Estimated reading time 2 minutes 2 Min

Immortal’s ’63 jersey up for auction

The jersey worn by rugby league Immortal Johnny Raper in St George’s 1963 premiership victory and passed to his opposite number will go under the hammer.

September 30, 2022
By Luke Costin
30 September 2022

A jersey worn by rugby league Immortal Johnny Raper during one of St George’s record 11-straight grand final wins will go under the hammer for the first time.

Raper passed his number-eight jersey to opposing lock Kevin Smyth after the Dragons triumphed 8-3 over Western Suburbs on a mud-filled SCG in the code’s famous 1963 decider.

Since then, the jumper has been held in a collection curated by Rayma Smyth that chronicled her husband’s career with Parramatta, Wests, Balmain and Australia.

“We have vivid memories of Rayma (our mother) boiling the jumper in an old laundry boiler over a series of three days to remove the caked-on mud,” the Smyth family said.

“We, as a family have made the decision to auction parts of this collection in the hope it will find a new home with followers and historians of Australian Rugby League.”

The 1963 final is celebrated in rugby league history due to photographer John O’Gready’s enduring image of rival captains Norm Provan and Arthur Summons in a congratulatory hug at full time.

Other pieces to be auctioned on Friday night include match programs and home videos shot by Smyth while on the Kangaroos’ 1963 tour of Great Britain and France.

“Many supporters like to reflect on special sporting moments and purchase these items for the ‘man cave’ or to have as a symbolic artefact of a Grand Final win,” Lloyds Auctions chief operations officer Lee Hames said.

Raper died aged 82 in February after a six-year battle with dementia.

The legendary lock known as ‘Chook’ won eight premierships as a player with St George between 1959 and 1966, played 39 Tests for Australia and was inducted as one of the game’s inaugural Immortals alongside Reg Gasnier, Clive Churchill and Bob Fulton in 1981.

The auction also comes on the eve of this year’s NRL decider between western Sydney powerhouses Penrith and Parramatta.

Last year’s premiers, the Panthers, will attempt to go back-to-back against the Eels at Accor Stadium, Homebush, at 7.30pm on Sunday.

More in Good News