Starkers: Please tell us how you got the nickname �Igor�?
Igor: Yeah, �73 Kangaroo Tour, I was out with Tim Pickup one night and he said �You go on like an Igor�. It was some sort of big monster cartoon bloke at the time and it just stuck.
Starkers: You were a North Curl Curl junior, starting out in rugby league as a centre. Tell us about those early days in your junior club?
Igor: I was living at Brookvale and my next door neighbours were running the Surf Club, which used to run the League. They asked my parents, who were reluctant at first, if I could trial against St Joseph�s College. I didn�t really follow rugby league at that stage, I was only a kid, but from that day on I played.
Starkers: In 1970 you debuted for Manly-Warringah in the centres, before switching to the forwards in 1972. It was then that you took part in Manly�s maiden Premiership, defeating Easts 19-14. How did it feel?
Igor: Pretty good. At that stage of my career I was only young and I�m not one to really carry on about stats or things like that. It was just one of those things because I was new to the team. But for guys like Alan Thompson and Billy Hamilton it would have been a real buzz for them to win a competition late in their career.
Starkers: It was a golden era for Manly, who were Minor Premiers from 1971-73, and you went back-to-back in 1973 (defeating Cronulla 10-7) in what has been described as the toughest and most spiteful Grand Finals ever. What are your memories of that one?
Igor: Once again it was only a year later and I was only 21 or 22 and I just took it in my stride, but it was a bit more exciting than the previous year I�d say.
Starkers: You went on the 1973 Kangaroo Tour as a young forward with a couple of premiership�s under your belt. That tour included the likes of Langlands, Raudonikis, Hamilton, Beetson, O'Neill, O'Reilly, McCarthy, Fulton, Cronin and Eadie. You didn�t actually play a Test, but took part in 5 Tour matches. What was it like being among the best players in the world at that time?
Igor: That was a buzz, spending all that time in England even though I didn�t play too many games because of injury. I looked like playing the second Test before breaking my thumb. Playing with all those experienced and high profile men was terrific. Injury plagued me on that tour though.
Starkers: Can you tell us a bit about the opposition over in the U.K.?
Igor: In those days the old elbow and knee was used a fair bit over there. I saw John O�Neill get cleaned up over there by a guy who played for Blackwood. But the English certainly didn�t tickle, you had to watch it all the time over there.
Starkers: What were the conditions like?
Igor: The surfaces over there were fantastic. They were soft and lush and it was amazing how they kept the grounds in such good conditions considering the amount of rain they got.
Starkers: Did you make any mates with the Poms?
Igor: Not so much, more so with the Pommies that played for Manly. It was a love-hate thing, well more of a hate thing with them really. It was more or less �Hate the Poms� because you were playing against another country. I ended up pretty good mates with Mal Reilly and I�m glad I played with him and not against.
Starkers: In 1975, you were involved in the World Series matches, taking the title of World Champions. You must have a few fond memories of that.
Igor: That was a good tour because it was only six weeks away from home. Whereas the first one in �73 I was only married for a month and I was away for 3 months. It was a good way to test your marriage anyhow�
Starkers: Moving on to 1976, Manly again asserted their dominance over the competition, taking the Minor Premiership and also defeating Parramatta in the Grand Final (Manly won 13-10). What can you recall from that day?
Igor: It was a stepping stone for me and I was becoming more dominant as I got older. I was becoming a more senior figure and experienced player in the team and people started to look up to me then and it made me feel important. It was right in the middle of my career when I became more dominant during the matches.
Starkers: In 1977 you took part in the successful World Cup campaign in Australia and New Zealand. It has been reported that you got a bit lucky in the Final, what were your thoughts on the Tour?
Igor: I can�t really remember too much about that one but I remember going to New Zealand and playing at Carlaw Park in some pretty torrid games. They were tough guys.
Starkers: In 1978 you were a non-playing reserve against New Zealand in a Test match. This could have been your only �official� Test. Are you a bit filthy about not getting a run?
