courtney.

While coaching Canterbury in its debut season in 1935, Courtney oversaw two consecutive losses of 85 (91-6) and 80 (87-7) points — although unlike Ricky will this year, Canterbury didn’t finish last.

Thanks, University!

Check out more of Mitch’s musings here.


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