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The hard men of Papuan rugby league

Barnes Kaputin Gorton (PNGAA)
Champion footballer, tough politician, accomplished diplomat. John Kaputin (centre) seen here at Rabaul airport in 1970 with Australian territories minister  Barnes and prime minister Gorton 

JOE MORRIS

"Joe Morris was a front row forward from Moresby rugby league days. He responded to an article I wrote for Les Everett’s Australian Rules website in the following terms about some of the great rugby league players who played in Port Moresby in the sixties" - Richard Jones

NEWCASTLE - Digger Annand’s given name was James and he now owns a bottle shop in Newcastle.

I was a member of the DCA side that won in 1966. Barry Kenny, also in the side, later played for Queensland.

Mark Harris, a bruiser from Konedobu, ended up playing for Easts, then NSW and Australia. So there were some greats who played in that comp.

John Kaputin [pictured addressing a crowd of angry 10,000 Tolais at Rabaul airport, later Sir John and secretary-general of the Brussels-based African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States] was a great player a nice bloke too.

He helped us in a riot one Friday night I’ll never forget. We were playing Konedobu and John was playing.

We flattened one of the Kone players and the crowd erupted and were storming the fence around the field.

John jumped the fence got hold of the loudspeaker and gained control. It wasn’t nice. We had heaps of SP beer in the club that night.

Comments

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Jeanette Phillips

Hi Everyone, I am the daughter of Bill Phillips who played for Paga in the mid-1970's.

I am trying to put together a collection of memories and stories from his playing/coaching days in Port Moresby.

If any of you have anything I could add, it would be greatly appreciated.

Maggie Mauri Willie

To anyone who might have known Willie Dogo (my dad) who played for Magani Badili in the 70's and was selected to rep the Papuan side to play in Rabaul against New Guinea in 1973/74.

Sadly, he passed away on 25 August 2023 at his home on his sick bed

We would appreciate if you could share some photo if any of you have any.

Thank you and be blessed.
______

Unfortunately I can't share a photo Maggie but, on behalf of our readers and myself, let me express our sadness at the death of your father, who was clearly a good, eminent and much loved man - KJ

Geoff Drake

I just became aware of this site. I played with Kone Tigers from 1961 to 1970 and recall many of the names in these posts.

I also played for Papua in the annual inter-territory games and for New Guinea in 1971. That was the last game that New Guinea won.

I do have quite a few photos of teams and programs.
________

Kone Tigers was always a formidable team. As a spectator during the years you played, Geoff, thanks for the skill and the great entertainment - KJ

Dave Wilkins

I'm not sure how I stumbled onto this website but it brings back strong, very fond memories of Moresby rugby league in the mid-1960s.

In 1965 my friend Tim Britten (who sadly died way too soon in February 2021) played for Kone Tigers and I played 5/8 for Magani-Badili. We were both in the Army.

Magani-Badili reached the semi finals that year but I don't recall much of it as I was carted off unconconscious, apparently from a stiff-arm tackle occurring several minutes after I had passed the ball.

Interestingly, both Tim and I were also playing rugby union for Colleagues. Midway through the season we each received a letter from the Australian Rugby Union saying it was aware were playing THAT professional game and that, if we had received any money, we were automatically professionals and must stop playing the amateur game.

BUT if no money had passed our way, and because rugby union was in its infancy in TPNG, we could continue both games until the end of the season.

That we did and thereafter played rugby union only, each returning to Australia in 1968 to play for Parramatta Two Blues. Great memories.

Warren Turner

In response to the comment from Dylan Starr from 2021. The New Guinea rep jumper, I think, was a bottle green colour with a yellow V. If so it definitely is a New Guinea rep guernsey.

Charlie Harrison gave me his in about 1963. He played wing for New Guinea against Papua and he was No 5.

In that era, guernseys were numbered No 1 fullback, 2 & 5 wingers, 3 & 4 the centres, 6 - 5/8, 7 - halfback, 8 - lock forward, 9 & 10 second rowers, 11 & 12 props and 12 the hooker.

The Papuan rep guernsey was all white with two black Vs.

Warren Turner

In response to an earlier message from Shae. Firstly Shae, my sincerest condolences on the passing of your Dad from melanoma cancer in 2003.

I also played for Kone and was diagnosed with Stage 4 melanoma in 2019, but was lucky enough that medical research in the ensuing years since your Dad's passing had discovered new drugs to rid that cancer.

