Home - Robert Stone Site

1962 First Victory Lap
1974 Third Grade Title
1975 First Grade Debut

1976 Reserve Grade Title

1977 First Grade Title

1977 That Grand Final Try

1977 The Phantom Biter

1980 State Of Origin

1982 School teacher

1984 Captaincy

1985 Final Season

1985 The Kogarah Factor

1986 Picton
2000 Return To St George

2003 Return To Kogarah

2005 Dragons In Grief

Media Articles

Comments From Fans

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Born in 1956, Robert Stone played rugby union as a youngster and then switched to rugby league as a teenager. He played for Kogarah Marist Brothers before being graded at St George in 1974, when only 17-years-old.
Robert played first grade for the St George Dragons from 1975-85. He appeared in 170 first grade games, scoring 26 tries (81 points).
A front row forward and second row forward, 'Stoney' was part of a ruthless pack which won the 1977 premiership. Robert Stone played in both the 1977 Grand Final and the 1977 Grand Final replay.
A life member of the St George Football Club, 'Stoney' played 281 all-grade games for the St George Dragons; third in the all-time list of longest serving players behind only Norm Provan (283) and Billy Smith (297).
He won a premiership in all three grades (thirds in 1974, seconds in 1976 and firsts in 1977).
A rugged forward with pace, Stone scored a memorable runaway try in the Grand Final replay of 1977.
Robert Stone gained representative honours in the City-Country clash of 1977 and was a New South Wales representative in the first State of Origin clash of 1980.
In 1984, Stone was Dragons captain 15 times out of 24 appearances.
In 1986, he left Sydney football to become captain-coach of Picton. He went on to become a school teacher.
He returned to St George as an administrator in 2000 and on August 7, Robert was appointed Executive Officer of the St George Football Club and subsequently joined the Board of the St George Leagues Club.
He was instrumental in the push to have the Dragons return to Kogarah Jubilee Oval in 2003.
Robert Stone was diagnosed with tumours in 2003 and 2004.
On 1 August 2005, 'Stoney' passed away, aged 49.

1962 - First Victory Lap
In 2005, during the funeral service at St John Bosco church in Engadine, Robert Stone's lifelong friend and teammate Randall Barge told the packed gathering of his mate's early days growing up in Blakehurst. He rekindled memories of a kid who could walk at eight months and swim by his first birthday.

In 1962, the mighty St George Dragons won their seventh successive Rugby League Grand Final. With his dad Harry in hot pursuit, six-year-old Robert Stone jumped the Sydney Cricket Ground fence to run alongside his hero, St George legend Norm Provan.

"The crowd cheer him on," Barge told the gathering.

1974 - Junior and Graded at 17 years old
Robert Stone was graded as a lock forward with St George in 1974 while still 17-years-old. A star in the making, Robert had a sensational year in the Under 23s (third grade) scoring 15 tries in 23 matches. Under the coaching guidance of Kevin Dredge, the third graders won 20 of their 24 matches in 1974.

With the first grade side not qualifying for the semi-finals for the first time in 23 years, many observers considered Saints to be a spent force. But the young Dragons gave fans a hint of what was to come when they swept aside Canterbury, winning the Grand Final 27-3 and taking out the third grade title.

In his first year as a Dragon and some 12 years since he first invaded the pitch to run alongside Norm Provan, Robert Stone had tasted the triumph of his own victory lap at the SCG.

1975 - First Grade Debut
During an interview in 2002, Robert named his selection in first grade as one his favourite football memories.
"My two favourite memories of Rugby League are of scoring that try in 1977 and being told at Kogarah Oval one Tuesday night that I had been selected in First Grade."
In 1975 Robert, now 18-years-old, made 11 first grade appearances for St George, scoring three tries.
He did not play in the 1975 Grand Final and was spared the 38-0 loss to Easts that year.

1976 - Reserve Grade Champions
Robert Stone was a member of the St George side that won the Reserve Grade premiership in 1976.

But a first grade title, still beckoned.

The 1977 Premiers
Click on pic for larger image
Back row: Robert Stone, Craig Young, John Jansen, Rod Reddy, Robert Finch, Stephen Butler, Ted Goodwin, Bruce Starkey.
Front row: Harry Bath (coach), Graham Quinn, Mark Shulman, Steven Edge (c), Rod McGregor, John Chapman, Ken Boothroyd (trainer).
Ballboys: David Fleming, Darren Fleming.
NB: Mark Shulman was replaced by John Bailey in the Grand Final Replay. Rod Reddy was replaced by Barry Beath in the second half of the Grand Final Replay.

