Johnny King

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Johnny King
Personal information
Full name Johnny Cecil King
Born (1942-07-02) 2 July 1942 (age 74)
Gilgandra, New South Wales
Playing information
Position Wing
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1960–71 St. George 191 143 7 0 443
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1963–70 New South Wales 10 11 5 0 43
1966–70 City Firsts 5 3 0 0 9
1966–70 Australia 15 8 0 0 24
As of 11 June 2013

Johnny Cecil King (born 2 July 1942, in Gilgandra, New South Wales) is an Australian former rugby league footballer and coach. He was a winger with the St. George Dragons for the last seven years of their eleven consecutive premiership-winning run from 1956 to 1966. He was a representative in the Australian national team from 1966–1970, earning 15 Test caps. He has been named among the nation's finest footballers of the 20th century.[1]

Early life[edit]

King's early life alternated between Sydney and north western New South Wales. His father, Cec King, was a motor mechanic who had stints working at Gulgong, Gilgandra and Gulargambone. Cec King, had played 19 matches for the South Sydney Rabbitohs in reserves and first grade in 1943 and 1944.[2] Johnny King was an apprentice jeweller at aged 16 in Gilgandra before moving to Sydney to continue his trade. In 1958 he joined the Arncliffe Scots D grade junior rugby league side as a fullback and the following year played in the St George Dragons' Presidents Cup side. He trialled with the South Sydney Rabbitohs in 1959 but was turned down by coach Bernie Purcell.

Club career[edit]

He was graded in 1960 to the St. George Dragons third grade side and towards of the end of the 1960 season played five games on the wing in first grade including the 1960 Grand Final victory over the Eastern Suburbs Roosters in which he scored two tries.

King scored the only try of the 1964 Grand Final at the end of an extraordinary passage of play. The Balmain Tigers were desperately defending their own line five minutes into the second half when they were awarded a relieving penalty. Their kicker, Bob Boland, failed to find touch by inches as the ball fell into the outstretched hands of Saints fullback Graeme Langlands who then raced across field and sent a long cut-out pass to Billy Smith 25 yards out from the tryline. Smith off-loaded to King, who sped the remaining 20 yards down the left wing and scored a diving try.

King played 191 games for the Dragons between 1960 and 1971 scoring 143 tries - a club record at the time. He played in seven of the premiership victories and holds the distinctive record of scoring six tries over six consecutive winning Grand Final appearances from 1960 to 1965.

Johnny King was the NSW Rugby League's leading try-scorer twice in his career. Firstly in the 1961 (20 tries) and again in 1965 (15 tries).

He retired after one match of the 1971 season following a driving accident in which he suffered three crushed vertebrae.

The man and his playing style[edit]

King was a clever positional winger with good speed. He formed a dangerous left-centre, left-wing partnership with Australian rugby league Immortal Reg Gasnier and scored many of his 143 club tries by being perfectly positioned to finish off after breaks by his inside men.

Between the 1964 and 1965 seasons King showed incredible fortitude to recover from a serious lawnmower accident in which his foot was partially severed to be running and fully fit for round seven of 1965. He would play out the season and end it as the Dragons leading try scorer, despite having missed the first six games. The 1965 season saw King score yet another Grand Final try. and then go on to top form and national selection in 1966.

Representative career[edit]

He first played for New South Wales against a touring Great Britain side in 1962 and then again in 1963, 1964 and 1965. He was at that time vying for the national wing position against his great club rivals Ken Irvine, Peter Dimond and Michael Cleary. He later represented for New South Wales in 1969 and 1970 and scored nine career tries for the Blues.

He finally made his Australian Test debut in the 1966 domestic Ashes series against Great Britain where he appeared in all three Tests. He was selected on the 1967 Kangaroo tour making six Test appearances and playing in twelve minor tour matches. He was the tour's second highest try scorer with a tally of nine.

He was in the Australian squad for the 1968 World Cup and made two tournament appearances scoring two tries. He made a single Test appearance against New Zealand in 1967 and played his three final Test matches against the touring Great Britain Lions of 1970. He is listed on the Australian Players Register as Kangaroo No. 404.[3]

Post playing[edit]

After football King returned to north-western New South Wales and ran a hotel in Wellington. His career since has been in managing hotels and clubs. He coached Western Division to a surprise victory in the inaugural Amco Cup Final 1974. Returning to Sydney in 1976 he coached South Sydney Rabbitohs for one season. In 1984 John King coached Country Seconds to an upset win over Sydney.

King's Grandson plays for the Gold Coast Titans in the NRL Max King


He was awarded Life Membership of the St. George Dragons club in 1992.[4]

In February 2008, King was named in the 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]

First class matches played[edit]

Team Matches Years Tries Points
St. George Dragons 191 1960–1971 143 443
New South Wales 8 1963–1970 9 27
Australia (Tests) 15 1966–1970 6 18
Australia (World Cup) 2 1968 2 6


  1. ^ Century's Top 100 Players Archived 25 February 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ South Sydney Official Player History Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ ARL Annual Report 2005, page 54
  4. ^ Dragons-Our Great History (website)
  5. ^ "Centenary of Rugby League - The Players". NRL & ARL. 2008-02-23. Archived from the original on 26 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-23. 


  • Writer, Larry (1995) Never Before, Never Again, Pan MacMillan, Sydney
  • Andrews, Malcolm (2006) "The ABC of RugbY League", Australian Broadcasting Corpn, Sydney
  • Whiticker, Alan & Hudson, Glen (2006) The Encyclopedia of Rugby League Players, Gavin Allen Publishing, Sydney
Sporting positions
Preceded by

Western Division

Succeeded by

Preceded by
Bob McCarthy
South Sydney

Succeeded by
John O'Neill
Preceded by

Country Seconds

Succeeded by