Roy Master’s article

Discussion in 'St George Illawarra Dragons' started by R&WTILLIDIE, Oct 8, 2019 at 8:52 AM.

  1. R&WTILLIDIE

    R&WTILLIDIE Bench

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    Not sure if shared before. Roy Master’s article someone uploaded on the Dragons group on FB. Very long but interesting.

    St George Illawarra will shortly announce their coaching structure for next year and a strategy for Jack de Belin, whose NRL suspension almost forced the first player strike in the code in over a century.

    The events of the grim, cold afternoon of May 17 at the Comfort Inn, Mudgee, where Dragons players had assembled for a match against Newcastle, led to one of the worst seasons in the club's history.

    This was where St George Illawarra players learnt of a decision by the Federal Court to uphold an NRL ban on de Belin due to sexual assault charges.

    The Dragons' playing group was incensed at the decision and told coach Paul McGregor they intended to boycott a match on May 19 at Glen Willow Oval, Mudgee, against the Knights.

    Like most of the players, McGregor was convinced de Belin would have his ban overturned by the court and intended to fly the NSW Origin lock to the central-west town for the match.

    De Belin insisted he was innocent of the charges and his attitude carried the group. The perceived injustice of the ban by his ultimate employer, the NRL, ratified by the Federal Court that day, put the St George Illawarra players in a very rebellious mood. “They can’t do this,” was the prevailing view.

    Dragons chief executive Brian Johnston admitted he was phoned by football manager Ben Haran, who passed on the players’ intention to boycott the match, but said it was a brief, emotional reaction. He said the only vote taken was to boycott the media, the usual target when players are upset by officialdom.

    However, those in the Mudgee motel, such as McGregor and Craig Young - the former St George captain and international prop recently inducted into the ARL Commission’s Hall of Fame - believe the players were serious.

    Young is president of the St George half of the joint venture and, being a former detective, assists the club on integrity matters, including the de Belin issue.

    McGregor told Young the players had approached the football staff and indicated they intended to boycott the match.

    “Albert”, as he is known, was typically forthright, telling McGregor a strike was anathema to the club’s traditions and best interests of the game. Johnston’s immediate focus was de Belin, who would be unable to play football for at least a year.

    Over the next 48 hours, the players accepted Young’s view they must play, if only because a boycott would punish fans.

    Dragons fans were still disappointed because it was a dispirited performance against the Knights. By half-time, the Dragons were behind 28-0. They lost 45-12.

    Until then, it had been a mixed season for the Dragons, winning four games and losing five, but no club had scored seven tries against them.

    St George Illawarra finished second last on the ladder, prompting two reports – one by the Dragons' football department and another by former premiership coach Phil Gould.

    McGregor, who played under Gould in successful NSW Origin teams, asked him to perform the review. While it is normal for the Dragons to keep contentious matters in-house, Johnston knew the fans wanted answers. Furthermore, Gould has significant credibility in the football community and his intervention would placate fickle supporters the club had lost.

    Gould interviewed nine players and concluded, according to media reports, the club did not have a defining DNA.

    While the joint venture with the Illawarra Steelers 20 years ago may have blurred the Dragons’ identity, there is no doubt among most past players and coaches it has an identity.

    An obligation exists to honour the club’s image, which admittedly is a fairly nebulous concept and perhaps not understood by any player who joined the Dragons simply because they offered the most money; or even a generation focused on immediate self-gratification.

    But if you have been at the club for six years, as I was, and followed it closely since, it is apparent the good name of the Dragons is far loftier than the interests of any player or official.

    Its DNA is reflected in the final line of the club song: “Now, aren’t we a wonderful credit to our locality.”

    The problem arises when the club's DNA collides with player rights, as evidenced in the de Belin case, when players were forced to choose between not trashing the club brand through a boycott and supporting a mate whose individual rights, they believed, had been trammelled.

    Wayne Bennett, who coached the Dragons for three years and won a long-awaited premiership, predicted this.

    NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg gathered a few influential rugby league people - such as Australian coach Mal Meninga, Bennett and Gould - for a dinner to hear their views before introducing his automatic ban on any player charged with an offence that carries a sentence of 11 years or more in jail. Bennett told him: “If you do this, St George Illawarra will come last.”

    “Long neck”, as he is known, may have stuck it out with his prediction but the Dragons' second-last position on the ladder meant he was wrong by only one rung.

    When de Belin’s court case to hear five sexual assault charges against him was set down for two weeks from March 2 next year, the Dragons feared the end of one dismal season would merge ignominiously into the next.

