| ROBERT STONE
St.George mourns Robert Stone's passing
1 August 2005
Robert Stone, the Executive Officer of the St.George
District RLFC, has passed away today after a long
battle against cancer. While Robert's passing
was not unexpected, today's sad news will be difficult
for the St.George community to come to terms with
as he was one of the Club's favourite sons and
a true gentleman.
Robert began his long association with St.George
in 1974 when he was graded as a 17-year-old lock.
He experienced immediate success at the Dragons
with a third grade premiership that year.
Following his 1 st Grade debut in 1975, he won
a reserve grade premiership in 1976 before starring
for Bath's Babes' in the 1977 1 st Grade
premiership triumph over Parramatta. The 1977
Grand Final replay produced one of the most memorable
moments of his career when he scored a spectacular
The 1977 victory meant that Robert had recorded
premiership victories in all three grades. In
1980 he gained higher honours when used as a replacement
forward in the inaugural State of Origin match.
At the end of the successful 1985 season, Club
Administrators failed to renew Robert's contract
in one of the most unpopular decisions in Club
history. This decision coincided with the abandonment
of Kogarah's Jubilee Oval as the Dragons' home
Robert played 281 Grade games for St.George,
including 147 1 st Grade matches.* His tally of
281 Grade appearances places him behind only Billy
Smith (297) and Norm Provan (283).
In 2000, after the first year of the St.George
joint venture with Illawarra, Robert was appointed
Executive Officer of St.George District RLFC.
His appointment came at a time of great instability
for the Dragons. Dragons' CEO Brian Johnston had
resigned, Anthony Mundine had retired, David Waite
was sacked and supporters were rallying for the
Sydney Football Stadium home games to be returned
to Kogarah. His appointment brought stability
to the Club as he focused on reviving the St.George
juniors and preserving the St.George identity
When the return to Kogarah campaign reached its
peak in 2002, Robert's positive influence contributed
significantly to St.George-Illawarra's decision
to return to the venue for the 2003 season. He
spoke at the R2K Kogarah Oval Information Night
and urged supporters to maintain their goal of
returning to Kogarah.
He was responsible for keeping the 2003 upgrade
of Kogarah on track and was so personally involved
that he was referred to as Bob The Builder'.
In 2004 his continued work on Kogarah was rewarded
when the Federal Government pledged an $8 million
Robert will be immeasurably missed by all those
associated with the St.George Leagues Club, the
St.George District RLFC and the St.George-Illawarra
Dragons. He won the respect and admiration of
St.George supporters and it would be appropriate
for the hill at Jubilee Oval to be named in his
honour and for his memory to be preserved in the
next extension of the Jubilee Oval Legends' Walk.
R2K would like to extend its sympathy to the
Stone family and the St.George District RLFC of
which Robert was made a life member in 1984. While
Robert has now marched to eternity, it is hoped
that the 2005 Saints can march into the history
books with a premiership to help honour the greatest
St.George Administrator since Frank Facer.
Rugby League community mourns
the passing of Robert Stone
Written by: Steven Williams
rugby league community today is in mourning following
the passing of St George Dragons legend and Football
Club Chief Executive Robert Stone.
The former front row forward has been battling
a number of malignant tumors since 2003 before
passing away quietly this morning.
A rugged forward with pace, Robert Stone debuted
in first grade in 1975 as an 18-year-old. He was
part of a ruthless St George pack which won the
1977 premiership, Stone scoring a memorable runaway
try in the Grand Final replay.
Robert Stone played 281 all-grade games for St
George. He won a premiership in all three grades
(thirds in 1974, seconds in 1976 and firsts in
1977). From 1975-1985, he played 170 first grade
games,* crossing for 26 tries.
A New South Wales representative, Stone played
in the first State of Origin match in 1980. In
1984, Robert Stone was the Dragons' captain 15
times out of 24 appearances that year.
|Robert Stone congratulates Coach Nathan
Brown in late 2003
He became captain-coach of Picton before returning
to St George as an administrator, eventually becoming
Football club CEO in 2001.