Igor: At that stage I didn�t give it a thought because I was part of the touring party and it was just great to be there. As I finished my career I realised I hadn�t played a Test. They should have considered the �75 World Cup series Tests though. I know Bob Fulton was trying to have them reclassified.
Starkers: You recorded your 4th Grand final victory in 1978 (16-0) in a replay over Cronulla after drawing 11-all in the first hit-out. Could you please elaborate a little on the circumstances surrounding that Grand Final.
Igor: Yeah, a bit hectic - 5 games in the two weeks leading up. I still had some head problems and groin problems. Even though I was performing I needed 5 needles to take the field and keep me going.
Starkers: Exhausted after the 1978 G.F., you did not Tour with Kangaroos. Do you regret this now?
Igor: In early �78 I got knocked out in a trial match against Wyong and I was out cold for 20 minutes and woke up in hospital. I was having troubles all year with my noggin. That was probably one of the main reasons I pulled out of the �78 Kangaroo tour. I looked like I was going to be a bit of a pedestrian and I used the excuse that I wanted to stay home with my family. In hindsight I probably regret it because I might have been able to get through, but then after having that break I had another 4 good seasons.
Starkers: You played 11 matches for NSW from 1973-78. Can you tell us about the interstate rivalry back then prior to State of Origin?
Igor: It probably isn�t highlighted like it is now through the media, but they were certainly as hard if not harder than Test matches. We used to go up there for a week and we�d get there on a Saturday night, play Wednesday, then have a lay-day on Thursday and go to Surfers and get on the turps at the Broad Beach Hotel. I don�t think they�d be allowed to do that these days. We used to run amok. Then we�d play the second game on the Saturday night. It was great playing with guys like Tommy, Dallas, Pickup, Reddy, Eadie. I could keep going on and most of them have become good friends as I�ve gone through life.
Starkers: Can you elaborate a little on the �Battle of Brookvale� that took place in the 1979 season v Western Suburbs?
Igor: That started off in the preseason when we played a game in Melbourne which turned into a complete fist-fight. It carried on into the regular season. That was when Roy Masters had Wests and he had the Fibros v Silvertails thing going.
I can still remember Hollywood, the referee, came into the dressing room and he�d just been into talk to Wests and told us �You�ve got 5 minutes to sort each other out then it�s down to playing football. After that it�s all off, otherwise you�re off.�
To us it was just �ding-ding� and we all got stuck in. The first scrum didn�t even pack, everyone was just running in and throwing punches. Wingers were running from the other side of the field and getting involved.
I can�t believe that though, imagine a referee saying that these days?
Starkers: The Manly club continued to be a force into the early 80�s. In the 1981 Major Semi Final against Newtown, you got sent off after the opening minute of the game saw an all-in brawl erupt. Newtown won 20-15 and progressed to the Grand Final, losing to Parramatta. Can you tell us a bit about that incident?
Igor: Yeah, that was sort of the end of my career. Well the beginning of the end anyway. I got suspended for six weeks into the next year and spent those on the sideline in �82. I remember pretty vividly because they bought me back through reserve grade and I thought the club didn�t want me anymore, I was angry with them. I played a game against Cronulla and a young fella in the centres got the ball and I cleaned him up. I was very cranky. He needed 24 stitches and I approached the ref (McDonald) and said to him he couldn�t send me off because I�d only just come back. He disagreed and I was sent off and got another 10 weeks.
But funnily enough, after that they put me straight back into first grade leading into the 1982 Grand Final. I felt awful for the kid though, I wasn�t proud of it.
Starkers: You went on to make the 1982 Grand Final, losing to Parramatta 21-8. This was your last game of footy and I�m lead to believe that you needed several needles to take the field. What was going through your head after the game?
Igor: I probably did, but I can�t remember. I retired after that game and just hung up my boots up on the Cricket Ground clothes line and said �That�s it guys, I�ve had enough�.
Starkers: Can you tell us a bit about the first time you met Wally Lewis?
Igor: (Laughs) I think Wally�s probably joking, I can�t remember it. I was probably on the grog and tackled him or something. I think he�s exaggerating, but I might have done it when I was up there playing in the interstate matches.
