The Great Grand Final Heist A Mysterious Tale of Tigers, Rabbitohs and an Unlikely Coaching Hero
Balmain's shock defeat of Souths in the 1969 Grand Final has been called the biggest boilover in rugby league history. The true story of the Tigers' upset win has remained untold for almost 50 years, so it has kept its sense of mystery. Until now ...They were coached by Leo Nosworthy, a savvy operator who'd grown up around the Balmain docks. His team was full of character and characters, but lacked big names. The star-studded Rabbitohs were the two-time defending premiers. Famous names such as Provan, Churchill, Beetson and Sattler were prominent. Shady figures with links to organised crime lurked in the background; this was Balmain in the late '60s. The relationship between the two clubs had an edge that had simmered for 60 years. Huge sums were bet on the match. Tigers players were accused of faking injury, to slow the game down. The referee's integrity was questioned.It needed a master researcher to sift through all the intrigue. Ian Heads, the author of many acclaimed sports books, trawled through archives and interviewed a vast range of participants -- players, officials, fans and media -- to discover what really happened.The memories, scrapbooks and wisdom of Nosworthy, now well into his 80s, are a treasure trove. He becomes the central character of a unique sporting fable.The Great Grand Final Heist is a classic underdog story. It reads like a thriller. There has never been a league book like it.
Ian Heads has been a sports reporter and author for 50 years. In 1969, he was a league journalist with the Daily Telegraph. Since 1988, he has written or co-written nearly 50 books - among the champions he has worked with are Jack Gibson, Arthur Beetson, Peter Sterling, Wayne Pearce, Shane Webcke, Mark Taylor, Matthew Burke, Ian Thorpe, Louise Sauvage and Herb Elliott. He has written major sporting histories, including the centenary book of Australian rugby league (2008), and his two most recent books, both for Stoke Hill Press, have been big-sellers. In 2010, Heads was awarded an OAM for service to the media as a journalist, author and mentor.