1977 - Bath's Babes
Sydney Cricket Ground, 17 September 1977: Geoff Greenwood's, 'Australian Rugby League's Greatest Games' described the first 1977 Grand Final between the St George Dragons and the Parramatta Eels as being 'The Game Of The Century'. A bold claim but one that almost certainly has the backing of those fortunate enough to witness this extraordinary match.

Parramatta boasted an experienced outfit. Saints on the other hand were a side of youngsters. Dubbed, 'Baths Babes' after their coach Harry Bath, the Dragons were deemed too inexperienced to roll over the Eels. Initially, the punters agreed but in the days prior to the Grand Final, the betting market narrowed.

Frank Hyde, Rugby League veteran and doyen of the airways, couldn't pick a winner. In one of his regular media announcements, Frank exclaimed, "I wouldn't be surprised if this match finished in a draw"... and Frank was spot on.

Sydney Cricket Ground, 24 September 1977:
Led by hooker Steve Edge (c), their coach 'the old fox', Harry Bath and trainer Ken Boothroyd, the mighty Dragons won the Grand Final Replay with a resounding 22-0 victory over the Parramatta Eels.

The young powerhouse pack of Craig Young, Rod Reddy, Robert Stone, Bruce Starkey and John Jansen were simply too ruthless and too good in rolling over the top of their opponents.

After 180 minutes of bone-crushing football, Saints were finally declared the champions of 1977.

Click on image to see video.
(29 Mb) Thanks to Dragonheart.

That Grand Final Try (video)
In the middle of this historic occasion was 'Stoney'. A try to Jansen gave Saints a 7-nil lead at half time. Then in the second half, a 30 metre dash from Robert Stone brought the crowd to its feet. 'Stoney' scored under the posts to give Saints the winning advantage.

Robert rated this as one of his favourite football memories, after being selected to play first grade. But the run has extended over time with Stoney' often joking how he received the ball in the in-goal before running the length of the field.


The Phantom Biter
To this day, there are Parramatta forwards who jokingly claim they were 'eaten alive' by the St George pack of 1977. The' culprits' were believed to be 'Rocket' Rod Reddy and Robert Stone. But no one has owned up and no Parramatta players have ever named names.

At the height of the controversy, a close friend of Robert Stone even contacted the papers to say: "He couldn't be the biter, he hasn't got enough teeth left!"

The mystery of the Phantom Biter became rugby league folklore when misinformed Parramatta fans hurled lolly teeth at Reddy and Stone in the late 1970s.

During the funeral service at St John Bosco church, Steve Edge recounted that whenever Stoney was pressed for information, he simply said, "Rocket did it!" The gathering responded with bursts of laughter. Stoney, through his mate Steve Edge, put the question back where it belonged, unanswered and still in folklore.

1980 - State of Origin
Before 1980, New South Wales Blues verses Queensland Maroons clashes had become lopsided and predictable affairs. Any Queenslander playing in the Sydney competition automatically qualified for the NSW side and this contributed to the Blues dominance. Subsequently, interest in the state rep fixture declined and crowds were dwindling.

On 8 July 1980, Rugby League's first ever 'State of Origin' was played. QLD ran out 20-10 victors, much to the delight of the 33,210 who packed into Lang Park. Thanks to the foresight of QLD officials, state football had been resurrected and its future was assured.

Robert Stone was part of NSW's first ever State of Origin team. Team mate Steve Edge later recalled the lead-up to the match when NSW coach Tommy Raudonikis revealed his plan for the 'cattle dog' call that would signal an all-in brawl. Most players sat quietly but Stoney was enthused at the prospect and couldn't wait to get on the field.

Dubbed 'state against state, mate against mate', State of Origin clashes often saw players up against club team mates. The inaugural State of Origin was no different when Robert Stone came on as replacement and found himself playing against Queenslander, and fellow Dragon, Rod Reddy.

Since then, the State of Origin concept has surpassed all expectations to become one of the premier events on the Australian sporting calendar and the toughest rugby league series in the world.

Mr Stone the teacher.
Baldface School in Blakehurst, 1982.
Thanks to Ribs.
Click on picture for larger image.
School Teacher
Robert Stone was a school teacher throughout his football career. Teaching was Robert's other passion and he taught kids for years throughout the district.

It was no surprise to see students from Engadine lining the roadside at Robert's funeral procession.

In his Sydney Morning Herald column, Roy Masters later wrote: "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."

