1 July, 2021
King of Gilgandra
The ‘King of Gilgandra’, Johnny King, spotted Gilgandra local Michael O’Neil at Maitland shopping centre, on Saturday, June 12.
The former rugby league player and coach spent his formative years in Gilgandra where he commenced his rugby career, following after his father Cec King who played for the Gilgandra Panthers.
After moving to Sydney, Cec King brought five-year-old Johnny back to Gilgandra.
As if predicting his own future, little Johnny went as a footballer to the Gilgandra children’s fancy-dress ball in 1948 and won a prize.
According to Johnny King’s biography in the National Rugby League’s Hall of Fame, he was “a magnificent winger in an era of great wingers. Mr King competed as he did against Ken Irvine and Eddie Lumsden for test selection, with Mike Cleary and Peter Dimond.”
In 1960, Johnny made his top-grade debut, appearing in St George’s last five games for the year, including the semi-final and successful grand final performance against the Sydney Roosters.
Johnny King was a regular in Australian teams for five seasons, and played 191 first-grade games for the St. George Illawarra Dragons, scoring 143 tries in just 12 seasons.