Hall of Fame Great Britain 1970 Rugby League Polo. A Vintage style Polo made from 100% Cotton and featuring a design inspired by the 1970 Great Britain Ashes Test win down under. Available in either Malcolm Reilly or Roger Millward style.
Retro Great Britain Rugby League 1970 Shirt Polo
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An Introduction to Retro Great Britain Rugby League Shirt
Produced by Ellis Rugby, Retro Great Britain Rugby League 1970 Shirt Polo is a fine shirt with excellent quality fabric. Before 1970, Eric Ashton led the last successful Ashes winning team in 1962. The team included some former Lions greats – Billy Boston, Neil Fox, Alex Murphy and Johnny Whiteley.
Following this defeat, Australia had dominated Great Britain. Defeated them in the home series in 1963, again down under in 1966. And yet again on English soil in 1967.
So going into the 1970 series the Great Britain team were underdogs. The squad included a mix of youth and experience. Denis Hartley was the oldest tourist at 34. Hartley along with Captain Frank Myler and rock-hard prop Cliff Watson provided the experience. But there were a number of tourists in their early twenties. They were Dave Chisnall, Bob Irving, Jimmy Thompson and of course a young Mal Reilly and Roger Millward.
It was this mixture of youth and experience that assisted the team’s prospects.
The Lions were up against a very good Australian team. The team included five players in Graeme Langlands, Arthur Beetson, Ron Coote, Billy Smith and Bob Fulton. The Australian Rugby League Hall of Fame inducted these players.
The tour began in Darwin against Northern Territory. Then they played in Townsville, Rockhampton, Gympie. And they played the week before the first test against Queensland in Brisbane. Where they met before a crowd of 17,000 – defeating them 32-7.
The first test was a sell-out almost 43,000 and although the score was 37-15 – it perhaps flattered the Aussies. Although the defeat must have been hard to take Captain Frank Myer thought there were positives the team could take from the performance.
After the defeat they played Toowoomba, then Brisbane before travelling to Sydney to play New South Wales. This was virtually another test match. The NSW team featured Langlands, Smith, O’Reilly, and Coote in their line-up. Down 6 points to 2 at half-time, Coach Johnny Whiteley hit the perfect note at half-time. And the team returned to the game in a positive mood.
Although the final score was 17-17, it was a great turnaround. Outscoring what was virtually a full Aussie Test team in their own back yard by three tries to one and perfect preparation for the next big test match.
The second test was a magnificent performance a 28-7 victory. They outscored the Aussies by four tries. And had to cope with a 12-5 penalty count and a man – sent off.
They then played four matches in eight days in Bathurst, Sydney, Newcastle and Wagga Wagga. This showed tremendous spirit, not just from the test players, but the whole squad to win all four matches.
So on to the third test on the 4th July 1970 at the SCG in front of a partisan crowd of 61,000. The scoreline of 21 points to 17, just does not do justice to Lion’s outstanding performance. Five tries to one is a resounding victory, but again having to cope with a 15 to 8 penalty count against them.
Games and Players
Big Denis Hartley got the team a great start with a charge down try and from that moment Great Britain took control of the game. Both John Atkinson and Roger Millward had arguably their best games in the Lions jersey in tremendous overall team performance.
Unbelievably, the Lions were in action the following day as the Aussie administrators had organised a final game scheduled in Wollongong.
Then it was off to face the Kiwis for the second part of the tour. With so much emphasis on Australia, many touring teams had come unstuck on the second part of the tour. The 1962 Lions were a good example as they dominated the Kangaroos and then lost both matches over in New Zealand. The Lions of 1970 had determinations that this wouldn’t happen to them.
There was one warm-up game before the first test – against Northern XIII in Tokoroa which they won 42 -17. On to the First test and although the scoreline of 19-15 suggests it as a tight game – the Lions scored five tries to the Kiwis single score. It was virtually the same team that had defeated the Aussies in the final test with Barry Seabourne coming in at scrum-half and Mick Shoebottom retaining his place at full back.
About Matches of Retro Great Britain Rugby
Putting Mick Shoebottom at full-back was a masterstroke by Coach Johnny Whiteley. Although the Leeds Rugby League player had more experience playing in the Centres or half-back he seemed to revel in the freedom the Full Back role allowed.
The tourists then defeated West Coast in Greymouth, before travelling to Auckland for the second and final test match. This game wasn’t straight forward. The Kiwis led 11 – 2 at half-time and the changing room was a little concerned, but they needn’t be.
Whiteley again found the perfect half-time speech and it had the desired result. They scored seven tries to brush aside the kiwis – a remarkable turnaround. Castleford’s Johnny Ward played at Prop alongside Cliff Watson and Tony Fisher.
The final game of the tour two days later was against Auckland and the Lions comfortably won 23-8.
So, the 1970 Lions played 24 games over two and a half months. They won 22 of their matches, lost 1 and drew 1. They scored 753 points, conceded only 288 points and a total number of 370,034 spectators watched them – making them the most successful Great Britain team of all time.
This polo is inspired by Reilly & Millwards’s outstanding performances on the 1970 tour.
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Malcolm Reilly, Roger Millward