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Seasons In Review
(Contents)

Introduction

1907 - 1920

1921 - 1925

1926 - 1929

1930 -1934

1935 -1939

1940 -1944

1945 -1949

1950 -1955

1956 -1959

1960 -1963

1964 -1966

1967 -1969

1970 -1973

1974 -1979

1980 - 1984

1985 - 1989

1990 - 1993

1994 - 1995

1996

1997 - 1998

1999

2000 - 2002

2003 - 2005

2006

2007

St George Dragons Rugby League History
Since 1921 - Our Proud History
2000-2002
2000 and beyond...
HISTORY SPOT

SYDNEY 2000 OLYMPICS
2000 - The 14 team comp
The year 2000 saw the departure of a number of foundation teams. Balmain and Western Suburbs formed into the 'Wests Tigers' joint venture. South Sydney were omitted from the competition after taking a 'stand alone' position and resisting any merger, instead choosing to fight their case against the National Rugby League in the courts. Another foundation club, North Sydney virtually disappeared and were absorbed into the 'Northern Eagles' franchise with the Manly Warringah club (established 1947).

2000 - St George and Illawarra 1st Division teams are merged
The St George Dragons and Illawarra Steelers first division teams (second grade) have been merged into the St George Illawarra Dragons so as to be consistent with the NRL first grade team.
2000:
Season snapshot
In 2000, Saints failed to make the top eight and finished in ninth position.
2000 - The Year of the Dragon
In a year which promised so much for Saints, 2000, the Chinese 'Year of the Dragon' will go down as one of the worst seasons on record.

The team was racked with injury in a lineup which had already lost key players, many of whom retired at the end of season 1999. Additionally, the year was marred by in-fighting and in particular, the 'Mundine saga' which reached a dramatic conclusion by mid-season.

DRAGONS THRASHED BY MELBOURNE 70-10
Melbourne Cricket Ground, 5 March 2000: The Dragons have suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of 1999 premiers, the Melbourne Storm by 70-10. Stunned Saints' supporters watched in disbelief as their team fumbled in the miserable conditions and completely capitulated, conceding more points than any other Dragons team before them. A few days prior to the match, controversial five eighth, Anthony Mundine was reported in the press as saying that Storm didn't deserve to be the premiers. He was criticised after the match for motivating the opposition. Post match quotes - click here

MARK GASNIER SCORES ON DEBUT
Mark Gasnier - St George rugby league historyMarathon Stadium Newcastle, 24 March 2001: 19-year-old, Mark Gasnier (pic right) was called into the first grade match against Newcastle to replace Matt Cooper who withdrew after injuring himself in the pre-match warm up. The nephew of St George great, Reg Gasnier the centre / winger had a dream start in the top grade when he scored the match turning try in the 63rd minute.
An exciting match, 12,874 people saw Wayne Bartrim convert the Gasnier try from out wide to give Saints a one point lead.

Jamie Ainscough scored late and Saints ran out winners 25-18.

Brian Johnston - St George rugby league historyDRAGONS CEO RESIGNS
Sydney, 2 April 2000: Popular Saints' CEO, Brian Johnston has resigned from his position citing health reasons. A speedy back, the Dunedoo junior played for NSW & Australia. He played for

St George from 1980-89 and was captain in his final year before injury forced him to retire. Johnston (pic left) became St George Chief Executive Officer in 1996 and was named Australian team manager for the 1999 Test series.

2000
NRL First Grade
Ladder

(top 8 in semis)
(Wests-Balmain joint venture, Norths-Manly joint venture.
Souths gone)
Brisbane p 38
Easts 32
Newcastle 31
Canberra 30
Penrith 30
Melbourne 29
Parramatta 29
Cronulla 26
St George 24
Wests Tigers 24
Canterbury 21
Auckland 18
Nthn Eagles 18
North Qld 12
p = Season Premiers

Dragons
2000
AFTER 26 ROUNDS
Minor Premiership
Won-Lost-Draw
W
L
D
12
14
0
Points For 576
(5th best attack)
Points Against 656
(12th best defence)
MP Standing
9th

(14 teams)
THE MUNDINE SAGA
Anthony Mundine - St George rugby league historySydney 26 April 2000: Anthony Mundine doesn't show up to training and is reported to be on a flight to USA.
Sydney 2 May 2000: Saints' management have sent a letter today to Anthony Mundine instructing him to front the club's board of directors to explain his reasons for leaving the country. 'Choc' returned to Australia from Honolulu on the morning of May 2 and explained that he simply needed time to 'chill out'. He had a  private meeting at Sydney Airport with coach David Waite and father Tony Mundine prior to being swarmed by a large media scrum.


