Monday 16 April 2012 5:28 PM
Dally Messenger, player number 18, was rugby league’s first ‘star player’ and seen by many as the catalyst for the establishment of rugby league, controversially converting from rugby union.
Between 1908 and 1913 he played 48 games for Easts and seven tests for Australia. He was a powerful runner of the ball, a solid defender and could kick goals from anywhere on the field.
His team mate Dan Frawley once said of Messenger, “Nobody but Dally ever knew what was going to happen when he got the ball. His team mates were often as mystified as the opposition.”
Dave Brown, player number 202, is well known as one of Easts most prolific point scorers and is referred to as the ‘Bradman of League’. He played 94 games for the tri colours between 1930 and 1931 and coached the Club on 84 occasions.
In 1935, when Easts won the premiership and lost only one game he scored 38 tries, a record that still stands today. He was the youngest player to captain Australia, at only 22 years old.
After debuting for Easts in 1930, Brown suffered from a rare illness and in 1931 lost all his hair. He donned a leather headgear that became his trademark and dominated rugby league both for the Roosters and for Australia.
Jack Gibson, player number 418, is renowned as the most legendary coach in modern rugby league and took Easts to two premiership in 1974 and 1975, while also making his first grade debut for the tri colours in 1953 and earning a reputation for being a tough and uncompromising forward.
He played 123 games for Easts between 1953 and 1961 before making the switch to coaching in 1967. That year he took Easts to the finals after the club didn’t record a win in 1966.
In 1974 and 1975 he took what is remembered as one of the best ever Easts teams to consecutive premierships. He introduced a number of new coaching techniques and applications including video previews, skin fold testing, introducing the use of weights machines and creating an overall program of rehabilitation and fitness conditioning, now referred to as a high performance unit.
In 1988 Jack received an Order of Australia Medal for his contribution to rugby league.
Arthur Beetson, player number 615, is one of rugby league’s seven immortals and is often referred to as the best prop Australia has ever seen. He is also one of rugby leagues most well respected and liked characters.
Arthur played 131 games for Easts between 1971 and 1978, captaining the 1974 and 1975 premiership winning teams, and coached the club between 1985 and 1988, earning the ‘Coach of the Year’ award in 1987.
In 2003 he was inducted into the Australian Rugby League Hall of Fame.
In 2008, in rugby league’s Centenary year, Beetson was awarded the Clive Churchill Medal, for the best player on the field, for the 1974 Grand Final, as well as being named in rugby league’s Team of the Century, QLD’s Team of the Century and the Indigenous Team of the Century.
Jack Gibson once said of Arthur Beetson, “He could do it all on the football field and he could sell tickets. He was an entertainer and a great player.”
Brad Fittler, player number 948, is one of modern rugby league’s greatest players.
He joined the Roosters in 1996 after debuting for Penrith in 1991. He played nine seasons for the Club, missing only 24 games in that time. He captained the Roosters to a premiership victory in 2002 as well as grand finals in 2003 and 2004.
Between 1996 and 2004 Brad played 217 games, and with a total of 409 games played (both club and representative), a record that still stands today. He is also the youngest player to ever debut for NSW, at 18 years and 114 days.
He was appointed interim coach in late 2007 after the resignation of Chris Anderson and was given the job full time for the 2008 and 2009 seasons. In 2008 he took the Sydney Roosters to fourth place and into the finals series, coaching the club for a total of 58 games.
Stehr, player number 190, was aged just 16 years and 85 days when he made his regular competition debut - still the youngest ever first grade Australian player to do so.
He played 184 games for Eastern Suburbs between 1929-46 and was a member of the side that lost just one match over the three seasons between 1935, 1936 and 1937, winning the premiership across each of those seasons. He won additional premierships with Easts in 1940 and 1945.
After retirement in 1946, he remained involved with the game, coaching Manly in 1947-48 and Easts in 1949. He later wrote a column for many years in a Sydney newspaper and worked in television media. He was also club president at Easts.
In 1961 he was the commentator for the first Australian rugby league match ever broadcast live. His typical sign-off call in the media was always "Easts To Win!”.
Dunn, player number 253, was a local centre who played in Easts’ final win over Canterbury in 1940 but it was for his phenomenal performance in the 1945 final that he is best remembered.
Playing lock, Dunn scored 19 of his side’s 22 points (three tries, five goals) in a brilliant effort to sink Balmain. Between 1938 and 1947 he played 124 games for Easts. Dunn was also
coach of Easts in 1960 and 1963-63. He was later Vice President of the NSWRL, a chairman of the judiciary and co-manager of Australia’s tour of New Zealand in 1971. Dunn became a Member of the Order of Australia (OAM) in 1986.
Ron Coote, player number 625, was famous for his outstanding cover defence and low tackling technique and is widely considered as one of the nation’s finest footballers of the 20th century.
He was a key member of the Roosters back-to-back premiership winning sides in 1974 and 1975 and played 109 games for the Tricolours.
After football, Coote remained involved with the game as a member of NSWRL judiciary for much of the 1990s.
In 2000 he founded the Men of League program which supports former players, officials and referees who have fallen on hard times and remains the program’s President.
He was inducted into the Australian Rugby League Hall of Fame in 2005, The Rugby League Team of the Century, was named in the list of Australia’s 100 Greatest Players in 2007 to celebrate the code’s centenary year in Australia. He is a Member of the Order of Australia.
The Ron Coote Cup, contested annually by the Sydney Roosters and South Sydney Rabbitohs, is named in his honour.
Kevin ‘Horrie’ Hastings, player number 674, is the first Easts clubman to play 200 first grade games. He held the record for the number of first grade games for Easts at 228 until broken by Luke Ricketson in 2005.
Playing with the club between 1976-87, he garnered almost every major individual award in the early 1980s. He won the Rothmans Medal in 1981 and was named the Dally M Halfback of the Year in three consecutive years (1980-82). From 1980-82 he was also named Rugby League Week’s Player of the Year.
Hastings flew in from his home base in Florida to collect the award.