Clive Churchill

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Career Stats & Summary

Vital Statistics

Nickname(s)
The Little Master
Born
Friday, 21st January, 1927
Died
Friday, 9th August, 1985 (Aged 58 years and 200 days)
Place Of Birth
Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia

Awards & Accolades

Clive Churchill Medal
1954
Australian Hall Of Fame
2002

Biography

The greatest player the code has produced? There are many fine judges who think so, and while his record would more than support this view, it is more the character of the man rather than cold facts that confirms it. Churchill was a genius, as evidenced by his naming by legendary forward Ray Stehr as 'The Little Master'. There was no facet to the game that the champion fullback did not master - attack, defence, support play, kicking, captaincy and finally, coach. Churchill hailed from Merewether in Newcastle and signed with Souths in 1947 after playing for Country Seconds. In 1948, he played his first match for NSW that was the start of an unprecedented run of 99 straight rep matches. (The run was broken in 1955 when, in what many regarded as a major snub by selectors, Churchill was left out of the game between Sydney and France). Churchill made his Test debut in the second match against NZ in 1948 before touring with the 1948-49 Kangaroos, the first of five overseas trips. He played in all five Tests on tour but was almost lost to English Club football when Workington Town offered him a £10,000 contract but the ARL imposed a timely international poaching ban. There were many highlights in Churchill’s brilliant career but first (and arguably foremost) was his captaincy of Australia in the Third Test in 1950 that secured the Ashes for the first time in three decades. It was the same year Souths won the premiership, its first since 1932, and the inspirational fullback went on to play in the 1950-51 and 1954 premiership deciders, punctuated only by his second Kangaroo tour in 1952 (this time as captain-coach) and injury in 1955. Churchill was courageous in standing up to his bigger opponents and was electrifying when he came into the attack. He was also a great captain, although he did not lead Souths to a premiership (Jack Rayner held that honour during the 1950s). This situation almost led to his defection to the I’warra competition on a huge contract in 1953 but the deal fell through. Churchill was also a fine left-foot goal kicker, as evidenced by his sideline conversion (with a broken wrist) to sink Manly and to keep the Rabbitohs on target for the 1955 semi-finals. His final Test appearance was against England in the First Test on the 1956-57 Kangaroo Tour (a tour which saw him relinquish the Australian Test captaincy to Ken Kearney) but he still holds the record of 24 Tests matches as captain. After captain-coaching Souths in 1958, he left the club under unhappy financial circumstances (Souths having halved his season bonus) and moved to Queensland. Churchill captain-coached Brisbane Norths to the premiership in 1959 and coached Queensland to a memorable series win over NSW. His final rep match as a player was for Queensland against NZ that year but he was later selected as non-playing coach of the 1959-60 Kangaroos. Returning to NSW as state coach the following year, Churchill coached Moree (1961) and Canterbury (1962) before spending a period as an Australian selector. In 1963, he coached Australia to Test series wins against NZ and South Africa, but lost out to Arthur Summons as coach of the history-making Kangaroos at year’s end. In 1966 Churchill returned to Souths for a record ten seasons as coach, presiding over the club's last great ‘golden era’. This period yielded four premierships (1967-68 & 1970-71) but he resigned toward the end of the disappointing 1975 season. In August 1985, the ‘Little Master’ lost his last battle, against cancer at the age of 58, but he is remembered in name by both the ‘Clive Churchill Stand’ at the SCG and the ‘Clive Churchill Medal’ given to the best player in each year's grand final. Biography They Called Me the Little Master: Clive Churchill's Colourful Story with Jim Mathers (1962).

- ALAN WHITICKER

Career Statistics

All statistics shown in this section are based only on data available in the RLP database, and are not necessarily a complete and/or 100% accurate representation of a player's career. This information should be used as a guide only. If you see a question mark (?), it denotes that the figure is not available.

To view a list of corresponding matches, click on the Match list icon.

