Yesterday I joined South Sydney faithful at the old Redfern Town Hall in Sydney for the launch of Glory, Glory, the autobiographical account of the life and times of South Sydney rugby league legend ‘Gentleman’ John Sattler. MC’ed by John’s premiership-winning son Scott, and introduced by life-long South Sydney tragic Ray Martin, the event was a raging success, not least because of the engaging reminiscences of the great man himself. Still remembered as one of the toughest players ever to pull on a jersey, Satts regaled the roomful of rabid Rabbitohs with stories of South Sydney’s golden years, when he led his team to four premiership victories between 1967 and 1971, and played four tests for Australia, three of them as national captain. He attained legendary status for his feats in the 1970 grand final, when he played 70 minutes of the game with a broken jaw after Manly forward John Bucknall put one on his chin and broke his jaw in two places. Determined to finish the game, Sattler told no one about the injury until half time, and even then declined treatment and refused to come off the field. Souths won 23-12, whereupon Satts received the Giltinan Shield, delivered the acceptance speech, then took himself to hospital to have his jaw wired up.
But yesterday the league legend also spoke of life after rugby league, when rough and tumble skills honed during his football career came in handy running a series of Queensland pubs, including the old Queens Hotel at Southport. The always-courteous and soft-spoken (off-field that is), Satts told how foolhardy drinkers keen to test their arm against League’s legendary hardman, usually came off very much second-best. Interestingly, speaking of those wild and woolly times, he remembered the Queens as “the worst of them all.”
Glory, Glory – definitely worth a read.
Chris Nyst – Gold Coast Lawyer, Novelist and Film Maker