Mick Cronin (rugby league)
|Full name||Michael William Cronin|
28 June 1951 |
Kiama, New South Wales, Australia
|Height||178 cm (5 ft 10 in)|
|Weight||90 kg (14 st 2 lb)|
|1973–83||New South Wales||25||7||81||0||183|
|Source: Rugby League Project, Yesterday's Hero|
Michael William "Mick" Cronin OAM (born 28 June 1951 in Kiama, New South Wales)  is an Australian former professional rugby league footballer and coach. He was a goal-kicking centre for the Australian national team and a stalwart for the Parramatta Eels club. He played in 22 Tests and 11 World Cup matches between 1973 and 1982. Cronin retired as the NSWRL Premiership's and the Australian Kangaroos' all-time highest point-scorer and has since been named amongst the nation's finest footballers of the 20th century.
Country and early representative career
Cronin played for Christian Brothers (now Edmund Rice) in the Illawarra competition as an under 12. He was so good that when his team made the semi-finals the opposition appealed against Cronin's inclusion on residence grounds, claiming he was from Gerringong.
Cronin's first grade career began in 1969 for Gerringong. He was selected to play for Country in 1973 where he impressed enough to make the that year's Kangaroo tour. He played in two Tests and ten minor tour matches and finished as the tour's highest point scorer with seven tries and twenty eight goals. In 1974 he was named New South Wales' Country Rugby League Player of the Year. He played in all three Tests of the 1974 domestic Ashes series against Great Britain and the following year he played in NSW Country's historic 1975 win over Sydney City. He was selected in Australia's 1975 World Cup squad and played in five matches in the tournament in the centres alongside Bob Fulton. In a match against Wales in Sydney during the series, he kicked nine goals.
By this time Cronin was one of the most eminent rugby league centres in the world, yet he continually rejected big money offers to go to Sydney and played for his home town of Gerringong on the NSW South Coast.
In 1977 Cronin joined the Parramatta Eels but for many years continued to commute to training and matches from Gerringong where he owned and was publican of the local hotel. He played at centre for New South Wales in the inaugural 1980 State of Origin game.
Cronin was a member of Parramatta's star studded backlines of the early 1980s playing alongside Brett Kenny, Steve Ella, Peter Sterling and Eric Grothe. In combination with all of these greats he played in four winning Grand Finals for Parramatta (1981, 1982, 1983 and 1986). Alongside team-mate Ray Price, Cronin enjoyed a fairy tale last match end to his career in the 1986 Grand Final where he kicked both goals in the Eels' 4–2 victory over Canterbury-Bankstown.
Cronin played 216 games in ten years with Parramatta placing him equal fourth with Bob O'Reilly on the list of most first grade appearances. His club point scoring tally of 1,971 points (75 tries, 865 goals and 2 field goals) is the standing Parramatta record and is over 150 points clear of the next contender Luke Burt. He kicked 11 goals in a round 14 match of 1982 against the Illawarra Steelers, and 10 goals in the round 22 clash of 1978 against the Newtown Jets. He twice scored 27 points in a match for Parramatta.
Later representative career
The 1978 Kangaroo tour was Cronin's second, and he played in all five Tests plus 12 minor matches again returning home as the tour's highest point scorer with 142 points. He played in all Tests of the 1979 domestic Ashes series against Great Britain kicking 24 goals in the course of the three games. He played in seven Tests over three series against New Zealand in 1978, 1980 and 1982 before he retired from international representative football.
In 22 Tests for Australia between 1973 and 1982 he scored 5 tries and 93 goals for 201 points. Aside from Cronin's first 5 Tests in 1973 and 1974 when Graeme Langlands was captain and goal kicker, Mick Cronin was Australia's first choice kicker in his next seventeen Test appearances.
State of origin folklore
Cronin made 21 appearances for New South Wales Blues up till 1981 under the old place of residence rules. He played in the inaugural State of Origin match in 1980 and made five further appearances for the Blues under the origin criteria up till the game III in 1983, despite having retired from international representative availability in 1982.
Mick Cronin's name was etched into Origin folklore that first night in July 1980 when fifteen minutes from the end of the game his Parramatta club teammate Arthur Beetson pirouetted in from the right side while Cronin was held up in a tackle by Queensland half Greg Oliphant and threw a loose left-arm around Cronin's chin. To this day that incident is cited in evidence that from the outset State of Origin football was "the real deal" where deeply rooted State passion would take priority over club friendships and loyalties. State of Origin rugby league has ever since been promoted as "state against state, mate against mate". This arch rivalry was typified by the Cronin/Beetson altercation notwithstanding that it was quickly forgotten and that they sat next to each other on the return plane trip to Sydney and didn't mention the incident.
Altogether Cronin represented New South Wales 27 times from 1973 to 1983, scoring 7 tries, 87 goals for 195 points.
Point scoring feats
When he retired in 1986 he was the greatest point-scorer in the history of the NSWRL premiership with 1,971 points and other point-scoring honours include:
• Country record of 316 pts in 20 Group 7 matches in 1971
• Most points in a club season (282 in 1978) – the standing Parramatta club record.
• Most points in a calendar year (547 from 52 games in 1978)
• Most points by a player from any country in World Cup clashes (108)
• Most points in the world in Tests (199)
• Most points in a Test series (54 against Great Britain 1979)
• Most successive successful kicks for goal in top-grade rugby league (26 in 1978).
• Leading point-scorer in 1977, 1978, 1979, 1982 & 1985
In 1990 he took on the coaching responsibility at Parramatta in a period when their playing roster was at its weakest for years. In 1992 he coached a Country origin side to victory over City origin. He coached the Eels until the end of the 1993 NSWRL season.
Cronin was named "Country Player of the Year" in 1974. He won unprecedented back-to-back Rothmans Medals in 1977–78. In 1985 he was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia "in recognition of service to the sport of Rugby League Football". Cronin received the Australian Sports Medal in 2000 and was honoured further in 2001 by being awarded the Centenary Medal "for service to Australian society through the sport of Rugby League".
The eastern grandstand of Parramatta Stadium is named the Mick Cronin Stand in his honour.
- Bill Harrigan with Daniel Lane (2003). Harrigan: the referee in a league of his own. Australia: Hachette.
- Ray French's 100 great Rugby League players. London: MacDonald/Queen Anne. 1989. ISBN 978-0-356-17578-2.
- ARL (2007). "Australian Rugby Football League Annual Report 2007" (pdf). Australian Rugby League Limited. p. 50. Retrieved 2009-07-15.
- Century's Top 100 Players
- Country Rugby League Player of the Year at crlnsw.com.au
- Big League 2005 State of Origin Collectors Edition p16
- Australian Rugby League Hall of Fame
- "Centenary of Rugby League – The Players". NRL & ARL. 23 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-23.
- Andrews, Malcolm (2006) The ABC of Rugby League Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Sydney
- Big League, (2005) State of Origin 25 Years Collectors' Edition, News Magazines Sydney.
Most points in an NRL career
Most points in an NRL season