International

Test Matches - By Team

Team Years App T G   GK % FG Pts W L D Win %  
Australia 1948-56 37 - 9   1 20 16 21 0 43.24% Match list
Overall 1948-1956 37 0 9   1 20 16 21 0 43.24% Match list

International Matches - By Team

Team Years App T G   GK % FG Pts W L D Win %  
Australia 1948, 1954 3 - -   - - 3 0 0 100.00% Match list
Overall 1948-1954 3 0 0   0 3 0 0 100.00% Match list

World Cup Matches - By Team

Team Years App T G   GK % FG Pts W L D Win %  
Australia 1948-1954 3 - -   - - 1 2 0 33.33% Match list
Overall 1954 3 0 0   0 1 2 0 33.33% Match list


Representative

Australia - By Team

Team Years App T G   GK % FG Pts W L D Win %  
NSW Firsts 1948-55, 1957 27 4 15   3 48 20 6 1 74.07% Match list
NSW City Firsts 1948-55 8 2 3   1 14 7 1 0 87.50% Match list
Sydney Firsts 1951 1 - -   - - 0 0 1 0.00% Match list
Overall 1948-1957 36 6 18   4 62 27 7 2 75.00% Match list


Club Career

Australian League Matches - By Year

Team Years App T G   GK % FG Pts W L D Win %  
South Sydney NSWRFL 1947 ? - 4   - 8  
South Sydney NSWRFL 1948 ? - 5   - 10  
South Sydney NSWRFL 1949 ? - 2   - 4  
South Sydney NSWRFL 1950 ? - 9   - 18  
South Sydney NSWRFL 1951 ? 5 3   - 21  
South Sydney NSWRFL 1952 ? 2 -   - 6  
South Sydney NSWRFL 1953 ? 3 9   - 27  
South Sydney NSWRFL 1954 ? 1 6   1 17  
South Sydney NSWRFL 1955 ? - 5   1 12  
South Sydney NSWRFL 1956 ? 1 4   - 11  
South Sydney NSWRFL 1957 ? - 26   - 52  
South Sydney NSWRFL 1958 ? 1 2   - 7  
Overall 1947-1958 ? 13 75   2 193 ? ? ? ?  

Australian League Matches - By Team

Team Years App T G   GK % FG Pts W L D Win %  
South Sydney 1947-58 ? 13 75   2 193 ? ? ? ?  
Overall 1947-1958 ? 13 75   2 193 ? ? ? ?  

All Australian Club Matches - By Team

Team Years App T G   GK % FG Pts W L D Win %  
South Sydney 1947-58 ? 13 75   2 193 ? ? ? ?  
South Sydney 1949, 1951, 1954, 1956-57 9 12 62   2 164 4 5 0 44.44% Match list
Overall 1947-1958 ? 13 75   2 193 ? ? ? ?  

Your Say

Bill Haydon says: Clive Churchill made 164 appearances for Souths between 1947-58. (03/10/2009)

ROY HORRIGAN says: NEVER SEEN THE LITTLE MASTER PLAY BUT MY GREAT UNCLE JACK HORRIGAN WAS A 1948 KANGAROO TOURIST WITH HIM.SAID HE NEVER SEEN A FOOTBALLER PLAY ABOVE HIS WEIGHT LIKE HE DID. TRUE LEGEND OF THE GAME.BIT DISAPPOINTED WITH THE CROWD WHEN THE CHURCHILL MEDAL WAS AWARDED.I HAVE FOLLOWED EASTERN SUBURBS SINCE 1959 AND WAS GLAD THEY WON.BUT I THOUGHT THAT CHERRY-EVANS WAS THE BEST PLAYER ON THE FIELD AND THOUROUGHLY DESERVED THE CLIVE CHURCHILL MEDAL.MY GRANDFATHER WAS A STOUT SOUTH SYDNEY SUPPORTER AND ALWAYS SPOKE HIGHLY OF THE LITTLE MASTER. (19/10/2013)

Gary Sheedy says: Clive Churchill was the first Rugby player I ever to come to my attention. My Father followed his progress when he was in Newcastle and onto South Sydney, and mentioned him often when I was just a lad at Primary School. I guess Clive Churchill (along with a good friend at Wagga High School) was the catalyst for my playing Rugby at all, a game I started in 1962 and retired from in 1990. I have been a South Sydney supporter all my life, and have been a Souths Member since their reinstatement to the NRL. Current South Sydney supporters revel in the exploits of Greg Inglis, but it is Clive Churchill who will always be the Little Master. (02/04/2015)

Bruce Hartley says: As a kid I saw a great deal of him.My Dad was an loyal Newtown Bluebag follower and from 5 years of age I joined him. Newtown were strong in 1954 & 1955 and Churchill was at his best. His combination with Ian Moir was legendary. In the records it states he was played at 12 stone. This is rubbish as it was more like 11stone. Pound for pound the the best I have seen. A dashing player who revolutionized the roll of fullback when it was rare for them to run the ball. (13/10/2017)

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Last modified: Thu, 15 Nov 2018 19:01:10 +0000 (Sydney time)