Canberra Raiders Club Historian David Headon is working towards a comprehensive History of the Raiders, with the working title Absolutely Bleeding Green. Each month he'll be releasing excerpts from the book which is expected to be completed mid-2019.
The Raiders' First-Ever Point Scorer
Dave Headon, Raiders Club historian
For the many thousands of Raider tragics out there, the question, 'Who scored the Raiders' first-ever try?' is a Trivial Pursuit gift. A snack. It was flashy halfback, Gerry De La Cruz, Raider #3 in the all-time history of the club, who scored what one Sydney paper described as 'a bewildering try'.
But the more difficult ask is: 'Who scored the first-ever points'? Was it flashy Gerry, or someone else in the Green Machine team that February 1982 day against Souths at Redfern? The Raiders led the Rabbits 7-5 well into the first half, only to get a reality check in the second term and go down 37-7.
Answer? The first points were scored by Raider five-eighth, Peter McGrath, Raider #8 all-time, who kicked two goals before the De La Cruz three-pointer. Canberra born and bred, and a product of Daramalen College, Peter these days is a respected lawyer in town with GriffinLegal. His off-field sporting CV after the Raiders is an imposing one. He was Chairman of the Brumbies and, after that, Chairman of the Australian Rugby Union.
But on-field it was Rugby League in his twenties, and Peter remembers that first Raider game clearly. An attempted tackle he made on Souths' lock, Robert Simpkins, he remembers too well. Simpkins burst through to score. Suddenly, Peter's four premierships with the Group 8 Queanbeyan Blues were a distant memory. Big-time Sydney football had started. Big time.
Peter also recalls running onto Redfern Oval to the jeers of the Rabbitoh faithful who had not an ounce of sympathy for the visitors—upstarts from the bush who would have to learn the hard way. The gap between country and city footy was a substantial one, and plenty of pundits were predicting the Raiders would not win a game the whole season, including Sydney's most controversial TV commentator on League back then, Ron Casey. Before a ball had been kicked off in anger, one metropolitan newspaper had the Raiders 1000-1 to win the comp.
Coach Don Furner had a modest goal in defiance of the critics--to win 4 games. And the side won 4! It must have been satisfying to chalk up the second victim, 23-18, at Seiffert on 6 June. It was Souths, and Peter McGrath kicked four goals. The Raider team that day had ten locals and just three imports. It was a statement of intent.