Leeds Rhinos nostalgia: ‘Man in the bowler hat’ added to red faces in Kangaroos camp

1956: Lewis Jones of Leeds RL places the ball under the posts  at Headingley.
1956: Lewis Jones of Leeds RL places the ball under the posts at Headingley.
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THE 1967 Australian touring team retained the Ashes with a 2-1 series win over Great Britain, but gained a place in rugby league folklore for their shenanigans off the field rather than feats on it.

THE 1967 Australian touring team retained the Ashes with a 2-1 series win over Great Britain, but gained a place in rugby league folklore for their shenanigans off the field rather than feats on it.

The Kangaroos were accused of leaving what the British press described as a trail of destruction at the Ilkley hotel where they were based, including – allegedly – damage caused to a door by an axe.

The tour entered rugby league legend when one of the tourists was spotted walking through the streets of the West Riding town wearing nothing but a bowler hat and tie.

For years, Johnny Raper – whose son Stuart coached Castleford Tigers from 1997-2001 – was thought to be the player responsible.

He even called his autobiography The Man in the Bowler Hat, but years later it was revealed Dennis Manteit was the player involved.

The Ilkley incidents led to a bill for damages from the hotel and members of the touring group – who were not named – being fined and disciplined.

Rugby-wise, the Kangaroos lost the opening Test at Headingley before winning the next two, though they were then beaten 2-0 by France in a series which began with a draw.

The Aussies also played matches against club sides, including a 7-4 win at Leeds on November 25.

For Leeds, it was a game they could and should have won. They led early on and had a man advantage for 57 minutes after Test scrum-half Billy Smith was sent off, but could not find a way through a determined Aussie defence.

Robin Dewhurst started at full-back in place of Bev Risman and kicked Leeds ahead with a penalty, which was cancelled out by Graeme Langlands.

Smith was dismissed for laying out Dick Gemmell, but Australia led 7-2 at the break after Ron Lynch crossed and Langlands added a penalty.

Barry Seabourne – who had hit a post with a drop goal in the first half – cut the gap with a two-pointer, but the Kangaroos held on despite heavy Leeds pressure.

STATS

Leeds 4

(Goal: Dewhurst. Drop goal: Seabourne)

Australia 7

(Try: Lynch. Goals: Langlands 2)

November 25, 1967

Leeds: Dewhurst, Langley, Hynes, Gemmell, Atkinson, Shoebottom, Seabourne, Sunderland, Crosby, K Eyre, Fozzard, A Eyre, Hick. Subs: Watson, Batten.

Australia: Johns, King, Langlands, McDonald, Irvine, Branson, Smith, Manteit, N Gallagher, Rasmussen, P Gallagher, Lynch, Raper. Subs: Thompson, Saddler.

Referee: Billy Thompson.

Attendance: 5,530.

Cory Aston, in action for Leeds Rhinos.

Cory Aston out to make a big impact after joining Castleford Tigers