Harry Bath

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Harry Bath
Harry Bath (1945, Brisbane).jpg
Personal information
Nickname The Old Fox
Born Alfred Henry Bath
28 November 1924
Brisbane, Australia
Died 4 October 2008(2008-10-04) (aged 83)
Cronulla, New South Wales
Playing information
Position Second-row
Club
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1940–45 Souths (Brisbane)
1946–47 Balmain 30 11 0 0 33
1948 Barrow
1948–56 Warrington 346
1957–59 St. George 60 10 240 0 510
Total 436 21 240 0 543
Representative
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1945 Queensland 4 1 0 0 3
1946–47 New South Wales 4 3 0 0 9
1952 British Empire XIII
1949–55 Other Nationalities 10 1 20 43
Coaching information
Club
Years Team Gms W D L W%
1961–66 Balmain 117 65 3 49 56
1969–72 Newtown 88 33 4 51 38
1977–81 St. George 110 65 4 41 59
Total 315 163 11 141 52
Representative
Years Team Gms W D L W%
1962–71 Australia
As of 2 April 2012
Source: NRL Stats

Harry Bath (28 November 1924 – 4 October 2008), born Alfred Henry Bath, was an Australian rugby league footballer and coach who rose to prominence in the mid-Twentieth Century. A state and international representative who played 12 matches for Other Nationalities in the International Championship from 1949 to 1955, he played at Second-row forward and has been referred to as the best Australian rugby league player never to be picked for the Australian national team.[1] Following his retirement, Bath coached in the New South Wales Rugby Football League premiership for two decades, also achieving selection as the Australian national team coach.

Playing career[edit]

Australia[edit]

Bath, to be known late in his career as 'the Old Fox', was graded as a sixteen year old to play for the Brisbane club Southern Suburbs in 1940. After six years with the club, including selection to represent Queensland, he moved to Sydney to play for the Balmain club in New South Wales Rugby Football League season 1946. He had represented for Queensland in 1945 and for New South Wales Blues in 1946 after one Sydney season. In the 1946 fixture for NSW against the touring Great Britain side he badly injured his leg and so was unavailable for Australian Test selection a week later. Also in his first season for Balmain, Bath helped his side reach the Grand Final in which they defeated St. George 13–12. In 1947 he again won a premiership with the Balmain Tigers. He was also selected to play for Australia against a touring England side that year but injured his leg in a club match and was prevented from playing in any of the three tests.[2] A year later he again helped Balmain reach their second Grand Final appearance and a 13–9 victory over the Canterbury-Bankstown club.

England[edit]

Harry Bath then accepted an offer to play in England for Barrow. The forward only stayed at Barrow for six months before being signed by Warrington. He spent a total of nine seasons with Warrington, playing 346 games for the club. In the legendary 1953–54 Challenge Cup final replay he captained Warrington to victory in front of a record crowd of over 102,569 people. Bath's reputation as a skillful ball-player and a great goal-kicker grew while playing in England. He scored over 700 goals in his career, including 173 goals in 1952–53 when he was the season's leading goal kicker.

Bath played Left-Second-row, i.e. number 11 in Warrington's 5-28 defeat by Wigan in the 1949–50 Lancashire Cup final at Station Road, Swinton on Saturday 4 November 1950.[3] He played for the British Empire XIII versus New Zealand on Wednesday 23 January 1952 at Stamford Bridge.

Return to Australia[edit]

Bath returned to Australia in 1957 and joined St. George after his former club Balmain decided against a signing due to his age of 33. In the 1957 NSWRFL season St. George were premiers, winning the Grand Final against Manly-Warringah 31–9.

He was the leading point scorer in the competition in 1958 scoring a season club record of 225 points (3 tries, 108 goals). His 16-point tally in the Grand Final has never been equalled. In 1958 St. George again made it to the Grand Final this time defeating Western Suburbs 20–9. Bath again topped the season's point scoring table, totalling 211 points. The following season St. George again won the premiership with a 20–0 Grand Final defeat of Manly. Bath was sent off in the Grand Final for fighting with Manly's Rex Mossop.

It has been suggested that Bath was punished by the Australian selectors for the ten years he spent in the English league. However he was 33 years old when he returned to Australia for his final three seasons and he was then competing for a representative position against star players Norm Provan and Rex Mossop. He retired at the end of 1959 at the age of 35.