    However, the intervention of Wollongong District Court acting judge Paul Conlon has brought the case forward to February 3, the start of the 2020 legal year.

    Johnston is working on a strategy involving de Belin, accommodating both a guilty and not guilty verdict.

    In his report, Gould did not conclude the de Belin matter was a significant factor in the club’s poor season. But it is important to realise he was only reacting to what he was told by the players he interviewed.

    Players are notorious for giving answers they believe authority figures want to hear, using phrases such as, "that’s a cop out". After all, tough guys are not supposed to admit they missed their most lethal forward.

    In any case, the report by the Dragons' football department indicated dissatisfaction by players’ wives at de Belin’s actions and it can be suggested this affected their husbands. De Belin trained strongly with the team all season, and perhaps his presence on the practice field highlighted his absence from the playing field.

    Johnston conceded the club's DNA had, perhaps, not been articulated to players. “But our DNA is solid, it is ingrained; it is understood by most past players,” he said.

    He argued it was summed up in the motto: “Once a Dragon, always a Dragon” which implies a life-long commitment to club values and to never harm its image.

    Even the legendary Frank Facer, secretary of the club during 11 years of consecutive premiership success, understood the club was bigger than any individual.

    “Fearless” was once barred from going on an end-of-season trip because of misbehaviour on an outing the previous year. He still arrived at Central Station, carrying his bag, expecting to join his mates in a dogbox compartment, only for a committee man to produce the relevant minute of the meeting barring him.

    Facer picked up his case, headed home and the train steamed north to Cairns.

    Immortal Norm Provan, upset that former champion half Billy Smith was unable to attend a club reunion because he was barred from the venue - St George Leagues Club - threatened the club manager, Danny Robinson, to take players from his era to another location unless Smith was admitted. Robinson invited the legendary captain-coach, victor in 10 successive grand finals, to leave with his former teammates. They remained and Smith stayed barred.

    St George administrators always gave urgent attention to any criticism from a fan, delivered by letter or phone call. Today’s administrators also have the responsibility of answering to the internet. Johnston is working hours to rival a 7-Eleven shopkeeper in order to win back the dissatisfied, the disgruntled and the disillusioned.

    When the de Belin case is concluded mid-February, and the dressing room replaces the courtroom as the primary keyhole into the lives of the St George Illawarra players, the fans can be confident there are good men who will restore order to the club after a chaotic 2019.

    URL LINK: https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/sp...trife-and-boycott-threat-20191007-p52yca.html
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 8, 2019 at 10:11 AM
  2. tumbidragon

    tumbidragon First Grade

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    ''St George administrators always gave urgent attention to any criticism from a fan, delivered by letter or phone call.''
    Hahaha! Your'e a funny man Roy. All I've seen over the last decade has been deflect, misdirect and ultimately tell fans with dissenting opinion to jog on with their signs... A far cry from what Roy would have us believe. But hey, a fools born every minute, so I'm sure somebody out there will believe it.
     
  3. hewi

    hewi Juniors

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    The rot has been there since Price took over, it goes on and on with all sorts of excuses. I don’t think any other club in the NRL would put up with the crap we have.
     
  4. possm

    possm Coach

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    Well that says it all:
    • Craig Young president of the St George side of the joint venture.
    • Johnston working 7-11 hours answering emails and internet enquiries - not one of my 5 emails have been answered.
    • No mention of the dismal performance of the head coach or his performance over the past 5 seasons.
    • No mention of the same old game plan that the players have lost confidence in.
     
  5. Coffs dragon

    Coffs dragon Bench

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    Certainly got more out of Roy Masters column than 12 months of nothing or spin from the club.
    I have always enjoyed reading Roy Masters articles and I consider him to be one of the best sports journalists in Australia.
    As for our club......proof needs to be in some action!
     
  6. SEAT 1A

    SEAT 1A Juniors

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    I don't think Johnston is to happy with Jake.
    .
     
  7. hazzbeen

    hazzbeen Bench

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    Craig Young for me is one of the major problems , dinosaur he flopped as a coach so he is still there giving advice .... The game has changed need new blood in the coaching ranks and behind the scene's ....
     
  8. Gareth67

    Gareth67 Bench

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    Always had a lot of time for Roy Masters , also it is nice to read input from an individual whom has done their homework on the subject . What he has written certainly answers a lot of questions that the majority of us have been asking for yonks now .
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2019 at 3:02 PM
  9. Slippery Morris

    Slippery Morris First Grade

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    We hear rumours about Frizzel, Lomax, players disgruntled etc from the journo's but I did not hear anything about the players ever wanting to go on strike and not play the Newcastle game in Mudgee until Roy's article. Just goes to show that there rumours we hear are just that and the Saints board like to keep their in house matters extremely private.

