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Continuing on in our series of interviews, one of our young League Unlimited writers Daniel Ramus has a chin-wag with Canterbury legend Terry Lamb. They got along so well that we?ve had to break the interview into two sections! Stay tuned for Part II on Thursday.
Rammo: You started as a Chester Hill/Canterbury Junior, tell us about those early days.
Baa: Well it was a long time ago, I think I was about 4 years old when my brother Peter and I went down to Chester Hill to play our first game of rugby league and tackle a few blokes down there. It was more of a weight limit, if you were 4 stone, you played against the 4 stoners, the age didn?t matter, that?s how it was in those days. We had to get weighed before each game, those days are well and truly gone and it?s all done by age groups now. I stayed at Chester Hill for 12 years.
Rammo: Despite your desire to play for Canterbury, you began your career at Wests in 1980. Was it tough to play against the Bulldogs?
Baa: Like you said I played all my junior football with Canterbury. I played in the Jersey Flegg Grand Final in 1979 and my coach then Ken Gentle went over to Western Suburbs to coach the Under 23s. I had a chat with Roy Masters who was coach of Western Suburbs at the time. I went down for a trial and played 3 games, and was given a contract with Western Suburbs. It wasn?t hard to play against the Bulldogs because I had signed for Wests, stayed there for 4 years, played 87 games for them and I had to look after my family.
Rammo: You were selected on the 1982 Kangaroo tour, but decided to withdraw to marry girlfriend Kim. Tell us about that decision.
Baa: Well I didn?t actually know whether I was going to be in the team or not. A selector came to me and said that if I played well in a couple more games then I?d have a chance of touring over in England. I told him that I was unable to play because I had already booked the wedding. He just looked at me and said ?okay not a problem? and that was it. But yeah I didn?t actually know whether I was going to be in the team or not at that stage.
Rammo: You won the Dally M Medal in 1983 despite Wests finishing last. It was your final season for the club. Was this a bittersweet memory for you?
Baa: It was a great memory. I was captain of the team at that stage, and I had a pretty good year. We didn?t have a real good team at that stage and won the wooden spoon. Every player went out there and did their best and that?s all I did.
Rammo: You finally fulfilled your dream of playing for Canterbury when you joined them in 1984 and won the premiership under Warren Ryan, defeating Parramatta 6-4. It must have been a great way to start your career at the Bulldogs. What do you recall about that season and Grand Final day?
Baa: I went over there as a new player. The club in general had quite a few good players like the Mortimer brothers (Steve, Peter and Chris), Gary Hughes and Robbo (Geoff Robinson). We had a pretty good team at that stage. Warren Ryan brought some new players over like myself, Peter Kelly, Mark Bugden and Peter Tunks. It was a pretty big job I suppose, starting a new team with new players. We knew we had a strong team and Warren Ryan changed our style of football which became more defence orientated. That was my very first Grand Final apart from 1979 when I won the Jersey Flegg. It was a great year, it went pretty quickly actually being successful for so long, and playing Parramatta in that Grand Final and winning 6-4.
Rammo: Canterbury went back to back in 1985, defeating St George 7-6 again under Warren Ryan. However you missed this game through injury. Tell us about your feelings whilst you were watching from the sidelines.
Baa: The injury came against St George in the first Semi-Final. Myself and Peter Tunks went in for a tackle and Tunks corked my thigh which turned into a burst blood vessel. I knew I wasn?t going to play in the semis leading up to the Grand Final but I tried very hard to get into the Grand Final. I suppose it?s very disappointing not playing in the game itself. Peter Moore put his arm around me at the end of the game and said ?Mate you got us there anyway?, that was fulfilling in itself. 2 years in a row and 2 premierships was a great memory for us, having the same team and the same coach.
Rammo: You played in the 1986 Grand Final, but unfortunately the result was different. Parramatta won 4-2 in the only try-less Grand Final ever. How did you feel that day?
Baa: Well I felt quite terrible because I was the one who missed the goal that could have taken the game into extra time. I think the game has changed dramatically. Defence was our priority so I think everybody else tried that style as well. It was an old-style Grand Final where we didn?t throw the ball around too much, the forwards just took it up and you tried to go wide with every opportunity. There weren?t too many tries scored in those days because you could only score tries when the opposition made mistakes. That game will go down in history and I guess me missing the goal will go down in history but that?s all part of football I suppose.