We can only hope and pray that these brilliant researchers will continue to discover more answers to this debilitating disease. But, as I said, my thoughts are with you.

I have a couple of photos from the early 60's and possibly had left TP&NG before your Dad arrived. When did he first get there and was your Mum in Moresby as well?

Warren 'Wazza' Turner

My name is Warren Turner and I played rugby league for Kone Tigers in 1963 through early 1965 before I was posted to Kerema with the Education Department.

I've been in touch with players of that era since and am looking forward to more.

Back in 2005 I was able to meet up with a few Kone players at a Kone night organised by Dadi Toka.

And my wife and I were honoured to have dinner with Leila and John Kaputin here in Port Macquarie in 2017.

Keith has a longer piece he tells me he'll post tomorrow. If anyone wishes to respond to my previous post, contact Keith, who will pass your request through to me and I'll be able to respond via email.
_________

If you'd like to make contact with Wazza, drop a note to me here on Comments or by email if you have it. And, yes, more brilliant memories from Wazza tomorrow - KJ

Shae Allen

Hello
My Dad, John Allen from Wollongong played for the Kone Tigers around 70/71. He passed away in 2003 aged 53 from Melanoma cancer. If anyone has any old photos I would love to see them!
Thank you
Shae

Arthur Dimento

I played with Magani in 1960, marked John Kaputin (a very fast winger) on several occasions. Didn''t cover myself with glory.

John later served the PNG parliament and was knighted. A great athlete.

I still have the team photo from that year. 'Old Timers Disease' has caught up with me and sadly I cannot remember all the names.

Roger Holmes

A death notice for Pat Beston appeared in the Brisbane 'Courier-Mail' on Saturday 21 August 2021.
_________

Thanks Roger. There is an excellent string of comments on an article, 'The hard men of the Papuan Rugby League' which can be found on PNG Attitude here - KJ
https://www.pngattitude.com/2007/12/the-hard-men-of.html

Geoff Hancock

It may help if you describe the jersey, Dylan, meaning is it an inter-territory one or just a club jersey from Papua or New Guinea.

According to Rugby League News, John Kaputin was the hero of the match on 11 June 1961 when Papua downed New Guinea.

In the closing stages New Guinea led 18-17 before Kaputin went down the centre for 40 yards to score wide out for Barry King to convert with his fifth goal.

Allan Jessep captained Papua and Brian Johnson, former Rugby Union international led New Guinea.

Richard Jones

Even though I think you've emailed me directly, sorry Dylan, I wouldn't be any help.

I didn't arrive in PNG until late 1963 and when I became involved in PNG rugby league it was in Moresby - the home territory of the Papuan Rugby League.

Have you asked Keith for names/email addresses of officials, players and referees with New Guinea affiliations from the early sixties? I'd suggest the ranks are thinning rapidly.

One thing I do remember. The twice-yearly Papua vs New Guinea rugby league clashes were full-on, often very physical, matches. The capacity crowds at the PRL headquarters stadium at Boroko were swept up in it all each and every time.
_______

Richard is correct and those hard men of rugby league on the New Guinea side (estimable types like Terry Shelley and Bill Phillips) are no longer with us. Perhaps young Sean Dorney (PRL representative and PNG international) may remember who that number 10 might have been - KJ

Dylan Starr

Can anybody help me identify what team or player could have worn a match-worn New Guinea rugby league jersey from 1961.

It has the number 10 on the back . Probably a prop.

Any help would be appreciated.

Ross Wilkinson

In 1973 I was posted to Port Moresby and had a room at Touaguba Hostel. A young English kiap, Paul Joyce had the room next to mine.

One afternoon we jumped into my Datsun 1200 Hatchback and took off towards Jacksons. I can't recall now what we we intending to do.

We got to Boroko on Hubert Murray Highway when we got held up by traffic. All of a sudden people started running through the shopping centre and onto the highway and I suddenly remembered it was the Papua vs New Guinea rugby match.

A man ran in front of my car carrying a large rock which he proceeded to hurl through the rear window of the car in front of me, smashing it.

I turned to Paul and said "Let's get the hell out of here." and pulled the fastest u-turn anybody has ever seen.

We got back to the hostel intact and had several cold beers to celebrate our good fortune.

Richard Jones

Hello Greg and Miki - We left PNG in late 1976 so the dates you're talking about Greg were after our departure.

