Russell Gartner 1975 to 1981

The Wheel

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Russell Gartner was part of a golden era of success for the Manly Sea Eagles during the 1970s when the club won 4 of its 6 premierships.



He had a strong family connection with
epp-gartner.jpg
rugby league as his father Jim and uncle Clive played for Canterbury in the 1950s. In later years his cousin Daniel would also play with distinction for the Mighty Sea Eagles.




The tall and lanky Gartner made his first grade debut in 1975 as winger/centre and immediately earned the nickname Frogs Eyes due to the way his eyes protruded when he was



Russell Gartner was part of a golden era of success for the Manly Sea Eagles during the 1970s when the club won 4 of its 6 premierships.



He had a strong family connection with rugby league as his father Jim and uncle Clive played for Canterbury in the 1950s. In later years his cousin Daniel would also play with distinction for the Mighty Sea Eagles.



The tall and lanky Gartner made his first grade debut in 1975 as winger/centre and immediately earned the nickname Frogs Eyes due to the way his eyes protruded when he was at full stride. Very simply he eyes stuck out like a green tree frogs eyes would look like when stunned by a spot light.



Gartner used his remarkable pace to his advantage and benefited by playing alongside great Manly players like Bob Fulton, Alan Thompson and Graeme Eadie.



He was Fultons centre partner in the 1976 Grand Final victory over Parramatta and after the departure of Futon to the Roosters in 1977 he became the clubs No 1 centre. This however did not affect Russell and he went on to represent Australia in the World Cup of that year and was the seasons leading try scorer with 17 tries.



In the World Cup final against a strong Great Britain side he scored a spectacular 65 metre solo try which was a catalyst to Australias eventual victory.



His fantastic form continued in 1978 and he played an integral part of the clubs memorable against the odds premiership triumph in that season.



Russell scored two tries in the Grand Final replay against the Sharks and he was narrowly pipped for man of the match honours by the great Manly fullback Graeme Eadie.



However his try in the preliminary final replay against Parramatta sticks out in my mind as one of the greatest tries scored by a Manly player that I can personally remember.



This particular game is now etched in history as the game referee Greg Hartley awarded us a controversial 7th tackle try. As an 12 year old boy I was sitting in the Bradman Stand at the SCG with my father consuming a classic game of finals footy.



The Eels scored early via Geoff Gerard and took a commanding lead just after half time. However this Manly side was made of stern stuff and they came storming home on the back of a classic Russell Gartner try to win the match and then go onto beat Western Suburbs in the final and then Cronulla to win the premiership.



The Sea Eagles won a scrum on their quarter line and in a flowing back line movement the ball was passed to Frog Eyes who sliced through the Parramatta defensive line. As he broke the line Russell stretched out and he came to a young Peter Sterling, who was making his first grade debut at fullback. With sheer pace he swerved around the young Eel tyro and sprinted 70 metres to score a great try which got Manly back into the match.



Over the years I have probably seen hundreds of Sea Eagle tries and I have probably forgotten individual aspects of most but this one scored by Gartner is still vivid in my memory, I can still see his every step almost 3 decades on.



After 105 games and 41 tries he left Manly for Eastern Suburbs at the end of 1981. Gartner transferred to Balmain in 1985 and as a winger rejuvenated his career and playing in their losing 1988 Grand Final side, he was a non playing reserve in the Tigers dramatic extra time loss to the Canberra Raiders the following year. After the game he retired bringing down the curtain on a career which spanned 226 first grade games and 16 seasons.



Russell Gartner remember the eyes.

 

grassy

Bencher
Gartner is my all time Manly hero.Rex mossop liked him too.Speed to burn and great to watch.Been to many a match when he was playing and he always kept me on my feet even when I was sitting.
 

Buck

Member
I remember Gartners' 4 tries against Penrith in the 70's. From memory, we won 78-0. He was blistering that day. Can also remember visiting the RGE Fitness centre at Dee Why owned by him, Eadie & Randall. Those were the days!!
 

Harvies elbow

I'm a country member....... " Yes we remember "
2017 Tipping Competitor
2 identical tries in the 78 finals campaign, flying down the right side of the SCG, then gave that extra kick if an opponent ever get near , which wasn't often.
The first was in the replay of the sudden death semi against the whinging eels to give us the ascendancy.
The other in the GF replay
What a player.
 

Woodsie

Feast yer eyes ..
Tipping Member
His top speed was very good, but there was faster players over the 100m. What he had was blistering acceleration and this got him through the gap and even made fast players appear slow.
 

Chip and Chase

True Supporter
Staff member
Administrator
Premium Member
Tipping Member
Frogs eyes was one of my favourites when I was a kid. His signature move was a full body swerve at pace.....looked awesome
 

SeaEagleRock8

Sea Eagle Lach
Premium Member
Tipping Member
Pure speed, and yes, that swerve. There was one season in particular when was almost untouchable, and ended up playing for Australia. What a delight to know we had a bloke like him lurking out in the backs.
For this who missed seeing him, he was bit like Brett Mullins.
(And if you're too young to recall Brett Mullins, think of a mixture of the abilities of Jimmy the Jet and Vunivalu) (but better).
 

Brocky

Reserve Grader
His top speed was very good, but there was faster players over the 100m. What he had was blistering acceleration and this got him through the gap and even made fast players appear slow.
There was only one player faster them him that was Larry Corrowa
 

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