VALE – STEPHEN FOLKES
Born 30 January 1959. Passed away 27 February 2018
Men of League Foundation Number 127
Steve Folkes was a true Rugby League man.
To those who did not know him, he could be seen as a serious and private person. While he did have these traits as part of his personality, there was so much more to the long term Bulldog. He was loyal, friendly, supportive, strong and had a great sense of humour.
As a student of Punchbowl Boys High, he was school captain in 1976. An excellent footballer from an early age, he began playing with the Bankstown Sports junior Rugby League club in 1965 and while at Punchbowl Boys, played Rugby Union on Wednesdays, as this was the code in which the school participated. Offered a scholarship by the Bulldogs to Wollongong Teachers College with no strings attached, he began a Physical Education course in 1977 and taught PE for a few years after graduating. While at Teachers’ College, he was taught by current Men of League Chairman, the Honourable Professor Stephen Martin, who tried to bring him into the second grade Rugby Union team he was coaching at the time.
Steve made his first grade debut from the bench for the Bulldogs under coach Ted Glossop in the 9-6 win over South Sydney at Redfern Oval on 9 July 1978. He went on to play 245 first grade games, scoring 46 tries, with the Bulldogs including four winning Grand Finals in 1980, 1984, 1985 and 1988. He also played in two other Grand Finals in 1979 and 1986. His last game with the club was at Parramatta Stadium on 27 August 1991 in the 19-14 loss to Western Suburbs in a playoff for fifth place. Lang Park Brisbane, now Suncorp, was the scene for his State of Origin debut on 27 May 1986 in the 22-16 win over Queensland. The hard tackling second rower finished with nine State of Origin games between 1986 and 1988.
The first of his five Tests for Australia was at Auckland’s Carlaw Park on 6 July 1986 when he scored a try in the 22-8 victory over New Zealand. He also scored a try in the Test against France at Carcassonne on 13 December 1986. This Test was played during the 1986 Kangaroo tour of England and France, and Australia won 52-0. Steve also played five other games on this tour. His last Test was at the Sydney Football Stadium on 11 June 1988. This was the 100th Test between Australia and Great Britain and Australia won 17-6.
Steve’s first big rep game was for City Seconds in 1984. He also played two matches for City Firsts in 1986/87, and one for City Origin in 1988. He had a season with English club Hull in the 1989/90 northern hemisphere season, playing 24 matches.
Described as a pocket battleship and by a Herald journalist soon after his passing, as a Superman who didn’t need a cape, Steve certainly played above his weight. His tackling, both front-on and in cover, was deadly and he was highly respected by his team-mates and all of his opponents.
When his brother-in-law, Chris Anderson, began coaching the Bulldogs in 1990, Steve worked as the club conditioner and lower grade coach before being appointed as the Bulldogs Head Coach in 1998. In 11 seasons, he coached the Bulldogs in 288 first grade games, including the 2004 Grand Final win, 16-13 over the Roosters. In 2004 he was named the Dally M Coach of the Year.
Soon after leaving the Bulldogs he worked as the conditioner for the West Indies cricket team, when former Australian opening batsman, John Dyson was coach. He then worked on the Wests Tigers and the St. George Illawarra coaching staffs, before becoming a video referee for 58 NRL games during 2014/15.
In 2014, he also coached the Australian Jillaroos Women’s Rugby League team. He was set to coach the Moss Vale Dragons this year in the Group 6 competition Steve was married to Karen Moore, a daughter of legendary Bulldogs CEO Peter Moore, who died in 2000. Karen was a younger sister of Lynne, who is married to former Australian player and coach, Chris Anderson. Karen sadly passed away on 28 February 2013, aged 55.
It is believed that Steve had a heart attack while riding, or soon after riding, an exercise bike at his home in the Sutherland Shire. He and Karen have two children, Daniel and Hayley.
Rest in peace, Steve.