Anthony Albanese reveals drunken Souths fans ‘thrown’ him at SCG in one of Rabbitohs’ most famous games
- The Prime Minister has been a die-hard Rabbitohs fan since childhood
- Albanese grew up in a family of Southern supporters and followed the same path
- He attended the 1971 grand final at the SCG with his mother and cousin
- The Rabbitohs beat St George 16-10 to clinch a fourth premiership in five years
- But it was to be their last triumph until they beat Canterbury in 2014
Anthony Albanese has an indelible memory of the 1971 NSWRL Grand Final, revealing he was ‘shaken’ by Souths fans as the Rabbitohs triumphed over St George.
The Prime Minister has never attempted to conceal his rugby league allegiances and wears his red and green colors on his sleeve, like any other hardcore Bunnies fan.
Speaking to The Daily Telegraph on Monday, Albanese recalled how his Southern indoctrination came “as soon as I came out of the womb”.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese (right) is a die-hard South Sydney fan
Although he grew up and played near the Roosters and Newtown, Albanese quickly followed the family tradition of supporting the Bunnies. His mother was a Souths fan, as were his grandparents, who lived around Redfern and Paddington.
Aged eight, the Labor leader attended the 1971 Grand Final at the SCG with his mother and cousin, who backed Manly.
The Sea Eagles finished the season as minor premierships but lost to Souths 19-13 in the semi-finals, leaving only the Dragons between the Bunnies and a fourth premiership in five seasons.
Albanese found themselves in the thick of the action when Souths scored.
Albanese has made no secret of his devotion to the Rabbitohs and wore a Bunnies scarf during House of Representatives Question Time in 2014.
“I had a Souths sweater with the plastic number one on the back of the sweater. I give incredible credit to my mother for that,” he recalled.
“She took me and my older cousin, Karen Jane, who was a Manly fan, to the 1971 grand final on the SCG hill.
“It was the time when you came in very early and all the guys each brought an Esky – a limit of one case. When the game started everyone was on their feet and I couldn’t see so all these guys put me on their shoulders.
“They didn’t know me, I was a little kid there with his mum. I would have been eight years old. When Souths scored they threw me around the hill – they were good in business then.
Albanese recalled how he was ‘shaken’ by Souths fans every time the Bunnies scored as he attended the 1971 Grand Final at the SCG with his mother
Making their fifth consecutive Grand Final appearance – the only blemish in their otherwise perfect notebook being an 11-2 loss to Balmain in 1969 – Souths won 16-10 to secure a record 20th Premiership.
Their triumph, however, also marked the end of their era of dominance, with the Bunnies only returning to the Grand Final in 2014 when they beat Canterbury 30-6.
The Rabbitohs could still go all the way this season after cementing their place in the Finals with a 20-10 win over the Cowboys on Saturday.
The triumph over St George in 1971 was the Souths’ fourth premiership in five seasons and the last until the Bunnies beat Canterbury in 2014 (above)
Before turning to the final, however, there is the small matter of facing the Roosters in the inaugural match at their rivals’ new Allianz Stadium.
Albanese is anything but diplomatic when it comes to the 114-year-old rivalry.
“There’s an antagonism there that’s also kind of fun,” he said.
“But this is a serious contest. It’s a dislike and I want to beat the Roosters. […] I have a lot of friends who are Roosters fans and we have good banter. We get excited.