And Miki I seem to recall riots/crowd invasions at various stages during various interleague fixtures.

See if KJ can forward you Allyn Hicks e-mail address. He was a resident of Moresby right up to his retirement in 2004, was a former player with the Magani-Badili club in Moresby and has contributed R.L. stories on this website.

Greg Laws

My name is Greg Laws and I was seconded to the PNGBC at Lae in 1978 and played rugby league with Marshall Lagoon in the Lae first grade competition.

I also played for the combined Lae side (against the British Amateur team with game abandoned as crowd invaded the field late in the match) and for Northern Zone.

I was wondering if there are any records of the competition results from 1978. The only memorabilia that I have is a copy of the local newspaper (Lae Nius) previewing the 1978 Lae grand final.

Miki Danga

I am searching for old pictures of a Papua versus New Guinea rugby league game that ended in a riot.

My late father, Michael Danga, was one of the New Guinea players.

If any one knows of this match or has old pictures, please do forward them to me. I will very much appreciate.

Matt Rendell

I have heard about rioting between Papua and New Guinea rugby fans in about 1973, that became widespread and caused some lighter-skinned Polynesians to go into hiding. Does anyone have any information about this?

Arthur Williams

Nice to read a few of those old posts, I wonder if the site is still active as I would like to catch up with some of the old ( now ) guys. I played in Port Moresby with the Kone Tigers 70, 71 Captain/ coach and 72 with Dennis Mculloch, I left there in early 73. A lot of names in there I know.

Joe Morris

An update on some players from the rugby league in Port Moresby in the 1960s/70s.

James 'Digger' Annand, now retired and is living in Newcastle.

Barry 'Popeye' Richards and Joe Morris are in Taree.

Jim Hammond has passed on.

Garry Anderson has passed on.

John McKeough is in Port Macquarie.

Peter Foreman in Melbourne.

Garry Allen in Brisbane.

Warren Allen on the Gold Coast.

Peter Moore in Hobart.

Brian Wakefield in Sawtel, NSW.

They are all old players from DCA.

Tristan

I recently found many Papuan Rugby League badges from 1960's and early 1970's and have posted them on Ebay current August 2019. May interest someone here??

Dexter Freeme

In 1973 I was captain/coach of a rugby league team in Illawarra, the Fairy Meadow Chargers. We played a team from PNG university. They were captained by Adrian Wickham.

PNG won 31-25 and the report of the game in the local paper said that it was the best exhibition of rugby league seen for a long time by two very classy teams. We went on to the win the premiership undefeated that year.

I still have the photo taken of both teams prior to kick off. I also was a mate of Denis McCulloch who coached Kone Tigers, we played rep touch after retiring from the main game.

Peter (Goose) Goodwin

To Kela Kapkora Sil Bolkin - I very much enjoyed reading your post of 14 December 2015 as Vani was not only a great team-mate but a good friend over many years. Can you tell me if Vani is still alive?

Denis McCulloch

I was wondering if any old Kone Tigers players and officials are still active with sport generally.

It would be good if we could keep in touch with each other. Maybe even a reunion?

Rowena Collins

Rod Hard doesn't know the full story of Bruce Pollard (my uncle), a supremely talented footballer.

He doesn't mention of the jealousy or bullying Bruce experienced from the older St George players, who were well past their prime.

Terry Laundry

What great memories reading these comments. I played for Paga from 1974 - 1976 with Steve Shiffman, Bill Phillips and Sean Doerney. Allan Hicks was coach for the first couple of years, then Duncan ? took over as coach. When I arrived in POM in early 1974 I was introduced to Paga Pete (don't remember his real name)through an old friend from Sydney. He then lined me up to play with Paga. It was a great way to get to know people. Didn't win too many games.I remember playing against Digger Annand and John Douglas from DCA. Fabulous memories

Anthony Van Dyk

I remember the grand final of 1969. It was a great game.

I played Union for Illacarada 3rd Grade. I worked for Steamy's. It was a hell of a year. I never returned.

Keith Harris was the stand-out player and later played for Easts.

John Standeven

Just found this site. Very interested in Joe Morris if it is the same man who played with DCA in the 1960s with fullback John Standeven.

I am pretty sure Joe worked at South Pacific Brewery and was from Taree. David Hibbard I think was coach and came from Coffs Harbour.

If it is the Joe Morris that was in that side it would be great to catch up one day. I hope he is still with us.

