Immortal rugby player Bob Fulton passed away comforted by the knowledge that the club he loved so much thanks to a former player turned coach on a school playground and a rising star who worked with a young Wally Lewis was going in the right direction.
In what is believed to be his last taped interview weeks before his death, Fulton told NCA NewsWire that the Sea Eagles were on the right track with Des Hasler as their coach and boom rookie Josh Schuster leading the next generation of players.
He also touched on his early days as a player and his move to the eastern suburbs that rocked the rugby league world at the time.
Fulton was on that Radar of several clubs after playing against men in Wollongong as a kid in the mid-1960s.
It was the lure to live on the northern beaches. and the vision that Sea Eagles boss Ken Arthurson painted of the future? that convinced the then 17-year-old to sign with Manly before the 1966 season.
« I’ve been to St. George and Wests (for conversation), but I had an affinity with Manly because we had relatives here. » Fulton explained.
I was with relatives for the first year and as a kid I was just happy to be there.
They were a very caring and family-oriented club, and whatever he (Arthurson) told me came out to carry. They put together a team that could be seriously competitive and we were especially moving in the 70s.
We were in the grand finals in 70, 72, 73, 76 and 78. We were in five big finals and have won four of them? 72, 73, 76 and 78.
Whatever Manly’s success over the years has been Ken’s professionalism and the way he wanted to do things.
Fulton was rarely nervous? on or off the field? But he was shaken when he emerged from a meeting with Kerry Packer, the richest man in Australia, in the most unlikely of situations.
The couple was in Hawaii? one for business, the other for pleasure? when Packer offered Bozo the deal of his life to move from Manly to Eastern Suburbs.
« He was there on a business trip and we were on an end-of-season trip (after winning the Premier League in 1976), » Fulton recalled.
As soon as I got the offer from Kerry Packer, I talked to Ken about it and he said, « We can’t get anywhere near Kerry’s offer. » .
« Back then, players stayed in clubs their entire careers and I would have liked to, but Ken said, » You can’t turn this offer back. «
That calmed me down. I had a young family and this would provide us with financial support for the rest of our lives.
But I definitely did (I lost my sleep). It was a club , where I worked for 11 years, running the club and playing for Australia and NSW from the club.
I was a Premier League captain, it was a big, big decision, but commercially the right one. “
Fulton famously gave Des Hasler his start as a player in 1984 after son Scott, now Manly’s Head of Recruitment, mentioned that his school was looking for an opportunity for a teacher.
Fulton, who is in his second Year coached Sea Eagles, arranged a lawsuit and signed Penrith’s shy kid immediately after Hasler scored six goals in the preseason.
Des taught at the Catholic School in Manly, St. Mary’s, and went on Scott to. I said Scott, e Tell him to call me. Fulton said. « Des called me and I said, » Come on a trial. « I put him in an opposing game against some pretty good players and he got six tries.
» I said yes « Arko » (Ken Arthurson) « There’s a guy you need to see » and told him what he had done (in the trial) and Arko said, « Yeah, we’ll sign him. »
Hasler had a stellar career at Brookvale under Fulton before successfully transitioning to coaching and returning to Manly for a second stint two years ago.
They needed each other and bringing Des in was a masterpiece. He’s the right person in the right position to bring the club back to serious competitiveness.
Fulton nominated Schuster, whom he saw for the first time at the age of 14, as the player who led the revival on the field.
He compared the boom rookie privately to his colleague Immortal Lewis and told those close to him that he had similar traits to the Queenslander champion.
Fulton said, « He’s a one-time player. Just watch how he moves and how much time he has with the ball. »
« With his size and skill, you can be eight by five build a team and a club around him. «
Schuster sent a message of condolences to Scott Fulton before taking on Parramatta last Sunday, promising to make Bob proud with a big game.
The 20-year-old showed a five-star performance as Manly marked the grim occasion with a resounding 28-6 victory over his oldest enemy.
When asked if he would count the Sea Eagles among the elite clubs in Australian sport replied Fulton, « I would. » When you talk about tenure, Manly has been one of the top three or four best teams for any number of years.
« We had a few hiccups in the run, but when Ken decided what he was going to do in the 60s is all fruit. » the way through.
There are a lot of great things that can be said about Manly, and basically it all goes back to Ken Arthurson.
Fulton is the only person who, as a player (72-73), Manly Premierships captain (76) and coach (87 and 96) wins.
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