MUNDINE QUITS DRAGONS FOR SECOND TIME
Sydney, 3 May 2000: Anthony Mundine attends meeting with St George Illawarra club officials who have called on Mundine to explain why he left the country without club permission.
After the 15 minute meeting, Mundine immediately announces his retirement from Rugby League. Two days later he announces that he will be pursuing a career in boxing.

This is the second time Mundine has left the Dragons, the first time
being in 1997 when he joined the then Super League club, Brisbane. 
Mundine's career was dotted with controversy. In 1998 he was involved in a racial discrimination inquiry with Canterbury forward Barry Ward. Mundine claimed he has been racially vilified in an on-field incident.

In 1999, after gaining selection in the City Origin team, Mundine proclaims that he is the 'best five eighth in the world'. Still in 1999, Mundine is chosen to play reserve for New South Wales in all three State Of Origin games against Queensland, scoring a try. Mundine is given little time on the field and often found himself playing at the unlikely position of hooker. 1999 became Mundine's most controversial year to date as he attracted more media attention than ever before. The year finished in disappointment for Mundine. The Dragons lost narrowly in the grand final and then there was Mundine's subsequent exclusion from the Australian squad to take on New Zealand and Great Britain in the Tri-Nations Series, Matthew Johns and Brad Fittler being preferred by the selectors. Mundine claims that the selection for five eighth was made on racial grounds.

By the year 2000, Mundine had become a target of a hungry media searching for a story. He reacts by making a series of comments about established players, Brad Fittler and Laurie Daley. He states that he always outplays Fittler and that Daley is 'running on old legs.'

By May 2000, there was simply far too much activity in 'Choc' Mundine's wake for the saga to continue any further. One of the most naturally gifted Rugby League players of his time, Anthony Mundine played 126 matches for the Dragons, scoring 59 tries. He went on to a successful career in boxing.


Amos Roberts - St George rugby league historyAMOS ROBERTS RE-WRITES HISTORY BOOKS
WIN Stadium, 6 May 2000: Saints' winger, Amos Roberts (pic right) has scored 22 points (one try plus nine goals) and Nathan Blacklock scored a hat trick of tries as the Dragons ran riot against a hapless Auckland side. In the 72nd minute, Roberts scored a well deserved try after a simple catch and pass movement close to the opposition's line. This gave him a personal tally of 22 points which is new record for a first grade player on debut.
Saints ran in nine tries to post a convincing victory of 54-0 over the Warriors.


SAINTS BOARD DECIDE: DAVID WAITE TO GO

David Waite - St George rugby league history Sydney, 30 May 2000: The StGeorge Illawarra board has decided to sack coach, David Waite at the end of the current season. He will be replaced by co-coach, Andrew Farrar in 2001. Brian Johnson has been retained as first division coach. David Waite came to the St George Dragons in 1996 when the club was in crisis. He was a third choice coach after Brian Smith left and Rod Reddy abandoned the Dragons during the height of the chaotic Super League war. Waite's attitude in early 1996 was to control those things which could be controlled. The Dragons almost went all the way in that year only to be beaten in the Grand Final. The Coach of the Year Award was suspended in 1996 but David Waite was voted 'Coach of the Year' by his peers.

