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Coasting : Issue 13 July 2010
22 central coast • new south wales " Toukley hated Woy Woy, and they hated me, too," Jeremy Cusack said with a grin as he looked at the old black and white action pictures. As you can see, they aren't 'action' pictures in the normal sense of the word. But they do show the sort of 'action' that fans came to expect whenever the two teams met. "We had some fantastic punch-ups at their home ground [Darren Kennedy Oval]," Cusack said. And some at Woy Woy Oval, too, if these pictures are any guide. "In fact, I can't remember playing Toukley when there wasn't a punch up." It was 1989, and the star-studded Woy Woy Roosters were in the middle of one of the club's golden eras. Former Eastern Suburbs halfback Kevin Hastings was captain-coach. That's Hastings, on the right, in the fight picture. And that's Cusack, bracing for impact, at the centre of the Toukley storm. "Poor old Horrie's got his hands full," Cusack said, as he surveyed the picture. "I think he's trying to break 'em up." Cusack was one of several danger men in a star- studded Woy Woy team. A rangy winger with damaging power and speed, Cusack had represented NSW Country in 1985. He was perennially among the Coast's leading try- scorers, and that made him a marked man. The trouble for opposition teams was that Woy Woy boasted a team with stars right across the park. "There was Tony Jarvis, Mark Jones, Gerry Psaltis, Steve Waugh, Mark Long, Reg Northy... the list was endless," Cusack said. Toukley's aggressive tactics flowed from a growing belief in their ability to unsettle the Roosters -- and that belief was justified, Cusack said. "I remember in 1987, when Ray Brown coached us and we won the premiership, we lost only two games all season and Toukley beat us in the last game of the year at Woy Woy Oval," he said. "Another time we played Toukley at Woy Woy Oval, and they were running last, but we only just beat them at the death." Cusack said Toukley's results began to improve in the 1980s with the arrival of coach Steve Blythe, the former Western Suburbs and Newtown forward who played in the Jets grand-final team of 1981. "Steve Blythe got up there at Toukley in about 1983 and started to turn things around," he said. "He tried to teach them how to win. And by the time they got to this stage," he said, as he pointed to our fight picture, "they were fairly competitive, and anyone with a red and white jumper on, they wanted to knock over." Cusack said playing against Toukley was not pleasant. And the Roosters always knew what they would get when they played the Hawks. But it was never personal. "They weren't bad blokes," he said. "Nobody held a grudge." And despite the bad blood that was seemingly apparent between the teams on the field, the players always get together over a friendly beer when the war was over, he said. when feathers started flying By David Stewart Jeremy Cusack recalls: In the 1980s, the high-flying Woy Woy Roosters and the battling Toukley Hawks had a Silvertails-and-Fibros rivalry that rugby league fans loved. A tough era Cusack said Central Coast rugby league was going through a period of change in the 1980s, and the arrival of former Sydney players at some clubs added class and experience to an already tough competition. Woy Woy, for example, welcomed the former Manly trio of Psaltis, Northy and Waugh, he said. "Some of the guys who came to play on the Coast were saying, 'Gee, we've played reserve grade in Sydney, but this is pretty tough'," Cusack said. "In the 1980s, if you got whacked you got up, played the ball, and played on. It was usually punch for punch, and the penalty count usually ended up at about 10-all. "And if you ran with your head high, you knew there was a chance that it could end up in the third row. "I ended up with my nose broken nine times -- and I played on the wing! I had to have two nose reconstructions not that long ago..." WHO ME? Jeremy Cusack and Tony Jarvis listen to the touch judge's report on the fight.
Issue 12 June 2010
Issue 14 August 2010