Vale – Laurie Fagan

Born – 3 May 1941
Passed Away – 28 September 2020

Former NSW, Balmain and Penrith halfback, Laurie Fagan passed away on Monday, aged 79. He was a Balmain junior from the Drummoyne club and played in the 1958 Balmain Presidents Cup team. In 1959, he came into grade, playing his first two games in third grade before being elevated to the reserves for round three. He scored his first try for the Tigers in the 16-12 reserve grade win over North Sydney at North Sydney Oval on 18 April 1959. Just two months later he was named as captain of the reserve grade team. The old Cumberland Oval on 5 July 1959 was the scene for Laurie’s first-grade debut and he scored a try in the 27-11 win over Parramatta. He finished with three first grade matches in 1959 and 17 the next year, while in 1961 he played 20 top-grade matches. He established himself as one of the game’s best scrum feeders in 1962 and in that season won the Sun-Herald Newspaper Player of the Year Award, as well as playing two games for NSW. The first of these was at Brisbane’s Lang Park on 23 June in the 19-all draw with Queensland, while the second was at the SCG on 7 July against a powerful Great Britain side. He also played for City Seconds in 1962 and again in 1963. Balmain reached the 1964 Grand Final but Laurie missed the game after being injured in a State Cup Quarter Final against Newtown at the SCG in July. He had a strong game for the Balmain reserve grade team when they beat St. George 9-7, in the 1965 Grand Final. The clever halfback reached the century of first-grade matches for Balmain in 1966, but at the end of that season took up a good offer to join Penrith in that club’s debut season in first grade. The new club’s first Premiership match was at Belmore Sports Ground on 2 April 1967 and the team performed well in the 15-12 loss to the Bulldogs. In this match, Laurie scored both of the Panthers tries and so established a record that will never be broken, as Penrith’s first-ever try scorer in a Premiership game. Just three weeks later on Sunday 23 April 1967, he captained Penrith in their excellent 24-12 win over a strong St. George team at Penrith Park. This was the official opening match at Penrith Park. He played 77 first grade games in his four seasons with the Panthers and also captained the team in many matches, including several in the first season. He finished his career with 178 first grade games over 12 seasons, with 29 tries, 24 goals and four field goals for a total of 143 points.

In 1971, Laurie was captain/coach of Ryde-Eastwood and took the team to the Second Division final, retiring after the tight loss to Wentworthville. He began as Ryde-Eastwood’s non-playing coach in 1972 and guided the club to the Second Division Premierships in 1972 and 1973. In 2008, he was inducted into the Balmain Tigers Hall of Fame.

For several years in the early 2000s, Laurie worked at the members’ entrance at the Sydney Football Stadium, where he enjoyed chatting with former teammates and opponents. Laurie and his wife Dorothy were married for almost 56 years and the couple had two sons, six granddaughters and two great grandchildren. His funeral is restricted for numbers because of the Corona Virus and is on 8 October in the Kincumber area.

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