Bath became the only player to have won a premiership in every season of his Sydney first-grade career (1946 and 1947 with Balmain and 1957–1959 with St. George). His eight goals from eight attempts in the 1957 Grand Final is the standing record for the most goals in a grand final and the most number of points scored in a grand final (16).

He holds two places in the record of top pointscorers in one season by position. His 205 points scored in 1959 are the most ever scored by a prop-forward in a season and the 225 points of 1958 stands as the most ever scored by a second-rower in a season.

Coaching career[edit]

Bath took up a career in rugby league coaching and joined the inaugural NSWRL coaching panel in 1961. He was selected manager, coach and as the sole selector for the Australian national team's 1962 Ashes series.

Bath's greatest achievement in coaching the national side was leading the Kangaroos to World Cup glory in the 1968 and 1970 World Cups. He also coached the team on tours of New Zealand in 1969 and 1971. He coached the national side in the 1972 World Cup in which they lost to Great Britain in controversial circumstances. The World Cup final was tied at 10–10 after full-time and was still locked after extra time. Great Britain were awarded the victory due to a higher points table placing after the pool rounds of the competition.

Harry Bath also took the coaching helm at his former club Balmain. He guided them to Grand Final appearances in 1964 and 1966 both lost against St. George 6–11 and 4–23 respectively. He also coached Newtown between 1969 and 1972.

He came out of retirement to coach his other former club St. George to premiership success in 1977. The Grand Final against Parramatta was drawn 9–9 but St. George won the replay 22–0. He again coached the Dragons to premiership success in 1979 after their 17–13 Grand Final victory over Canterbury. His side was nicknamed 'Bath's Babes'. He retired from Rugby League coaching in 1981.

After football[edit]

Bath was recognised in 2004 for his outstanding achievements in playing and coaching rugby league when was inducted into the Australian Rugby League Hall of Fame.[4] In February 2008, Bath was named in a list of Australia's 100 Greatest Players (1908–2007) which was commissioned by the NRL and ARL to celebrate the code's centenary year in Australia.[5]

Bath died after a long illness on 4 October 2008 aged 83. "Harry's loss will be felt by many within the game", NRL boss David Gallop said. "He is one of the few people to have a distinguished career as both a player and a coach." [6] His funeral was held at St. Andrews Church, Cronulla on the 9 October 2008 and he was cremated at Woronora Cemetery. A largely attended wake was held for Harry at the St. George Leagues Club after the funeral service. [7]

Bath is also Warrington Wolves Hall of Fame inductee.[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Malcolm Andrews (2006). ABC of Rugby League. Sydney, New South Wales: ABC Books. p. 65. ISBN 978-0-7333-1946-4. 
  2. ^ Gallaway, Jack (2003). Origin: Rugby League's greatest contest 1980–2002. Australia: University of Queensland Press. p. 5. ISBN 0-7022-3383-8. ISBN 9780702233838. 
  3. ^ "1950-1951 Lancashire Cup Final". wigan.rlfans.com. 31 December 2011. Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  4. ^ Australian Rugby League Hall of Fame
  5. ^ "Centenary of Rugby League – The Players". NRL & ARL. 23 February 2008. Retrieved 23 February 2008. 
  6. ^ "Harry Bath passes away". The Herald Sun. 4 October 2008. Retrieved 5 October 2008. 
  7. ^ Sydney Morning Herald 9/10/2008 - Obituary "Harry Bath"
  8. ^ "Hall of Fame at Wire2Wolves.com". wire2wolves.com. 31 December 2011. Retrieved 1 January 2012. 

Sources[edit]

  • Andrews, Malcolm (2006) The ABC of Rugby League Austn Broadcasting Corpn, Sydney

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
John O'Toole
1958–1960
Coach
Balmain Tigers

1961–66
Succeeded by
Keith Barnes
1967–68
Preceded by
Dick Poole
1966–1968
Coach
Newtown Jets

1969–72
Succeeded by
Jack Gibson
1973
Preceded by
Graeme Langlands
1972–1976
Coach
St George Dragons

1977–81
Succeeded by
Roy Masters
1982–1987
Preceded by

−1962
Coach
Australia

1962
Succeeded by
Arthur Summons
1963
Preceded by
Reg Gasnier
1967–68
Coach
Australia

1969&1971
Succeeded by
Graeme Langlands
1973–74
Preceded by
Keith Barnes
1960
Coach
Austn World Cup squads

1968;70;72
Succeeded by
Graeme Langlands
1975