Dally Messenger

Career Stats & Summary

Vital Statistics

Full Name
Herbert Henry Messenger
Born
Thursday, 12th April, 1883
Died
Tuesday, 24th November, 1959 (Aged 76 years and 225 days)
Place Of Birth
Balmain, New South Wales, Australia

Awards & Accolades

International Hall Of Fame
2003
National Rugby League Hall Of Fame
2003
Immortal
2018

Known Family Links

Brother
Wally Messenger

Biography

The cornerstone on which the founding fathers of RL built the professional code, Dally Messenger's defection from the RU ranks was the catalyst for the first ‘professional’ rugby series against the NZ ‘All-Golds’ in 1907. Herbert Henry 'Dally' Messenger was born in April 1883 in Duke Street, Balmain and grew up in Double Bay. He was nicknamed Dally as a child when it was pointed out he had the same portly build as family friend, William Bede Dalley, who later became Premier of NSW (the 'e' was somehow lost in translation). Although only 172cm tall, the stocky centre became a legend in Easts' RU ranks and played in two Tests against NZ in 1907. Messenger was the most popular figure in sport at the time and it is doubtful the new code of ‘northern league’ (as the professional game was first known) would have caught on had he not changed codes and other players not followed his lead. After playing against the 'All Golds' in 1907, he was asked to tour with the Kiwis to England. On his return to Australia he played with the newly formed Easts club but in the code's first year, Messenger was the game's major draw-card. He played for Easts, NSW v Queensland and NZ, Queensland v. NZ, for the Kiwis against Queensland and Newcastle, Australia v. NZ and finally with the Pioneer Kangaroos – all in 1908. Messenger was not initially chosen to captain the Kangaroos but did so in each Test following an injury to tour leader Dinny Lutge. The pioneer tour was a failure and Messenger's form was less than impressive in the big matches despite top scoring with 155pts. His last Test series was against Great Britain in 1910, where he captained Australia in the first Test, but he declined to tour with the 1911-12 ‘Australasian’ Kangaroos in order to get married. While he never did play in another Test, Messenger's feats as a goal-kicker became legendary. He had long earned the tag 'The Master' with freakish displays that have since passed into legend. In a match for NSW in 1911, he scored a record 32pts (4t and 10g) in a match. Easts won premierships in three consecutive years (1911-13) and he scored 270pts during the 1911 season - a record that stood for almost a quarter of a century. On his retirement in August 1913 (Messenger later played in a Kangaroos v The Rest match in 1917 at the height of the war), the League gave him the RAS Shield as a memento of his career which later became the centre of a protracted legal battle between the NSWRL and the Messenger family. The first player in the professional code to have his name endorse a brand of football, Dally Messenger died in 1959, aged 76, penniless despite the huge incentives the game once offered. Biography, The Master by Dally R.Messenger (1982).

- 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 List button.

Competitions

Competition   App T G   FG Pts W L D Win %  
Tour Matches New South Wales Firsts 19 11 72   - 178 13 6 0 68.42% List
Tour Matches New Zealand 31 9 68   2 167 19 10 2 61.29% List
Test Series 12 6 27   - 43 4 6 2 33.33% List
Tour Matches Australia 38 14 78   1 200 14 18 6 36.84% List
Tour Matches Queensland Firsts 1 1 3   - 9 0 0 1 0.00% List
Tour Matches Metropolis 3 4 10   1 34 0 3 0 0.00% List
NRL 48 21 150   8 379 38 8 2 79.17% List
Interstate Matches 6 10 42   1 116 6 0 0 100.00% List
The Ashes 4 3 10   - 58 0 3 1 0.00% List
Tour Matches Kangaroos 2 1 7   - 17 2 0 0 100.00% List
Tour Matches Australasia 2 1 7   - 17 1 0 1 50.00% List
NRL Finals 2 - 8   1 18 2 0 0 100.00% List
City Cup 2 - 6   1 14 0 2 0 0.00% List


International

Test Matches - By Team

Team Years App T G   GK % FG Pts W L D Win %  
New Zealand 1908 4 1 5   - 13 2 2 0 50.00% List
Australia 1908-10 8 4 20   - 52 1 5 2 12.50% List
Overall 1908-1910 12 5 25   0 65 3 7 2 25.00% List

International Matches - By Team

Team Years App T G   GK % FG Pts W L D Win %  
Australia 1908-09 2 1 4   - 11 1 1 0 50.00% List
Australasia 1910 2 1 7   - 17 1 0 1 50.00% List
Overall 1908-1910 4 2 11   0 28 2 1 1 50.00% List


Representative

Australia - By Team

Team Years App T G   GK % FG Pts W L D Win %  
NSW Firsts 1907-08, 1910-13 26 21 122   1 310 20 6 0 76.92% List
Metropolis 1908, 1910-12 6 5 28   1 73 1 5 0 16.67% List
QLD Firsts 1908 1 1 3   - 9 0 0 1 0.00% List
Kangaroos 1909-10, 1912, 1917 6 1 19   - 41 3 3 0 50.00% List
Overall 1907-1917 39 28 172   2 433 24 14 1 61.54% List


Club Career

Australian League Matches - By Year

Team Years App T G   GK % FG Pts W L D Win %  
Eastern Suburbs NSWRFL 1908 2 2 8   - 22 2 0 0 100.00% List
Eastern Suburbs NSWRFL 1910 10 7 23   1 69 7 2 1 70.00% List
Eastern Suburbs NSWRFL 1911 16 8 57   5 148 12 3 1 75.00% List
Eastern Suburbs NSWRFL 1912 11 2 36   1 80 10 1 0 90.91% List
Eastern Suburbs NSWRFL 1913 9 2 26   1 60 7 2 0 77.78% List
Overall 1908-1914 48 21 150   8 379 38 8 2 79.17% List

Australian League Matches - By Team

Team Years App T G   GK % FG Pts W L D Win %  
Sydney 1908, 1910-13 48 21 150   8 379 38 8 2 79.17% List
Overall 1908-1914 48 21 150   8 379 38 8 2 79.17% List

Australian Finals Matches - By Team

Team Years App T G   GK % FG Pts W L D Win %  
Sydney 1908-1911 2 - 8   1 18 2 0 0 100.00% List
Overall 1911 2 0 8   1 18 2 0 0 100.00% List

All Australian Club Matches - By Team

Team Years App T G   GK % FG Pts W L D Win %  
Sydney 1908, 1910-13 50 21 159   9 399 38 10 2 76.00% List
Overall 1908-1914 50 21 162   9 405 38 10 2 76.00% List

Your Say

The Funambulist says: Dally M stories are numerous. As a pioneer of the code, he was innovative in his method of combating the defence - utilising the deliberate knock-on (then legal) to get around the defensive line and hurdling over unsuspecting would-be tacklers.

In England, with a very strong prevailing headwind behind him, he once kicked a penalty goal from his own quarter-line. (08/05/2012)

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