On Saturday afternoon in the Qualifying Final against Parramatta, Cameron Smith took sole ownership of the record for Most NRL Games Played. One of the games most respected and decorated players he has produced a career of rare quality and longevity.
To properly recognise this momentous achievement we at The Sportress declare the next 7 days – ‘Cameron Smith Week’.
Cameron Smith Week – Related Content:
He isn’t exactly limping to the line either. A short priced favourite to claim the Daly M Medal at season’s end and perhaps still the most influential player in the competition’s leading team his form is good enough to suggest another season, or three, isn’t inconceivable. With the 400 mark well within his sights Smith seems to be in the process of setting a mark that will never be bettered.
With this in mind, in our first nod to ‘Cameron Smith Week’, we take a look at some of the pages his story will rest beside in the Tales of Unbreakable Records.
Muttiah Muralitharan – Most Wickets in Test Matches
Sri Lanka’s spin wizard was a wicket taking machine like no other. In the history of Test Cricket he is one of five men to have taken 500 or more wickets in Test Cricket, one of two to have taken more than 700 and stands alone as the only man to have claimed 800 scalps.
Murali’s last day of Test Cricket couldn’t have been scripted better.
A large crowd at Galle, including Sri Lanka’s president, all impatiently waiting for history.
After lunch, Murali on 799 wickets, India’s last pair at the crease and 15 overs into an obstinate fight for survival. Then a sharp off-break….
P. Ojha c: Jaywardene b: Muralitharan 13
Victory for Sri Lanka. 800 wickets for Muralitharan.
800 wickets. It’s a number that is almost impossible to comprehend. A rate of wicket taking effectiveness beyond what has gone before and way beyond all those chasing it.
Kirisome Auva’a – Fastest Try in NRL History
“So here we go in Thursday night football,” Brenton Speed exclaimed as Corey Norman started proceedings between Parramatta and Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium. “Plenty of
niggle expected too after what went down four weeks ago,” he continued as Anthony Milford took the ball in the in goal area and offloaded to a barnstorming Adam Blair.
“And Blair with the opening hit up,” the former Storm forward charged towards the approaching Eels defensive line in what seemed a typical opening to an NRL encounter but turned out to be anything but. “And the ball came loose, Parramatta are going to score in the opening 15 seconds,” Speed excitedly exclaimed as Kirisome Auva’a swooped on Blair’s ill-advised offload to score perhaps the easiest try of his career.
“He’s got a try too, Ashley Klein,” a bewildered Greg Alexander reported as Referee Klein sought advice from The Bunker as to whether a try had been scored a mere thirteen seconds after blowing his whistle to begin the game. “They’ll send it upstairs but we’ll have to go reaching for the record books because I can’t ever remember a try being scored so quickly,” Alexander exclaimed.
The former Panther’s memory wasn’t faulty, there hadn’t been a try scored so quickly and Auva’a had indeed scored the fastest try in the history of Rugby League’s elite competition in Australia. After the most extraordinary of openings it was perhaps no surprise that scoring would continue throughout the contest at break neck pace. By full-time the two teams had combined for 86-points and the equal 8th highest match tally in history.
Cal Ripkin Jnr – Most Consecutive Major League Baseball Games
When Cal Ripkin Jnr began his career, in 1983, the Major League consecutive games record of 2,130 games had stood for 40 years. The next year, the closest challenge to the record ended on 1,207 or effectively 5 full seasons short. It was considered unbreakable.
By the time the 1994 World Series was cancelled as a result of a players strike, Ripkin was 122 games away from the long standing mark. After 13 years of good health, good luck and the ability to play through pain, Ripkin was 1 season away from a special place in history.
With this knowledge, the Baltimore Orioles went about trying to adequately recognise the impending moment in history. Apart from ensuring that President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore would be at Camden Yards when the record fell, they all also came up with a novel and touching option.
Behind right field at Camden Yards is a warehouse and the Orioles decided to put the current streak number on the warehouse. As soon as each game became official, at the end of the 5th innings, music would play and the number would be updated.
September 5, 1995 was Cal Ripkin day and what a day it was. Ripkin hit a 4th innings home run that helped the Orioles to a 3-1 lead. After the California Angels were set-down in the 5th, the music chimed and the numbers changed one last time reflecting Ripkin claiming the record. Ripkin initially acknowledged the crowd but tried to have the game continue but at the beckoning of his team mates he began a lap of the warning track. What followed was 22 minutes of emotion and a moment locked in the memory of all those who saw it.
The streak ended in 1998 at 2,632 or roughly 16 complete seasons.
If that isn’t evidence enough of its invincibility, the current longest streak is 202.