TRENT BARRETT WINS DALLY M AWARD
Trent Barrett wins Dally M award - St George rugby league historySydney, 1 August 2000: Trent Barrett wins the  'Dally M' PLAYER OF THE YEAR award. Barrett received 28 points to beat off late charges from Brett Kimmorley and Andrew Johns. As well, Barrett is named as five eighth and Nathan Blacklock  is named as winger in the 'Dally M' TEAM OF THE YEAR. Blacklock also receives an
award for TOP TRY SCORER. Other Dragons' players receiving recognition were Amos Roberts and Luke Brannighan who were both nominated in the ROOKIE OF THE YEAR section. The event was often highlighted by cheers from the upstairs gallery of fans where Saints were well represented. Presenters included ex-Dragons, Steve Edge , John Raper , Norm Provan and Graeme Langlands.

ST GEORGE GREAT PASSES AWAY
St Raphaels Church, Sth Hurstville, 23 June 2000:
Jack Lindwall's funeral

JACK LINDWALL
COMPS: 1939 - 1949

GAMES: 133

PREMIERSHIPS: 1941, 1949

RECORD MOST TRIES FOR ST GEORGE IN ONE GAME: 6 tries, 3/5/47 Vs [email protected] Hurstville

EQUAL RECORD MOST POINTS IN ONE GAME: 36 points, 3/5/47 Vs Manly @ Hurstville
TRENT BARRETT FEATURES IN WORLD CUP SLAUGHTER
Aussie Bullet - St George rugby league historyGateshead UK, 1 November 2000: News from the old dart is that Australia has beaten Russia by 10 zillion to nothing in front of about 3,000 people. This score (actually 110-4) has been classed as a world record of some sort. Trent Barrett scored two tries. In another World Cup match it was great to see ex-StGeorge forward, David Barnhill representing Ireland and still offloading as good as ever. Barnhill's most recent footy career has been with the successful Burleigh Bears on the Gold Coast.

Manchester, 26 November 2000: Red hot favourites, Australia have defeated New Zealand 40-12 in the World Cup Final at Old Trafford in front of 44,000 people.


Brad Mackay retires from rugby league

Brad Mackay - St George rugby league historyBradford UK, 22 December 2000: Former Dragon, Brad Mackay, 31, has announced his retirement from
Rugby League. He was playing in the UK for the Bradford Bulls in 2000.
A local St George junior, Mackay began his career with the Dragons in 1987. He represented NSW (17 times) and Australia (12 tests, the first in 1990) and he won the Clive Churchill medal in the 1993 Grand Final despite playing in the losing side. He quit St George in 1994 following ongoing arguments over the captaincy with coach Brian Smith. After a year with the ill-fated Perth side Western Reds, he turned his back on Super League to join Illawarra for two years before joining StGeorge Illawarra in 1999. His last match for the Dragons was the 1999 Grand Final. Widely regarded as one of the best lock forwards to ever play for St George, Mackay was a versatile player who could put his talents to numerous positions. One of the gentlemen of the game, Mackay played a total of 218 first grade games (117 StGeorge, 21 Reds, 56 Illawarra, 24 StGeo-Ill).
Mackay plans on returning to Australia to take up a job as a fireman.


2001:
Nathan Brown - St George rugby league historyNathan Brown forced into retirement

HISTORY SPOT

25FEB2001: DON BRADMAN DIES
3 February 2001: Dragons' co-captain, Nathan Brown (pic left) has suffered a neck injury in a pre-season trial against Canterbury.
So serious was the injury that Brown was numb from the neck down and had to be air-lifted by helicopter from the field.
He fully recovered but tests revealed that he had a congenital problem with his spinal chord and he was forced into early retirement.
Originally from Maclean in northern NSW, Nathan Brown came to St George as a youngster in 1993. 'Brownie' played in three grand finals with Saints in 1993, 1996 and 1999.
Helicopter air lift - St George rugby league history Mixing surfing with Rugby League, Brown went on to be CO-captain of the Dragons and was widely regarded as one of the best hookers in the game. His dummy half play was outstanding and he often topped the tackle count. One of the best players never to play for Australia, let alone NSW, Nathan remained as a highly respected footballer at all levels of the game. In all, he played 171 matches and scored 32 tries.