Robert Stone was instrumental in the push to have
the Dragons return to Kogarah Jubilee Oval in
2003. With the reconstruction deadline approaching,
'Stoney' was spotted shovelling gravel near the
Robert Stone epitomised the great spirit and
dedication of the St George community.
While pondering the scale of works that had been
completed at Kogarah Oval, Stone said, "We
thought we had no chance of getting through it.
Not only was it a community project, and it was
marvellous to see the community coming behind
us, but I am sure that God is a Dragon."
Sincere condolences to the family and many friends
of Robert Stone.
Funeral services will be held on Wednesday, 3
August at St John Bosco parish in Engadine at
12:00pm, followed at 1.30pm by a service at the
Dragons in depths of grief as
Robert Stone - very reluctantly - loses cancer fight
By Roy Masters
Sydney Morning Herald
August 2, 2005
It's an overused expression to say of a passionate
follower of a football club that red-and-green or
blue-and-white blood courses through his veins.
In the case of St George fans, it is literally so,
since everyone is born with red-and-white blood
But can there have been a person who bled more
for the Dragons than their chief executive and
former prop Robert Stone, who died yesterday at
6am at the age of 49?
For 17 months Stone was suffering from brain
cancer yet continued his duties at Kogarah, where
he was responsible for the operations of the St
George football club, as opposed to the combined
entity with Illawarra.
He attended the Oki Stadium match against Cronulla
and watched Friday night's match against Sydney
Roosters on TV.
On full-time, he did a thumbs-up and lapsed into
a coma the following day.
"Stoney", as he was universally known,
played 147 first-grade games* in 12 years with
the Dragons, including the 1977 and 1979 premierships.*
He was also a member of the first NSW State of
Origin team and drove to the 25th-anniversary
function with a collapsible wheelchair in the
boot. He considered it a temporary nuisance, insisting
he would recover.
There has been a trend in rugby league to honour
the terminally ill during their lifetime.
It's an eminently sensible idea in the most pragmatic
of sports that the honoree sits there in the company
of his former teammates, listening to the eulogies
wash over him. But you couldn't do it for Stoney
because he simply didn't believe he was going
In any case, he was far too busy organising functions,
such as first-grade reunions and testimonials,
He scored the opening try in the '77 grand final
replay with Parramatta, romping 20 metres, but
teased teammates at reunions that he had received
the ball in the in-goal and run the length of
the field. He took a turn during the last reunion
in May, sitting in his wheelchair on "Stoney's
slab", a concrete block at Oki where former
The entire stadium could have been named after
him, given the efforts he made to have it renovated
and ensure the Saints would stay at Kogarah.
He worshipped the ground where he was graded
in 1974 and played until the end of the 1985 season,
when the Dragons moved to the SCG, seeking the
corporate dollar, which was then almost non-existent.
The St George committee had kept the move to
the SCG secret. One training night, aware that
a newspaper was going to break the story the following
day, the committee instructed me, as coach, to
inform the three grades.
The players gathered, I spoke, and Stoney alone
exploded, branding the move counterproductive.
He was right, of course, but the law in those
days was that coaches coached, players played
and officials administered.
Of all the duties required of a coach, dropping
players is the worst. Stoney made the task horrendous.
A schoolteacher, he insisted on detailed explanations
for his relegation and always had logical alternatives.
One night, to avoid the debates I nicknamed "Yaltas"
because they lasted as long as the post-World
War II conference at the Black Sea resort, I instructed
the club doctor to find something wrong with Stoney's
knee, rather than drop him. When the doctor ruled
him out, Stoney shook his head in amazement, insisting
he had been playing with the same sloppy knee
A decade later, when I confessed, Stoney revealed
he had already extracted an admission from the
He cared for his family with a love which few
can compare. When new land was being opened up
in the Sutherland region, Stoney drove his car
to the block he and wife Anne had chosen and he
slept in it through the long, cold winter night
to be at the head of the queue.
