Visit to Eric ‘Ecca’ Robinson

South Sydney winger from the 1960’s Eric (Ecca) ROBINSON was visited on Thursday 5th May, 2016 at Balmain Hospital (Wakefield Ward) by Sydney Metro Welfare Officers, Warren Thompson and Alan Webb. 

Eric suffered a stroke approximately 4 weeks ago and was originally taken to Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, initially he was unable to stand or walk but he has made a tremendous recovery and although a lot slower than he was during his playing days is able to walk unaided. 

Eric came through the Souths Juniors from the Alexandria Rovers Club playing President’s Cup in 1960 before being graded – His First Grade Number is 478 and he played with Souths 1961-1964. In 42 First Grade appearances he scored 18 tries, he then went to Maitland and played there for two seasons, before moving to Brisbane where he played three seasons for Western Suburbs, he then played at Bourke for a further three years. In 2003 he was awarded Life Membership of the South Sydney Rabbitohs. 

An article written by Ben Quinn in Newcastle Herald dated March 19, 2008 described Eric as a most naturally gifted footballer. “He scored a try against Lakes at Maitland one day when he ran 90 metres, not more than an inch from the sideline the whole way, and beat the entire team”. 

Johnny Sattler, who arrived at the Rabbitohs from Kurri in ’63, said “Eric could play like nobody’s business . . . when he turned up,”
“The year he left Sydney it must have been 1965. Our first trial was against Wests at Pratten Park. Our coach was Bernie Purcell, the best coach I ever played under. It’s a few minutes before kick-off when Bernie turns to us in the shed and says, ‘Where the bloody hell’s Ecca?’ He had this real dry way of talking, Bernie. And swear! Anyway, Ecca was nowhere to be seen, and Bernie was none too happy about having to pull a kid out of reserve grade to take his spot on the wing.

“A few weeks later we found out Ecca had followed a sheila up to Maitland. He rang Bernie and said, ‘Sorry about that boss, but you know how it is’ Even Bernie couldn’t stay mad at him. That was Ecca.” 

Sattler will never forget the day at Redfern when Robinson tiptoed down the sideline “and beat them and beat them and beat them “. They weren’t mugs in pursuit, either. 

“It was against the great St George team who had some of the best cover defenders you’ve ever seen Poppa [Brian Clay], Johnny Raper, Eddie Lumsden,” he enthused.

“Ecca was so elusive, you’ve got no idea. He walked back casual as you like while all the Dragons shook their heads and patted him on the back. They beat us easy in the end, but that try is one of the things that has always stuck in my mind.”

Maitland lock Terry Pannowitz, one of the finest Newcastle players of any era, recalled Robinson arriving in town with his wife, girlfriend, a brood of kids and all their worldly possessions bursting out of a Mini-Minor.

“Eric had seven jobs in the first seven days because it was either too hot, too noisy, too boring,” Pannowitz laughed.
“He was the most likeable person you’ve ever met. In the couple of seasons he played with Maitland he got paid after every game and shouted a dozen family and friends all night at the leagues club.”

Eric was presented with a Men of League polo shirt and South Sydney Rabbitohs Cap.

He thanked us for taking the time to visit him and asked when was the next Chelsea Old Mates day – we informed Eric that it was at Ettalong on Saturday 25th June, 2016 to which he replied “I will be there“.

The genes are good in the Robinson family, his son Ricky Walford, grand-sons Nathan Merritt, Reece and Travis Robinson all played First Grade rugby league as wingers as well.

Alan Webb
Welfare Officer, Sydney Metro. 

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