Craig Smith falling on Kevin Walters - St George rugby league history The judiciary Vs the Dragons:
Craig Smith forced out of the country

2001 was notable for a number of reasons but much controversy was centred on frequent visits to the NRL judiciary by St George players.
Judiciary chairman, Jim Hall met with no less than four Saints players with Craig Smith, Jason Ryles, Trent Barrett and Wayne Bartrim all receiving suspensions. Smith in particular was attracting judicial attention and was ultimately forced out of the country.
Click here for full story

Season snapshot
In 2001, Saints finished 26 rounds of football in seventh position and qualified for the semi finals.
The Injuries start to mount
In 2001, forward Luke Bailey was ruled out for the season with a torn pectoral muscle. Saints had  a horrendous run of injuries and at one point, they had more than half their team out. Matters became absurd when utility player, Jason Hooper was sidelined for eight weeks when he partially severed a finger with a power tool in his home. These injuries saw a string of defeats and some supporters were calling for the sacking of coach Andrew Farrar. The club rejected these calls and signed Farrar to a two year deal in April.


TINGHA HAT TRICK  WINS MATCH
Blacklock and Gasnier - St George rugby league historyLeichhardt Oval, 3 June 2001: Winger Nathan Blacklock has scored his second hat trick of tries for the year including a brilliant solo effort right on full time. With less than three minutes remaining, 'Tingha' ran 70 metres down the sideline and put in a kick over the head of the Wests Tigers' fullback to score the match winning try. Blacklock celebrated behind the posts with an aerial display of somersaults and cartwheels to the delight of Dragons supporters, some of whom starting chanting his name. A great Rugby League moment which 'brought the house down' for the 13,154 people in attendance..
The Tigers held a 14-nil lead after 16 minutes but were unable to go on with it as the Dragons scored three tries to nil in the second half and winning 27-22 thanks to Blacklock's try. Hooker, Mark Riddell was successful with the conversion to give Saints a five point win.

(Pic: Blacklock congratulated by Gasnier)


Nathan Blacklock - St George rugby league historyTingha snubbed: magnificent try scoring record not enough
June 2001: The omission of try scoring machine, Nathan Blacklock (pic right) from the NSW team in the second State of Origin match caused outrage throughout the footballing community. For the first time ever, 'Tingha' was showing the strain of constant rejection from the selectors and at one point, he was quoted as saying he was ready to quit Rugby League.

Lance Thompson - St George rugby league history Lance Thompson
Jamie Ainscough and Trent Barrett (later withdrawing through injury) retained their spots in the NSW team while Blacklock gained some reward when he was selected in the Country Origin team along with team mate Jason Ryles. Lance Thompson was honoured with the captaincy of the City Origin team and Mark Gasnier was named in the run on side. Veteran, Colin Ward gained debut rep honours when he was also selected in the City side.

Nathan Blacklock sets new try scoring records
Nathan Blacklock became the competition's leading try scorer for the third season running with 27 tries and has scored 20 tries or more for four seasons in a row - a feat never before achieved by any player.
'Tingha's' 27 tries is a new St George club record and breaks Tommy Ryan's record of 26 tries in one season which was set in 1957
.
2001
(top 8 in semis)
Parramatta 42
Canterbury 37
Newcastle p 33
Cronulla 32
Brisbane 29
Easts 27
St George 26
NZ Warriors 26
Melbourne 23
Nthn Eagles 23
Canberra 19
Wests Tigers 19
North Qld 14
Penrith 14
p = Season Premiers

Dragons
2001
AFTER 26 ROUNDS
Minor Premiership
Won-Lost-Draw
W
L
D
12
12
2
Points For 661
(5th best attack)
Points Against 573
(5th best defence)
MP Standing
7th

(14 teams)

FINALS
W
L
1
1
Points For 51
Points Against 66
Final Standing
7th

TOTALS
28 matches
W
L
D
13
13
2
Points For 712
123t 109g 2fg
Points Against 639
105t 109g 1fg

Dragons 2001 Top point scorers:
Mark Riddell 130 points (6 tries, 53 goals)
Nathan Blacklock* 112 points (27 tries, 2 goals)
Wayne Bartrim 100 points (2 tries, 46 goals)
*Blacklock's record with Saints 1998: 20 tries; 1999: 24 tries; 2000: 25 tries; 2001: 27 tries.
Saints in the semis
Saints defeated Canterbury by just one point (see below) but their NRL season finished the following week when they were defeated by Brisbane. The first Division team advanced to the Grand Final and once there, had no trouble of disposing of Parramatta 34-10 to become 2001 Champions.