Rammo: At the end of ?86, you became the first player ever to participate in all matches on a tour of Great Britain and France. Can you tell us a bit about that Kangaroo Tour?
Baa: Things were abit different in those days because if you played in the Grand Final you had a very good chance of going on the Kangaroo tour at the end of the year. I?d say about 65% of the players who went on tour played in the Grand Final that year. They were great times, met some great players who are mates of mine like Greg Alexander, (Peter) Sterling and (Wally) Lewis. We had a great team over there and I was lucky enough to play in every single game over there.
Rammo: In 1987, you withdrew from the NSW State of Origin team because your wife Kim was pregnant. This decision led to a falling-out with NSWRL Chairman John Quayle. What were your thoughts at the time?
Baa: I had already spent 3 months away from my kids. Kim was pregnant so I decided to stay home and look after her. It didn?t worry me, I think everybody thought that players would love to play for NSW at every opportunity but I decided not to. They made me sit out a few games.
Rammo: Canterbury won the premiership in 1988 under Phil Gould, defeating Balmain 24-12. The most controversial aspect of that game was the Ellery Hanley incident early on, forcing him to leave the field. Was this just a ?heat of the moment? thing?
Baa: It wasn?t set up. We spoke about Ellery Hanley being a dangerous player, but it wasn?t intentional to take him out of the game. I remember there was a scrum, the ball went out to the backline, Andrew Farrar went low in the tackle and I came over the top, no doubt I did get Ellery high, but it was never intentional. That?s all part of football I suppose.
Rammo: What other memories do you have of the ?88 Grand Final?
Baa: The players were so close. We had myself, David Gillespie, Joe Thomas, Paul Langmack, Glen Nissen and Robbie Thorne who came down from the Gold Coast. It was very similar to 84? when we won, we brought quite a few new players into the team, we just clicked as individuals. We were probably the best team all year, and with the type of coach Phil Gould was, he managed to bring the team together quite well.
Rammo: Canterbury missed the semis 4 years in a row between 1989 and 1992. This must have been a difficult time for the club. You were also injured for a fair portion of that period. What were your thoughts as you watched on without being able to play?
Baa: I think what you have to look at is that quite a few players left the club at the end of 1990. Chris Anderson came in as coach, Langmack, Gillespie, Joe Thomas, Andrew Farrar and Jason Alchin all went to Western Suburbs with Warren Ryan. So in those years we lost a lot of senior players and we had to recruit again. We had to go through the disappointment of not making the Semis or not making Grand Finals more than anything. We had young players coming through like Dean Pay, Jason Smith, (Craig) Polla-Mounter, and they all went on to play in the 94? and 95? Grand Finals.
Rammo: Do you feel that some of these injuries lengthened your career?
Baa: The injury was a hernia which I had for a couple of years. It didn?t get any better so I had to have that operated on at the end of the 92? season. After that I was pretty good, the major injury was my broken arm in 94? when my daughter was born, that kept me out for about 10 weeks. A couple of suspensions in between didn?t help.
Rammo: You kicked 44 field goals over the course of your career, probably none more famous than in Round 14, 1992 against Newcastle. Trailing 12-10 with 2 minutes left, you booted one from about 40 metres out thinking the scores were level. Do you look back and have a bit of a laugh at this?
Baa: At that stage when Newcastle scored in the corner, I actually spoke to the players and I didn?t even see the bloke kick the ball, I didn?t even see it go over and I didn?t know he kicked it. I just told them that when we got the ball back we?d have a shot at field goal. It was a pretty big kick too, 45 metres out and it went straight over. I looked at Mitch Newton and he looked at me and said ?What are you doing??. I said ?What do you mean?? He said ?we need 2 points? and I said ?oh okay not a problem?. I wasn?t real good at maths in those days either (laughs). That was just a mistake I made, it wasn?t on purpose, just part of footy I suppose.
That?s all for Part I of our interview with Terry Lamb. Stay tuned to www.leagueunlimited.com for Part II which will be published later on in the week