R. I. P. Cliff Watson

Former English & Sharks hard man passed away the other day…

From FB:


The death of the great Cliff Watson gives me an opportunity to share my favourite story about him.

In 2013 the NRL Museum hosted a reunion of players from Manly and Cronulla that had appeared in the 1973 Grand Final.

Cliff was one of those present so I asked him who the toughest player he had ever opposed was, expecting an answer of John O’Neill, Arthur Beetson or maybe some other Australian, or a compatriot like Derek “Rocky” Turner or Jim Mills. He floored me with his answer – the Frenchman Marcel Bescos (pictured).

I wasn’t familiar with Bescos but a cursory review of his career shows that he played 20 Tests between 1959-66 and was captain when Cliff opposed him in 1966.

Cliff had just come back into the Great Britain team after an extended absence of a couple of years after making his debut in 1963. Keen to make his mark he used the first scrum to make his presence felt with a vigorous packing of the scrum that went close to being a headbutt and then a little facial massage for his opponent. No response.

Second scrum he did the same and threw in a short, sharp right for good measure. Again, no response or retaliation. “I’ve got this bloke”, Cliff thought to himself.

When the third scrum packed down and Cliff’s hand came towards Bescos, the Frenchman pushed it down and said “No more, monsieur”. But no-one told a young Cliff Watson to stop, least of all an opposing front rower wearing a French jersey so he gave him another for good measure.

In hindsight, nearly 50 years after the event, he reckoned he may have made a mistake. He had woken the beast in Bescos and for the rest of the afternoon the French frontrower made Cliff’s life a misery, employing all the dark arts in scrums and tackles and ragdolling Cliff at every opportunity all across the park.

At the end of the game they shook hands, France had won and Cliff said he walked off a sadder and wiser man. As he completed the tale, Cliff reflected that the event may have been responsible for some of the arthritic pain former front rowers feel when they sleep restlessly.

I hope the re-telling does justice to Cliff – it certainly shows his love of the game. And as for Marcel Bescos, any bloke who could get the better of Cliff Watson deserves the utmost respect!

Former English & Sharks hard man passed away the other day…

From FB:


The death of the great Cliff Watson gives me an opportunity to share my favourite story about him.

In 2013 the NRL Museum hosted a reunion of players from Manly and Cronulla that had appeared in the 1973 Grand Final.

Cliff was one of those present so I asked him who the toughest player he had ever opposed was, expecting an answer of John O’Neill, Arthur Beetson or maybe some other Australian, or a compatriot like Derek “Rocky” Turner or Jim Mills. He floored me with his answer – the Frenchman Marcel Bescos (pictured).

I wasn’t familiar with Bescos but a cursory review of his career shows that he played 20 Tests between 1959-66 and was captain when Cliff opposed him in 1966.

Cliff had just come back into the Great Britain team after an extended absence of a couple of years after making his debut in 1963. Keen to make his mark he used the first scrum to make his presence felt with a vigorous packing of the scrum that went close to being a headbutt and then a little facial massage for his opponent. No response.

Second scrum he did the same and threw in a short, sharp right for good measure. Again, no response or retaliation. “I’ve got this bloke”, Cliff thought to himself.

When the third scrum packed down and Cliff’s hand came towards Bescos, the Frenchman pushed it down and said “No more, monsieur”. But no-one told a young Cliff Watson to stop, least of all an opposing front rower wearing a French jersey so he gave him another for good measure.

In hindsight, nearly 50 years after the event, he reckoned he may have made a mistake. He had woken the beast in Bescos and for the rest of the afternoon the French frontrower made Cliff’s life a misery, employing all the dark arts in scrums and tackles and ragdolling Cliff at every opportunity all across the park.

At the end of the game they shook hands, France had won and Cliff said he walked off a sadder and wiser man. As he completed the tale, Cliff reflected that the event may have been responsible for some of the arthritic pain former front rowers feel when they sleep restlessly.

I hope the re-telling does justice to Cliff – it certainly shows his love of the game. And as for Marcel Bescos, any bloke who could get the better of Cliff Watson deserves the utmost respect!


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Cliff was one really tough nut, Just ask Jim “pogo” Morgan.
Anyone to young to remember check out "Battle of Brisbane #2.
RIP.

Thanks very much for posting. I didn’t know big Cliff had passed away. Great player. Always put in. Will be remembered with fondness.

He was a thug when it was common in football, but nowhere near as bad as Jim Mills who would have to be the dirtiest player i have ever seen.

Right up there with the toughest of the tough….He followed Tommy Bishop from England…Two very proud and tough Englishmen…I remember the heading in the telegraph…“The bishop’s mate has arrived”…RIP Mister Watson… :sign:

Very tough player and a stalwart for Great Britain - RIP Cliff.

Uncle Dud Beattie rated him and Derek Turner to the two toughest nuts he played against

RIP Cliff Watson , condolensces to family and friends

Met him once at a Peter Dimond book launch. Hard as nails but a thorough gentleman.

together with tommy bishop they made cronulla a very hard side to beat.

For anyone interested there is a great tribute to Cliff on the St Helens website: www.saintsrlfc.com

Very good old school prop as others have said , him and Tommy Bishop were the heart of the Sharks. RIP Cliff Watson.

Sad to hear of the passing of the great Pommy!
A very good friend of mine used to have a drink or two with a few ex Cronulla players in the pub managed by Cliff down in the Shire.
He (my friend) was a cheeky so and so in his day and obviously upset a few blokes. They started to give my mate a hard time and Cliffy came over to have a chat with them.
In his classic northern accent, he asked these lads to take good hard look at his face … “It took me 20 years of playing front row to get a face like this. I reckon if you fellers don’t back off and leave the lad alone, it’ll take me 20 seconds to give the lot of you face that’s even uglier”.
R.I.P. Cliff Watson.

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