It is a particularly sad time for the Dragons.
Mitchell Wykes, the 22-year-old son of the Dragons'
Jersey Flegg team trainer Chris Wykes, suffered
a fatal heart attack during a game of touch football
with neighbouring kids at the weekend.
It's so "Stoney" that he would miss
the funeral of one of the St George family, only
because he's at his own. His funeral is at noon
tomorrow at St John Bosco Catholic Church in Engadine.
Robert Stone is survived by Anne, daughters Melissa
and Belinda, son Michael, mother Iris and brother
Peter. He'll be missed by all who ever dared love
the red and whites.
Stone now a Saint forever
By GRANTLEE KIEZA
August 4, 2005
WHEN Robert Stone finally realised brain cancer
was the one opponent he would never overpower he
gathered his family together and told them his farewell
was to be a celebration and not a time for tears.
|Last goodbye ... Robert Finch, Craig Young,
Randall Barge, Bruce Starkey, Graeme Wynn,
John Jansen and Glen Anthony carried Robert
Stone out of church yesterday to The Saints
Go Marching In.
His friends and family did their best to make
good Stone's last wish yesterday, honouring the
Dragons forward who passed away on Monday morning
aged just 49.
They released red and white balloons towards the
heavens and told stories of their friend, father,
colleague, teammate and hero who lived his few
short years to the full and made friends wherever
But as tough men such as Craig Young and Steve
Edge fought back tears inside the St John Bosco
Church at Engadine yesterday, there was no escaping
the grief. Because the world is a poorer place
today with his passing.
Stone's lifelong friend and Dragons teammate Randall
Barge told the standing room- only crowd of his
mate's early days growing up in Blakehurst, of
a kid who could walk at eight months and swim
by his first birthday.
Of those idyllic, dreamy summer days at Kiama
and Culburra, of forged sick notes to get out
of class, of surfing with the Cronulla Nippers
and playing schoolboy rugby for NSW.
And of the 1962 league grand final when the Dragons
beat the Magpies and six-year-old Stoney jumped
the SCG fence to run alongside Norm Provan with
Stoney's dad Harry trying to catch his little
"The crowd has gathered to cheer you on,"
Barge told his dear departed buddy.
"The siren has sounded but the light will
never go out."
His former colleagues at schools in Blakehurst,
Engadine and Padstow Heights where Stone taught
school, recalled him as a man who made everyone
laugh but whose practical jokes never hurt anyone.
And how, as he battled a relentless and awful
disease, he never complained.
Steve Edge, Stone's former teammate, paid tribute
to a Dragons legend who played in winning grand
final teams in all three grades and who scored
a remarkable try in the 1977 decider against the
Eels in a team known as coach Harry Bath's Babes.
But he revealed how Stoney would always hide
in the bushes when the Dragons went on runs through
the Royal National Park and how he would always
get out of push-ups by saying they played up with
his blood pressure.
He remembered Stoney's running battles with Parramatta's
Ray Price and Graham "Shovels" Olling
and how in the lead-up to the 1980 State of Origin,
Stoney was the only one enthused when Tommy Raudonikis
revealed his plan for the cattle dog call that
would signal an all-in brawl.
And he recalled how Stoney and Rod Reddy were
pelted with lolly teeth by misinformed Parramatta
fans during the phantom biter crisis of the late
Stone was a great footballer who played 281 games
for the Dragons over 11 years* but to his family
he was more importantly a great father and husband.
He met his wife Anne on August 8, 1975, and was
her best friend until the day he died. His most
memorable tries were scored against his kids,
Melissa, Belinda and Michael in the backyard.
He survived cancer long enough to see the Dragons
draw a record crowd against the Sharks at Oki
Jubilee Oval last week and was the man credited
with getting the Dragons back to Kogarah.
