...has kindly offered his recollections of the 1956 GPS Season...
1956 was a great year for Terrace Rugby.
Brave & Game has tracked down the members of the 1956 premiership winning team and been able to interview a number of those great players to record their memories of that year and to get their thoughts on what it means to play rugby for Terrace.
Following last week’s interview with Bill Corrigan, this week, we hear from Laurie Petrie who has kindly offered his recollections of the 1956 GPS Season...
B & G: Do you remember your first game of rugby for Terrace?
Laurie: Yes, in 1952 I played a Possibles versus Probables trial match for under 15’s. After that match I sat on the bench for the 15A’s for three weeks before the coach asked me if I wanted to run on for the 15B’s instead. When I showed up to training, the 15B’s coach told me that he didn’t want to change the team three weeks into the season and therefore he didn’t have a place for me in his team.
B & G: Did Terrace have many teams competing back in the 1952?
Laurie: Well back in 1952, Gregory Terrace ran on a 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th team in A grade, as well as a 15A, 15B, 14A and 14B. The year after that, a man named Charles Dillon was good enough to introduced a 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th team for all the boys who couldn’t make the top sides. He actually coached all four of those teams that year.
B & G: So with the new teams introduced in 1953, did you decide to trial again?
Laurie: Actually no, I was bitter so I decided to go elsewhere to see if I could get a game of football. Anyhow, one day Dillon came to our classroom and asked me why I wasn’t playing football. I said, “Well you obviously don’t need me, I’m not prepared to play.” To which he replied, “you blasted Sheila”, embarrassing me in front of my 54 other junior classmates!
B & G: Was 1956 your first year in the 1st XV?
Laurie: No, I had somewhat of a meteoric rise through the grades and in 1955, which was my first senior year, I was picked in the 1st XV. Colin Forbes, an ex-international, helped Br Fitzgerald with the coaching that year and he picked me on my size. He said I was the just the right size to pack down in the scrum.
B & G: How did the 1955 side compare to the 1956 side?
Laurie: Well the 1955 side had 6 wins, 1 draw and 1 loss, compared to the 1956 team which had 6 wins and 2 losses. However, we could only manage second place in ‘55. We would have had a share of the premiership had Brisbane Grammar beaten Nudgee in their final game. The 1955 team had a better record than the 1956 team and I honestly think that the ’55 side was a better team.
B & G: So what position did you play?
Laurie: I was a second row. You didn’t have to be 7ft tall to be a second row back in those days, you just had to be mobile and have plenty of grunt in the scrums.
B & G: The 1956 team had some help from Jim Flynn who had captained Australia. How did his influence assist the team?
Laurie: Well Jim Flynn had a lot of technical expertise but he was about 70 years old. He was no spring chicken! In 1955 the school asked Colin Forbes (also an ex-Wallaby) back to help coach the team, but the difference was that he was only 30.
B & G: Is their any particular game from that season that stands out in your mind as the most nail biting?
Laurie: I remember the final game against Churchie at Victoria Park was an exciting one.
They scored two converted tries in the first ten minutes and we were down 13-0 at half time.
A magnificent second half performance saw us come back to win 14-13.
B & G: Before 1956, Terrace hadn’t won a premiership since 1929. Do you remember how you celebrated after the win?
Laurie: Well at the end of the season we had dinner at Mama Luigi’s restaurant and the 1929 team were actually invited back to celebrate the occasion!
B & G: Have you ever seen a Terrace 1st XV game since you left the school?
Laurie: Yes actually. I went along to the Terrace vs. Nudgee match in 2004, which ended in a bit of a scuffle. Myself and another old-boy, a 1975 senior (David Brown), were sitting on the hill watching it all happen. It just looked like a few playful slaps but it got a lot of media attention.
B & G: If you could, what would you say to this year’s 1st XV?
Laurie: Just don’t get to cocky. Play hard and remember that you and your mates are in it together. If you remember that, you can win any premiership.
Following his completion of senior at Terrace in 1956, Laurie Petrie joined the Christian Brothers as a Novice in 1957. Following two years at Strathfield Teacher Education (Primary), Laurie worked as a teacher at Wagga Wagga from 1960-1962. Laurie then pursued a number of teaching positions from 1963 until 1997, including St Patrick’s Strathfield, Lewisham Christian Brothers, Manly Christian Brothers and 25 years at Brisbane’s St Columbans College.
He taught a wide range of subjects, as well as being involved as a rugby coach in many of these schools. In 1997, Laurie retired from St Rita’s College, which was his last teaching position.