HISTORY SPOT

PLANES CRASH INTO WORLD TRADE CENTER
SAINTS WIN QUALIFYING FINAL BY 1 POINT
Sydney Showground Homebush, 8 September 2001: Saints have defeated Canterbury 23-22 in a punishing Qualifying Final encounter at Homebush. A try to Matt Cooper, courtesy of a brilliant pass from Trent Barrett and a field goal by Willie Peters (recalled to first grade) saw Saints home after they trailed 14-12 at halftime.

Willie Peters - St George rugby league historyWILLIE PETERS
Willie Peters (pic left in Saints alternate jersey) originally played half back for South Sydney before having a successful stint with Wigan (UK). He was signed in 2001 and started off well before injury and a drop in form saw him demoted to first division. Coach Andrew Farrar's decision to recall Peters to first grade paid dividends as Saints won their sudden death encounter against Canterbury.

SAINTS BOW OUT IN HIGH SCORING SEMI
Mark Riddell - St George rugby league historySydney Football Stadium, 15 September 2001: In a match that saw 72 points scored, Saints have lost to Brisbane 44-28 and are now eliminated from the 2001 NRL competition. This is new record for points scored in semi final match.
A crowd of 19,259 were on hand to see Brisbane steam roll Saints early and race away to a 20-nil lead after just 15 minutes.

Saints did come back into contention and following a try to Jason Ryles in the 70th minute and they were only eight points behind. But they were never able to make up the deficit. Two late tries to the Broncos sealed the match.

(pic right: Mark Riddell kicking another goal in round seven)


SOTV pic Trent Barrett - St George rugby league historyThe Kangaroo Squad
Port Moresby, 7 October 2001: Four Dragons were named in the Kangaroo Tour Squad. Wearing the Green and Gold in 2001 were Trent Barrett (pic left) and debutantes, Jason Ryles and Mark Gasnier as well as none other than Nathan Blacklock who was named in the run on side to take on the Papua New Guinea Kumuls on October 7th. He also played in the third decisive Test in the UK. Tingha finally getting long overdue recognition.

Departing players 2001:
Colin Ward - St George rugby league history
Colin Ward
Jamie Ainscough - St George rugby league history
Jamie Ainscough
Paul McGregor - St George rugby league history
Paul McGregor
Craig Smith - St George rugby league history
Craig Smith
Wayne Bartrim - St George rugby league history
Wayne Bartrim
Andrew Hart - St George rugby league history
Andrew Hart
Jamie Fitzgerald - St George rugby league history
Jamie Fitzgerald
Nathan Brown - St George rugby league history
Nathan Brown


2002:
Season snapshot
In 2002, Saints qualified for the finals, eventually finishing seventh in a 15 team competition.
Mark Riddell's double trouble
Stadium Australia Sydney, 21 March 2002: Saints Hooker, Mark Riddell has been sent off in the 'Easter Double Header' against the Bulldogs when he went in late and high on Bulldogs five eighth, Braith Anasta.

Referee, Bill Harrigan had no hesitation in ordering the season's first send off after the replay showed a late elbow connecting with Anasta's chin. The match was eventually won by the Bulldogs 33-14.

Bulldogs stripped 37 points for cheating cap
August 2002: The biggest rugby league news item of 2002 involved competition leaders the Canterbury Bulldogs breaching the NRL salary cap by approximately $1MILLION over the last two seasons. The NRL, in an unprecedented move, responded by deducting the Bulldogs of 37 competition points, effectively delivering the disgraced club the 2002 wooden spoon.
The NRL judiciary subsequently suspended Riddell for four matches.