Steve Edge summed up his mate's life: "Robert
Stone was a true saint in every way."
Worth remembering: when an ethos
of love over money was set in stone
By Roy Masters
Sydney Morning Herald
August 6, 2005
As red and white balloons rose slowly above the
vast congregation gathered outside the Engadine
church to honour former St George forward Robert
Stone, who died this week, comedian Brian Doyle
made one of his pithy observations.
"I've seen less people at a game,"
the Dragons stalwart said.
Stone's captain, Craig "Albert" Young,
stood beside the hearse, inconsolable, sobbing
in the giant heaving way he played football.
"It finally hit me," he said later.
"It wasn't until we put him in the hearse
that I realised he was gone."
After all, Albert had seen Stoney surrender only
once. On an end-of-season trip, Stoney put a giant,
slimey frog down the back of Rod "Rocket"
Reddy's shirt. Rocket hated frogs and retaliated
by sprinkling itching powder through all Stoney's
clothes, including towels and bed sheets.
Stoney was one of those rare players who wore
pyjamas and within minutes was furiously scratching.
He showered and it made no difference. After three
days and no sleep, he finally pleaded: "Will
someone shoot me?"
The funeral was held on Wednesday, only two days
after he died, in order for the 2005 first grade
team to attend the service. They flew to Townsville
the next day and played the Cowboys last night.
Some of the team were inside the church, others
outside. None could have missed the sight of Young,
now the club's recruiting officer, devastated
Nor could they have ignored, despite their dark
glasses, the scenes of past players embracing,
comparing hairlines and waistlines, bound forever
by blood spilt in past battles.
Many had not seen each other for 20 years, yet
it were as if 1985 was yesterday. If ever there
was a message conveyed that rugby league is not
played just for $300,000 a year but for the life-long
friendships it cements, it was outside St John
Stoney would have played for nothing in 1987
had the Dragons allowed him. He had played 281
games in all grades, just short of Norm Provan's
283 and within reach of Billy Smith's 297. He
pleaded with the officials for another season
but they were intransigent.
Stoney always believed it was to stop him breaking
Smith's record. It wasn't. Football officials
rarely look back, always forward.
The club committee believed Stoney would block
the way for young props coming up, such as Paul
Osborne. Stoney argued they weren't ready to move
out of under-23s, and he was right.
Props take the longest to develop and "Ossie"
didn't star until he moved to the Raiders years
later. But Stoney was convinced the committee
was trying to preserve Smith's record.
Considering Billy had driven the team bus into
a pond outside the winery of Penfolds, the club
sponsor, and was barred from the club, it would
have been a remarkably charitable act by the committee.
Club president Danny Robinson delivered the message
Stoney's career as a Dragon was finished and Stoney
retaliated by opposing Robinson, who ran the licensed
club, at the forthcoming annual general meeting.
It was akin to a member of the Swiss Guard taking
on the Pope, or a croupier ordering Kerry Packer
out of a casino. A record turnout attended the
AGM. Stoney lost by one vote.
He tended to lose big ballots by one. Folklore
has it he missed a Test against New Zealand because
a NSW selector sided with Queensland when they
chose little-known Queenslander Rohan Hancock.
A 3-2 vote despatched him to reserve grade in
1985, the year the club had three teams in the
He then did what almost everyone does when shown
the door at St George - he went away for 10 years.
He was captain-coach of Picton and coached Wests'
reserve grade team.
Eventually, in August of 2000, realising the
club needed to maintain its original identity
in the merger with Illawarra, officials decided
to appoint a chief executive of the Kogarah-based
Dragons. The committee invited Stoney to take
the post and it was Robinson who made the official
In the final weeks of Stoney's life, he had frequent
visitors to the home he shared with wife Anne
One person was there daily, spooning him soup
and holding a coffee mug to his lips. He ordered
builders to remodel the house and had ramps for
wheelchair access installed.
The person? Danny Robinson.
