The choice of this game was a deliberate one – to commemorate the Club’s (as Fulham) debut in Rugby League at Craven Cottage on September 14th, 1980. A crowd approaching 10,000 witnessed Fulham defeating the mighty Wigan by 24 points to 5, and this fixture still resonates today as we welcomed Wigan Warriors as Super League Champions and Challenge Cup holders.
Inaugural inductees spanned the eras of the Club; from Fulham, London Crusaders, London Broncos, Quins RL, and now back to the Broncos. At the Heritage Day game against Hunslet Hawks on Sunday June 21st 2015, Tony Rea was added to the Hall of Fame. The Association also unveiled its London Players Roll of Honour.
At History Day 2016 foundation player Tony Gourley became the Hall of Fame’s ninth member.
Reg Bowden (7)
Player-coach and scrum-half of the original Fulham team, Reg was one of the key figures at the club in the Craven Cottage era from 1980 to 1984. He signed for Widnes in 1968 and was a major influence in the Widnes teams that dominated Rugby League in the 1970s. He made 16 major cup final appearances for Widnes, including four Wembley cup finals and won every club honour in the game. After leaving Fulham in June 1984 he was coach at Warrington for two years. Described his four years with Fulham as “The best of my life”.
116+4 appearances, 14 tries, 42 points.
Tony Gourley (11)
Harold Genders’s recruitment policy for the forwards to play for Fulham was that he wanted them big and experienced. Other words, like fierce and ferocious come to mind. Then, scrums were a place to fight for the ball, not just a way to restart game. These forwards could look after themselves. Not dirty – sending offs were relatively rare – but certainly hard.
Tony Gourley was a key member of the pack for the club’s first five seasons. He stayed loyal to the club when other players left in 1984, was club captain for his last three seasons and vice-captain in 1981–2. He captained Fulham against Australia in 1982.
Until he was 18, he played football and rugby union, joining Old Rochdalians RUFC after leaving school. He went training at Rochdale Hornets and he turned professional aged 20. He enjoyed nine years with Rochdale and played twice for Lancashire. In 1978 he joined Salford. In 1980, Fulham came in for him. Reg Bowden describes Tony as: “the best tackler we had. He had great enthusiasm and never took a backward step. He would always take the ball up, and is a tremendous character as well.”
Tony recalls: “There was a strong camaraderie for the players – travelling down for home matches and staying in the hotels.” A laceration of the eyeball against Bridgend in March 1985 forced Tony to retire from playing professionally.
125+6 appearances, 2 tries, 6 points
Hussain M’Barki (29)
A mysterious signing in September 1981, when he played his first game under a pseudonym to avoid detection by the rugby union authorities, Hussain was the club’s first star who had not played for another club. He was also Morocco’s first professional rugby league player. A speedy and skilful winger, who also played full-back later in his career, he thrilled the Craven Cottage crowds with his tries and pace after joining the club from French rugby union. He left in 1984 to join Warrington, and subsequently played for Oldham and Hull before returning to live in London and rejoin Fulham in September 1988 until he retired in 1992. He then worked hard to build the sport in his native Morocco.
148+15 appearances, 74 tries, 265 points.
Scott Roskell (221)
Scott joined the London Crusaders in August 1992, one of the club’s many Australian players at the time. A powerful try-scoring centre, one of his most memorable matches in his first season was a 30–0 win in the Regal Trophy over First Division Wakefield Trinity, when he scored a try. The next season, he scored 21 in 33 appearances as the Crusaders narrowly missed out on promotion. One of the few players to survive the transformation into the Broncos and playing in Super League, he was a regular member of the side in the club’s first two seasons in Super League, their most successful to date. He surprisingly left the club at the end of the 1997 season, and played rugby union for London Welsh. He says that his most memorable match was the 38–18 win over Canberra Raiders in the World Club Challenge.
136+8 appearances, 86 tries, 344 points.
