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Fulton and coach Frank Stanton embrace at full-time of the 1976 Grand Final after Manly claimed their third premiership with a 13-10 win over Parramatta.

In the latest instalment in a series of fresh looks back at the grand finals of yesteryear, we revisit the 1976 SCG showdown between Frank Stanton's Sea Eagles and Terry Fearnley's Eels. has gone into the vault to find footage of the grand finals from the pre-NRL era dating back to 1966 and will be showcasing these games, including a full replay, a mini version of each game, match highlights and great moments from these memorable encounters.

When it came to big-game pressure, Manly had a clear edge, having played in four of the previous eight grand finals and won premierships in 1972 and '73.

Led by the incomparable Bob Fulton and boasting internationals across the park, minor premiers Manly went into the decider as warm favourites, despite the fact the Eels had knocked them off 23-17 in the semi-final to earn a week off.

Appearing in their first grand final in their 30th season in the competition, the Eels had ridden on the back of a powerful pack which included Ray Higgs, Ray Price, Geoff Gerard and Ron Hilditch.

Full Match Replay: Sea Eagles v Eels - Grand Final, 1976

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With Englishman Phil Lowe, Terry Randall, Max Krilich and John Harvey up front for Manly, the stage was set for an epic forward battle with tries at a premium.

In the end the Eels would score two tries to one but it was a bombed chance late in the game by winger Neville Glover which ultimately cost them as the radar boot of fullback and player of the match Graham Eadie got Manly home 13-10.

For skipper and future Immortal Fulton, a third premiership provided the perfect end to his 10-year career on the northern beaches while Eadie, Randall and Ian Martin also became triple premiership players.

Play of the day

After Jim Porter had opened the scoring for the Eels off a perfectly weighted John Peard bomb, the Sea Eagles needed to hit back and they did thanks to a brilliant jinking run by five-eighth Alan Thompson.

After splitting Parra open, Thompson was caught in cover by Peard but lofted a perfectly weighted pass to Lowe scouting wide and the big second-rower did the rest, dotting it down in the corner to level the scores at 5-5.

A star of Great Britain's World Cup win in 1972, Lowe headed Down Under in '74 and enjoyed plenty of good times at Manly, crossing for 25 tries in his three seasons including the pivotal three-pointer in the decider.

There were five other plays of the day for Manly – the five toe-pokes "Wombat" Eadie piloted between the sticks from all manner of angles to keep the scoreboard ticking over and keep the brave Eels at bay.

Lowe plants it down in the corner

Best player

Hard to go past Eadie for his nerves of steel with the boot and his work under the high ball from "Bomber" Peard, who peppered the Manly in-goal all day long.

Playing in his 13th final and third grand final at just 22 years of age, Eadie was a powerhouse runner of the ball, solid defender and brilliant goalkicker.

Having piled on 242 points in the 1975 season, Eadie backed that up with 233 points in '76, including nine tries and 103 goals, and his mastery of the blustery conditions at the SCG meant Fulton could throw the ball to him with confidence every time two points was on offer.

Match Highlights: Sea Eagles v Eels

The quote

"Mate, I'm at a prosecutors conference today and the dropped ball thing has already been mentioned twice. I wouldn't say it gets brought up daily but certainly once a week it gets a mention." – Neville Glover, who became a police officer after his playing days, speaking in 2008.

The what-if moment

A rampaging Geoff Gerard had scored to give Parramatta a 10-7 lead early in the second half before two Eadie penalty goals put Manly in front 11-10.

With the clock heading towards the 70th minute, 21-year-old winger Neville Glover etched his name in Eels folklore for all the wrong reasons, dropping a pass with the line wide open as the underdogs threatened to steal victory.

Brilliant lead-up work by John Kolc, Peard and Ed Sulkowicz had created the opportunity for centre John Moran to draw the final defender and send Glover over in the corner.

With delirious Eels fans rising to their feet in anticipation, Moran sent a pass to Glover but unfortunately the winger put it down and the chance was gone.

Fortunately for Glover, things would look up two years later when he played two Tests for the Kangaroos, but Parra fans would have to wait a little longer for their redemption, a maiden premiership finally coming in 1981.

Gerard breaks the Sea Eagles open on the edge

Unsung hero

Plenty of tireless workers in the Manly pack and five-eighth Alan Thompson came up with several big plays, none bigger than his pass to set up Lowe for the only try.

The unassuming Thompson was a loyal one-club man, giving his all for the Sea Eagles in 263 games across 12 seasons.

He was the perfect foil for the flashy Fulton and played the link role perfectly between a bruising pack and skilful backline which also included Russel Gartner and Tom Mooney.

A triumphant Bob Fulton is chaired off by his Manly teammates after the 1976 grand final.
A triumphant Bob Fulton is chaired off by his Manly teammates after the 1976 grand final.

The following year

Parramatta were the dominant team in 1977, finishing the regular season two games clear at the top of the table, but after slugging it out in the first ever drawn grand final against St George (9-9) they were outclassed and outmuscled 22-0 in the replay a week later.

Manly made it to the finals for an 10th straight season, scraping into fifth spot, but were eliminated in the first week of the play-offs by Balmain, going down 23-15.


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