15 October 1940 |
St. Helens, Lancashire, England, UK
|Height||5 ft 2 in (157 cm)|
|1979||North Sydney Bears|
|Source: NRL Stats, RLP|
Tommy Bishop (born St. Helens, Lancashire) is an English rugby league footballer of the 1960s, and '70s, and coach of the 1970s and '80s, playing for Blackpool Borough, Barrow and St. Helens in the English Rugby Football League Championship and the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks in the New South Wales Rugby League competition in Australia. He also represented Great Britain on several occasions during his career, captaining them on two occasions, his position of choice was at Scrum-half. Now long retired from competitive rugby league Bishop now resides at Robina on the Gold Coast, Australia.15 October 1940 in
He originally played for St. Helens in the 1968 and '69 seasons. Before that he had started his professional playing career at Blackpool Borough where he became club captain and Player of the Year before being transferred to Barrow and then to St. Helens.
BBC2 Floodlit Trophy final appearances
Bishop was bought in by the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks for the next few years (1969–74) which was somewhat the norm for Australian clubs to bring in British internationals.
Upon Cronulla coach Ken Kearney leaving in the 1970 season, Bishop was offered and accepted the role of player/coach for his remaining time (four years) at the Sharks.
Bishop's first match as coach in 1970 provided a 23-13 win over the Newtown Jets at Endeavour, but the club lost their next seven consecutive matches. Then out of the blue, came one of the greatest wins in the club's history. The Sharks thrashed the premiership bound South Sydney Rabbitohs by 25-6 with a style of open football that was soon to become the club's famous trademark.
In 1971 Bishop helped the Cronulla Sharks secure Great Britain power front rower Cliff Watson, and the club had their best season in of their history, winning a total of ten matches. Cronulla finished the season one win from the play-offs and that result most likely would have been even better, had it not been for Bishop succumbing to injury snapping his achilles tendon. This meant Bishop would not return to playing for the Sharks until the first match of the 1973 season. For the remaider of the 1972 Cronulla lapsed to end up well and truly outside of the Top 5 which just shows how much of a key Bishop was to their side.
The year 1973 saw Bishop's Cronulla Sharks make the end of season play-offs for the first time in the clubs history and they did it in style. The Sharks lost only five games in the whole year and finished just one point behind eventual Minor Premiers the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles and ahead of local rivals, the St George Illawarra Dragons.
Cronulla being drawn against the Dragons defeated them surprisingly comfortably 18-0 in their first ever semi-final with the help of Bishop, Watson and Rogers. Bishop's Sharks lost to Manly leaving them having to achieve a win over the Newtown Jets to achieve the clubs first Grand Final appearance. Cronulla established a crushing 18-4 half time lead over the Jets, before eventually winning by 20-11. The Sharks were into the Grand Final in their first visit to the play-offs.
Coach Bishop though knew that the Cronulla side's only real hope of beating the defending Premiers Manly was for his team of youthful players to niggle and unsettle the glamour Sea Eagles. Utilising the skills of Cliff Watson to lead the way, the 1973 Grand Final was the most brutal ever seen as the Sharks threw everything at Manly. In the end, it was a champion performance by Bobby Fulton that saw the Sea Eagles home 10-7, the result was disappointing for Bishop but his name had been etched into Cronulla Sharks history from the day.
Career playing statistics
Point scoring summary
|Cronulla Sharks||23||1969–71, 1973|
"Tommy kicked the club off. He turned the club around... daylight was second." (Monty Porter, on Tommy Bishop and his influence on the Cronulla club.)
"You could tell straightaway... the style of him, the way he moved.. he was just unbelievable." (Tommy Bishop in reference to the young Steve Rogers)
"There was Cliffy leaning against the post. I went over and asked. "What's going on Cliff?" He said: "It's all right... it's all right. They're not playing yet." (Tommy Bishop elaborating on Cliff Watson and his 1973 Final warm up.)
- Tommy Bishop Photo Gallery
- Tommy Bishop Profile on Era of the Biff
- Profile at saints.org.uk
- International Statistics at englandrl.co.uk
- Player statistics at rugbyleagueproject.org
- Coach statistics at rugbyleagueproject.org