WIN Stadium Wollongong, 12 May 2002: St George Illawarra Dragons hooker, Mark Riddell was sent off by Referee Paul Simpkins. He was later charged with a grade two reckless high tackle on Canberra Raiders' five eighth, Mark McLinden. Replays show Riddell coming in high just after McLinden got a kick away. The match was eventually drawn at 21-all.
Riddell had little option but to plead guilty and was sidelined for a further four matches. This was Riddell's first match back following a similar incident in round three.

Nathan Blacklock quits Saints for rugby union
Nathan Blacklock - St George rugby league historySydney, 04 June 2002: It has been confirmed that Nathan Blacklock has been granted a release from the Dragons. The champion winger requested the release after stating that he had 'lost his passion for the game'.

Nathan's departure from Rugby League sent the media into a frenzy and speculation that he was contemplating joining rugby union were confirmed when he signed a two year deal with the NSWRU.

The competition's leading try scorer for three seasons running, Blacklock has since shown a desire to return to the National Rugby League following a less than happy stint with Union club, Southern Districts.
In 2001, Blacklock set a new club record with 27 tries in one year, surpassing Tom Ryans's record of 1957.
Career statistics (up to and including season 2002):
Club
Games
Tries
Goals
Points 
Easts 95-96
5
1
0
4
StGeo 97-98+StG-Illa 99-02
23+89 = 112
20+79 = 99
0+14 = 14
80+344 = 424
Total 
117
100
14
428
More: Nathan Blacklock page - click here

Dragons dominate complacent Warriors
Ericsson Stadium Auckland, 23 June 2002:
A depleted St George-Illawarra broke the New Zealand Warriors winning sequence with an upset 32-22 win at Ericsson Stadium in Auckland. 

Seeking a ninth successive win, the Warriors came unstuck against a rampant Aaron Gorrell - St George rugby league historyDragons team missing many regulars through injury or on State of Origin duty.

The Dragons big forwards stopped the Warriors in their tracks with stand-in half back, Aaron Gorrell (pictured) putting in a near perfect kicking game. Normally a hooker, Gorrell took full advantage of his opportunities in a first half display that saw the Warriors searching for answers.

Dragons' captain Lance Thompson led by example and was well supported by a host of willing helpers. Illawarra junior Ben Hornby capped a storming game with a brace of tries as did Lee Hookey.

St George stretched their 16-4 halftime lead out to 32-8 with three tries after the break which finally stirred the Warriors into action and gave themselves a sniff of a late comeback. But the Dragons remained intent on notching their fourth win of the season.

NZ Warriors 22 (Tries: Carlaw, Fa'fili, Webb, Toopi, Laui'titi. Goals: Jones 1/3 ) 

St George Illawarra Dragons 32 (Tries: Hornby 2, Hookey 2, Thompson. Goals: Riddell 2/3, Gorrell 4/5 ) Referee: M Cecchin. Match pics - click here
2002
(top 8 in semis)
(Souths re-admitted)
NZ Warriors 38
Newcastle 38
Brisbane 37
Easts p 35
Cronulla 34
Parramatta 26
St George 25
Canberra 25
Nthn Eagles 24
Melbourne 23
North Qld 20
Penrith 18
Wests Tigers 18
Souths 14
Canterbury*
8
*Canterbury deducted 37pts for salary cap breaches
p = Season Premiers

Dragons
2002
AFTER 26 ROUNDS
Minor Premiership
Won-Lost-Draw-Bye
W
L
D
B
9
12
3
2
Points For 632
(6th best attack)
Points Against 546
(7th best defence)
MP Standing
7th

(15 teams)

FINALS
W
L
1
1
Points For 50
Points Against 62
Final Standing
7th

TOTALS
26 matches
W
L
D
B
10
13
3
2
Points For 682
124t 91g 4fg
Points Against 608
107t 89g 2fg
Season summary: The win over Warriors in round 15 was the best game of the year for the Dragons. Fielding a side of virtual reserve graders, they outclassed a strong Warriors outfit humiliating them in front of their home crowd. The Warriors however, were in a forgiving mood when in round 26, Saints defeated last year's premiers, Newcastle, 40-22 effectively handing the minor premiership to the New Zealand side. The Warriors went on to be eventual grand finalists only to lose to Sydney City. In 2002, Saints also defeated the Brisbane Broncos 28-20 in round 11 but the highlights were far and few between with Saints only managing nine wins to scrape into seventh position on the ladder.
They defeated Newcastle 26-22 for the second week running in the first preliminary final but went down a week later to arch rivals, Cronulla 40-24 in the semi final.