    Bennett also was spot on about his comment on "The Dragons will come last" when told about this new rule. He knew how much this would impact the playing group mentally.

    Saints are clearly the most hated club by the guys running the show and are totally discriminated against at all times. Sad state of affairs. Saints have no hope whilst this current administration is in place not only at Saints but in the NRL.

    If JDB wins his case there will be more talk about lawsuits next year as I am sure he will take the NRL to the courts which they will hate the Dragons even more. They may also ban him for suing them. Why wouldn't they? Beattie has walked away so the NRL will just blame him who no longer works there.

    This off season will be a disaster either way with the JDB case and Mary will use this as his next excuse when he eventually leads them to a spoon.
     
    This Year?, SaintPauli, Crush and 4 others like this.
  10. Dragsters

    Dragsters Bench

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    Indeed.

    Certainly explains the 28 nil deficit at half time vs the knights.

    I thought it was shell-shock coz they were led to believe JDB would be allowed to play.

    Clearly according to Roy, it was due to player revolt and potential boycott...
     
  11. R&WTILLIDIE

    R&WTILLIDIE Bench

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    The dragons owe me a refund on my membership for this year...fair dinkum...
     
  12. Dragonslayer

    Dragonslayer Bench

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    Point 1:
    "Gould interviewed nine players andconcluded, according to media reports, the club did not have a defining DNA".
    'Johnston conceded the club's DNA had, perhaps, not been articulated to players. “But our DNA is solid, it is ingrained; it is understood by most past players,” he said'.

    So BJ admits in a round-about way we currently dont have a historical DNA, players come for the money not the jersey.

    Point 2:
    "In his report, Gould did not conclude the de Belin matter was a significant factor in the club’s poor season"
    "In any case, the report by the Dragons' football department indicated dissatisfaction by players’ wives at de Belin’s actions and it can be suggested this affected their husbands"

    So
    , who is right Gould saying the JDB case did not affect the performance of the team, yet the football department says otherwise.

    Point 3:
    St George administrators always gave urgent attention to any criticism from a fan, delivered by letter or phone call. Today’s administrators also have the responsibility of answering to the internet. Johnston is working hours to rival a 7-Eleven shopkeeper in order to win back the dissatisfied, the disgruntled and the disillusioned.

    The terminology of "always gave" is past tense. It infers that presently that is not the case. It's further exemplified by the silence from the said administrators. BJ may well be working long hours to "win back" disgruntled fans, however, how would we know that?
    The oxymoron here is using the 7/11 example, as it feels like we are, as a club, not dissimilar in operation to them.
     
  13. Walpole

    Walpole Juniors

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    Johnston could win back plenty of fans by sacking McGregor and then resigning himself.
     
  14. Carlton

    Carlton Juniors

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    Personally, I'm going to take all this with a grain of salt. This is now the excuse being developed and pedalled to justify the poor year.

    In my opinion this article was not well researched, it sounds more like a press release by the club. If it had been well researched there wouldn't have been the fluff about listening to fans, responding to them and answering their communications because we know first hand this is wrong.
     
  15. since77

    since77 Juniors

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    Wow. If ever there was proof this club needs a broom swept through it this is it. They wanted to boycott a game to stand in solidarity with an alleged rapist? Disgusting.
     
  16. Saint Angelo

    Saint Angelo Juniors

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    The only "Boycott" required is by all of us supporters next year.

    Boycott all games until we replace Mary with someone that we can actually call a coach.
     
  17. Objective View

    Objective View Juniors

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    I had a lot of time for him too, until he wrote this propaganda piece disguised as objective journalism.

    They are all f#*kers. All of them.

    Straight Shooter
     
  18. mickeylane

    mickeylane Bench

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    Me as well..Im taking solace in his last line and believe it will come true in some sort form or shape.
    "the fans can be confident there are good men who will restore order to the club after a chaotic 2019."
     
  19. 18to87

    18to87 First Grade

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    100%. This is BJ and Co calling in a favour to a reputable journo.

    When will someone in the mainstream media come out and say that fans are upset because McGregor has been doing the same stuff for five years while expecting different results? I am not holding my breath and we largely have the win over struggling Brisbane in the semis to thank. What a damaging win that has turned out to be.
     
  20. getsmarty

    getsmarty Referee

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    5 & 1/2 actually, but who's counting LOL
     
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