Annette Stuckey (nee Brennan)

Boy! are there some memories in these posts. I was tied up with Hawks and the Four Mile club.
Thanks for the memories

Geoff Learmonth

Adrian Saunders, I remember Sam well. We played under 18's for Valleys in Brisbane in 1964 and won that premiership undefeated.

We both went to PNG in the late 60's and ran into each other again in 1969 when he played for Papua against New Guinea, which was as intense as QLD v NSW in those days.

Sam stayed at my house at the time in Madang. We ran across each other sometimes when we sold cars in Brisbane in the 80's, hope he still going well.

 Madi Kema (Nee Willie)

Any magani players who have photos or newspapers about magani club or about Willie Dogo's (my father) rugby highlights, please kindly send to me on my email([email protected]) for my collections.

R.J. (Bob) Johnston

Comment for John Christopher: My wife and I were in Rabaul 1960/67 and knew both your parents. Although not connected with the Army Club and recall Arthur Edwards I did have an involvement with Rugby League initially as a selector and later as a referee. If you care to contact me I will try to provide some of the information that you are researching. My mobile number is 0411 407 340

Dave Gallagher

The 1968 Paga premiership team that beat Kone had a strong Roosters connection. Mike Phillips, Ron Gallagher, Tony Hadfield. Tony Walton, Mick Plant all played with Roosters in the top grade. Bruce Pollard had played with St George before playing in Port Moresby.
Does anyone remember the score in the 1968 grand final and how many tries mark Harris scored?

Kela Kapkora Sil Bolkin

Peter (Goose) Goodwin, I went to the village on Saturday and found Vani Gerega at Paramana (Marshall Lagoon) and told him about you. He had fond memories of those days with Magani Badili and the Papuan Team and shed some few tears as his mind renege down history lane.

'Tell Goose that I am now a fisherman. I sleep during the day and go out on my canoe in the night to fish and sell in the village for a living.'

His house is adorned with news paper clips and photos of those nostaligic days.

'A reunion of the Magani Badili players in those days would be good', he said.


His mobile number is 79644778.

Peter Foreman

I had the great pleasure to play two seasons in Moresby in 1967 and 68 with DCA. I still look back on those two years as some of the greatest times in my life.

I was fortunate to play with great players like Billy Stokes, Digger Annard, Peter Moore, Garry and Warren Allan, Clive Quinlon, Mackie, Bob Page Joe Morris, Tommy Sothern, Garry Tobin, Boss Hammond, Gill Smith and others.

We were fortunate to play against players like Mark Harris, Mocker Van Heckerine, TV Ted Ellery (Ted the Head) , Yogi O,Connell, Boydie Hodges, Ron Gallager, Mike Phillips and many more.

I have great memories of the Aviat Club, and Friday nights at the Four Mile Club.

William Dunlop

Anyone recall Bubbles Bradley? Knew him in Popondetta in 1972 when he was RPNGC Commander. Enjoyed a cold one on a hot evening. One no nonsense hard man.

John Christopher

I am looking for any information re New Guinea rugby league, special interest in Rabaul rugby league prior to 1974.

John Christopher

Hi, I am researching my late father's involvement in New Guinea rugby league.

At various times he held executive positions, but at this time I can't find any trace - he was the president of Army in Rabaul around the time Arthur Edwards was playing for NG and Mark Harris for Papua.

Any and all information would be greatly appreciated.

Peter (Goose) Goodwin

Does anyone know how I can contact Vani Gerega who played for Magani Badili first grade 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972 and 1973, and who I understand lived at Marshall Lagoon?

Adrian Saunders

My father, Sam Saunders, was also an Australian playing rugby league in PNG. He has fond memories of the time he had there. He is currently living at Banora Point and is keen to attend any reunions.

Mike Rohan

Hey Wayne Miller, are you still alive? Give us a yell.

Peter Goodwin (Goose)

Hello Madi Kema (nee Willie), I remember your father very well. It is wonderful to hear from you. I also passed on your comments to Pat Beston. He also remembers your father.

 Madi Kema (Nee Willie)

My father Willie Dogo also played for Magani club. He got the Pat Baston Shield in 1973 in the reserve grade. The shield still hangs on the wall in his village home. He was then elevated to A grade team by Boyd Hodges after Goose left. Dad also played for Papua, that was held in Rabaul. My dad has very good memories of all the Australian & PNG players. He calls them by nicknames and wishes to meet up in reunions if any arises.