Starkers: You pursued coaching and administration following your retirement, can you tell us a little about that?
Igor: I coached for two year under Graham Lowe but realised it wasn�t quite my forte. I was too tied up in my own business and to be a good coach I think you�ve got to be full time.
Starkers: Manly went on to win the Minor Premiership in 1983 but again lost to Parramatta in the Grand Final (18-6). Did you want to be out there that day?
Igor: In actual fact I was greasing a truck out the front of Brookvale Oval one day earlier in the season and Bob Fulton approached me and asked if I would like to make a comeback because he was short on forwards. After doing a session on the tackling bags I realised it wasn�t a good idea. I think sometimes players make comebacks after a really good career and it sort of stuffs things.
Starkers: When the question of who was the hardest man in the game, your name always pops up in discussion. For example, we interviewed Terry Lamb recently and he thought you were one of the toughest players he�d encountered. How did you perceive yourself on the field?
Igor: I suppose if I wasn�t one of the leaders in defence I wouldn�t be there. My ball skills were ok but not excellent and I was good at tackling. I enjoyed it and that�s what I did. I tried to put a bit of fear in the opposition.
Starkers: Who did you rate as your toughest opponent?
Igor: Billy Noonan and John MacDonald who both played for Canterbury. When you played against them you�d know you�d played that day.
Starkers: Who do you think was the most talented player of your era?
Igor: Wally Lewis. I�ve always rated him as one of my favourite players.
Starkers: Who do you think had the biggest influence on your career?
Igor: My wife and my mother. When I married Deb, she was in the cheer squad down at the club. We�ve been married for 32 years.
Starkers: What is your proudest achievement in the game?
Igor: Playing for your Australia and then playing in five grand finals and winning four. Playing in that many grand finals was a dream.
Starkers: What were the referee�s like back in the 70�s and 80�s.
Igor: Some of them you had to wonder about, and they�re pretty much the same now. They�re the same breed of people as parking cops.
Starkers: Manly have won 2 premierships since you retired � v Canberra in 1987 (18-8) and v St George in 1996 (20-8). Do you still get a kick out of watching them win?
Igor: Yeah I do.
Starkers: How do you go when they lose, particularly the heart-stopper in 1997 against Newcastle?
Igor: I feel for them. That game in particular was very disappointing.
Starkers: What were your thoughts on the �Northern Eagles�?
Igor: I was on the board there and it was torture. We�d have one meeting at North Sydney, the next one at Manly. It would go until midnight and it wouldn�t matter what we discussed, nothing was every resolved and the result was always 4-all. It was a complete and utter waste of time.
Starkers: Your son Chad was playing for Manly but has to play for London Harlequins in 2006. Are you disappointed that he couldn�t continue with Manly?
Igor: I�m very disappointed about that.
Starkers: What do you think is the best aspect of the game at the moment?
Igor: Probably the speed of the game. When you compare the old tapes to the new game it�s certainly faster. I don�t know if it�s better but it�s more professional and it�s probably good to get the elbows and knees out of the game. As a parent I wouldn�t want to see my son get hurt, yet I used to inflict a lot of pain on other people.
I also think the scrums were a bit of a farce. The way they used to do it gave the referee too much control and the way they are now it has taken a lot of pressure off them. Although they might as well just hand the ball over.
Terry Randall, playing career:
208 first grade games - Manly-Warringah
32 reserve grade games
4 third grade games
21 tries � 63 points
Played in 5 grand finals
v Eastern Suburbs 1972 (19-14)
v Cronulla 1973 (10-7)
v Parramatta 1976 (13-10)
v Cronulla 1978 (16-0, replay after 11-all draw)
v Parramatta 1982 (21-8)
Australia 1973, 75, 77
Tour matches 1973, World series 1975, World cup 1977
11 matches in total, amazingly did not play in a Test Match.
- by Matt Starkey
- February 15 2006 12:00AM
Starkers: Please tell us how you got the nickname �Igor�?
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