NRL

‘It Happens’: All-Time Moments, Episode 9

Hey look, it’s another story about Don McKinnon

With the rugbaleeg about to return, it’s high time I delved back into a couple of ‘It Happens’ moments from the league universe that we had to see to believe, and this one fits the bill for this website…


Sunday, March 6, 1988

Lang Park, Brisvegas

Round 1 of the 1988 NSWRL/Winfield Cup competition kicked off in the midst of the Bicentennial celebrations, and the Brisbane Broncos, coached by Wayne Bennett, played their inaugural premiership match against Bob Fulton’s 1987 premiers Manly-Warringah at Lang Park, with many banana benders not immediately warming to the Broncos, given they’d taken multiple stars from the Brisbane Rugby League, namely King Wally Lewis, Gene Miles, and a young Allan Langer.

Still, the official crowd at Lang Park was 17,451, with not many having a clue what lay ahead.

On the other side, 1982 Dally M Prop of the Year and Australian/New South Wales representative Don McKinnon had joined the fabled list of players (Headed by Ken Irvine) to move between North Sydney and the Silvertails, crossing to Brookvale after 186 games in 11 seasons with the Bears, who didn’t offer him a contract for 1988.

McKinnon started in the No.11 for Round 1, and midway through the 1st Half, with the Broncos leading 6-2, referee Mick Stone called a penalty on Manly second rower Ian Gately for a swinging arm on Broncos lock (and goalkicker) Terry Matterson, and King Wally elected to go for the 2 points.

While Stone blew his whistle and Matterson set up the sand castle for the kick, Big Donnie, who had clearly had one too many waters before the game, couldn’t go off the ground to visit the porcelain throne with the-then interchange rules, so, he gave the Broncos an outlandish debut present that hardly anyone has forgotten since.

Players had been documented supposedly going for a slash on the field (John Elias claimed he also relieved himself at Lang Park in 1985), but Don was the poor bastard who actually got caught on camera.

As many people will also remember, Russell Packer carried on the tradition in 2013…

“good win when u gotta go u gotta go lol”

As for Matterson’s kick, it was an absolute helicopter that hit the crossbar, bounced into orbit and over for a goal, putting the Broncos up 8-2.

While McKinnon gave Lang Park a golden shower, Matterson, King Wally Lewis (Who both scored doubles), Alfie and the Broncs took a crap on the Sea Eagles, winning a lazy 44-10, eventually winning their first 6 games, and quickly earning the respect of those south of Tweed Heads.

Despite a legal defence along the lines of ‘When you’ve gotta go’, McKinnon earned a $1000 fine from the NSWRL for the incident, but, on the bright side, he didn’t piss his shorts and need a change of undies.

This was from a 2019 Q&A on the NRL website with champion Kangaroos/Queensland/Broncos prop Greg Dowling, who played that day, and still remembered the incident:

“All of us played out of our skins because wanted to make a statement. I remember that as the game Manly prop Don McKinnon pissed on the field. I was as dirty as hell over that.”

“I said to our boys, ‘Look at the respect he is showing us. He’s pissing on our home ground.’ That was a game we weren’t going to lose. Wally led the way. We had the utmost respect for him.”

The golden shower would be McKinnon’s most notable contribution with the Sea Eagles – He dislocated his shoulder while scoring a try in the 64-12 rout of Parramatta in Round 3, then couldn’t regain his spot after returning from injury (Even missing Manly’s memorable 30-0 win against Great Britain), and played just 6 First Grade games in 1988, retiring with the consolation of playing in the Silvertails’ Reserve Grade Grand Final win against Easts.

These were the highlights of that Round 1 game – McKinnon’s Slash isn’t shown, but at 20:00, you can clearly see Big Donnie getting the rest of the juices out of the system:

Still, you can’t blame Don – It was only Lang Park…


And that’s all for another edition of…

2 replies »

  1. Used to see Don around the Y (dee why) all the time. He was a copper too and after introducing myself once playing poker at the local club on a table with him he never forgot my name. Eerie! …

    >

    Liked by 1 person

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