Brian Henderson

Looking back:Cronulla's Brian Henderson reminiscing over his football career and (Inset) playing against former club and team mate Reg Gasnier.
Looking back:Cronulla's Brian Henderson reminiscing over his football career and (Inset) playing against former club and team mate Reg Gasnier.

Brian Henderson started playing Rugby League in the late 1940s and thought he had seen it all.

"I thought Murdoch stuffed it up with his Superleague," he said this week "But how the NRL will cope with the financial impact of the global coronavirus pandemic, I'll never know."

Born in Sutherland in 1936 in a house with no water or electricity, a young Henderson showed promise in many fields, he is a Life Member of Cronulla SLSC and won an Australian Title as a member of their U18 surfboat crew.

He started playing Rugby League for the Sutherland JRLC a club that had survived the Great Depression, two world wars and general apathy which threatened its closure for good.

Sutherland played in the St George junior league and Henderson said they first played football in an old paddock near Robertson Street.

"Everybody would turn up and stand around on the sideline and they would pick a team, I was young but eventually I got a run," he said

"Jack Gibson used to ride up on his horse to play "

In 1954 at the age of 18 'Hendo' played in the St George Presidents Cup team.

In 1955 he had a stellar year playing in Presidents Cup, Third Grade, Reserve Grade and finally First Grade.

He made his first-grade debut as a front-rower for St George in 1955 against Keith Holman's West's team at Redfern Oval.

"It was hard to crack a first-grade game at St George. It was a team of stars."

Henderson played in that game with prop Kevin Brown and captain Ken 'Killer' Kearney, a dual-code international.

Dragons defense :Brian Henderson playing for St George in 1956

Dragons defense :Brian Henderson playing for St George in 1956

In 1956 his football stalled for National Service and when he returned he played six games for a Dragons team in a year they only lost three, until a knee injury put him out.

In 1958 the Dragons team was so strong he played in the Reserve Grade Grand Final against Balmain with Reg Gasnier, Merv Lee's, John Riley and Peter Provan.

He was up against it at Saints, so he took up an offer to play for Balmain, but there was a residents rule and he sat out the 1959 season and played for the Tigers in 1960.

Coached by Harry Bath in 1961, Henderson had a difference of opinion with him.

"Harry said to me when I was running off, you are not my type of player, so I replied, your not my type of coach" -he never played First Grade for Balmain again.

In 1962 he played for Western Suburbs, but a broken foot-ruined his final 1963 season he had played Grade football for 10 years, with three clubs,and at 27 gave football away.

Brian spent his working life getting ink on his hands in the printing trade. Now stuck at home the former organiser for the printing union and National Secretary of the Australian Peace committee said he misses watching the football and the daily company from Anna's Coffee shop.