Wilt Chamberlain – Most Points in an NBA Game
On a March night in Pennsylvania in front of 4,124 spectators Wilt Chamberlain produced the greatest individual performance in NBA history. In a season in which he
averaged 50.4 points a game and had already broken the record for most points in an individual game, with the crowd chanting ‘Give it to Wilt, Give it to Wilt,’ Chamberlain managed to drop 100 points on the New York Knicks for the Philadelphia Warriors.
With 8 minutes to play Chamberlain still needed 25 more points to bring up three figures and the game descended into the Warriors doing whatever it took to get him there and the Knicks anything to stop him. After the Knicks began playing slow with the ball and fouling other Warriors in an attempt to dry up Chamberlains points, Philadelphia responded by fouling the Knicks in reply. With the Warriors starting five, with exception of Chamberlain on the bench, both teams spent the remainder of the match fouling each other. By the conclusion of the match, the Warriors had 25 personal fouls and the Knicks 32.
Wilt’s magic moment was brought up with just 46 seconds remaining in the match, but Wikipedia’s description of the basket suggests a moment a little more mundane. With less than a minute left in the game, Chamberlain set up in the post. Ruklick passed to Rodgers, who passed to Chamberlain close to the basket, but he missed the shot. Ted Luckenbill rebounded and passed it back to Chamberlain, who missed again. Luckenbill again rebounded and this time passed to Ruklick, who eschewed an easy layup and instead lobbed a high pass to Chamberlain. With 46 seconds left, Chamberlain got free from the five Knicks, jumped high and put the ball into the basket to hit the century mark. Eyewitness accounts of the historic basket differ as to whether Chamberlain merely laid the ball in or actually stuffed the ball through the hoop for an alley-oop slam dunk. In any event, the arena exploded in a frenzy and over 200 spectators stormed the floor, wanting to touch the hero of the night. Ruklick immediately ran to the scorer’s table to ensure that he was officially credited with the assist.
It was falsely reported for many years that the match ended at this moment with 46 seconds remaining on the game clock. In fact after a nine minute interruption the game was recommenced with the Warriors running out 169-147 winners in one of the most extraordinary NBA games ever played.
St George – Most Consecutive NSWRL/NRL Premierships
St George won 11 consecutive premierships from 1956 to 1966.
11 seasons, 222 first grade games, 184 wins, 5 draws, 33 losses, 5109 points for, 2153 points against, 11 Premierships.
The raw data of an era of dominance which is actually impossible to comprehend. An era of dominance which is difficult to capture adequately within a small snapshot. As you would expect St George’s run relied upon strong leadership both on and off the field, canny recruiting, junior development, the overcoming of stiff obstacles, luck and even a little bit of controversy.
Australian Rugby League recognises 8 players as Immortals of the game. Reflecting the mark this group had on the game, 3 of the 8, Johnny Raper, Reg Gasnier and Graeme Langlands, were members of this all conquering team. Twice, St George recovered from being reduced to 12 men to win Grand Finals. In 1956 they prevailed over Balmain 18-12 despite being a man short due to injury for 67 minutes. In 1962 they had to replicate the heroics, hanging on in a classic 9-6, after having a member sent off early in the second half.
The 1963 Grand Final win over Western Suburbs has gone down in folklore for a number of reasons. Firstly, for the claims by many Wests players that the referee, a renowned gambler, had backed St George to win. A claim they believe is borne out by a number of controversial decisions. A tight affair played in horrendous and muddy conditions the Magpies were on the wrong end of an 18-7 penalty count and a disallowed try. However most consternation from Wests players related to St George winger Johnny King’s match winner. King set off down the Members Stand touchline and was knocked to the ground by scrambling Magpies defenders. Was he held? Referee Darcy Lawler didn’t think so and allowed the St George flyer to set off again for the try line upon regaining his feet.
Secondly, it was at the conclusion of this match that the iconic ‘Gladiators’ photo was taken. This image, seen as reflection of sportsmanship, shows opposing captains Norm Provan and Arthur Summons embracing after the final siren. This image has been the basis of the competitions premiership trophies since 1982.
But it wasn’t exactly as it seemed. Years later Arthur Summons revealed that he was in fact expressing to Norm Provan that St George were lucky to win. Or words to that effect anyway. It concluded a hat-trick of losing Grand Finals for Wests who were unlucky enough to be the beaten side 4 times in St George’s Grand Final streak.
Like all good things, St George’s reign had to come to an end. It did after a see-sawing Preliminary Final against Canterbury saw them fall short 11-12. The St George players formed a guard of honour for their vanquishers and made their way to the dressing rooms.
There was said to be tears and anguish in the rooms after the game. Coach Ian Walsh is even said to have apologised to the fans at the Leagues Club after the game. I think the best response though was from St George Secretary Fred Facer who put his around Walsh and said “Well old chap, we had to lose one day”.
With that the greatest reign that will ever be, ended.
So there are five chapters from the Tales of Unbreakable Records, what do you think? Did we get it right or are these breakable? Which other records would you add?