1977 – A Premiership Team Remembered – 30 years on...
1977 was a great year in Terrace Rugby history. That year, the 1st XV team, coached by Lester Hampson and captained by Mark Moore, combined brilliant attacking flair, well drilled Rugby techniques and dogged resolute defence to win our first premiership for twenty one years and, in doing so, become the first undefeated Terrace 1st XV team since 1929.
Thirty years ago, it was the State High game that decided the Premiership. Here’s some background on that memorable game from the 1977 Terrace Annual
From the Terrace Annual Archives
Terrace V’s B.S.H.S.,
Won 14-7 (Mark Moore, Michael Meehan tries, Michael Maranta 2 penalties).
“Terrace met State High in a virtual ‘Grand Final’ on the last day of the season. Both teams were undefeated throughout the season and a capacity crowd witnessed a thrilling game.
Terrace, underdogs before the game, mounted their victory on their heavy-weight pack of forwards and brilliant play by fullback Mark Moore and five-eighth Mike Maranta.
Mark Moore, the Terrace skipper played a cool hand at fullback and cleared his line with two memorable touchfinders that drew sustained applause from a crowd estimated at 8000. He also chimed into the backline to provide the overlap on several occasions and scored a fine opportunist try right on half time.
Terrace crossed High’s line twice, the first time it had been crossed for two seasons, and would have scored more but for some copybook cover.”
Looking back 30 years on........
In recognition of the significance of the 1977 Premiership winning side, we caught up with 1977 captain, Mark Moore. Just before we chat to Mark, let’s turn to his player profile.
From the 1977 School Annual
“Mark Moore – (Captain) Fullback.
A most popular choice as Terrace’s best and fairest player of the year. Mark proved to be an exceptional leader, inspiring his team with his steadiness under pressure and his decisive running with the ball. His dedication and enthusiasm were exemplary.”
B & G: Mark, welcome back to the game 30 years on. Can I take you back to your early days ... where and when did you begin playing Rugby
Mark: I played my first rugby game for Terrace in Grade 9.
B & G: Grade 9! And you’d never played rugby before that?
Mark: I was born and raised in Blackall in Central Western Queensland. I spent Grade 1 to 6 at Blackall. And, I played rugby league for the Blackall Convent School
B & G: Why were your parents in Blackall?
Mark: My father was a drover. He used to come and go. My mother was a cook on the stations. My dad was born in Longreach. My mum was born in Cherbourg. They moved out there for work. The nearest town was Blackall. Dad would go off droving into the Northern Territory, ‘Back of Burke’ basically; and Mum would go out and work out on the stations cooking, leaving my Grandmother in town. One of the good things in my life for me was that when I was very young, I became allergic to horse hair so I could never become a drover.
B & G: How old were you when you started playing rugby league?
Mark: I was under 6 stone, or under 5 stone but it wasn’t a formal competition. Out there, there just wasn’t a formal competition like the State Schools and the Convent School. But we’d follow the local Blackall team. My Uncle was the first aboriginal to play rugby league for Queensland in 1961. His name was Bill Monkland.
He actually played for the Toowoomba All Whites. At that time Toowoomba used to play Brisbane in the Bulimba Cup. In rugby league Toowoomba was very strong. They even beat the Great Britain team. My Uncle played in the Toowoomba team that beat Great Britain.
B & G: So how did you come to Terrace?
Mark: One of the Nuns in Blackall had some connection to one of the Christian Brothers at Terrace. Somehow things happened, discussions were held, and all of a sudden because I was going into Grade 8 I’d come down to Brisbane to live with my parents who were working out of Windsor and all of a sudden I was wearing a hat, coat and tie.
B & G: So how did you finally get into a team?
Mark: Rugby Union was foreign to me. In those days you used to have Trials to get into teams. But if you were in the 13A’s you were almost certain to be in the 14A’s and so on.
Because I hadn’t played before I was in the reserves for the 14B’s as a reserve prop because I was a bit pudgy. Brother O’Dempsey was the coach. One of the fullbacks in the 14B’s got injured and O’Dempsey said ‘anyone want to play fullback?”. I said, “I will”.
So I went on and every time they kicked the ball I caught it and kicked it back 50 yards. I ran reasonably well and never missed a tackle and all that. Then all of a sudden Brother O’Dempsey said ‘OK, you’re the 14B fullback’.
That’s where it started and during that year I started losing a bit of weight as I played more football and I ended up becoming the 14A’s fullback.
B & G: Let’s talk about your first year of being coached by Lester Hampson.
Mark: That was 1975, in the 16A’s. Lester came down and he must have been given some idea of who was who from the previous year. I still carried a bit of weight and he said ‘you know if you’re going to go places you need to be fit’. To be honest when I was 16, I started doing extra work, going for long runs and lost a lot of ‘baby’ fat.
