Celebrating 40 years of Schoolboy Rugby League
Forty years after their historic triumph, 12 members of the inaugural schoolboys competition winners reunited to watch the latest batch of future champions.
The 1975 AMCO Shield marked the beginning of schoolboy rugby league - with Patrician Brothers Fairfield coming out premiers, 16-8 over Blacktown High School.
Twelve of the 17 Fairfield Pats players, including coach Kevin Bourke, were present alongside other officials from that winning side.
"It's been a great day and I'd like to thank the league for organising it," said former five eighth Kevin Langdon.
"It's been good seeing the boys and the idea now is to keep in touch."
They gathered at Pepper Stadium, Penrith on Wednesday, as the 2015 GIO Cup Grand Final match between Patrician Brothers Blacktown and Kirwan State High was played out. The latest schoolboys decider resulted in a 28-10 victory to the Townsville school.
Four decades on, the schoolboy pioneers were able to reminisce about their own triumph, which occurred at Leichhardt Oval in a curtain raiser to the 1975 AMCO Cup grand final between Eastern Suburbs and Parramatta.
Whilst watching the younger generation battle it out against each other, memories of their playing days filled the room.
"Playing the curtain-raiser for the main game, I remember we shared the dressing shed with the Roosters for the two games leading into the Grand Final," said Langdon.
"For the Grand Final though, we were assigned to the Parramatta shed, but luckily we got there before Blacktown did and changed the signs over.
"The best memory from that was going back to the sheds after the win and seeing them (Easts players) all stand and applaud."
The competition has grown in leaps and bounds over 40 years, which was noticed by all of the returning players.
"It started out as a pre-event and now it's a competition in its own right with plenty of national recognition," said Peter McGuinness, who played in the second-row.
Along with the improvement in professionalism, the overall increase in the standard of play was also noticed.
"I think they're better trained now than 40 years ago," coach Kevin Bourke said.
"What helped make us successful was that we had a number of Patrician feeder schools from Blacktown, Granville and Liverpool who eventually went to Fairfield as seniors.
"As a result, we had a lot of talent to choose from."
However, the most striking observation of today's game is the sheer size of some of the players who are barely 18 years old.
"The size of the players has definitely changed over time," McGuinness said.
"We were fast and our stamina was good, but the power of this modern game, even at schoolboy level, is dynamic. It's a very good product."
Something that remains constant in both generations though is the atmosphere and camaraderie between the players.
"We were all in years 11 and 12 and we built bonds during this time that have lasted all our lives," McGuinness said.
"From this, we have great friends that we'll always remember."