In The Telegraph, Grantlee Kieza wrote: "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."

Stoney ended his teaching career at Engadine Public School as an Assistant Principal. Prior to this he worked at Baldface, Marton and Padstow Heights schools. He was also active in the Primary School Sports Association (PSSA).

St George v Balmain match at Kogarah (Round 13, 26 May, 1984).
Click on pic for larger image.
1984 - Captaincy
In 1984, Robert Stone was captain 15 times (for 13 wins) out of 24 appearances (23 games + 1 replacement). During the year he led a squad of 33 first graders which included Craig Young, Graeme Wynn, Michael O'Connor, Steve Morris, Brian Johnston, John Dowling, Michael Beattie and Steve Rogers.

1985 - Final Season and Released
In 1985, Saints were minor premiers and favourites to take out their 16th title. In what was a tremendous year for the club, St George had grand final teams in all three grades. After winning the third grade and reserve grade deciders, Saints ultimately went down by the narrowest of margins in first grade with Canterbury winning 7-6.

After suffering injuries in the semi-final, Robert Stone found himself on crutches and was denied an opportunity in Grand Final.

With just 11 first grade appearances in 1985, Stone became an inspiration in reserve grade and was named 'Reserve Grade Player Of the Year' by the club.

Then over the off-season came the news that the club would not be renewing Robert Stone's contract. With 281 all -grade games under his belt, Stone was closing in on Billy Smith's record of 297 match record.

"I was shattered," said Stone. "I had been keen to play another year."

A highly contentious decision which riled supporters and some players, it was the opinion of many that the club had ignore Stone's contributions as a loyal clubman as well as his good form in both reserve and first grades. The administrators responded by saying they needed to bring up new forwards, but this was countered by Robert Stone who correctly pointed out that some of the forwards were being blooded too early. He was willing to play for match payments just to help the club he loved.

In his book, The Legend Lives On, Ian Heads wrote: "It was strongly rumoured that players left St George at that time - because of the treatment meted out to Robert Stone. So too there were fans so disgusted with the club's stance that they walked away from football."

In 12 seasons as a player, Stoney had given his all for the Dragons.

The SCG Decision and the Kogarah Factor
In another controversial move, the club announced its intention to change home grounds.

Much loved by Saints fans and players and derided by the opposition teams and supporters, Kogarah Jubilee Oval had been the home of St George since 1950. In a sign of things to come, Jubilee Oval was considered to be below NSWRL standards. Kogarah Council and the St George Club battled over the funding for a new western stand and the move to the newly refurbished Sydney Cricket Ground was on the cards.

The failure to renew his contract and the move to the SCG motivated Robert Stone to stand against Club President Danny Robinson. Stone proved to be a serious contender and in a close tussle, he lost by just one vote.

In August 2005, former Dragons coach Roy Master wrote of Robert Stone's love for Kogarah Jubilee Oval:
"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."

Robert Stone's belief that the move was counterproductive would ring true. Indeed other factors should be considered as players, coaches and club officials should perform regardless of the venue. But the facts show the move away from Kogarah coincided with a disastrous run and a curse that would endure for years to come. After being minor premiers in 1985, the Dragons failed to make the semifinals in all three grades in 1986. The first graders failed to make a semifinal appearance for the next six seasons. From 1986-1988, Saints played 'home' games at the SCG and Canterbury's Belmore Sports Ground. To the casual observer, the Dragons looked utterly homeless.

There was a sigh of relief from fans when Saints found their way back to Kogarah in 1989. Attendances for home games almost doubled as the magic of Jubilee was once again realised. There was still some work to do. But Saints did rebuild and in 1992-1993 they were winning again with two consecutive grand final appearances.

1986 - Picton and the Country League
In 1986, Robert went to the bush. He headed off to Picton, south of Sydney, where he became captain-coach in a country league competition. Under Stone's leadership, Picton won the next two premierships. During his hiatus, Stone ventured back into Sydney to coach the Western Suburbs Magpies reserve grade side.

Part 1: Supporters comments - click here.
Part 2: Interview with Robert Stone - click here.
Thanks to Chris Mikhael, dragons.com.au and Channel 9.
2000 - Return to St George
In 1999, St George and Illawarra entered into a joint venture. In August of 2000, realising the club needed to maintain its original identity within the joint venture, officials decided to appoint a chief executive of the Kogarah-based Dragons. The committee invited Robert Stone to take the post of Executive Officer of St.George District RLFC and it was Danny Robinson who made the official offer.