Philip Rali

I'm looking for Errol Goode if he is still alive or dead. Anyone who has ideas about his whereabouts can contact email me on [email protected] or FaceBook. Need help pleass!

Tony Goodwin

My father, Peter Goodwin (Goose), played for Magani Badili from 1969-1972 until leaving to return to Australia in 1973.

Dad played with team mates such as John Flynn (Chook) who is now deceased, Boyd Hodges and Don Fox plus great mates & clubmen like Pat Beston.

Magani won 1st Grade Premierships in 1969, 1970 & 1971 from memory. Dad played for Papua as well with Mark Harris and many other top players originally from Australia and also some from PNG.

The greatest time of his life he says to this day was Port Moresby in those years.

I still remember the Badili Club & Lloyd Robinson Oval from when I was a small kid.

Dad lives near Coffs Harbour NSW and attends reunions where he's met former players like Dennis McCulloch from Kone Tigers.

Dad & I knew Barry Van Hekkeren (spelling?) very well. He was at Eastern Suburbs Roosters for many years and also coached Paga in Dad's days at Magani.

Joe Morris

Just an update on some old hard heads from league days in the 1960s

Digger Annand is about to sell his bottle shop in Newcastle.

Peter Moore works for the council in Hobart.

Doug "Clevo "Williams is living on the Sunshine Coast.

John McKeough lives on the Gold Coast.

Pale Whale has passed away.

Garry Anderson lives in Yamba.

Tex Bullock and myself live in Woolgoolga on the mid north coast of NSW.

Richard Jones

For Wayne Miller. DCA's strip was white with a mid or a royal blue V, maybe yoke. Paga was pale blue. All over.

You'd never want to be owing $20 or any other amount to Hawks' hard man, Darcy Goode.

He was frightening, both on and off the field. Barry Stevens was known, quite rightly, as The Whale.

DCA brought up a front row forward, also very big but fair-skinned and gingerish-haired. He was promptly christened 'The Pale Whale' Can't for the life of me remember his actual moniker.

You'd remember Don Bensted, secretary and general overall go-to man at Paga.

I used to do radio wrap-ups and previews on 9PA Port Moresby with Donnie. Couple of inter-Territory live blow-by-blow calls from the Boroko ground as well.

Incidentally John Stuntz, a behind the scenes man at Magani-Badili and a lifelong Manly Sea Eagles man, passed away recently in the Philippines. He was early to mid-80s, I think.

Magani-Badili wore a maroon and gold hotch-porch. Can't recall exact configuration.

Wayne Miller

To Bruce Sheeky: DCA's strip was predominantly white.I think with either a dark blue or black stripe.

Meanwhile I would love to have a Hawks reunion some day. As the days spent at the 4 Mile club were memorable to say the least.

Maybe 2017 would be a good time, marking the 50th anniversary of Hawks double/treble. With the titles going to Reserve/ A Grade/ and the baseball team in the one season.

Where are all the stalwarts of that era?

Wayne Miller

It has been 42 years since I left PNG, and the memories of the good times at Hawks RL den at the 4 Mile Club still remain.

How can one ever forget his first game of R/L. Having the "pleasure" of marking one Mark Harris in reserve grade before his elevation with Kone Tigers. He not only ran around me, but over me and through me!

Suffice to say I was better suited to the bar and the grandstand.

How can one ever forget the dual premierships of the "Mighty Hawks" in 1967. Players like Barry Stevens; Darcy & Errol Goode; "Pickles" Reynolds; 'Commanche'; Johnny Oberdorf, and many more that my memory has not caught up with yet.

Plus the Four Mile Friends and Hawks supporters of me & my brother Johnny. The God, The Lout, The Snake, The Gypsy Tap, Nev Trass; Joe and the one and only GD. If you're reading this Tommy Moss, you still owe me twenty bucks!

Also that year '67, I was privileged to play for Hawks in the premiership winning baseball team. With brother Johnny, Graeme Dunnage, Terry Healey, Dennis Turner, Pete Plowman and Norm, who belted one over the fence to seal the title for Hawks.

Great times, great fun, great people!

Bruce Sheekey

As an addition, I remember Hanuabada played in the South Sydney strip; Kone in the Balmain strip, Paga in the St.George strip & Magani in the Manly-Warringah strip. I can't remember DCA's playing strip.

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