Overall Saints struggled for consistency in 2002 with many supporters blaming coach, Andrew Farrar.

Dragons 2002 Player stats, first grade:
Most games (out of 26): Lee Hookey (25);

Jason Hooper (25); Shane Millard (23);

Justin Smith (23).

Most tries: Lee Hookey 18 tries (25 games);

Mark Gasnier 12 tries (14 games)

Most goals: Mark Riddell 44 goals (18 games)

Aaron Gorrell 28 goals (16 games)

Most field goals: Willie Peters 3 fg (NRL's best)

Most points for 2002:
Mark Riddell 10t+44g+1fg = 129 pts (18 games)
TEAM 2002 - FULL SQUAD
Click on the pic for larger image (220 kb)
Team 2002 - click here - St George rugby league history
Player movements, 2002:
Gains (to play in 2003): Brett Firman (Sharks); Lee Bennett (Roosters), Henry Perenara (Storm), John Cross (Panthers), Don Dickson (McLean), John Wilshere (Panthers) and Hassan Saleh (Wests).
Losses: Nathan Blacklock (Rugby Union); Justin Smith (Souths); Willie Peters (Souths); Lee Hookey (Souths); Jason Hooper (St Helens); Ben Ross (Panthers); Clint Hill (Tigers); Jason Kent (Sharks); Christian Hill (Eagles); Shane Millard (released).

LOWER GRADES GRAND FINALISTS Telstra Stadium Sydney, 6 October 2002: While the Dragons' First Grade side failed to go on with it in 2002, the lower grade First Division and Jersey Flegg sides both qualified for their respective grand finals. The Nathan Brown coached Jersey Flegg side were runaway leaders in 2002 but the minor premiers fell at the final hurdle going down by one point in the grand final (23-22) courtesy of a Roosters' field goal with only 90 seconds remaining.

First Division side, coached by Mick Potter went down in similar circumstances losing the lead with only four minutes remaining, the defending premiers going down to the Bulldogs by two points (24-22).

2002 ACTION OFF THE FIELD
RETURN TO KOGARAH:
Saints to play five games at Jubilee in 2003
Kogarah, 05 September 2002: The Dragons will be playing at Kogarah Jubilee Oval in 2003, the St George Illawarra club confirming the move by official media release.

The Dragons will play five 2003 NRL home games at Kogarah and seven home games at WIN Stadium, Wollongong. The pre-season Charity Shield match against Souths will remain at Aussie Stadium (SFS).

Dragons chief executive officer Peter Doust made the announcement at Kogarah Oval. "Aussie Stadium [Sydney Football Stadium] is an outstanding sporting facility but it is not in our community," said Doust.

Doust said the Dragons Board unanimously decided to return to Kogarah Oval following overwhelming support from three local councils, state government local members, local community, St George Leagues Club and Dragons fans.

The Dragons left Kogarah Jubilee Oval in 1999 after it was revealed that it no longer complied with the NRL criteria for home grounds.

Intense lobbying from the R2K (Return to Kogarah), headed up by Lachlan McLean and support from Football club CEO, Robert Stone were instrumental in getting the Dragons back to the St George district.
Although the actual date and opponent have yet to be announced, its understood the first Return To Kogarah match will be quickly sold out with fans swamping the club for reservations.

more: The search for a St George home ground - click here
Coach Farrar makes way for Nathan Brown
Andrew Farrar - St George rugby league historyKogarah, 09 October 2002: St George Illawarra coach Andrew Farrar (pictured) has been released from the final year of his contract and will not be head coach in 2003.

