Norm Provan’s remarkable act of courage in the 1962 NSWRL Grand Final against the Western Suburbs Magpies

Many are aware of the incredible feat the St George’s Dragons achieved in the 1950s and 1960s, which saw them win 11 prime ministerial positions in a row to set a record that still stands today.

But everyone knows that the key to that streak was a remarkable act of bravery from Rugby League Immortal Norm Provan in the 1962 Grand Final, in which St George beat the Western Suburbs Magpies 9-6 in the SCG.

Following Provan’s death at the age of 89, rugby league author Geoff Armstrong told a story in an interview with Wide World of Sports that perhaps reflects the human heart better. than any other.

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The St George captain-coach would return to the pitch after a sickening first-half clash and carry the Dragons to the seventh of their straight titles in a heroic one-on-one performance.

“Just before half-time that young second rower, Jim Cody, who was a bit of a brandon – he, as the story goes, girded Norm Provan behind the game and knocked out Norm Provan, and Norm had to be helped get back to the locker room, ”said Armstrong, the author of Spirit of the Red V: A Century of Dragons Rugby League.

“At halftime he was basically flat on his back, (so) he couldn’t address the team. So Billy Wilson, the veteran Saints, who had played for Australia both or previous three years – he had and the theme of the halftime conference was: “We know who belted ‘Sticks”, we’re not going to retaliate, we’re just going to go out there, play good, hard football and win the game ‘.

“And from the second half on, Wests kicked off and Cody runs down the field and as the story goes, Wilson suspends him and gets sent off.

“And St George at this point there are only 11 players left because Provan is not on the pitch either.

Gould explains the legacy of Norm Provan

“I don’t really think Wilson deliberately belted Cody; I think they got together and if it was Wilson’s or Cody’s fault I’m not sure. Wilson swung an arm and grabbed Cody over jaw and he went straight and the ref fired him. “

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According to Armstrong’s account, it was a miracle that Provan returned to the field.

“Provan then came back and his head finally cleared and in the last 30 minutes… he was a heroic figure,” Armstrong said.

“St George hung on… and kept his streak of grand finals (wins).

“Norm Provan was heroic that day. He was flattened. Obviously in 2021 he would have undergone a (head injury assessment) and not returned to the field, but times were different at the time. ‘time. Everyone said he had been seriously concussed. … There is absolutely no doubt that at halftime he was unable to address the team. St George’s medics spent the whole half-time trying to revive him. “

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Armstrong also pointed out that Provan, a sign of his renowned professionalism, made no effort to fight Cody when he returned to the pitch.

“His whole mantra as a coach was discipline… and he was also very good at setting an example,” Armstrong said.

“He had been the club’s best coach for years.

“So Provan’s behavior in the second half, the fact that he didn’t come out to square up, just reflects the fact that he was leading by example. Even though he was in a state of concussion. , he showed this discipline that the club needed to win.

“And he was a footballer smart enough to know that if they fought back it was the only way to get beaten. They were the best team in the competition. They had been the best team in the competition all year. “

Rugby league legends Wally Lewis, Craig Young and Johnny King are among the thousands to pay homage to Provan after his death.

Armstrong followed suit.

“He was the ultimate statesman in the rugby league.”

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