Dragons Mourn Loss of Club Legend
Dragons Official website
8 August 2005
St George Illawarra Dragons, the St George Football
Club, the St George Leagues Club and the game of
rugby league and its' supporters are deeply saddened
at the loss of Club legend Robert Stone.
After a tenacious battle with brain tumors Robert
Stone (49) passed away at home peacefully last
Monday morning in the company of his extended
family; in particular wife Anne and children Melissa,
Belinda and Michael.
A life member of the St George Football Club,
Robert played 281 games for the Dragons; third
in the alltime list of longest serving players
behind only Norm Provan (283) and Billy Smith
A former captain of the Club, Robert, played
in grand final winning teams in all three grades
under 23s (1974), reserves (1976) and first
grade (1977) and represented City-Country (1977)
and New South Wales (1980), including the first
State of Origin match.
On August 7, 2000 Robert was appointed Executive
Officer of the St George Football Club and subsequently
joined the Board of the St George Leagues Club.
During his tenure in the job he focused on junior
rugby league in the St George District, the rejuvenation
of Kogarah Oval as an elite rugby league venue
and community asset and contributed significantly
to the continued march of the Dragons. In all
of these activities his leadership qualities were
outstanding as were his qualities as a person.
Key people from the "Dragons family"
have today expressed their condolences to the
Stone family and have shared their admiration
and praise for Robert. These include: Warren Lockwood
(Chairman St George Illawarra Dragons), Peter
Black (Chairman St George Football Club), Danny
Robinson (General Manager St George Leagues Club),
Peter Doust (Chief Executive Officer St George
Illawarra Dragons) Immortals John Raper, Graeme
Langlands and Reg Gasnier and former team-mates,
Coach Nathan Brown and player representatives
including captain Trent Barrett, Jason Ryles and
"Robert was a truly unique individual with
so many wonderful qualities", said Dragons
Chief Executive Officer Peter Doust in encompassing
the thoughts of all at the Dragons.
"He was inspiring, committed, passionate,
tough, funny and caring, a friend to all that
had the pleasure of knowing him.
"We are all going to miss him greatly, our
thoughts are with his family and we will never
The funeral will be held at 12 noon Wednesday,
August 3 at St John Bosco Church, Engadine followed
at 1.30pm by a service at the Woronora Crematorium.
As a mark of respect the Dragons Football Office
will be closed on Wednesday and the players will
wear black armbands in their match against the
Cowboys this Friday night.
Robert Stone in action for the Dragons
DEATH OF MR ROBERT STONE
Mr KEVIN GREENE (Georges River) [5.22 p.m.]:
On Wednesday 3 August I attended the St John Bosco
Catholic Church at Engadine for the funeral of
well-known sporting administrator and former State
of Origin and St George rugby league great, Robert
Stone. I am sure that the church could hold over
1,000 worshippers, but like hundreds of others
who attended the funeral, I am yet to see inside
it. That indicates how many people came to pay
their respects to a much-loved husband, father,
teacher, coach, administrator and tough-as-they-come
rugby league forward.
Eulogies were delivered by long-term friend Randall
Barge, his premiership winning captain, Steve
Edge, the St George Illawarra Dragons chairman,
Warren Lockwood, and a teaching colleague, and
there were touching tributes from his children.
Together they outlined a magnificent rugby league
career that included 281 games for his beloved
St Georgethe third highest in the club's
historyand representation in the first State
of Origin game in 1980. I think Robert is the
only player to have won premierships in all three
grades for St George, including membership of
Bath's Babesthe famous 1977 team that defeated
Parramatta in the first replayed grand final.