In a surprise move, former St George player and current Jersey Flegg (third grade) coach Nathan Brown be taking over from Farrar. Former Canberra Raiders' and Australian five eighth, Laurie Daley has been appointed as a consultant to Brown while former Dragons' forward, David Barnhill has been appointed assistant coach. Also joining Brown, Daley and Barnhill will be former player, Paul McGregor who was later appointed as assistant strength and conditioning coach.
The announcement that Brown will take over was made at 11am today followed last night's four hour club board meeting and ends weeks of speculation.

The decision ends Andrew Farrar's involvement with the Dragons. Farrar was appointed co-coach in 1999 with David Waite. Farrar was then appointed as sole head coach in 2001.

Nathan Brown's playing career was cut short in 2001 when x-rays revealed a spinal defect. He remained with the club as a trainer and then a coach of the Jersey Flegg side in 2002. Brown enjoyed considerable success with the U/22s Jersey Flegg side and was making a mark for himself as a trainer at representative level. Despite these achievements, Brown's appointment is widely regarded as a gamble with the former hooker becoming the youngest head coach in NRL history.

Dragons media release - click here
Dragons: "One history, 15 premierships"
Kogarah, 03 December 2002: It has been announced at the St George Football Club Annual General Meeting (AGM) that the history of the St George and Illawarra Dragons will be unified.
Leagues Club CEO, Peter Doust declared, "One history, 15 premierships" - bringing huge applause from the assembled members.
The revised history will acknowledge 82 years of history since St George joined the first grade in 1921 and Illawarra in 1982. Entitled, "1921-2002: Our Proud History" the Annual Report outlines the premierships in the following way:
First Grade: St George 15; Illawarra 0; St George Illawarra 0 - TOTAL: 15
A '2003 premiership victory' will be represented thus:

First Grade: St George 15; Illawarra 0; St George Illawarra 1 - TOTAL: 16

The emphasis being on the TOTAL.
The Dragons are now acknowledged as an united force which incorporates the history of both St George and Illawarra and continues forward as St George Illawarra.

When the St George Dragons and the Illawarra Steelers merged in 1999 to form Rugby League's first successful joint venture, many sport historians immediately viewed this as a new club and new beginning.
But the majority of Dragons supporters didn't agree and pointed to the St George first grade history, which began in 1921, as being too impressive to simply cast aside.
In all, St George have won 15 premierships including a world record run of 11 premierships in a row between 1956-66.
The Illawarra district with its huge junior base has often been acknowledged as a important factor in the St George success story but as a separate entity, the Illawarra Steelers won no premierships since entering the competition in 1982.
Matters came to a head when in 2001, the lower grade St George Illawarra Dragons won the First Division Grand Final. The club promoted this as being 'the first Dragons premiers' - a sentiment that didn't go down well with many Dragons' supporters.
In early November 2002, the matter was put on the agenda with officials coming to the view that there was probably room to bring together the history of the two clubs, thereby retaining the Dragons' past 15 premierships.
NORM TIPPING PASSES AWAY
Norm Tipping in 1947 - St George rugby league historySydney, 11 March 2002: St George 1956 premiership winning coach and club man, Norm Tipping has passed away aged 89 away following heart failure.

St George RU convert, Tipping had a horror run with injuries. He had to sit out the 1935 season only to suffer a spinal injury in 1936. He made a determined comeback to play first grade in 1943 and 1944 and ended his playing career at the end of 1944. In all, he played 25 games with the Dragons scoring one try and one goal. 

He coached Saints in 1953 and saw them to a Grand Final that year. He is mostly remembered for coaching St George in 1956 when, with only 12 men, they won the first of eleven straight Grand Finals.

Norm Tipping in 1995 - St George rugby league historyAn important news item of the day, Tipping was ruthlessly sacked as coach at the conclusion of the 1956 season to make way for Ken Kearney but Norm loyally remained as St George third grade coach despite offers from Wests.

Norm Tipping holds a special place in the history of St George. He was remembered with a moments silence prior to the March 17 Dragons v Sharks match at the Sydney Football Stadium.
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