Vale John Hobbs
13 February 1933 – 15 April 2013
Rugby League lost a great servant when John Hobbs passed away, aged 80. Not only was John a top class player, but he was also an excellent coach and a successful media man. The Men of League extend their deepest sympathy to all of John’s family and his many friends.
Born in West Wollongong, John was a star player with the Tech OBU junior club in the Illawarra competition and was called into grade by Wests Wollongong as a 17 year old in 1950. After just three matches in third grade he was promoted to the firsts and held his place for the remainder of the season.
In 1951 he consolidated his first grade centre position and impressed the Manly scouts who signed him for the 1952 season. Beginning his Sydney career in reserve grade, John was selected in Manly’s top team as a centre, in the 26-13 win over Newcastle on 11 May. Two weeks later playing five eighth, he partnered Ken Arthurson at the scrum base in Manly’s loss to St. George at Brookvale.
In 1953, John began the season in first grade and from then, never looked back and in his five seasons with the club, played 76 first grade games, scoring 19 tries and one goal for 59 points. In 1954, John was selected for City Firsts and collected two tries in the 50-9 win. On 17 April 1954, John scored three tries for Manly in their 39-8 thrashing of Easts at Brookvale. After leaving Manly at the end of the 1956 season, “Jack,” as he was known, captain/coached Cowra, from where he represented Country Firsts against City. He then returned to the South Coast and worked as captain/coach of Collegians, Wests and Thirroul in the Illawarra competition. From 1961 to 1966, he did this job at Port Kembla and under John’s guidance, Port Kembla won first grade Premierships in 1961, 1962 and 1965. He finished his playing career as captain/coach of Kiama in 1967. In 11 seasons as a captain/coach, only one of John’s teams missed at least a semi final place and that was by just one competition point.
In 1968, John worked on the Channel 4 (now Win TV) on the Saturday morning sports show. A few years later, he joined Ron Ross as commentators for Channel 4’s delayed screening of the Illawarra match of the day.
When the Steelers joined the Sydney competition in 1982, John and Jack Underwood provided live radio coverage of Illawarra matches for Radio 2 Double (now i98fm).
He is survived by his brothers Ken and Billy, his sister Beverly, his sons Daryl, Craig, Greg and John plus daughter Karen, along with his much loved 14 grandchildren.
John’s funeral will be held this Friday morning (19 April), at 9am, at Hansen and Cole Funerals, 634 Northcliffe Drive, Kembla Grange, Wollongong, phone 42724900.
By Barry Ross