Mark Johnson (243)
Mark first played rugby league in his native South Africa in 1992, including two test matches against the CIS (later Russia). He joined London Crusaders in March 1993, and was an important member of the marvellous 1993-94 side, led by Sam Stewart and coached by Tony Gordon. He finished that season as the top try-scorer in British rugby league with 43, including a hat-trick at Old Trafford in the Second Division Premiership Final. He stayed with the club for one more season, but before Super League started moved on to Workington Town. He then played for Hull, Salford and Leigh before returning to South Africa. He also played for his country in the 1995 and 2000 World Cups.
73 appearances, 66 tries, 264 points.
Tony Rea (276)
Tony joined the London Broncos in December 1994, and made his debut on Boxing Day in a freezing cold defeat at Leigh. The club was in transition at the time, with the Brisbane Broncos directors, who owned the club, signing Australian players to try to win promotion from the Second Division. Tony joined the club from North Sydney. He had played 120 first team games for Norths, including captaining them to the Grand Final in 1991.
With the game moving to a summer season in preparation for the start of Super League, the club were put in the Centenary Championship. Tony was a regular member of the team, with 10+1 appearances and five tries. He kept his place in the first Super League season when the Broncos, now coached by Tony Currie, finished fourth in the table. His 24 appearances that season gave him a total of 44+1 for the club with 11 tries.
Although only aged 30, he retired as a player at the end of the 1996 season, and became the club’s chief executive. This was an unusual move, and in 2001, following the departure of John Monie, he became joint first team coach with Les Kiss for the remainder of the season.
He continued as first team coach following Kiss’s return to Australia until July 2006, when he was replaced by Brian McDermott. He returned to the club in July 2012, initially as an interim replacement for Rob Powell. He continued in the post until early in the 2014 season, when he was replaced by Joe Grima.
Overall, Tony was a consistent presence at the club for almost 20 years, and was central to the club’s development in Super League.
Peter Gill (291)
Peter joined the club in September 1995 to play in the Centenary season – the last winter season before the introduction of Super League. Originally from Queensland, he played for Brisbane Brothers, St George and Gold Coast before moving to London. A skilful, attacking loose-forward, his style of play was more suited to British ruby league than the more defensive Australian game. His progress at the club and in London was shown by his selection for the Super league Dream team in 1996 and 1997.
He recalls the win over Canberra in 1997 and Challenge Cup semi-final and final in 1999 as the highlights of his time with the Broncos. He retired at the end of the 1999 season and returned to Australia.
108+7 appearances, 25 tries, 100 points.
Steele Retchless (341)
A tenacious Australian second-row forward, Steele played for the Brisbane Broncos and short-lived South Queensland Crushers in Australia before joining the London Broncos in 1998. Although not big for a forward, he regularly topped the tackle count.
His greatest moment for the club was one of his rare tries. In 1999, a struggling Broncos team had reached the Challenge Cup semi-final and faced Castleford Tigers at Headingley for a place at Wembley. In a marvellous match, Castleford were ahead for a few minutes near the end. The Broncos levelled the scores, and with extra time looking likely, Steele beat a Castleford defender to touch down and win the game for the Broncos.
The only player to make over 200 first team appearances for the club, he was in the Super League Dream Team for the 1998 season, the same year he made a remarkable 66 tackles in a match against the Bradford Bulls. He left the club at the end of the 2004 season, and is now coaching in Australia. He also played internationally for the USA, including in the 2000 Emerging Nations World Cup.
201 appearances, 17 tries.
Rob Purdham (392)
In the first decade of the new Millennium, Rob was one of the most consistent players for the Broncos / Harlequins. He turned professional with Whitehaven in his native Cumbria, and after being selected for an England under-21 tour of South Africa in 2001 joined the Broncos in 2002.
Further international honours followed, including playing for England ‘A’ in 2003, captaining England in 2006 in the Federation Shield, and playing for England in the 2008 World Cup. He is the only player for the club to play for England in a World Cup, and one of the few to be capped by the most senior international team (i.e. England or Great Britain).
For the club, he was the team captain for many years, and his best position was in the second-row. A regular goalkicker, he broke two club records in an 82–6 Challenge Cup win over Barrow in 2006: 34 points in a match and 12 goals. He was awarded a testimonial for 10 years’ service to the club in 2011, and retired at the end of that season to return to Cumbria.
195 appearances, 36 tries, 167 goals, 1 drop-goal, 495 points.