Former Eastern Suburbs half-back and Rugby League Historian Kevin Junee.
Former Eastern Suburbs half-back and Rugby League Historian Kevin Junee. Brenden Allen

Rugby League history on show

AFTER the South Sydney Rabbitohs had lost seven NRL games on the trot this season, Kevin Junee was starting to expect a phone call from rugby league reporters.

After all, Junee was the halfback with the Eastern Suburbs side of 1966 that didn't win a match in the then Sydney first-grade competition.

"We couldn't even win a trial match," Junee recounted yesterday at the opening of a Centenary of League historical exhibition at the Southern Cross University library in Lismore.

"Because we didn't win a match everyone thinks of me when teams aren't doing well. I thought I might get another mention with Souths doing so badly."

Fortunately for Junee, the Rabbitohs posted their first win in Round 8 over the Cowboys.

Junee, a former Australian representative halfback, now lives locally at Byron Bay and he officially opened the exhibition, which features memorabilia from the National Museum, local competitions and some local players.

Items from Matt King, Chris King, Junee, Ken McCaffrey and Darrel Chapman are all on loan for the exhibition while the first trophy played for in local rugby league, the Howell Cup, is also on display.

The Anthony Shield, which was rescued from a local rubbish tip, is also being shown.

The Anthony Shield was the symbol of supremacy between Group One and Group 18.

The last recorded match on the Shield was in 1976.

Other keynote speakers included former South Lismore and Canterbury second-rower Brian Battese, prominent local Indigenous player and coach Chris Binge, and University vice-chancellor Paul Clark.

Battese recounted to the enthusiastic crowd a story about the 1978 Group One grand final, won by South Lismore over Casino 18-14.

At half-time Casino, who were the unbackable favourites, led 12-2.

Two of their tries had been scored by flying winger Billy Walker, who had played for South Lismore the previous year.

When the teams returned to the field after the break Walker was missing from play.

It seems a group of fans from South Lismore had convinced the winger that it would be in his best interests not to return to the field.

He didn't, the Rabbitohs prevailed and Walker went on to a successful career in Sydney rugby league with Souths and then Canberra.

The exhibition was set up by members of the Richmond River Historical Society and staff at the university.

Entry is free and the exhibition will run for two weeks.

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