Never before. Never again.
This is what they said about this famous St George team of the 1950s and 1960s who won 11 consecutive prime ministerial positions in an era of such dominance that they were unprecedented in world sport and went untouched since.
The same could be said of Norm Provan, their leader well- loved who starred in 10 of these makers and who was revered allt throughout the game not only for his tenacity and success, but also for his humility and grace. A physical giant who measured 1.93m at a time when this exceeded the norm, Provan had an unwavering self-confidence, dedication to fitness and a grounding in reality that allowed him to be widely admired in his time. , but became an esteemed treasure in retirement. .
Its type has never been seen before. We will never see him again.
In 2018, Provan was named Immortal, the highest individual honor that one can receive in the rugby league. In truth, however, Provan was already long immortalized through the iconic Gladiators photo - arguably the most enduring image in Australian sport - with his arm wrapped around little Western Suburbs captain Arthur Summons after the grand finale of 1963, Provan's jersey removed, the two players covered withmud. The image captured everything great about the game - its egalitarian nature, tenacity, camaraderie, and humility. Such was its perfection, it became the Premiership Trophy in 1982 and has been a part of it every year since and will be for as long as the game is played in those games.
It wasn 't just the picture. He was and is Provan himself, an aspiration the rugby league has long cherished, a valhalla the game thinks he once was and can be again. He was an idealized version of the game 's ultima the player - strong and tough, skillful and composed, dedicated and selfless. Except that this idealized version of man existed. He played, and he was truly phenomenal.
Many have been credited with being the driving force behind this remarkable St George team of the 1950s and 1960s. There was Frank Facer, the indomitable secretary who was its architect. There was KenKearney and Harry Bath, both back from England, who brought back a professionalism and a focus on skills that revolutionized the preparation of the game in Australia. There were the superstars who all received Immortal status early on - Raper, Gasnier, Langlands - who were all some of the greatest to ever play the game. But Norm Provan's impact must never be under. -valued. It 's no coincidence that the club reached its highest peaks soon after arriving.
Lanky and boneless and made of granite, Provan made his first grade debut with St George in 1951 at the age of 18. He had such an impressive first season that he was selected in the Australian Probables v Possibles trial. He would play his first grand final two years later and make his Test debut the following year, but it was in 1956 and the decade that followed that he made his monumental impact.
Provan was one of an incredible 10 consecutive prime ministers, a feat no other Dragon accomplished back then and a number none other player has never achieved during his career. He coached the Dragons in the last four. During that decade, according to statistician Aaron Wallace, he lost only 23 games and never lost on St George's Pitch in Kogarah. In three of the Grand Finals he was St George's best, winning the Clive Churchill Medal Retrospective for his performances.
The numbers are truly remarkable, but it It is his leadership that left the deepest mark. Provan rarely drank when the culture of gambling demanded it. It has always been ha ppy to sacrifice a friendship for the good of the club. He has been exercising at levels never seen before. He was also humble, known throughout the St George areaboth for its discount stores and for its exploits in the rugby league.
His death comes 100 years after the St George District Rugby League Football Club played its first match. It also comes 40 seasons after his likeness was first used for Aussie football's most wanted trophy.
The rugby league has lost a legend Thursday. Provan was a real sports giant. His legacy will live on and his history will live on, his great contribution will never be forgotten.