2003 - Return to Kogarah
Robert Stone was instrumental in the push to have the Dragons return to Kogarah Jubilee Oval in 2003.

In 1999, St George and Illawarra joined forces in an agreement which included a 50/50 home game split between Kogarah Jubilee Oval and WIN Stadium in Wollongong. This agreement however didn't last past one season with it being announced that Saints would be leaving Kogarah. After winning back Jubilee in the 1980s, fans again found themselves without a home ground in the St George district.

Similar to before, the ruling body (now the NRL) had deemed Kogarah to be below standard. In 2000, the new Dragons joint venture opted to play their home games at two venues, the Sydney Football Stadium and Wollongong.

Robert Stone was also involved in the decision by the Australian Labor Party to select Mark Latham as its new leader in 2003. Robert McClelland was a crucial vote in the battle between Latham and Kim Beazley. On December 3, Latham suggested that McClelland call Stone who was his childhood friend and who Latham knew casually as a St George fan. McClelland called Stone who advised him to vote for Latham as "Putting Beazley back in again would be like putting me into a first-grade team again. I'd be massacred. You have to move on and try something different."
Joel McClelland voted for Latham with Stone's advice being one of the critical factors in his decision which led to Latham being elected voter by one vote.
- Wikipedia Feb 2006.
History has a habit of repeating itself. Memories of 1985, when Saints last left Kogarah, were revisited when Saints went from grand finalists to also-rans in the space of one season. Grand finalists in 1999, the Dragons hastily departed Kogarah and then failed to qualify for the semifinals in 2000.

The battle for Kogarah was long and arduous for all concerned. Attempts to improve and build stadiums at Barton Park and Cahill Park never got off the ground. Mainstream media had written off any return to Kogarah and the Dragons appeared to be moving out of St George. Throughout this, volunteer supporter group R2K were working tirelessly and had established itself as an effective lobby group in bringing Kogarah Jubilee back onto the agenda.

Meanwhile Robert Stone was getting involved at Club level. As chief executive of the football club, Stone made it his job to bring the Kogarah Jubilee ground back up to scratch and under his direction, the field itself was soon in pristine condition.

The facilities however, presented a much larger hurdle. After a visit to stadiums in the UK, Stone returned with renewed energy. Convinced that suburban grounds were viable, Robert worked overtime in getting the Dragons back to Kogarah. Under his guidance, funding initiatives were tabled in 2002 and the renewal of Jubilee was underway. The hard work paid off and in September, the club announced that the Dragons would return to Kogarah in 2003.

With the reconstruction deadline approaching, 'Bob the Builder' (as Robert was nicknamed) was spotted shoveling gravel near the western grandstand. 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 marvelous to see the community coming behind us, but I am sure that God is a Dragon."

Afterwards, fans dubbed the terrace 'Stoney's Slab'.

On 4 May 2003, 'OKI Jubilee Stadium' opened to see the Dragons first graders play their first match at Kogarah since 1999. A local derby in front of crowd of 16,713, St George Illawarra dominated proceedings in defeating the Cronulla Sharks 28-12.

Kogarah Jubilee is a monument to Robert Stone's commitment to club and history. Even after his passing in 2005, work still continued on improving the facilities with modern lighting towers and additional seating being installed for the 2006 season.

2005 - Dragons in depths of grief as Robert Stone - very reluctantly - loses cancer fight
By Roy Masters (Former Dragons coach and writer for The 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 corpuscles.

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...

More Articles > click here

Wednesday, 3 August 2005: Funeral services were held at St John Bosco Church in Engadine at 12:00pm followed at 1.30pm by a service at the Woronora Crematorium. Robert Stone is survived by wife Anne and children Melissa, Belinda and Michael.

As a mark of respect the Dragons Football Office was closed on Wednesday and the players wore black armbands in their Friday night match on 5 August.

Click on pic for larger image.
On 21 August 2005, during the round 24 clash between the Parramatta Eels and the St George Illawarra Dragons at Kogarah Jubilee, a sell-out crowd of 17,523 was on hand to witness pre-match entertainment and a dedication to 85 years of Rugby League for the St George DRLC.
St George veterans, including St George team mates from the 1977 Grand Final winning side, were also present as part of the day's events.

This coincided with a special half time tribute to Robert Stone.

Video footage on the big screen highlighted the career and life of Robert Stone. Throughout the tribute, those in attendance sat in silent homage. Afterwards, the crowd rose to a standing ovation as supporters spontaneously acknowledged Stoney's contributions to St George.