Mention was also made of his often-recalled try
in the replayed match when he broke from the scrum
to sprint away and score under the posts. Robert
also played in St George's last premiership team
A large number of Robert's team-mates and current
St George players attended the funeral. I also
saw many well-known rugby league identities who
were representing many eras of the game and various
National Rugby League clubs. Robert had been heavily
involved with the New South Wales Primary Schools
Sports Association [PSSA] rugby league, including
coaching the State team. The PSSA was represented,
and also in attendance to pay respect on behalf
of the Kogarah Municipal Council were the mayor,
Michael Platt, and the council's general manager,
Gary Sawyer. They too were standing outside the
church, as was the Federal member for Barton,
Robert McClelland, and his wife, Michelle. It
would be easier to list those who were not at
Robert's funeral rather than those who were, such
was the stature of Robert Stone in the community.
As well as outlining Robert's playing career
beginning with his days at the Marist Brothers
school at Kogarah, which was well represented
at the funeral by students and teachers, and his
extensive teaching career, speakers also noted
his recent role as executive director of St George
Rugby League, in particular his work as Bob the
Builder when he oversaw the extensive renovations
of Jubilee Oval and the return of his beloved
Dragons to their spiritual home. Robert was passionate
about everything related to St George, and that
passion came out in his hands-on involvement in
the redevelopment project. One of the features
of that work is the Legends Walk outside the ground.
It was opened in March last year two days after
Robert's first operation to remove a brain tumour.
He was released from hospital and went straight
to the opening, which took place in the pouring
raina demonstration not only of his passion
for St George but also of his enormous courage
and strength. These characteristics, of course,
would be demonstrated on many occasions throughout
the ensuing 16 months.
The last time I spoke with Robert was at the
West Tigers game, when he arrived in a wheelchair.
By that stage he was really battling, but still
refused to concede. His wife, Anne, and his children,
Melissa, Belinda and Michael, were with him, looking
after his every need and clearly demonstrating
their obvious love and affection for their respected
husband and father. This was also obvious at the
funeral service: while Robert was well-known to
the rugby league world as a tough and uncompromising
rugby league forward, more importantly he was
a loving husband and a generous father. The respect
he earned on the football field from his peers
was nothing compared to the love he received from
While mentioning the commitment of Robert's family
throughout his illness, I should also comment
on the support given to him by the St George Illawarra
Dragons. I went to my first St George game in
1966 when St George defeated Manly at Jubilee
Oval. Like many others, from that time I have
red and white eyes. However, at the West Tigers
game and at the funeral service, as well as at
the Parramatta game, I had never been prouder
to say that I was a St George man. At the West
Tigers game all the officials I was with were
thinking of Robert and looking after him. At the
funeral service it was obvious that the St George
family had lost one of its own. I know that throughout
Robert's illness the club was very supportive
of both Robert and Anne, particularly in the last
months. At the Parramatta game during the half-time
break the club showed a tribute video to the crowd
which must have played for over five minutes.
The crowd stood in silent homagea fitting
tribute to a departed hero.
Sport can be seen as many things. One thing that
Robert Stone's passing reinforced in my mind is
that true sporting teams are like family. Robert
spent a lot of his time as an administrator, making
sure that former players were still a part of
the club and the St George family. The family
lost a great man with Robert's death at the young
age of only 49. To Anne, Melissa, Belinda and
Michael, we share your loss and thank you for
sharing your husband and father with not only
the rugby league world but most importantly with
the broader St George community. Robert Stone
was a great administrator of the game, he was
a great rugby league player, and also devoted
his life to looking after the needs of many young
people. He will be sadly missed. Again I say to
Anne, Melissa, Belinda and Michael, we share your
loss and thank you for letting us be part of your
husband's and father's life.
Although a former St George Coach, Roy Masters was
the coach of Western Suburbs in 1979. The majority
of sources show that Robert Stone did not play in
the 1979 grand final.
Some media reports have Robert Stone as making 147
first grade appearnaces while have it as 170 appearances.
He played 147 matches in the run-on side plus 23
matches coming on as a replacement, allowing for
a total of 170 appearances.
Robert Stone played 281 all-grade games over 12
seasons (1974-1985), including 1974 when he played
third grade only. He played 11 seasons in first