I went from being pudgy to really becoming a fit athlete. In the repeat year I ended up winning the cross country championship and I got the Paul Brannelly trophy. The only reason I went in it was because you got three periods off and because you were fit for football. I used to love running up hills.
B & G: How did you relate to Lester as a coach?
Mark: Lester was a brilliant coach – a true all round coach. Lester was the sort of coach who could give the fullback advice and could also give the front row advice on how to pack. Most coaches, in this day and age, aren’t like that. But Lester, and people like Alec Evans (Brisbane Grammar) and Jim Lucey (State High) at the time were the complete coach. In most of the games Lester had some idea of a game plan for his team, including the final game against State High. I’m not sure if he had other guys going to watch other First XV games. It was those little things that made the difference. That’s why we won five premierships in a row because of the involvement of Lester
B & G: Results for the 1977 season indicate you were you a well drilled outfit?
Was there a basic game plan for each game?
Mark: We had all the plays down pat, no problem. When ever we’d set a scrum, we had a set move and more than likely we scored from it every time. So if we had a scrum in the opposition’s 25, we would automatically score, other than against State High and Grammar.
We were coached so well.
These days if a fullback comes in he wouldn’t get by the outside centre because the five eight takes the inside centre and so on. Whereas in our day the out centre would be taking the other out centre and I’d be through the gap. You only had the full back to beat and if you had a good winger in position you’d score a lot of tries. They were the things Lester had thought about. He knew a lot of the set plays and we scored a lot of tries because of that.
B & G: What made the 1977 team such a dominant force?
Mark: At the end of the day none of us from that 1977 team made the Australian school boys. Yet we were undefeated. BBC, Nudgee, Grammar and State High all had players in the team. Although Tony Parker and Mark McBain later became Wallabies. But the thing that Lester always stressed to us, and I’ll never forget it, particularly when we were lining up against State High was that a true team can beat anybody.
His concept was about ‘a star team would always beat a team of stars’. That’s what he worked for. If you developed good team work and had 15 team members who gelled we could beat the team that has five stars. In the end that’s what he did.
B & G: Let’s talk about the State High game. It has to be one of the most memorable games in schoolboy rugby. State High were favourites?
Mark: Yes, easily. They were raging favorites. They didn’t have a try scored against them all year.
B & G: Can you remember the atmosphere?
Mark: Yes, it was huge. 8,000 people. Both the undefeated teams were drawn to play in the last game. It was funny - Queensland actually played the same day, and that’s why guys like Tony Shaw and Chris Handy weren’t happy because they wanted people to go and see Queensland play Australian Services out at Ballymore. Well they had about 300 people out there and there were 8,000 at State High. At one stage they thought that was going to be a curtain raiser to the other game. I can remember after it the atmosphere, top quality, just a good feeling.
B & G: What do you think turned the tide on the day?
Mark: I think they were pretty confident. Everything revolved around Wally Lewis and Chris Roach. Chris played hooker but he really was a ball player - the ball was sent out and he’d run. What Lester did was tell Mark McBain to stay out the back and keep his head out and wait for Roach to run and that’s what he did. That automatically nullified them because Roach would run and run rampant. Lewis would back him up or Lewis would make the break, and it was Damien Gordon or one of the breakaways that just tackled Lewis. Their whole game revolved around those two players and that nullified them.
B & G: Then on the attack side, how did we score?
Mark: One was from the ball coming across to me from a couple of phases, and the other one was a kick ahead. Wally Lewis later said to me it was the ‘Catholic Bounce’.
We kicked ahead and the ball bounced in goal and bounced back perfectly into my hands about a yard from the line, so all I had to do was fall forward and score.
B & G: Mark, if you had a chance to talk to the teams before they run onto the field today, what’s the sort of thing you’d be saying to them?
Mark: As a footballer, the concept of football would be the star team. For young footballers it’s how well you play together as a team. I think as you get out and get into the Super 14 there are other things like trying to get into the Wallabies, but for the First XV, it’s all about a team of guys who play well together as a team.
B & G: Mark Moore, thank you very much.
Mark Moore attended Terrace from 1972 until 1977, playing 16 Games for the Terrace First XV (1976 & 1977) and captaining the 1977 GPS Premiership Winning Team. At Terrace he was universally and popularly known as ‘Mowgli’ or just ‘Moges’. After leaving Terrace, Mark has led an interesting and varied career, having enrolled in teachers’ training college while playing A Grade Rugby, working for an import company and also for the Commonwealth Public Service. Mark is currently the CEO of the Aboriginal and Islander Community Health Centre at West End in Brisbane.