It was a fitting send off for one of Kogarah's favourite sons. A friend to all who knew him and and much loved by family, Robert was also immensely popular with supporters, players and officials. A true clubman, Robert's passion for Kogarah and genuine respect for the proud history of the club has earned him a place in what is the essence of team spirit and the greatness of St George.

Click on pics for larger images.
ARL Development Legend Shield State Final

Former Rugby League greats Arthur Beetson and Steve Mortimer battled it out from the sidelines today as St Josephs Junee and Clovelly Publc school, regional winners of competitions named after these Rugby League greats, played in the final of the ARL Development Legends shield.

Twenty four regional winners from across NSW converged at Cabramatta Sports Ground to challenge for the title as winner of the 7 aside Primary Schools event that involved over 900 teams.

The final produced a fast and competitive match with St Josephs Junee eventual winners 22 to 16 over Clovelly.

As a tradition of the day continued, Michael Stone, the son of the late Robert Stone presented the Robert Stone Award to St Josephs Nyngan, an award presented to a Primary School who shows great dedication to the sport of Ruby League.

The HON John Fahey, Chairman of ARL Development, praised the support of all Legends who have lent their names to the regional competitions and who attended the day.


Semi Final – St Josephs Junee 30 defeated Kingscliff P S Inverell 6

Semi Final – Clovelly Public School 36 defeated St Josephs Taree 18

Final – St Josephs Junee 22 defeated Clovelly Public School 16


Robert Stone in the 1970s.

Robert Stone congratulates Coach Nathan Brown in late 2003.

First Grade Appearances
11 seasons (1975-1985).
170 games (147 run-on + 23 as replacement).
All Grade Appearances
12 seasons (1974-1985).
281 games - third behind Norm Provan (283) and Billy Smith (297).
Grand Final Appearances
1974: U/23s (third grade) premiers.
1976: Reserves (second grade) premiers.
1977: First Grade (2 Grand Finals). Draw and then premiers.
Representative Appearances
1977: City.
1980: NSW.
Second row forward, prop forward.
First Grade Season Record
Games = run-on games.
Repl = games as replacement.
Tries were worth 3 points prior to 1983.

"I have a firm belief that team spirit / friendship / culture is the prime requisite for winning."
Robert Stone - 2002

"Billy Smith was always my favourite player. He was many years ahead of his time - The Joey Johns of the 60’s and 70’s. Billy had that competitive
edge and was one of the toughest men I have met."

Robert Stone - 2002

"We thought we had no chance of getting through it. Not only was it a community project, and it was marvelous to see the community coming behind us, but I am sure that God is a Dragon."
Robert Stone - 2003 (while pondering the scale of works that had been completed at Kogarah Oval).

"Thank you to all for your kind words of encouragement. Things are a bit tough at the moment, but it takes more than this to knock over an old front-rower. Thanks for your continued support. I hope to be at Kogarah on Sunday."
Robert Stone - July 2005 (in response to fan posts online).

"He was inspiring, committed, passionate, tough, funny and caring, a friend to all that had the pleasure of knowing him."
Peter Doust - 1 August 2005.

"In all of these activities his leadership qualities were outstanding as were his qualities as a person."
Dragons press release - 1 August 2005.

"Robert Stone was a true saint in every way."
Steven Edge - 1 August 2005.

"...the other Immortals join me in extending sympathy to Robert Stone's family.
Robert joined Saints while I was captain coach and I have always respected him — both on and off the field. He will be sadly missed."

Graeme Langlands - 1 August 2005.

"His appointment [as Executive Officer] 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 and history."
R2K - 1 August 2005.

"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 greats gathered."
Roy Masters - 2 August 2005.

"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 to die."
Roy Masters - 2 August 2005.

"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."
Roy Masters - 2 August 2005.

"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."
Grantlee Kieza (Telegraph) - 4 August 2005.

"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."
Kevin Greene - State Member for George River (NSW Parliament Hasard) - 14 September 2005.

Comments from fans > Click here






1981 - reversed



Please note that this tribute site is part of an unofficial supporters website.
Many thanks
to those who contributed through their writings and to the various publications who paid tribute to Stoney. Thanks also to those who sent in and posted images, video, audio files and passed on their recollections:
Roy Masters, The Sydney Morning Herald, Grantleee Kieza, The Daily Telegraph, Ian Heads, members of the LeagueUnlimited website and Dragons forum, members of the Jubilee Avenue website and Jubilee Avenue forum at NineMsn, SOTV, R2K, the St George Leagues and St George Football Club, and the St George Illawarra Club.